They’re Crazy From the Heat!Harlem residents suspect gentrifiers are the cause of a raccoon outbreak, a miffed man burns down his neighbor’s house on Staten Island, and government workers from separate departments deliberately, sneakily sabotage one another in the East Village. All this and more in our daily boroughs report.
Big Urban-Planning Issues: How Do We Get LeBron?It’s been a bad week for massive urban-planning projects. First came news that Madison Square Garden would be renovating instead of moving into the Moynihan Station megadevelopment across Eighth Avenue.
Showdown at the Brooklyn MuseumDeveloper Bruce Ratner is slated to receive an award tonight at a fancy gala, and opponents of his Atlantic Yards project will be there to make sure he doesn’t enjoy it.
Clive Campbell Wants Slavery Reparations From Jay-Z, Of All PeopleAtlantic Yards: Activist Clive Campbell has filed a $5 billion suit against Bruce Ratner, Jay-Z, and Barclay’s bank. He’s suing for slavery reparations, because of alleged slave trade ties in the history of the bank. [NYO]
Bedford-Stuyvesant: Cleaning your dog’s poop is all about respect. Respecting yourself, that is. [Newyorkshitty]
Dumbo: If you want your short film to play on the big screen at Brooklyn Bridge Park, now’s the time to submit it to Movies With a View. No subtitles, please. [Dumbo NYC]
Chris Smith: Ratner Showing Fear, At Last?Here’s the argument Bruce Ratner’s lawyers won’t be making in court: “Please hurry up and make a decision on the lawsuits challenging Atlantic Yards, judges, because the delay is cutting into our profits.” But while the sentiment goes unvoiced, that’s what Ratner’s current posturing is really all about. Last week Ratner’s representatives filed papers with a state appellate panel seeking to expedite a ruling because “the credit markets are in turmoil at this time … There is a serious question as to whether, given the current state of the debt market, the underwriters will be able to proceed with the financing for the arena while the appeal is pending.”
School Principal Single-handedly Stops Ratner DrillersBruce Ratner has plans to build Brooklyn’s tallest structure using air rights from CUNY’s NYC Technical College. The City Tech tower, to be designed by Renzo Piano, is being built with the collaboration of the school — and in return, they’ll get a new class and lab building, built by Ratner. But there’s one loser in this deal: George Westinghouse High School, which uses an auditorium and parking lot on the CUNY site where Ratner will be building. School officials only received a fax with the announcement a couple of days before a crew arrived to start work for excavation. “The principal asked the workers to leave the property, and they did,” a community activist explained later. The school has rented the space from CUNY for years, and administrators have tried since September to learn what will happen to it. “They had one sit-down with construction people that ended poorly,” says the activist. The school’s PTA will meet with representatives of both Ratner and the Department of Education on January 19 (which would seem to make them more influential than dozens of celebrity protesters against Ratner’s other Brooklyn projects, who can’t seem to get a meeting with him). Ratner spokesman Lorin Reigelhaupt promises to restore lost parking spaces on-site or nearby, but neither Reigelhaupt nor the DOE will comment on the future of the auditorium. —Alec Appelbaum
Renzo Piano Forgot the Bike RacksTimes Square: If the New York Times building is so green, how come there’s nowhere to park a bike? [Streetsblog]
Atlantic Yards: Will the Yards eventually feel more like Madison Square Garden, or Newark? This blog captures the debate from the Brian Lehrer Show. [Atlantic Yards Report]
Brooklyn Heights: The Wandering Stranger of Schermerhorn Street has disappeared! And has earned himself a poetic blog elegy. [Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn via Brooklyn Heights Blog]
Housing Advocate Brad Lander to Run for DeBlasio’s Council SpotBrooklyn City Councilman Bill DeBlasio plans to run for borough president, and the guy who wants to replace him is part of the borough’s urbanist next generation. “I’m running,” said Brad Lander, 38, who directs the nonprofit Pratt Center for Community Development. Lander, neighbors might remember, got the Bloomberg administration to include affordable-housing incentives when rezoning the Williamsburg waterfront two years ago. A savvy political operator, Lander is also popular with the brownstone-bourgeois crowd — the Atlantic Yards Report quotes him approvingly. Even Steven Spinola, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, has battled with Lander and admits grudging respect. “He’s a bright individual,” Spinola says. Having successfully fought last year to bring those affordable-housing incentives to parts of all five boroughs, Lander now wants to expand them to the entire city and require public amenities in all development. He also wants to save rent stabilization. “What I feel a lot of passion about is, shouldn’t this growth and development bring us new parks and affordable housing and jobs?” he told us. “It seems like all they bring is luxury condos.” —Alec Appelbaum
Markus Dochantschi to Blend Luxury With Affordable Beside BAMBack in April,
we told you how a city competition had produced attractive, ecohealthy, and affordable housing in the South Bronx. When architect Markus Dochantschi, Zaha Hadid’s onetime U.S. point man, finished second in that competition, he vowed to find another spot for his utopian plans. His sights were set on the ritzy city-owned site next to BAM, where another similar competition was running. This time, he won. Dochantschi, working with German architect Stefan Behnisch, will design 187 units, including 30 for-sale apartments and an unspecified number of affordable ones, above a retail and performance space where Fulton Street meets Ashland (near Frank Gehry’s modern explosion over the Atlantic Yards). He says the scheme scatters for-sale and low-income units throughout the tower to ensure that no one section becomes less desirable than others. Instead, as the above rendering shows (and another more clearly after the jump), he “twisted the orientation” to make sure the north-south exposure was no less enticing than the east-west. As a result, he says, “hotspots” throughout the building will ensure plenty of nice light and air. He hopes the building opens by 2010. —Alec Appelbaum
Local Planner Gets the Big Job [Brooklyn Papers]
Related: Mr. Ratner’s Neighborhood [NYM]
Ratner, Lopez Do Business the Old-Fashioned Way
Major decisions and policy changes often seem to come out of nowhere in Albany, thrown together in the late-night rush to beat the close of a legislative session. But when it comes to Bruce Ratner and Atlantic Yards, the foundation for such maneuvers has been quietly in the works for years. And last night, the savvy stroking paid off for him yet again. It’ll cost you, though.
Bruce Ratner Wins a Round in Atlantic Yards Legal Battle
A federal judge this afternoon dismissed Goldstein v. Pataki, the key eminent-domain case seeking to block Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards megadevelopment. It’s a major setback for the Develop Don’t Destroy crowd, right? Wrong, says Matthew Brinckerhoff, DDDB’s lead lawyer. Indeed, he calls it good news. “There was an initial ruling by the federal magistrate saying we didn’t belong in federal court, and now a district court has said we belong in federal court but dismissed the claim,” Brinckerhoff told us. Now, he says, his clients can focus their appeal on the merits of the case — that public officials delivered the massive project to Forest City Ratner when it should have gone to multiple bidders in a public process — rather than on jurisdictional technicalities. “Given where we were, we are not worse off,” Brinckerhoff said. Of course — and we’re not lawyers — one would imagine it would be even better not to have to appeal at all. But Brinckerhoff is standing firm and tossing off sound bites. “This is far from over,” he said. —Alec Appelbaum