The country's most expensive arena in a country full of expensive arenas opened in Brooklyn on Friday, ready to "woosh" away all our troubles in a puffy cloud of licensed apparel and expansive parking lots. But not everyone has caught Barclays Fever (not to be confused with the illness one contracts from smoking too many Barclays), as evidenced in a piece in the Times today that surveys the neighborhood's deep-seated distrust and restlessness mixed with the anticipation of the stadium's inaugural season. Simply put: Brooklyn succumbed to the advances of banks and developers, and it may be making a 20-year walk of shame.
The Rev. Clinton Miller describes how the developer, Forest City Ratner, allegedly beat the drum of jobs and affordable housing while cynically insulating the project from criticism.
“We were never against the project; we just wanted the process to be fair and inclusive,” said Mr. Miller, who has formed a new group of 25 pastors to monitor the project. When the company enlisted Jay-Z and engaged other leaders like the Rev. Al Sharpton, Mr. Ratner made it difficult for some in the black community to criticize the project, Mr. Miller said. “The racial dynamic,” he added, “was tremendously manipulated by Forest City.
The number of promised jobs dropped from 10,000, to 8,560, but besides construction workers, only 2,000 jobs in the arena have been filled, and 1,900 of them are part-time. And though 50% of the residential units being built will be affordable (Editorial aside: isn't it heartbreaking that housing has to be deemed "affordable?"), Forest City has until 2035 to complete the project, plenty of time for the Nets to move to Shelbyville.
Bruce Ratner, who recently did his best P.T. Barnum, had this to say in response to the tide of criticism:
“I think most people who live in Brooklyn today will be very proud of having a basketball team. They will be very proud of having an arena. They will be very proud of the housing part of the project.”
And Lord Nibbles XIV, the Rat Emporer of Brooklyn, will tell his subjects in 2189 that the Barclays Center was the beginning of The Great Relocation which later allowed his ancestors to rule forever more.