Tuesday, April 15, 2008

De Blasio Calls for Moratorium on Atlantic Yards Demolition

City Council Member and Brooklyn Borough President candidate Bill de Blasio is calling for a moratorium on demolition in the Atlantic Yards footprint. Mr. de Blasio made comments deeply critical of possible changes in the huge project as part of a wideranging discussion last night that covered everything from construction safety as developers race to beat changes in the 421a tax break program to zoning issues in Gowanus and Carroll Gardens. (Check out Brownstoner's excellent report on the discussion here.) On Atlantic Yards, Mr. de Blasio said, "I am livid at the New York Times interview with Ratner" in which the developer announced that the project would be scaled back and that massive amounts of affordable housing would be seriously delayed or eliminated. "There was no discussion with the community before he went on record," Mr. de Blasio said, adding that the changes put "the entire community benefits agreement up for question."

Last night, Mr. de Blasio said he supports "a moratorium on demolition until there is a written plan" that "confirms what will be built when and confirms affordability" and that he "can't support" an arena-only plan. He added that "We need something in writing from Forest City Ratner to tell us if there has been a change and if there's been a change we need to revisit it." (The agreement with the state gives the developer six years to build the arena, 12 years to fully build "Phase I" and an unspecified amount of time to build "Phase II.") The Council Member said he does not support the project solely as an arena with an office tower. He said that he had supported the project because of the "exceptional" amount of affordable housing, but has been deeply critical of "the lack of community involvement and the lack of transparency" in the process. "I've never seen something so fundamentally mishandled in terms of excluding the community."

There is no indication, however, that a demolition moratorium is forthcoming. The entire issue could be rendered moot as demolition work is wrapped up by the end of spring, leaving land that could remain vacant for decades if the development stalls. Mr. de Blasio said he is "worried" about a parallel to 1960s-style urban renewal, which left neighborhoods with huge tracts of cleared land for failed projects that later took decades to develop.

We will have more from our conversation with Mr. de Blasio, on non-Atlantic Yards-related topics.



Blogger cervo@yahoo.com said...

It is heartening to see Mr. DeBlasio has taken up the cudgels at last in the public interest concerning Mr. Ratner and developers in general. I hope it lasts. The information has been available to him for months if not years about these situations.

3:07 AM  
Blogger I am not Star Jones said...

I question DeBlasio and Yassky's supposed change of heart when it comes to Atlantic Yards...
my deeply cynical heart is asking what's in it for them to acknowledge the flaws that were evident to Stevie Wonder in this project.

10:46 PM  

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