The Barclays Center is built. The ribbon has been cut. To open the Brooklyn arena, none other than Jay-Z (also an investor in the home-team Brooklyn Nets) is playing eight shows starting Friday night — and they’re all sold out.
While much of New York City and the region hears the cheers emanating from the offices of elected officials like Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, the neighborhood groups that have long questioned the Atlantic Yards development, a larger project of which the Barclays Center is just one piece, continue to cry foul.
“We want to make sure nobody forgets how this project came to be,” said Daniel Goldstein, the founder of the anti-Atlantic Yards group Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB), speaking for members of his group. “In our minds, this project to date is a failure.”
The Atlantic Yards development used eminent domain to purchase land from people living within the planned footprint of the project, and was awarded public subsidies in exchange for affordable and market rate housing and jobs. Neither the number of estimated jobs nor the housing has yet to materialize, much of this a result of the slow down caused by the 2008 recession. But while Bruce Ratner, owner of Forest City Ratner Companies, the developers behind Atlantic Yards, toldNew York magazine that in 100 years, “no one will care what we had to do to make it [the Barclays Center] happen,” there are some who beg to differ.
Brooklyn Speaks (a coalition of nine groups launched in 2006 in response to Atlantic Yards), DDDB, Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (FUREE), The Fifth Avenue Committeeand Brown Community Development Corporation— groups that have long questioned the development — have combined forces to sponsor actions and a website under the name AY Crime Scene. Their goal is to continue to hold the city and state accountable for the project, which promised many benefits to the community. To coincide with the opening of the arena, they are hosting a series of events around it this weekend in order to raise awareness.
The Atlantic Yards development “was approved on the basis of significant commitments when it comes to affordable housing, jobs and open space, for which the project got direct and indirect public subsidies,” said Gib Veconi, Prospect Heights resident and a member of Brooklyn Speaks and the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council. “What we have now is a sliver of what was originally promised.”