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Old Posted Oct 10, 2008, 7:02 PM
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Smile NEW YORK | Atlantic Yards (15 tower development)







Atlantic Yards will be many things to many people. Designed by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry, Atlantic Yards combines a sports and entertainment arena, landscaped open space, a boutique hotel, ground-floor retail space for local businesses, office space and more than 6,400 units of affordable, middle-income and market-rate housing to create a vibrant addition to a thriving borough.



Located at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues, bounded by Pacific and Dean Streets and Vanderbilt Avenue, and primarily situated over the MTA/LIRR’s Vanderbilt Rail Yards, Atlantic Yards will span 22 acres and transform the current railyards and predominantly underutilized and industrial area (opens 2,700K photo slideshow of original conditions at Atlantic Yards project site) into 17 iconic buildings, including the state-of-the-art arena.

The $4 billion development will encompass 336,000 square feet of office space, 6.36 million square feet of residential space (6,430 units of affordable, middle-income and market-rate housing), an 850,000-square-foot sports and entertainment arena, 247,000 square feet of retail space, a 165,000-square-foot hotel (180 rooms) and over 8 acres of intricately designed publicly accessible open space.

The development will produce tremendous economic growth for the borough and city, creating more than 15,000 union construction jobs plus between 1,500 and 6,400 permanent jobs, as well as generating over $5.6 billion in tax revenue for the city and state over 30 years.

The height of the buildings will range from approximately 190 feet to 511 feet. "Miss Brooklyn," the building proposed for the corner of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues, will not be taller than the nearby Williamsburgh Savings Bank, which stands at 512 feet. Separate from the Atlantic Yards development, building heights as high as 600 feet have been approved by the City Council as part of the Downtown Brooklyn Plan.

Frank Gehry is designing the individual buildings and the larger development to complement the surrounding communities, creating a sense of scale that fits the low-rise feel of nearby neighborhoods and the more urban feel of downtown Brooklyn.

The buildings are spaced and sized to minimize bulk. For example, the heights of the buildings along Dean Street and Vanderbilt Avenue have been stepped down to better conform with the residential neighborhood. The taller buildings of the development will be located near the commercial corridor of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues.

Atlantic Yards is one of the most important developments in the history of Brooklyn. It will serve as a proud emblem of Brooklyn’s reenergized vitality and create a new home for Brooklyn's very own NBA franchise–the Brooklyn Nets.


The Barclays Center



The 850,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art sports and entertainment arena will be home to the professional basketball team the Brooklyn Nets. For the first time since the Dodgers left in 1957, Brooklyn will have a major league sports team to call its own. The Barclays Center will welcome some of the most exciting sports and entertainment events in the world: concerts, fine arts performances, circuses, NCAA college basketball games, hockey tournaments and music award shows are just some of the possibilities.

The design of the arena invites the outside in: The center’s Atlantic and Flatbush Avenue façades will be expanses of glass, flooding the inside with natural light during the day and allowing patrons on the concourses inside to glimpse the vibrant life of downtown Brooklyn. A new subway entrance at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues will provide direct access to New York's third-largest public transportation hub (10 subway lines and the LIRR).

The Barclays Center will be a community centerpiece for the borough. FCRC has worked with local organizations to ensure the arena is an integral part of the community, where local college and high school athletes will have a new stage to showcase their skills. The center will also host thousands of proud families and friends for college and high school graduations.

At least 10 events a year will be set aside for multicultural, recreational and nonprofit uses, with proceeds from those days benefiting local nonprofit community groups. FCRC will create a nonprofit sports foundation to fund youth, recreation and community programs. At least 50 upper bowl tickets, four lower bowl tickets and one box per Nets basketball game will be set aside for community use, with priority given to youths and seniors. The center will also include a nondenominational meditation room.

The Barclays Center offers Brooklyn a world-class venue in which to come together, to cheer, to celebrate, to listen, to learn, to connect and to allow Brooklyn to be Brooklyn...on the world's stage.
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Old Posted Oct 15, 2008, 4:19 AM
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Curbed.com

Landscape Architect Olin Out at Atlantic Yards



Tuesday, October 14, 2008, by Robert



Is it rats jumping from Bruce Ratner's (possibly) sinking ship called Atlantic Yards or something else? Noted landscape architect Laurie Olin has confirmed he is off the job: "We enjoyed a supportive and appreciative relationship with the owner/developer, the architects and the City of New York public officials. The current economic turmoil points to the truth that plans of such scope almost inevitably are realized over several economic cycles and must both be able to endure as well as be flexible to change." (Translation: money troubles.) There are also implications that a certain architect named Frank might go (at least, in part) too. [AYR]
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Old Posted Oct 15, 2008, 12:50 PM
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http://www.observer.com/2008/real-es...rest-city-says

Forest City: Landscape Architect Olin Still Involved at Atlantic Yards

by Eliot Brown
October 14, 2008

...Forest City suggested that Mr. Olin is just on sabbatical. The open space of Mr. Olin's is not a part of Phase 1, which includes a basketball arena and housing towers.

Forest City's statement, via spokesman Joe DePlasco:

"Laurie Olin has been involved from the beginning of the design process and he will be involved in the end. The eight acres of open space will be built as part of Phase 2 of the project, which has always been the case. Mr. Olin has completed preliminary work on that and will be involved going forward."
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Old Posted Mar 5, 2009, 5:46 AM
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http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/05/sp...l?ref=nyregion

While Brooklyn Fusses, Newark Pushes for the Nets

By WILLIAM C. RHODEN
March 4, 2009


Mayor Cory Booker described himself as a “hopeless dreamer” Wednesday morning.

Booker had just finished presiding over a ceremony honoring Terrence Kelsor, a security guard from Newark who last week rescued a man who fell on the tracks as a PATH train was coming into the Christopher Street station in Manhattan. Booker praised Kelsor’s courage and used him as an example of the impact citizens can have on one another.

Booker extended the concept to the impact a professional team could have on a city. In fact, he said that when he spoke of being a dreamer, he was referring to bringing the Nets to Newark, the odds of which seem slim to none.

Everyone associated with the Nets’ owner, Bruce C. Ratner, insists there is no way the Nets are staying in New Jersey. Ratner’s vision has always been that the team would be the crown jewel of a sprawling real estate complex in Brooklyn. “The fact is, we’re going to Brooklyn,” Brett Yormark, the Nets’ chief executive, said Wednesday.

Booker is undaunted. He spoke confidently about luring the Nets. He was passionate in describing the economic and psychic impact they would have on the city, which already has a great arena in the Prudential Center, where the Nets will play two preseason games in October.

“We don’t have to use state money to build anything,” Booker said. “The Nets coming to Newark would supercharge the city. I’m working on it every day.”

He added, “We think it’s the right thing for the state, it’s the right thing for the team and it actually makes sense.”

Still, Ratner is determined to give Brooklyn a pro basketball team — whether the borough wants one or not. So a franchise that has been searching for an identity, for a true home, is once again at a crossroads.

Newark desperately wants the Nets; Brooklyn has been lukewarm. The Nets want lukewarm.

From the moment Ratner announced plans to move the team to Brooklyn, the project has encountered wave after wave of protest. Using money, influence and political muscle, Ratner has waded through resistance the way a fighter wades through punches in hopes of landing a knockout blow.

There have been victories along the way, but no peace.

In early February, a major lender agreed to extend its loan and not demand full payment, which was due that month. Late last month, a state appellate court ruled against opponents who had challenged the $4 billion project on environmental grounds.

Another major decision remaining is a lawsuit challenging the state’s use of eminent domain to seize private property on behalf of the project. A defeat could be devastating for the project, which is already reeling from the poor economy.

The Nets, meanwhile, who struggled to draw fans when they were going to the N.B.A. finals, are again relying on opposing teams’ stars to draw. Newark could help stop the bleeding.

“The team is hemorrhaging money,” Booker said. “I can show Bruce tomorrow how bringing the team to Newark will stop the hemorrhaging the team is doing right now.”

In the event Ratner eventually wants to sell, Booker is looking at ownership groups willing to bring the N.B.A. to Newark. “I am talking to some people who are interested,” he said. “I know that we can show them that this can be a moneymaking team.”

He wouldn’t be more specific. “There’s a lot of talk,” he said.

Last May, Ratner said the Nets were not on the market. But that was before a global economic tsunami hit. Still, with sponsors on board, there would seem to be no sentiment to sell.

The Nets have eight founding partners and it is believed they will be announcing a ninth next week. “Corporate America believes in the project, the Barclays Center specifically,” Yormark said, referring to the proposed Brooklyn arena. “They know we’re going to get there, and they want to be a part of it.”

But Newark is a good fit for the Nets. It is a city with a rough-and-tumble past and a promising future. Most important, it would give the Nets an identity, something they have lacked for decades.

“There is a compelling social-justice argument to make, that this team coming here will have a multiplier effect of social good in our city,” Booker said.

“Newark is really a basketball city; this is something that should be here. For the team to leave New Jersey is ridiculous.”

Meanwhile, Ratner, whose company, Forest City Ratner, was the development partner for the Midtown headquarters for The New York Times company, continues to nip and tuck and shrink his grand development project. In deference to a ravaged economy, he said he would build the basketball arena first and hold off on proposed office buildings and most of the housing until the economy improves. According to reports, he is trying to cut the estimated $1 billion cost of the arena in half in the hope of attracting financing and attracting more city and state subsidies.

Newark would be so easy. Unfortunately, that’s never been the Nets’ way.

The struggle always continues.
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Old Posted Mar 7, 2009, 5:22 PM
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Ive given up on this. I just want it all to go away
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Old Posted Mar 7, 2009, 8:40 PM
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lol me too

the proposal has gone from great!, good, and now crap... so just let it fade awayyyyyyyyyy
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Old Posted Mar 7, 2009, 10:40 PM
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You know, for years this seemed like such a sure thing. I mean, it's part fo the reason The Rock got built in Newark to begin with -- because Ratner forced the hand of New Jersey to act.
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Old Posted Mar 8, 2009, 5:49 AM
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I'm tired of Gehry's style. That is all.
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Old Posted Mar 8, 2009, 4:41 PM
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Originally Posted by jtk1519 View Post
I'm tired of Gehry's style. That is all.
The style doesn't fit Brooklyn. It'd be more appropriate in Vegas IMHO.
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Old Posted Mar 9, 2009, 11:35 PM
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OPINION
MARCH 7, 2009
A Hole Grows in Brooklyn
The local economy should have been left to develop on its own.
By JULIA VITULLO-MARTIN

New York

In December 2003, Mayor Michael Bloomberg thought he had a slam dunk. He along with Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and developer Bruce Ratner struck a deal for a $4.3 billion development project that was to remake downtown Brooklyn by building expansive residential and retail space, and a gleaming new $950 million arena that would bring the New Jersey Nets to the borough.

Now, more than five years later, what's been brought to Brooklyn is a very large hole in the ground and a project that is coming to symbolize why large government projects can be riskier than allowing local residents to fix up their own communities. What we see in Brooklyn is the beginnings of the failure of a massive government plan to revive the economy of a neighborhood.

The idea behind the project, known as Atlantic Yards, was that a pro basketball team would appeal so strongly to sports-mad Brooklynites -- still smarting from their 1957 loss of the Dodgers to Los Angeles -- that they would embrace razing 53 smaller buildings and replacing them with 16 new ones built on a much grander scale.

The arena was to be built on a deck over the old Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) yards, for whose use the developer would pay $100 million to the financially strapped owner, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). This win-win, proclaimed supporters, would provide 15,000 construction jobs, hundreds of millions of dollars (eventually) in tax revenues, thousands of units of affordable housing, and gorgeous green space.

The projected December 2008 ground-breaking for the arena came and went without a shovel hitting the dirt. The chances that the Nets will be playing in Brooklyn for the 2009-10 season, as promised, are nil. Architect Frank Gehry has laid off his entire Brooklyn staff, and Mr. Ratner's company (Forest City Ratner) has renegotiated its loans. Financing to finish the project has dried up amid a global financial meltdown.

Meanwhile, Forest City Ratner is losing $20 million a year on the Nets after having bought the team in anticipation of moving it. Adding insult to all of this injury, Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker has been publicly wooing the Nets by saying Newark has a stadium ready to go. Indeed, the Nets will be playing two exhibition games in it this year.

The ill-fated project in Brooklyn reflects a breakdown of the state and city's strategy of favoring big-government, centrally supported, highly subsidized projects over the kind of small, privately funded, unsubsidized, incremental development that was already occurring in Prospect Heights, as the area is officially known.

It seems that smaller scale redevelopment wasn't happening fast enough for government officials, eager to jump-start Brooklyn's economy. They leapt to support the developer's contention that the neighborhood was blighted, and that its property owners were therefore vulnerable to the state's exercise of eminent domain.

Now officials have a mess on their hands. The development got just far enough to do considerable damage to the neighborhood without progressing far enough to do any good. Atlantic Yards has razed 26 buildings, with government help, creating the blight its developer had argued was there all along. Now there are gashes where late-19th century and early-20th century buildings once stood.

Local property owners and residents have been predicting disaster from the start, and have been fighting the project shrewdly and relentlessly from day one. Under the leadership of a former graphic designer, 39-year-old Daniel Goldstein, a group of locals formed "Develop -- Don't Destroy Brooklyn" in early 2004 to fight back.

As the owner of a sunny two-bedroom apartment in a building that had been renovated into condos in 2002, Mr. Goldstein is the kind of investor-resident who was moving into Prospect Heights just as government officials were calling it blighted. "It was just what I was looking for," he told me. "Great transportation, mixed-use development, on the nexus of four or five of the best neighborhoods in the country."

Indeed, a multitude of young New Yorkers who were also moving into the area agreed that Prospect Heights was developing just fine. Blogs proliferated, the most prominent of which was the tenacious Atlantic Yards Report, run by freelance journalist Norman Oder. No controversy or nuance went unnoticed. Every remark, decision or negotiation by the developer, the MTA or government officials got held up to public scrutiny.

For example, the MTA accepted Forest City Ratner's bid of $50 million for the LIRR's rail yard, even though an appraisal valued it at $214.5 million. Extell, a Manhattan developer, later submitted a competing bid for $150 million. The MTA rejected that bid, but did negotiate with Forest City Ratner to get it to double its bid to $100 million. The MTA then accepted Ratner's new bid, even though it was $50 million less than Extell's.

The MTA hasn't seen a dime of the money yet. The opposition has waged a relentless court battle that has halted construction of the arena. Mr. Goldstein, whose condo stands smack in the middle of the proposed arena site, is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit aimed at blocking the state's use of eminent domain to condemn his building.

Mr. Ratner, an experienced developer of government-financed and tax-abated projects, hasn't given up. Early on he won support of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, a national left-wing pressure group that lobbies for low-income housing. Mr. Ratner also courted activists Rev. Herbert Daughtry, pastor of the House of the Lord Pentecostal Church, and James Caldwell, head of Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development, a jobs advocacy group. This has enabled Mr. Ratner to turn out influential African-Americans to counter the mostly white, middle-class opposition to Atlantic Yards.

Nonetheless, Prospect Heights now looks far worse than it did in 2003, when buildings were being renovated and sold to newcomers. If Mr. Ratner can restart the project, he may be able to restore some health to the neighborhood. If not, Atlantic Yards will go down as a massive, government-backed renewal project that destroyed the neighborhood it was intended to save.

Ms. Vitullo-Martin is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.
Source: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123638294030057865.html
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Old Posted Apr 6, 2009, 7:50 PM
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Quote from globest.com

http://www.globest.com/news/1379_137...sector=newyork

Despite Lawsuits, Atlantic Yards Sees '11 Opening

By Cody Lyon

Quote:
Despite the legal actions, an FCRC spokesman tells GlobeSt that the developer hopes to see Barclays Center Coliseum open by 2011. Although FRCC expects to encounter further delays because of litigation, the developers expect to close on its deal with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and break ground on the 22-acre project.

“We’ve gone about as far as we can go at this point with the preliminary work, including sewer, track, infrastructure and utility work, along with demolition,” the FCRC spokesman tells GlobeSt.com.

Five of the eight blocks making up the future project’s footprint are within the 1968 Atlantic Terminal Urban Renewal Area, making the area ripe for future economic revitalization efforts. Within those five blocks are eight acres owned by the MTA for use as a below-grade rail yard. But adjoining that, three privately owned contiguous blocks located on the south side of Pacific Street that are privately owned. Critics say that over the past few years, FCRC bought large portions of property within those blocks, making it easier for the Empire State Development Corp. to label the entire area as blighted and enabling the taking of lots through eminent domain.

“FRDC doesn’t own the railyards, they haven’t paid anything to the MTA,” the DDDB spokeman tells GlobeSt.com. “If the MTA wants to pull out of its $100-million agreement, it could.” An MTA spokesman tells GlobeSt.com that the $100 million was due when the deal closes.

DDDB believes the only component of Atlantic Yards Brooklyn will likely see in the next few years will be the Barclays Center arena, which is to house the Nets basketball team. “Bruce Ratner has every intention to take control of that land and build an arena and build the rest of the project once the economy picks back up, if it does,” says a spokesman for the group.

But an ESDC spokesman says the project has always been planned in phases. He tells GlobeSt that around 20 lawsuits have been brought attempting to kill the project and almost all have been subsequently dismissed. He says that ESDC looks forward to having resolution on the issue. “Atlantic Yards’ construction timeline is totally dependent on the litigation and once the litigation has been resolved, the project will continue right away,” the ESDC spokesman tells GlobeSt.com

The DDDB spokesman says it is not litigation that’s stopping FCRC from going forward with the project. He says that since the project was approved in December ’06, all FCRC has done to forward the project is demolish half the necessary buildings and complete some infrastructure work.

The opposition group’s spokesman says FCRC’s goal is to get control of the land, by getting past the lawsuits and perusading the state to take the properties so that FCRC “controls the 22 acres” whereby FCRC builds what it wants, when it wants. “There’s a misperception out there that the project's dead because of the economy and it just simply is not true,” he says.
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Old Posted Apr 6, 2009, 7:55 PM
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More on the arena

http://www.barclayscenter.com/

The Venue

The 850,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art sports and entertainment venue will be home to the professional basketball team the Brooklyn Nets. For the first time since the Dodgers left in 1957, Brooklyn will have a major league sports team to call its own. The Barclays Center will welcome some of the most exciting sports and entertainment events in the world: concerts, fine arts performances, circuses, college basketball games, ice shows, and music award shows are just some of the possibilities.

The Barclays Center will be a community centerpiece for the borough. FCRC has worked with local organizations to ensure the venue is an integral part of the community, where local college and high school athletes will have a new stage to showcase their skills. The Center will also host thousands of proud families and friends for college and high school graduations.


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Old Posted Apr 6, 2009, 8:06 PM
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So, um, not being from New York, is this a go or no?
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Old Posted Apr 6, 2009, 8:14 PM
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So, um, not being from New York, is this a go or no?
It's a go. It's just a question of how much it will resemble the current designs. Even the arena itself, which is the first thing to be built, is likely to be altered from what we have aready seen.
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Old Posted Apr 6, 2009, 9:11 PM
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I'm not from New York, so I you all are free to build whatever you want, but I just have to say this.

I'm really not a big fan of the deconstructivist "shards of metal and glass" school of architecture. Sure, it's eye popping but it's designed with the express intent of assaulting the senses with unnatural and mind bending shapes and forms. Is that really what we want?

I'd be willing to accept deconstructivism as a part of a large development such as Atlantic Yards, but having the whole enormous bajillion acre complex (well, 22 acre, but in NY that basically amounts to a bajillion acres) be nothing but a giant monument to a starchitect's ego seems to be a mistake... to me, the renderings and models really are jarring.

It seems to me that the purpose of deconstructivism is to shatter and tear down peoples' preconceived notions of what buildings should look like. It doesn't try to be anything in its own right. Deconstructivism does not exist to 'create' a new style, it exists to 'destroy' existing aesthetic paradigms. It just aims to slap people across the face and say "You thought you knew what a building looks like... ha!"

I acknowledge that there is a place for this sort of radical defiant design, just as there is a place for radical defiant art but I question whether letting one starchitect do this to an entire enormous complex is wise or not.

Anyway, enough of that rant, I'm ready to be flamed for being parochial/ignorant/stupid/whatever
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Old Posted Apr 6, 2009, 9:17 PM
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It's a go. It's just a question of how much it will resemble the current designs. Even the arena itself, which is the first thing to be built, is likely to be altered from what we have aready seen.
Gehry can do nice, mature work these days (Beekman Tower, isn't it a gem?) But this is just too much of a throwback to the years after Bilbao when he could do WHATEVER he wanted simply because he was Frank Gehry. It's frivolous, chaotic, and purely cosmetic whereas there are plenty of other firms doing equally distinctive but more organized, cohesive work.

I'm pleased that there is a push to give a huge project like this to a non-corpo instead of SOM or HOK Sport, but Gehry's design looks more like a look-at-me gimmick than anything else. But, c'est la vie. It would be a healthy development for Brooklyn regardless of the architecture.
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Old Posted Apr 6, 2009, 11:18 PM
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I'm pleased that there is a push to give a huge project like this to a non-corpo instead of SOM or HOK Sport, but Gehry's design looks more like a look-at-me gimmick than anything else.
It's Gehry. I think people know what to expect by now.
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Old Posted May 15, 2009, 9:17 PM
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http://www.observer.com/2009/real-es...options-narrow

Court Rebuffs Atlantic Yards Opponents as Legal Options Narrow

By Eliot Brown
May 15, 2009

Developer Bruce Ratner has won another victory in his undying attempt to bring the Nets to Brooklyn as part of the $4 billion mixed-use project, Atlantic Yards. In a decision posted online on Friday, landowners and tenants were rebuffed by the state appellate court in a case that contested the use of eminent domain for the project (the case was against New York State, not Mr. Ratner himself).

The favorable court decision narrows the legal options for opponents of the project, who have successfully delayed it through the courts to a point where the entire project’s financial viability is now in question amid the broader economic crisis.

Following the decision, the landowners and tenants on the suit will likely attempt to get a hearing before the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals. It’s unclear how long it would take to make a decision on whether or not to hear the case, though decisions to hear cases normally come in a matter of weeks.

Of course, at this point a court victory for Mr. Ratner’s Forest City Ratner is nothing surprising, as it has defeated numerous legal challenges contested in both federal and state court, which have been appealed repeatedly. But more than anything else, the decision amplifies the ticking clock for critics and opponents, as Forest City needs to complete the deal with the state for the project by the end of the year in order to qualify for tax-exempt financing on the Nets arena (without the tax-free financing, its cost would rise substantially, further placing into doubt the project's viability).

With the eminent domain case pending, officials and Forest City have been unable to close the deal for the land—much of the project site is above a set of M.T.A.-owned rail yards—and to sell bonds to finance construction of the arena. Forest City also needs to present a new design for its arena and likely gain approval from the state’s development agency to move ahead with the modified plans.

Update: 1:35 p.m.

The ruling will indeed be appealed, landowners and tenants are vowing. Here's a statement from Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn attorney Matthew Brinckerhoff:

We have the right to appeal directly to the State’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, which we will do, so that Court can determine that the New York Constitution’s Public Use Clause provides greater protection to its citizens than the federal constitution.
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  #19  
Old Posted May 16, 2009, 5:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samoen313 View Post
Gehry can do nice, mature work these days (Beekman Tower, isn't it a gem?) But this is just too much of a throwback to the years after Bilbao when he could do WHATEVER he wanted simply because he was Frank Gehry. It's frivolous, chaotic, and purely cosmetic whereas there are plenty of other firms doing equally distinctive but more organized, cohesive work.
The IAC headquarters is, IMO, Gehry's most restrained and appropriate building. It has a rhythm instead of a jumble, yet it is still sensually curved and deformed as one would expect out of a Gehry building.
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Old Posted May 16, 2009, 11:13 AM
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http://www.nypost.com/seven/05162009..._to_169509.htm

B'KLYN ARENA VICTOR RATNER: WE'RE READY TO DIG

By RICH CALDER
May 16, 2009

After scoring a huge court victory yesterday, developer Bruce Ratner says he'll break ground on Brooklyn's embattled Atlantic Yards project this September -- and may even have the Nets playing there by the 2011-12 season.

An appellate panel in Manhattan unanimously ruled to give the state the green light to seize private property on Ratner's behalf, so construction can begin on a $4 billion project in Prospect Heights that's been heavily delayed by mounting litigation since getting state approval in Dec. 2006.

The four-member panel determined the project has enough "public benefits" -- such as the creation of 2,250 affordable housing units and thousands of jobs -- to warrant condemning land. Opponents, however, say the 22-acre project footprint isn't "blighted" as Ratner and the state contend, so using eminent domain would be unconstitutional.

But while opponents say they plan to take the appeal to the state's highest court, the developer said he believes the latest ruling is the "final hurdle" holding up construction and vowed to finally break ground.

He also said he feels the decision simplifies his company's ability to secure financing during the current credit crunch, so it could eventually build out the entire project of 16 residential/office towers and a NBA arena.

Only a few months ago, star architect Frank Gehry said he thought Atlantic Yards would never be built because of the economic downturn before later backtracking. And earlier this year, Ratner's company confirmed it's trying to scale back costs on the glass-and-steel arena to shave hundreds of millions of dollars off the estimated $950 million price tag.

Ratner said a revised arena plan would be released at a later date and promised it would still be a Gehry-design that's top-notch.

He said the arena --which Barclays Bank is paying a record $400 million to slap its name on -- would be the first part of Atlantic Yards to break ground in September, followed by four of the high-rises during the project's first phase.


The Empire State Development Corp. said it expects to begin condemnation proceeding in the coming months.

Ratner's company says it owns or controls 85 percent of the project site, so the rest would need to be taken through eminent domain. It believes it could build out the entire project within 10 years of breaking ground, although opponents claim that is unrealistic.

Matthew Brinckerhoff, a lawyer for project opponents, called the appellate panel's decision "faulty," adding that "there is ample evidence that the public benefits are minor compared to the enormous" financial "benefits for Ratner."

Although Ratner's side believes it's unlikely the state Court of Appeals will agree to hear the case, lawyers for the opponents said they feel an appeal will be heard since the case revolves around a Constitutional issue.

There is also a suit pending challenging whether the state conducted a proper environmental review before approving Atlantic Yards, but Ratner's staff said it feels construction could still begin while that case remains under appeal. Opponents, however, said they disagree.
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