Top 10 Atlantic Yards Stories of 2011

Counting down to the most important story on perhaps the most pressing subject for the future of Fort Greene-Clinton Hill.

There are no "ifs" about it: the Atlantic Yards mega-project will dramatically change the neighborhoods of Fort Greene-Clinton Hill, along with the rest of Brownstone Brooklyn.

In fact, many of those changes are already apparent. Truck traffic on Classon Avenue coming from the Atlantic Yards site . Construction noise from the enormous project  as crews race to get Barlcays Center ready for the soon-to-be Brooklyn Nets' 2012-13 season. And then there are the .

Here are our picks for the top 10 stories on Atlantic Yards this year:

10. . Last April, construction workers at the Barclays Center site unearthed containers of that same toxic substance at the center of many an Agatha Christie mystery. A representative of the state agency overseeing construction at the site speculated that the vials were from a pharmacy located at the site roughly between 1926 and 1965.

9. . This construction landmark, achieved in early June, gave at least this Patch editor the sense that the proto-Barclays Center was indeed a stadium and not some colossal post-modern steel-latticed sculpture.

8. . In July, critics of the mega-project relished State Supreme Court Justice Marcy Friedman's ruling that a 2009 change in the construction timetable was illegal. The judge ordered the Empire State Development Corp. to submit a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement that included the new 25-year construction timetable.

7. . In June, a shower of golf-ball sized debris rained down on pedestrians and parked cars at Vanderbilt and Atlantic avenues, sending one man to the hospital with minor injuries. The rock, packed earth and metal came from a drilling rig malfunction.

6. . Announced last May and put into place over the summer, the creation of a one-way thoroughfare at Fourth Avenue between Atlantic and Flatbush avenues and the redirection of traffic on Pacific Street caused quite the stir among pedestrians, drivers and bicyclists.

5. . Hundreds of good-paying construction jobs seemed to disappear the instant Forest City Ratner CEO Bruce Ratner unveiled new plans in March for what would be the world's largest pre-fabricated housing tower.

4.  They were mostly black and Latino, non-union—and all unemployed. In July, they fought back against Forest City Ratner CEO Bruce Ratner, who promised to make hiring of local workers a priority at Atlantic Yards. Yet even as Barclays Center flew up, only 38 workers employed at the site were from neighborhoods adjacent to the project.

3.  The stories coming out of Prospect Heights and Fort Greene were like something out of urban legend: Drivers finding rats in parked cars and even one . Residents at meetings like one organized in June by the Dean Street Block Association and Councilwoman Letitia James blamed construction at Atlantic Yards for the "rat tsunami" swamping their neighborhoods. Forest City Ratner denied this; though the company did splurge on free rat-resistant trash cans for the community.

2. . It was a homecoming of sorts for the former Marcy Houses resident-turned-superstar rapper at this September press conference announcing a series of concerts kicking off Barclays Center's entertainment lineup. Another fun fact from the event: Spotted sitting near the front at the press conference at Atlantic Terminal Mall was Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, who recently announced a longshot bid for the Russian presidency against Vladimir Putin (Correction, Dec. 29: Former Patch contributor Norman Oder pointed out this New York Times blog post stating that Prokhorov did not attend the press conference in question. We regret the error.)

1. . If Atlantic Yards created a wave of rats headed for Brownstone Brooklyn basements, this story generated a tsunami of comments from Patch readers—many of whom expressed grave concerns about the future of parking in the borough once the Barclays Center opens in September 2012.

Norman Oder December 29, 2011 at 02:58 AM
Um, how about adding: --lawsuit filed against BUILD --Forest City raises $249M through dubious immigrant investor plan --failure to hire Independent Compliance Monitor Do you really think that "small" legal victory--in a legal system where judges almost always defer to government agencies--is less important than the "drill snafu"?
Norman Oder December 29, 2011 at 03:05 AM
You say Prokhorov was at the press conference with Jay-Z? Here's what the Times reported: "Prokhorov, who purchased majority interest in the team from Ratner last year, has been consumed lately by his increasing political involvement in Russia and did not attend Monday’s announcement."
Norman Oder December 29, 2011 at 03:13 AM
And how about the astonishing admission by developer Bruce Ratner that union-built towers with affordable housing had never been viable? That was the plan he proposed, public officials supported, and the state approved.
Paul Leonard (Editor) December 29, 2011 at 05:36 AM
Norman, Thanks for the catch on Prokhorov. We've updated our post.
Norman Oder December 29, 2011 at 12:10 PM
Here's my list of the top stories this year: http://atlanticyardsreport.blogspot.com/2011/12/look-back-at-2011-arena-rises.html Norman Oder Atlantic Yards Report
Joe Gonzalez December 29, 2011 at 06:09 PM
Norman Oder for President!
Joe Gonzalez December 29, 2011 at 06:17 PM
I want a law mandating all "religious leaders", "Community Activists" and these self-appointed "civil rights leaders", to open their books, reveal their bank and expose their tax records for the public to see. FAR TOO MANY OF THESE CHARACTERS ARE TAKING MONEY FROM BRUCE RATNER AND OTHER DEVELOPERS to provide political cover for the Ratners of the world to do the things they do. They are now no where to be found now that it is clear Ratner will not be building the 16 buildings of housing he pledged when the Atlantic Yards (AY) negotiations were ongoing and public support was waning.


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