Rally Round the Mega-Project

ay-rally-06-2008.jpg
Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn and AY Report bring word of a rally Forest City Ratner is organizing at Borough Hall this Thursday afternoon to demonstrate support for Atlantic Yards. The event is called “Brooklyn Day,” and, as AY Report writes, it suggests FCR isn’t considering Atlantic Yards a “done deal.” The poster for Brooklyn Day says it’s being held in honor of “Brooklyn’s renaissance; The progress of Atlantic Yards; Affordable housing, union jobs and community development; and The return of professional sports to the borough.” The event seems primarily pitched to construction workers (they got their own invitation separate from the poster above) and, aside from the promise of union jobs, the promo material emphasizes that AY will bring the Nets to Brooklyn. Per AY Report: “The rally poster suggests that the developer is de-emphasizing the promises of affordable housing—after all, the developer has 12+ years to build Phase 1, and no deadline for Phase 2—and returning to the old mantra of basketball. After all, the basketball motif dominates the poster and, at the top, ‘The Nets moving to Brooklyn!’ appears in larger type than ‘support the Atlantic Yards Project.’ Can the iconographic power of the flag and the Brooklyn Bridge nudge the stalled project forward?” Desperate times call for desperate rallies? It’ll be interesting to see how many legitimate supporters of Atlantic Yards the event draws and whether any anti-AY people show up for a counter-rally.
At Borough Hall on Thursday, Another FCR-Organized AY rally [AY Report]
Ratner Calls Rally In Support of…Ratner [DDDB]

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  • fyi – those of us who have had kids in Brooklyn public schools for a while know that Brooklyn day was a traditional “holiday” with no school for the kids. Queens also had some kind of holiday/day off from school, but for some reason Manhattan kids didn’t. A year or 2 back they changed the name of the “Brooklyn Day” school day off, but it is still June 5th this year, same day as this rally, and now kids in Manhattan and other boroughs have the same holiday. Someone here probably knows the tradition of this celebration.

  • And knows how uncomplicated and easily excited by basketball kids can be and is probably counting on lots of supportive cheering kids on hand who cannot possibly grasp the more ugly nuances in this mega project.

    Btw, anyone catch the image of the giant toilet bowl/Gowanus canal a couple of days ago? Overflow due to overwhelmed sewage systems when it simply rains?

    Imagine the influx of the additional thousands of residents and stadium goers and their pooh. Has Ratner made any concessions toward building greater capacity to Brooklyn’s sewage system in that neck of its woods?

  • I like how this is scheduled such that employed people cannot attend – anyone else find this a little fishy?

  • I believe “Brooklyn Day” is a yearly thing put on by the Boro Presidents office

  • “I like how this is scheduled such that employed people cannot attend…”

    Well, look on the bright side. At least Dan Goldstein and Lumi Rolley can attend, given that their considerable financial assets enable them to go through life without the drudgeries of conventional employment.

    I think that above posters pegged this correctly: this is an event aimed at childen and was scheduled on a day when they will not be in school.

  • Not sure what this means:

    “It’ll be interesting to see how many legitimate supporters of Atlantic Yards the event draws…”

    The rabid anti-AY crowd is notorious for claiming to speak for the broader community, while the reality is that most residents of the boro are either neutral or in favor of replacing the hole in the ground with the nets, affordable housing, and amenities such as retail and parks.

    If some guy who moved in to his luxury apartment just before the project was announced has decided to be the voice of the opposition, then surely some life-long Brooklynite union member should have a say as well.

  • As someone who started attending Brooklyn public schools in 1956, I can tell you that Brooklyn Day (or Anniversary Day) was one of our favorite holidays, starting in 1959 or so by act of the state legislature:

    NY State Consolidated Law, Article 52, Section 2586:

    S 2586. Anniversary day as a holiday in the public schools of the borough of Brooklyn and in the borough of Queens, city of New York. The first Thursday in June in each year, except in those years when the first Thursday in June occurs in the same week with Memorial day, and in such years the second Thursday in June, known as anniversary day, and celebrated in commemoration of the organization of Sunday schools, is hereby made and declared to be a holiday in all the public schools in the borough of Brooklyn and in the borough of Queens, city of New York, and the board of education of such city is hereby authorized and directed to cause all the public schools in such boroughs to be closed on such day.”

    - Richard Grayson

  • “It’ll be interesting to see how many legitimate supporters of Atlantic Yards the event draws…”

    I suspect it means: who will be there to enjoy the freebies and meeting some Nets stars, and who will be there because they know what the project is, what its status is and are there to show their support (and aren’t on a paid break from their construction site.)

  • There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.

  • There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.

  • Good point, 10:05. At this point, any and all union members are routinely dismissed by the anti-AY crowd as “paid supporters”, even though they likely were born and raised in NYC. The phrase that you quoted should not come as a surprise, given this site’s anti-AY bias.

  • AY “parks” are private parks! That means that, like MetroTech, there is a rent-a-cop in a car running 24/7 (all those emissions)in the middle of the “park” just in case someone tries something that FCR doesn’t like — like giving out flyers for a retaurant. Yes, a woman was arrested for just that last year at Metrotech. The parks will likely be availabel to the market-rate residents and difficult for anyone else to enter let alone use.

  • For the millionth time, if being paid means that one cannot be a “legitimate” supporter of the project, then Shabnam Merchant (Daniel Goldstein’s wife and DDDB employee), who is also paid to attend these events, cannot be considered a legitimate opponent.

  • for the person who had the comment about all the new pooh. the streets around the atlantic yards footprint are being dug up right now. I’m pretty sure it’s a lot of sewerage piping that is going in the ground. but yeah, I’m sure the gowanus canal could do with some help.

  • There are no new sewage pipes going in, what on earth are you talking about? And where are those supposed pipes going take all that crap? The Gowanus Canal?

  • AY opponents will definitely show up, and I imagine they won’t be inconspicuous. But, how exactly does Gabby (or anyone else for that matter) plan to indentify “legitimate” supporters of Atlantic Yards from “illegitimate” supporters? I’d really like to know.

  • Damn, I’m conflicted. I despise AY’s corporate welfare and eminent domain abuse as much as anyone, but if Darryl Dawkins is really visiting from Planet Lovetron to sign autographs, I might have to swallow my convictions and get him to autograph my basketball.

  • The anti-AY crowd, including the Brownstoner staff, are hilarious (“It’ll be interesting to see how many legitimate supporters of Atlantic Yards the event draws…”) WTF? Who are “legitimate supporters”. Anytime someone makes a positive comment about AY on this blog, the Anti-AY folks accuse you of working for Ratner….as if it’s inconceivable that (a) there are some folks who would prefer something other than a hole in the ground at Atlantic and Flatbush and (b) there are some folks who would love for us (Brooklyn) to have a professional sports team like every other fricken borough in NYC (and no, the Cyclones don’t count!)

  • Legitimate opponents are those whose taxes are building this mess.

  • The Cyclones count far more than the Nets and have done far more for Brooklyn. besides seeing as the Cyclones are baseball, not basketball, what’s your point anyway?

    But back to the issue at hand- the AY area is a mess and I have no doubt that ratner will not do one-tenth of what he promised in terms of housing and parks. that Brooklyn Day poster sounds a little desperate and I think ratner is trying to take the pulse of what support he has.

    Picking on the Trades is unfair- but on the other hand, too much business in the city is dependent on the finance and the construction industries. We can’t afford to be that narrowly focussed if we are to have a healthy economy. Just my opinion.

  • Brooklyn Day, also known as Anniversary Day, is [was?] a local Protestant religious holiday to commemorate the founding of the Brooklyn Sunday School Union. I’m told that at one time children in Brooklyn and parts of Queens paraded on that day.

    Despite my antipathy towards religion, I think local holidays are great. Anyone interested on reviving Evacuation Day (November 25th) ,an NYC holiday that was celebrated until 1917?

  • I’m the poster from 11:11. The point I was making is that if you are against Atlantic Yards, good for you. You are entitled to your opinion and this blog can serve as a medium for healthy dialouge on the pros and cons of the project. However, the tenor of this blog is such that views of Brooklynites (life long in my case) who support the project are somehow illegitimate. Regarding the Cyclones, they are great but they are not major league. Manhattan has the Knicks, the Bronx has the Yankees, Queens has the Mets…I don’t think it would be the worst thing in the world for Brooklyn (the largest borough and the 4th biggest city in America) to have a major league sports team as well.

  • I don’t think it’s bad either but that doesn’t mean I want a major league team badly enough to let Ratner build AY the way he wants. Too much taxpayer money is going into it, and I really abhor his threat to use eminent domain. I don’t like the lies, the closing of public streets (Pacific St) to give him courtyards in his expensive luxury project, I don’t like the scale or Frank Gehry’s crap design. Gehry could do a lot better- look at some of the new buildings he designed that are going up in Manhattan. And my biggest beef is how Ratner used community groups and played the racism card to try to shove his project through.

    Which is definitely not to say that there should be no development- but if it’s to be good for Brooklyn, it should be a lot more intelligent than what he is doing now (and yes- as a taxpayer I have a right to say so).And frankly, as hard as I and my fellow taxpayers work for our money, I don’t see why ratner deserves it for luxury housing. Despite the promise of affordable housing, his agreement is not guaranteed. Now if you said affordable housing had to be the first thing built in AY in return for public money and perks, I might feel differently.

  • sorry 11:37- I didn’t quite respond to your point- but I agree about the dialogue needing to be healthy pros and cons. I do think the legitimate/illegitimate argument is ridiculous- if you support it you’re a legitimate supporter. But the venom is on both sides. Anti-AY get blasted as nimbys, luddites, backward-looking, Brooklyn-hating, ignorant, etc. Both sides want only the best for Brooklyn- now if we could only figure out what that really means.

  • The difference being the amount of public funding that’s taking place with the Nets. An order of magnitude greater than the tax breaks we give other teams.

    It would be far cheaper to simply buy them from Ratner than to build them a stadium that they’ll use for a few years.

    One potential solution – Pro-AY folks invest in FCR and raise the roughly $1 billion for the stadium themselves. 1,000 investors with a million dollars each (or a million investors with a thousand bucks each!) and then let the free market dictate whether a stadium is worth the cost.

  • “Legitimate opponents are those whose taxes are building this mess.”

    Johnny, I live in Prospect Heights and my tax dollars are going towards this project, but I am a proponent of it.

  • Bxgrl:

    Well, I don’t like the hole in the ground that’s been at the site for my entire life, which is how long I’ve been in Brooklyn (45 years). I’m not exactly overjoyed that Ratner got big tax breaks to build, but if it gets SOMETHING built there, I will live with them. I don’t mind his use of eminent domain either, because I believe that the greater good IS served by turning the land over to a developer. If the development being built means closing Pacific Street, then close it. I’m sure everyone will adapt. The scale is, I think, appropriate for a major space adajacent to Brooklyn’s downtown, and is supported by mass transit. Ratner ENGAGED community groups in creating this project. Maybe you don’t like the agreements that resulted. That’s your right. But your claiming he “play[ed] the racism card to try to shove his project through” sounds like sour grapes, is inaccurate, and above all is rather insulting to minorities like myself. Would you rather he had ignored the community, as so many other developers have done? Like you, I’m a taxpayer and have a right to say that I support this project of my own free will. And I don’t work for Ratner, and nor am I on his payroll.

  • Whether anti-AY people want to recognize it or not – there is a big difference between a cash subsidy (approx $200M in this case – which includes the cost to upgrade and cover the railyards) and PILOTS (Payments in Lieu of taxes). In one case you have actual tax payer $ being used and in the other private money is being used to pay for the financing of construction – the only thing the ‘taxpayer’ is giving up is the right to collect taxes (for a time) on a property that if not for the development – would hardly be paying taxes anyway.
    Sum – the taxpayers aren’t building the arena – private $ is – taxpayers (through their representatives) are just agreeing to back the bonds and not collect taxes for 30yrs.
    -if you think having the Gov’t own, build and operate the arena would be cheaper – then you havent been in NY (or anywhere else) very long.

  • One wonders why, if Forest City Ratner is so proud to call a rally in support of itself, why they make no mention of it on their website at:
    http://www.atlanticyards.com

    what’s up with that?

  • 12:36- I’m not the only one who says Ratner played the community groups, nor am I the one who kept saying that if you were against the AY project, you were obviously prejudiced. I live in a Black neighborhood and I have heard enough of my friends and neighbors complain that they felt used by Ratner- I see no reason to disagree. The reality is that Rev. Daugherty and Acorn and others went for the money with no real guarantees. They let themselves get paraded around and today, where is the big coalition? Why do I hear my neighbors saying Daughtry was played for a fool and so was Acorn? So on the plus side, no he didn’t ignore the community. On the down side- he used them to market his idea and get money.So if you’re feeling insulted, it’s not by me.

    As far as your feeling on eminent domain- you’re on a very slippery slope. Eminent domain was set up for specific reasons. What you’re advocating is the ability of any private developer to come in, decide he wants the land, market it as to the greater good and basically be allowed to steal someone else’s property. So who defines greater good? the developer? the state? (Not a good idea there). People with more money than you?

    12:40 – your argument is good on paper. In reality who suffers most when taxes for goods and services aren’t collected by governments? And whose taxes will go up to compensate? By the time these developments are supposed to begin paying taxes, they seem to get extensions, or find new ways to get out of it. In the meantime the cost to the rest of us keeps growing- we never get a break even point, let alone see a real benefit. So since any benefits go into the developers pocket, why should taxpayers fund any of it. For all the whining conservatives do about the government not being our babysitter, or complaining about rent subsidies, they certainly have no problem when it comes to helping their already rich friends. Think I’m wrong? Look around at what’s happening to the economy. sure its so much more complicated, but our attitudes about money and spending have a lot to do with it.

  • BXGirl – you can’t collect much in taxes from empty lots or an MTA rail yard.

  • No, that’s very true- but what kind of a balance sheet are we showing? You can collect money from development but what’s the sense if it costs you more to do that than to just leave it and wait? Or wait for a better, more realistic plan? There has to be a better way for AY than just this one idea.

  • Bxgrl – 12:40 here. I AM black, and I haven’t heard myself OR any of my black neighbors saying that Ratner “played” Hebrert Daughtry and or anyone else, so I guess we just happen to know different black people. Be real – it’s YOUR opinion that Ratner used Daughtry/ACORN/the black community, although I am sure others like yourself share that opinion. I wholly disagree, and find ANY suggestions that he has done so to be insulting. I’m sure Daughtry and ACORN feel similarly.

    I disagree on your point about eminent domain. Let’s just leave it at that. From where I sit, I find your side of this argument to be quite slippery indeed.

    You don’t like the Ratner deal, and that’s understandable. But do you happen to have a reasonable, workable solution? No. Does DDDB? No. On the other hand, Ratner’s deal, while imperfect (as almost any plan is, considering it involves human beings), will obstensibly create affordable housing, jobs, entertainment and fill up that g**damned hole I’ve been looking at since I was a KID.

    You say, “There has to be a better way for AY than just this one idea.” Maybe there is. Better yet, maybe there’s even a PERFECT plan that will make EVERYONE in Brooklyn satisfied! That would be just great. But unlike you, I’m not willing to wait another 45 years to listen to more talk. I like most aspects of this deal and I support it. I’m ready for AY to go ahead.

  • Bxgrl, I am pro-AY, but I really appreciate your thoughtful and even handed defense of your positions. What pisses off most of the pro-AY folks on the blog are the assertions that are Ratner “plants”. I would profer that a hole in the ground surrounded by abandoned buildings is per se “blighted” and an appropriate use of eminent domain (probably a much clearer application of eminent domain than the case that was made to clean up Times Square in the 90′s). However, I really appreciate your position.

  • “Bxgrl – 12:40 here.”

    Sorry…I meant 12:36.

  • 2:08:
    “You don’t like the Ratner deal, and that’s understandable. But do you happen to have a reasonable, workable solution? No. Does DDDB? No. On the other hand, Ratner’s deal, while imperfect (as almost any plan is, considering it involves human beings), will obstensibly create affordable housing, jobs, entertainment and fill up that g**damned hole I’ve been looking at since I was a KID.”

    That’s the point. Ratner doesn’t have a workable deal. He has a land grab. His goals is to get control of the 22 acres, then once he does he build whatever he feels like. If his plan were workable he’d share the financials, he’d have the money, he’d have the land, he’d have a rendering of the project that shows mor than just the arena and 3 buildings. If his plan were workable, he wouldn’t be manufacturing a rally on Thursday.

    Now, you as, does DDDB have a workable, reasonable solution? Yup, along with a number of pols and scores of community groups. vist: http://www.unityplan.org.
    You’ll get affordable housing, jobs, entertainment (is that a public good worthy of eminent domain??!) and that g**damned hole will be filled.

    There is nobody, literally nobody, who doesn’t want to see the rail yard developed. It’s too bad those 8 acres weren’t enough for Bruce Ratner, and instead he bid off more than he could chew.

  • “I AM black, and I haven’t heard myself OR any of my black neighbors saying that Ratner “played” Hebrert Daughtry and or anyone else, so I guess we just happen to know different black people. Be real – it’s YOUR opinion that Ratner used Daughtry/ACORN/the black community”

    actually a lot of people said that about Ratner- including some of the community groups. And there are black community organizations now involved in the class action lawsuit to stop him. i won’t lie to you and say I’ve never heard someone in my community be pro-AY but by and large mi neighbors don’t support it. Maybe the thing is that we each tend to speak with and listen to people who agree with our point of view?

    I’m not trying to infringe on you or your community- I’m not telling you who are or what the Black community thinks- I can only go by my own experience and I’ve stated what I personally know.I have lived in Black communities most of my adult life, was married to a Black Man for 18 years, and have had the honor as been accepted into a great community. So my perspective is not that of a white gentrifier (poor and bitter renter :-) ), or a matter of nimbyism. but facts do speak for themselves and a close look at what he actually promised in return for their cooperation -as well as subsequent events-pretty much supports my belief.

    What it also points out is that the importance of the Black community is such that Ratner had to deal with the community. So again, if you think I’m insulting you or the Black community in any way you are sorely mistaken- but that’s your problem, not mine.

    I’d really be interested in hearing your argument for unfettered use of eminent domain because that is an issue of extreme importance to neighborhoods like Crown Heights and Bed-Stuy. where do you stop? Anyone can make an argument for anything but if you want to undermine the whole concept of home ownership and communities, by all means use eminent domain all you want. I don’t think you’ll be happy with the results.

    And as 3:15 noted- DDDB did have a reasonable plan. (Thanks 3:15).

  • 3:15, regarding the “Unity Plan”, which developer is actually going be able to execute this plan? Would said developer have the resources to obtain financing in the current climate? Is this plan real or just the wet dream of a bunch of hippie urban planners? Hypothetically, the Unity Plan would serve as a bridge between Ft. Greene and Prospect Heights. In reality, we would lose one group of NIMBY’s (DDDB) and undoubtedly some other group of NIMBY’s woud come out of the woodwork… and that Goddammned hole will be there for the rest of our collective lives.

  • “Ratner’s deal, while imperfect (as almost any plan is, considering it involves human beings), will obstensibly create affordable housing, jobs, entertainment”

    why only ostensibly? Could be you also are not quite as sure about the strength of Ratner’s promises?

  • 2:14- is there a legal difference between “blighted” and “underdeveloped” (or undeveloped)? Are areas defined differently by those terms and therefore treated differently in terms of the use of eminent domain?

  • 2:08 – “different black people” here. I find FCR’s use of ACORN, Rev. Daughtrey, BUILD, and black celebs like Jay Z and b’ball players to be very disengenous.

    IF the project had been done on the up and up, without eminent domain, and with the affordable component as a priority, not a maybe, THEN I’d be less cynical.

    IF the demo of properties already owned by FCR actually were using BUILD members (minority construction workers and trainees), and people were being trained now for the work they will be performing supposedly “soon”, THEN that would be the fulfillment of a pledge.

    IF the affordable housing was a centerpiece, or co-equal component of the housing in the complex, not an add-on for a mythical Phase 2, that depends on the profit margin of Phase 1, and is therefore not a sure thing, THEN I’d have some respect for them.

    But when “affordable” means up to an income of $120K, how many of those who are lined up for a nice apartment, you know those people bussed in for past rallies and basketball players’ autographs, how many of them will actually get one? How many of them will get a job at AY?

    My black friends and colleagues can see through this, and don’t like it. You can believe what you choose, but don’t deny the real possiblility that while there are many good things to be said about developing the site, much more can be said about the methods FCR has used to get what they want.

  • Unity’s URL is http://unitplan.org. If you use the other one you get nowhere.
    And it’s a very good plan that allows multiple developers which will better allow for completion, not this Ratner mess that will never, ever get built.
    Take a look before you start ignorantly saying there are no other plans. There’s a lot more information out there than you’ll find in a Ratner press release.
    And how does “Brooklyn Day” suddenly become a Ratner holiday? Like THAT shouldn’t bother anybody???

  • “Regarding the “Unity Plan”, which developer is actually going be able to execute this plan? Would said developer have the resources to obtain financing in the current climate? ”

    Well actually there was a bidder, Extell development company which outbid Ratner to buidl something like the UNITY plan. Ther is nothing “hippie” about the UNITY plan, whatever that even means. As for who could execute the UNITY plan, any number of developers could. And that is the point. You divide up the yards, so multiple developers can construct the project and actualy finish it, instead of putting 22 acres into the incompetent hands of a single developer, Ratner, who clearly can’t obtain financing.

    So while the UNITY plan is a real plan, with no “hippies” involved, it is clear that Atlantic Yards is pipe dream proposed by a trickster, unable to execute it.

  • D-O-N-E-D-E-A-L!!!!
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  • Posted by: guest at June 3, 2008 10:44 AM

    dumb and numb

    What is conventional work?

  • This event was pathetic. There were maybe 400 people there, so why should anyone care, they are not the community. You could pay those people to be there, to be against the project, as long as they got paid, they could not care less about anyone but themselves.

    Think of the money FCR just wasted on this nonsense, he could probably have paid the rent for a few hundred currently homeless people! Pathetic.

  • Funny, when DDDB attracts 400 people to a rally, everyone calls it a success, but when Ratner attracts the same or more, it’s called a failure.

    You people are nuts!