Atlantic Yards: Silver Makes a Deal
Trade the horse, at left, for this rubber stamp
Critics of Bruce Ratner's enormous development plan for Atlantic Yards, including the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Municipal Art Society, and the Regional Plan Association, had called on Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to use his Public Authorities Control Board veto—the same power he invoked to kill the West Side Jets stadium—to block the plan, at least until Eliot Spitzer takes office next month. On Tuesday, NY1 reported that Silver intended to do just that, saying the speaker "still has financial questions" about the project. It's been a common refrain, given that so far the only details about how taxpayers will fare under Atlantic Yards have come from a couple of incomplete fiscal impact memos issued; assemblymember Richard Brodsky, chair of the committee that oversees public authorities, told the Sun on Monday after an oversight hearing that "as of right now, I need to know more of the facts than I saw today."
Sheldon Silver, expert in the political process
Financial questions, though, apparently went out the window in favor of what had been expected from Silver in the Jets deal, but never materialized: good old-fashioned horse trading. In exchange for his rubber stamp on the Atlantic Yards deal, Silver reportedly received two concessions: The Frank Gehry-designed office tower at Atlantic and Flatbush—dubbed "Miss Brooklyn" for its resemblance to a bride wearing a glass wedding dress with 15-story ad boards on it—will be reduced in size so it no longer outsizes the Williamsburgh Bank building, a request that had been made by Brooklyn beep Marty Markowitz and city councilmember David Yassky, among others. And 200 of the condo units in the building will now be "affordable," a key demand by the site's incoming state assemblymember, Hakeem Jeffries—though as has previously been reported, Ratner's definition of "affordable" doesn't necessarily mean affordable.