Tuesday, December 21, 2010

BrooklynSpeaks: ESDC findings on extended building "obfuscate the issues," evade time value loss, dismiss impact of surface parking lot

In a statement responding to the Empire State Development Corporation's approval December 16 of findings that a 25-year buildout would not impose any significant impacts not previously disclosed, the BrooklynSpeaks sponsors declare ESDC's response to court order shows Governor not yet willing to reform Atlantic Yards.

The findings "obfuscate the issues raised by the Master Development Agreement ESDC executed with Forest City Ratner, are dismissive of the greater impacts which will now be sustained by the communities surrounding the project, and totally ignore the time value loss on New Yorkers’ substantial investment in Atlantic Yards given the deferment of its public benefits for decades."

In other words, if a project takes 25 years to build, the value of the expected benefits is significantly decreased, since they were calculated over a ten-year buildout.

The impact of the findings will be discussed in oral arguments before Supreme Court Justice Marcy Friedman at noon on Wednesday, December 22.

Statements below in italics are from the ESDC.

Schedule reasonable?

“The Development Contracts do not have a material effect on whether it is reasonable to use a 10-year construction schedule for the purpose of assessing the environmental impacts of the Project.”

BrooklynSpeaks, however, says the state failed to analyze a “reasonable worst case scenario” with respect to the project build-out, such as a default.

Why the delay?

“As of the date of these findings, it appears unlikely that the Project will be constructed on a 10-year schedule, because the construction of the Project’s residential buildings has lagged behind the 10-year schedule provided by FCRC to ESDC in 2009, and because of continuing weak general economic and financial conditions.”


BrooklynSpeaks agrees but instead cites candor from FCR CEO Bruce Ratner, who on September 28, 2010 told reporters when speaking about the 10-year schedule for Atlantic Yards’ arena and 16 towers, “It was never supposed to be the time we were supposed to build them in” and the statement by then ESDC CEO Marisa Lago in April 2009 that Atlantic Yards’ construction would take “decades."

No new significant impacts?

“A delay in the 10-year construction schedule, through and including a 25-year final completion date, would not result in any new significant adverse environmental impacts not previously identified and considered in the FEIS and 2009 Technical Memorandum and would not require or warrant an SEIS.”

BrooklynSpeaks says that's wrong, given that it fails to analyze interim surface parking that could last a decade or two, rather than be phased out in three years, and completely phased out in five and a half years. Air quality and noise impacts lot were studied using the lower number of cars, and applied to a much shorter period.

The Final Environmental Impact Statement does not analyze the impact of the parking lot on neighborhood character, although it lies between two blocks of historic building, BrooklynSpeaks points out.

No SEIS required

“The analysis of the potential environmental impacts of a 25-year construction schedule confirms the conclusion reached by ESDC in 2009 that an SEIS is not required or warranted for the 2009 MGPP. Similarly, the Development Contracts do not require or warrant an SEIS.”


BrooklynSpeaks calls "the incomplete analysis... self-serving, and confirms a conclusion which itself was reached in order to further the timetable requirements of the developer in 2009."

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