Monday, September 26, 2005
Public open space at Atlantic Yards? Not til 2016, it seems--with a privatization of formerly "public" space
But don't hold your breath. Even if the project proceeds on schedule, it would be built in two phases, according to the ATLANTIC YARDS ARENA AND REDEVELOPMENT PROJECT DRAFT SCOPE OF ANALYSIS FOR AN ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT. The phase completed in 2009 would include 2,400 residential units, a hotel, 628,000 square feet of office space, the arena, and "1+ acres" of privately accessible open space on top of the arena. The document states: This rooftop open space would be accessible to users of the buildings constructed as part of the proposed project.
However, this was supposed to be public space. When announcing the plan in December 2003, Forest City Ratner promised: The roof of the Arena offers an exciting opportunity to create new public space, with 52,000 square feet in four lushly landscaped areas for passive recreation and a promenade along the outside edge of the roof with outstanding panoramic vistas facing Manhattan.
The New York Times reported on 12/12/2003, in an article headlined "A Grand Plan in Brooklyn For the Nets' Arena Complex," that the arena would be topped by a park: Under the proposal, the tracks for the train storage yard would be moved to the east, allowing the developer to build the $435 million, 19,000-seat arena for basketball, topped by a park with a running track that could be converted to an ice rink in the winter.
Architecture critic Herbert Muschamp (Courtside Seats to an Urban Garden, 12/12/03) wrote: Here, the stage will be activated by a running track around the perimeter of the arena's roof. In winter, the track becomes a skating rink. Other areas of the roof will be set aside for passive recreation.
As for the "7+ acres" of publicly-accessible open space? That would come by 2016. Does that mean it's going to be a park? Not clear. If the publicly-accessible open space at Forest City Ratner's MetroTech development is any clue, there will be a host of rules regarding usage of the space. See p. 77 (or p. 102 of the pdf) of my report. The rules (against littering, loitering, etc.) may not be that unreasonable, but they're enforced by the developer, not a public agency.