The New York Times reported, in a 3/7/06 article headlined Landmark Ferry Building May Become Food Market:
The little-used Battery Maritime Building, a freshly renovated and richly riveted Beaux-Arts landmark in Lower Manhattan that still serves as the gateway to Governors Island, would become a culinary temple in a redevelopment plan offered yesterday by the Bloomberg administration.
...The corporation's request for proposals, issued yesterday, may be its first such document to use words like "artisanal cheese," "hand-crafted wines," "humanely raised grass-fed meats" and "foodies." (Emphasis added.)
The New York Sun reported, in a 3/3/06 article headlined Finalists Picked To Bid for Willets Point Makeover:
The city has selected eight firms as finalists to bid for the $2 billion to $3 billion project to remake a 75-acre site at Willets Point, Queens, with a mixeduse development including about 1 million square feet of retail space, a hotel, and a convention center.
...Willets Point is a long neglected part of Queens, now zoned for heavy industrial use, with an inadequate sewer system and no paved roads. The proposed project is likely to require condemnation of private property through the exercise of eminent domain, as well as extensive environmental remediation and traffic work. (Emphasis added.)
Now these are city projects, and the Atlantic Yards project would be a state one, managed by the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), because a plurality of the footprint would be Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) land and because the city didn't object.
But how does the ESDC usually work? Chairman Charles Gargano, on 11/15/05, appeared on the Brian Lehrer show on WNYC radio and said:
If you understand development and how it does work, we have a process in government, state government and I’m sure other government bodies have the same, whereby we put out first of all, on any area we’re trying to develop, we put out what we call an RF-- I, request for-- EI, expressions of interest. The reason why we do that is we want to pick the brains of the private sector, and see what kind of ideas they have, and after all, they’re the ones with the resources who are going to build these projects, so we want their ideas. We put out this RFEI, that’s the initial—that’s the first part of the process, and it has worked very well for many, many decades.
By contrast, the MTA did not issue an RFP for the Vanderbilt Yard--the main public property contained in the proposed Atlantic Yards footprint--until 5/24/05, nearly 18 months after the Atlantic Yards plan was announced on 12/10/03. The ESDC never issued an RFEI. That means that developer Forest City Ratner had been in discussions with city and state agencies for an even longer period of time. That process hardly parallels the ones mentioned above.