Fans For Fair Play
Challenging Bruce Ratner’s Brooklyn Atlantic Yards project

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Apartments You Can Afford? Don't Think So... 

Middle of summer, hot and humid, air is still.

Perfect spot for a clumsy metaphor about how the battle against Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards skyscrapers is "heating up."

But, in fact it is.

First off, if you're looking for all the reasons Fans For Fair Play called for a boycott of Brooklyn Brewery, here's where to go.

The boycott is still on, people are still refusing to drink Brooklyn Lager and owner Steve Hindy's other brands. We never set out to fiscally ruin Hindy. Rather, the Think Before You Drink campaign was started to get across one key fact: Hindy built his company on the back of Brooklyn's storied history, and with Brooklyn Brewery's support of Ratner's luxury skyrise condo development, he's helping to destroy that very same Brooklyn — small business, low-rise, eccentric, diverse and not Manhattan.

Actually, Hindy's 0 for 3 with this sort of thing. He's also testified in favor of the Greenpoint/Williamsburg rezoning, which is pushing out long-time residents and small manufacturers in favor of sweetheart deals for mega-developers erecting 30 story condo towers on the waterfront.

Hindy's also spoken publicly in favor of taking public parkland away from the proposed Brooklyn Bridge Park and giving it to developers looking to build — yep — luxury condo buildings. Since Hindy is eyeing moving his Williamsburg brewery (which accounts for only half of BB's products, with the other half of "Brooklyn Brewery" coming from Utica, in upstate New York) to a pier at the foot of Brooklyn Bridge Park, it seems he's more interested in cashing in on new bluebloods in those highrise condos than supporting desperately needed parkland for Brooklynites.

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Forest City Ratner held a "public hearing" last night at the Marriott Hotel, part of Ratner's bland and soulless MetroTech development. Unlike the coalition of groups fighting the Ratner project, FCR's event screened attendees — forcing those interested to call and register first, before finding out days later whether they'd be allowed in.

The only issue discussed was the "affordable housing" segment of Ratner's plan. Here, for your convenience, are the issues FCR chose not to put on the agenda:

Permanent Jobs
Construction Jobs
Eminent Domain
Using Public Funds
Asthma Exacerbation
Lack of Democratic Process
Lack of Total Community Outreach
Size of the 17 Skyscrapers
Opposition to Frank Gehry's Architecture
Wall-Like Nature of the Project
Mall Atmosphere of the Development
Ratner's Preference for Chain Box Stores
Arena's Proposed 270 Dates Per Year
Lack of Legally-Binding Community Benefits Agreement
Community Groups and Supporters Receiving Payouts From FCR
Terrorist Susceptibility
Disapperance of Public Streets from Brooklyn's Map
Lack of Public Access to Arena's Rooftop Facilities
4,000 Parking Spaces

...and more.

No, FCR just hammered away at their specious claim that the people in Brooklyn who most need affordable housing — truly affordable housing — will get it. But when FCR announced the prices of their apartments, and how long it would take to get them, and that a mysterious lottery system that the city might have some role in would determine who gets those "affordable" apartments, audience enthusiasm disappeared.

Here's a chart FCR distributed showing the complex formula of "bands," income levels and family members. We've colorized it to show two things:

How many of the apartments (shaded in red) will be priced $1,500/month or more, and how many you can't afford if your family income is at or below Brooklyn's median income level (shaded in orange and red).

The "affordable" component — which includes apartments priced above $3,000! — is half of the total available. The other half — market rate units — will exceed $1,500/month by the time they're on the market.

Atlantic Yards 'Affordable Housing' Income Eligibility and Estimated Rents

The graphic speaks for itself.

If, of course, any of this ever comes to pass. And at this point, 30 months into the process, not a shovel in the ground, lawsuits challenging many aspects of the roject, increasing community opposition, candidates in the upcoming election running anti-Atlantic Yards campaigns, and Bruce Ratner hemhorraging cash every day on both his New Jersey Nets and the project itself, it's dead as it's been presented up to this point.

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The big Stop The Ratner Skyscrapers rally is this Sunday, 2pm at Grand Army Plaza. Go here for more information.

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