Thursday, May 13, 2010

In Daily News, Yormark defends Ratner; wishful editorial urges Prokhorov to build subsidized housing planned for AY project

There are two pieces of misleading thinking in today's New York Daily News regarding the Atlantic Yards project.

A megaphone for Yormark

In New Jersey Nets CEO Brett Yormark defends Bruce Ratner as new owner Mikhail Prokhorov moves in, basketball beat writer Julian Garcia writes:
But Nets CEO Brett Yormark thinks that the team's former majority owner deserves some credit, too. After all, Yormark said that if not for Bruce Ratner, the Nets would not be moving to Brooklyn, where they are hopeful of becoming one of the marquee teams in the league.

.."There was an incredible amount of uncertainty with Brooklyn, and through Bruce's incredible efforts, (it got done)," Yormark said. "And he deserves all the credit in the world. No one thought he was going to get it done."
Well, Ratner didn't get it done by himself. He spent a bunch on lobbying and political contributions. And public agencies like the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Empire State Development Corporation made significant concessions.

The Daily News editorial

In an editorial headlined Netsky prospect: Russian mogul brings pro basketball closer to Brooklyn, the Daily News, always ready to buff the Atlantic Yards project, opines:
There are two ways Prokhorov, a 6-foot-7 Russian playboy who made most of his rubles in the metal business, can play his role as 80% owner of the Nets and 45% owner of a new arena under construction at Flatbush and Atlantic Aves.

He can sit back as the Nets - currently ranked 26th of 30 NBA teams in total value - see their stock soar upon relocating to the new Barclays Center. Then he could sell the team for a pretty penny and let that be that.

Or, he could put a full-court press on Brooklyn - investing time, attention and money in one of the greatest places on the planet while building what's now a JV squad into a championship-caliber franchise.

Brooklyn, denied a pro sports franchise since the team that shall not be named went West in 1957, deserves the full-court press.

Hand in hand with partner Bruce Ratner, Prokhorov must ensure swift construction of a first-class sports and concert venue. He must work to ensure that the rest of the promise of developer Ratner's Atlantic Yards is fulfilled, complete with thousands of units of affordable housing.
Prokhorov, with ownership interests in the team and arena, has an option for 20% of the rest of the project, but no role in it. He has no obligation to build the subsidized housing nor has he made a commitment to do so. He got involved in Atlantic Yards as a platform for business expansion in the United States.

The affordable housing will be built if the city and state administrations assign enough scarce subsidy dollars to do so. What no one's analyzed is whether more such housing could be built elsewhere with the same dollars.

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