2009 In Review: Development Battles Tower Over Brooklyn
From a controversial plan using eminent domain to the borough's most expensive real estate listing to date, 2009 presented a year full of major development battles and victories across Brooklyn. NY1's Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.
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Brooklyn ended the year with the dubious distinction of outpacing the rest of the city in stalled construction projects. More than 200 of them are scattered throughout the borough, courtesy of the economic recession.
The controversial Atlantic Yards project still hasn't broken ground but got a much needed boost in November when the state's highest court ruled eminent domain can be used to build.
Earlier in the year, Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov came forward to help bankroll the $5 billion redevelopment plan which includes an 18,000-seat basketball arena for the Nets when he offered to buy an 80 percent controlling interest in the team. This, as the more expensive Frank Gehry designed plans for the project were scrapped for a scaled back version.
Also going forward are plans to revive Coney Island. After a long standoff, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and developer Joe Sitt finally came to terms on a deal to sell seven acres of land along the boardwalk to the city for $96 million. The city wants to transform the area into a year-round amusement district. This as Coney's attractions dwindle, including the closing of Astroland after 46 years in business.
It took several years to start construction, but Brooklyn Bridge Park is starting to take shape. Rolling hills are being created on what were once industrial piers on the waterfront as the 85 acre park is literally being built from the bottom up, with one vista point situated 22 feet high.
Despite community opposition, the Brooklyn House of Detention not only re-opened after it was shuttered as an overnight jail in 2003, but there are now plans to expand it to accommodate some 1,400 inmates, which would house almost twice as many as it did before.
Residents looking to stop the Dock Street project, claiming it will block views of the Brooklyn Bridge, lost their battle when the city council voted to approve the DUMBO hi-rise building.
Also in DUMBO, with a price tag of $25 million, the most expensive property ever in Brooklyn went on the market. It's a three-story loft style condo dubbed the Clocktower featuring spectacular views.
The literary world loved Brooklyn playwright Lynn Nottage in 2009, awarding her the Pulitzer Prize for her drama "Ruined." Meantime, Brooklyn born Pulitzer Prize winner Frank McCourt lost his battle with cancer in July.
Also in July, beloved principal Frank Mickens, credited for turning around Boys and Girls High School, died in his sleep.
In April, popular minister and acclaimed gospel singer Reverend Timothy Wright died nine months after a car crash which also killed his wife.
In August, the borough remembered Michael Jackson by throwing a block party in his honor on what would have been his 51st birthday.
And the Brooklyn Cyclones paid tribute to President Barack Obama with a bobblehead for Baracklyn Cyclones night.