Skip to main content

Looking at Spitzer's transition team and AY

On November 16, Governor-elect Eliot Spitzer announced 13 policy advisory committees to help guide transition efforts. And, should the issue of Atlantic Yards arise, there's no shortage of experts and advocates--from across the spectrum--who could lend their voices to the debate.

Note that participating on a committee does not necessarily mean that the committee will touch on Atlantic Yards. Also, of course, there are many more committee members with no overt connection to Atlantic Yards.

Here are the ones I could identify.

Arts, Culture and Revitalization

Kent Barwick is president of the Municipal Art Society, which has criticized the Atlantic Yards plan and also helped found BrooklynSpeaks, a coalition that seeks to change the project signficantly.

Economic Development

Richard Kahan, former CEO of the New York State Urban Development Corporation (now the Empire State Development Corporation) and chairman of the Battery Park City Authority, has classified Atlantic Yards among “top-down projects” but said “I don’t think they’re necessarily bad.

James Parrott, deputy director of the Fiscal Policy Institute, contributed to a Pratt Center report that criticized the assumptions behind Forest City Ratner's claim of $6 billion in new revenue from the project.

Deborah C. Wright is Chairman and CEO, Carver Bancorp, Inc. In March 2005, Forest City Ratner opened a new account with the bank, the largest African- and Caribbean-American run bank in the United States, and deposited $1 million at the Atlantic Terminal Branch. Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement signatories praised Ratner effusively.

Government Reform

Preeta Bansal is a former Solicitor General of the State of New York. She's also one of the attorneys representing the Empire State Development Corporation in the Atlantic Yards eminent domain case.

Blair Horner is legislative director for the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), whose Straphangers Campaign has criticized the Atlantic Yards plan.

Housing

John Kest is statewide head organizer for New York ACORN, which is a signatory of the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement and negotiated the affordable housing agreement for the project.

Brad Lander directs the Pratt Center for Community Development; he served as a consultant to the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods in its review of the AY plan and has expressed praise and criticism for the project as currently configured. The Pratt Center last year released an analysis of the AY plan that included both praise and criticism, but said many questions were unanswered.

Labor and Workforce Development

Kenneth Adams is president of the New York State Business Council in Albany and until recently headed the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. He previously headed the MetroTech Business Improvement District, of which Forest City Ratner is a major member. In September, Adams expressed the Chamber's support for Atlantic Yards.

Mike Fishman, president of SEIU Local 32BJ, has expressed support for AY, citing Forest City Ratner’s commitment to union labor in servicing the buildings.

Mike McGuire is Director of Governmental and Legislative Affairs of the Mason Tenders Political Action Committee , and has endorsed the Atlantic Yards project.

Transportation

Jon Orcutt is Executive Director of the Tri-State Transportation Council and Gene Russianoff is Staff Attorney for NYPIRG's Straphangers Campaign; the two groups submitted joint testimony criticizing the transportation plan in the Atlantic Yards Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

Mitch Pally is the only member of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board who opposed the sale of development rights to the agency's Vanderbilt Yard to Forest City Ratner. Pally thought the agency could get a better deal and said worried that the project might be delayed.

Robert D. Yaro is president of the Regional Plan Association, which issued some significant criticism of the Atlantic Yards plan but praised the design of the first phase and said that it's too late to go back.

Other ties

On the Government Reform committee is Richard Emery a partner in the law firm that has been retained by plaintiffs in challenging the exercise of eminent domain for Atlantic Yards. His partner Andrew Celli, Jr. is on the Human Services committee.

I'm sure I missed some members of law firms that have worked for either developer Forest City Ratner or the Empire State Development Corporation.

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…