It’s another defining week for the Atlantic Yards. On Wednesday, the 8 million square-foot project faces one of its last hurdles: approval by the Public Authorities Control Board, the state oversight body that monitors Albany’s fiscal commitments to projects like the Yards. PACB votes have derailed large-scale projects before, most notably last year when Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver and Joseph Bruno, the Senate majority leader, killed the West Side Stadium plan. Of course, it’s no secret how Pataki, who also has a vote, will go.
The NY Times zeroes in on Silver. While the Assembly speaker generally has supported the project, he has questioned the project’s financing. As the Times points out, Albany can be tricky for pols like Silver, with their obscure motivations. First, he has sparred publicly with Empire State Development Corporation head Charles Gargano, who has boosted the project from the get-go (Gargano hinted that Silver was crooked and Silver called Gargano’s tenure “a dismal failure.”). Second, Silver may want to deny Pataki a legacy project. Third, Silver has to deal with special interests.
We think most of the above theories are a stretch. Silver would lose face if he killed a project for petty reasons – he needs numbers to back up a no vote. So we wonder whether last week’s Atlantic Yards Report revelation that the project’s projected sales and income tax revenues have dropped by almost one-third (from $1.4 billion to $944 million) will influence his vote. There's more on the revenue debacle – attributable, some say, to the project’s recent drop in commercial square footage - here and here.
Meanwhile, New York magazine lists Develop Don’t Destroy’s Daniel Goldstein - David to Ratner’s Goliath – as one of its “Reasons to Love New York Now.” Goldstein bought a condo at 636 Pacific Street in 2003, around the time when Brooklynites began hearing drizzles of the stadium plan. Goldstein’s spent the past few years trying to stop the project, most recently in the form of a lawsuit which seeks to foil Ratner on the theory that his taking of private property for public use (via eminent domain) is unconstitutional.
And, finally, following yesterday’s City section story on light pollution activist Susan Harder, the NY Sun has an opinion piece on the extensive illuminated signage planned for Atlantic and Flatbush avenues. The signs, up to 15 stories (or 150 feet), will be bright and may feature moving images. Per Michael Gruen, a lawyer who serves on the Municipal Art Society's Streetscape Committee, "One may infer from the murky design guidelines – which prohibit advertising but define advertising as promotion only of goods and services located outside of Atlantic Yards – that the signs may advertise anything from beer to undies, so long as the goods are sold anywhere within the project area.” Atlantic Yards Report's Oder says the proposed signage is reminiscent of Times Square. Proponents of the project say the signs will be opaque and transparent - and will have little appreciable environmental impact. We shall, um, see.
So what’s your take? Will the the PACB vote yay or nay? How will Silver stand and why? Will Goldstein lose his condo or prevail over Ratner? And will Brooklyn be all lit up?