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The UNITY Community Development Plan
-Atlantic Yards Development Workshop
AYDWS Team:
Marshall Brown, Anna Dietzsch
John Nafziger, Sarah Strauss

Urban Planners:
Dr. Tom Angotti
Ron Shiffman

Visit UNITYplan.org
(download the UNITY Plan - pdf)
The "Atlantic Yards" proposal was announced in December 2003. In March 2004 Councilwoman Letitia James and the Atlantic Yards Development Workshop (AYDWS), led by urban designer and architect Marshall Brown, convened a community charette bringing together stakeholders, laypeople, and professionals to envision community-based planning for development over the rail yards (officially known as Vanderbilt Yards) which form a border between Prospect Heights and Fort Greene.

The UNITY Community Development Plan grew out of this charette and a fifteen month Period spent refining the plan and presenting to stakeholders all around the communities that surround the rail yards–Prospect Heights, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Boerum Hill, and Park Slope.

In February 2005 a loose coalition of community-based organizations began meeting to prepare for the environmental review of the Ratner proposal. Using the principles behind the UNITY Plan, the groups developed and forumulated a document called Principles For Responsible Community Development On The Vanderbilt Rail Yards which has since been endorsed by 23 community based organizations, as well as Congressman Major Owens, State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, and Councilwoman Letitia James, all of whom represent the districts where the rail yards are located.

(In April 2007 a community charette convened again to update the UNITY plan considering the current status of the Vanderbilt Yards and possible, varied outcomes of the Atlantic Yards proposal coming to fruition.)

In May 2005, after much public pressure, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) issued a Request For Proposals (RFP) for the sale or lease of all or some of the 8.4 acre Vanderbilt Yard (Vanderbilt Yard is the MTA's official name for the rail yards.) The MTA barely advertised the RFP (2 placements only). So, Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn mailed the RFP, along with a cover letter and the Principles For Responsible Community Development On The Vanderbilt Rail Yards to one hundred developers. The few who responded were deterred by the political situation swirling around Ratner's project. But one firm, Extell Development Company, agreed to meet with some DDDB members.

After showing the UNITY Plan and The Principles to Extell, the development firm decided to submit a proposal to the MTA, with thirty days left in the ludicrously short 42-day time period the MTA had set for proposal submission. The plan submitted to the MTA by the Extell Development Company is guided by the principles underlying the UNITY Plan. (See: Yard Fight, by Peter Slatin. July 8, 2005 in The Slatin Report.)

Extell bid $150 million for the rail yards, versus Ratner’s low-ball bid of $50 million. Despite the MTA’s own appraisal of $214.5 million, the clearly fixed and deficient bidding process led to a decision by the MTA board to negotiate exclusively with Ratner–whom they had been working with and negotiating with for over two years–over an extended 45 day period.

When that period ended, to nobody’s surprise, Ratner upped his offer to $100 million and, still well below the Extell bid and well below the appraisal, the MTA approved the sale of the yards to Ratner. But that sale will not close unless “Atlantic Yards” is approved. MTA Chairman Peter Kalikow, when challenged by the only dissenting board member Mitchell Pally, said, “I’m not going to be beholden by that appraisal, it’s just some guy’s idea of what those yards are worth.”

The Extell Plan is a viable, financially-backed plan which will be studied as an alternative plan, and its impacts compared to "Atlantic Yards" in the ongoing environmental review.


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News Coverage:

UNITY Plan: Why now?
9.29.07. The Brooklyn Paper

Unifying Brooklyn Across Atlantic Yards:
Group Offers Alternative to Froest City Ratner Plan
9.27.07. Brooklyn Downtown Star


UNITY 2007: a new, Jacobsian plan for the Vanderbilt Yard
9.25.07. Atlantic Yards Report

Tish James on the UNITY plan
9.25.07. Atlantic Yards Report

UNITY 2007 Photos
UNITY 2007 Community Forum September 24th, 2007
9.25.07. NoLandGrab


Unity vs. Godzilla
9.24.07. EDITORIAL. El Diario

Atlantic Yards Opponents Re-introduce 'Unity Plan':
They Predict Ratner Will Lose Lawsuits Challenging Project
9.24.07. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Unity Plan: Press Conference
9.24.07. Brit in Brooklyn

Group has alternative to Ratner’s Atlantic Yards mega-development
9.22.07. The Brooklyn Paper

Designers Develop Alternatives To Gehry's Brooklyn Plans
Architectural Record

March 2005
UNITY Loves Company: Ratner’s Limbo Provides Momentum for Alternate Proposal
The Brooklyn Rail
by Brian J. Carreira

February 15, 2005
It's Not About The Arena
Aaron Naparstek
New York Press


December 16, 2004
Atlantic Yards Alternative Unveiled
Amy Zimmer
Metro


December 8, 2004
Architect Presents Alternative Plan for Atlantic Yards Area

Brooklyn Daily Eagle
by Raanan Geberer

UNITY Fans Don't Get Along With Ratner Vision
Brooklyn Downtown Star
By Reed Jackson
Only hours after a City Council hearing on developer Bruce Ratner's massive plans for the Atlantic Yards, the project's opponents gathered for a less crowded,...

Constructing Buildings, Tearing Down Democracy?

Brooklyn Downtown Star
By Emily Keller
The latest round of discussions about the proposed Unity Plan for Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards site took place at NY College of Technology on Jay Street February 24,..

Slopers Take Small Step in Big Fight

Brooklyn Downtown Star
By Theodore Ross
"The state wants to take your home and give it to Bruce Ratner." This bald statement came from Lumi Michelle Rolley of Park Slope Neighbors (PSN),...

UNITY Plan Meets With Hopeful, But Critical, Crowd
Brooklyn Downtown Star
By Michael McLaughlin
Brooklynites looking for an alternative to Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project and architect Marshall Brown, seeking support for the UNITY plan which has alternative aims for the airspace above the MTA rail yards that Ratner plans to build on,...

Yard Battle: UNITY vs. FCRC
Brooklyn Downtown Star
By Nik Kovac
"When you sell a pizza by the slice," explained Fort Greene architect Marshall Brown last Wednesday evening, "you get more value." Brown was speaking to the Land Use Committee of Brooklyn's Community Board 2,...