Gowanus Lounge: Serving Brooklyn

Gehry’s $1 Billion Work of Art to Be Turned Into $400M Crap Box

January 9th, 2009 · 3 Comments

On New Year’s Eve we sat at this computer and picked “five rotting corpses“–projects we didn’t think would make it or that would be radically altered as we work our way through this economic crisis. One of them was Atlantic Yards. We wrote: “We think there is a good chance most of the project will choke on its own excess, including the arena, because of the credit crunch. Unless, of course, Forest City Ratner succeeds in getting a taxpayer bailout to make it happen. If the arena does happen, we predict a crappy Prudential Center-like structure that would be built at half the cost of Frank Gehry’s work.” Imagine our surprise when we got a text message at 5:44PM yesterday telling us to look online at the Altantic Yards news. The gist of the stories was that while Forest City Ratner wasn’t saying the Mr. Gehry was off the job, it was looking at ways to “value engineer” the project. In other words, to turn it into your standard issue, off-the-shelf, $400 million arena. Per the Wall Street Journal:

“We are continuing to speak with many arena experts and working hard to find ways to build a world class venue in an incredibly difficult economic environment,” the [Ratner] spokesman said. The price tag of other recently developed arenas has been much lower than Mr. Gehry’s design. For example, The Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, home of the National Hockey League’s Devils, cost about $400 million. It opened in 2007.

CityRoom reported:

Executives are concerned that even if they are able to overcome a pending legal challenge, it would be hard to finance what would be the most expensive arena in the world.

And the Daily News wrote:

Forest City Ratner has brought in “value engineering” companies to review architect Frank Gehry’s blueprints to save money and keep the project afloat amid a cash crunch that has stopped all work at the site, sources said.

We’re still thinking the ultimate outcome here will be that an investment group comes together in Newark to buy the team and move it to the White Elephant built by former Mayor Sharpe James who is now in Federal prison for corruption.

Regardless of whether you are for or against this project (and we oppose it), it would seem Brooklyn was promised an SL-Class Mercedes, but now, it turns out that a Ford Focus may be delivered. In some circles they call that “bait and switch.” This project has changed so radically that it behooves the state to start the entire review and approval process from scratch. We don’t expect that to happen because Gov. David Paterson has shown little interest in interfering with the malfeasance that allowed the project to be approved under the reign of the very questionable Charles Gargano at the Empire State Development Corp. Sadly, a neighborhood has already been destroyed, 1960s urban renewal-style, which only proves that planners and officials never REALLY learn lessons. It’s only the urban reporters and academics who watch this stuff for generations who truly understand the mistakes that are being made. Sadly, Atlantic Yards is turning out to be a bigger nightmare and more grotesque failure than anyone could ever have imagined. Now, the final kick in the rear end is that a borough that was promised a Harrod’s branch is going to get a Target instead. Gov. Paterson, if you have a shred of integrity, you will order a halt to this travesty and have everyone start the planning process from scratch. And, by the way, Corey, we have the honor of knowing you for years. You are a decent man of a level of integrity and morality which is rare in politics. Please get a group to together to buy this wretched basketball team and put it in Newark where it belongs so the arena built by your criminal predecessor doesn’t bleed the impoverished city of Newark dry for generations to come.

Tags: Atlantic Yards

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 PSer // Jan 9, 2009 at 9:15 am

    Only because PS whined about getting an SL-Class Mercedes and a Harrods in the first place. If you tell your mommy and daddy you don’t want the brand new pony, don’t complain when they give you the hampster.

  • 2 david // Jan 9, 2009 at 9:59 am

    right on. i hope somebody is listening. so many people are simply beaten down by the heft and massiveness of this gi-normous boondoggle that they’ve stopped raising their voices. thanks for keeping this front and center at GL. not that it will do any good. marty’s still ho ho ho for the scheme and, thanks to bloomberg’s term limit coup, he’s got a few more year’s of souless boosterism left…

  • 3 jerryfarina // Jan 13, 2009 at 2:17 am

    guys say “gi-normous?” I liked “boondoggle” too.