Skip to main content

Schumer touts stimulus funds for Moynihan Station, waves off question on Atlantic Yards

For New York, the big stimulus news of the day yesterday was Senator Chuck Schumer's plan to seek $100 million in federal funds to jump-start the Moynihan Station project, as the New York Times reported.

And Schumer followed up on his Moynihan Station vision at a breakfast speech sponsored by Crain's New York Business. That got a headline in Crain's, which additionally reported that Schumer's call for new, smarter regulation on financial transactions represents an about-face from his position two years ago.

But I wanted to ask him about Atlantic Yards, given that, a little more than two weeks ago, Schumer expressed quizzical ignorance regarding whether AY would be eligible for stimulus funds.

Waiting for Schumer

After Schumer's speech, and the 25-minute Q&A, the Senator stuck around the stage at the Hilton in midtown and greeted well-wishers and supplicants, among them the developers of the New Domino project in Williamsburg, who wanted him to know they needed help on the affordable housing component. (If Forest City Ratner wants to talk to Schumer, they can pick up the phone, right?)

He also took a few questions from reporters, answering in some detail.

When I finally got to him, he was less expansive. I told him I wrote a blog about Atlantic Yards and prefaced my question by stating that "Marty wants to use federal stimulus money for the railyards."

"Marty who?" asked Schumer, his mind apparently not on parochial borough politics.

"Marty Markowitz," I replied.

"I don't know," Schumer said dismissively, the statement responding (I think) to the propriety of the question rather than the policy issue. "I'm not--"

An aide interjected, saying it was time to go. And that was it.

What to make of it?

I don't think that means Schumer necessarily opposes stimulus funds for Atlantic Yards, but he clearly hasn't made it a priority. And it's not clear that the project would be shovel-ready, at least under the "transparent, immediate, and effective" dictum proposed by Governor David Paterson.

So, until other priorities like Moynihan Station fall by the wayside, there's no reason to go to bat for Atlantic Yards.

Still, it's notable that Atlantic Yards does not really compare to Moynihan Station, about which he declared, "Because it's just exactly what the stimulus ordered, which is important, long-lasting transportation projects that can be shovel-ready."

"In other words, there's a tension; the ones that are most shovel ready are sort of superficial: repaving a road," he explained. "And the ones that are deep don't often meet the criteria of being shovel-ready in 180 days. Parts of Moynihan Station meet both.'

Contrast with Queens West

"We've got to continue to develop more affordable housing and let neighborhoods evolve... We don't want neighborhoods to lose their character, but we don't want to be stuck in the past."

"Queens West is a great idea," he said. "More middle-class housing so that, as more young people get married and have families, they can stay here."

Note that Queens West, once announced as a project with some 5000 apartments affordable to to middle-income households, was last heard as having 40% market-rate units. That would all be on public land, with advocates calling for an open bid process.

While Queens West is controversial, it's a lot less controversial than Atlantic Yards, which is probably one reason why Schumer didn't mention it.

Also, while Queens West would not include low-income housing (900 such units were announced for Atlantic Yards, though hardly guaranteed), it would be 60% affordable, while AY would be 35% affordable, as announced (2250/6430 units)

Changing role of the private sector

Regarding Moynihan Station, the vision has changed from developers with office tower plans driving the project to a process led by government. "You can't wait for the private sector on this; you just can't," Schumer said yesterday. "It's not that they wouldn't do a good job--they wouldn't get the financing."

Crain's noted that, while Schumer said the developers should be pushed to “move as quickly as possible on the private development portion of the project,” he didn't detail how that could be done.

WNYC reported: But the president of the joint venture, Vishaan Chakrabarti, says the developers now want a smaller role, to act more or less as general contractors that public agencies would hire to renovate the Farley building.

In other words, it no longer seems wise for public agencies to expect private developers, as with Atlantic Yards, to produce public infrastructure as the byproduct of their projects. After all, as developer Forest City Enterprises has declared re AY, "We control the pace."

Comments

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…

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…

So, Forest City has some property subject to the future Gowanus rezoning

Writing yesterday, MAP: Who Owns All the Property Along the Gowanus Canal, DNAinfo's Leslie Albrecht lays out the positioning of various real estate players along the Gowanus Canal, a Superfund site:
As the city considers whether to rezone Gowanus and, perhaps, morph the gritty low-rise industrial area into a hot new neighborhood of residential towers (albeit at a fraction of the height of Manhattan's supertall buildings), DNAinfo reviewed property records along the canal to find out who stands to benefit most from the changes.
Investors have poured at least $440 million into buying land on the polluted waterway and more than a third of the properties have changed hands in the past decade, according to an examination of records for the nearly 130 properties along the 1.8-mile canal. While the single largest landowner is developer Property Markets Group, other landowners include Kushner Companies, Alloy Development, Two Trees, and Forest City New York.

Forest City's plans unc…

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…