Atlantic Yards Groundbreaking Ceremonies – March 11th

March 9, 2010

UPDATE: See coverage of the official groundbreaking ceremony on Atlantic Yards Report.

(Un)fortunately, I won’t be there to witness the lies first hand, but all the Atlantic Yards perpetrators will be wielding their golden shovels this coming Thursday, March 11th, at 1:30pm for the ceremonial Barclays Center & Atlantic Yards groundbreaking.  I expect Develop-Don’t Destroy Brooklyn’s Groundbreaking Ceremony (to bury the soul of Brooklyn) to be a much more interesting event, and I am sorry that I’ll miss that.  Read the dueling press releases below.

First up, Forest City Ratner & accomplices:

BARCLAYS CENTER AND ATLANTIC YARDS

GROUNDBREAKING CEREMONY THURSDAY, MARCH 11, 2010

Ceremonial Groundbreaking to Celebrate the Next Phase of Construction

On Atlantic Yards and Sports and Entertainment Arena in Brooklyn

(BROOKLYN, NY) – March 8, 2010 – Governor David Paterson, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Forest City Ratner Companies Chairman and CEO Bruce Ratner, Barclays PLC President Robert E. Diamond, Jr., NETS investor and cultural icon Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter, and Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment President and CEO Brett Yormark, among others, will be on hand for the groundbreaking ceremony of the Barclays Center at Atlantic Yards on Thursday, March 11, 2010 at 5th and Atlantic Avenues in Brooklyn (12:30 PM press set up, 1:30 PM ceremony).

While work has been ongoing at the site since last fall, and with the temporary rail yard completed last December, the March 11 groundbreaking ceremony will mark the next phase of construction on the 18,000-seat world-class sports and entertainment arena. The Barclays Center will host more than 200 events annually, including professional and collegiate sports, concerts, family shows, NETS Basketball, and much more. The first phase of Atlantic Yards will also include three residential buildings, with the first starting later this year.

WHAT: Ceremonial groundbreaking for Barclays Center at Atlantic Yards.

WHO: Governor David Paterson, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Forest City Ratner Companies Chairman and CEO Bruce Ratner, Barclays PLC President Robert E. Diamond, Jr., NETS investor and cultural icon Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter, and Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment President and CEO Brett Yormark, among others.

WHEN: Thursday, March 11, 2010. Ceremony to start at 1:30 PM.

Press setup at 12:30 PM. ONLY OFFICIAL CREDENTIALED PRESS WILL BE PROVIDED ACCESS.

WHERE: Intersection of 5th and Atlantic Avenues, Brooklyn

Next, Develop-Don’t Destroy Brooklyn:

March 11: Two Groundbreakings to Protest Ratner’s Boondoggle Ceremony
Many of us are angry, no…mad, and lots have already said, “I’ll be there.”

This is the moment to express your anger and outrage:

Take off work or take a long lunch to express all of your anger and outrage about the abusive, destructive, and corrupt Atlantic Yards project…

Thursday March 11 at 12:30pm
DDDB Joins Bloomberg, Markowitz, Pataki, Spitzer, Paterson, Schumer, Cuomo, Prokhorov and Ratner’s Groundbreaking to Bury the Soul of Brooklyn
Featuring Markowitz’s Proclamation Marking the Events of the Day

Exact location (in the project footprint, probably in front of Freddy’s Bar on Dean and 6th) yet to be determined…stay tuned.

Then…
Thursday, March 11. Reportedly 1:30pm
Join us to Protest the Barclays/Ratner Boondoggle Ceremonial Groundbreaking
Exact location (in the project footprint) yet to be determined…stay tuned.


word of the day: haunted

January 8, 2010

Ghost of the Ward Bread Bakery*

haunted (from dictionary.com):

  • inhabited or frequented by ghosts: a haunted castle.
  • preoccupied, as with an emotion, memory, or idea; obsessed: His haunted imagination gave him no peace.
  • disturbed; distressed; worried: Haunted by doubt he again turned to law books on the subject.

Just when one begins to believe that the Atlantic Yards saga might be coming to a close, The Universe decides to mix things up. The latest twist involves the federal indictment in Yonkers, NY of two politicians and a lawyer. The Feds seem to believe that the three were involved in not-quite-above-the-board shenanigans related to that city’s 81-acre, megamillion megadevelopment called Ridge Hill. The alleged misconduct involving wads of cash and a “job” in exchange for city council approval of the project appears to follow an unfortunately well-worn script in the history of big, New York real estate projects. You know, your typical conspiracy, bribery, extortion, false statements, mortgage fraud, lying, tax crimes. What makes this interesting for those who’ve been battling the mega-boondoggle that is Atlantic Yards is the fact that “Developer #2″ in the indictment is none other than our good friends, Forest City Ratner (FCR), the would-be developer of Atlantic Yards:

From the press release (excerpt from Atlantic Yards Report):

The Ridge Hill Development Project

The “Ridge Hill Development Project” was a project proposed by a large developer (“Developer No. 2″) to develop an 81-acre tract of land to establish retail shopping, restaurants, office space, hundreds of residential housing units, and a hotel and conference center. ANNABI was an outspoken critic of the proposed Ridge Hill Project and voted against both the project and legislation that would allow the project to move forward despite her opposition. ANNABI, with two other City Council members and others, also filed a civil lawsuit to effectively block the Ridge Hill Project. As the City Council was considering the Ridge Hill Project, Developer No. 2 made repeated and unsuccessful efforts to convince ANNABI to vote in favor of the project.

On June 2, 2006, JEREIS was introduced to representatives of Developer No. 2, after which JEREIS told representatives of Developer No. 2 that he could arrange a meeting between them, ANNABI, and JEREIS to discuss the Ridge Hill Project. JEREIS and representatives of Developer No. 2 also had an agreement in which Developer No. 2 would give JEREIS a consulting job sometime after ANNABI formally voted in favor of the Ridge Hill Project. After two meetings held in less than two weeks, ANNABI reversed her opposition to the Ridge Hill Project and issued a press release — drafted by JEREIS and representatives of Developer No. 2 — informing the public of her support for the project.

Specifically, at a City Council meeting on July 11, 2006, ANNABI voted in favor of the zoning change necessary for the Ridge Hill Project. Shortly after ANNABI changed her vote on the Ridge Hill Project, JEREIS received the promised consulting contract from Developer No. 2 worth $60,000 over one year.

Secret Payments To ANNABI And Efforts To Conceal The Crimes

…Since at least 2004, ANNABI has received from JEREIS, MANGONE, and others more than $160,000 worth of secret payments designed to influence and reward her for favorable official action or inaction on matters pending before the City Council as specific opportunities arose.

No FCR people have been named as defendants…yet. However, being connected to a federal investigation probably isn’t the way the developer would like to be kicking off the new decade, especially as the Atlantic Yards deal is now getting some much needed (but woefully late) scrutiny, with many loose ends dangling, a bunch of T’s uncrossed and seemingly a million I’s undotted. I can’t imagine that FCR attorneys, accountants and executives are sleeping very soundly, probably haunted by thoughts of skeletons hidden in closets with those meddling feds poking around. Who knows where all this might lead as the feds follow the money trail, but it certainly wouldn’t be surprising to many if Yonkers is the tip of an iceberg that extends all the way back to Brooklyn and beyond.

* The Ward Bread Bakery was an historic architectural gem that has been demolished for Atlantic Yards.  For the foreseeable future, the site would be used as a “temporary” surface parking lot for the Barclays Center arena.


word of the day: shame

December 23, 2009

from Dictionary.com:

shame:  the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another: She was overcome with shame.
Today, Forest City Ratner, the developer of the proposed Atlantic Yards development in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, completed its “master closing” with New York state, city and various and assorted other agencies.  CEO Bruce Ratner reportedly signed 640 separate documents at the meeting this morning.  Wasting no time, Forest City Ratner erected signage at the site of the proposed Barclays Center arena trumpeting this milestone:

Atlantic Yards Wall of Shame

Unfortunately, I doubt that any of the fat cats involved in this “public-private partnership” are experiencing any “painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper.” I wonder if this is because they actually believe that what they’re doing is honorable and proper, or if the lack of shame is because they aren’t conscious of their actions? Clearly, Bruce Ratner shows no shame.  From the Forest City Ratner press release:
“Today, what has long been a vision for the future of Brooklyn (who’s vision?) becomes a reality,” Mr. Ratner said. “Six years after we announced our plan for Atlantic Yards we are very pleased to be closing on the project with our public partners. Today’s closing represents a vital step forward for New York City, one that is all the more important because of the economic challenges our City faces. The jobs we are creating today, as we set forth on the arena and one of the boldest affordable housing initiatives in our City’s history, will create a new dynamic center in this wonderful borough.”
At a time of enormous economic challenges, a housing crisis, transportation and education cut-backs and a healthcare crisis, it’s shameful that a billionaire developer, along with a billionaire Russian oligarch, can compel the state of New York to use eminent domain for the construction of what would be the most expensive ($1 BILLION) arena in U.S. history, along with acres of surface parking lots. Worse still is that Forest City Ratner is using our money (direct and indirect subsidies and tax breaks from the city and state) for what New York’s Independent Budget Office calculates will be a money-losing arena.  Add to this the fact that the “bold affordable housing initiative” definitely won’t happen until after the arena is built, if ever, and that the jobs it creates most likely won’t pay enough for the workers to actually afford to live in Atlantic Yards.  Then there’s the no-bid, lowball price Forest City Ratner is paying to develop over the MTA rail yard (while the MTA cries that it’s broke and must cut services and raise fares), along with a generous financing agreement for the next 22 years.  Not to mention some signs of not-so-above-the-board dealings of state agencies tasked with protecting the interests of the citizens they are (supposedly) duty-bound to represent.

Forest City Ratner is a for-profit development corporation, so I’m not surprised by its actions in all of this.  Those who should really be having a “painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper” are those who are supposed to be watching out for those they supposedly represent:  former Governors Pataki and Spitzer, Governor Paterson, Senator Schumer, Mayor Bloomberg, Borough President Marty Markowitz, and all the other Atlantic-Yards-cheerleading elected officials.


Demonstration to Protest, Expose and Trash Ratner’s JUNK YARD BONDS For His Atlantic Yards Arena

December 14, 2009

Demonstration at noon today at Standard & Poor’s office in lower Manhattan.  More info at Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn and Atlantic Yards Report.


Court of Appeals upholds Atlantic Yards eminent domain (ab)use

November 24, 2009

Today, the New York State Court of Appeals has ruled that the Empire State Development Corporation (continuing its long-running role as the tool of Forest City Ratner, developer of the proposed Atlantic Yards development in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn) is well within its rights to use eminent domain to force the transfer of private property from their current owners to the developer because the area is “blighted” and Atlantic Yards would be a “public benefit” to New Yorkers.

Although expected, I’m still very disappointed.  I suppose we’ll all have to learn this lesson, again, the hard way. Maybe New London has some wisdom to offer us?


SAY NO TO ATLANTIC YARDS – TODAY – JULY 29

July 28, 2009
SAY NO TO ATLANTIC YARDS

SAY NO TO ATLANTIC YARDS

Today, July 29th, and tomorrow, July 30th, may be the last opportunities for the public to have their opinions on the Atlantic Yards development officially heard by the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), the state agency that’s supposed to be looking out for the best interests of New Yorkers.

Today may also be the last official protest against the project.  Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn has details here.

UPDATE:  See photos of the protest and hearing here.


I almost pity The Times

July 9, 2009
DOH!

DOH!

The photographer, Edgar Martins, has apparently been fooling everybody for years, but it’s just the bad luck of the New York Times that his photoshopping fraud is discovered in a “picture essay” they ran in print this past Sunday in the Times Magazine, as well as online.  The Times has removed the online slideshow, and replaced it with the egg-on-face “Editors’ Note” shown above, which reads:

“A picture essay in The Times Magazine on Sunday and an expanded slide show on NYTimes.com entitled ‘Ruins of the Second Gilded Age’ showed large housing construction projects across the United States that came to a halt, often half-finished, when the housing market collapsed. The introduction said that the photographer, a freelancer based in Bedford, England, ‘creates his images with long exposures but without digital manipulation.’

“A reader, however, discovered on close examination that one of the pictures was digitally altered, apparently for aesthetic reasons. Editors later confronted the photographer and determined that most of the images did not wholly reflect the reality they purported to show. Had the editors known that the photographs had been digitally manipulated, they would not have published the picture essay, which has been removed from NYTimes.com.”

Credit for catching the photographer’s “bullshit” goes to user “unixrat” in the ever-expanding comments section of the MetaFilter article:

I call bullshit on this not being photoshopped. Look at that wooden ‘triangle’ right near the top center.
posted by unixrat at 9:51 AM on July 7 [10 favorites]

You can see the damning evidence on the Photo District News’ PDN Pulse blog.

I cancelled my subscription to The Times years ago, although I still have a subscription to their crosswords.  Although I don’t have much respect left for their reporting (yeah, like their Atlantic Yards non-coverage), I’m almost beginning to feel sorry for the old gray lady.  Like a fading beauty queen, as she gets on in years, is not quite so graceful on the red carpet as she used to be.  A bit wobbly on her stilettos, a broken heal a very real possibility, perpetually a half step behind the younger, more nimble upstarts, she knows its just a matter of time.  One day, she’ll likely fade into obscurity.


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