Skip to main content

Daily News columnist takes skeptical look at project timeline and benefits, but says conclusion is up to "historians of New York" (nah)

In Don't hold your breath for completion of Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, Daily News columnist Adam Lisberg does a little homework, likely inspired by some tough reporting by WNYC and the Brooklyn Paper:
There's a spot in Brooklyn where time and money and space seem to twist and wriggle away from anyone who tries to nail them down.

It's the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush - Atlantic Yards.

Developer Bruce Ratner acknowledged last week that his dream of office buildings and apartment towers anchored around a new basketball arena there won't be done in the 10-year time frame he once claimed.

...Don't expect that to change any city leaders' support for the project - or any of the heavy subsidies being poured into it.

The delay is no surprise to anyone who has followed the project's progress through a market crash and legal challenges, and finally its March groundbreaking.

Still, time is key to anyone who tries to estimate how much the city and state will lose in tax breaks and cash payouts to encourage Atlantic Yards - and whether they're worth the new jobs and businesses there.

"If a fiscal impact statement is going to be meaningful, it has to be based on a serious estimate of the timeline," said Doug Turetsky, spokesman for the nonpartisan Independent Budget Office.
Fiscal impact

Lisberg writes:
The IBO tried to measure the long-term impact of Atlantic Yards last year but threw up its hands because there was no realistic plan for when the costs and benefits would start.

Looking only at the Barclays Center arena, which is under construction now to open for the Nets in fall 2012, IBO concluded it will cost the city $40 million on balance.

The city Economic Development Corp. disputed that and put out a revised plan this year, claiming it will have a $411 million positive impact on the city over 30 years.

That analysis assumes the project started three years ago, though - before the crash. EDC insists the numbers are still valid, and that the project will be a boon to New York.

Money? Flexible.

A spokesman for the project didn't return a call for comment.
Um, why does EDC insist the numbers are still valid. They depend on a ten-year buildout.

The conclusion

Lisberg concludes:
Someday historians of New York will decide whether the timeline or the financing or the drawings were accurate. In the meantime, we'll have to live with it.
My comment:
So, Adam Lisberg does some homework and presents evidence that the timeline and thus expected benefits are extremely dubious.

But the conclusion is wimpy: "Someday historians of New York will decide whether the timeline or the financing or the drawings were accurate."

After all, the Development Agreement signed last December (and unveiled in January) gives Forest City Ratner *ten* years to start the third residential tower before penalties kick in. On the overall project, penalties kick in only after 25 years.

More here:

Oh, and the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush is part of the Atlantic Yards site, but a good chunk of the 22 acres is not in the hands of the developer or state.


Popular posts from this blog

Barclays Center/Levy Restaurants hit with suit charging discrimination on disability, race; supervisors said to use vicious slurs, pursue retaliation

The Daily News has an article today, Barclays Center hit with $5M suit claiming discrimination against disabled, while the New York Post headlined its article Barclays Center sued over taunting disabled employees.

While that's part of the lawsuit, more prominent are claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, with black employees claiming repeated abuse by white supervisors, preferential treatment toward Hispanic colleagues, and retaliation in response to complaints.

Two individual supervisors, for example, are charged with  referring to black employees as “black motherfucker,” “dumb black bitch,” “black monkey,” “piece of shit” and “nigger.”

Two have referred to an employee blind in one eye as “cyclops,” and “the one-eyed guy,” and an employee with a nose disorder as “the nose guy.”

There's been no official response yet though arena spokesman Barry Baum told the Daily News they, but take “allegations of this kind very seriously” and have "a zero tolerance policy for…

Behind the "empty railyards": 40 years of ATURA, Baruch's plan, and the city's diffidence

To supporters of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, it's a long-awaited plan for long-overlooked land. "The Atlantic Yards area has been available for any developer in America for over 100 years,” declared Borough President Marty Markowitz at a 5/26/05 City Council hearing.

Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, mused on 11/15/05 to WNYC's Brian Lehrer, “Isn’t it interesting that these railyards have sat for decades and decades and decades, and no one has done a thing about them.” Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in a 12/19/04 New York Times article ("In a War of Words, One Has the Power to Wound") described the railyards as "an empty scar dividing the community."

But why exactly has the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard never been developed? Do public officials have some responsibility?

At a hearing yesterday of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, Kate Suisma…

Forest City acknowledges unspecified delays in Pacific Park, cites $300 million "impairment" in project value; what about affordable housing pledge?

Updated Monday Nov. 7 am: Note follow-up coverage of stock price drop and investor conference call and pending questions.

Pacific Park Brooklyn is seriously delayed, Forest City Realty Trust said yesterday in a news release, which further acknowledged that the project has caused a $300 million impairment, or write-down of the asset, as the expected revenues no longer exceed the carrying cost.

The Cleveland-based developer, parent of Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner, which is a 30% investor in Pacific Park along with 70% partner/overseer Greenland USA, blamed the "significant impairment" on an oversupply of market-rate apartments, the uncertain fate of the 421-a tax break, and a continued increase in construction costs.

While the delay essentially confirms the obvious, given that two major buildings have not launched despite plans to do so, it raises significant questions about the future of the project, including:
if market-rate construction is delayed, will the affordable h…

Revising official figures, new report reveals Nets averaged just 11,622 home fans last season, Islanders drew 11,200 (and have option to leave in 2018)

The Brooklyn Nets drew an average of only 11,622 fans per home game in their most recent (and lousy) season, more than 23% below the announced official attendance figure, and little more than 65% of the Barclays Center's capacity.

The New York Islanders also drew some 19.4% below announced attendance, or 11,200 fans per home game.

The surprising numbers were disclosed in a consultant's report attached to the Preliminary Official Statement for the refinancing of some $462 million in tax-exempt bonds for the Barclays Center (plus another $20 million in taxable bonds). The refinancing should lower costs to Mikhail Prokhorov, owner of the arena operating company, by and average of $3.4 million a year through 2044 in paying off arena construction.

According to official figures, the Brooklyn Nets attendance averaged 17,187 in the debut season, 2012-13, 17,251 in 2013-14, 17,037 in 2014-15, and 15,125 in the most recent season, 2015-16. For hoops, the arena holds 17,732.

But official…

So, Forest City has some property subject to the future Gowanus rezoning

Writing yesterday, MAP: Who Owns All the Property Along the Gowanus Canal, DNAinfo's Leslie Albrecht lays out the positioning of various real estate players along the Gowanus Canal, a Superfund site:
As the city considers whether to rezone Gowanus and, perhaps, morph the gritty low-rise industrial area into a hot new neighborhood of residential towers (albeit at a fraction of the height of Manhattan's supertall buildings), DNAinfo reviewed property records along the canal to find out who stands to benefit most from the changes.
Investors have poured at least $440 million into buying land on the polluted waterway and more than a third of the properties have changed hands in the past decade, according to an examination of records for the nearly 130 properties along the 1.8-mile canal. While the single largest landowner is developer Property Markets Group, other landowners include Kushner Companies, Alloy Development, Two Trees, and Forest City New York.

Forest City's plans unc…

At 550 Vanderbilt, big chunk of apartments pitched to Chinese buyers as "international units"

One key to sales at the 550 Vanderbilt condo is the connection to China, thanks to Shanghai-based developer Greenland Holdings.

It's the parent of Greenland USA, which as part of Greenland Forest City Partners owns 70% of Pacific Park (except 461 Dean and the arena).

And sales in China may help explain how the developer was able to claim early momentum.
"Since 550 Vanderbilt launched pre-sales in June [2015], more than 80 residences have gone into contract, representing over 30% of the building’s 278 total residences," the developer said in a 9/25/15 press release announcing the opening of a sales gallery in Brooklyn. "The strong response from the marketplace indicates the high level of demand for well-designed new luxury homes in Brooklyn..."

Maybe. Or maybe it just meant a decent initial pipeline to Chinese buyers.

As lawyer Jay Neveloff, who represents Forest City, told the Real Deal in 2015, a project involving a Chinese firm "creates a huge market for…