Sunday, December 17, 2006

Ground shifting on Atlantic Yards?

There are hints that the ground may be shifting on attitudes toward the Atlantic Yards project, at least enough that the Public Authorities Control Board (PACB) might hesitate and fail to approve the project during the waning days of the administration of Governor George Pataki.

The New York Times, in an article today headlined Like-Minded Leaders Face Roles That Put Them at Odds, discusses the relationship between Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Governor-elect Eliot Spitzer:
Already there have been hints of coming clashes, with Mr. Spitzer working to slow down projects that Mr. Bloomberg has been trying to accelerate, like the rebuilding of ground zero and the development of the Atlantic Yards complex in Brooklyn.

There's been very little from Spitzer on Atlantic Yards other than general support from the project, though the Times reported on 12/7/06:
Aides to Mr. Spitzer have recently begun a more intensive review of the Yards project, among others, which they said was intended chiefly to bring Mr. Spitzer up to speed on the projects’ details. But a senior policy adviser to Mr. Spitzer said last week that an intervention was not out of the question.

PACB delay?

The PACB, which is controlled by the governor, Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, is supposed to vote on Atlantic Yards on Wednesday, and unanimity is required. Silver, who's generally supported the project, is under pressure to stall consideration of it until the administration of fellow Democrat Spitzer, and new revelations of drastically reduced net tax revenue may provide new ammunition.

Meanwhile, a somewhat cryptic press release from the Municipal Art Society, which as part of BrooklynSpeaks has opposed the project as currently constituted, announces:
At 1:00 p.m. on Monday, December 18, citywide and national civic groups — joined by new voices and elected officials — will gather on the steps of New York’s City Hall to call on the state’s Public Authorities Control Board to vigorously scrutinize the financial details of Forest City Ratner’s Atlantic Yards project before voting on it.

Among those scheduled to attend Monday’s news conference are groups that have previously expressed support for the project or have not yet taken a public position.

Citing the absence of a full financial disclosure for the project and a failure to meaningfully address issues identified by the environmental impact statement, the groups will unite to urge the three PACB members to refrain from voting on the project at their next scheduled meeting on Wednesday, December 20.


Lupica hits had

Daily News sports columnist Mike Lupica, in his "Shooting from the Lip" column today, cites the story I broke:
Norman Oder, a tough journalist who has done the best reporting on Ratner in his blog, is the one who noticed that a third of the revenues that Ratner has been pitching simply disappeared in the last six months.
Oh, sure.
In July taxpayers were told that Ratner World was going to generate $1.4 billion in new revenue.
By the time the thing crossed Rubber Stamp Gargano's desk, the figure was $944 million.
Gargano, of course, didn't say a word, and neither did any of the major politicians who have shilled for this thing from the start.
Why?
Because they want to shove this project across the goal line while George Pataki is still governor, that's why.
You know what else was in the new plan approved by the ESDC?
Language that wasn't in there before about what happens to the project if Ratner sells the Nets.
According to Ratner and Markowitz of Brooklyn, head cheerleader for the project from the start, this was supposed to be all about sports.
Sports was just a way to get Ratner's foot in the door.
This was always about the real estate.
About the deal.
Which was always going to benefit Bruce Ratner more than it was ever going to benefit the borough of Brooklyn, N.Y.
So where is this incoming governor, Spitzer, on this shell game?
And how can Shelly Silver, one of three votes on the Public Authorities Control Board - which has to approve the project by law - possibly vote to approve before Spitzer gets a seat at the table?

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