Friday, March 21, 2008

State housing bonds for AY? Eagle says yes, state says no

It's common knowledge that Forest City Ratner is working only on the Atlantic Yards arena, not any of the housing. So, has the project gained state affordable housing financing, as the Brooklyn Daily Eagle has reported twice?

No. A spokesman for the state housing finance agency told me that the Eagle coverage was inaccurate and that a separate Forest City Ratner project, at 80 DeKalb Avenue northwest of the AY site in Fort Greene, "was selected to move forward in the HFA application process."

Philip Lentz, Director of Communications for the NYS Housing Finance Agency/State of New York Mortgage Agency, stated, "If ultimately approved by the HFA board, Forest City would get $109.5 million in tax-exempt bonds over three years. This would help finance a 365-unit development, of which 73 units would be affordable.... Last week, we notified the four developers selected. You should be aware that the project has just been selected to move forward in our application process. It must still be approved by the HFA board."

Eagle coverage

The Eagle reported today, in an article headlined Atlantic Yards: Affordable Housing Still on the Table:
That affordable housing still is on the front burner is seen in the decision last week by the New York State Housing Authority to grant Forest City a share of the $628.5 million in tax-exempt bond funding for the Atlantic Yards project.

On Wednesday, the newspaper reported, in an article headlined Favorable Atlantic Yards News For Ratner; Will Get Bonds:
If all this wasn’t bad news enough for the Yards opponents, the state housing authorities announced late last week that four developers will receive the state’s allocation for tax exempt bond housing funds. One of those was Forest City for Atlantic Yards.
(This is critical, since it makes it easier for Forest City to honor its housing commitments up front, and those, along with the sports arena, are the project’s strongest political pluses.)


Updated: the 80/20 program

Lentz indicated that the state agency didn't issue a press release, but answered a question from Crain's New York Business. The newspaper reported last Sunday:
THE NEW YORK STATE HOUSING AUTHORITY selected four developers to receive bond funding to build affordable housing under the 80/20 program. Ten other firms won't receive financing. The HFA will issue a total of $628.5 million worth of tax-exempt bonds over three years for three Manhattan projects and one in Brooklyn. The four developers are: Glenwood Management Corp., Rockrose Development Corp., Lalezarian Developers and Forest City Ratner Cos.


Atlantic Yards would not participate in the state's 80/20 program but instead a different 50/30/20 program administered by the New York City Housing Development Corporation. If AY had affordable housing funds, we would've seen a much bigger announcement.

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