Skip to main content

Gubernatorial frontrunner Spitzer likes AY, but needs a primer

So what does frontrunning Democratic gubernatorial candidate Eliot Spitzer think of the Atlantic Yards project? He likes it, he tells the Courier-Life chain this week, but his comments show he doesn't understand it too well.

An excerpt from the newspaper's interview, headlined Exclusive Courier Interview With Eliot Spitzer:
Q. You recently wrote a letter to the Empire State Development Corporation in favor of extending the public hearing date for the Atlantic Yards DEIS. Do you still basically agree with the plan and how would you work with more developers to ensure more affordable housing gets built in the Downtown Brooklyn area?

A. A couple of quick observations. I have not been involved in the approval process.
I conceptually am in favor of development of that site. I think building the arena is good for Brooklyn. It’s good for the city. We want to maximize the amount of affordable housing we get. We want to make sure the developments are scaled appropriately for the community and I’ve been generally supportive of the project, leaving it to those who have been involved to determine whether the size is increased or decreased or shifted one way or another based upon the zoning and based upon the capacity of the community to absorb additional people.
So lest anybody think I’m changing my position, I am not. I’ve always been in favor of development there. I think the plan that is on the table is basically a good one, but should be reviewed methodically and carefully, which is why I favor giving it the extra 30 days so the review can be done properly.
I don’t like to rush those decisions, but let’s make some decisions, get agreement and then get it moving because it’s better to have the housing and the arena than a hole in the ground.

(Emphases added)

A closer look

Maximize the amount of affordable housing? If the city and state wanted to maximize the amount of affordable housing, wouldn't they have issued an RFP (request for proposals) for such a project? And would they have encouraged the building of the most expensive arena ever?

Scaled appropriately? Does Spitzer know that, at the current scale, Atlantic Yards would be the densest residential development, by a factor of two, in the country?

Those who have been involved? The only people involved who can decide are the unelected ESDC, with an assist from the Mayor's office, and then the Public Authorities Control Board, which is controlled by Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, and the governor. The City Council and local community boards are bypassed.

Remember, New York magazine called it an "absolute absence of democracy."

Based upon the zoning? The ESDC plans to override local zoning.

A hole in the ground? Lest we forget, the railyards would be about 8.3 acres of a 22-acre project. The city never talked to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) about putting out an RFP to build over the railyards.

Double standards

Spitzer thinks "the [AY] plan that is on the table is basically a good one, but should be reviewed methodically and carefully."

Contrast that with his take on the city's plans to bid on the MTA's Hudson Yards, build a platform, and then open up the property to proposals. Spitzer said:
The city has proposed that it acquire the West Side Rail Yards from the MTA for $500 million. This is an amount grossly under market value.
The city seeks to fast track this purchase and hopes to have the sale approved at the MTA's July board meeting. Any sale of an asset of this magnitude, size, and value must only be approved after a process that is open, transparent, and provides an opportunity for public bidding.


Two elements would be part of a healthy public process:
--a fair and openly-arrived at price for the railyards
--an open process for the city to seek proposals for the property

Regarding the Hudson Yards, Spitzer believes that the price isn't fair, so even though the city wants an open process, he's calling for a closer look.

Regarding the MTA's Vanderbilt Yard, a key element of the Atlantic Yards project, Spitzer apparently hasn't examined whether the price was fair or whether an open process might have led to a better proposal.

Perhaps that's because he thinks the site is a hole in the ground. It's time for him to get beyond generalizations and get up to speed on what would be the biggest project in Brooklyn's history.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Barclays Center/Levy Restaurants hit with suit charging discrimination on disability, race; supervisors said to use vicious slurs, pursue retaliation

The Daily News has an article today, Barclays Center hit with $5M suit claiming discrimination against disabled, while the New York Post headlined its article Barclays Center sued over taunting disabled employees.

While that's part of the lawsuit, more prominent are claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, with black employees claiming repeated abuse by white supervisors, preferential treatment toward Hispanic colleagues, and retaliation in response to complaints.

Two individual supervisors, for example, are charged with  referring to black employees as “black motherfucker,” “dumb black bitch,” “black monkey,” “piece of shit” and “nigger.”

Two have referred to an employee blind in one eye as “cyclops,” and “the one-eyed guy,” and an employee with a nose disorder as “the nose guy.”

There's been no official response yet though arena spokesman Barry Baum told the Daily News they, but take “allegations of this kind very seriously” and have "a zero tolerance policy for…

Behind the "empty railyards": 40 years of ATURA, Baruch's plan, and the city's diffidence

To supporters of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, it's a long-awaited plan for long-overlooked land. "The Atlantic Yards area has been available for any developer in America for over 100 years,” declared Borough President Marty Markowitz at a 5/26/05 City Council hearing.

Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, mused on 11/15/05 to WNYC's Brian Lehrer, “Isn’t it interesting that these railyards have sat for decades and decades and decades, and no one has done a thing about them.” Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in a 12/19/04 New York Times article ("In a War of Words, One Has the Power to Wound") described the railyards as "an empty scar dividing the community."

But why exactly has the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard never been developed? Do public officials have some responsibility?

At a hearing yesterday of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, Kate Suisma…

Forest City acknowledges unspecified delays in Pacific Park, cites $300 million "impairment" in project value; what about affordable housing pledge?

Updated Monday Nov. 7 am: Note follow-up coverage of stock price drop and investor conference call and pending questions.

Pacific Park Brooklyn is seriously delayed, Forest City Realty Trust said yesterday in a news release, which further acknowledged that the project has caused a $300 million impairment, or write-down of the asset, as the expected revenues no longer exceed the carrying cost.

The Cleveland-based developer, parent of Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner, which is a 30% investor in Pacific Park along with 70% partner/overseer Greenland USA, blamed the "significant impairment" on an oversupply of market-rate apartments, the uncertain fate of the 421-a tax break, and a continued increase in construction costs.

While the delay essentially confirms the obvious, given that two major buildings have not launched despite plans to do so, it raises significant questions about the future of the project, including:
if market-rate construction is delayed, will the affordable h…

Revising official figures, new report reveals Nets averaged just 11,622 home fans last season, Islanders drew 11,200 (and have option to leave in 2018)

The Brooklyn Nets drew an average of only 11,622 fans per home game in their most recent (and lousy) season, more than 23% below the announced official attendance figure, and little more than 65% of the Barclays Center's capacity.

The New York Islanders also drew some 19.4% below announced attendance, or 11,200 fans per home game.

The surprising numbers were disclosed in a consultant's report attached to the Preliminary Official Statement for the refinancing of some $462 million in tax-exempt bonds for the Barclays Center (plus another $20 million in taxable bonds). The refinancing should lower costs to Mikhail Prokhorov, owner of the arena operating company, by and average of $3.4 million a year through 2044 in paying off arena construction.

According to official figures, the Brooklyn Nets attendance averaged 17,187 in the debut season, 2012-13, 17,251 in 2013-14, 17,037 in 2014-15, and 15,125 in the most recent season, 2015-16. For hoops, the arena holds 17,732.

But official…

So, Forest City has some property subject to the future Gowanus rezoning

Writing yesterday, MAP: Who Owns All the Property Along the Gowanus Canal, DNAinfo's Leslie Albrecht lays out the positioning of various real estate players along the Gowanus Canal, a Superfund site:
As the city considers whether to rezone Gowanus and, perhaps, morph the gritty low-rise industrial area into a hot new neighborhood of residential towers (albeit at a fraction of the height of Manhattan's supertall buildings), DNAinfo reviewed property records along the canal to find out who stands to benefit most from the changes.
Investors have poured at least $440 million into buying land on the polluted waterway and more than a third of the properties have changed hands in the past decade, according to an examination of records for the nearly 130 properties along the 1.8-mile canal. While the single largest landowner is developer Property Markets Group, other landowners include Kushner Companies, Alloy Development, Two Trees, and Forest City New York.

Forest City's plans unc…

At 550 Vanderbilt, big chunk of apartments pitched to Chinese buyers as "international units"

One key to sales at the 550 Vanderbilt condo is the connection to China, thanks to Shanghai-based developer Greenland Holdings.

It's the parent of Greenland USA, which as part of Greenland Forest City Partners owns 70% of Pacific Park (except 461 Dean and the arena).

And sales in China may help explain how the developer was able to claim early momentum.
"Since 550 Vanderbilt launched pre-sales in June [2015], more than 80 residences have gone into contract, representing over 30% of the building’s 278 total residences," the developer said in a 9/25/15 press release announcing the opening of a sales gallery in Brooklyn. "The strong response from the marketplace indicates the high level of demand for well-designed new luxury homes in Brooklyn..."

Maybe. Or maybe it just meant a decent initial pipeline to Chinese buyers.

As lawyer Jay Neveloff, who represents Forest City, told the Real Deal in 2015, a project involving a Chinese firm "creates a huge market for…