Does it actually affirm those public benefits? The decision used vague locution from the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC):
The project is anticipated to create between 5,325 and 6,430 housing units, of which 2,250 are expected to be affordable for low- and middle-income families.
The project itself can't create anything. Someone has to put up the money and, guess what, the housing market isn't great and housing bonds are scarce.
The court stated:
The project also serves the additional public purposes of creating an arena, publicly accessible open space, affordable housing, improvements to public transit, and new job opportunities... The petitioners' argument that some of these public benefits may never actually be realized is conclusory and speculative.
Isn't it equally speculative to assert that some of the public benefits will in fact be realized?
The court said:
In contrast, while the petitioners in the instant proceeding question the true motivations of the public officials involved in the development of this project, they have offered no evidence that the public benefits which the project will allegedly promote or achieve are illusory, or that equivalent or greater public benefits would accrue absent the condemnation.
Well, there's evidence and there's argument. There was no opportunity in the court proceeding to have a duel of experts, as in eminent domain battles elsewhere. But no cost-benefit analysis was ever attempted by the state, which announced benefits without assessing costs.
Forest City Ratner issued a statement quoting Bruce Ratner, “This significant victory keeps Atlantic Yards moving forward. It means that more affordable housing, jobs, the Nets and other sports and entertainment are that much closer to being a reality in Brooklyn.”
Ratner added, "The world has changed significantly since we announced this project in December 2003. But one thing has never changed -- Forest City’s commitment to bringing the Nets to Brooklyn and building an arena and residential community that will make the people of Brooklyn and the entire City proud.”
Also in the press release was this statement, "FCRC expects to start at least one residential building during the first phase of construction."
Well, one building does not make a residential community. Nor would it "create" much affordable housing.
You'd think that ACORN, which put its political muscle behind the project in exchange for a pledge to construct 2250 subsidized apartments, might protest the fact that those units likely would take "decades" (to quote ESDC CEO Marisa Lago) to emerge, rather than the ten-year span promised when the project was approved in December 2006.
But, when ACORN signed the MOU in May 2005, it was contractually obligated to support the project.
Since then, ACORN has become much more indebted to Forest City Ratner. When the organization, in the wake of an embezzlement scandal, faced mounting debts and a decline in donations, the developer stepped in last August and bailed out ACORN with a $1 million loan and grants totaling $500,000.
For Forest City Ratner, it looks like a very good investment.
(Click to enlarge)