An Open Letter On Atlantic Center (August, 1996)by Reverend Dennis Dillon
To: Mr. Bruce Ratner, Forest City Ratner From: Reverend Dennis A. Dillon, Brooklyn Christian Center
As you are already aware, the Downtown Brooklyn community is very uncomfortable with your current development of the Atlantic Center because of the level of economic inequity that this project represents. This is exacerbated by your own—as well as your company’s—overt defiance and blatant disregard for the people and small businesses in the community.
You and your political cronies continue to take the black community for a ride—down a dead end street. The residents of Fort Greene are still waiting to see how MetroTech benefits them. And with more than 800 of the over 1,000 jobs promised yet to be fulfilled, there are questions as to whether or not there ever was a sincere desire to fulfill the promises made to the community.
WHERE IS THE CONSCIENCE? Where is the spirit of fairness and the desire for economic justice? Where is the love for community and the wisdom of market maintenance and corporation-community partnership?
There is a pressing problem that needs immediate attention: it is a documented fact that small businesses suffer and are pushed out when mega-shopping centers come into a community such as Downtown Brooklyn. The surrounding shops will lose business to the Atlantic Center Mall to the degree that many of them will close their doors within the first year of your operation. And with so few black businesses in our community already, most struggling to survive, they will become the casualties unless a concentrated effort is put forth to upgrade their business district, which is on all four sides of your mall. As we both know, the city gave you the land to build the mall, as well as $12.5 million for infrastructure work, and a 23-year tax abatement grant, HUD gave you $8 million, and much of the rest of the monies used for development came from sources that utilized taxpayers’ monies or dollars on deposit in New York City banks from black depositors. This means that you took our money to build this mall on our land so that you can lure our consumers to spend more of their money, which will leave our community at the end of the business day.
Reprinted by permission of Reverend Dennis A. Dillon.
ContributorReverend Dennis Dillon