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Re: Reopening old underpasses - Atlantic Av IRT

Posted by Scott at FFFP on Thu Aug 31 16:21:09 2006, in response to Re: Reopening old underpasses - Atlantic Av IRT, posted by The Port of Authority on Thu Aug 31 01:12:15 2006.

I agree with you about building mixed-use over the Vanderbilt Yards -- it's what all the groups fighting Ratner's project are advocating. Both the Unity Plan and the Extell bid extolled these ideas.

I guess the whole point is that the mayor and the borough president, for all their bluster, actively discourage the Jane Jacobs ideal of vibrant street life by champioining Ratnerian superblocks.

There are places you might have missed. On Sixth Ave between Flatbush and Dean are a run of small eateries. Flatbush Ave has Japanese, Chinese and coffee shops within a few blocks. Bergen has small joints. The classic dive bar O'Connors could service fans on 5th Avenue just a block west of Flatbush.

Just a couple blocks into Fort Greene are places, only as far as Fulton Ave. There are eateries and bars much closer than 10 blocks along 5th Avenue. And of course, Freddy's, which would be the perfect pre- and post-game bar, would be destroyed to make way for the towers.

The MTA's discouragement of lunch counters and mom'n'pop stores inside the subway system hurts too. Even the Atlantic/Pacific Station itself could support small, non-chain joints that fans could stop at before entering the arena and being forced to overpay for bland concession food and $8 cups of beer.

The point is, all around the footprint, small places have been opening -- except for the footprint itself, where Ratner has stunted the growth enjoyed by the surrounding community.

Bloomberg and Markowitz have been silent on small-business growth around the Atlantic Yards development. Your contention that "it's not the '60s anymore" is true, but it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. If the city encourages Applebees and underground passageways, then yes, that's all suburban visitors will frequent. And while you're right that suburbanites might prove unadventurous, we'll guarantee it by offering them no other choice.

There are suburban car-borne fans who frequent the local joints around Wrigley Field, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium. The fact is, Ratner and Bloomberg aren't interested in sharing fans with the surrounding communities. It would be one thing if Ratner were paying for all this himself. But the city and state are handing over at least $1.5 billion in public funds -- with precious few jobs and affordable housing units to show for it. For that, his national chain restaurants shouldn't get all the business.

Markowitz in particular has been shameful in this process. For a fella who oozes "Brooklyn" from every pore, his refusal to craft policy to create small-business opportunities in and around the footprint, should this money-hemhorraging colossus ever gets built, is the height of hypocrisy.

Small-businesses hire more people in America than big chains. Bloomberg and Ratner could care less.

As for whether there's actually an "area," the 1,000 people who've been displaced from their homes and jobs in the footprint think there was something there. The surrounding streets and businesses think there's something there. The neighborhoods that built themselves up without the subsidies and sweetheart deals Ratner gets think there's something there.

What looks empty there is all Ratner's doing -- the buildings he's emptied out, the terrible rarely-used Atlantic Center mall, and his refusal to plan with the all the communities affected. Had the footprint been allowed to keep pace with the rest of organically developing Prospect Heights and Fort Greene, there'd be plenty to be seen from Atlantic Avenue besides the flickering lights of Ratner's malls.

You make good points, Port Authority. I wish Ratner, Bloomberg, Pataki and Markowitz and the MTA paid as close attention as you do.

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