Like all NIMBY battles, the fight against Atlantic Yards ultimately comes down to a matter of property values. One of the justifications for the project was that this corner of Brooklyn was blighted. The neighbors already living there certainly took issue with such characterizations—hello, Dan Goldstein!—but now the Post takes a close look at exactly how the new arena and still-born apartments are affecting property values.
Mainly, there is a waiting game going on:
“When the arena opens, you’ll see a new city center in New York, with culture, art, entertainment,” says Marty Markowitz, Brooklyn’s borough president. “There will be many people who’ll want to live downtown because it’s bustling, exciting.”
Markowitz might be right, but, meanwhile, uncertainty surrounds almost every aspect of the project.
“No one knows exactly what will change yet,” says Ofer Cohen, president of TerraCRG, a commercial realty group whose office is in the shadow of the arena. “The one aspect of development that will come earlier will be in terms of retail on Atlantic and Flatbush surrounding the arena.”
According to Cohen, landlords in the area have been patiently awaiting the opening of the stadium, allowing leases to lapse and their spaces to sit vacant in anticipation of attaining higher rents. Asking retail rents on Flatbush across from the stadium go from $85 per square foot up to $175 per square foot, the high end of Brooklyn pricing, notes Geoffrey Bailey, vice president of retail services at TerraCRG.
Still, there are stories of real estate speculators, as well, trying to buy up swathes of apartments, counting on a rising tide. Norman Oder points out that prices are still desperately below those Forest City Ratner’s numbers crunchers predicted when they boosted for the project, so the de-blighting has yet to take place. Still, crowds may be nasty, but they’re less noisy than an open construction site.