Nowhere Near Completion, Brooklyn's Mega-Development is Already Changing the Neighborhood

Joseph Berger looks at the impact the Atlantic Yards project is having on long-time businesses and residents in the surrounding neighborhoods, as die-hard opponents continue to resist the project.
April 17, 2012, 11am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Six months before a new arena for the relocating New Jersey Nets basketball team is set to open, which is only the first phase of the massive $4.9 billion Atlantic Yards redevelopment project, Berger reports on the rise in businesses opening in the surrounding "workaday" neighborhood, "that sell high-heel shoes for $3,500 a pair, revealing party dresses, exotic cheeses and, of course, high-priced martinis"

Of course, as anyone familiar with the ongoing popularity of surrounding neighborhoods such as Park Slope or Prospect Heights to young professionals and families fleeing the high costs of Manhattan can attest, redevelopment of the area predated the construction of the Atlantic Yards project by decades. However, Berger argues that "the changes have been visibly accelerated by the construction of the $450 million arena."

Even those that are new arrivals, though, share in the fear of longtime residents of "their narrow blocks inundated nightly with drunken, celebrating basketball fans...and concertgoers still reveling in the music and honking cars stalled in traffic."

For developer Forest City Ratner, and project supporters such as local condo owners, shop owners, and the project's numerous political backers, "the changes are evidence that the arena has already met its goal of transforming a dreary section of Brooklyn...'That's a sign of economic vitality, something that's good for the borough,' said Joe DePlasco, the Ratner spokesman."

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Published on Monday, April 16, 2012 in The New York Times
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