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.


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.


Atlantic Yards hearing: “It’s Déjà vu, all over again”

May 30, 2009
State Senator Bill Perkins, Committee Chair

State Senator Bill Perkins, Committee Chair

Unfortunately, yesterday’s New York State Senate Hearing on Atlantic Yards, chaired by Senator Bill Perkins, seemed like a replay of the hearing on the Draft EIS almost 3 years ago:

What’s more depressing for me is that most Atlantic Yards opponents and supporters, and particularly those living in and around the footprint, all really want the same things, but we stand on opposite sides of a seemingly impenetrable divide.  I believe we all want:

  • development over the MTA’s Vanderbilt Rail Yard, which only makes up 8 of the 22 acres of the proposed project site
  • development that produces, first and foremost, affordable housing and living wage jobs for area residents
  • development that does not displace residents
  • development that’s funded prudently and makes the most of our limited tax dollars (seems that Atlantic Yards would be a net loss, per the Independent Budget Office [pdf] )
  • development that enhances and encourages diverse and robust growth of local business and amenities

How we attempt to achieve these goals is where we part ways.

Supporters seem to believe that Forest City Ratner’s Atlantic Yards development is the way to go, despite the fact that the basketball arena, a structure that nobody needs, would be built first.  The touted affordable housing would be built soon thereafter, so says the developer.  Supporters point to their Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) as a guarantee that FCR is legally-bound to follow-through on its promises, although it’s not legally binding.  I doubt the penalties in the CBA would ever be enforced if (when) FCR reneges on its “guarantees,” and I know that the supporters aren’t naive enough to take FCR’s word at face value.  I suppose they figure any agreement with the developer is better than no agreement.

I won’t go into in-depth analysis of the details of the hearing, as Norman Oder’s thorough coverage at Atlantic Yards Report is far more comprehensive than anything I could put together.

You can view more of my photos from the hearing here.


It’s about time: Atlantic Yards gets it’s first State Senate hearing, May 29

May 12, 2009
former site of the historic Ward Bread Bakery

former site of the historic Ward Bread Bakery

 

I would have thought/hoped that the Atlantic Yards project would have come under scrutiny years ago, but I suppose it’s better late than never that the State Senate will finally take a close look at this boondoggle.

I’ve tried to find and link to more information about the hearing on the State Senate’s web site, but have not been successful.  This hearing does not (yet) show up on their online calendar.

UPDATE:  Here’s a link to information on the hearing at the State Senate Committee web site

Download the hearing announcement:  THE 5-29-09 FINAL HEARING ANNOUNCEMENT

Read the announcement (from Develop – Don’t Destroy Brooklyn):

Save the Date:  Atlantic Yards Gets First State Senate Hearing – May 29

NOTICE: PUBLIC HEARING ON ATLANTIC YARDS

Senate Standing Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions
Senator Bill Perkins, Chair

In order to meet the needs of those who may have a disability, the New York State Senate and Assembly have made their facilities and services available to all individuals with disabilities. Accommodation will be provided to individuals with disabilities upon reasonable request, to afford such individuals access and admission to Senate and Assembly facilities and activities.

Subject:
Atlantic Yards: Where are we now; How did we get here; Where is the Project going? 
Testimony by invitation only. Written submissions welcome!

Purpose: 
To elicit recommendations for improved accountability, and transparency, land use planning, and community participation for large scale development.

Friday, May 29 
1PM – 5 PM 
Pratt Institute, Higgins Hall 
61 St. James Place (corner Lafayette Ave.) 
Brooklyn, NY 11238

Description 
The Atlantic Yards Arena and Redevelopment Plan (AY Plan) was announced by the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), a public authority, in 2003. The plan includes a 19,000 seat Arena and 16 high rises which are to be built during a ten year time period. The 22 acre site adjoins the neighborhoods of Fort Greene, Prospect Heights, Parks Slope and Boerum Hill in Brooklyn. It includes an 8 acre site owned by the MTA, and other properties owned by the City and private property owners. The Plan received all of its approvals in December 2006. The approval includes an override of the local zoning laws; an override of a more strict NYC Environmental Review; and approved taking properties by Eminent Domain.

The ESDC designated Forest City Ratner Corporation (FCRC) as the sole developer. New York State and New York City have committed to subsidize the Project through issuing bonding debts, infrastructure improvements, and other subsidies.

The Committee will hear testimony regarding financing, project oversight and the role of the Empire State Development Corporation, a public authority, in the Atlantic Yards Arena and Redevelopment Plan (AY Plan).

The Committee will hear testimony to ascertain:

(1) The status of the Brooklyn Atlantic Yards Arena and Redevelopment Plan (AY Plan).

After approval of the project in 2006 FCRC has been quoted in various media as having delayed the opening date of the arena, changed the number of affordable units and the scale of the project. What is the plan now?

(2) Cost, the extent of public financing commitments through bonding, Payments In Lieu of Taxes (PILOTS), infra-structure improvements, and other public subsidies.

  • What is the total public expenditure and cost of subsidies through infrastructure improvements, tax breaks, abatements, undervalued land, Brownfield tax credits, green construction tax credits, and reimbursements for land acquisition?
  • FCRC has applied for bonding to build affordable housing. Where has the developer applied for bonding, for how much and what is the per unit subsidy?
  • What amount has been set for the non arena PILOTS, and what is the formula for reimbursement for city services?

(3) The process for use and the impact of eminent domain.

(4) The cost of the arena

  • How much will the arena bond issue be and the PILOT to pay off the bonds?
  • If there is a default on the arena bond who will be responsible to pay off the debt?

(5) Conditions under which a developer is considered in default.

  • The ESDC gave FCRC 10 years to develop the project. FCRC has not yet begun construction almost three years after gaining approvals. The ESDC has given the developer extensions. At what point will the ESDC say “Enough is enough,” no more extensions because of the lack of activity.
  • Where is the point at which the ESDC will consider FCRC in default vis a vis the Memorandum of Understanding between the City, State and FCRC? And, if and when FCRC is declared in default does the ESDC agree that FCRC loses all rights to transfer, and/or sell any aspect of the project to another developer or entity.

Persons wishing to present testimony at the hearing should complete and return the attached reply form by Wednesday, May 20. You may reply by email, regular mail, or fax. It is important that the reply form be fully completed and returned so that persons may be notified in the event of postponement or cancelation of the hearing.

Testimony at the hearing is by Committee invitation only. However, written comments will be accepted by all who wish to submit comments.

The Public is encouraged to attend the hearing.

Witnesses are asked to keep oral testimony to no more than ten minutes. Written testimony will also be accepted and may be sent to the contact person listed on the reply form. In preparing the order of witnesses, the Committees will attempt to accommodate individual requests to speak at particular times in view of special circumstances. If you are testifying, please submit ten copies of any prepared testimony at the hearing registration desk. In order to further publicize the hearing, please inform interested parties of the Committee’s interest in receiving written testimony from all sources.

PUBLIC HEARING REPLY FORM

Persons wishing to present testimony at the Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions public hearing on May 29, 2009 regarding the status and progress of the Atlantic Yards Arena and Redevelopment project are requested to provide the information requested below and return by email, regular mail, or fax to:

Daniel Serrano, Esq.
Director of Public Policy
Office of Senator Bill Perkins, Chair Corporations, Authorities and Commissions Committee 
New York State Senate
163 West 125th Street
New York, NY 10027
Phone: 212-222-7315, Fax: 212-678-0001
dannyserranoesq@gmail.com

  • I would like to testify at the hearing on May 29, 2009.
  • I plan to attend, but will not testify at the hearing on May 29, 2009.
  • I plan to submit written testimony, only, at the hearing on May 29, 2009.
  • I will require assistance and/or handicapped accessibility information.  Please indicate the type of assistance required:

NAME: 
TITLE: 
ORGANIZATION:
ADDRESS: 
E-MAIL:
TELEPHONE: 
FAX:


No Federal Stimulus for Atlantic Yards – Please sign the petition

February 24, 2009
Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, New York

Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, New York

If you’re a resident of New York State, I urge you to add your name to an online petition to convince Governor Paterson to deny Forest City Ratner any of the federal stimulus funds for his Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn:

To: New York State Governor Paterson

I oppose the use of federal stimulus money to fund the Atlantic Yards project. The design, schedule and benefits of the project have clearly departed from what were disclosed to the public in 2006. Any allocation of stimulus to Atlantic Yards at this point would not only further reduce the project’s already unacceptable standard of accountability, it would deprive the people of New York City investment in urgently needed public works. I therefore urge you to reject any request for stimulus funds to be granted to Atlantic Yards.

http://www.petitiononline.com/noaystim/petition.html


Inauguration

January 30, 2009

the stage is set, originally uploaded by threecee.

Did you hear?!? Barack Obama is now The 44th President Of These United States!

I figured I must go down there to DC to be one of a small group of observers to document this minor news story.

You can check out more of my inauguration photos here.


The National (Shopping) Mall

January 23, 2009

I spent the afternoon before Inauguration day walking and photographing the spectacle of the pre-inaugural activities on the National Mall, from the steps of The Capitol, where Obama will be sworn in, to The Washington Monument.

Customers and retailers (aka Obama fans) were out in force engaged in commerce. Everything from the obvious (photos, calendars, buttons, t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, bumper stickers, calendars) to the not-so-obivous (LED encrusted watches, bottled water, free peace hugs, BARACKwurst) were being exchanged for dollars, pumping up the economy. This new demand for 1st family’s likenesses on any marketable surface was helping enterprising individuals make ends meet that seem to move further apart by the day. I was impressed by the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the primarily black sellers to cash in on this historic occasion. If he didn’t intend to do it this way, Barack Obama, or rather, his likeness, is helping put dollars into the pockets of the little guys. At least, I assume the little guys, as it’s probably not a stretch to imagine that the likes of Johnson & Johnson, Altria, G.E., and other big guys aren’t trying to help their bottom lines.

Despite this very opportunistic atmosphere, there was a lightness, almost giddy feeling floating in air. Families of all shades and hues posed for photos with big smiles, their Obama gear, in front of any and all iconic Washington, DC landmarks. Even the long lines of porta-potties got their due as the backdrop for at least one portrait.

Members of the armed-forces could barely walk 2 steps before someone wanted to have their picture taken in their sea of camouflage, and they invariably and happily obliged all requests.

There were also the protesters, but they were in the extremely small minority. Of the few that I noticed that afternoon, none were protesting Obama. Most were calling for Bush’s arrest and one very vocal (white) man was calling the wrath of God down on the heathen while one very vocal young (black) woman was heckling him as a racist homophobe.

Overall, considering the gravity of the occasion, I witnessed very little police presence. Heck, I’ve seen more forces arrayed at a rap show at the Oakland Coliseum. However, the area was heavily barrackaded for crowd control, and I saw a couple of mounted police units, spied sharp-shooters on roof tops, and the occasional helicopter whirred overhead. Media far outnumbered police, with CNN, MSNBC and many other well-known and much-less-well-known outfits setting up to record history.


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