Is ESDC approval a "formality"? The truth and fallacy of Yormark's observation--plus a 2012 best-case arena opening date
As the Record, reported:
[Yormark] also said approval by the Empire State Development Corp. for a revamped construction plan was a “formality” to be finalized later this month.
Yormark added that public hearings would follow this summer, “also as a formality.”
Well, he's right--and he's wrong. Few doubt that the ESDC will "adopt" a revised Modified General Project Plan, setting forth a 60-day process, including a public hearing, and board approval.
But it's not just a formality. It gets the ESDC to state, on the record, whether it predicts a ten-year buildout, as before, and how many buildings might be constructed at first. And it opens up the ESDC to potential litigation.
Crunch time 2009
The Record also reported that, according to Yormark, the arena groundbreaking must begin this year, not only because of the December 31 Internal Revenue Service deadline for tax-exempt bonds, but also because the Barclays Center naming rights deal--scheduled to expire last year--was extended through the end of the year, as well.
Yormark predicted a groundbreaking in the fall, which is way optimistic, given that the ESDC predicted that construction would begin by the end of the year.
Yormark said that the new arena would take "24 to 29 months, maximum,” less than the 30 months predicted (by Bruce Ratner) to build the Frank Gehry arena. (I read the construction schedule as saying 32 months.)
If construction doesn't begin until the end of the year, a 2011 arena opening is completely out of the question. As I've written several times before, 2012 is a more likely best-case scenario.