Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Another confirmation of bait-and-switch on the size of Atlantic Yards, and why it matters (analysis of jobs and revenues)

How big would Atlantic Yards be?

If you read the 2009 Modified General Project Plan (MGPP) approved in September 2009 by the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), the language describing the project at times seems almost unequivocal:
The Project would provide the first-class Arena needed to bring a professional sports team back to Brooklyn. The Project would also create approximately 5,325 to 6,430 affordable and market- rate housing units, with 2,250 rental units being affordable to low-, moderate-, and middle- income families, while providing class A commercial office space.
(Emphases added)

Promises in 2006

A chart (left) attached to the November 2006 Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) seemed less equivocal, describing the size of the project presented for analysis. But even the FEIS uses the words "approximately" and "up to." So does another section of the MGPP:
At full build-out, scheduled for the year 2019, the Project would include the Arena and at least 336,000 gsf of commercial office space, 165,000 gsf of hotel use (approximately 180 rooms), 247,000 gsf of retail space, up to 6.4 million gsf of residential use (approximately 6,430 residential units)
What's the minimum?

However, neither the FEIS nor the MGPP ever said what the minimum might be. We learned that while reading a memo accompanying the MGPP approval last September, which set a minimum of 5,145,000 square feet, or a little less than 65% of 7,961,000 square feet.

And that minimum is repeated in Section 2.3(a) of the Development Agreement (right; full text at bottom) released last week, which requires improvements containing at least 4.47 million gross square feet, exclusive of the arena, with 1.5 million square feet in Phase 1 and 2.97 million square feet in Phase 2.

(I also reported last week on seeing these requirements in another section of the Development Agreement.)

Misleading analysis

What's wrong with the picture? Some much-touted benefits of the project, as calculated in new construction jobs, new permanent jobs, and new tax revenues, were all predicated on a full buildout. No alternative analysis was provided.

Atlantic Yards Development Agreement Section 2.3

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