Skip to main content

Yassky come lately on AY costs, which still need a thorough accounting

Term-limited Brooklyn City Council member David Yassky, running for the citywide position of Comptroller, has decided to target subsidies for Atlantic Yards, part of a tougher line he's shown lately regarding the project.

Among the tactics he recommends in an article in this week's Gotham Gazette is ending corporate tax loopholes:
Of course, the single biggest example of corporate welfare is the proposed Atlantic Yards development. The Bloomberg administration has agreed to give the project's developer at least $100 million in direct subsidies, plus another $400 million to $500 million in tax breaks. In the current financial climate, this handout is impossible to justify.

While some significant increases in subsidies--including a doubling of the city's contribution and the "Atlantic Yards carve-out" for 421-a benefits--have surfaced in the past year, there was a longer list worthy of concern before that.

And Yassky did not raise the issue of AY subsidies in his comments during the Atlantic Yards approval process. In his 8/23/06 letter to the Empire State Development Corporation, he expressed "grave concerns" and requested "substantial changes," but those regarded the size of the buildings and plans for traffic and transit.

He concluded, in his mend-it-don't-end-it posture:
Again, I do believe that development of an arena and housing at the Atlantic Yards site would have genuine benefits for Brooklyn. The current GPP [General Project Plan], however, imposes an unacceptable cost to achieve those benefits.

When Yassky ran for Congress that summer, he tried to steer $3 million in job-training funds to AY Community Benefits Agreement signatory BUILD. He took a distinctly moderate position, refraining from bringing up issues like corporate welfare, while rival Chris Owens needled him for not asking tough questions.

$500 million, $3 billion?

Would the total in tax breaks be $500 million, as Yassky says, and the total in government benefit be $3 billion, as Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn suggests (right)?

Well, it depends how you do the math. Yassky, I believe, is adding direct subsidies and the 421-a tax break. DDDB's chart suggests that the bonds for the arena--to be repaid by payments in lieu of taxes--represent a complete subsidy, but the Independent Budget Office (IBO) does not agree, because it assumed that the railyard portion of the land would've remained tax-exempt anyhow.

And tax-free bonds valued at $1.4 billion do not represent savings of $1.4 billion, but rather the spread--perhaps 15%--between taxable and tax-free bonds.

New analysis needed

Still, if DDDB's numbers don't fully stand up, neither do anyone else's. The IBO, in its September 2005 report, did not attempt to assess the full fiscal impact of the Atlantic Yards project, just the arena. The New York City Economic Development Corporation and the Empire State Development Corporation, in their analyses, focused on costs rather than benefits.

So there's still a significant need for a government-sponsored, fully-vetted effort to analyze Atlantic Yards costs and benefits. Maybe Yassky, or even fellow Comptroller candidate Jim Brennan--who's pushed to get Atlantic Yards financial information but hasn't made AY a rhetorical centerpiece of his candidacy--can put the issue on the agenda.

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…