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Daily News reports construction jobs lag well behind estimates for 6 months ago; ESDC claims all jobs will come (AYR: not if project's 1/3 smaller)

In an article today headlined Atlantic Yards not employing number of construction workers originally expected (and in print--Brooklyn edition only--more pungently as "Jobs at Atlantic Yards 95% below expectations"), the Daily News significantly advances the story by pointing out discrepancies between the current and predicted number of jobs.


Erin Durkin writes:
Only 100 people have been put to work at the Prospect Heights site so far, a Forest City Ratner executive conceded last week - compared to 1,476 predicted in state documents by late 2010.

"Right now, job numbers obviously are less than what they will be as construction gets full throttle at the arena," said Forest City Ratner Vice President MaryAnne Gilmartin.

The Empire State Development Corporation's job projections were made in 2009, and lawsuits and money trouble delayed groundbreaking on the new Nets arena a few months longer than officials expected at the time.

But even accounting for delays, the current number of jobs is much lower than expected. There were supposed to be 563 construction workers on site in the first quarter of 2010, 742 in the second, and 1,055 in the third.
Unexplained in the Daily News article is one significant reason: the construction schedule apparently assumes the near-simultaneous construction of three residential towers.

The official projections

The Technical Memorandum issued in June 2009 by the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) offers quarter-by-quarter construction jobs estimates over an elapsed time of 13 years, as I recently wrote.

(Click on graphic to enlarge for clarity, and focus on Cur., for Current, as opposed to FEIS, which represents the numbers in the Final Environmental Impact Statement.)


Only 450 jobs by the spring

And here's the astonishing closer in today's article:
Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco said the number of construction jobs will grow to 450 by late next spring.
However, by late spring 2010, one year before DePlasco's projections, there were supposed to be 742 jobs, and 1055 by the third quarter.

So it's way behind projections.

Same number of job-years?

The ESDC stands its ground regarding promised jobs, the Daily News reports:
The promise of 17,000 year-long construction jobs was a key selling point for the controversial arena and 16-tower project. Ratner and ESDC both insisted that goal can still be met.

"The number of job-years hasn't been altered; they will merely be created at a different pace in light of the changes in the construction schedule," said ESDC spokeswoman Elizabeth Mitchell.
Not necessarily. That's only if the project is built at the full 8 million square feet.

There are no requirements for Forest City Ratner to build a project of that size. It can build a project about one-third smaller without penalty.

As I wrote 9/17/09, board materials (press release, memo) require the developer to build a 675,000 square foot arena and "improvements containing at least Four Million Four Hundred Seventy Thousand (4,470,000) gross square feet (exclusive of the square footage of the Arena)."

That's a total of 5,145,000 square feet, or a little less than 65% of 7,961,000 square feet.

Blind faith from Caldwell

The Daily News quotes the head of a Community Benefits Agreement signatory:
James Caldwell, president of the nonprofit Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development, said he's disappointed so few jobs have been created so far, though he still supports the project.

"I'm not satisfied because the community's not satisfied. They're coming in asking us for jobs daily," he said.
Ok, but is that all the fault of pesky project opponents? Or could it be that the company and state haven't been completely trustworthy in their statements?

Had it been noted that Caldwell's group is financially supported by FCR, that might have become more clear.

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