There are two curious aspects to the New York Times's report yesterday, in the context of an article on the Atlantic Yards eminent domain case, on the price tag for the AY arena.
First, the Times identified the cost of the arena at $800 million, later adding, regarding Bruce Ratner, that "[h]e has also said he wants to pare the projected $1 billion cost of the arena by about $200 million."
But the arena had previously been said to cost $950 million and, while rounding up to $1 billion may be convenient, $50 million isn't chump change. So I'm going to call the price tag $750 million until further notice.
More importantly, Times reporter Charles Bagli apparently didn't have to file a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request to get the cost estimate.
When I filed a FOIL request with the New York City Economic Development Corporation, it was rejected, and an appeal also was rejected, because it is either a trade secret or its disclosure "would cause substantial injury to the competitive position of the subject enterprise."
When I filed a similar FOIL request with the Empire State Development Corporation, it was rejected, and an appeal also was rejected.
So, how come the cost is not a trade secret any more? There's a public policy issue here. As I wrote, if the cost is now a secret, that suggests that developers and public agencies can announce one set of numbers to the public, then turn around and keep the actual numbers secret.