Release Main Page
Release: April 6, 2006
Ratner/ESDC "Atlantic Yards" Scope of
Analysis Seriously Flawed
Developer Increases Project Size,
Makes Hollow Claims and Ignores Community
BROOKLYN, NY At 5pm last Friday developer Forest City Ratner (FCR)
and the Empire State Development Corporation released the Final
Scope of Analysis for the proposed "Atlantic Yards" development
plan. This document finalizes the areas of study and analysis for the Draft
Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS)a document of many thousands of pages,
projected to be released in early June.
There are numerous
serious gaps and major flaws within that document. Specifically:
SCALE and DENSITY
Though the developer
is pretending the proposal has gotten smaller, the new plan is significantly
bigger than what was originally announced in December 2003.
It is at least 600,000 to 1million square feet bigger today than when it
was unveiled in December 2003 (when it was way too big already), and the
building heights are a total of 228 feet higher. The proposal also has 2,360
more housing units than when first unveiled in 2003.
The environmental review will not consider security
and terrorism issues as related to the unique design, location and use
of the proposal, as well as the financial impact of such prevention measures;
this despite the debacle that occurred when such a pre-design analysis was
left out of Ground Zero planning.
TRAFFIC, TRANSPORTATION, and PARKING
The final scope says that there will be "interim
surface parking" on the eastern (Vanderbilt Avenue) and northern
(Atlantic Avneue) parts of the proposed site, through at least 2010. Turning
that part of Prospect Heights into a parking lot for the foreseeable future
is unacceptable. Details of this "interim parking" must be provided
in the DEIS.
The environmental review will not consider the traffic impact on the Brooklyn-Queens
Expressway or the East River bridge crossings, despite the fact that the
whole arena financial analysis by Dr. Andrew Zimbalist projects a substantial
number of current New Jersey based fans to attend games. The BQE and the
bridges should be included in the DEIS.
Traffic modeling should not rely on the outmoded models used for the Downtown
Brooklyn rezoning review. Traffic simulation modeling is the only way to
demonstrate the availability of road capacity for the "Atlantic Yards"
proposal. Without it the numbers would be fake.
Widening of Flatbush, Atlantic and Sixth Avenues are antithetical to contemporary
smart planning solutions to urban transportation problems.
The scoping document uses February 2006 as a baseline date for the condition
of the properties in the proposed footprint. The baseline date should be
December 2003 when the proposal was unveiled, since which time Forest City
Ratner has been purchasing, vacating warehousing and demolishing properties
to create stagnation and "blight" conditions, which the ESDC will
try to use to justify eminent domain. Without FCR and the proposal stagnating
the neighborhood in the proposed footprint, development would be continuing
apace with the surroundings. This baseline date must be changed for the
Also, with proposed street widenings, there is reason to suspect that more
eminent domain takings might be enacted.
Though the final scope indicates that the environmental review will include
three alternative plans, including the financially
backed Extell Development Company community based plan, it remains to
be seen as to what detailed extent the DEIS will analyze these plans versus
the Ratner "Atlantic Yards" proposal.
The community requested that the final scope include an analysis of alternate
locations for an arena (on top of the Atlantic Center Mall site, Coney Island,
East New York, the Brooklyn Navy Yard) but this was ignored by the ESDC
Though described by ACORN and Forest City Ratner as a 50% affordable housing
project, the final scope describes 2,250 low-, middle-, and moderate-income
housing out of a total 6,680 units (4610 market rate units). That is a 32.7%
"affordable" housing plan, contingent on securing an extraordinary
package of housing subsidies, which has been left to ACORN to secure. At
best 10% of the housing would be available to families earning at or below
Brooklyn’s median income and no housing for people living at or below the
There have been rumors of additional off-site "affordable housing," but
such housing is nowhere to be found in the final scoping document.
FINANCING AND ECONOMICS
The final scope will not review the project’s financial viability or the
financial projections. The document says that the environmental review
will "disclose, to the extent known, the public funding for the project."
(Shouldn’t the State’s lead public agency, the ESDC, know the exact amount
of public funding?)
POLICE AND FIRE
The final scope document does not respond to this serious request from the
community: "There must be a detailed analysis of the project’s impact
on Engine Company 219/Ladder Company 1, at 494 Dean St., abutting the project
site; and the 78th Precinct at 65 6th Avenue, less than two blocks from
the site. The impact on these facilities, and their response times, during
and after construction should be studied in detail, especially considering
the nearby street closings and street widenings."
"Ratner is pretending he’s scaled his proposal down, but it is
at least 600,000 square feet bigger today than when it was unveiled in December
2003, and the building heights are a total of 228 feet higher. Its still
an urban planning disaster and an offense to the community," said Develop
Don’t Destroy Brooklyn spokesman Daniel Goldstein. "And the final scoping
document has too many flaws which will lead to grossly flawed and absent
findings in the environmental review process."
additional traffic created by the arena's parking lot, ESDC and Ratner have
called for ‘improvements’ such as the widening of Flatbush, Atlantic and
Sixth Avenues. New York may very well be the last major city in the Western
World that is trying to solve urban transportation problems by widening
roads and creating big new parking lots in its urban core," said
Aaron Naparstek, Project Director at
The Open Planning Project. "The proposed ‘new design’ only means
more big gaps in the street-wall, a less healthy and viable pedestrian environment,
fewer opportunities for street level retail and, almost certainly, more
dead, semi-useless ‘open spaces’ on the interior."
the most disturbing development is the proposed creation of a huge interim
surface parking lot on the eastern end of the footprint," said Eric McClure,
Atlantic Yards campaign coordinator for Park
Slope Neighbors. "Forest City Ratner has repeatedly claimed to be 'listening
to the community,' but I'm not sure who in 'the community' would've told
them we were clamoring for a gigantic traffic magnet. Even a small downturn
in the housing market could change its status from 'interim' to 'permanent'.
We thought the whole idea of building on a transit hub was to discourage
traffic, not help create it."
DEVELOP DON’T DESTROY BROOKLYN
a broad-based community coalition
fighting for development that will unite our communities instead of dividing
and destroying them.
We oppose Forest City Ratner's "Atlantic Yards" proposal in Prospect Heights,
Over 5,000 members.