Friday, April 23, 2010

The Eagle's Holt: bad math and blind spot regarding ULURP

The Brooklyn Eagle's Dennis Holt, in a Brooklyn Broadside headlined In Atlantic Yards Delays, State, City, Community Were the Losers, offers some very shallow analysis:
I have been asked if I begrudge the project’s lead opponent, Daniel Goldstein, netting $3 million from a final deal with Forest City Ratner.

No, I don’t. If you assume a seven-year time span for this project to date — 84 months – and subtract what he paid for his home — $590,000 — from the $3 million he is receiving, that comes out to about $28,000 per month.
No, that's not even close. First, subtract more than $600,000 in legal fees. Then double the value of his home, at least, to find a comparable place.

Who wins?

Holt observes:
And it’s not so much that Goldstein is a big winner, there are two losers. One is the city and the state, the other is the community.

The latter first. The approach followed by the project’s opponents was a take-no-prisoners one, winner take all. The opponents did not attempt to bargain with the developers on anything — number of buildings, where they will be located, building heights, the size of the open space, schools and other public amenities ... nothing.
The opponents didn't bargain because the only bargain--the allegedly arm's-length bargain--was between the state and the developer.

There was no place for the community to bargain. Such bargaining typically occurs when projects go through the city's Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, or ULURP, and the local City Council Member has a voice. Atlantic Yards avoided ULURP.

Yet Holt concludes:
The changes we know about are because of the delays and the recession, nothing wrenched from Forest City. The lawsuit gambits failed, and there is no record of anyone suggesting a change in direction. It sounds playground-snotty, but the community gets what it deserves.
The city and state

Holt writes:
The city and state lose. Had the original time frame been honored, both governments would by now be getting taxes, fees, licenses, concessions and the like. People would be earning a living, a fair number by now.

There would a domino effect of new businesses in the area by now, not directly related to the project but in place because it’s there.

I have in no way the ability to calculate the sums of all these losses, but I wish someone would try to. These are the kinds of things no one thinks about when developments are planned or announced.
Yeah, I wish someone would try to, as well. I can say that any calculations of benefits by the developer and the government agencies backing the project are full of holes.

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