Monday, July 06, 2009

Elected officials shocked, shocked at changes in AY; DePlasco, Daughtry maintain talking points

A couple of elected officials who wouldn't mind a little press coverage are shocked, shocked by changes in Atlantic Yards.

An article in the Daily News, headlined Atlantic Yards beginning to look like pie in Brooklyn sky for pols, states:
Five and a half years later, a state agency's recent vote to adopt a plan for a new Nets arena and 16 towers - which will take longer, cost more, and look radically different than the original - has left [Assemblyman Hakeem] Jeffries and some other officials disillusioned.

"The way in which the project was sold is dramatically different than the one in which the developer appears prepared to deliver," he said. "The promises made by this developer have disappeared like a house of cards."

...Ratner still promises 2,250 units of affordable housing, but critics doubt it will ever happen.

City Councilman David Yassky (D-Brooklyn) said he always thought the towers were too big, but supported the arena because he was "excited about a professional basketball team in Brooklyn and an architecturally significant arena."

He soured on that as it became clear taxpayers would end up footing much of the bill.

"The MTA changing the deal just added insult to injury," he said. "This was already a bad deal for taxpayers and now it's an appallingly bad deal."


Changes long evident

Beginning? The Daily News article doesn't actually explain that the project was long promised to take ten years, a dubious assertion maintained by the Empire State Development Corporation and, most notably in the pages of the Daily News itself, by developer Bruce Ratner.

Well, the State and City Funding Agreements signed in September 2007--which surfaced in the spring of 2008-- provided no timetable for Phase 2 and allowed the developer 12 years (after the delivery of property via eminent domain) to build a smaller Phase 1, with only 300 affordable units.

In other words, the changes in the plan have long been evident.

Now there's a 25-year timetable for Phase 2, though it's not guaranteed either.

Defenders say

The article quotes a defender:
The Rev. Herbert Daughtry of the Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance said he still backs the project because Ratner will provide jobs, a health center and money for a community foundation.

He acknowledged it's not what it once was.

"Everybody wishes it would be what was originally planned, but given the realities the project had to face, it's a wonder that it's still there," he said. "I think it's the best we can do at this point."


But when, Rev. Daughtry, and how much? And how much does his organization get from Ratner?

The article closes with this assertion:
Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco said all the promised jobs and affordable housing will be delivered.

If it's not legally required, and it's not, the paid flack DePlasco can say whatever he wants. Remember, he's the guy who once said, “There’s no reason to think the team is not moving to Brooklyn for the 2007 season."

Who's missing

Missing from the article are two elected officials who have posed more substantive questions: both Assemblyman Jim Brennan and state Senator Bill Perkins have questioned the legal authority of the MTA to renegotiate its deal with Forest City Ratner. And those questions may be answered in court.

Jeffries didn't show up (or send a rep) at either of the MTA meetings when the deal was considered in June. Yassky did attend the June 24 hearing, but arrived late enough to speak last, rather than with Brennan, Perkins (via a rep), and City Council Member Letitia James.

What's missing

Also missing is an acknowledgment that the Independent Budget Office now estimates that the arena is a money-loser for the city--and that the IBO is supposed to be conducting an expanded cost-benefit analysis.

1 comment:

  1. two glaringly obvious issues of litigation for dddb:

    prior to the recent renegotiation with ratner, neither the mta or the esdc tested the market for new developers of the a.y. site, thereby violating their fiduciary responsibilities to the people of new york

    and

    the unnecessary & arbitrary 48-hour deadline given to state officials to review the renegotiation of the a.y. general plan did not allow for serious analysis & consideration of all the details involved ... as the saying goes, the devil is in the details, and 48 hours is nowhere near enough time to review them all

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