For Immediate Release: Thursday. April 6, 2006
Ratner/ESDC "Atlantic Yards" Scope of Analysis Seriously Flawed
Developer Increases Project Size,
Makes Hollow Claims and Ignores Community
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
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
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
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
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 DEIS.
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"
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 and FCR.
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
FINANCING AND ECONOMICS
The final scope will not review the project’s financial viability
or the developer’s
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."
"Accommodating 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
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."
"Perhaps 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
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."
DON’T DESTROY BROOKLYN leads a broad-based community
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, Brooklyn.
Over 5,000 members.