Exec: Arena for mall a no-go
Armed with wooden models, Los Angeles architects and a small pack of publicists,
Forest City Ratner officials told attendees of a Park Slope town hall
meeting Thursday night what they didn’t want to hear.
The faltering Atlantic Center mall will not come down. And a planned arena
for developer Bruce Ratner’s Nets basketball team will not be moved.
That news came as a disappointment to a group asking Rater to shift his
proposed 19,000-seat arena north a bit so that it would traverse Atlantic
Avenue, replacing much of the mall, so that they will not have to lose
The public forum on the proposed Atlantic Yards development project, which
also includes office and residential towers on land extending east into
Prospect Heights from the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues,
was hosted by the Park Slope Civic Council.
Addressing more than 200 people who packed the auditorium of PS 282 on
Sixth Avenue at Berkeley Place, Forest City Ratner Executive Vice President
Jim Stuckey shot down those ideas.
“[Shifting the arena] would require bridging over 350 to 500 feet
of Atlantic Avenue,” Stuckey explained, adding that the planners
would have to build 50 feet high because of terrorism concerns. “It
would create potentially unsafe conditions,” he said.
But members of Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, a group of Prospect
Heights residents who will have their condos, co-ops and businesses condemned
if Ratner’s plan proceeds, disagreed.
As part of the $2.5 billion Atlantic Yards plan, which proposes soaring
office buildings and 13 residential towers built fortress-like on new
mega-block, Ratner plans to build over the Long Island Rail Road storage
yards and ask the state to use its power of eminent domain to seize more
than two square blocks of private property.
Residents have hired lawyer Norman Siegel, former executive director of
the New York Civil Liberties Union, to fight the proposal in court.
Joel Towers, an urban designer and resident of 475 Dean St., who sat on
Thursday’s town hall panel, advocated for a plan that would not require
taking any property.
“He doesn’t need to take our homes,” Towers said of Ratner.
Instead, Develop Don’t Destroy is pushing for plans that would remove
eminent domain from the equation and require Ratner to tear down his own
failed Atlantic Center mall just across Atlantic Avenue and use the space
to build the arena.
While the developers and opponents did not see eye to eye, many saw the
forum — the first neighborhood meeting attended by both the developers
and opponents of the plan — as a step in the right direction.
“We’re at the beginning of what’s going to be a lengthy
exhaustive process,” Stuckey said. “We see this as being the
first of what will be many public meetings and public forums in Brooklyn.”
Many opponents complained at the meeting that they have had to “fight
to be heard” and are asking for more community involvement.
Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010