Atlantic Yards

Bloomberg hits ‘Three-Pointers’ in Barclay’s Center speech

February 14, 2013 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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Mayor Michael Bloomberg hit a three-pointer at Barclays Center yesterday – not by playing basketball, but by boosting Brooklyn numerous times in his “State of the City” speech.

He highlighted a host of Brooklyn institutions – the Brooklyn Army Terminal, Steiner Studios, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Coney Island and, of course, Barclays Center itself.

As is usually the case when he’s in Brooklyn, the mayor began by praising Borough President Marty Markowitz. “Not too long ago,” he said, “this arena was nothing more than a glimmer in Marty Markowitz’s eye. NBA basketball and NHL hockey? In Brooklyn? According to Marty, everyone told him ‘Fuhgeddaboudit!’

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“But not us. And here we are. Against all the odds, despite all the legal challenges, despite all the naysayers and NIMBYers, here we are. And as we speak, the first residential tower at Atlantic Yards is rising, and it will have nearly 200 affordable apartments. Marty — Mr. Brooklyn — and Bruce Ratner, who made it all happen, stand up for a well-deserved round of applause,” said Bloomberg.

As an example of scientific development, the mayor mentioned the construction  of the BioBat at the Brooklyn Army Terminal, as well as projects around the city such as the Genome Research Center in Lower Manhattan.

As examples of waterfront development, Bloomberg pointed to 
new housing in Greenpoint and Williamsburg, as well as in Long Island City and Hunters Point in Queens.

On the subject of Brooklyn Bridge Park, the mayor said, “The old piers below Brooklyn Bridge — largely abandoned for decades — are now a spectacular park. This year, we’ll open two new sections of the park and we’ll transform two 19th century warehouses [i.e., the Tobacco Warehouse and the Empire Stores] within the park into modern spaces for culture and commerce.”

After talking about the planned giant Ferris wheel on Staten Island, Bloomberg said, “We’ll bring more people and jobs to another great island — Coney Island. Neglected for decades, Coney has undergone a dramatic comeback — thanks our partnership with Marty and Councilman Dominic Recchia. This summer will be the best one yet, as we open the new Steeplechase Plaza.”

Other Brooklyn projects Bloomberg mentioned include the redevelopment of the old Domino Sugar Plant into new housing, the expansion of the Steiner Studios and the preservation of the remaining unused buildings at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Of course, large portions of the mayor’s last “State of the City” speech had nothing to do with Brooklyn. He mentioned the High Line Park, One World Trade Center, Hudson Yards, the expansion of Columbia University and a host of other high-profile developments.

Commenting on the speech, Carlo Scissura, head of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, praised the mayor for highlighting important Brooklyn projects.

 “He has always been a staunch supporter of businesses — both large and small — in this city. During his time in office, the city has enjoyed a record growth of private sector jobs — six times that of the country’s average over the past 10 years — and the number of businesses in places like Brooklyn grew three times faster than in Manhattan,” said Scissura, a Bay Ridge resident and a former staffer for Borough President Markowitz.

Not everyone, however, was as enthusiastic about Bloomberg’s speech. City Comptroller John Liu said, “[The Mayor’s] selective retelling of history leaves out some troubling facts: near record unemployment, record numbers of homeless, record income disparity, record stop-and-frisks, record claims against the NYPD, record numbers of school closures, and a failed education record that has only one in five high school students graduating from college.  How can we be satisfied with that?”

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