It’s Christmas Eve, which means that it is time again to acknowledge and revisit the story of the creation of Brooklyn’s Ratnerville. It is, if you will, the real-life materialization of the bad alternative future the heavenly angel allowed the Jimmy Stewart character to see in the film “It’s a Wonderful Life.” That film proposed that it wasn’t going to be good for the townspeople of Bedford Falls if a one single man, Mr. Potter, with a self-interested eye only on profits, was allowed to own and control the entire town. Now in Brooklyn, because Mayor Bloomberg together with state officials at the Empire State Development agency, believe in the proposition that it is good for a single self-interested Bruce Ratner to own a 50+ acre mega-monopolistic swath of Brooklyn we are seeing materialize in reality a version of that alternative reality: Instead of the movie’s “Pottersville” we have “Ratnerville” that does, indeed, embody the sort of abhorrent conditions of life looked askance at in the film.
In real life, it is the reverse of the film: The alternative reality that can only be imagined with the aid of an interceding angel is the better life that could have been brought about if what the community asked for had been pursued. That better path would have involved implementing a variation of the UNITY Plan and awarding development of multiple parcels to different competing developers based on bids.
Returning to this story is now an annual tradition for us. Here are previous Noticing New York posts on the subject from Christmas Eves past:
• Thursday, December 24, 2009What shall we add to update the story this year? What hard lumps of coal wound up in people’s stockings as 2011 gifts from Mr. Ratner? Please indulge me if the list, compiled in haste (preferring that more holiday-compatible thoughts might preoccupy us), is less than complete. We all do know, however, of a certain omniscient Mr. Oder who keeps a thorough long list of the year’s not-nice naughties. Here though are a few events worth adding this year to additionally ornament this holiday story:
A Christmas Eve Story of Alternative Realities: The Fight Not To Go To Pottersville (Or Ratnerville)
• Friday, December 24, 2010
Revisiting a Classic Seasonal Tale: Ratnerville
All in all the Ratnerville story has been well ornamented by this year's events. What more can the new year bring? Almost anything. After all, who would have thought 2011 could have brought us all this?
• Those who were promised constructions jobs by Mr. Ratner and BUILD (effectively Ratner's subsidiary) and never received them (although they actually labored without pay in a scam) felt it appropriate to sue both the developer and BUILD: Tuesday, November 15, 2011, Lawsuit Against Forest City Ratner And The Fallacy Of Relying On A White-owned Monopoly To Create Construction Work For The Minority Community
• It looked as if because Ratner’s arena was behind schedule and/or that the schedule for construction was never reasonable to begin with, Ratner made a decision that the surrounding neighbors should suffer 24/7 work, work throughout the night and on weekends. Wednesday, September 21, 2011, Construction of the Ratner/Prokhorov (“Barclays”) Arena Is Behind Schedule. Either That, OR a 24/7 Construction Schedule Was ALWAYS Intended. That's what it looked like and it turned out that this was probably true. What the neighbors have been subjected to includes bright land-of-the-midnight-sun lights and extreme noise situations at all hours. (Photo from Atlantic Yards Watch below.)
• When the Jimmy Stewart character staggers through the snowy streets of Pottersville in “It’s a Wonderful Life” he is assaulted by the unfriendly throb of neon lights advertising the thicket of bars that have usurped what was previously a hospitable domestic scene. Noisy real life sports bars are coming to brownstone Brooklyn: Thursday, May 19, 2011, Beyond Prime 6 and the sports bar/gastropub, a 35,000 square foot entertainment center planned for Pacific at Flatbush.
• Not content that his mega-monoply is already sufficiently sprawling Ratner was busy grabbing the last vestiges of sidewalk, leaving an almost impassibly narrow sidewalk beside his arena. Wednesday, October 5, 2011, Mayor Michael Bloomberg In the Regalia of Queen Elizabeth I? Noticing New York’s Testimony at the DOT Hearing on Atlantic Yards Bollard Plan
• The unions and public were subjected to a scary surprise even if it is only a not-nice bluff- The rest of the mega-project might be built using unattractive, untested modular units, cutting the union’s coveted payday down to . . . What?: Friday, March 18, 2011, A Ratner Bluff on the Not-So-Fab Prefab Modulars? A Second Opinion and Friday, March 18, 2011, The Real Question to Ask About the Ratner Bait-and-Switch Approach on Atlantic Yards.
• Jay-z’s image has been Ho Ho Ho Hyping around everywhere. (Is he personally Oh-noing in secret?) Wednesday, October 26, 2011, Longing For Correcting Images to Jay-Z’s Hip-Hop Hype and Ratner’s Atlantic Yards “Strategy of Distraction”
• Ratner was proving in as many respects as possible that he presides over an unregulated and unregulatable mega-project. Friday, September 30, 2011, Could the Atlantic Yards Monopoly Be Even Less Regulated Than It Is? Why A Mega-Monopoly Continuation Isn’t Workable. Ratnerville? some of those down in the dumps are calling it Ratner Heights.
• Ratner put the community at risk by not securing his construction site before an impending hurricane- And, for perspective, compare the hefty subsidies Ratner is getting with the cost of cleaning up after that storm: Thursday, September 1, 2011, Cuomo, Asking For Help From the Feds, Announces NYS’s Toll From Irene Will Be Less Than the Public Cost of Ratner’s Atlantic Yards Mega-Monopoly.
• Ratner was conniving to pull the Brooklyn Academy of Music into his web to produce circuses in the arena that nobody wanted to call "circuses": Friday, July 1, 2011, Cultural Circus? Mr. Ratner’s Attempt to Rechristen His Arena A “Cultural Center”.
• Another gift under the Christmas tree of government function that the Ratner-Grinch helped himself to was to have a private consultant reporting to him redesign the traffic pattern for nearly the entire Borough of Brooklyn: Thursday, June 16, 2011, Sovereign Immunity, Reconfiguration of Brooklyn’s Traffic And The Peculiar Verisimilitude of Government Functions When Forest City Ratner Takes Over.
• Mr. Ratner’s troops were still distracting the public with the misguided notion that, like the magical tents in Harry Potter, the innards of his tiny arena can hold an ice skating rink large enough to host a professional hockey team, the Islanders: Thursday, April 21, 2011, Question Revisited: How Craftily Close Did Forest City Ratner Skate On Thin Ice of Securities Law Violation With Non-Promise of a Hockey Arena?
• In dark city tunnels around the time of Halloween pictures of Mr. Ratner’s arena were saying boo at you from the walls: Sunday, November 6, 2011, Rogues Gallery: The AIANY (“American Institute of Architects New York”) Subway Corridor Posters Under the IFC Center Showing “Urbanized”.
• Things were kept interesting with investigations in Mr. Ratner's neighborhood as we heard about the new situation with Senator Kruger: Friday, March 11, 2011, Lightning Keeps Striking: It Couldn’t Happen To Some More Deserving People . . Over and Over, Again- Ratner, Illegal Bribes and Jay-Z and Beyoncé.
• This was the year that we heard about how Jay-Z’s Wife, Beyoncé was amongst a small set of top entertainers to be paid large sums of money to perform for the family of now-deposed Libyan Dictator Muammar Gaddafi (Qaddafi) on New Year’s Eve 2009 in St. Barts in the Caribbean: Wednesday, March 9, 2011, An Insert Preview - Music Superstar Ethics: How Completely You Can Sell “You can say what you say, but you are what you are.” Jay-Zzzzus!