Saturday, May 26, 2007

Fact-checking Brooklyn Brewery's Hindy on Ratner's jobs

In a New York Observer article this week headlined Unlikely Power Broker Bullish on Brooklyn, Brooklyn Brewery CEO Steve Hindy opines on the future of Brooklyn, disses development on Fourth Avenue, and offers much praise for Forest City Ratner, expected to be serving his beer at the planned Brooklyn Arena.

Except his numbers are off.

Jobs at MetroTech

The article states:
“I think he’s done a lot of good things,” Mr. Hindy said of Mr. Ratner. “I thought MetroTech was fantastic for Brooklyn. It brought a lot of jobs here.”

However, a January/February 2005 City Limits article by Matthew Schuerman, headlined THE RETURN OF METROTECH, stated:
MetroTech boosters, back in 1987, suggested that at least some of the dishes would make their way around. "Proponents maintained that there will be a total of 14,000 jobs, of which 5,800 will be retained and 8,200 will be newly created," according to the minutes of a Planning Commission public hearing. "Many of these jobs will be entry-level positions providing employment opportunities to Brooklynites."

MetroTech's has grown beyond its original plan, to 5.8 million square feet. Its total job count has grown, too, to 22,000 today. But most, business leaders acknowledge, were positions that moved in from elsewhere in the city. "Those were not new jobs," says Michael Burke, director of the Brooklyn Downtown Business Council, an offshoot of the borough's chamber of commerce. "A lot of those jobs existed when the buildings went up. For the most part, they were relocated jobs."

(Emphasis added)

Schuerman now works for the Observer, but didn't write the Hindy story.

(Update: A reader points out that, taken literally, Hindy's correct: MetroTech did bring jobs to Brooklyn. However, relocating jobs from Manhattan to Brooklyn isn't much of a solution. City officials might say that at least the jobs weren't lost to New Jersey, and that justifies the subsidies to keep them in New York City. Perhaps. But the important point, I think, is that the project didn't fulfill the initial promises.)

Jobs at AY

As for Atlantic Yards, the Observer quotes Hindy:
“Brooklyn has a serious need for jobs,” he said. “Pfizer just closed their plant over in Bed-Stuy. Domino Sugar closed last year down on the waterfront here. Those big industrial plants just aren’t feasible here anymore. So something’s gotta replace it. Things like the development at Coney Island and things like Atlantic Yards—that’s what we have to work with, and we have to make the best of it.”

Remember, Forest City Ratner once promoted space for 10,000 office jobs at Atlantic Yards. Now there would be space for 1340 jobs, with perhaps 375 new jobs.

Sure, there would be some spinoff in service and retail jobs generated by new residents in the area, but it's hard to say that, in Hindy's words, we've been making the best of it.

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