Friday, September 12, 2008

Remember, Bloomberg said the city would only help with infrastructure

As Mayor Mike Bloomberg pledges "everything we can" (if not cash) for Atlantic Yards, it's worth looking back at his weekly radio appearance with WABC’s John Gambling on 1/23/04, six weeks after the Atlantic Yards plan was announced, when he insisted that there wouldn't be any city spending on Atlantic Yards beyond infrastructure.

JG: The city will spend money on this?

MB: Well, we spend--if you build a new building, we have to fix the roads in front of the building. There’s always some expenses. Fundamentally, the answer to your question is: this will be done with private money, and any city monies of any meaningful size will be [corrected] debt issues financed by the extra tax revenues that come from this. So, we’re not going to have to divert money from education, or police or fire or any other part of the city to do this. No. It is private money in that sense.

As I wrote in January 2007, Bloomberg was apparently referring to tax increment financing (TIF) for the arena as well as the expected general increase in tax revenues. But that was before the city and state each agreed to put in $100 million in cash. And before the city agreed to devote large--though still unspecified--amounts of its allocation of housing bonds to support the residential buildings.

Contribution doubles

I wrote that a few days before we learned that the city had pledged another $105 million to the project. Since then, we learned that the additional $105 million goes to infrastructure, while the original $100 million will reimburse developer Forest City Ratner for "Arena Land," thus enabling what the developer portrayed as generous buyouts.

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