Wednesday, February 01, 2006


"Intense verticality" of Prospect Heights transformation would have ripple effects

At the Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee meeting 1/25/06 on socioeconomic conditions, the issue of displacement came up, and Borough President Marty Markowitz took a more narrow and optimistic view of the potential effects.

Assemblywoman Joan Millman pointed out, "I know that there are some very small owners of buildings not far from the planned project who have done mass rehabs, rented, with the proviso that, should something change... renters will be given three months notice before the developer turns the property into coops or condos. It seems like other people are thinking ahead, and thinking that the surrounding areas will change greatly."

Kate Suisman, legislative assistant for Council Member Letitia James, noted that small business owners on shopping strips like Fulton Street are concerned about effects during and after construction on the project. What could be done?

Jerry Armer, chair of Community Board 6, noted that, during the reconstruction in recent years of Smith Street in Carroll Gardens and Fifth Avenue in Park Slope, "We went to the city and the City Council for a reduction in real estate taxes. We didn't get very far."

Borough President Marty Markowitz asked Rob Perris, district manager of Community Board 2, "Do we have any major retail areas being impacted" by the project, other than the Modells/P.C. Richard complex on Flatbush Avenue? (Note that a 430-foot tower is planned to replace that complex.)

Perris responded, "I think there are several. Kate [Suisman] mentioned Fulton Street--"

Markowitz interjected, "On the construction site."

Perris pressed on and pointed to a wider range of impact, depending on where trucks come and leave from, and the ensuing traffic patterns: "The indirect impact would be not just Fulton Street but probably Vanderbilt Avenue. There's concern that Atlantic Avenue will change."

The effect: intense verticality

Markowitz said, "This developer has pledged that tenants in the footprint will be given first dibs [in the project] at the same rent they're currently playing. It's a pledge I happen to hold very dear, in support of this project."

Mindy Fullilove, Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Columbia University and author of a book on displacement, Root Shock, said, "People make pledges but they don't follow through. Part of the issue is: what teeth does it have?"

She added: "If you think about what's happening as the [project] footprint, you're missing the point. It's a transformation from a horizontal neighborhood to an intensely vertical neighborhood. It's meant to be upscale. It's going to create ripple effects.... It's an indirect blast to the neighborhood."

Markowitz was more sanguine, noting that new residents and arena visitors would lead to an economic spillover and new businesses. In his lifetime, Markowitz said, there were once 100 kosher delis in Brooklyn. "Consumer tastes have changed," he said.

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