Accusations are flying from all sides of the Atlantic Yards debate over the apparent slowdown in developing the Prospect Heights mega-project. In the four and a half years since the project was announced, delays, lawsuits and controversy have dogged the plan, and some are eying a potential endgame for the project. The timetable for completing the project has been pushed back to 2018, and subsidies for the project ballooned out to $2 billion, even as the first phase of the project has shrunk to include only the Nets Stadium and adjacent office tower.
The shrinking size and longer timetable has stirred controversy, to say the least. Last week, dueling protests were held at the construction site: one calling for a construction moratorium on the vastly delayed project, and one demanding faster construction. On Sunday, Bruce Ratner, the President of AY developer Forest City Ratner, wrote a swaggering editorial in the Daily News defending the project and it’s projected timetable. On Monday, the media heat was on, with New York’s two daily tabloids facing off over the project: the Daily News posted new images of the site’s design, which as Norman Oder points out, leaves out significant parts of the original development. Starchitect Frank Gehry’s new design for the development’s flagship tower (‘B1,’ formerly ‘Miss Brooklyn’) cuts out some of the size and grace of the old renderings, becoming a shorter, slimmer, but blockier version of its old self. Countering Ratner’s new images, the community group Brooklyn Speaks partnered with the Municipal Arts Society to produce renderings of the site with the reduced plans – a design that they call “Atlantic Lots” for the massive amount of surface parking an incomplete project would produce.
So: Atlantic Yards, or Atlantic Lots? With much litigation and years of construction yet to go, the jury remains out – as City Comptroller Bill Thompson said at a recent New School event – “I’m not even sure what this project is any longer.”