Thursday, October 01, 2009

Ratner says bond sale should start in two weeks, has no regrets about losing Nets, won't claim he got a "great deal"

The New York Observer's Eliot Brown managed to turn a photo op at Forest City Ratner's Frank Gehry-designed Beekman Tower (in progress) into an opportunity to produce When Bruce Met Mikhail: The Backstory on the Nets-Atlantic Yards Deal

There's not a huge amount new there, though Ratner said he expects the bond sale to begin in two weeks. Would that be after the eminent domain hearing at the Court of Appeals on October 14?

He expressed no regret at losing the Nets, plausibly pointing out that a deep-pocketed owner is best for the team and diplomatically avoiding the confession that he's just not a hoops guy.

And he avoided acknowledging that Mikhail Prokhorov got a good deal or claiming it was a great deal for him. Brown reports:
Mr. Prokhorov’s investment group Onexim has agreed to pay $200 million for an 80 percent stake in the Nets, a 45 percent stake in the arena, and an option on 20 percent of the rest of the $4.9 billion Atlantic Yards project. He declined to say much more in detail, though when asked if the deal was as good as it seems for Mr. Prokhorov—he gets a major stake in the arena development and the value of the team was $300 million in 2004—he pointed out that Onexim would also be assuming its share of the Nets’ debt, about $200 million.

At the Beekman

The Observer's slideshow is worth a look; at right are Ratner and MaryAnne Gilmartin.

The tower, the city's tallest residential building, is supposed to top off in November. Brown notes:
The project is perhaps not the best-timed development in the world. It was the last residential building to receive a batch of tax-free bonds that were issued to help Lower Manhattan recover after 9/11—it got about $200 million in tax-free “Liberty Bonds”—and the bulk of construction didn’t start until spring 2008, after the economy had already begun to wane. (Forest City was first named winner of the property back in late 2003 in a complicated deal with the property owner, NYU Downtown Hospital, and Pace University, which was to take space in the tower.)

Then again, Forest City Ratner actually suspended construction earlier this year to play hardball with unions and contractors; Ratner tells the Observer that the cost was lowered by ten percent, with 80 percent of that coming from unions.

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