Bloomie films TV ad in Fort Greene
If it’s in Brooklyn, build away. Just don’t build it anywhere
near Mayor Mike’s backyard.
Despite promoting the largest economic development projects in Brooklyn
for city approval in the past year, including the Atlantic Yards housing
and arena development, and an Ikea big-box store in Red Hook, the mayor
continues to say he might not like the projects so much if it was his
quality of life that was in jeopardy.
In a surprise visit to Fort Greene Aug. 24 to film a re-election campaign
commercial, Mayor Michael Bloomberg expressed surprise at how close Forest
City Ratner’s proposed 19,000-seat arena and 17-tower residential
complex was to Brownstone Brooklyn.
And, upon finding out the proximity of the 60-story Frank Gehry designs
for a futuristic cityscape would be to some of the borough’s most
cherished six-story brownstones, a resident says the mayor told him that
if he lived there, he wouldn’t be so keen on the project, either.
Michael Decker, who lives near the Mexican restaurant Pequena, on South
Oxford Street between Lafayette Avenue and Fulton Street, where Bloomberg
was filming his commercial, said he called some of his neighbors about
the mayor’s presence on the block.
The neighbors, all members of the Fort Greene Association, and two who
are involved with the anti-Ratner arena group Develop-Don’t Destroy
Brooklyn (DDDB), asked the mayor about his support of the Atlantic Yards
“[His comment] was in regard to our opposition to the project,”
recalled Decker, “and I believe what he said was, ‘If I were
in your position, I’d feel the same way,’” recalled Decker,
a member of DDDB.
The mayor’s not-in-my-backyard, or NIMBY, message sounded much like
comments he made the day after the City Council approved rezoning to allow
the construction of an Ikea big-box store in Red Hook last October.
Talking to reporters about the Ikea project, Bloomberg said candidly,
“I happen to be a supporter of [the Red Hook Ikea plan]. But I think
if I lived there, I don’t know whether I would be, quite honestly.”
Lucy Koteen, an organizer for DDDB and member of the Fort Greene Association,
said the site, a tiny Mexican restaurant, seemed to have been location-scouted
for the Spanish-language commercial, but pointed out that the area, unlike
the surrounding neighborhoods of Prospect Heights, Bushwick and Park Slope,
doesn’t have a very large Hispanic population.
“I thought, ‘Those don’t look like the usual Pequena people.’
Pequena is the yuppie place; it’s a nice place, but they have a lunchtime
special with margaritas,” she pointed out.
“There were two Spanish-looking men, playing dominos at a table outside
the restaurant as a backdrop,” she said with a laugh. “[Bloomberg]
spoke in Spanish from his teleprompter.”
Afterwards, she, Decker and another neighbor approached the mayor, and
brought up the Atlantic Yards project, which would begin two blocks from
“We told him this community did not want it, and that those people
who were behind the project were not from the community, and that over
40 groups with deep roots in the neighborhood opposed it,” Koteen
“They started walking, and [Bloomberg] said, ‘Gee, I don’t
know what to tell you, I wouldn’t be happy about it if it was in
my neighborhood either,” said Koteen.
Mayoral spokesman Jordan Barowitz could not confirm the statement.
“I asked about that from someone who was with the mayor all day,
and she doesn’t recall that conversation,” he said.
“I believe he was sympathetic to the individuals who lived in the
area, but as the mayor’s reiterated, this proposal means tens of
thousands of jobs, and thousands of units of affordable housing,”
Koteen agreed that the mayor seemed sincere.
“He showed real concern in that he was listening,” she said.
Decker said it was “funny” that of all neighborhoods, Bloomberg
chose Fort Greene to film a campaign commercial.
“He’s using our beautiful neighborhood as a backdrop in re-election
commercials,” said Decker, “while carelessly supporting a developer’s
land-grab that will irreparably damage this very community.”
Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010