Wednesday, September 19, 2007

What Ebbets Field Wasn't

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn highlights a New York Magazine piece contrasting the differences between Brooklyn's fabled Ebbets Field with the Nets Arena proposed for the Atlantic Yards:
But as a metaphor, it’s the exact opposite of Ebbets. Ebbets was a tiny, neighborhood-uniting orthodox baseball temple that was built, in less than a year, on an old dump crisscrossed by goat paths. Atlantic Yards is a huge, neighborhood-raping megadevelopment, pinned between two of its developer’s own malls, that violates every design principle of the borough’s small-scale, organic history. Construction is scheduled to take ten years. It is pure real estate, with sports as a footnote. The Nets haven’t grown, like the Dodgers did, directly out of the Brooklyn soil—they’ll be transplants, a squad of mercenaries paid to sell the neighborhood’s new regime. It’s hard to envision the natives finally bonding with the gentrifying hordes over $50 seats at a Nets game. (Bruce Ratner has skillfully scrambled the racial politics of the project, enlisting—some say buying—widespread black support and casting opponents as selfish gentrifiers.) Atlantic Yards is Dodgers nostalgia run amok: New Brooklyn getting rich on the dying myth of Old Brooklyn—a supposed tribute to the borough that may well end up defacing the Brooklyn it’s pretending to honor. The Nets are less a karmic reversal of the Dodgers tragedy than its logical conclusion. O’Malley ruined the borough by leaving; Ratner will ruin it by moving in.
I'm occasionally asked how a pro-growth, pro-development, free-market conservative such as myself opposes a project like the Atlantic Yards. This piece gets to the nut it: If preserving a neighborhood's character is a priority (and for me, it is), growth cannot be imposed from the outside; it needs to come from within, to be organic, and its sponsor can't cheat, using the heavy-hand of government to steal private property to make way.


bobbo said...

Gee, do you have any interest in whether Atlantic Yards gets built? Is it possible that a free market conservative like yourself may live nearby and doesn't like the idea of a lot more traffic, or more construction or God forbid, more PEOPLE? The self-importance quotient among the critics of Atlantic Yards is bigger than the project itself.

NoLandGrab said...

Free-market conservatives are naturally suspicious of subsidy-laden projects like Atlantic Yards that distort the marketplace, making it more difficult for developers who are not as politically connected to compete.

You don't have to live anywhere near the project to understand that.

[Forest City Ratner and NY State has yet to reveal the full amount of subsidy and tax-payer financing of the project, which is expected to be about half of the $4 billion price tag.]

Steve said...

...or is it possible that massive government subsidies and the use of eminent domain mean that this project could never be considered in a free market system?

Oh yes -- development over the rail yards is a good idea. Perhaps it could be designed using criteria other than maximizing the developer's profit? Also, it would sure be nice if there could be community input into what gets built since taxpayer money is being used.

tom said...

Nolandgrab makes a solid point. Free marketeers believe new endeavors only need demand to succeed. The $1 billion-plus in government handouts leads me to believe Bloomberg et al. don't actually believe this project will be the huge success as they claim.

Profit incentive -- not cash from the public purse -- should be all a developer needs to bring a new project to fruition.

Peregrine said...

Develop Don’t Destroy Is The New Robert Moses

On a sultry August day on the porch of Gracie Mansion in 1955 there was a show down between Robert Moses and the great Walter O’Malley. On that day the Brooklyn Dodgers and the sad corner of Flatbush and Atlantic were left to their ignoble fates.

The scare tactics of Develop Don’t Destroy and the other misguided anti Atlantic Yards blogs are detrimental to a real discourse of how Brooklyn can and will grow.
The eyesore of the Atlantic Yards will be developed and will be a great addition to the borough.
Brooklyn suffered from the first time a sports arena was proposed for the site and blocked. Walter O’Malley tried to build a stadium there designed by Buckminster Fuller which would have kept the Dodgers in Brooklyn.
It was blocked by Robert Moses and has remained a blight ever since.

Now there is an opportunity for an arena, shopping and housing to be designed by one of America’s better architects.
The anti Atlantic Yards claim this isn’t true well…
The only thing that isn’t true is actual footprints are slightly different. Their claims are lame and disingenuous.
Brooklyn like all of New York is going to grow and no amount of caterwauling by self important ludites is going to stop it.
It is a real disappointment to see the anti Atlantic Yards video posted by a business like Mary Kay Gallagher Real Estate on Living In Victorian Flatbush.