Barclays Center Development Changes Atlantic Yards Neighborhood
Almost six months before the Barclays Center opens its doors, the "reality is that the Atlantic Yards project has already done the very thing that critics feared and supporters promoted: transform surrounding neighborhoods prized for their streets of tree-lined brownstones and low-key living," according to Joseph Berger of the N.Y. TIMES. Shops along the "workaday stretch of Flatbush Avenue south of the arena that for generations sold unglamorous products like hardware, paint, plumbing supplies, prescription drugs, even artificial limbs, are seeing new businesses pop up that sell high-heel shoes for $3,500 a pair, revealing party dresses, exotic cheeses and, of course, high-priced martinis." Dozens of restaurants and bars "have sprouted on major thoroughfares and serene side streets." In addition to the "many changes that are already visible, opponents are even more concerned about those still to come after the arena opens" on Sept. 28. The 14 "promised residential towers, with 6,430 apartments, and two commercial buildings are so far in the future that they are not much on residents' lips." Forest City Ratner spokesperson Joe DePlasco, whose company is the developer of the Atlantic Yards project, said that work "would start this year on the first of the apartment buildings, and that others could be built two decades from now" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/17). On Long Island, Kathleen Lucadamo noted the new businesses in Atlantic Yards are "hoping to attract not just sports fans but also some of the 24,000 Long Island Rail Road riders who pass through nearby Atlantic Terminal daily." For the owners of Italian restaurant Va beh', which opened four months ago, the LIRR hub "was part of the attraction, along with anticipated foot traffic when Barclays Center opens in September." Va beh' co-Owner Qiana DiBari and other business owners said that retaining a "neighborhood vibe is key to making the area a premiere destination." Nets spokesperson Brian Moriarty said that retail space "at the base of the arena is still available." So far, an adidas team store and Brooklyn Water Bagels "have signed up" (NEWSDAY, 4/16).
BROOKLYN BOUND: In Miami, George Richards writes for the Nets, a franchise that has "struggled on the court the past few years, the move couldn’t come soon enough." Nets and Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark said, "This is a transformative move, something we’ve waited seven years for. Newark has been great to us, and the Prudential Center has been terrific. But there’s no comparing this to Brooklyn." The Nets soon will go from being a "renter at an arena that is most definitely not theirs" to planting roots in a "spectacular building in a thriving, hip neighborhood." Yormark said, "We have a built-in fan base. People have been waiting since 1957 for this. There’s a nostalgia factor. We’re excited. It’s going to be a destination in the region, and we can’t wait to call it home" (MIAMI HERALD, 4/17).