Skip to main content

ESDC says it was wrong, AY could be "shovel-ready" for stimulus money; FCR nixes proposals by BrooklynSpeaks

The Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) says it was wrong in comments last week to the Courier-Life chain that Atlantic Yards wasn't "shovel-ready" and thus ineligible for federal stimulus money.

Also, in a letter (PDF) to Assemblyman Jim Brennan, Forest City Ratner Executive VP MaryAnne Gilmartin said no to the requests made by BrooklynSpeaks (and endorsed by him), essentially because they wouldn't be practical as the construction--as she assumes--begins in "mid-2009."

(It's not implausible that lawsuits could be cleared by the middle of the year. Some construction might begin. Other lawsuits are expected to be filed, though it's unclear whether they would stall work.)

ESDC backs off

The news came first in an article by the Courier-Life chain's Stephen Witt, who writes:
Separately, ESDC Communications director Warner Johnston backtracked on the agency’s comments made last week to this paper that the project would not be eligible for federal stimulus money because it wasn’t “shovel ready.”

“I am afraid that my office put out some inaccurate information regarding Atlantic Yards and whether it was shovel-ready. I take full responsibility and apologize,” Johnston wrote in an email.

“As we have stated in the past, the temporary suspension of work at Atlantic Yards is due to pending litigation. Once it has been resolved, work will continue. Stating that this site is not “shovel-ready” was inaccurate,” he added.

Johnston directed any further questions regarding federal monies to FCRC, which refused to comment.


The implication is that Atlantic Yards is in the mix for some sort of stimulus funds--likely to build the railyard that Forest City doesn't want to pay for.

Response to Brennan

Gilmartin, asked to stop further street closures, wrote that the developer "does not anticipate any street closures in the immediate future. When construction of the arena begins street closures will be required." (She doesn't say which streets, but Fifth Avenue between Pacific Street and Atlantic Avenue would be demapped, as would be Pacific Street from Fifth Avenue to Sixth Avenue.)

(BrooklynSpeaks sent its letter to Gov. David Paterson, who has not responded, as far as I know. Brennan wrote to FCR and ESDC.)

As for reopening the Carlton Avenue Bridge, Gilmartin wrote that its "demolition and reconstruction... is being coordinated with the construction of the new LIRR yard. Re-opening it is not practical or feasible, given the coordination issues, expense, and the fact that it will be put out of service again as soon as construction starts, which we expect to occur in mid-2009.”

As for the request to create interim open space on demolished sites, Gilmartin deemed it not practical “because we expect the land will be necessary to accommodate construction logistics and to meet other environmental commitments before the end of 2009.”

Construction schedule

So, how long would the project take? Gilmartin stuck to the ten-year schedule, with a big asterix.

“As you are aware, the project has been delayed by litigation," she wrote. "FCRC fully intends to build out the project in approximately ten years consistent with the schedule set forth in EIS [environmental impact statement] subject to financing and market conditions (albeit with a delayed start). Any official updates to the construction schedule will be made available to the public as soon as they are available."
(Emphasis added)

In other words, as Chuck Ratner of parent Forest City Enterprises has said, "we are terrible" at predicting when projects "go from idea to reality."

Comments

  1. While the ESDC and Forest City Ratner have repeatedly claimed that "the temporary suspension of work at Atlantic Yards is due to pending litigation," that is flatly untrue.

    The lawsuits hold no sway over work -- or the absence of it -- on the railyard portion of the project site. The demolition of the Carlton Avenue Bridge (which now rests half-deconstructed), for instance, could continue right now. That work is not encumbered in any way by any lawsuit.

    Why work has been suspended, and why the ESDC and FCRC feel a need to lie about it, is a mystery. Could it be because financially strapped Forest City doesn't have the money to proceed?

    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…

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…

Former ESDC CEO Lago returns to NYC to head City Planning Commission

Carl Weisbrod, Mayor Bill de Blasio's City Planning Commission Chairman and Director of the Department of City Planning, is resigning,

And he's being replaced by Marisa Lago, currently a federal official, but who Atlantic Yards-ologists remember as the short-term Empire State Development Corporation CEO who, in an impolitic but candid 2009 statement, acknowledged that the project would take "decades."

Still, Lago not long after that played the good soldier at a May 2009 Senate oversight hearing, justifying changes in the project but claiming the public benefits remained the same.

By returning to City Planning, Lago will join former ESDC General Counsel Anita Laremont, who after retiring from the state (and taking a pension) got the job with the city.

Back at planning

Lago, a lawyer, in 1983 began work as an aide to City Planning Chairman Herb Sturz, and later served as the General Counsel to the president of the NYC Economic Development Corporation, Weisbrod himself.