Saturday, June 06, 2009

Brutally weird: Post columnist blames "cunning, well-financed"... DDDB

New York Post columnist Steve Cuozzo is giving the Courier-Life's Stephen Witt a run for his money in brutally weird interpretations of Atlantic Yards.

In a column headlined 'NET' LOSS IS DEVASTATING: DREAM PROJECT DEAD WITHOUT GEHRY, Cuozzo laments Forest City Ratner's decision to trade architect Frank Gehry's magnificent design for the Nets arena" for a design he likens to a "Dumpster" in comparison to Gehry's Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.

[Here's DDDB's response:
NY Post real estate columnist Steve Cuozzo writes an Orwellian column, where it is Develop Don't Destroy that has been the "Orwellian-titled," "well-financed," "bullying", "liars." Not Ratner with his billionaire Cleveland backers, his orchestrated bullying disruptions of public hearings by his surrogates and partners, and his—yes we'll use the word—lying (see: Gehry, Frank, still "our lead architect").
]

Conclusory lament

Cuozzo offers a conclusory lament:
Reconfiguring the arena and much else on the site will require a whole new set of state and city approvals for design and financing -- a return to square one when the credit markets are frozen and government has no appetite for subsidizing developers.

There's no way to sugar-coat the calamity. There's near-zero hope for Ratner's declared plan to proceed. With apologies to "King Lear," nothing more will come of nothing.


Can't the man read? His own newspaper reported today that there will be no need to re-approve the design, just the financing. And that's expected to be rubber-stamped on June 24, starting a 60-day process.

Nor does he bother to inquire why Gehry's arena, approved in 2006 at $637.2 million, ballooned by half, and is being replaced by a pedestrian arena with an $800 million price tag. Why did costs go up?

Missing the boom?

Cuozzo sounds like he hasn't gotten outside of Manhattan much, writing:
Its tall towers weren't necessarily in the same league. But the multi-use arena, beautiful and humane, was possessed of the transformative power unique to the greatest architecture. At a stroke, it would have ennobled and energized a swath of Brooklyn that the boom mostly passed by.

He should have checked this October 2006 New York Times article on Prospect Heights.

Blaming DDDB

Cuozzo writes:
Great enterprise requires great ambition and courage. Ratner had both, but he needed to start work immediately. The main reason he couldn't was the Orwellian-titled Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn -- a cunning, well-financed advocacy group that sued, lied and bullied for four years, all with the purpose of foiling development.

DDDB's raised about $1 million, which is about how much Forest City Ratner spends on lobbying each year. And it's certainly less than the amount Forest City Ratner has paid Community Benefits Agreement signatories, given the developer's $1.5 million bailout (including a $1 million loan) of ACORN, a piece of news that seems to have evaded Cuozzo.

The Orwell prize, actually, remains with former Forest City Ratner point man Jim Stuckey.

Missing the facts

You'd think a columnist might be curious about Forest City Ratner's continued attempts to renegotiate the deal, notably a much-lowered initial payment of $20 million--instead of $100 million--to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Or the developer's willingness to help orchestrate a hijacking of a state Senate oversight hearing.

Rather, facts are so distant from Cuozzo that he calls the project a "15-building kit and caboodle on the triangular site where Atlantic and Flatbush avenues diverge."

It's not even close to a triangular site. And it was approved at 17 buildings: an arena and 16 towers.

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