Thursday, September 17, 2009

ESDC consultant: ten-year project timetable for housing "not unreasonable"

Does the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), as it approved the Atlantic Yards project, have a rebuttal to the statement by real estate analyst Joshua Kahr, who, in a report commissioned by the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods, emphatically declared that "the project cannot be completed anywhere near 2019."

(That's backed up by further analyses and even a comment by then-ESDC CEO Marisa Lago, who in April said the project would take "decades.")

Well, sort of, but it wasn't exactly emphatic.

ESDC Senior Counsel Steven Matlin told the board this morning, "In addition, under separate cover, we’ve provided the directors with a confidential report prepared by KPMG with respect to the development model and the potential absorption of the residential component of the project during the development period. KPMG has concluded that it’s not unreasonable to assume that the housing units to be developed can be absorbed in the marketplace during the projected development period."

(Emphasis added)

Following up

Matlin spoke to reporters afterward. ""Quite frankly, we're going to allow for additional time if additional time is needed," he said. "But we think the ten-year period is reasonable and we think we could accomplish that."

What did KPMG look at? Demographics, trends, pricing information, and the level of affordable housing vs. market housing, he said.

"Why did they reach the conclusion that it's not unreasonable but they didn't say something like 'it most likely will happen'?" he was asked by Matthew Schuerman of WNYC.

"I'm not sure I want to question why they chose that language as opposed to other language," Matlin responded. "But we think ten years is a reasonable period."

Did the report respond specifically to the Kahr report? The KPMG report was commissioned before the Kahr report was received, but the latter was shared with KPMG. "They certainly didn't respond to it directly but they looked at it," he said.

Public availability?

Will the public get to see the KPMG report? (Remember, a previous KPMG report surfaced officially only in litigation.)

"The KPMG report was provided to the directors on a privileged and confidential basis," Matlin said. "Quite frankly we're looking at now whether we can release the document. We may have to redact a portion. There could be some proprietary information. So we haven't reached that decision, but we're going to look at it in the next few days."

1 comment:

  1. I made a Freedom of Information request to ESDC for any documents related to a cost-benefit analysis of the project. ESDC refused to provide me with any documents and denied my appeal. I intend to sue. I also doubt there are any such documents.

    ESDC took the identical position with a range of Freedom of Information documents requested by the tenants' attorneys in the Columbia University eminent domain proceedings. ESDC lost in court and were required to supply the documents, but ESDC did not.

    The Columbia tenants had to argue their EDPL Article 2 lawsuit without benefit of documents that ESDC had unlawfully withheld.

    ESDC is a corrupt agency. But calling ESDC corrupt does not adequately describe how private interests, particularly real estate, have hijacked government for the purpose of looting the public - and that this conduct is considered perfectly okay, even civic.

    But the grotesque squandering of money and land, its brazen and greedy and lawless process, and yes, it's abuse of eminent domain, has doomed the Atlantic Yards Project in the courts.

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