[27 September 2012]
The Barclays Center, the new home for the Brooklyn Nets and an ample venue for concerts, sporting events and more, is poised to bring new visitors to the heart of Brooklyn. However, throughout its entire planning and construction phase, the venue, and its developer Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC), has been mired in controversy. From the use of eminent domain to obtain the land, to the circumvention of local officials and reaching out to the state, to the lack of available affordable housing units in the promised, yet to be be constructed, apartment towers and to the failure to produce the promised jobs, Forest City Ratner has not made a lot of local friends.
Surrounding residents fear that unruly basketball fans will stagger drunkenly onto their sidewalks, that Armageddon-like traffic will blockade their streets, that already-squeezed parking spaces will be swallowed, that crime and rodents will run rampant and that housing and jobs will never come about.
Others hope that the 1,900 part-time jobs offered at the arena will help lift a severely underemployed borough, that retail chains opening along Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues will spur small businesses and that property values will soar.
One particular protestor, Daniel Goldstein (who has some of his own architectural problems going on), was amongst the original opponents in 2003 and is now the leader of the Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn group. His organization was outside the venue on the 21st of September to bring awareness to their efforts. Inside, Bruce Rater (Chairman and CEO of FCRC), Mayor Bloomberg, Mikhail Prokhorov (owner of the) Nets and many others were presenting the venue to guests and journalists for the official ribbon cutting.
One week later, on the 28th, Jay-Z, a part owner of the Nets, will kick off the spectacle for the venue with eight sold out concerts. Admittedly, Barclays Center does have some great entertainment coming up, including Bob Dylan, Green Day, Rhianna, The Who, boxing title matches, Barbara Streisand, and businesses and restaurants are popping up in the area to benefit from the influx of spectators, but let’s hope the roar for the home team does not overshadow the failure to produce the promised affordable housing and employment opportunities.