Skip to main content

Latest from FCR's foundation: $100K+ to Markowitz series, BAM, Brooklyn Museum, Polytechnic (+ $1M for WTC memorial)

There's some new money for Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, but the most dramatic thing about the latest Internal Revenue Service filing from the Forest City Ratner Companies Foundation--which last April I called shadowy because of its lack of transparency--is that the total dispensed during tax year 2007, $1.89 million, exceeds the aggregate given out during the three previous years.

That's a bit misleading, however, given that the single largest gift by far, $1 million, was given to the World Trade Center Memorial, a fundraising effort led by Mayor Mike Bloomberg. The mayor has been a staunch supporter of Atlantic Yards, quietly adding $105 million to the city's initial $100 million cash pledge.

The New York Times reported 4/9/08 that Forest City Ratner's foundation has given $5 million to the $350 million raised for the memorial; the filing I examined covers the fiscal year through 1/31/08. Given that no previous FCR foundation gifts have been reported to the IRS, the additional $4 million apparently was (or was to be) delivered after the latest filing deadline.

How it works

The foundation, as I wrote, has a vague, almost tautological mission: "for the charitable purpose of stimulating and encouraging charitable contributions and activities as well as directing and concentrating FCRC's own charitable activities."

Corporate generosity, in this case, serves to bolster ties with charitable and nonprofit organizations in Brooklyn that, not coincidentally, can reciprocate support for FCR endeavors. For some other charities, such as Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital, the motivation may be simpler; Bruce Ratner's on the board.

The foundation's activities are often under the radar. Its officers, as I described, are FCR executives and employees; there's no web site for grant-seekers to use, nor listed criteria for grants, nor publicly announced call for contributions. The phone number is the FCR switchboard. Nor is the list of donees described in as much detail (address, purpose) as in the IRS reports from other foundations.

Money for Marty

Also new on this year's list is $100,000 for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Concert Series sponsored by Markowitz.

The web site for the concert series thanks Barclays and Forest City Ratner Companies/Nets among the sponsors, but does not single out the company's foundation.

The New York Post in October pointed out that the two concert series, as well as Markowitz's Best of Brooklyn charity, have since 2003 "raked in between $680,000 and $1,00,075 from various Ratner-affiliated companies and allies."

(Presumably that number is $1,000,075 and that the foundation is just one among the entities.)

$110,000 for the Brooklyn Museum

The foundation continued its support for the Brooklyn Museum with a gift of $110,000, for a total of at least $310,000 over the past three years. The museum honored Bruce Ratner in June, after that most recent gift. (Could the additional $10,000 have helped pay for the event?)

$125,000 for BAM, $200,000 for BAM LDC

In the three previous years, the foundation had given $100,000, $100,000, and $107,035 to the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). Bruce Ratner has been a BAM Trustee since 1989 and chaired its board from 1992 until 2001. BAM has unequivocally supported the Atlantic Yards project.

This year the gift was $125,000.

Beyond that, for the first time, the foundation gave a donation to the BAM Local Development Corporation (LDC): $200,000.

The BAM LDC is part of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership (DBP), aiming to promote a mixed-use arts district in the area around BAM. Forest City Ratner executive MaryAnne Gilmartin, the developer's point person on Atlantic Yards (and other projects), is on the DBP board.

$100,000 for Polytechnic

In the three previous years, donations to Polytechnic University, Forest City Ratner's neighbor and partner in building MetroTech, totaled $60,000 ($50,000 + $10,000 + 0). In the most recent filing period, the donation was $100,000.

That came before Polytechnic's controversial agreement to become consolidated into New York University. Forest City Ratner has signed a letter of intent regarding development of Polytechnic's air rights.

Other gifts

Other major donations by the foundation during the 2007 tax year included $50,000 to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital (on whose board Bruce Ratner sits), $90,000 to the Brooklyn Children's Museum, and $55,000 to the City Parks Foundation (on whose board Ratner is Honorary Chair).

The FCRC Foundation also gave $6600 to the Futures in Education Foundation, which supports Catholic education; Ratner's on that board, as well.


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…

Barclays Center event June 11 to protest plans to expand Israeli draft; questions about logistics

At right is a photo of a poster spotted in Hasidic Williamsburg right. Clearly there's an event scheduled at the Barclays Center aimed at the Haredi Jewish community (strict Orthodox Jews who reject secular culture), but the lack of English text makes it cryptic.

The website explains, Protest Against Israeli Draft of Bnei Yeshiva Rescheduled for Barclays Center:
A large asifa to protest the drafting of bnei yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel into the Israeli army that had been set to take place this month will instead be held on Sunday, 17 Sivan/June 11, at the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn, NY. So attendees at a big gathering will protest an apparent change of policy that will make it much more difficult for traditional Orthodox Jewish students--both Hasidic (who follow a rebbe) and non-Hasidic (who don't)--to get deferments from the draft. Comments on the Yeshiva World website explain some of the debate.

The logistical questions

What's unclear is how large the ev…

Atlanta's Atlantic Yards moves ahead

First mentioned in April, the Atlantic Yards project in Atlanta is moving ahead--and has the potential to nudge Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn further down in Google searches.

According to a 5/30/17 press release, Hines and Invesco Real Estate Announce T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards:
Hines, the international real estate firm, and Invesco Real Estate, a global real estate investment manager, today announced a joint venture on behalf of one of Invesco Real Estate’s institutional clients to develop two progressive office projects in Atlanta totalling 700,000 square feet. T3 West Midtown will be a 200,000-square-foot heavy timber office development and Atlantic Yards will consist of 500,000 square feet of progressive office space in two buildings. Both projects are located on sites within Atlantic Station in the flourishing Midtown submarket.
Hines will work with Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture (HPA) as the design architect for both T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards. DLR Group will be t…

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…