The Rev. Herbert Daughtry, an activist minister and leader of the House
of the Lord Church on Atlantic Avenue, is negotiating with Atlantic Yards
developer Bruce Ratner to get a house of worship built into the planned
basketball arena complex.
Daughtry announced his request at a “truth forum” in his Boerum
Hill church Tuesday night that was attended by Forest City Ratner vice
president Jim Stuckey.
Daughtry’s forums are so named as a wry answer to what the reverend
considers widespread misrepresentations by Atlantic Yards opponents of
Forest City Ratner’s commitments to the community.
He is part of a group that is negotiating a community benefits agreement
intended to secure jobs, housing and — Daughtry’s main focus
— community facilities as part of the proposed $2.5 billion arena,
office tower and apartment building development plan.
He said the weekly forums served to facilitate discussions and inform
people of what was under consideration, such as the chapel.
At the Nov. 9 meeting, Stuckey introduced himself to the group, and mentioned
that he had once studied to be a Catholic priest.
“I said that, given the Nets’ situation, they’re going
to need a whole lot of prayer,” Daughtry said, referring to Ratner’s
payroll-cutting measures since purchasing the New Jersey Nets last summer,
which stripped the team of most of its marquee talent.
Daughtry indicated that he was not entirely serious about the proposed
chapel. Stuckey did not comment on the proposal.
“Some people have raised the legality of it, and we understand that,
but we’re negotiating,” Daughtry said. “We’re putting
out the things we’d like to see happen. That’s what we’d
like to see.”
He said the house of worship would be non-denominational, or something
“to which all religious faiths would have access. Like what they
have at the United Nations … All the churches of all the religions
in the world have access to the chapel. But it’s no big thing. Its
not something major that people are going to fight over,” Daughtry
Patti Hagan, a co-founder of the Prospect Heights Action Coalition and
vociferous anti-arena activist, called the notion of building a house
of worship as part of a publicly funded project “ridiculous.”
She said only about 20 people were present for the announcement; Daughtry
said there were 75 to 100.
“This was a recommendation made by Reverend Daughtry and we will
look into it,” said Forest City Ratner spokeswoman Lupe Todd.
“If, of course, there are any issues regarding city, state or federal
law we will consider those, too.”