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About DDDB
Our coalition consists of 21 community organizations and there are 51 community organizations formally aligned in opposition to the Ratner plan.

DDDB is a volunteer-run organization. We have over 5,000 subscribers to our email newsletter, and 7,000 petition signers. Over 800 volunteers have registered with DDDB to form our various teams, task-forces and committees and we have over 150 block captains. We have a 20 person volunteer legal team of local lawyers supplementing our retained attorneys.

We are funded entirely by individual donations from the community at large and through various fundraising events we and supporters have organized.

We have the financial support of well over 3,500 individual donors.

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"Why should people get to see plans? This isn't a public project."
Bruce Ratner in Crain's Nov. 8, 2009

An Open Letter to SHoP Architects Regarding Atlantic Yards


Dear Mr. Sharples, Mr. Sharples, Ms. Sharples, Ms. Holden, and Mr. Pasquarelli:

We understand that your practice has been recognized widely as one of the most promising and innovative young architecture firms in New York, as well as in the United States. It is clear that you all have a real commitment to furthering your profession through your innovative approach to practice as well as through your teaching. Thus we are writing this letter of concern in response to last week's announcement that you have joined Forest City Ratner's project team for the Atlantic Yards development proposal.

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn is one of scores of community organizations, neighborhood associations, housing organizations, civic organizations and good government groups that oppose Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal and have fought against it for six years. We have led this movement while advocating for democratic, appropriate, community-based development over the 9-acre Vanderbilt Rail Yard, which we firmly wish to see developed. DDDB is a truly grassroots organization, funded entirely by our more than 4,500 individual donors who have sustained our efforts over the years.

Writing last week on his de.Sign blog, after your new Barclays Center renderings were unveiled, one of your colleagues, Viren Brahmbhatt, responded to the ever-changing Atlantic Yards designs and Nicolai Ouroussoff's "lopsided critiques." Calling it "tragic" he bemoaned the tendency of architecture critics to "sing praises of architects rather than focusing on issues concerning architecture and urban design…There are many unanswered questions about the proposals for this [Atlantic Yards] site including the absence of a plan - infrastructure planning and who is paying for it along with other costs that the taxpayers are presumed to bear."

Justin Davidison puts it far more bluntly, and allows no excuses, in this week’s New York magazine where he writes, “Atlantic Yards is too far gone to be rescued by a nice façade."

We hope that you are aware that by accepting the Barclays Center commission from Forest City Ratner you have involved your firm in a very contentious and troubled project that faces widespread resistance from the communities it would impact—and well beyond—for the reasons Mr. Brahmbhatt identifies among dozens of others.

Every local elected official from the project area, as well as the surrounding neighborhoods, is either opposed to the project or have deep concerns about it. Twelve of the fourteen City Council primary candidates for the three districts closest to the project oppose it. The three Community Boards that converge within the project site are all opposed to or extremely critical of the project. Political support and public opinion over the years have moved further and further away from the project, not toward it.

We would like to think that the following issues would matter to a firm such as yours and with the reputation you are building for yourselves. Many consider Forest City Ratner‘s Atlantic Yards project to be the poster child for everything that is wrong with development planning and process in New York City. It was born in a backroom. It is an undemocratic, wired, sweetheart deal that violates any number of good government and good planning principles. The project—though reliant on enormous public subsidies, discounted public land, a complete zoning override, disenfranchisement of local voters and elected officials, demapping of city streets, and eminent domain abuse—has not gone through any public planning process whatsoever and bypassed New York's democratic, public land use review process–ULURP.

The only process it has undergone—the State's environmental review—was a predetermined sham, dead set on allowing whatever Forest City wanted. Indeed, this summer's substantive changes in design, timeline and project phasing did not result in a supplemental environmental review, once again bypassing any public scrutiny of the project.

Just one basic example of the project's abuses is that New York City zoning regulations prohibit arenas within 200 feet of residential districts, yet that regulation has been overridden by fiat.

Another abuse is at the core of the project—the removal of purported "blight." Forest City Ratner's and New York State's claims that the neighborhood is blighted are unfounded You must certainly be aware that the Prospect Heights, Fort Greene, Park Slope area has become some of the most valuable real estate in Brooklyn. The state's blight designation, on Forest City Ratner's behalf, is a trumped up pretext used to justify eminent domain and a land grab. The only blight that exists around the Atlantic Yards site is the developer's blight that has been created in the past six years by Forest City Ratner in their unwarranted demolition of historically significant architecture like the Ward Bakery building and perfectly viable homes and businesses as well as the removal of the Carlton Avenue bridge over the rail yard.

We are well aware of the purported benefits touted by project proponents and Forest City Ratner. We've known those benefits to be misleading and illusory for years. Perhaps, you may have been misled by your current employer in this regard. But now we are in a situation where it is clear to nearly everyone that the Atlantic Yards project approved in 2006 cannot and will not ever be built. The promises of thousands of jobs will never be met and the promises of affordable housing will never be fulfilled—and even those promises were misleading since Forest City Ratner wasn't planning on adding affordable housing, but would just shift it from other areas of the city.

The reality of the new truncated proposal is on display with the fact that your renderings are only of an arena, while Forest City Ratner maintains it will build sixteen towers and open space. The renderings are a blunt admission that the only part of the Atlantic Yards project that remains is the arena. The rest is a formless, phantom project. Even so, in three days the Empire State Development Corporation is expected to rubberstamp this charade.

What will we be left with if the non-existent project plan goes through and overcomes the community opposition? We'll be left with the blight the project was supposedly going to ameliorate from a neighborhood that wasn't really blighted to begin with.

The grand Atlantic Yards scheme—the grand PR strategy to sell the project as a solution for Brooklyn’s housing and unemployment crisis—has fallen flat on its face. And now all Brooklynites and New Yorkers are promised is a white elephant arena in the middle of a housing crisis—an arena that will sit empty nearly all of the time. Barclays Center is the most expensive arena ever proposed (and likely to get more expensive). It would be supported by an estimated $726 million in public subsidies and tax breaks for Forest City Ratner but would be a $40 million net loss for the City (with an additional $180 million loss in opportunity costs) according to the NYC Independent Budget Office analysis released last week.

Supposedly the justification for a project of this proposed scale and use is proximity to the Atlantic Terminal transit hub, and therefore it is trumpeted as a transit-oriented project. But Forest City Ratner plans nearly 4,000 parking spaces and enormous interim surface parking lots—where homes and businesses once stood—that are likely to perpetuate for decades if the developer gets control of the 22-acre site.

The project has always been an affront to the community and now, after multiple bait-and-switches, it is not possible to find any redeeming value.

Your client, Mr. Ratner, has cynically exploited the community's needs for his benefit, perniciously created and exploited false divisions within the community, and attempted a major land grab in the heart of Brooklyn's cultural core.

We, and thousands of individuals, oppose this behavior as much as we oppose the project. By taking on this project, this is the level of opposition you should expect to face.

We think that as responsible professionals, you must be aware that your designs are being used in an attempt to mask the political, planning, economic and aesthetic failures of Forest City Ratner's corrupt Atlantic Yards development proposal.

We hope that as practitioners and teachers of architecture that you will hold yourselves to a higher standard as it will set an example for your students, as well as other members of your field, by choosing not to be engaged with a project with so many ethical problems. You are best known for pursuing a "third way" in architecture. But with this commission, sadly, you have chosen the wrong way.

Of course we understand that the current economy is particularly difficult for architecture firms, but please understand that many of us have sacrificed much in the past six years of opposition to this project.

On these grounds, we urge you to reconsider your involvement. And we will be pleased to meet with you and discuss these issues.

Sincerely,

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn




Posted: 9.14.09
DDDB.net en español.
Battle for Brooklyn
Screening Schedule

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Unity 4 Community Meeting, June 15th at 388 Atlantic Avenue

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Eminent Domain Case
Goldstein et al v. ESDC
[All case files]

November 24, 2009
Court of Appeals
Ruling

[See ownership map]

EIS Lawsuit

DDDB et al v ESDC et al
Click for a summary of the lawsuit seeking to annul the review and approval the Atlantic Yards project.

Appeal briefs are here.

2/26/09
Appellate Divsion
Rules for ESDC
What would Atlantic Yards Look like?...
Photo Simulations
Before and After views from around the project footprint revealing the massive scale of the proposed luxury apartment and sports complex.

Click for
Screening Schedule
of
Isabel Hill's
"Atlantic Yards" documentary
Brooklyn Matters


Read a review
-----------------------
Atlantic Yards
would be
Instant
Gentrification
Click image to see why:


-No Land Grab.org

-Atlantic Yards Report
-Atlantic Yards Deathwatch
-The Footprint Gazette
-Brooklyn Matters
-Noticing New York
-NY Times "The Local" FG/CH
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-Council of B'klyn N'hoods
-The Brooklyn Paper
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-Atlantic Lots
-Who Walk in Brooklyn
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-City Limits City Blogs
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-Gowanus Lounge
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-Old First Blog
-DailyHeights.com
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-Ctr for the Study of Bklyn
-Pardon Me for Asking
-Clinton Hill Blog
-Only The Blog Knows BK
-Brownstoner
-Sustainable Flatbush
-A Child Grows in Bklyn
-Williamsburg Warriors

-The Real Estate
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-OnNYTurf-Atlantic Yards
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-www.DANDOCTOROFF.com
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-TenantServices.com
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