Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Tracing the deceptive property ownership map back to Forest City Ratner

Not unlike the way that the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) puts its name on Atlantic Yards Construction Updates produced by developer Forest City Ratner (FCR), evidence suggests that the map of property ownership in the AY footprint also comes directly from the developer.

I earlier today suggested that the ESDC was misleading people by using an 11/1/06 map to describe current ownership. And I wrote in May that the ESDC seemed to be taking FCR's cue in presenting facts on the map.

But it may be much simpler: ESDC is simply reproducing what Forest City gives them.

May 2005

Forest City Ratner presented the map below at a 5/26/05 City Council hearing.

Note that there are no asterixes attached to Lots 5, 6, and 13 of Block 1129, the southeast block. The lease dispute between owner Henry Weinstein and tenant Shaya Boymelgreen--who then proceeded to rent the property to Forest City Ratner, who rented it back to Boymelgreen--didn't begin until the spring of 2006.



November 2006

The map below appeared as part of the ESDC's 2006 Modified General Project Plan. The asterixes indicate:
FCRC has closed on an option to take by assignment the lessee's interests under the ground leases for these properties. However, the property owner has objected to such assignments.

I have suggested that the default description favored Forest City Ratner, because the color purple suggested that FCR controlled the property, thus limiting the need for eminent domain. Rather than have Weinstein's properties in purple, the portrayal should have been more neutral. But the ESDC likely didn't create the map.



August 2008

This "strictly confidential" map, given to me by a source, states that "All information is to the best of FCRC's knowledge."

Weinstein won the first round of the case in March 2007, then saw it upheld in May 2009, though the case is still in court. The asterixes remain, but his properties are more accurately rendered in white.



June 2009

Back to the future: the ESDC reproduced the 2006 map, maintaining with a straight face that the project is essentially unchanged more than two-and-a-half months later.

But Weinstein's three properties should be in white.

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