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Confidential but not at all correct: the latest AY footprint ownership map

Two years after the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) produced a deceptive map regarding the ownership and control of property within the Atlantic Yards footprint, developer Forest City Ratner (I believe) has produced an updated version of the map that maintains the deceptions and adds some more.

Most notably, the developer's foothold has actually grown more tenuous, since FCR two years ago claimed it owned or controlled 90 percent of the land needed for the project, but the map now claims 86 percent, based spuriously on "recent acquisitions."

It also omits the public streets that would be demapped for the project.

The new map

The following map, dated August 2008 and titled Brooklyn Arena and Atlantic Yards Block and Lot Map, was passed on by a reader. While I can't be certain of its provenance, the statement "All information is to the best of FCRC's knowledge" strongly suggests that the document was provided by the developer, or at least based on information it provided.

I'm not sure why the map's producers claim it's "Privileged & Strictly Confidential," given that it reproduces (though incorrectly) public information. Update: My understanding is that the percentage is of the properties needed, not the square footage.
(Click to enlarge.)


Recent acquisitions?

"With recent acquisitions included, [Forest City Ratner] now owns or controls 86 percent of the land needed for Atlantic Yards," according to the official AY FAQ. The term "recent acquisitions" suggests forward momentum rather than, more accurately, some slippage.

And both of those totals are questionable, since they include properties in which tenants holding leases remain in court. The city and state backed up that incorrect total in a letter earlier this year to federal regulators, in an effort to get tax-exempt bonds for the arena grandfathered in under more lenient rules. (It was successful.)

Indeed, I wrote in August 2006 how FCR's ownership did not mean control, given pending litigation.

Both maps could use asterixes for properties that may be owned by the developer but not fully under its control. For example, on Block 1127 in the southwest segment of the project, residential tenants remain in three buildings owned by the developer (Lots 21, 50, 46); those tenants are all plaintiffs in pending lawsuits.

Forest City Ratner seeks eminent domain (via "friendly condemnations") to extinguish rent-stabilized leases rather than go through the slower process overseen by the New York State Division of Housing & Community Renewal.

Also, Freddy's Bar & Backroom, at the southeast corner of the block (Lot 43), is in property owned by the developer, but the bar has a long-term lease and is a plaintiff in the pending eminent domain suit.

The earlier map

For comparison, here's the property ownership map from the 2006 General Project Plan produced by the Empire State Development Corporation.

Compare and contrast

Both maps indicate property owned or controlled by the developer, and owned by the MTA or the City.

Note that the earlier map acknowledges in orange that city streets (Pacific Street and Fifth Avenue) would be taken for the project and demapped for superblocks, but the more recent map does not.

Check out the asterixes. Three properties at the southeast corner of Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues have double asterixes, indicating a legal dispute.

As I wrote two years ago, "control" could be quite tenuous. At the time the earlier map was prepared, the purple color indicated that the developer "controlled" the site, but the asterixes noted that the owner of the property had objected to FCR's lease. In March 2007, a state judge ruled in favor of property owner Henry Weinstein. Developer Shaya Boymelgreen, who had transferred his lease to FCR, is appealing the decision.

In retrospect, the earlier map should have shown those properties in a neutral color, indicating a dispute, rather than defaulting to indicate--albeit with an asterix--that they were controlled by the developer.

Also note that the property at Block 1120, Lot 35 is described on both maps as controlled by the developer because it holds a ground lease. Given the experience with the Weinstein properties, maybe a more neutral color is appropriate.

Maybe it's time for a more accurate map.

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