April 26, 2007

BREAKING NEWS: PARAPET ON THE WARD BAKERY COMES CRASHING DOWN DURING DEMOLITION

(Brooklyn – WABC,
April 25, 2007) – The parapet of a vacant building under demolition as
part of the Atlantic Yards project collapsed onto the street in the
Prospect Heights section of Brooklyn Thursday
morning.

Officials say the
parapet on the former Ward Bread Bakery Complex came crashing onto the
sidewalk and Pacific Street just after 9:45 a.m.

The parapet is the
barrier at the edge of a structure employed to prevent persons or
vehicles from falling over the edge.

No workers were
reported injured, and there were no pedestrians struck, officials
said.

Emergency services
personnel are now in the process of evacuating nearly 100 apartments
after a parapet fell.

Officials are
worried about the stability of the building and the possibility of
additional collapse, so they are evacuating the building next door at
800 Pacific Street. There are unconfirmed reports that perhaps 350
people could be displaced.

Pieces of the
parapet littered the sidewalk and crashed onto some
cars.

The five-story
building is slated to be demolished as part of the Atlantic Yards
project. Protestors rallied in front of the building on the first day
of demolition last month. The protesters said the historic building,
built in 1911 and covered in white terra cotta tiles, is example of a
"scorched earth" policy that will blight the corridor along
the Long Island Rail Road yards in Prospect
Heights
.

The work at the
bakery at 800 Pacific Street will include two months of abatement,
including the removal of asbestos, Forest City Ratner Companies said
in a statement. When the building is gone in two months, 75 percent of
the materials will be recycled, the company said.

Ratner’s Atlantic
Yards project proposes a sweeping, 24-acre development with a
19,000-seat basketball arena for his New Jersey Nets, residential
buildings and four soaring office towers.

The Frank
Gehry-designed project would be built over Long Island Rail Road
storage yards and is dependent upon the state condemning more than two
square blocks of private property and knocking down up to 70
buildings.

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April 21, 2007

COURT WON’T STOP RATNER DEMOLITION: DEMO SET FOR MONDAY AM

Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn has planned a demonstration to protest the demolition of four buildings on the Atlantic Yards footprint ffor Monday April 23, at 8 a.m. at 191 Flatbush Avenue (between Fifth Avenue and Dean).

The reason: A Temporary Restraining Order to block Forest City Ratner’s demolition of buildings within the Atlantic Yards footprint has been denied by Manhattan State Supreme Court Justice Joan Madden.

  The court expressly stated that in making today’s TRO decision it was not pre-judging
  the merits of petitioners
  claims filed on April 5th.

  Forest City Ratner plans to begin demolition on nine buildings during the
  13 days between today and the Mary 3rd hearing.

Here’s what Develop Don’t Destroy had to say in a press release sent to OTBKB and others:
 

Major Legal Hurdles Still Face Developer
  We are confident in the merits of our challenge to the state’s approval of the
  project and that once our claims are heard we will prevail sending the project
  back to the drawing board. It is also clear that as long as owners and
  renters challenging the state’s right to seize private property by eminent domain
  succeed in federal court,
the project cannot be built
–not the arena or the skyscraper super-blocks.

 

  Because of the irreparable harm these premature demolitions will bring, we call
  on Governor Spitzer, Mayor Bloomberg and other elected officials to use the
  ESDC’s funding leverage to halt the demolitions unless the project is proven
  to be legal and finacially feasible.

  All legal papers, a summary of the lawsuit, and the list of co-plaintiffs can
  be found here:
http://www.dddb.net/FEIS

 
 

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April 10, 2007

SAVE SOL LEWITT WALL PAINTINGS

Lewitt
In an email from Develop  Don’t Destroy this morning, I learned that there are wall paintings by artist, Sol Lewitt, a giant in modern art, who died on Sunday at the age of 70, on the walls of one of the building sin the footrprint.

644 Pacific Street is in the footprint of Bruce Ratner’s proposed "Atlantic Yards" project, specifically in the footprint of the arena itself. In that building, once occupied by one of Mr. Lewitt’s studio assistants, are at least two wall paintings by the artist.

The building is in the list of the first round of demolitions the developer intends to begin in the coming weeks. These wall paintings should be photographed for historical documentation and the Sol Lewitt catalogue.

DDDB is calling on Forest City Ratner to ensure that this happens and provide the photographs to the Lewitt collection.

Above is not a picture of the wall paintings at 644 Pacific Street. It’s a picture of a museum retrospective somewhere — maybe the Whitney.

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March 29, 2007

JOIN DDDB IN COURT ON FRIDAY

Let’s take some of that NO-WAY ONE-WAY ENERGY and show up for DDDB’s day in court. Here’s the scoop:

Attorneys representing the 13 plaintiffs in the "Atlantic Yards" eminent domain case will be back in court this Friday, arguing that Goldstein et al vs. Pataki et al should be heard in Federal court rather than at the State level, as Magistrate Judge Robert Levy recommended in a report issued last month. We encourage you all to come out–as you did for the first hearing on February 7th–to demonstrate to the Court how much the community cares about this case and its outcome.

Oral arguments are scheduled as follows:

Friday, March 30th, at 11:00 a.m.*
United States District Court. Eastern District of New York.
225 Cadman Plaza East. Courtroom 4D

* Court dates can change frequently. We will notify you if the hearing is postponed.

The plaintiffs’ attorneys believe very strongly that the Federal bench should hear this case, and they’re optimistic that presiding Judge Nicholas Garaufis — who will hear Friday’s arguments — will ultimately agree.

We recommend that you arrive 30 minutes early if you plan to attend the hearing. Please be advised that cell phones, cameras and recording devices are not permitted in the courtroom, and will have to be checked in the lobby. As always, decorum is of the greatest importance inside the courthouse.

We sincerely hope that you will all attend.

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March 1, 2007

WHAT THE READERS OF BROWNSTONER MAY NOT KNOW

Reading some comments on Brownstoner, Lumi Rolley, of No Land Grab, noticed that some folks at Brownstoner who read Jennifer Egan’s historic Op-Ed
didn’t believe her assertion that, if built, Atlantic Yards would be
the densest residential community in the nation.  But then it
dawned on Rolley, The New York Times has never published that fact in it’s
reporting on the project. Here’s what she had to say on her blog:

Commentary, from "Anonymice" on Brownstoner, regarding Jennifer Egan’s Op-Ed in the Saturday Times, made us realize that Egan’s piece was the very first mention in The NY Times that Atlantic Yards, if built, would be the densest residential community in the nation.

Two commenters posting on Brownstoner found that hard to believe; one even accused Egan of "creating ‘facts’ out of whole cloth."

This incredulity made us realize that unless these readers were receiving the DDDB newsletter, or were regular readers of NoLandGrab or Atlantic Yards Report, they had no clue.  How could they?  The New York Times never told them.

.
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January 6, 2007

BROOKLYN MATTERS: NEXT SCREENING

The next screening of Brooklyn Matters, a documentary about the Atlantic Yards controversy, directed and produced by Isabel Hill, will be on January 18th at the Municipal Arts Society.

The film features numerous interviews with critical residents, planners,
critics, and elected officials portray a scenario in which a cynical
developer and corrupt State agencies have hired gullible community
allies and a star architect to conceal their true motives. The politics
of the Brooklyn-based coalition, Develop Don’t Destroy (DDD), are
clearly imprinted on the film, although the work is presented as an
independent documentary.will be held January 18 at the Municipal Art Society.

Does anyone know the exact address of the Municipal Arts Society? I think it’s 51st Street and Madison Avenue right near the Helmsley Hotel.

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November 9, 2006

ATLANTIC YARDS REPORT: SPITZER ON AY

This from Atlantic Yards Report:

Spitzer on AY
Spitzer’s campaign told The Real Deal
that Spitzer seeks more transparency for the Atlantic Yards project,
which is proceeding under the auspices of the ESDC. What that would
mean exactly is unclear.

Note that Spitzer recently declared
that the most recent eight percent cut in the Atlantic Yards project
was "appropriate" and sufficient. It seemed clear he had little idea
that the project would be as large as initially proposed.

Support for housing

Spitzer’s housing policy suggests new roles for the state, which has lagged behind New York City in supporting affordable housing. Advocates want the state to commit much more.

Some excerpts:
We
must increase the supply of affordable homes by using three tools that
New York State has: land, capital and increased densities where
appropriate.
First, we must increase the amount of land
available for affordable housing. To increase supply, we should take
inventory of all public land to determine where building affordable
housing might be appropriate, revise the state’s Brownfields laws to
make it easier to build housing and create a "New York Affordable
Housing Land Trust Program"…


Second, we must improve access
to capital for homeowners and builders. We need to better leverage
current state and federal housing resources and permit the state’s
housing agencies to use more of their resources for the development of
affordable homes. We should also work with the State Comptroller’s
Office to expand its existing efforts to use a small portion of New
York State’s pension funds as a source of capital for affordable
homes…

 
Finally, we should partner with local communities to
encourage reform of zoning laws and permitting and approval processes
to allow for higher densities of residential housing and make it easier
for sites to become buildable.


Preserve existing affordable housing stock. New
York State’s affordable housing stock is a precious resource, yet we
continue to lose affordable units for a variety of reasons. We must
review rent regulations, when appropriate, encourage owners to
rehabilitate and maintain our existing affordable housing and develop a
strategy of how best to preserve the affordability of housing built
under subsidy programs that are soon to expire.


Better administration, better planning and better leadership.
Achieving the efficient production of affordable homes requires
consolidating the state’s housing efforts to eliminate administrative
bureaucracy and inefficient regulations, appointing effective leaders
to head our housing agencies and engaging in planning that integrates
all levels of government more than simply the housing agencies and
their programs.

A few billion dollars here, a few billion
dollars there. That could add up to some significant changes, and
remind people that the Atlantic Yards project would hardly be the only
source for affordable housing.

Read more

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