Monday, May 17, 2010

Atlantic Yards math! A minimum from one perspective is a maximum from another (arena community events, parking spaces)

Sometimes the Empire State Development Corporation and Forest City Ratner talk out of both sides of their collective mouth, thus challenging the spirit, if not the letter, of agreements regarding both surface parking and community events at the arena.

The minimum number of community events promised is also the maximum allowed.

The maximum number of surface parking spaces permitted is also the minimum required.

It's Atlantic Yards math!

Parking on Block 1129: no more and no less than 1100 spaces

The ESDC in December 2009 signed the Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments (aka Memorandum of Mitigation Commitments).

As the excerpt at left shows (click on all graphics to enlarge), the document limits parking to 1100 vehicles on the southeast block of the site, Block 1129, bounded by Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues and Dean and Pacific Streets.

(Note, that actually increases the total from 1044 spaces, which itself was increased from 944 spaces, thus adding to the impact on the Prospect Heights environs. More here on how that happened and why it's an argument for more oversight.)

In March, the ESDC signed an Arena Parking Declaration that describes plans for parking on Block 1129.

As the excerpt above shows, the area at issue must be "sufficient to park not less than 1,100 motorized passenger vehicles."

Community events: no less and no more than ten

As I wrote last December, Forest City Ratner has promised community groups at least ten events a year would be available at the arena, but has told potential bond buyers that ten times is a maximum.

Also, in a seeming contradiction, it told community groups the arena would be made available at a discount, but told bond buyers it would be made available on the same general terms that others face.

The ESDC's Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Atlantic Yards project states in Chapter 1, Project Description:
The arena is expected to host approximately 225 events per year. Of these, a minimum of 10 events would be made available for use by community groups at a reasonable cost (generally the cost of operation) with any net proceeds to the sponsor from these events to be donated to not-for-profit organizations.
That's pretty much the same as what's in the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA), which states:
(1) Events. The Arena will be available to Community groups for at least ten (10) events per year, at a reasonable rate, with net proceeds from such events to be used to support non-profit community organizations.
From the bond documents

However, the Barclays Center Project Preliminary Official Statement prepared by Goldman Sachs, (G-4, or p. 298 of the PDF):
Tenant shall make the Arena available to ESDC or its designee for use as a venue for civic, cultural, social or other events as requested by ESDC, not to exceed ten (10) events in any lease year, which access shall be on the same terms, including cost, as the Arena is generally made available to other Persons for use.

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