Friday, October 23, 2009

The Brooklyn Paper, under new ownership, buffs Ratner's reputation in an editorial and blames only the state

What a difference a new owner makes.

The Brooklyn Paper editorializes this week that State must keep Ratner on hook for affordable housing, but blames only the state, not the developer:
Make no mistake: Ratner has always said that he would build the 2,250 rental units with the help of taxpayers, who pay for those housing subsidies as part of a larger goal of keeping the city affordable and its neighborhoods comprised of families of mixed incomes.

But in prior agreements, the language merely said that the developer “expected” to receive the subsidies to build the affordable housing. They never made the housing “subject to” receiving the subsidies.

Of course, we are confident that a developer of Ratner’s reputation will make good on his prior promises to build the affordable units, which gave the project virtually all of its political support.

Yet we are concerned because officials have failed — at every turn — to oversee a fair process so that the resulting mega-development meets the needs of the community
Looking back

When the Brooklyn Paper was independently owned, before the purchase earlier this year by Rupert Murdoch's Community Newspaper Group, the editorial stand was a wee bit tougher.

On 12/30/06, in an editorial headlined Covering Atlantic Yards, the Brooklyn Paper opined:
For most of the year, the supposedly ravenous local press corps took a pass on Atlantic Yards, swallowing whole such Ratner myths as the notion that the project would be a boon to the lower and lower-middle classes (actual state analysis shows it would hasten, not forestall, gentrification in Prospect Heights), and that Brooklyn needs lots of shiny new skyscrapers to feel good about itself (as Markowitz says in the interview).

For some reason, everyone seemed to accept Ratner’s economic projections, even as they dropped and dropped again during the public approval process. And everyone was happy to accept the already-inaccurate traffic analysis provided by Ratner’s state partners.
On 2/9/08, in an editorial headlined Pols must hit Ratner in wallet, the Brooklyn Paper opined:
The smokescreen behind which so many pro-Atlantic Yards legislators have been hiding was the central lie that the project would bring in $4.4 billion in tax revenues to state and city coffers over the next 30 years. Lies about the extent of job creation were exposed early on.

As we’ve pointed out many times, Ratner’s public revenue estimates are a fantasy.
On 6/7/08, in an editorial headlined Ratner’s false choice, the Brooklyn Paper opined:
Instead, Ratner’s forces continue to advance a false choice that unless he builds his Xanadu, nothing will get built on the state-owned Vanderbilt Rail Yards.
But that has always been a fallacy created to project Ratner as a civic do-gooder, regardless of the fact that taxpayers are underwriting all the supposed public benefits of his project, such as the promise of publicly subsidized below-market-rate rentals, the publicly subsidized return of major league sports to Brooklyn, the publicly subsidized improvements to local infrastructure and the publicly subsidized open space.

Now, as at the beginning of this excruciating process four-and-a-half years ago, there remains no organized opposition to development at the Vanderbilt yards. Indeed, the principal group opposing Ratner’s vision is called Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn.

There are alternatives to Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards project — which is having trouble getting financing because of its many flaws. The time has come for Ratner, his paid union allies and flacks like Markowitz to abandon this failed project and work with those who seek sane, viable, broadly supported development for this valuable publicly owned site.
(Emphases added)

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