Sunday, September 25, 2005


Downscaling the project? Marty says yes, and the ESDC plan offers a hint

So, after being an unabashed booster of the Atlantic Yards project, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, now that the plan is proceeding, has voiced some misgivings. Why didn't he do so before the Atlantic railyard was sold a few weeks ago by the MTA? He knew the scale of the plan since May, if not sooner. Maybe it was pressure from rivals in the Borough President's race, notably Gloria Mattera of the Green Party, who criticized him at a candidates' debate September 19. It's not that Marty, the Democratic nominee, won't be reelected; maybe he's just worried about the margin.

A 9/22/05 Brooklyn Papers article headlined MAKE IT SMALLER
Marty downsizes his support for Ratner
Borough President Marty Markowitz has urged that developer Bruce Ratner downsize his Atlantic Yards mega-development, a project vigorously supported by Markowitz since 2003.
“We do have to scale down this project,” Markowtiz said during a debate Monday among Markowitz and three challengers seeking his job in the November election.
“There is no question, in terms of the project, in terms of the housing, and in terms of the buildings, it is time for all of us to join together to work cooperatively and downscale the project and to make it more reflective of the needs and aspirations of those of the environment it’s in.”
His comments came after two of Markowitz’s rivals voiced their opposition to the way in which Ratner’s bid to erect skyscrapers, high-rise housing and a sports arena was being handled.
...However, Markowtiz declined to elaborate on his statement when asked to do so by The Brooklyn Papers immediately after the debate.
“Here’s what I’m saying: I’m calling on the developer, now that the Atlantic Yards have been sold, now it’s the time to review and downscale this project,” said Markowitz in a vestibule behind the church.
...He declined to say whether that applied to the number of buildings, number of apartments or to the height and density of the skyscrapers and high-rises Ratner has proposed.
Said [Fort Greene Association chair Philip] Kellogg, “I don’t think anybody should be allowed to throw out a comment like that at this stage in the game and have it go unchallenged. Without specifics it has the potential to be window dressing.”

A 9/22/05 Brooklyn Downtown Star article titled Standing Up Against Marty also reported that Markowitz called for the proposal to be smaller:
"We do need to scale down the project," he said. Additional concerns about environmental effects, affordable housing and traffic, he said, "All of those are absolutely meritorious concerns...The first thing I ask of any developer is to guarantee a certain percentage of affordable housing." But he did not say what that percentage was, and whether it was still the 40 percent he demanded during much of the Greenpoint/ Williamsburg rezoning hearings.

The Empire State Development Corporation's ATLANTIC YARDS ARENA AND REDEVELOPMENT PROJECT DRAFT SCOPE OF ANALYSIS FOR AN ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT notes that they are considering a "Lower Density Alternative." Remember, this was originally a $2.5 billion project with 4,500 residential units and about 2 million square feet of office space. Now it's a $3.5 billion project with 7,300 residential units and 628,000 square feet of office space. We really need a breakdown of total square footage in both the original and the current plan--the current plan layout is in the ESDC document--to figure out whether a "Lower Density Alternative" would be at the scale of the original plan, or less, or more.

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