Monday, February 02, 2009

Daily News explains leap in arena costs based on security issue

In December, I questioned why the planned Atlantic Yards arena had jumped from $637.2 million to $950 million, wondering if the cost had been goosed to increase the amount of tax-exempt bonds, whether the whole project had increased drastically in cost, or whether the original figure in the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) documents was off.

After all, the rapid escalation of the cost of the arena significantly outpaced local inflation in construction costs.

Today, the Daily News has an answer: security.

(More from DDDB and NLG.)

Ballistic-resistant glass

The article, headlined Atlantic Yards arena security scare: Special glass alone would cost $625 per sq. foot, states:
Sources close to the project said the cost of reinforcing the arena's thick glass with a ballistic-resistant glaze shocked even [architect Frank] Gehry's own designers.

"The office was very surprised at how expensive the glass configurations actually were," said the source, who added the arena's price tag jumped from $637 million to $950 million because of the cost of protecting it from attack.

The Police Department, the New York State Office of Homeland Security and Forest City Ratner met to discuss security at the arena in early 2008, a Homeland Security spokeswoman confirmed.

Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco declined to discuss security matters at the project, but a source close to the developer said security and other matters have made the arena too expensive to build.

"Security is one component of the cost of the arena, but by no means the most significant," said the source. "There are a whole host of reasons why the current design is expensive, including the size, the signature look and the materials. It would be very difficult to fund this arena in this economic environment."


(Emphasis added)

Arena dead?

That doesn't mean the arena would be dead--after all, a less expensive arena could involve less glass. But it wouldn't be Gehry's design.

I've previously reported that a reduction in glass would diminish the security risk. But I hadn't tried to analyze the cost of security posed by the approved glass design.

PACB second look?

The revelation adds fuel to the request last June by Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn for the Public Authorities Control Board to take a second look at its approval of the project.

Maybe the ESDC should do so as well. After all, the project that both bodies approved did not have the right price tag.

2 comments:

  1. Despite all the oppposition to this project if it is allowed to proceed it will be immensely important for the sorely needed job creation in Brooklyn especially at this critically time of high unemplotment. Critics of this project should put an end to puerile opposition and help the unemployed in Brooklyn get jobs and ultimately become taxpayers again

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  2. Walter, don't you think that there are about 1,000 better ways to create jobs than with this ridiculous boondoggle? The arena will create some construction jobs, yes, but those are temporary, and with the economy hurting and many construction workers furloughed, the unions are going to give their guys work first. As far as permanent jobs go, the arena will hardly create any.

    As far as your characterization of opposition to the project, you're just flat wrong. This whole battle is not about keeping Brooklynites unemployed.

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