It's been a busy week for the little Brooklyn project known as Atlantic Yards, what with the impending start of demolition, a setback in court for the developer and new details about project finances. But, if you're like most people, you probably wonder what the hell is going on at Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues. So, here's an attempt to explain in case you've got all your what's, when's and where's mixed up. A lot of this basic information comes from Atlantic Yards Report, whose writer actually understands the project.
1) What is Atlantic Yards? The project, which is being developed by Forest City Ratner, would include Frank Gehry's Miss Brooklyn, the Barclays Center arena, 6430 apartments and 336,000 square feet of office space. That's 16 towers in all. (There's a Plan B with less housing and more office space, but we won't confuse things.) The entire site is 22 acres, 8.5 acres of which are the actual Atlantic Yards railyards. The other 13.5 acres would come out of Prospect Heights.
· Arena by 2010, Project Would Take 15 Years [AYR]
· A Vision for Downtown Brooklyn [atlanticyards.com]
· Develop Don't Destroy [DDDB]
· All the Atlantic Yards Coverage Linked [No Land Grab]
· BrooklynSpeaks Blog [BrooklynSpeaks]
2) Is it being built? Interesting question. The answer is, yes and depends. Yes, the project was approved in the dying days of the Pataki administration, but since the developer only owns 85 percent of the site and has to get the other 15 percent through eminent domain, there are some lawsuit wildcards. A couple of weeks ago, a Federal magistrate dealt opponents a setback by ruling that the big eminent domain suit belongs in state court. A final decision is pending. So, it will come down to legal decisions and what can happen while the project's still in court. Because the project will be done in phases, there is a chance that it could still be changed significantly.
3) How long is it going to take? Longer than you might think. The developer has been saying the arena would be open in 2009 and that the entire project would be done in ten years. This week, 2010 (at best) and 15 years were mentioned. Twenty years, anyone?
4) What's it going to cost? If you know the answer, let us know. The finances are convoluted to say the least and all the documents haven't been released. The direct subsidy would appear to be about $305 million. If you count $1.15 billion in tax-exempt bonds as a subsidy, it will be a lot more.