Brooklyn's lessons for Seattle arena backers

Print
Email
|

by CHRIS DANIELS / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @ChrisDaniels5

KING5.com

Posted on October 24, 2012 at 6:52 PM

Brooklyn, the New York City borough once famous as home to the Dodgers baseball team, spent decades without  professional sports after the team departed in 1956.

But with the completion of the $1 billion Barclays Center in Flatbush, Brooklyn is revving up for pro-sports. The new arena will host the NBA's Nets, formerly of New Jersey. And soon, the NHL Islanders will decamp from Long Island to make the facility their home as well.

As Seattle's elected officials and investor Chris Hansen pursue their own effort to bring professional basketball to the Pacific Northwest, Brooklyn's experience holds hope for Sonics boosters ... and fodder for critics of the $290 million arena project.

Barclays Center, at 675,000 square feet, is about the same size as the arena Hansen proposes to build in SODO, just south of Safeco Field.

Critics say the investors and officials who pushed the Barclays Center have left promises unfulfilled. For one thing, boosters predicted 10,000 office jobs would be lured to the area.

The developer, Forest City Ratner, promised to build several rent-controlled residential and office towers near the new arena -- the $4.9 billion Atlantic Railyards Complex.

Years of litigation has delayed that project. In December, the first residential tower is scheduled to open.

When it comes to traffic, however, the critics' fears turned out to be off base, according to Norman Oder, who has spent years documenting the Brooklyn project.

Barclays Center boasts just 540 parking spots. Four subway lines and plenty of advance planning for traffic management paid off.

"In terms of the massive gridlock people feared, that hasn't happened yet," said Oder.

Marty Markowitz, the Brooklyn Borough president, conceded that Barclays Center was a controversial project.

"It certainly will be written in the days to come as the most contentious developments in America's history, not just New York history.

Print
Email
|