July 15, 2005
In the controversy and excitement surrounding
Bruce Ratners proposed Nets Arena [RECORD, January,
2004, p. 26] in Downtown Brooklyn, less attention has paid
to the other elements of the plan, which include residential
and office buildings.
Frank Gehry, FAIAs updated renderings, revealed in
June, show an enormous 21-acre zone of commercial and residential
development with a scale that will easily shock, impress,
The still-preliminary designs for the $3.5 billion project
include: the 19,000-seat basketball arena, with 12 high-rise
residential buildings, 7.4 acres of open space, and four office
towers of 35 to 60 stories abutting the arena. The boxy skyscrapers
feature a definite Gehry flair for the twisted and askew,
and the tallest among themthe 620-foot Miss Brooklynwould
surpass the Williamsburgh Savings Bank as Brooklyns
Image Courtesy Forest
City Ratner Companies
The eastern edge of the site, which creeps into the more
residential and low-density neighborhood of Prospect Heights,
would form a superblock, with seven residential buildings
of 20 to 40 stories, and a large courtyard of gardens, pathways,
with reflecting pool and ice-skaing rink. Gehrys design
includes 4,500 rental units (half for lower and middle incomes)
and 1,500 market-rate condos.
The projects developers were quick to respond to the
complaints of several local groups, who bemoaned the projects
disruptive effect on their neighborhood. This countrys
growing, this citys growing, noted Forest City
Ratner Companies (FCRC) Executive Vice-President Jim Stuckey.
If all you do is replace in kind, youre a net
Planners have always believed you should have density
where you have mass transportation, continued Stuckey.
This is a sound planning proposal. But the
real issue, adds Stuckey, is the creation of jobs and
All told, the site would contain some 5.5 million square
feet of residential space, 1.9 million square feet of office
space, 227,000 square feet of retail, and 850,000 square feet
for the arena.
Meanwhile, on July 6, FCRC submitted its formal bid for the
MTA-owned portion of the site. To everyones surprise,
a competing plan from Extell Development Company for a significantly
smaller project and no arena, was also submitted. While Ratners
project already has substantial political support, many local
people opposed to the arena back the Extell plan.