A Cautionary Tale
Economic downturns have a history of delaying, and sometimes killing, large construction projects in New York.
The reports about the potential demise of Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project should serve as a cautionary tale for North Brooklyn. We too have been promised much, but little has been delivered. Yet still developers flock to Williamsburg and Greenpoint promising us the moon.
Nicolai Ouroussoff is right when he says that the public trust has been betrayed. Brooklyn was promised an architectural tour-de-force in Frank Gehry's design. And whether you like the overall Atlantic Yards plan or not, if only the arena gets built, we are getting ripped off culturally (and financially - WPA member Michael D. D. White has more on that here).
The proposed Domino development would be the second largest residential development project in the borough, behind only Atlantic Yards. Given the scale of the project and the tremors coursing through the credit markets, it is not unreasonable to ask the developers two very fundamental questions: 1) Do you have the resources to build it? and 2) What guarantees do we have that you will build it as you say it will?
Architecturally, the Domino project is bold and ambitious. But we've seen this before - remember that the Edge was originally to have been designed by Enrique Norten of TEN Arquitectos. All through the zoning, the community was told that on top of everything else, we would be getting world-class architecture on the waterfront. City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden was particularly proud of Norten's involvement. But Norten turned out to be just bait - no sooner was the zoning enacted than we were given the switch - the developer dropped Norten for local architect Stephen B. Jacobs. (No knock on Jacobs, who is is a fine architect - but no doubt we - and DCP - were sold a bill of goods.)
Perhaps we need to resurrect an old cold war adage - trust, but verify?