Nets Gains and Losses

This morning two community activists tangled—and sometimes tangoed—over plans to build a Nets arena in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. Bertha Lewis, whose ACORN organization advocates for poor New Yorkers, is working with the developer to make plans for 900 new units of affordable housing. Joel Towers, a professor of urban design at Parsons and an area resident, said Bruce Ratner’s plans will mar the brownstone neighborhood with ugly high-rises.

There were some surprising points of agreement in the conversation: Towers praised Ratner’s pledge to make 50% of the new housing middle-and low-income, but warned that the development still might destroy the neighborhood’s character. Lewis agreed with Towers that the ‘no’ camp had not had a chance to have its voice properly heard at a recent hearing. She blamed Councilwoman Letitia James, who herself opposes the arena, and whom Lewis had supported for election last year. Lewis also acknowledged that ACORN received funding from Ratner’s organization five years ago.

for alternatives to the Ratner plan: Develop, Don't Destroy