Saturday, June 27, 2009

Daily News disses straphangers, endorses Ratner bailout

The Atlantic Yards-loving Daily News editorial board, in an editorial headlined Build, Bruce, build: Developer Ratner presses ahead on Atlantic Yards, ignores the economic impact on straphangers in its uncritical endorsement of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's (MTA) bailout of Forest City Ratner, as well as the MTA board's unwillingness to negotiate from a position of strength.

(See my coverage, with video of that MTA board.)

The newspaper editorializes:
Bully to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for making a deal that keeps the Atlantic Yards development alive in Brooklyn. And bully to builder Bruce Ratner for hanging in there to get the project done.

It doesn't keep the development alive. It keeps the arena (and one building) alive. Ratner, who was willing to pause construction on the Beekman Tower in Lower Manhattan to renegotiate more favorable terms with unions, was not so much "hanging in there" but gaining the benefit of an agency run by a governor and mayor unwilling to challenge him.

The editorial continues:
After five years, the defeat of 23 lawsuits and an economic meltdown, he is pushing to start the $4 billion development's first component: an 18,000-seat arena, home to the Nets and a major entertainment venue.

Or, alternatively, he's desperate to start before the December 31 deadline for tax-exempt bonds. (See DDDB's dissection of the facts here: there have been six lawsuits, and the project would cost $4.9 billion.)

The editorial continues:
The plan then envisions construction of 6,400 apartments (35% of them deemed affordable), a school and a health care center, amid 8 acres of open space. This good stuff would be located primarily on land that has been vacant for decades, including a Long Island Rail Road yard.

"Primarily" is a weasel word. The railyard has always been used as a railyard--and still would be used as such. Only recently did the rise in property value make it feasible to deck over railyards. As for the rest of the properties, most haven't been vacant for decades. Some have been vacant only since Forest City Ratner bought them and razed them.

The school would be built by the School Construction Authority. 

The editorial continues:
But financing is not as available as it was a few years ago. The MTA board wisely voted to let Ratner pay $100 million over time for the rights to build above the yards, rather than demand a lump sum. With interest, the agency comes out whole.

Comes out whole? What about the generous 6.5% interest rate? The $100 million loss (and savings to Ratner) on the new permanent yard? The temporary yard that would linger twice as long as projected?

The editorial closes:
Ratner will now seek private financing for the arena. His bankers hope to raise the money by the end of the year. Wouldn't that be nice for Brooklyn?

"Private financing" would be tax-exempt financing, with Ratner likely saving more than $100 million thanks to federal subsidies. The "end of the year" deadline drove the breakneck pace for this deal, in which the MTA board had all of two days to consider it. The newspaper somehow ignores that the New York City Independent Budget now says the arena would be a money-loser for the city.

(Also see The Brooklyn Paper: It is a Bailout; The New York Post: THE ORIGINAL DEAL--OR NONE; Post columnist Nicole Gelinas: AN OUTRAGEOUS GIVEAWAY; and Queens Crap: The Daily News editorial board smokes crack.)

1 comment:

  1. i happened to pick up a daily news yesterday. the editorial was all of 10 lines. and, as noted here, completely un-fact checked.

    if they had bothered to google anything of the issues(like number of lawsuits) instead of spouting the ratner party line they would have had a much less solid of a position to spout this stupidity.

    its a sad day when 5 minutes on google can outstrip the fact checking ability of a newspaper that sells over half a million papers a day. if that keeps up much longer, i think they should keep their own obit handy.

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