From John Massengale's blog as to the right way to develop Atlantic Yards; his point is that development does not have to done on a mega-scale, with one developer (in this case, Ratner,) doing it all. Why not parcel it out to small developers who would create individual buildings in context?
As he says, "Robert Moses was wrong. Jane Jacobs was right"
RICHARD BRODSKY and I have been saying the same thing: why aren't more people listening to our words of wisdom?
The Atlantic Yards and Hudson Yards sites are being developed in the wrong way: instead of selling them to mega-developers like Forest City Ratner and Tishman Speyer (who are both having trouble coming up with the cash), we should develop them the way New York was traditionally developed. That means platting the streets and blocks, and selling lots on those blocks. No eminent domain would be involved.
If the New York City Planning Department decides the highest and best use for the land being sold is rowhouses, they can sell lots sized and coded for rowhouses. If they want office towers or apartment buildings, they can sell lots sized and coded for those. Obviously a modern office building requires a larger lot than a rowhouse, and its lower floors should be coded for retail. If the market changes, the lot sizes can be changed if the codes are properly done.
Of course, rowhouses aren't what should be built on either of the railyard sites, because the infrastructure to build over the yards is too expensive: you need larger buildings to share the expense. And Atlantic Avenue is a wide and important street that should be shaped by taller buildings on both sides of the avenue.
The Unity Plan, an alternative to Ratner's mega-project, would involve multiple developers [image from website]