By Dennis Holt
How many books will be written in the next 20 years about the Atlantic Yards development? For that matter, how many are being worked on right now?
A few years ago, an out-of-towner asked me what is so special about it; doesn’t this sort of thing happen frequently in large cities?
In fact, it doesn’t. The size of this project is larger than the original Rockefeller Center project and it touches on so many diverse elements of urban living that even Ayn Rand may have been cautious about getting involved. Robert Caro may find one more regret about his age.
There will be no end of material available for any number of books all taking different approaches.
Lately the city’s mainstream press has published many similar stories pointing out the changes the development has already created around the Barclays Center site. The latest, and I think the best so far, was in the Tuesday, April 17, New York Times — a story that took up more than one broadside page.
It was written by veteran journalist Joseph Berger who excels at this type of story. And a special note must be made about Times photographer Richard Perry who spotted a rare photo opportunity. Reflected in the display window of a new store, Versailles, with two manikins, was an image of the arena. It was a graphic capture of the kind of big dynamic change that a project like Atlantic Yards brings.
And in 20 years scores of different stories will doubtless emerge. Different tales. Below the display window was a photo of a hardware store showing proprietor Paul Nation who’s been there for some time and is negotiating with the owner for a new lease: “It’s ridiculous what they’re asking for,” he said.
Surely, someone writing one of those future books will track down shopkeeper Nation and record his story.
Governmental issues over the project still exist. Community Board 6, with jurisdiction covering only a small piece of the entire site, refused to approve a routine liquor license request. And a court upheld a ruling on a revised environmental impact statement made years ago that said a new report was needed. It doesn’t affect the arena at all but might change the plans and timing for the housing that will be built.
So, gang, get cracking writing those books. I’d like to review them.