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Thread: Atlantic Yards Development - Commercial, Residential, Retail, NBA Arena

  1. #631


    Well said!

  2. #632


    Quote Originally Posted by BPC
    Sharpton is this local scumbag pretend-reverend (he does not minister to an actual church) who knowingly perpetrated false rape charges against an innocent upstate prosecutor, basically ruining the poor guy's life. A jury found Sharpton guilty of defamation. He refused to pay the award, claiming he has no assets (his home, cars, fancy suits are all held in the name of his organization), and has yet to apologize. Later, he incited a riot against a white-owned Harlem store, leading to seven of its (minority) employees being burned to death. He is a media whore whom the guilty white liberal NYC media feels compelled to report on as some sort of respected figure. You can read some more of Sharpton's lowlights here:
    Being a black american, I use to hate Al Sharpton, however even while i dont always agree with him, he is gaining respect in my eyes. His media attention is well deserved, as he is a major force in the African-American community, whether we like it or not. His views, while many white consider them extreme, represent many of the sentiments in the black community. Especially in the case of the Atlantic Yards, where the support of minority groups is pivitol (acorn, god squad) etc.., Al Sharpton's endorsment it important

  3. #633


    Quote Originally Posted by JMGarcia
    Sharpton has obviously got a much better poller nowadays telling him what to say. Sorry, but I just can't trust the man for having any actual beliefs beyond what makes him the most money and what makes him the most popular.

    Sharpton doesn't need a poller. He knows what people in the community have been telling him, and that's why you have been seeing him go against some of his primary backers in the democratic party to support projects such as the Westside stadium and now the Nets arena development. Its all about jobs and getting more people involved, and if he wants to continue to be a voice for people, he has to voice their concerns. He could have very easily have taken the democratic candidates side and said "Bloomberg is only catering to wealthy white men with these developments."

  4. #634



    Architects Live In Class Houses: Piano Vs. Gehry

    Renzo Gets Times Tower, Columbia, Morgan Library; Mr. Bilbao in Brooklyn

    By Jason Horowitz

    When Frank Gehry abruptly pulled out of a 2000 competition to design The New York Times’ new headquarters, the paper quickly looked elsewhere. Before long, the paper splashed a design by winning architect Renzo Piano across the front page. But as Mr. Piano kept accumulating prestigious projects, The Times’ developing partner Bruce Ratner never let Mr. Gehry out of his sight.

    Now, years later, Mr. Gehry is having his moment in the headlines as chief architect of Mr. Ratner’s most ambitious project to date.

    “I never sought after work in New York,” Mr. Gehry told The Observer. “I met Bruce Ratner when we were doing the Times thing. And then one day he called and brought me this.”

    “This” is the colossal and controversial development project organized around a Brooklyn Nets arena at the Atlantic rail yards in downtown Brooklyn.

    Mr. Gehry and his one-time competitor Mr. Piano are not the house architects of New York City. That distinction belongs to Skidmore Owings and Merrill, the lofty developer to Manhattan’s biggest guns in business and real estate.

    But the new New York that is taking shape—with its ambitious towers, its cities within a city like the far West Side, Ground Zero and the Atlantic Yards—belongs to these two. So far, the two émigrés seem to be splitting the pie like a couple of New York old-timers.

    A spate of the city’s oldest and most august institutions—cultural bedrocks like the Morgan Library, the Whitney, Columbia University and The New York Times—have all chosen the Pritzker Prize–winning Italian architect Renzo Piano to spruce up some of New York’s most revered real estate for the 21st century.

    Directors and officials at those institutions gushingly describe Mr. Piano’s designs with adjectives like “understated,” “appropriate” and “elegant,” as if he were a well-bred and well-mannered suitor coming from overseas to claim their darling’s hand.

    On the other, shinier side of the coin, relatively new multimillionaires like Bruce Ratner of Forest City Ratner developers, media mogul Barry Diller or parvenu patrons like the B.A.M. Local Development Corporation, have turned to the Canadian-born architect Frank Gehry, also a Pritzker winner, who is most famous for the epochal Guggenheim building in Bilbao, Spain.

    His unorthodox and unapologetically iconic designs, such as the model for Mr. Ratner’s proposed Nets Stadium and the mini-metropolis that surrounds it, seem to be his clients’ way of signaling to the old social lions that they’ve arrived.

    But the projects taken on by the two architects also reflect the changing cultural landscape of New York, where relatively new museums and theaters have benefited from the rezoning for cultural districts that have drawn renowned architects—and many New Yorkers—away from Manhattan and into the boroughs.

    “The cultural hegemony perceived as being in Manhattan is now dispersed,” said Kate D. Levin, the city’s cultural-affairs commissioner. “It’s sort of ‘If you build it, they will come.’”

    If Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s abrasive approach to the infamous Sensation show at the Brooklyn Museum in 1999 chilled innovation among the city’s outlying cultural institutions, the same ones have felt encouraged by the new one, which not coincidentally is run by a man with a deep resume of personal contributions to arts organizations as well as a jones for massive development projects like Mr. Ratner’s basketball arena.

    The code word “basketball” should be enough to tell you that Mr. Gehry isn’t designing a project directed at Manhattan’s cultural elites.

    Some observers noted that when they sought to contrast Mr. Gehry with Mr. Piano.

    “Renzo has a quiet spirit, while Frank’s kind of scrappy,” said Jan Rothschild, an official at the Whitney Museum of American Art, who holds both architects in high regard.

    “In New York, it’s not easy to get things built,” Ms. Rothschild said. “And if you’re serious about getting things done in the gnarly political process, you need an architect who listens.”

    The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, apparently satisfied with Mr. Piano’s listening skills, approved his plan for the Whitney in May.

    Mr. Gehry still has to face community boards and landmark committees for Mr. Ratner’s $3.5 billion Atlantic Yards project, with its Brooklyn Nets basketball stadium, 1.9 million square feet of office space, housing for roughly 15,000, and skyscrapers as high as 60 stories piercing the now-unperturbed Brooklyn skyline. Mr. Gehry said that, along with the tempting challenge of the undertaking, he was attracted to the idea of working for Mr. Ratner, who he called a like-minded “liberal do-gooder” intent on making a statement in Brooklyn.

    “There are not many prototypes for doing something like this,” said Mr. Gehry, adding that his New York clients “come to me when they know that they are looking for something not the ordinary, and that’s kind of the common ground between them.”

    Mr. Ratner’s story is ordinary enough in the real-estate world. The son of Polish immigrants, who himself immigrated to the big city from Cleveland, he pulled himself up by his penny loafers. Afer becoming New York City’s consumer advocate at age 25, he turned to development to help make ends meet producing large-scale—though admittedly lackluster—projects in Brooklyn like the MetroTech complex and the Atlantic Center.

    Since then, he has acted as developing partner with the city’s most venerable institutions, including The Times for Mr. Piano’s design. But when it came time for Mr. Ratner to find an architect for his very own project—his basketball team—he apparently didn’t want just anyone.

    “In many ways, it was time for Gehry,” said Jim Stuckey, the executive vice president for commercial development at Ratner Forest City, who said Mr. Ratner had met Gehry during interviews for the New York Times project. “The way he has helped transform cities worldwide … we wanted to work with him one day. And this was it. I hope and believe that it is going to send a signal that this is something special. “

    Likewise, when Barry Diller’s InterActiveCorp decided in 2003 that Mr. Gehry was the right man for its Chelsea headquarters.

    After all, only one architect has landed an architectural spaceship of curved titanium sheathing in a Spanish wasteland, turning the town into a celebrated cultural-tourist attraction, or trudged like a veritable Fitzcarraldo seeking to bring culture to backwoods Brazilian towns on a doomed scouting expedition for the Guggenheim.

    It is tough, to say the least, to imagine Mr. Piano—who loves to talk about his work in terms of the Sacred and the Profane—slashing a machete through the brush, not to mention venturing across the East River. Indeed, Mr. Piano’s New York undertakings tend not to stray far from Central Park.

    Perhaps the best illustration of the different interests, ambitions and temperaments of the two architects is their convergence in the 2000 competition to build the New York Times Building, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2007.

    Mr. Gehry was reportedly the favorite going into the final weeks of the competition, but his friends and colleagues said he grew increasingly frustrated about the corporate approach of The Times, including requirements that he open an office in New York and fly in from his headquarters in Santa Monica at least once a week. The site was also part of the 42nd Street Development Project, so city and state officials held a certain sway over Mr. Gehry’s proposed skyscraper.

    In the end, Mr. Gehry pulled out of the competition, though he maintains that it was a purely logistical decision. “It was a deadline issue,” he said. Some of his friends say otherwise.

    “He was really offended by those people,” said David C. Levy, who worked closely with Mr. Gehry as the former president and director of the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, referring to the Times executives. Mr. Levy recalled a conversation that he’d had with Mr. Gehry soon after the Times negotiations fell apart, in which Mr. Gehry summed up The Times’ attitude as wanting to build offices on spec for maximum profit, and not caring if he built a box with a mouse hole in it. “Frank Gehry is not interested in a box with a mouse hole in it. You have to be interested in architecture with a capital A,” said Mr. Levy. “He said he walked into that room and then walked right out. The atmosphere was that this project wasn’t going to work out.”

    Soon after, on Oct. 13, 2000, The Times published Mr. Piano’s shimmering model of the new Times building on the front page.

    The Times building and the Morgan Library were Mr. Piano’s first efforts in New York, and they lent him a cachet that served as a secret password for entrance into the city’s upper-crust cultural institutions. Impressed with his flexibility and eagerness to please, the commissions kept rolling in, amounting to an Italianate influence on the city that hasn’t been seen since the introduction of pizza.

    “I have seen the learning curve, and he has adapted to it quickly,” said Bruce Fowle of Fox and Fowle Architects, which is working with Mr. Piano on the Times building. “He has a good understanding of what makes New York tick—what sells and what doesn’t sell,” Mr. Fowle added. “His conceptual ideas come from a deep inner sense about appropriateness.”

    Fans of Mr. Piano in those institutions said they were first attracted to the architect by his masterpieces like the Menil Collection in Houston and the Pompidou Center in Paris, but they also admired his talent for cutting through red tape.

    “He has always been very deft and very intelligent and sensible about dealing with the political and psychological and historical realities of the place where he is building,” said Charles E. Pierce Jr., the director of the Morgan Library, which selected Mr. Piano to undertake its $102 million–plus renovation in 2001. “He obviously had to acquire these skills within the New York context.”

    Land-use lawyers and consultants who have worked with Mr. Piano on several of his New York projects likewise testified to his very real reverence for the city’s landmarks and his unique ability to make both museum directors and board members happy.

    “He [Piano] has a different style of dealing with clients than I do,” Mr. Gehry acknowledged, adding that he admires Mr. Piano’s work. “I did a decent museum in Bilbao and never got asked to do another one again. The marketplace is telling you what they want. The marketplace feels more comfortable with what he is doing. I don’t know why.”

    Rick Bell, the executive director of the American Institute of Architects New York, suggested one possibility.

    “What’s great about Gehry’s buildings is that they bloom like flowers, and maybe they will fade—maybe the celebratory nature won’t be the same after 50 years. I don’t think anyone thinks Renzo’s buildings are coming down so fast. The question is what is their longevity, and that is maybe what the people on the board are thinking.”

    Mr. Gehry, who designed a building for his “friend” Issey Miyake and a cafeteria for Condé Nast, seems to have more of an affinity for clients with something to prove.

    “Buildings like his say that there is something special and wonderful here,” said Jeanne Lutfy, president of the B.A.M. Local Development Corporation, a nonprofit group seeking to promote a cultural district in downtown Brooklyn around the Brooklyn Academy of Music. “The theater was interested in elevating, in making sure their place was going to be special,” she said, referring to the Theater for a New Audience. “You have an opportunity to stand out more in Brooklyn.”

    Not everyone wants such conspicuous buildings in Brooklyn. Mr. Ratner’s plan for the Brooklyn rail yards met with heated protest from residents who thought the new skyline would threaten the borough’s earthy brownstone charm.

    But many have argued that Mr. Ratner’s project better protects the borough’s traditional residents.

    “There is an interesting thing about the Manhattanization of Brooklyn. The people who are forced out,” said Mr. Stuckey, “have been gentrified out by a lot of people who are opposing this. So I ask, who is really bringing Manhattan to Brooklyn?”

    Indeed, Brooklyn has, over the last decade, attracted people who traditionally lived in or once wanted to live in Manhattan. City officials said that the influx has given a boost to start-ups in the city’s cultural scene and helped them compete with the old powerhouses, which they could one day join or replace at the top.

    “In a way, New York City is so young,” said Ms. Levin, comparing the city to the great cultural cities of Western Europe, where old-money collections can be traced back to a lord or even a Pope in the family. “We think the Morgan library is old, but it isn’t. The generational cycle of New York culture is pretty new.”

    You may reach Jason Horowitz via email at: .
    This column ran on page 1 in the 7/25/2005 edition of The New York Observer.

  5. #635



    Ratner Is Gaining as the Nets Owner Nuzzles Advocates

    “Mr. Mayor, I could just kiss you!” Developer Bruce Ratner's unlikely ally, ACORN's Bertha Lewis, heats up the halls of government.

    By Matthew Schuerman

    On a January day last year, about 30 activists walked into a windowless boardroom, high over downtown Brooklyn, belonging to Forest City Ratner Companies.

    “Is Bertha going to start something?” one of the Forest City executives asked the group. The activists—members and employees of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now—were more used to knocking on tenement doors in East New York than being put such a question about their executive director across an oaken conference table.

    Bertha—Bertha Lewis, ACORN’s colorfully dressed leader—did start something that January day: a mutually beneficial relationship with one of the city’s largest real-estate developers which has become so close that she recently kissed Forest City chief Bruce Ratner on the lips. In public. And Mayor Michael Bloomberg for good measure.

    Bertha and Bruce represent the new synergy powering some of New York’s grandest development schemes: the picketer and the developer, happy together. And if the scene seems less incongruous than Jane Jacobs taking out a parks contract to plant the median of Robert Moses’ proposed Westway, that’s simply because the economics—and politics—of development in New York City have changed irrevocably since then.

    Bertha Lewis is politely described—when she is described politely—as “a forceful advocate for her causes.” A former Off Broadway producer, the 54-year-old Ms. Lewis retains a flair for the dramatic, and the kisses are just the latest performance.

    Her last run-in with Forest City was in 2000, a few years after the developer opened up a mall just a mile away. Ms. Lewis picketed the mall for several days, until the developer agreed to pressure the retail tenants to hire through a hiring hall that ACORN had set up for its members.

    Ms. Lewis brings such moral authority to Mr. Ratner’s plan to build 7.5 million square feet of apartments and offices, along with an arena for the Nets basketball team, that it will be hard for city and state officials to do anything to block it.

    The M.T.A., which owns the land on which much of the project will be built, may vote on selling the land as early as next week.

    In return, Ms. Lewis gets a chance to enact the type of mixed-income housing scheme she has been trying to turn the city on to for several years, and she will probably get a substantial marketing contract for her organization as well. Along the way, however, she has attacked her adversaries with such disdain—accusing them of being (gasp!) gentrifiers and white liberals—that some of her old comrades in the community-organizing world wonder whether she has gone too far.

    Forest City wanted to include affordable housing in its Atlantic Yards project, but its proposal—setting aside one-fifth of the units for low-income families—struck ACORN as doing nothing for the wide swath of working people who were getting priced out of Brooklyn. When Ms. Lewis entered MetroTech that January day, she was fresh off a mildly successful campaign to convince the city to change the way it subsidizes mixed-income housing.

    In 2002, the city’s Housing Development Corporation began offering extra-special financing—1 percent loans—for developers who were willing to set aside 20 percent of their units for low-income tenants and another 30 percent for a rather generous version of the middle class: those with incomes of up to $109,000 for a family of four.

    But ACORN believed that those guidelines resulted in “bunching”: The entire middle-income quota tended to come in just under the maximum, so that in one building one could find the very poor, the affluent and the well-off who were renting at market rates, but no one much in between.

    Ms. Lewis wanted to change all that. Her plan—hatched with her housing expert, Ismene Speliotis—was to divide up the non-market portion of these complexes into five sections, each with a different income slice, from about $18,400 to $94,200. Rent would initially be set at 30 percent of the household’s income, and would then increase along with other rent-stabilized apartments in the city.

    ACORN was only able to persuade the city to set aside $25 million for a tiered-income housing pilot project, so Atlantic Yards represented a chance to convince a private developer to do what the city wouldn’t. (Forest City will ask for city Housing Development Corporation bonds, however.) By the time Ms. Lewis had finished her presentation in the 11th-floor boardroom, Mr. Ratner was sitting in the back, grinning, but with his fingers crossed. “He was saying, ‘I hope you know what you’re talking about. I don’t want you pulling my chain here,’” said Debbie Tiamfook, an ACORN member who attended the meeting.

    But ACORN succeeded, then and in subsequent meetings, in convincing Forest City—which is one of ACORN’s top donors, giving about $20,000 a year for its fund-raiser, according to Ms. Lewis—that it could both make a profit and set a model for public policy.

    The development company had done enough work in Brooklyn to know the value of an important local ally, and so it gave ACORN pretty much everything it asked for. “Usually we don’t give up our final position when we start negotiating, but this time we threw all of that out the window,” Ms. Lewis recalled. “There was never this sense of an opening gambit, and they never played around with us either.”

    This May, as part of the housing agreement that occasioned the kisses, ACORN formally agreed to appear at events promoting the project—although, in reality, Ms. Lewis has already been doing that for a year. The fight she encountered was unlike any other she had fought in her life: Her enemies turned out to be not crass developers or greedy bankers or stubborn city officials, but the most grassy of the grassroots: neighbors and churches and a local City Councilwoman who objected to Forest City’s proposed swath of towers, so large and shiny that it would rise up out of the plain of Brooklyn three-flats like the City of Oz.

    Ms. Lewis likes to characterize these opponents, as she did last month on WNYC radio’s Brian Lehrer Show, as “brownstone folk,” as opposed to the “black and brown people” in the public-housing developments about half a mile away whose cause she champions. She dismisses the black ministers who are opposing the project, or reserving judgment on it, as a mere handful of individuals out to get a piece of the action. (She also neglects to mention the congregations they represent.) The Brooklyn Eagle quoted her as saying: “Whenever you have a small group of white liberals running and screaming about something, people think it’s important.” When asked whether it’s a conflict of interest if her organization gets paid to market the units, Ms. Lewis told The Observer, “Then again, I guess you could ask the same thing of the folks who oppose it. Isn’t it a conflict of interest for people who have been part of the wave of gentrification to oppose something, wanting to protect that asset?”

    Forest City, by the way, does want to hire ACORN as its marketing agent, according to James P. Stuckey, a Forest City executive vice president and the Atlantic Yards project manager. “I think ACORN has proved to be a very, very strong advocate for affordable housing in Brooklyn,” Mr. Stuckey said.

    Ms. Lewis seems to reserve her strongest feelings for the local City Council member, Letitia James, characterizing her to Brian Lehrer as an elected official who “doesn’t choose to represent all of the people in her district.” Ms. James, like Ms. Lewis, is black; she is also a member of the Working Families Party, which was founded by Ms. Lewis and a number of labor unions in 1998 to bring the Democratic Party more to the left. Usually, the Working Families Party is content to endorse the Democratic or, occasionally, the Green Party candidate, but Ms. James actually won her race by running solely on its line. The Atlantic Yards project has split the members of Working Families down the middle—but strangely enough, it didn’t poison the party’s endorsement for the 35th District Council seat, which Ms. James won this spring.

    What ACORN does with its endorsement is another matter.

    “This is really not a debate between ACORN and myself,” Ms. James said. “This is really about development and how development should go forward in the city of New York, and whether we in the city and the state of New York should be subsidizing a basketball arena and 17 buildings.”

    Ms. James is all in favor of affordable housing, but she says she wants the towers to be lower, and she also wants to devote the land that would be used for the arena to build more affordable housing. She helped draft a plan with some neighborhood architects outlining such a project, and many of its aspects were adopted by a rival development company, Extell Corporation, which submitted the only other bid to the M.T.A. (besides Forest City’s) for the Atlantic Yards.

    Extell wouldn’t need the government to seize property under eminent domain—another major grievance in the Forest City plan—but it is asking for at least some of the $200 million that the city and state have offered Forest City to cover the rail yard, purchase property and do other improvements. (A study by the Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development estimates that the true cost of Forest City’s plan—including tax credits that the city and state offered under an exclusive agreement signed in March—might exceed $1 billion.)

    Extell is still vague about affordable housing—the company only learned that the M.T.A. had put the land up for sale a few weeks ago—but it has said that it would put aside 30 percent of its units at non-market rates. How that compares to Forest City’s plan is a matter of some debate. The housing agreement, signed by Ms. Lewis and Mr. Ratner in May, stipulates that 2,250 units will be non-market units. (The top price, at $1,440 a month for a studio, however, is about market rate for the area.) But it’s less clear about the condominiums and additional rentals that Mr. Ratner is suggesting he will build instead of office space, for which there is less of a demand. If Ms. Lewis fails to win any more units through subsequent negotiations—a possible but unlikely scenario—Forest City would end up devoting just 31 percent of its rentals to non-market rates.

    Forest City seems flexible on the height of its towers, but it won’t start discussing lowering them until the governmental review begins. “We are completely prepared to address the density issue and the density question, which we know they will raise with us as part of the approval process,” said Mr. Stuckey, the Forest City executive vice president. “Although we have a lot of reasons to believe that what we have proposed makes perfect sense, obviously we know that there is a process, and we haven’t begun that process yet.”

    Ms. Lewis, on the other hand, long ago sacrificed the scale of the neighborhood. If this debate, at heart, is about the “community”—the “brownstone people” versus the “brown and black people”—then Ms. Lewis’ position is all the more curious, considering that the housing plan she had fought for will set aside 225 units for families making as much as $94,200 a year—a tacit acknowledgment that the upper-middle class needs help also. “I think the density issue actually helps to address the jobs problem, the housing problem and the amenities problem,” Ms. Lewis said. “I don’t think any other plan does it. We have no problem with the density, because it is so far outweighed by other benefits.”

    The opposition is trying its best to pick apart the housing agreement, as well as the so-called community-benefits agreement that Mr. Ratner signed last month with eight community groups, including ACORN. Again, do eight groups represent the entire community? The most visible opposition group, Develop-Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, lists 48 groups as either being against or having serious reservations about the Atlantic Yards project on its Web site. The community-benefits agreement—which includes goals for Forest City to meet in terms of minority hiring, job training and leasing to minority-owned stores—is too easy to get out of, according to one critic, the Reverend Clinton Miller of the Brown Memorial Baptist Church.

    But the very diversity of the project’s opposition—advocates for low-income residents joining property owners concerned about a changing neighborhood—is also problematic. On the one hand, how can critics complain that only 20 to 30 percent of Forest City’s units will be truly low-income, when Extell’s lower towers wouldn’t accommodate any more? Few people with experience in grassroots work think that ACORN could have won any more concessions. “They did better than I thought they would, and they didn’t beat anybody up to do it,” said Brad Lander, the director of the Pratt Institute Center and former head of the Fifth Avenue Committee. But he remains ambivalent about the project, waiting to hear more details on traffic and the subsidies. “I just don’t feel ready to pick between Ratner and Extell,” Mr. Lander said. “I have a lot of reservations, but I also think it’s a lot of affordable housing and a meaningful number of union jobs—and I like basketball.”

    Another community organizer put it this way: “One day I think, ‘Oh, it’s a pretty good arrangement,’ and the next morning I wake up and say, ‘What the **** is going on?’”

    What sort of day will it be when members of the M.T.A. board—and other public officials down the line—wake up and have to make a decision on Atlantic Yards? Whether or not they think the plan has its imperfections, they know that by rejecting it, they’ll be rejecting a massive affordable-housing package. And “affordable housing” has become as American as apple pie in New York today. Ms. Lewis knows that. It will be very hard for anyone to take away her slice.

  6. #636

    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Bell
    “What’s great about Gehry’s buildings is that they bloom like flowers, and maybe they will fade—maybe the celebratory nature won’t be the same after 50 years.”
    Well said.

  7. #637


    A lot of Ghery´s stuff is crass. It seems to be designed for people with insecure taste who haven´t a clue. He´s like some oldster trying to be wild and crazy and hip at all costs. His designs are like those life-of-the-party people you try to avoid.

    I´ll take Piano.

  8. #638
    Forum Veteran
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    Jan 2003
    Garden City, LI


    Quote Originally Posted by BPC
    Sharpton is this local scumbag pretend-reverend (he does not minister to an actual church) who knowingly perpetrated false rape charges against an innocent upstate prosecutor, basically ruining the poor guy's life. A jury found Sharpton guilty of defamation. He refused to pay the award, claiming he has no assets (his home, cars, fancy suits are all held in the name of his organization), and has yet to apologize. Later, he incited a riot against a white-owned Harlem store, leading to seven of its (minority) employees being burned to death. He is a media whore whom the guilty white liberal NYC media feels compelled to report on as some sort of respected figure. You can read some more of Sharpton's lowlights here:

    Bless you...

  9. #639


    Wow sharpton sounds like an real asshole, like i said in my original question he should get his nose out of this it aint got shit to do with him and i dont care what his opinions are. Anyway in response to the piano/gehry article ive got say i prefer piano, his design for the glass shard tower in london is beautiful, ive always found gehrys (especially the guggenhiem) a bit hard for the eyes to comprehend and make sense of, i havent really had time to study all his work as all you studying and qualified architects will know how tight the schedule can be. That said i did prefer gehrys design for the times building.

  10. #640


    Quote Originally Posted by alonzo-ny
    Wow sharpton sounds like an real asshole, like i said in my original question he should get his nose out of this it aint got shit to do with him and i dont care what his opinions are.

    Actually, contrary to the statements of those posted above, Sharpton is a reverend. In the black community, you don't have to have a congregation to be considered a reverend. In fact, most don't.

    That being said, you don't have to care for his opinion any more than you do anyone elses. The reason its a media story is the fact that Sharpton is perceived as the kind of activists who would be against large developments such as these. But as mentioned before where it concerns this development, things are no longer as one-sided as they were. More and more people are beginning to realize that the stance of the anti-development crowd is not in their own best interests. New developments bring new jobs and new oppurtunites, whereas those railyards have been sitting there for years.

  11. #641



    The Battle of Brooklyn
    Grassroots groups split on whether arena plan scores for borough

    Divided and conquered: Brooklyn's divided not only by rail but also by the Atlantic Yards plan.

    by Jarrett Murphy
    July 19th, 2005

    In February 2000, the veteran activists at ACORN—the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now—demonstrated against developer Bruce Ratner over hiring practices at the Atlantic Center mall he operates. The protesters wanted the stores there to hire more kids from the community and pay living wages. Cops threw the rabble-rousers out. They kept shouting from the sidewalk.

    Five years later, Ratner's firm Forest City Ratner has proposed a massive development comprising an NBA arena for his New Jersey Nets and thousands of residential units across the street from the mall, over the MTA's Atlantic Avenue rail yards and on surrounding blocks. But ACORN won't be rallying against Ratner this time. Instead, the group will help sell the Atlantic Yards deal to government agencies, community groups, and the media.

    Under a deal with the developer, in exchange for Ratner's promise to provide affordable housing and a host of other community benefits, ACORN and several other nonprofit organizations have agreed to support the Atlantic Yards plan. That alliance pits them against longtime allies who think the goodies that Ratner has offered are not worth the price: perhaps 15 new high-rise buildings—one of them possibly 60 stories tall—built with the help of public subsidies and, perhaps, the bulldozers of eminent domain.

    The way the rail yards split the landscape, the Ratner proposal has divided Brooklyn. ACORN has fallen out with local city councilwoman Letitia James, whom the group helped to elect but who now opposes the plan. Reverend Herbert Daughtry, a well-known clergyman, has broken with an organization he founded and set up a new group to support Atlantic Yards.

    Some residents in the footprint of Ratner's proposal have sold out to the developer. Others are hanging on.

    It's all about hanging on—for everyone involved—in the face of gentrification, which has accelerated in Brooklyn in recent years. Some of the people affected by Atlantic Yards arrived in earlier waves of displacement. That makes project supporters unsympathetic. "We just think that folks who have been part of the gentrification of the community don't get to define the community," says New York ACORN executive director Bertha Lewis.

    Not everyone in the footprint is a newcomer. But if a new wave of new residents is coming, ACORN asks, why not ride it for all you can? "Downtown Brooklyn is growing, and if it's growing, let's get a piece of the action. Let's get something for the community," says Greg Blankinship, co-chair of ACORN's Prospect Heights/Crown Heights chapter. "This is progress."

    ACORN, which has chapters in many cities, has always prided itself on being the kind of nonprofit that delivers results and not just rallies. That means its workers have adopted roles that grassroots activists don't usually play. Longtime advocate for tenants, it's also the landlord of several properties. It has partnered with banks it once criticized for redlining. And an independent political consulting group for which some ACORN activists have worked has done $400,000 worth of organizing for city candidates since 2001.

    That pragmatic approach shaped the group's response to Ratner's proposal. Lewis says she didn't find opponents of the arena compelling, because "it's not really up to us if this thing comes to fruition or not." But if it happens, she says, "we shouldn't wait until it's all done and we can't affect it."

    So when ACORN came up with a housing plan that it thought would create long-term affordability and Ratner was willing to listen, the seeds of a deal were sown. The fruit of months of negotiations was a 50-page "community benefits agreement" in which Ratner pledges to make 50 percent of the apartments affordable (2,250 units), set aside construction contracts and leased space for minority- and women-owned businesses, give public housing residents and low-income people from the immediate area priority for any jobs, and house a health clinic and day care center in the project. A long list of other benefits is also included. Along with Ratner, ACORN, and Daughtry's Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance, signers include Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development, Public Housing Communities, and the New York State Association of Minority Contractors.

    Lewis contends that the deal is the first such legally binding community benefits agreement in city history and calls it unique because it imposes a stricter income ceiling in the affordable-housing component. The pluses of Atlantic Yards, she says, outweigh the worries about its size and the people it might displace.

    "I think that when you take all of it together this is a net gain for Brooklyn especially and for New York City," Lewis says. "The net gain is it can stop some of this tidal wave of gentrification. It can supply, over the next 10 years, 15,000 jobs—good-paying jobs."

    But there's disagreement about the size of those benefits. Forest City Ratner quotes an estimate of a $1.55 billion net gain to the city and state over 30 years. But the New York City Economic Development Corporation arrives at a much smaller $524 million fiscal gain to the city. (The EDC doesn't report a figure for the state.) To break even, the city and state have to get back more in taxes than the $500 million in public financing Ratner would use.

    Critics of the proposal—including Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, the Fifth Avenue Committee, and the Pratt Area Community Council—see far larger costs than the dollar figures. The character of the neighborhood might change dramatically. Eminent domain could be used to force people out of their homes for a private development. And there's the precedent set by such a major project as Ratner's not going through the city's land use approval process, which does not apply to state property like the MTA-owned rail yards.

    Ratner's plan is still a long way from a green light. Assuming his bid for the rail yards beats rival developer Extell's smaller-scale proposal, Ratner still faces a state environmental review and the Public Authorities Control Board—the body that doomed the West Side stadium. "And who knows what can happen at that point?" Forest City Ratner's Bruce Bender tells the Voice.

    As that process unfolds, the community groups will play the important role of giving Ratner street credibility. But critics say the deal between Ratner and the community groups makes promises it can't deliver. Ratner can't tell his tenants to hire local or low-income people; he has agreed, instead, merely to spur discussions. If Ratner sells Atlantic Yards, the deal doesn't require that the community benefits agreement remain in place.

    Even in the affordable-housing plan, critics see the devil in the details. As in all housing programs, the income tiers are based on regional statistics, which cite income levels much higher than Brooklyn's. The effect is that 10 percent of the apartments might be set aside for people making more than $60,000 a year and who would pay rents that aren't much lower than market rate. Given those potential income levels, and the fact that the project includes 2,250 market-rate apartments and 1,500 condos, City Councilman Charles Barron calls Atlantic Yards "instant gentrification."

    None of the community groups allied with Ratner are getting any fees under the agreement, although they might be well positioned to eventually bid for contracts to provide some of the services that the agreement covers, like affordable housing and the day care center.

    As the best known of the groups involved, ACORN will play a particularly important role in selling the Atlantic Yards deal (a recent picture of Lewis smooching Mayor Bloomberg, for example, was priceless publicity for hizzoner). For several years Ratner, like several other city business figures, has donated money to ACORN, but officials at the group scoff at the idea that they've been bought off.

    Critics, however, say ACORN has bought into the dubious notion that it faced a choice between joining with Ratner or being left with nothing for Brooklyn's low-income people. In fact, the deal's opponents say, it's possible that a smaller-scale development could have generated similar community gains.

    "Ratner's project is probably the least efficient, most harmful way of creating affordable housing," says Daniel Goldstein of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn. "I believe that ACORN has been trying to do the right thing. I don't think there's anything nefarious. I just think it's shortsighted and that they've set up false arguments. It's a false debate."

  12. #642



    Details of Brooklyn plans unveiled

    By The Associated Press
    July 22, 2005

    The Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Friday released details of the competing bids for the Brooklyn railyard where developer Bruce Ratner wants to build a new home for the Nets basketball team.

    According to the Ratner proposal released by the MTA, the developer's Forest City Ratner Companies has offered to pay $50 million in cash and $156.4 million in improvements to the transportation hub where it plans a Frank Gehry-designed basketball arena and a series of residential towers that would transform the low-rise Brooklyn skyline. The firm also proposes to spend $163 million in what it calls extraordinary infrastructure costs, including $99 million to build a platform over the railyard. Ratner's firm would use $200 million in city and state subsidies for infrastructure improvements on its 21-acre project.

    The bid by Extell Development Company offers $150 million in cash for the 8.4-acre railyards and proposes using $150 million in public subsidies for a smaller project that it called "less dense, lower-rise and contextual to the surrounding neighborhoods."

    Forest City Ratner said in a statement Friday that its project offered public benefits including a state-of-the-art new train yard and improved subway station entrances nearby.

  13. #643


    So, let me see if I understand this correctly:


    $50 million cash
    $156 million for transportation hub
    $163 million for extra cost
    minus $200 million city/state subsidies


    $150 million cash
    minus $150 million public subsidies

    So it seems it comes down to this:

    $369 million minus $200 million subsidies = $169 million overall

    $150 million minus $150 million subsidies = nothing

    Of course, its not that clear cut....

  14. #644
    The Dude Abides
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    NYC - Financial District


    Rival Bid Tops Ratner's Offer to Develop Brooklyn Site


    Published: July 23, 2005

    A rival bidder to Bruce Ratner, the developer, has made a $150 million cash offer for development rights at the Atlantic railyard in Downtown Brooklyn, three times the amount Mr. Ratner bid for the property, where he proposes a $3.5 billion tower complex that includes a basketball arena for the Nets, stores, parks and 6,000 apartments.

    The rival bid, made by the Extell Development Company, is a far more modest $1 billion proposal to build almost 2,000 apartments over the yard. Mr. Ratner, who also intends to acquire many of the parcels to the east of the yard, bid only $50 million for the development rights, according to documents released yesterday by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

    The difference in those bids could be a problem for the Ratner proposal, even though it has far more political support. The agency's board, which is set to choose between the two offers at its monthly meeting on Wednesday, may have to contend with a new law that requires it to take the highest offer, without regard to any political considerations.

    Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, a Westchester Democrat, said that the authority "ought to live by the law," which was passed in June but does not take effect until late this year.

    In a further complication, an appraisal commissioned by the transportation agency and released yesterday put the value of the development rights at $214.5 million, far more than either bidder is offering.

    The contest is reminiscent of the Jets' long, costly and ultimately losing battle with Cablevision to build a $2.2 billion stadium over a railyard in Manhattan. The agency accepted the Jets bid, even though Cablevision offered more money. But in June, the state's top legislators refused to approve the project. The matchup in Brooklyn promises to be no less politically charged. Gov. George E. Pataki, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and dozens of other elected officials, labor leaders and housing activists support Mr. Ratner, a politically astute and well-established developer based in Brooklyn.

    But Extell, an upstart developer active in Manhattan, has fashioned a proposal intended to curry favor with local residents and others who view Mr. Ratner's proposal as an oversize and heavily subsidized intrusion on a quiet, low-scale neighborhood. It contains a number of conditions that could trip it up and is not easy to compare directly with the one from Mr. Ratner.

    But unlike Mr. Ratner, Gary Barnett, Extell's president, has vowed to avoid using the state's condemnation power to acquire property and to go through the city's land use review process. Mr. Barnett has said that he decided to bid for the land only after community groups opposed to Mr. Ratner's project sought out rival bidders.

    "Extell is prepared to do more for the community than Forest City," said Councilwoman Letitia James, who opposes the arena project, referring the Mr. Ratner's company. "They're also prepared to work with the entire community, not just a select few. They'll build to scale and not a bunch of skyscrapers."

    The contest is over the rights to an 8.4-acre parcel known as Vanderbilt Yards, a potentially valuable site opposite Atlantic Terminal, the city's third-largest transportation hub, with 10 subway lines and a station for the Long Island Rail Road. The railyard now forms a waterless moat between the surrounding neighborhoods, but the residential project proposed for the site could form a vibrant bridge between the communities.

    Extell has proposed building 1,940 apartments in a series of 11 buildings on the site, ranging from four to 38 stories. The project would include landscaped walkways, recreation, 1,000 parking spaces and 573 subsidized apartments for low- and moderate income residents.

    But his bid requires a subsidy of up to $150 million from the city and the state for infrastructure. The closing will not take place until after the company obtains the needed public approvals, a process that could take a year or longer.

    Supporters of Mr. Ratner's project contend that there will be tens of millions of dollars in additional public benefits from his project, ranging from jobs and additional tax revenues from the arena for the M.T.A. to affordable housing and mass-transit improvements.

    Mr. Ratner, chief executive of Forest City Ratner, plans to build a glass-walled arena for the Nets at the western end of the property and 15 towers containing office space and 6,000 apartments, with some soaring up to 50 stories.

    He is also planning for 1,500 condominiums and promising to build 600 affordable, for-purchase homes, either on or off the site.

    Under a nonbinding agreement signed in March, the city and the state each agreed to provide Mr. Ratner with $100 million for infrastructure work related to the entire project.

    In a statement released yesterday, James Stuckey, executive vice president for Forest City Ratner, said that only $100 million of the government money would be used at the railyard, in contrast with Extell's plan to use up to $150 million there. Mr. Stuckey also said that his company would spend $163 million to build a platform over the yards, as well as retaining walls.

    One leading opponent of the Ratner plan, Daniel Goldstein, a spokesman for Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, who lives in a condo that would be demolished to make way for Mr. Ratner's arena, said that the transportation agency should delay its vote until September so it could carefully consider the two offers.

    A rendering of the Vanderbilt Yards in Downtown Brooklyn by the Extell Development Company.

    An aerial view of the arena block proposed by Forest City Ratner.

    Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

  15. #645


    I love the crystal ball tchotchkes.

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