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July 27, 2009
Latest Nets arena forum: The recaps
Playing catchup a bit here, but if you're interested in how last Wednesday night's public meeting on the New Jersey Nets' proposed Brooklyn Atlantic Yards project went, there's a long recap on the New York Times' Fort Greene blog, and an even longer recap at Atlantic Yards report (includes verbatim heckling transcripts!). Among the highlights, from the Times:
Many audience members wanted to know: Could this mean Atlantic Yards might join the ghostly construction graveyard in Brooklyn of partly completed residential buildings that lost financing when the market's bottom dropped out?
"What guarantees Phase II will be built at all?" read Mr. Hammerman on behalf of a questioner.
"There's one plan," said Mr. Matlin, the development corporation's senior counsel. "For Forest City to receive a return on its investment, the only way they can do that is to build out the project plan. They've made a huge investment on this project and the only way they can get a return on that investment is to build."
It was the start of the firestorm. "So profit is the only guarantee?" shouted an audience member. A yelling match erupted in the seats.
And from AYR:
Representatives of Forest City Ratner (FCR) and the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) got thrown some hard questions—about the total amount of subsidies, the details of a cost-benefit analysis, and the absence of any site plan or arena renderings--and managed to evade or deflect many of them. In essence, they said the project--now $4.9 billion, previously $4 billion--could be approved by the ESDC board in September without such information being made subject to public scrutiny or comment.
There are more public hearings set for this Wednesday and Thursday, so expect lots more heckling.