Nets arena plan aired out
BY ERROL A. COCKFIELD JR. AND CURTIS L. TAYLOR
May 4, 2004, 8:18 PM EDT
Several hundred Brooklyn residents filled the City Council chamber Tuesday to voice concerns about the $2.5-billion development project that would include a new basketball arena for the Nets.
Their concerns included the fear of losing their homes, job creation and traffic issues.
Bill Howell, chairman of the Downtown Brooklyn Advisory and Oversight Committee, said the project's developer, Forest City Ratner, met or exceeded expectations on previous projects developed in the borough in the past 17 years.
"When Metro Tech was proposed, there were critics who said that Forest City would not provide jobs to the community," said Howell, president of Howell Industries, a minority-owned business in Red Hook. "They were wrong, and the evidence is clear. Just check the certified payrolls and the addresses of the workers at the job site and they will show that jobs actually went to the community," he told the council's Economic Development Committee.
Homeowner Chris Owens said the city failed to make a convincing case for the development.
"The city cannot articulate the benefits," he said. "There are a lot of assumptions at the moment."
Jim Stuckey, vice president for Forest City, testified that adjustments were being made to the existing plan to save more of the 160 dwellings earmarked for demolition under the current plan.
The arena is part of a redevelopment plan to transform Atlantic Yards, near the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues, into a mix of residential, office and retail space and parks.
Thirty-three businesses also would be demolished under the existing plan, according to opponents.
Monday, Forest City issued an economic study prepared by Andrew Zimbalist, a Smith College economist, who concluded that the Atlantic Yards development would net $812 million of additional revenue for the city and state over the next 30 years. The new revenue would come mainly from taxes on the incomes of players and team executives, as well as commercial and residential development adjacent to the proposed arena.
Forest City Ratner retained Zimbalist, who has written extensively about the negatives of sports arenas, in December.
Zimbalist said he is a proponent of the Downtown Brooklyn project because it departs from the typical stand-alone model. About 1.9 million square feet of office space and 4,500 new housing units would surround the arena.
"That makes it different from other sports projects," Zimbalist said.
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