Monday, September 24, 2012

Barclays Center Opens in Brooklyn

This week, the Barclays Center Arena will open in Brooklyn. The opening will not bring an end to the controversy surrounding the arena, but it will bring new art experiences for all of us to enjoy.

Barclays Center Arena Opens This Week

New York's own Jay-Z will open the Barclays Center Arena with a concert on September 28. The NBA's Brooklyn Nets will play in Barclays Center and bring Brooklyn its first professional sports team in more than 50 years.

Not everyone is pleased:

"Amid the festivities, though, the arena stands as an island, a reminder of what is missing. The 16 surrounding towers — primarily residential — that were originally planned by the developer, Forest City Ratner Companies, for the 22-acre, $4.9 billion Atlantic Yards project have yet to be built. The 10,000 or so jobs promised have not materialized. Of the 2,250 affordable housing units pledged out of 6,300, only 181 are planned for a first tower, and ground for the building has yet to be broken.
In the days before the hip-hop mogul Jay-Z, a part owner of the Nets, inaugurates the arena with a series of concerts, the air tingles with the dust of last-second construction and mixed emotions: excitement and wariness, anger and resignation.
Surrounding residents fear that unruly basketball fans will stagger drunkenly onto their sidewalks, that Armageddon-like traffic will blockade their streets, that already-squeezed parking spaces will be swallowed, that crime and rodents will run rampant and that housing and jobs will never come about.
Others hope that the 1,900 part-time jobs offered at the arena will help lift a severely underemployed borough, that retail chains opening along Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues will spur small businesses and that property values will soar."
An independent compliance monitor would be responsible for ensuring that the developer of the Barclays Center lived up to the many commitments made to gain approval for the project (housing, hiring, open space, and other amenities), but the monitor has not yet been named. Also, the devloper has until 2035 to complete all of the dozen residential buildings it promised as part of creating Barclays Center, and the area might be under construction for a generation.
Let us enjoy the new arena and remember that there more than a dozen promises left to keep.
Art in the Barclays Center
The Barclays Center is developing its arts initiative under the guidance of David Berliner, member of the Barclays Center board, with input from Arnold Lehman, director of the Brooklyn Museum, and Eugenie Tsai, the John and Barbara Vogelstein curator of contemporary art of the Brooklyn Museum. Curator, author, and art historian Sarah Elizabeth Lewis consulted on these inaugural commissions.
The art will celebrate the people of Brooklyn and will be on display throughout the arena, and such an approach is a good reason for those of us in Manhattan to celebrate.
As we enjoy the new area, we need to remember to enjoy the art commissioned for the area and designed to highlight the people of Brooklyn and their lives.

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