On February 10, 2004 the Boerum Hill Association issued a statement expressing its opposition to the Atlantic Yards Development Proposal as presented — the construction of a 20,000 seat arena, 4 office towers ranging from 210 feet to 620 feet, 13 residential complexes ranging from 110 feet to 452 feet, and several surrounding retail buildings. The site of the proposal extends over several blocks southeast from the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues, and is almost immediately adjacent to Boerum Hill.
“Our position in opposition to the Proposal is one we have reached after careful deliberation about the Proposal, studying both the information provided by the developer and those in support of the Proposal, as well as those who oppose it,” explained Sue Wolfe, BHA president. “The task force we appointed to study the Proposal has spent the past five months examining all of the competing claims as well as information that has been learned from similar development projects.”
Jo Anne Simon, head of the BHA task force examining the Proposal, explained the basis for the group’s opposition. “We don’t believe the magnitude and scale of this project, which is much more than an arena — it includes over 20 additional buildings, many over 400 feet tall – is appropriate for this location. Quite frankly, it is overwhelming, and would dwarf the surrounding residential neighborhoods and landmarks. After all, there’s a reason for the revival of the residential neighborhoods in this area of Brooklyn, and it has a lot to do with scale. This Proposal is antithetical to the success of Brooklyn’s small businesses and family-friendly communities.”
The Association’s review found many ways in which the Proposal was deficient. For example, it fails to include a full analysis of its environmental, economic and social impacts as well as a thorough accounting of the necessary infrastructure costs â€“ in terms of mass transit, traffic, schools, police, fire, water and sewers – or who will bear such costs.
“We oppose any use of eminent domain or public financing for this project; unfortunately, the Proposal is vague, perhaps deliberately so, about the extent to which it will rely on either. It includes claims about the job and revenue growth to be generated, but it lacks hard facts and analysis. Our study of other arenas has shown us that such claims are rarely borne out, and that in many instances, actually lead to a community’s economic and social decline,” stated Ms. Wolfe. “People need real jobs, not fuzzy math.”
Ms. Simon notes, “We are very supportive of development, but only if it makes sense and is vetted in advance by the communities that will house it, as part of a broader process of meaningful public participation. The developer of the Atlantic Yards Proposal has failed to discuss its plans with the stakeholders who will be most affected by the Proposal: members of the neighboring communities. This Proposal or any future iterations of it must be reviewed together with the Brooklyn Downtown Rezoning Plan; an examination of each separately will lead to inaccurate assessments about the effects and costs they will have on the area and its people.”
Ms. Wolfe concurred. “We are committed to cooperating with neighboring communities to further educate our neighborhoods about the Proposal. ” she said. “We are experienced in working with developers to make sure our voices are heard and our needs incorporated, and you can be sure we’re going to be actively involved in this case.”
The Boerum Hill Association Arena Task Force consists of Jo Anne Simon, chair, Heloise Gruneberg, Regina Kelly, Nancy Schuh, Patricia Smith, James Vogel, Rose Weber and Sue Wolfe. For further information, please contact Jo Anne Simon at (718) 852-3528 or Sue Wolfe at (718) 858-3822, Ext 100.
Download PDF version of press release and position statement.