Monday, March 16, 2009

Despite Atlantic Yards slowdown, Forest City Ratner spent $928,652 in 2008 on city/state lobbying

Though the Atlantic Yards project was significantly stalled during 2008, developer Forest City Ratner spent $928,652 on city and state lobbying. At least 80% of the spending involved Atlantic Yards.

The total represents only a 20% decline from the 2007 total of $1,160,186. That total ranked the developer eighth in the state and second (to Columbia University) among real estate projects, according to a 4/9/08 report from the New York State Commission on Public Integrity

The 2008 rankings have not yet been released, but Forest City Ratner likely will be near or in the top ten.

(At right, the lobbying expenditures from January-June 2008 by the Atlantic Yards Development Group. Below are the details from July-December 2008. Click on graphics to enlarge.)

Arena site valuation at issue?

While the subjects of the lobby effort are described in broad terms (e.g., "budget regulatory and legislative issues"), they also offer some tantalizing hints. Forest City Ratner is apparently trying to ensure it receives credits for brownfield cleanup. 

It is in talks with the city and Metropolitan Transportation Authority--remember, the New York Observer reported that FCR is trying to delay paying the MTA the $100 million in cash pledged, and has sought a speedier delivery of the city's pledged $100 million.

And, perhaps most importantly regarding the issuance of bonds for the planned Brooklyn arena, Forest City Ratner is lobbying the New York City Department of Finance (DOF). Remember, the arena site would be tax-exempt, but PILOTs (payments in lieu of taxes) would be used to repay the arena bonds. However, the PILOTs cannot be larger than the foregone taxes, and the arena site valuation must be high enough to ensure that the foregone taxes are significant.

In order to value the Yankee Stadium site, the DOF looked well beyond the South Bronx for comps (comparable properties), even to a vacant lot in Alphabet City, more than seven miles away.

Largest contract goes to Fried Frank

In 2007, Forest City Ratner had the second largest lobbying contract. with the law firm Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson, valued at $771,170. According to 2008 lobby data from the commission, the developer last year paid Fried Frank $364,874.

In 2006, the year during which the City Planning Commission considered AY for an advisory vote, the three affected Community Boards weighed in, and the Empire State Development Corporation and Public Authorities Control Board approved the project, Forest City Ratner spent $2,105,141 on lobbying.

AY and beyond

According to 2008 data, Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards Development Group spent $746,201.

Forest City Ratner spent $105,035 on lobbying firms and $17,416 on in-house lobbyists, on a variety of projects. The Forest City Residential group spent $60,000 on lobbyists regarding projects in Westchester.

List of lobbyists for AY Development Group

NYC Metro area: Geto & DeMilly; Locicero & Tan; Richard Lipsky Associates; and The Carey Group.

Albany: Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein; Patricia Lynch Associates (run by a former top aide to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver); and Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker.

Details of AY lobbying

State lobby data offers these details regarding lobbying by the Atlantic Yards Development Group:

Subject Lobbied

DETERMINATION OF BOARD OR COMMISSION, LAND USE IN CONNECTION WITH THE PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT OFTHE ATLANTIC YARDS PROJECT IN BROOKLYN, ATLANTIC YARDS AND NEW JERSEY NETS, 421-A TAX ,ICIP, EMINENT DOMAIN, BUDGET REGULATORY AND LEGISLATIVE ISSUES PERTAINING TO REAL ESTATE, CONSTRUCTION AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT; ACQUISITION OF ATLANTIC YARDS AND CITY PROPERTY RELATED TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF ATLANTIC YARDS BROOKLYN,NY; NYC COUNCIL, NYS ASSEMBLY AND SENATE; ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT; BROWNFIELD CLEANUP

Person, State Agency, Municipality, or Legislative Body Expect to Lobby

MTA, EMPIRE STATE DEV. CORP., NYC DEPT. OF FINANCE, MEMBERS OF BROOKLYN COMMUNITY BOARDS #2,#6,#8, NYC COUNCIL, NYS ASSEMBLY AND SENATE, ADMINISTRATIVE, EXECUTIVE AND LEGISLATIVE BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT, ASSEMBLY, SENATE, EXECUTIVE, NYS & NYC EXECUTIVE & LEGISLATIVE BRANCHES; NYC LAW DEPARTMENT

Bill, Rule, Regulation or Rate Number Expect to Lobby

A9167 S6125 A9304 S6386 S6446 A9373 A9805 S6805 A9809 S6809 A660 A661A A1264 A1265 A1268 A1436 A2168 A2198 A2690 A3159 A5653 A7122 A7144 A7145 A7430 A7489 A7744A A7745B A8674 A9196B A9268 A9274A A9373A A9510A A9676 A10073A A11394 A11395 A11396 A11585 A11586 A11692 S79 S94 S96 S282 S683 S686 S688 S915A S2302 S2418 S2822 S5410A S5422B S5828 S6025 S6255B S6333 S6366A S6446A S6794 S6933 S8250 S8353 S8434 S8461 A9800-A9810 S6800-S6810 A11741A A11742 A11755 A11768 S8672, S8705, S8717

6 comments:

  1. Where is Senator Pothole D'Amato hidden in this Lobbyist List? How much has he been paid to make The One $500,000 Super Macher Phone Call this time?
    Patti Hagan

    ReplyDelete
  2. D'Amato has been lobbying the federal government. The database referred to in this article covers only city and state lobbying.

    ReplyDelete
  3. BUT -- the Fed-Stim buck$ are being funneled through NY State. Seems to me, therefore, that Sen. Pothole is going after the Fed Funds by lobbying the State. So, for doing this special kind of omni-lobbying, shouldn't he have to list with State lobbyists, too.
    Patti Hagan

    ReplyDelete
  4. D'Amato's firm, Park Strategies, is listed in the database, but neither Forest City Ratner nor the Atlantic Yards Development Group is listed as a client.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Fried Frank, interestingly, worked for the Yankees during their stadium push as well. I don't have records handy of whether it was on the land valuation issue.

    ReplyDelete
  6. March 20th Pres. Obama announced new transparency rules re. Fed-Stim $pending.(NYPost 3/21/09)
    "Obama said all requests to lobby his administration will be posted on the Internet along with written explanations for how the lobbyists propose spending the money.
    Details of meetings between administration officials and all lobbyists will be recorded and made public."
    Sounds as if NOW we get to see D'Amato in High-Powered Ratner-Lobbying Action! -- Patti Hagan

    ReplyDelete