Blogosphere on Times’ Atlantic Yards Scoop: ‘Duh’

This morning, Brooklyn bloggers and opponents of the Atlantic Yards project are busy digesting Charles Bagli’s front-page Times story in which developer Bruce Ratner admits that the bulk of his Atlantic Yards project is stalled due to trouble finding financing or an anchor tenant for the “Miss Brooklyn” office building.

For a bullet-point run down of important points of the story, visit No Land Grab. But, basically, the article confirmed what the blogosphere has been predicting all along: Forest City Ratner will go forward with the Nets arena, but plans for three residential buildings, affordable housing, and a commercial tower are indefinitely on hold. Plus, the costs of the project have spiraled far above the initial estimates approved a few years ago.

The four blogs we looked at greeted Mr. Ratner’s disclosure with a collective “I told you so” (or something along those lines), and faulted the Times for giving him softball treatment.

The headline of Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn’s post reads “Revealed: Atlantic Yards Is a Sham."

“The opening paragraphs of Charles Bagli’s article in the Times show that the Atlantic Yards project is shaping up to be the sham we have always said it would be.

To be very clear: a project that promised so much to the public, that appears now to be an arena (which only makes money for Bruce Ratner) and one tower (maybe), with very little "affordable housing" at all, is a sham.”

Norman Oder, the publisher of the authoritative blog the Atlantic Yards Report said while “it’s good to get developer Bruce Ratner on the record, the article ignores how Mr. Ratner has consistently overpromised regarding the project’s progress and the government failed to do due diligence, in December 2006 approving a project whose timeline was already out of date.”

Mr. Older was one of many to point out that the projected cost of Atlantic Yards has now more than exceeded the initial $4 billion, given that the estimates for the new Nets arena alone have increased $312.8 million to $950 million. The Times fails to point out that the number is nearly 50 percent higher than the approved cost and double the figure announced nearly three years ago—“when it was already the most expensive arena ever.”

DDDB wonders if a new unanimous vote by the Public Authorities Control Board (PACB), comprised of new Governor Paterson, Sheldon Silver and Joseph Bruno, will be required to approve the cost overruns?

Despite Mr. Ratner’s insistence that the arena is still on track to open by the 2010 season, he believes, “2011 is a more likely best case-scenario.”

“Also," Mr. Oder writes, "given that the arena would be built well before the affordable housing, a key generator of public and political support, what do project backers like ACORN and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz have to say? The Times didn’t interview them, but they should explain their current posture."

Gowanus Lounge summed up the many questions that The Times left unanswered in a post titled: “Miss Brooklyn and housing to die as arena lives?”

“Is it simply an extended timetable? Is Mr. Ratner looking for deeper public subsidies for the project? Will much of the project’s affordable housing be tossed, which opponents have long predicted? Will he carve up the site and sell portions that are now being cleared to other developers? Will the land the state allowed to be cleared long before it would ever be developed sit fallow for years to come?”