ATURA, Brooklyn (History)

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(Neighborhoods In Brooklyn)

The Atlantic Terminal Urban Renewal Area (abbreviated as ATURA) is a section of New York City in the downtown area of the borough of Brooklyn, adjacent to the Prospect Heights, Park Slope and Fort Greene neighborhoods, near the Atlantic Terminal train station. During the 2000s, a controversial and ambitious plan to redevelop the area, called the Atlantic Yards brought renewed public attention.

Since the middle 20th century there have been many proposals to develop the area around Flatbush and Atlantic. The idea for a Dodgers baseball stadium was considered in the 1950s, but it was dismissed by Robert Moses as creating a China Wall of traffic.

In 1962, according to a 9/5/65 New York Times article, “the City Planning Commission recommended a sweeping $150 million redevelopment and rehabilitation program for the area surrounding the Long Island terminal at Atlantic Avenue.” ($150 million in 1962 dollars would be nearly $1 billion in March 2006 dollars.) “Known as the Atlantic Terminal Urban Renewal Area, the plan included the removal of the Fort Greene Meat Market, an antiquated wholesale market behind the terminal, the clearance of slums and the construction of low-income and middle income apartment houses and industrial buildings.”

In 1968, Long Island University eyed the site, but was opposed by Mayor John Lindsay. A 6/24/68 Times article, headlined “Renewal Raises Brooklyn Hopes,” described the city’s urban renewal plan as $250 million (over $1.4 billion in March 2006 dollars). The renewal plan, according to the Times, “calls for 2,400 new low- and middle-income housing units to replace 800 dilapidated units, removal of the blighting Fort Greene Meat Market, a 14-acre (57,000 m2) site for the City University’s new Baruch College, two new parks and community facilities such as day-care centers.”
The 1970s also saw visions of ambitious projects in the area, and these mostly resulted in the construction of affordable housing on the north side of Atlantic Avenue. Baruch College also considered moving but was stymied by the City’s fiscal crisis. The seeds of gentrification were planted with the establishment of the greene.pdf Fort Greene Historic District in 1978.

“Give Central Brooklyn a Boost,” declared the Times in a 9/24/86 editorial. “Despite the gentrification of nearby neighbohroods, Brooklyn’s Atlantic Terminal district has for nearly 20 years remained the home of rundown bars and fast-food joints, a hangout for prostitutes and low-lifes.” Not everyone was happy. A few days later, opponents said the tax-supported project would encroach on nearby commercial strips and that the townhouses would be out of the financial reach of most area residents.

The plans evolved. The Board of Estimate, the Times reported 11/16/86, had approved a $500 million project, including 1,800,000 square feet (167,000 m2) of office and commercial space, a public garage, and 12 acres (49,000 m2) for some 643 apartments. The planner for this, hired by Rose Associates, was Peter Calthorpe.

But a Fort Greene block association and other homeowners sued over an environmental impact statement that failed to consider how rerouted traffic would affect their neighborhood, a block away from the project. Then an economic downturn compounded community opposition. The Times reported that the stock market collapse had deterred office construction. “A lot of people are reassessing their expansion plans,” James Stuckey, president of the city’s Public Development Corporation, told the Times.

During the 1990s, the area south of Atlantic saw the beginnings of private redevelopment, while the north side saw the construction by Forest City Ratner of the Atlantic Center.

Forest City also completed the Atlantic Terminal market in 2004. One of more ambitious luxury developments was the renovation of the Newswalk Building which opened in 2003.

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