Just east of downtown Brooklyn on a 22 acre site Forest City Ratner is proposing a mega-project that would transform the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) Vanderbilt rail yards and a few adjacent blocks into 6,430 units of housing, 336,000 feet of office space, 247,000 feet of retail space, a hotel and an arena that would be the new home of the NBA New Jersey Nets. Like almost any mega-project proposed in a dense city like New York, Atlantic Yards is raising the ire of many. In this case, however, the names and roles of the usual suspects have changed. At least some view the developer as a savior and champion of the inner city poor, while many of the project’s opponents are viewed as reactionary elites only concerned about the potential loss of their parking spaces. This reversal of protagonists is due in large part to the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) negotiated between the developer and several community groups.
Getting stuck in traffic is fast becoming one of those necessary evils that everyone complains about but seldom does anything about it. Or at least anything that seems terribly effective. Neither additional road building nor public transit seemed to have had a major impact on traffic congestion in places where these types of remedies have been attempted.
The merit of rent regulation is a recurring debate in New York City. On one side are tenant advocates arguing that rent regulation is desperately needed to help poorer households, maintain socioeconomic diversity in New York City, and prevent the City from becoming the preserve of the super rich. Real estate interests on the other hand argue that rent regulation deprives property owners of the right to market their apartments as they see fit, causes landlords to under-invest in their properties, and that in many instances the beneficiaries of rent regulation are affluent. What makes the debate so bedeviling and contentious is that both sides are correct.