The New Middle City

Gib Veconi writes about development and transformation in brownstone Brooklyn Flag as Inappropriate

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Jobs For New York attack ad received September 6 targeting Ede Fox and Olanike Alabi
Brooklyn Sandy September 9, 2013 at 12:03 pm
The thoroughly appalling lies & putrid mailers which the Jobs for NY PAC...on behalf of &Read More paid for by the developers and real estate lobby: REBNY & sent to sponsor Laurie Cumbo as "their" endorsed candidate for the 35th District City Council seat must be assailed by people of good will and our community. How can we in good conscience allow this political dirt to shape our neighborhood's future? Whoever you are voting for...make sure its not the candidate who'll owe her sponsors more than her district...
FG Neighbor September 9, 2013 at 07:34 pm
Laurie Cumbo is NOT in the pocket of ANY Real Estate, period. As a resident of Fort Greene who hasRead More been involved in community issues and organizations, who came out AGAINST Atlantic Yards and cares about maintaining economic and cultural diversity in our community I support Laurie Cumbo for City Council whole heartedly. She has been the victim of negative attacks by her opponents yet has not stooped to such tactics herself. She has been the victim of both unwanted support from the Real Estate Industry and vicious negative mailings from those supporting her opponents. If you want to know what kind of leader Laurie Cumbo is and will be, and what her track record of community engagement has been, please check out: www.mocada.org. Laurie Cumbo founded the Museum of Contemporary African And Diasporan Arts, on Hanson Place in Fort Greene, Brooklyn and was the Director until resigning to run for this Council seat. Please click on the EDUCATION tab to read about the many different educational programs Laurie Cumbo created as Director of MoCADA, which includes nine separate Artists-in-Schools programs for children in our community in underserved public schools. Please also click on the COMMUNITY tab to find out about other programs Laurie instigated and raised funding for to serve our community such as the children's film festival, KidFlix now in its 13th year in Bed-Stuy or a program to bring musicians and performing artists to public housing residents in Fort Greene. Click on the EXHIBITION tab to find out what types of subjects Laurie has devoted exhibitions to at MoCADA, including, in 2010, an exhibition entitled "Gentrification" curated by Dexter Wimberly. This was NOT a love letter to real estate developers. Laurie Cumbo is not in anyone's pocket. She was the front runner with more than 10,000 signatures collected to get her on the ballot and the leading fundraiser. The Real Estate Industry has huge interests in this district and decided to direct their PAC money at the frontrunner. Laurie Cumbo has repeatedly asked these outside interests to stop spending money to support her campaign but is powerless to make them stop. She will NOT be powerless against them when she is elected to city council. She will remain the courageous, independent and visionary leader that she was during her tenure at MoCADA. I am proud to support her and proud to try to set the record straight on her behalf. U Hegewisch
Gregg September 15, 2013 at 05:51 am
Ms. Cumbo can make the biggest impact, and erase all doubts about her being sympathetic to realRead More estate interests, by simply announcing her full and unwavering support for pressing the DHCR to pursue a policy of rolling back the illegally-raised rents in the District, often gained by landlords taking J-51 tax abatements (our tax money!) AND also illegally jacking up rents at the same time, trying to "decontrol" apartments and rake in a windfall. See the Roberts v. Tishman-Speyers State Supreme Court Decision from 2 years ago on this. Landlords are desperately fighting to NOT have the DHCR roll the rents back to their true, legal level. Cumbo can press to have them adjusted back, thus insuring that hundreds of rent-stabilized apartments remain affordable in the District, with the community stability that ensures.
Four days of direct mail from the real estate-backed Jobs for New York PAC to voters in the 35th District
Pastor Bob Mounter July 31, 2013 at 06:27 pm
Several years ago I endorsed a candidate for public office and Laurie Cumbo advised me that BrooklynRead More politics can be mean spirited and nasty; advise I cherish. I did not realize that I would be offering her the same counsel years later. Stay the course Laurie Cumbo! Nothing of value comes without negative attacks. In the words of former NYC Mayor, John Lindsey, "he who throws dirt, loses ground!"
Norman Oder August 2, 2013 at 07:50 am
Here's a link to my City Limits/Brooklyn Bureau coverage of the race, including the Jobs for NYRead More issue. I queried the organization via a spokesman, asking if they'd heed Cumbo's request, but didn't get an answer. Real-Estate Lobby Dives into Central Brooklyn Council Race http://www.bkbureau.org/2013/08/02/real-estate-lobby-dives-into-central-brooklyn-council-race/
Greg todd August 5, 2013 at 08:46 am
While I value Laurie Cumbo's energy and charm, I think her inexperience and naïveté willRead More continue to plague if she wins this race. Why go that way when there is a candidate, Ede Fox, who's already worked in the Council for years and been both well-informed and articulate in the issues.
Illegal parking and idling by limo drivers is one traffic impact not addressed by the Barclays Center plan.
Gib Veconi June 14, 2013 at 09:52 am
At last night's presentation, it was explained that Philip Habib and Associates, not Sam SchwartzRead More Engineering, produced the traffic projections in the Atlantic Yards FEIS. Nevertheless, the client then as now was Forest City Ratner, and I believe it is fair to criticize the circular nature of the exercise, particularly since the scope of the TDM review was tailored narrowly to avoid addressing issues like illegal idling by limos and on-street parking by patrons.
The Barclays Center, the centerpiece of the Atlantic Yards Project. Credit: Paul Leonard/Fort Greene Patch
Eric McClure June 11, 2013 at 02:02 pm
"The Truth" is a rather ironic name, no?
The Truth June 11, 2013 at 02:10 pm
whatever....its THE TRUTH! Barclay's is a terrific addition to the neighborhood and I for one am soRead More over all the previous arguments! Move on and enjoy the space...is my advice to all.
Peter Krashes June 11, 2013 at 06:05 pm
Truth- The point is the level of direct and indirect subsidies contributed by the taxpayer were inRead More exchange for a promise the WHOLE project would be built by FCRC in 10 years -- from the housing to the open space to the connections between neighborhoods. The State let us down by not assessing the feasibility of what was promised in 2006 and again in 2009.
Original proposed boundaries
Gib Veconi April 24, 2013 at 03:36 pm
Update: On April 16, the boundaries for the Barclays Center BID were revised by its steeringRead More committee, which removed the Phase II Atlantic Yards site (east of Sixth Avenue) from the proposal.
Gib Veconi July 6, 2013 at 03:32 pm
Another update: On June 20th, Norman Oder reported in The Commercial Observer that the plan to formRead More a Barclays Center BID had been abandoned by its sponsors. http://commercialobserver.com/2013/06/the-bid-that-wasnt-barclays-area-effort-dissolves-for-now/
BRADY February 6, 2013 at 01:55 am
No Gib, public schools have become some type of social experiment. Cycling safety education inRead More public schools? how about educating public school students how to read and do basic mathmatics. with all the failings of the public school system Cycling saftey is the least of the DOE's problems
Gib Veconi February 9, 2013 at 12:46 pm
It probably won't surprise anyone, but the BK Gateway meeting scheduled for today has beenRead More postponed. You can keep an eye out for the new date and time by liking BK Gateway's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/BKGateway.
Gib Veconi March 8, 2013 at 03:39 am
Maybe the third time will be a charm! The BK Gateway Transportation Panel has been rescheduled forRead More Saturday, March 16 at the YWCA on Atlantic and Third Avenues. The presentation begins at 10:30AM, followed by a panel with Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, State Senator Eric Adams, State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, Assemblyman Walter Mosley and Council Member Letitia James. The panel will be moderated by Pratt Institute's Ron Schiffman.
Adam January 28, 2013 at 10:06 am
Why should people who live in other neighborhoods, or other parts of the state, subsidize people toRead More live in prospect heights just so the residents can hang onto their beloved diversity? I like diversity too, but not when our tax dollars go to ensuring it. Also, Forest City Ratner bought almost all the property around it and then paid $100 million for the rail yards. Less than the MTA appraised value? Yes. But the city also had to decide on a developer that would actually do a good job and make something out of the yards. FCR did this with the Barclays Center and will eventually build housing. Yes FCR did benefit from tax exempt bond funding, but this will be a great investment for the city and state as taxpaying businesses and citizens move in. Lets stop pretending things were just given away, and that taxpayers must pay for diversity.
Gib Veconi January 28, 2013 at 01:20 pm
Adam: Our State and City governments subsidize affordable housing to avoid homelessness, which is aRead More much more expensive problem to solve. The reason people outside of Prospect Heights should subsidize people to live here is because we have in Atlantic Yards a tremendous resource of State-owned land, and publicly-owned land is generally the most economical place to build affordable housing. And the Atlantic Yards site is very much public land. FCRC has in fact not paid $100MM for the development rights over the entire Vanderbilt rail yards, but only $20MM for the rights for the area where Barclays Center now stands. The firm has a 25-year right to acquire the rest, locking in a price from 2009--a can't-lose deal for the developer. The rest of the Atlantic Yards site was condemned through eminent domain and is now in fact owned by the State. Although it's true FCRC had previously purchased property in the footprint from private owners, it did so under the threat of eminent domain, a powerful negotiating weapon. Further, under the terms of the Atlantic Yards project, FCRC would receive zoning overrides for those properties, making them worth much more to the developer than to their then-owners. Last but definitely not least, FCRC was given $300MM in taxpayer funds to help cover the cost of buying out the property owners. So if you don't like your tax dollars paying for diversity, how do you feel about them paying for displacement?
Adam January 28, 2013 at 02:51 pm
Thank you for the reply, and fair. I guess I don't like my tax dollars going to either. That beingRead More said, the people who were displaced were offered very fair prices for their apartments (more than fair for real estate prices at the time), and not so ruthlessly evicted as many articles I've read seem to suggest. Overall, I guess I support the redevelopment of the area. And if it was necessary to provide financial incentives to firms to get it done, and at the end of the day it's profitable for the city, good. That being said, I would have a hard time believing the city got a good enough deal and FCRC probably didn't put enough skin in the game and got some shady politicians to help them out. Thanks again for your thoughtful reply. Adam
Joanna Prisco December 3, 2012 at 07:40 pm
Carole G., I appreciate you calling attention to this meeting, but I would prefer it if you wouldRead More not spam multiple articles and unrelated blog posts. In the future, please upload the information to our announcements section and I will be happy to share it with the neighborhood across all possible platforms (it will get more visibility that way, anyway). This is certainly an important and newsworthy meeting! Thanks! http://carrollgardens.patch.com/announcements/new
landry December 10, 2012 at 02:02 am
Did anyone go to this meeting? I didnt see any followup story (maybe Im missing it?) Id love to hearRead More the answers to these questions.
Gib Veconi December 10, 2012 at 03:32 am
Landry: Atlantic Yards Report covered the meeting in detail. SeeRead More http://atlanticyardsreport.blogspot.com/2012/11/at-meeting-on-first-atlantic-yards.html.
Gib Veconi November 9, 2012 at 03:43 pm
Stephen: If you visit Washington Avenue, you will see that DOT made extensive pedestrian safetyRead More improvements there last year. See http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/20110217_washington_atlantic_cb2_slides.pdf.
bpi November 27, 2012 at 06:50 am
You say "casualty" ... others say "triumph"
bpi December 10, 2012 at 06:39 am
I think I'm probably interested in this article ... but it is SO long! You need to be unemployed toRead More have the time to read it. I read the first few paragraphs, hoping they would at least tell me what the point was. Instead, it starts many years ago ... and as you wade through the paragraphs, its still many years ago. Get to the point!
Amy Sara Clark October 24, 2012 at 11:20 pm
Very interesting points Akosua, and Dan, great photos, thanks for adding them. -Amy
Sukie November 9, 2012 at 05:18 pm
I think you have some good points but am really turned off by your confession that you were part ofRead More gentrification and then parsing it into two types: your "romantic urbanism" which is okay and capitulation, which is not, as though the latter isn't a completely natural outgrowth of the first. You bought the best house you could get back in '91 in a neighborhood that had nowhere to go but up and you invested in your home and community. I think that's great and obviously, it's had an effect since the neighborhood is flourishing in terms of new local businesses, decreased crime rates and escalating real estate prices: all natural outgrowths of the work you put in, as is the interest in investment from large corporation. I agree that it is important that people fight to preserve and landmark buildings and the character of the areas, I just get bored of this kind of angst about gentrification, I mean, you could always get back all that autneticity that this area used to have by moving to Bushwick or Brownsville but I bet you don't want the crime rate that comes with it. Accept your part in the change in the hood, good and bad, keep fighting to make your community a better place as you obviously are very committed to but stop being so precious about it.
Gib Veconi November 9, 2012 at 07:48 pm
Sukie: Gentrification and capitulation are two ways that neighborhood redevelopment can get done.Read More (A third is the Moses-style "urban renewal," where the state bulldozes underperforming property and builds projects itself, but that doesn't happen so much anymore.) Whether one is better than another is a function of how one feels about process and result, and that is admittedly subjective. Personally, I would paraphrase Churchill and observe that the gentrification of Brooklyn is probably the worst form of redevelopment, except for all the others that have been tried from time to time. For that reason, I disagree that capitulation is a "natural outgrowth" of gentrification. There is nothing natural about developers colluding with government to change or override existing zoning so they can extract more value from their assets by marketing to a new audience. Atlantic Yards won the use of eminent domain to cure supposed "blight," but there is every reason to believe organic development would have continued to rehabilitate the properties in its footprint without intervention from the State.
BRADY September 22, 2012 at 04:26 am
Gib ,''300 million in taxpayer dollars,hundreds of millions more in indirect subsidies,zoningRead More overides and access to eminent domain, do you actually think the politicians envolved with this(the real politicians ,the ones with the real political power,will stand up and say ''WE WERE WRONG, WE WERE LIED TO'') it's a done deal, i'll protest ,i'll march,i'll make my voice heard,i'll write letters but just listen to them all talking about bklyn being on the center stage''SPORTS IS BACK IN BROOKLYN''GIB ! please don't work these people up for nothing more than a major letdown
Gib Veconi September 22, 2012 at 12:24 pm
Brady: It is a fact that the arena is here. The State's agreement with Forest City is prettyRead More specific about their obligations for phase 1 of the project. But there is very little planned or agreed as to what will happen in phase 2. In New York City, big development projects are revised often during their lifecycles. There is no question that the same will happen at Atlantic Yards, and public pressure will be a factor in how the project evolves. Bloomberg's term is up at the end of next year. Mayoral candidates will have to answer to how they will reform development in the City. Cuomo has further political ambitions. He'll be exposed to questions as to how his ESDC has handled Atlantic Yards. In the meantime, the State has been ordered to prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS). An SEIS requires the study of alternatives, like bringing in other developers. An ESDC representative recently said the scoping process would begin this fall. So this is indeed the time for local residents to raise their voices.
BRADY September 22, 2012 at 04:45 pm
alright Gib,it was the middle paragraph that got me otherwise i would still be an unbeliever
R. Kosik May 29, 2012 at 02:38 pm
Let's hope the MTA will be coming up with a creative/motivational advertising plan to inspire NewRead More Yorkers to take the subway/LIRR to the arena for events. I'm in bayridge & can get to the arena inside of 20 minutes. Would never even THINK of taking my car to the area.
Gregory May 2, 2012 at 03:42 pm
This is the biggest fraud put upon the community. This project will be a reminder of how badRead More decisions impact a neighborhood: from the way homes were taken away. To the lose of public land for private interests, from the lies about jobs and affordable housing. This is our Madison Square Garden, btw where is the garden? The sidewalks will have tobe extendeded and that would mean more traffic squeezing through narrowed streets. Why do we need a parking lot? The whole point of this location was the public transportation hub that it is sitting on. Scrap to limit parking charge $100 bucks an event to park there. I live three blocks from this rust bucket. I cannot wait to have the Jumbotron glowing down the avenues. Ugh!
Gib Veconi May 3, 2012 at 12:39 am
At this evening's meeting, Mr. Adams stated that his agency is now open to considering changes toRead More governance of the Atlantic Yards project. He said he has been in contact with local elected officials, and gave the May 22 meeting at which the Atlantic Yards transportation demand management plan would be presented as a tentative date by which he would share a proposal. Mr. Adams also stated that ESDC had not yet decided whether to comply with the July 2011 court order to revisit the 2009 project plan and prepare a supplemental environmental impact statement, or to take its appeal to a higher court.
Jenny April 12, 2012 at 02:59 pm
thanks for supplying this.
Play Ground April 16, 2012 at 08:36 pm
The arena should sign a crowd control/alcohol abatement agreement just like the one PHNDC had withRead More Freddy's. Does anybody have a copy?
Gib Veconi April 16, 2012 at 09:11 pm
PG: The Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council (PHNDC) obviously doesn't regulate alcoholRead More sales, but it has met with prospective bar owners who seek community support for new liquor licenses to discuss operating concerns. I expect that PHNDC would be willing to meet with representatives from Barclays Center, too.
Steve Mona December 27, 2011 at 11:12 pm
I take the train when I go to Bay Ridge, there's no parking there ever...
Gib Veconi January 7, 2012 at 03:22 pm
First, let me point out the fees you cite are for violations of traffic laws, not for issuance ofRead More permits. As you mention, in many neighborhoods, parking issues already exist and something needs to be done. Residential parking permits are a way to accomplish that. But RPP is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. The type of program that will be effective in discouraging arena patrons to travel to events by car may not have the same rules as the one that will limit commuter parking in another neighborhood (for example). Permit programs must be tailored for parking issues experienced in specific neighborhoods in a way that is responsive to community concerns, including the ones you mention.
Nia Zaki January 10, 2012 at 08:58 pm
Don't hate on unions because by the time the 1% get through you or your kids are gonna WISH you hadRead More the voice of a union to speak up for you. Though I agree with you 100% about the city and how fees, costs of permits and a whole heap of other things get implemented under the guise of safety or bettering a community and it turns into a profitable commodity for the city and we who live here wind up paying more than it was worth. Ask yourself what's REALLY up the city's sleeve? You can bet your bottom dollar that they are way ahead of us, already planning of ways to milk this situation. You'll see. We better get everything in writing because down the road they're GONNA tweak it.
Jo Grossman October 21, 2011 at 06:47 pm
Atlantic Yards is one of the reasons we are leaving Brooklyn. I do hope that the affordable housingRead More happens whether it is built or not. Jo Grossman
Archie Angel October 22, 2011 at 01:59 pm
I don't understand all the fuss, because the Atlantic Yards project isn't very important. RegardlessRead More of Governor Cuomo or the ESDC, Mayor Mike Bloomberg has demonstrated conclusively that this is not a worthwhile project, and has instead committed to funding the Ground Zero Victory Mosque (Park 51) with $85Million in taxpayer dollars. To paraphrase the Mayor's Office, "All you whiners should stop complaining and just submit already."
JOSH October 23, 2011 at 08:08 pm
Archie Angel, that is perfect example of one of the reasons our country is headed down the drain!
Gib Veconi September 7, 2011 at 06:45 pm
From news accounts, it appears the neighbors who argued against approval did so on the basis of theRead More behavior of audiences at events which had rented the space in the past--another argument for defining more transparent criteria for review of new applications. Under a standard that considers "cultural enrichment" to be grounds for approval, it seems like Roulette would qualify.
Curtis Fox September 10, 2011 at 01:46 pm
Gib, thanks for your thoughtful post, and for this discussion. I am one of the sluggards who haveRead More never attended a community board meeting. I like the bars and restaurants that have popped up recently on Vanderbilt, but I'd also really like to see more neighborhood services. The neighborhood strikes me as quite under-retailed, as it were. Please send out word if there's an important Community Board meeting coming up.
Gib Veconi September 11, 2011 at 06:35 pm
Curtis: CB8's Economic Development Committee meets on the second Tuesday of each month (except forRead More July and August). The next meeting will be October 11. The meetings begin at 6:30pm and are held at the Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation, 727 Classon. There are permit applications or renewals in Prospect Heights at nearly every meeting. After you attend a meeting, you'll be on the mailing list for future meetings.
Gib Veconi June 14, 2011 at 01:40 am
Chris: I'll be at the Unity meeting on Wednesday to provide a brief update on governance reform atRead More Atlantic Yards. Concerned community members who missed the Saturday forum can email the legislative leadership by visiting http://www.brooklynspeaks.net/reform-ay-governance-now.
Jon June 14, 2011 at 11:27 pm
I went to that meeting on Saturday and about 30 people came out for that meeting. Looks like thereRead More are alot of people in the Prospect Heights community who are FOR an arena. How in the world can y ou speak for an entire community?? I know plenty of people that want this in the area. And that SAturday meeting speaks for itself, even Councilmember James didnt show up. Please get over yourself. Dont speak for me. I have lived inthis area for 25 years. I remember drugs, crime, prostitution, crime, abandoned buildings, dirty streets and crime. Its not like that anymore. Its called progress. Its called gentrification. Move to the burbs or stay away at your weekend homes during the week too. Your kids will be happier.
Gib Veconi June 15, 2011 at 11:19 am
My post isn't about whether people want an arena or not, which at this point is a moot question.Read More It's about whether the way Atlantic Yards is being managed is likely to deliver the return on the public's $700MM+ investment that the public was promised. It is about who should be accountable for the way the project unfolds over its lifecycle. If you're planning to live in the neighborhood another 25 years, the answers to those questions should be important to you.
Gib Veconi May 18, 2011 at 09:43 pm
I agree that one of the benefits of being a student in New York City is having access to a range ofRead More educational choices, including the options available through charter schools. My point is not that charter schools are a last resort. It is simply that a charter school, by virtue of its mandated selection of students by lottery, can be an alternative to, but not a substitute for, a zoned neighborhood school.
Prospect Heights Parent May 19, 2011 at 02:56 pm
OK, fair enough.
Catherine Jhung May 21, 2011 at 04:54 pm
All well said, Gib. Thank you for sharing your support and valuable perspective.
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