Construction work in booming Downtown will come to a complete halt so that union members can attend a rally in support of the Atlantic Yards project on Thursday at Borough Hall.
“At the request of the Buildings Trades Council ALL JOBSITES in downtown Brooklyn are to shut down at 11:30 am for the Atlantic Yards rally,” read a flier posted on a construction site in Prospect Heights (pictured). “ALL BUILDING TRADE MEMBERS SHOULD ATTEND!”
The rally, organized by Atlantic Yards developer Forest City Ratner, will feature speeches by known project supporters including the Rev. Al Sharpton, Guardian Angel gadfly Curtis Sliwa and Borough President Markowitz, plus appearances by former Nets stars Albert King and Darryl Dawkins and a performance by Maxi Priest.
A press release from Forest City Ratner also promised appearances by “community leaders.”
But opponents of the mega-project objected to the notion that community leaders in Prospect Heights support the project.
Ratner “continues to use scorched earth tactics, demolishing a section of the Prospect Heights neighborhood,” Develop Don’t Destroy said in a statement. “The Ratner team has not actually started any construction, but rather has continued demolition. The destruction of a community with no ability to rebuild is not progress.”
The group also questioned the timing of the rally, which comes after developer Bruce Ratner has dramatically scaled back Atlantic Yards, which once consisted of 16, Frank Gehry-designed skyscrapers and a basketball arena. The project now consists of that publicly financed arena, plus one residential building. The iconic “Miss Brooklyn” tower has also been shelved until an anchor tenant emerges, Ratner has said.
“If this rally is to celebrate ‘the progress of Atlantic Yards,’ it’s coming at an odd time,” DDDB spokesman Daniel Goldstein said. “Atlantic Yards has not “progressed,” it is stalled.”
But Ed Malloy, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, said that it was a perfect time for his union members to show support for the project.
“In our line of work, we have to be optimistic,” he said. “When the economy is good, you see cranes in the air. So we’re attempting as big a turnout [of Yards supporters] as possible. This project would be good for economic development.”
He said his members are not required to attend the rally.
“It’s not like there are sanctions or an attendance sheet, or anything,” he said. “But we take these things seriously because our jobs depend on it.”
Goldstein said that DDDB also supports union laborers and that if Ratner’s original plan had not been so big and had gone through a full public review instead of a truncated state rubber stamp, union workers might now be building it.
“Brooklyn Day” rally. Borough Hall Plaza (near corner of Joralemon and Court streets in Downtown), June 5, 11:30 am.