Tuesday, May 12, 2009

State Senator Perkins sets oversight hearing on Atlantic Yards for May 29

After one postponement and some questions as to timing, the oversight hearing regarding Atlantic Yards has been scheduled by the Senate Standing Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions, chaired by Senator Bill Perkins, for the afternoon of Friday May 29.

I've posted several questions/issues I think the hearing should address, and will be posting more.

Among the issues to be covered in all of four hours: the current status of the project; the public cost; the process behind and impact of eminent domain; the cost of the arena and impact of default; and conditions under which a developer is considered in default.

(Scroll to bottom for information on submitting testimony)

Looking at the timetable

Note that the announcement states that the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) gave Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC or FCR) 10 years to develop the project but the developer has not begun construction almost three years after gaining approvals.

Well, given that approvals from the ESDC and Public Authorities Control Board (PACB) came in December 2006, the time lapse is about 2.5 years.

More importantly, the timetable, according to the State Funding Agreement, hasn't even started. It gives FCR six years to build the arena after the close of litigation and the ESDC's exercise of eminent domain to acquire needed properties. It gives FCR 12 years to build the five towers of Phase I after the close of litigation and the ESDC's exercise of eminent domain to acquire needed properties. And there's no timetable for the eleven towers of Phase II.

Official announcement

The announcement, via NLG:

SENATE STANDING COMMITTEE ON Corporations, Authorities and Commissions, Senator Bill Perkins, Chair

Subject
Atlantic Yards: Where are we now; How did we get here; Where is the Project going?
Testimony by invitation only. Written submissions welcome!

Purpose:
To elicit recommendations for improved accountability, and transparency, land use planning, and community participation for large scale development.

Friday, May 29
1PM - 5 PM
Pratt Institute, Higgins Hall
61 St. James Place (corner Lafayette Ave.)
Brooklyn, NY 11238

Description
The Atlantic Yards Arena and Redevelopment Plan (AY Plan) was announced by the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), a public authority, in 2003. The plan includes a 19,000 seat Arena and 16 high rises which are to be built during a ten year time period. The 22 acre site adjoins the neighborhoods of Fort Greene, Prospect Heights, Parks Slope and Boerum Hill in Brooklyn. It includes an 8 acre site owned by the MTA, and other properties owned by the City and private property owners. The Plan received all of its approvals in December 2006. The approval includes an override of the local zoning laws; an override of a more strict NYC Environmental Review; and approved taking properties by Eminent Domain.

The ESDC designated Forest City Ratner Corporation (FCRC) as the sole developer. New York State and New York City have committed to subsidize the Project through issuing bonding debts, infrastructure improvements, and other subsidies.

The Committee will hear testimony regarding financing, project oversight and the role of the Empire State Development Corporation, a public authority, in the Atlantic Yards Arena and Redevelopment Plan (AY Plan).

The Committee will hear testimony to ascertain:

(1) The status of the Brooklyn Atlantic Yards Arena and Redevelopment Plan (AY Plan).

After approval of the project in 2006 FCRC has been quoted in various media as having delayed the opening date of the arena, changed the number of affordable units and the scale of the project. What is the plan now?

(2) Cost, the extent of public financing commitments through bonding, Payments In Lieu of Taxes (PILOTS), infra-structure improvements, and other public subsidies.

· What is the total public expenditure and cost of subsidies through infrastructure improvements, tax breaks, abatements, undervalued land, Brownfield tax credits, green construction tax credits, and reimbursements for land acquisition? · FCRC has applied for bonding to build affordable housing. Where has the developer applied for bonding, for how much and what is the per unit subsidy? · What amount has been set for the non arena PILOTS, and what is the formula for reimbursement for city services?

(3) The process for use and the impact of eminent domain.

(4) The cost of the arena

· How much will the arena bond issue be and the PILOT to pay off the bonds? · If there is a default on the arena bond who will be responsible to pay off the debt?

(5) Conditions under which a developer is considered in default.

· The ESDC gave FCRC 10 years to develop the project. FCRC has not yet begun construction almost three years after gaining approvals. The ESDC has given the developer extensions. At what point will the ESDC say “Enough is enough,” no more extensions because of the lack of activity. · Where is the point at which the ESDC will consider FCRC in default vis a vis the Memorandum of Understanding between the City, State and FCRC? And, if and when FCRC is declared in default does the ESDC agree that FCRC loses all rights to transfer, and/or sell any aspect of the project to another developer or entity.

Persons wishing to present testimony at the hearing should complete and return the attached reply form by Wednesday, May 20. You may reply by email, regular mail, or fax. It is important that the reply form be fully completed and returned so that persons may be notified in the event of postponement or cancelation of the hearing.

Testimony at the hearing is by Committee invitation only. However, written comments will be accepted by all who wish to submit comments.

The Public is encouraged to attend the hearing.

Witnesses are asked to keep oral testimony to no more than ten minutes. Written testimony will also be accepted and may be sent to the contact person listed on the reply form. In preparing the order of witnesses, the Committees will attempt to accommodate individual requests to speak at particular times in view of special circumstances. If you are testifying, please submit ten copies of any prepared testimony at the hearing registration desk. In order to further publicize the hearing, please inform interested parties of the Committee’s interest in receiving written testimony from all sources.

In order to meet the needs of those who may have a disability, the New York State Senate and Assembly have made their facilities and services available to all individuals with disabilities. Accommodation will be provided to individuals with disabilities upon reasonable request, to afford such individuals access and admission to Senate and Assembly facilities and activities.

Addendum: Reply Form

PUBLIC HEARING REPLY FORM

Persons wishing to present testimony at the Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions public hearing on May 29, 2009 regarding the status and progress of the Atlantic Yards Arena and Redevelopment project are requested to complete this reply form and return by email, regular mail, or fax.

To Reply by e-mail
1. Click on your email program's Reply button.
2. You can then complete the form on your computer. (The correct email addresses should already be in the Reply form It should be addressed to dannyserranoesq@gmail.com.)
3. Click on Send.
To reply by regular mail or fax
You can print out this email message or print out the attachments. Complete the form and send using the information below.

Daniel Serrano, Esq.
Director of Public Policy
Office of Senator Bill Perkins, Chair Corporations, Authorities and Commissions Committee
New York State Senate
163 West 125th Street
New York, NY 10027
Phone: 212-222-7315, Fax: 212-678-0001

I would like to testify at the hearing on May 29, 2009.

I plan to attend, but will not testify at the hearing on May 29, 2009.

I plan to submit written testimony, only, at the hearing on May 29, 2009.

I will require assistance and/or handicapped accessibility information.

Please indicate the type of assistance required (enter response in box below):

NAME:
TITLE:
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1 comment:

  1. I couldn't find the "attached reply form" that must be filled out for those wishing to present testimony. I didn't find anything, not even the press release, on a search of the Senate's site.

    Do you know where to find this reply form?

    ReplyDelete