Thursday, July 02, 2009

Atlantic Yards, 2010: the push for a second round of stimulus funds (I speculate)

Last week, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority approved a new deal with Forest City Ratner for the Vanderbilt Yard and the Empire State Development Corporation took a crucial first step toward approval of a revised Modified General Project Plan.

If the project does survive pending lawsuits, what then, given the uncertainty about any part of Atlantic Yards beyond the arena and one tower, might Forest City Ratner be saying to government officials in reassurance?

Perhaps (I speculate) it's this: We'll get things done with stimulus funds.

The D'Amato connection

Despite the statement by ESDC CEO Marisa Lago at a May 29 state Senate hearing that no federal stimulus funds had been sought for Atlantic Yards, the developer is still actively lobbying in Washington. 

In 2006 and 2007, Forest City Ratner paid $200,000 a year to former Senator Alfonse D'Amato's firm, Park Strategies, to fight against restrictions on the use of eminent domain, as the Observer reported.

In 2008, FCR paid D'Amato only $80,000. This year, FCR is on pace to pay D'Amato double that sum, $160,000, at least based on the first quarterly filing.

And, as the Observer reported, the target is stimulus funds. If a new round of federal funds becomes available next year--and the Obama administration is keeping an open mind--Forest City Ratner might be arguing that the public should help with the infrastructure it promised.

Bloomberg's selective disgust at "pulling strings"

In 2004, remember, D'Amato was hired by Cablevision, owner of Madison Square Garden, to lobby against the West Side Stadium. 

Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who backed the stadium plan, called it a "disgrace" for Cablevision to hire "everybody that thinks they can get things done by pulling strings in the state and the city."

Bloomberg, needless to say, hasn't decried such string-pulling for AY.

1 comment:

  1. Ugly situation all around, i don't think anybody can argue with that. Bloomberg looking the other way on lobbying for this is just about as underhanded as Cablevision's activities, no question. I think the only difference here is that we can still hope for the best where the mayor's office is concerned, cuz at the end of the day he still needs to get re-elected. I don't think we can say the same for how cvc came out on this...they're only in it to make a buck!

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