Nets’ Proposed Digs Unveiled

Architect Frank Gehry unveiled revised drawings and a model of what he hopes will be the future home of the NBA’s New Jersey Nets during a May 11th press conference.

The $3.5 billion, 21-acre development in Brooklyn, described as a “mini-city,” will feature an 18,000-capacity glass-enclosed arena, apartment towers, office space, stores and a hotel. Also in the plans are tree-lined walkways and a shallow pond.

Gehry proposes two levels of suites around most of the arena, though only one level would be in each of the corners, creating a more intimate atmosphere in an otherwise cavernous 18,000-seat space, according to the Bergen Record of New Jersey.

Gehry reportedly calls the design a “butterfly bowl.” He proposes 120 luxury suites for the building.

The arena’s floor would be below street level, allowing those walking past the arena on Flatbush Avenue to see the scoreboard during games, but not the games themselves.

Tunnels linking the concourses to seats would be much wider than at most older buildings, making it easier for fans hitting concession stands to still see the action below.

The complex would cover 22 acres in all and include some 2,360 condominiums and 4,500 rental apartments.

“It’s not an arena in a parking lot, like in the Meadowlands,” Gehry explained. “What we are trying to do is create a skyline.”

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Gov. George Pataki agreed March 3rd to authorize $100 million toward the project, which is expected to create 12,000 construction jobs and 8,500 permanent jobs.

Bruce Ratner, president and CEO of Forest City Ratner Cos., owns the Nets and wants to move the team from its current home at the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, N.J., to Brooklyn for the 2007-08 season.

The arena has come under fire by neighborhood preservation groups – as well as celebrity critics including actors Heath Ledger and Steve Buscemi – who say the project is simply too huge for low-rise Brooklyn.

It must pass environmental review and discussion at public hearings before the city will give Ratner the green light – and the approval process is believed to be some time off yet.