Sunday, September 03, 2006


This is a tale of two local publishers and their curiously different grasp of what Ratner will do to the area and how to respond. Slowly, some of our local journalists are waking to what the Atlantic Yards Project will do to the social makeup of the surrounding communities. Witness the following from the Park Slope Courier.

“Renters in unregulated buildings in Bedford Stuyvesant, Prospect Heights, Clinton Hill, Fort Greene and Gowanus may be forced to search for new digs if the controversial project comes to pass, the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for Forest City Ratner’s plan reveals.’ (9/1/06, p. 1)

The Park Slope Courier announces that affordable housing will naturally decrease with the influx of gentrification (not to mention traffic and sewage) that will come with the AY project. It has taken a very long time to soak in, but anyone who lives in NYC should easily see that whatever promises are made about affordable housing, will not hold water. That is primarily because none of this housing will be subject to stabilization much less control.

If anyone doubts this they need only watch the surrounding neighborhoods now as the long time residents who rent are forced out to make way for more prosperous ones who will pay more. Some of that may be the inevitable flow of economics. What we generally value starts to cost more because the supply is short, and the demand is rising.

I know the myth runs counter to that and it works if you are selling computer chips. You just make more as the demand rises, making them becomes cheaper, and the price goes down. But only so many people can live in UES Manhattan, Brooklyn Heights, or the Hamptons. To even get onto the edge of desirable territory, you have to pay more, or homestead a less attractive zone and hope the value rises. Thus we now have Carroll Gardens West and other such flummery that seeks to simple squeeze bits of other neighborhoods into a premium area.

The problem here is that the scam is definitely going to work. Gowanus is rapidly going from ratty to recycled chic despite the state of the inlet. What is important here is that the developers have learned how to make a silk purse out of almost anything, and that, in a more reasonable economic arrangement, would benefit everyone. But developers are pigs about it. Bruce is the porker extraordinaire.

He has no interest in Brooklyn as it is. Worse still he has no interest in Brooklyn as it will be when he is done with it as the current AY area shopping centers show. Apart from being ugly and shoddy, they present a walled citadel to the community on virtually all sides, and they are surrounded by moats of impassable traffic. Otherwise the surrounding area has been rising steadily in value for years. What Bruce wants is a lion’s share of the profit that he can extract quickly and easily as the AY is being built and thereafter.

Money is already flowing to him and cost overruns are already widening the channel through which it flows. That is happening and yet we have not one blue print or actual design to discuss other than the fanciful image of Miss Brooklyn, that tubby bride replete with new age cellulite and decidedly tipsy stance.

Now it seems that “The Brooklyn Papers” have found it in their hearts to endorse David Yassky for Congress, our City Councilman who never met a potential high rise pile of bricks he didn’t like. It is sheer hypocrisy to claim that Yassky will somehow oversee the project from Washington. He will be running for re election the moment he gets there, and true to his record, working his way into the more “liquid” echelons of Washington insiders.

Yassky has never done anything to curb or control development, if in fact he has ever done anything at all. Why the Brooklyn Papers would characterize him as a can-do fellow over Chris Owens is hard to grasp, even as the papers admit that they are not at all sure that his district ought not to remain in the hands of a person of color.

So if at last some of us are beginning to see the logical outcomes of the AY Project, others are stuffing their heads further into the sand.

Steve Hart

See, “Views From the Bridge”