"silver alien fortress" to displace a Brooklyn neighborhood

Bilbao-ball in Brooklyn

More on the Brooklyn basketball boondoggle, this time from The Morning News.

But first a reminder of what this whole thing is all about.

Developer Bruce Ratner is responsible for both Brooklyn’s MetroTech Center and the Atlantic Center Mall. Neither of these ugly projects, finished in recent years and so heavily subsidized by taxpayers' money [$300 million is the estimate for MetroTech alone], has been a real success. The Mall stands virtually empty today.

One more project, a new stadium to house the New Jersey Nets, recently purchased by Ratner, is expected to guarantee enormous rewards for both of his earlier, failed, ventures. But not only will it destroy an entire neighborhood, once again it will cost the City a bundle.

In The Morning News Pitchaya Sudbanthad outlines the stakes for those unfamiliar with the taxpayers' role in the story.

The proposed plan for the stadium not only will involve the city’s giving up land to Ratner that could be worth hundreds of million of dollars but could also include hundreds of millions more to expand streets and utilities and to help pay off bonds for the complex’s construction.
But it's all for such genuinely good Brooklyn causes: pleasure for passive sports enthusiasts, and reward for a millionaire contractor who has been so wrong about the Borough at least twice already.

Still, Sudbanthad's piece is mostly concerned with what will be lost. He talks to longtime Brooklynite Joe Pastore, who lives in the neighborhood targeted for "improvement".

The Spalding building, a red brick, four-story factory, has been converted into co-ops. [Pastore] slaps the building with his gloved hand. ‘It’s a beautiful, solid building,’ Joe continues. ‘This building should be a landmark. How can he tear this down? How could you say this building’s no good?’

Joe, I love this building, too. I think it’s beautiful. I love the Pechter Bakery buildings down the block even better, with the clean towering white walls and Greek Revival touches. They would make great places to live. I can see the soaring ceilings inside. But these buildings aren’t made of audacious metallic curves and pop architectural whiz-bangs. Ratner has dangled Frank Gehry over Brooklyn, and almost everyone’s mesmerized. I remember being dazzled by Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao when it was first built. And after Bilbao made its splash, every city wanted a Gehry of its own. The architect complied with the demand, producing made-to-order variations of his titanium-sheathed design. It became a symbol of arrival for cities into the new millennium, an easy investment that endowed an image of artful taste to insecure politicians and businessmen. Gehry buildings became the corporate builder’s equivalent of Lladró and Hummel figurines, but where those figurines lend an air of harmless luxury and preciousness, Gehry buildings are Trojan horses for more sinister intentions: By design, Gehry’s recent buildings declare war against everything that surrounds them. They are places that spurn any notion of history and any idea of people. They look, simply, like silver alien fortresses.

[image from DANDA]

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Published on February 11, 2004 2:50 PM.

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