Skip to main content

The Kolben chronicles: more likely it was her reports for the Brooklyn Paper, not the Daily News, that alarmed Ratner

So, if the scoop in last night's IFC Media Project report on Atlantic Yards was that Forest City Ratner executives--according to an unnamed source, Bruce Ratner himself--got Daily News reporter Deborah Kolben kicked off the Atlantic Yards beat, what exactly were her transgressions?

The answer: likely none committed while writing for the Daily News.

A review of Kolben's Daily News work shows exactly two articles, both co-bylines, concerning Atlantic Yards. A 6/24/05 article was headlined HOMES UP FOR GRABS Ruling ramps up anxiety in city. A 7/6/05 article was headlined A VISION SOARS IN B'KLYN. Yeas, nays over plan for Nets.

While the former article was--like much other initial coverage--somewhat alarmist about the effects of the Supreme Court's Kelo v. New London decision, the latter was essentially balanced.

(Update: I'm told Kolben also contributed to the Daily News as a non-staff stringer, though those articles are not accessible via a database search. Here's one, and another.)

Was it the past work?

So, perhaps Forest City Ratner had gotten wind of tougher coverage in the works at the Daily News.

More likely, however, they were peeved by Kolben's record at the Brooklyn Paper, where she wrote skeptical articles like the 7/17/04 SILENT PARTNERS, about an attempt to find out who was buying the New Jersey Nets; the 7/3/04 RATNER’S MONEY PIT, a sympathetic account of a critical report on alleged tax benefits from Atlantic Yards; and the 6/26/04 Watchdog calls for arena ‘ULURP’, about the importance of putting the project through the city's land use review procedures.

Comments

  1. I've since found, through the Internet Archive, another article that surely antagonized the Ratner camp:
    https://web.archive.org/web/20061217135755/http://www.nydailynews.com/boroughs/story/303811p-260025c.html

    Ratner's generous to a fault
    And some wonder: Just buying support?
    BY DEBORAH KOLBEN
    DAILY NEWS WRITER
    Call him the Bill Gates of Brooklyn.
    As developer Bruce Ratner plows ahead with plans to build a controversial $2.5 billion arena and residential complex in Prospect Heights, he's also doling out checks to local groups.

    "That's what we are, a helping hand," Ratner said yesterday as he gave $50,000 to the Brooklyn Perinatal Network, which works to combat baby deaths in Fort Greene, the neighborhood with the highest infant mortality rate in the city.

    "I think it's a good thing, but I also note the difference between what they're doing and public relations; they're trying to get public support by any means necessary," said Clinton Miller, pastor of Brown Memorial Baptist Church in Fort Greene.

    "There's a difference between public relations and [Ratner] really wanting to have a sincere impact on the infant mortality rate," Miller said.

    Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco said the developer gives money to many Brooklyn institutions, including the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, the New York Aquarium in Coney Island and the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

    "Forest City Ratner [Ratner's development company] believes that it has an obligation to support important community programs," DePlasco said. "Are they committed to even more programs because of the Atlantic Yards development? Fortunately, yes."

    Ngozi Moses, director of Brooklyn Perinatal Network, said she reached out to Ratner in the hopes that he would donate to her organization, which has lost federal funding.

    Ratner "benefits from our community and needs to give back," said Moses, who is not taking a stand on the arena project proposed for neighboring Prospect Heights.

    Ratner also recently footed the bill for a children's basketball camp run by former Knicks star Bernard King, who was a consultant for the project until he was arrested on spousal abuse charges.

    Last month, Ratner opened a $1 million account with Carver Federal Savings Bank, the nation's largest African- and Caribbean-American bank.

    The bank has a branch in Ratner's new Atlantic Terminal Mall. The mall abuts the Atlantic Yards site, where Ratner envisions building an arena that would house the NBA's New Jersey Nets, which he recently purchased and wants to move to Brooklyn.

    The proposed Atlantic Yards project includes 17 office and residential towers and would require the state to condemn nearby private residences. Ratner also would have to purchase 10 acres of Metropolitan Transportation Authority-owned land.

    "I'm happy for Brooklyn Perinatal, but he certainly can do better," said City Councilwoman Letitia James (WFP-Fort Greene) of Ratner's $50,000 donation. "That's pocket change."

    Originally published on April 27, 2005

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

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…

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…

Is Barclays Center dumping the Islanders, or are they renegotiating? Evidence varies (bond doc, cash receipts); NHL attendance biggest variable

The Internet has been abuzz since Bloomberg's Scott Soshnick reported 1/30/17, using an overly conclusory headline, that Brooklyn’s Barclays Center Is Dumping the Islanders.

That would end an unusual arrangement in which the arena agrees to pay the team a fixed sum (minus certain expenses), in exchange for keeping tickets, suite, and sponsorship revenue.

The arena would earn more without the hockey team, according to Bloomberg, which cited “a financial projection shared with potential investors showed the Islanders won’t contribute any revenue after the 2018-19 season--a clear signal that the team won’t play there, the people said."

That "signal," however, is hardly definitive, as are the media leaks about a prospective new arena in Queens, as shown in the screenshot below from Newsday. Both sides are surely pushing for advantage, if not bluffing.

Consider: the arena and the Islanders can't even formally begin their opt-out talks until after this season. The disc…

Skanska says it "expected to assemble a properly designed modular building, not engage in an iterative R&D experiment"

On 12/10/16, I noted that FastCo.Design's Prefab's Moment of Reckoning article dialed back the gush on the 461 Dean modular tower compared to the publication's previous coverage.

Still, I noted that the article relied on developer Forest City Ratner and architect SHoP to put the best possible spin on what was clearly a failure. From the article: At the project's outset, it took the factory (managed by Skanska at the time) two to three weeks to build a module. By the end, under FCRC's management, the builders cut that down to six days. "The project took a little longer than expected and cost a little bit more than expected because we started the project with the wrong contractor," [Forest City's Adam] Greene says.Skanska jabs back
Well, Forest City's estranged partner Skanska later weighed in--not sure whether they weren't asked or just missed a deadline--and their article was updated 12/13/16. Here's Skanska's statement, which shows th…

Not just logistics: bypassing Brooklyn for DNC 2016 also saved on optics (role of Russian oligarch, Shanghai government)

Surely the logistical challenges of holding a national presidential nominating convention in Brooklyn were the main (and stated) reasons for the Democratic National Committee's choice of Philadelphia.

And, as I wrote in NY Slant, the huge security cordon in Philadelphia would have been impossible in Brooklyn.

But consider also the optics. As I wrote in my 1/21/15 op-ed in the Times arguing that the choice of Brooklyn was a bad idea:
The arena also raises ethically sticky questions for the Democrats. While the Barclays Center is owned primarily by Forest City Ratner, 45 percent of it is owned by the Russian billionaire Mikhail D. Prokhorov (who also owns 80 percent of the Brooklyn Nets). Mr. Prokhorov has a necessarily cordial relationship with Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin — though he has been critical of Mr. Putin in the past, last year, at the Russian president’s request, he tried to transfer ownership of the Nets to one of his Moscow-based companies. An oligarch-owned a…