Saturday, April 22, 2006

Jobs at Ratner's malls: far fewer than originally predicted

A page on the new AtlanticYards.com web site about Forest City Ratner touts "New Jobs for Brooklyn Residents," citing 1,680 employees in Atlantic Terminal/Center, the two malls (Atlantic Terminal and Atlantic Center) just north of Atlantic Avenue and the proposed Atlantic Yards footprint.

However, the developer once predicted many more jobs--if you add up the predictions for Atlantic Center and the announced totals for Atlantic Terminal. As noted in Chapter 8 of my report, before the Atlantic Center mall opened, an article in the Times City Weekly section heralded the potential for employment (So Far, Jobs Are Hot Item At New Mall, 9/8/96): Atlantic Center, the $85 million, 380,000-square-foot mall that holds the promise of about 1,250 new retail jobs, according to the developer, Forest City Ratner...

However, as Good Jobs New York found, there was a huge gap between public relations and the promise made to city officials: the developer actually promised only 552 jobs at Atlantic Center. Note that former retail space at the mall is now occupied by the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Empire State Development Corporation.

More inflated figures

Others have inflated numbers about jobs, as well. Daily News columnist Errol Louis, in an 11/23/04 column about the proposed boycott of Atlantic Terminal, headlined The Gulliver Gambit, attributed 1688 jobs to that mall itself, rather than to the mall and its neighbor: If the boycott does succeed, the main harm will be to the jobs of local residents. Of the 1,688 employees who work at the mall, 81% live within 5 miles and 48% within 2 miles.

This would suggest that the 1680 employees FCR now claims for both malls are in one mall, and the total for both would be larger.

However, in an 11/9/04 Daily News article headlined Atlantic Yards Critics Tout Boycott Plan, FCR spokesman Joe DePlasco provided a much lower figure for Atlantic Terminal: "This mall has created a thousand jobs."

Add that to 552 jobs and the number of jobs would be fewer than the 1680 claimed.

The overinflation of expectations seems to be a pattern. Note that FCR once predicted 10,000 office jobs at the Atlantic Yards project, but now estimates 2500 jobs, in part because commercial office space has been cut by two-thirds. That estimate does not apparently include a vacancy rate; nor does it acknowledge that most of the jobs likely would be moved from Manhattan rather than new.

Note: comments deleted

I deleted a sequence of comments, involving two anonymous posters and Errol Louis.
If anyone wants to comment on any of this, please write to me directly rather than post. I have my differences with Louis, but they are over policy, not personality--despite his claim of a smear--and I don't think it's fair to offer personal criticisms anonymously.

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