Critics of Atlantic Yards repeatedly argue that there is something about the 22-acre housing and arena complex in Brooklyn that does not jibe with the Bloomberg administration’s rhetoric about community participation in the planning process. In an article appearing in tomorrow’s Observer, Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff basically agrees.
“I am a huge believer in the ULURP process,” he said, referring to the seven-month public-review process that involves the local community board, the borough president, the City Planning Commission and the City Council. “If it happened again, and the state were to ask if I would encourage them to take Atlantic Yards through the ULURP process, I would say yes.”
As it happened, the state overrode local zoning regulations in order to get Atlantic Yards approved, a process that weakened control by local officials and strengthened the hand held by Governor Pataki, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno.
That move was actually supported by Mr. Doctoroff at the time. Back in February 2005, he signed an agreement (PDF) with the state and Forest City Ratner, the developer of Atlantic Yards, in which the city consented to a state override of ULURP (it stands for Uniform Land-Use Review Process).
But, hey, hindsight is 20/20, right? In late 2003, when the Atlantic Yards deal was first hatched, who would have seen through the post-9/11 haze and predicted that, within a few years, building permits would reach record highs, that developers would want to build more affordable housing than there were bonds for, that 78 other neighborhoods would successfully be rezoned using ULURP?
More reflections on six years as the man whom the Mayor considers to be a kinder, gentler Robert Moses in tomorrow’s paper.