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.
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.
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 elected legislators.
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 http://www.nolandgrab.org/.]
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
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