Much as I have seen the footprint, checked out out the written word and examined the photographs of this much-discussed project, there's nothing like walking the walk to bring home the reality of this monster development and its attendant inequities. A picture may be worth a thousand words; this walk was worth at least several dozen pictures. [photo by Dave Kenny]
I think if only more people were to familiarize themselves with some on-ground knowledge, there surely would be more opposition to this project.
Some of the things that struck home to me were:
Firstly I wonder how many know that one of the reasons for demolishing serviceable buildings early in the project is to create parking lots for the construction workers and space for staging materiel? Over 3,000 workers are expected on an on-going basis for 10 years, and up to 10,000 at times. Do you expect the construction workers to truck-pool? I think not. Perhaps Ratner could setup a shuttle bus service to different parts of Brooklyn and Queens (after all, the expectation is that these are all "local workers,')? Why is something like that which could mitigate some of the negative effects of the project not considered?
Secondly, the definition of "blight." Blight is in the eye of the beholder. Several explanations of blight are used to justify the use of eminent domain to force the owners in the AY footprint to sell; among the more peculiar is "lots that are built to less than 60% of their allowable FAR (Floor Area Ratio, describing the extent of what can be built)". In other words, it's, say, a small brownstone with a large garden may be considered blighted because it could have been a large apartment building fully occupying the land. By that token, as AY Report states, the low-rise Atlantic Center Mall itself is blighted.
Thirdly, walking around on the ground and having the sheer size of the sixteen towers pointed out to you makes for a striking reality. Here's a group of perfectly respectable, if somewhat ratty, brownstones and low industrial buildings, for example; they will be replaced by a 260 foot tower several hundred residents. Much easier to visualize if you're actually standing there.
In the meanwhile, go see the documentary Brooklyn Matters, which is about the Atlantic Yards project. Screenings are Spoke the Hub 748 Union St., Jun 8,15 and 22 at 7pm; at 322 Union Ave. June 3 at 7, Fifth Avenue Committee 621 DeGraw Jun 19th 7pm, and 1320 8th Av on Jun 21 at 7pm with panel discussion to follow.