Friday, September 22, 2006

How did Ratner get to build a downtown Brooklyn tower? The state won't say

So Forest City Ratner will build a $186-million Renzo Piano-designed tower at a site owned by the City University of New York's College of Technology bounded by Jay, Johnston, and Tillary streets. That site now includes the Klitgord Auditorium, where the Atlantic Yards public hearing and community forums were held.

The building would be about 1 million square feet--almost as big as Miss Brooklyn, the largest building in the Atlantic Yards plan--which suggests it could be 50 to 60 stories tall. It will include classrooms, luxury condos, and some affordable housing.

While the size of the development is apparently as of right, given the recent rezoning of Downtown Brooklyn, other questions remain. However, as the Brooklyn Papers reported, the state won't release details about the finances or the bid process:
The state will finance the CUNY portion of the development, while underwriting Ratner’s construction through bonds.
Ratner won the development rights in competition with one other builder — but state officials would not release information about either bid, nor what Ratner paid for the right to develop luxury housing at a crucial site at the corner of Jay and Tillary streets.


What transparency?

The Brooklyn Papers said in an editorial:
And then last week, state Dormitory Authority officials admitted that they signed a deal with Ratner to build a $186-million tower for New York City College of Technology that will include new classrooms and a gym.
As part of the deal, Ratner gets the right to build hundreds of units of luxury housing atop the school’s facilities.
Officials told us that Ratner beat out another developer for the lucrative contract, but would not tell us who the other would-be developer was and why Ratner’s proposal was better.
Considering that the winning bidder gets to sell luxury housing as part of the deal, it’s important to know the details of both parties’ bids.

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