Dear Park Slope Neighbor,
In This Issue:
1) ATLANTIC RAILYARDS MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING
2) DEVELOP DON'T DESTROY BROOKLYN SEEKS DONATIONS
3) REMINDER: INCLUSIONARY ZONING & AFFORDABLE HOUSING FORUM, MARCH 16th
ATLANTIC RAILYARDS MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING
As you may know by now, Forest City Ratner, New York State, New York City
and the MTA announced last week the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding
(MOU) outlining FCR's proposal to develop an arena and office and
residential towers above and around the Atlantic Railyards.
The MOU lays out the terms of the proposed deal, and puts into motion the
process for the Environmental Impact Study scoping. However, since the MTA
has reserved the right to seek other bids for the railyards, FCR's proposal
remains far from being a done deal.
Regardless of how one feels about the proposed development, it is impossible
to feel good about the lack of public process. The contrast with our
experience with Commerce Bank is rather startling.
Commerce Bank acquired the lot at Fifth Avenue and First Street through
market means, could develop it as-of-right, and had made some minor design
modifications last August following a meeting with Brooklyn Borough
President Marty Markowitz, Assembly Member Joan Millman, and members of the
First Street Block Association. They essentially had a done deal, and they
were ready to break ground in February.
However, faced with Park Slope Neighbors' action, Commerce Bank agreed to
come back to the negotiating table. They listened to what we had to say,
and also listened to input from the Fifth Avenue Committee, Fifth Avenue
Merchants Association, Fifth Avenue BID, Park Slope Civic Council, First
Street Block Association, and Community Board 6.
Following our meeting, Commerce Bank went back to the drawing board, and
completely redesigned their plans for Park Slope. They came back to the
community with a significantly changed, vastly improved, and decidedly more
Park Slope-friendly building.
At the press conference last week at which the new design was unveiled, the
Borough President boasted that the process "illustrated how community input
can help lead to development that is appropriate to a neighborhood."
Let's contrast this with Forest City Ratner's proposal for the Atlantic
FCR does not own most of the area on which they wish to build, and will
certainly seek to acquire some portion of the proposed site in a
private-owner-to-private-owner property transfer using eminent domain.
Though they control a significant amount of land nearby (the Atlantic
Terminal and frequently maligned Atlantic Center malls), they have not
considered siting the proposed development on their own property.
Unlike Commerce Bank, whose redesigned building will fit unobtrusively into
Park Slope, FCR is not planning a development that is likely to reflect the
context and character of Prospect Heights and Fort Greene. The arena and 17
high-rise buildings, the tallest of which will loom over the Williamsburg
Bank building by one hundred feet, will cast a long shadow over revitalized
brownstone neighborhoods, and will have a major impact on city services -
schools, firehouses, police, transit and more. And while FCR has said
repeatedly that they were listening to community concerns, the plan outlined
in the MOU issued last week is identical to the plan they unveiled well over
a year ago.
FCR's failure to seek, and to heed, community input and involvement, is best
exemplified by the developer's secretive "Community Benefits Agreement,"
which FCR has supposedly been negotiating with a handful of organizations
for several months. Ironically, more community organizations were at the
table with Commerce Bank discussing their plans for a single building in
Park Slope than have been invited into CBA negotiations with FCR, whose
proposed development would be the largest New York City real estate project
outside of Manhattan in 25 years.
The appointment of the Empire State Development Corporation as the lead
agency for the proposed project means that any environmental review will
take place at the state level, which will circumvent New York City's far
more stringent Uniform Land Use Review Procedure. As a result, Brooklyn
residents will have virtually no say in the process, and neither will our
Even the Borough President, who has been Brooklyn's principal cheerleader
for the FCR proposal, would have a hard time boasting that this process - or
more correctly, lack of process - has in any way welcomed community input,
or has in any way been appropriate.
[For more information about the Memorandum of Understanding, and other news
regarding the proposed development of the railyards, please visit
DEVELOP DON'T DESTROY BROOKLYN SEEKS DONATIONS
Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn is seeking contributions to help fund their
legal battle against the lack of public process in the proposed development
of the railyards.
To make a tax-deductible donation, please send a check payable to
"IFCO/Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn" to:
IFCO/Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn
402 West 145th Street
New York, NY 10031
To make a secure online contribution, please visit
REMINDER: INCLUSIONARY ZONING & AFFORDABLE HOUSING FORUM, MARCH 16th
Thy Neighbor's House:
A Forum on Inclusionary Zoning and Affordable Housing in New York City
Wednesday, March 16th, 2005, 7:30 p.m.
Old First Reformed Church
126 Seventh Avenue (@ Carroll Street)
Park Slope, Brooklyn
Ever feel that Park Slope is turning into Park Avenue?
Smart zoning laws can preserve housing for lower- and middle-income people.
We want to maintain the economic and cultural diversity of our
neighborhoods. What's the way forward? Is there hope? How can we do this?
Brad Lander, Director, Pratt Institute Center for Community & Environmental
Development (PICCED), David Yassky, New York City Council Member, 33rd
District, and Rev. Dr. Daniel Meeter, Pastor, Old First Reformed Church,
will address these topics and answer your questions about Inclusionary
Zoning and affordable housing.
This event is sponsored by the Social Action Committee of Old First Reformed
Church, the Fifth Avenue Committee, and Park Slope Neighbors.
Park Slope Neighbors
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