The Planetizen News Brief - 12/3/09

Atlantic Yards moves ahead, CityCentre cuts ribbons, and the DOT throws money at buses and streetcars -- all on this week's Planetizen News Brief, produced for Smart City Radio.

Full Transcript (Audio available as .mp3 at Planetizen):

After much controversy and years of delays, the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn appears to be moving forward. The New York State Court of Appeals ruled recently that the state can use its eminent domain powers to seize private property to enable development of the 22-acre project. Sited on a former railyard, the proposed Atlantic Yards project includes16 highrises with more than 6,000 apartment units and a new 18,000-seat arena for the New Jersey Nets basketball team. The New York Times reports that the 6-to-1 ruling by the appeals court backs up the state’s assessment that the land can be considered blighted, clearing the way for the acquisition of that land from a few landowners who are holding out. Opponents have bemoaned the project and this new ruling, arguing that the state is taking private property for private benefit rather than the public good. Though opponents plan to fight the decision, the Atlantic Yards project now seems almost guaranteed to go through.

And out in Las Vegas, another mega-project is revealing itself to the public this month. The massive 18 million square-foot CityCenter on the Las Vegas strip will have its grand opening this month, with three of its four hotels and a shopping center cutting ribbons. Articles from Fast Company, the Los Angeles Times and The Philadelphia Inquirer look at the project and what it could mean for the city. As the only major project to complete construction in Las Vegas this year, CityCenter is seen as both a last gasp for the struggling desert city, and a sign of hope for the future. The project takes a very un-Vegas approach to development, aiming at a dense urban feel. Big name architects like Daniel Libeskind, Rafael Viñoly and Norman Foster all have buildings in the mix, and the project’s intended walkability offer a decidedly different approach to development in a city known for excess and extravagance. Though the design may earn CityCenter international praise, how well it serves the city’s crumbling economy remains to be seen.

And finally, inner-city transit advocates have been thrown a bone by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Secretary Ray LaHood recently announced plans to award $280 million worth of grants to cities looking to build and expand bus and streetcar networks. Streetsblog reports on the announcement, which LaHood made in New Orleans, a city that is working on expanding its historic streetcar system. Cities like New Orleans could be awarded up to $25 million for their transit expansion plans through this new grant program. Funding is expected to roll out in the spring.