Monday, January 02, 2006


Two errors in one sentence: the Times cites "rezoning ... at the Atlantic Yards"

It was just part of one sentence in a long news analysis about Mayor Bloomberg's second term, but a New York Times article today contained two errors regarding the Atlantic Yards plan. The 1/2/06 article, headlined A Mayor With Lofty Goals, and Better Than Average Odds of Reaching Them, stated: the fruits of his huge rezoning initiatives along the Brooklyn waterfront and at the Atlantic Yards will not all be realized within four years.

First, there's been no rezoning regarding the Atlantic Yards project and, if the state Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) approves the project, the state would be overriding existing city zoning and allowing the developer to build much higher than previously permitted. As noted in Slam Dunk or Airball? A Preliminary Planning Analysis of the Brooklyn Atlantic Yards Project, a March 2005 by the Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development (PICCED), the project would avoid city land use rules. The PICCED study (p. 17) describes three sites, from west to east, that would make up the Atlantic Yards project:
The area above the railyards (Site 2), and much of the adjacent land in Prospect Heights is zoned M1-1 (manufacturing). The exceptions lie on lots fronting on Flatbush Avenue and Vanderbilt Avenue. At the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenue, on Site 1, the corner lots are zoned for commercial development (C6-1). Site 1 also contains a few lots along Flatbush Avenue that are zoned R7-A, for residential use. Residential uses are also permitted along Vanderbilt Avenue, in Site 3, where lots are currently zoned R7-A (see Map 3). Arenas are a special permit use for manufacturing districts, and would require a City Planning Commission review, if built subject to the current zoning (rather than through the authority of the Empire State Development Corporation).

Urban affairs expert Tom Angotti has described the planning process as "all backwards." The three affected community boards have asked, unsuccessfully, that the project be considered under the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, or ULURP. As the Brooklyn Papers reported in an 3/27/04 article headlined Ratner tower won’t play by city rules:
If the Ratner plan does, as expected, get sponsored by the Empire State Development Corp., it would be held up to much less stringent public review than under the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure. Rather than have its merits debated in at least four public hearings, a state review would only require Ratner’s plan to be publicly scrutinized at an environmental impact hearing under the State Environmental Quality Review Act.

Second, the phrase "at the Atlantic Yards" suggests that it is the name of the railyard that is the single largest piece of Forest City Ratner's planned development--or perhaps the name of some already-existing development parcel. Not so. The proposed development is called "Atlantic Yards," which implies that the 22-acre project would be built solely on the 8.3-acre MTA railyard, without the messy need to turn city streets into controversial superblocks, buy out property owners (as in the Dean Street buildings at right, courtesy of Forgotten NY), and exercise eminent domain. The MTA calls the railyard the Vanderbilt Yard.

Version of this error--"at Atlantic Yards," "in Atlantic Yards," etc.--have appeared in reports from several different newspapers. But it's sloppy shorthand. The press would better describe it as "at the proposed Atlantic Yards" or "the Atlantic Yards project" or "the Brooklyn railyard that would be part of Atlantic Yards" or "the MTA's Brooklyn railyard," etc.

Also, note that the paragraph containing that long sentence is a bit confusing. While it states that "many of [Bloomberg's] goals may not be realized for a decade or more," it also states that "the fruits... at the Atlantic Yards will not all be realized within four years." The latter phrasing could be read to suggest that most in fact would be realized. Given that the project has not yet been approved, and may be subject to litigation that would delay the process, the 2009 opening date for the arena and adjacent towers remains in question. Also, given that the project would be constructed in stages, with a large portion of it finished only by 2016 (according to the current schedule), a majority of the "fruits" may not have appeared by the end of Bloomberg's term.

The far west edge of the proposed Atlantic Yards site was rezoned as part of the Downtown Brooklyn development plan, and then taken out of the Downtown Brooklyn plan since that plan went through the city's Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP). As the Brooklyn Papers reported, in a 5/1/04 story headlined Downtown Plan overhaul: Other changes announced by the planning commission Monday included cutting out a portion of the plan area that overlaps with developer Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards development, a triangular lot at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues where Ratner would build the tallest of his Frank Gehry-designed towers, a 620-foot-tall skyscraper that would be the tallest building in the borough.

C'mon, you don't expect a New York Times reporter to actually do his homework, do you? Asking Bloomberg and Ratner hacks their totally unbiased opinions is more than enough to demand of one lowly reporter.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?