Thursday, October 26, 2006

New location & condo numbers, old photos & claims from FCR

There's not too much new in the Atlantic Yards Project Briefing handed out by Forest City Ratner representatives to some Prospect Heights residents at a meeting Monday night--the developer's confident schedule of a November approval was probably the most dramatic.

Still, the document remains intriguing, especially since the developer persists in claiming $6.1 billion in tax revenues for the project--a highly dubious figure--and showing pictures of demolished buildings under "Existing Conditions." (We get the backlot building at 463 Dean Street and the Underberg Building (twice), though they were torn down in May. At least the developer has found a current photo of 636 Pacific Street, which had previously be portrayed pre-renovation. The photo below is from Forgotten NY, not FCR.)

And, curiously enough, the project location is described as "close proximity to Downtown Brooklyn," which differs from the longstanding description of "A Vision for Downtown Brooklyn."

The New York Times in April published a megacorrection to clarify that the project would be near Downtown Brooklyn rather than in it. The importance of the distinction is that Downtown Brooklyn has been rezoned for higher-density development but Prospect Heights has not been rezoned; the Empire State Development Corporation must override city zoning.

Condos, affordable housing, & jobs

There are some specifics: FCR now plans 6430 units, including 1930 condos. In June 2005, the developer announced 2800 condos, cut that number to 2360 in March, and cut it again. (Here's the housing sequence.) Given that each cut means a loss of several hundred million dollars in revenue--assuming that the condos could be marketed for, say, an average of $1 million each--that suggests that the developer has built a lot of slack into its budget projection, which this summer was estimated by a New York magazine source as leading to a $1 billion profit.

There's a lot in the briefing about the affordable housing crisis, and the developer's plan for 2250 affordable units, including the number of units available for five income "bands." What's not said is that the average rent for the "affordable" units would be $1542.

The briefing also states that "approximately 50% of all affordable apartments will be 2- and 3-bedroom units." That's not true. Though half of the space assigned to affordable apartments would be for two- and three-bedroom units, given their size, there would be fewer of them than one-bedroom units and studios.

Forest City Ratner continues to claim 15,000 construction jobs, which actually would be an average of 1500 jobs a year over ten years.

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