Thursday, March 10, 2011

Why did Forest City Ratner try to get Carlton Avenue Bridge money from Kruger? Because they're scrounging for it; my queries haven't been answered

Why was Forest City Ratner, as of December 2010, trying to get $9 million in state subsidies for the Carlton Avenue Bridge out of state Senator Carl Kruger, charged today along with lobbyist Richard Lipsky in a federal corruption case?

Because the developer still needs to pay for reconstruction of the bridge, even though the state said FCR would pay the remaining $14 million in cost. (And the money sought from immigrant investors via the EB-5 program, though promoted as going to the bridge, would more likely go to refinance a land loan.)

I've tried several times over the past months to learn more about the bridge, to no avail.

I queried the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) last November 12 regarding an apparently federal earmark as well as the current budget for and progress on the bridge. Despite several follow-up requests, I never got a response.

I posed the same questions to the Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet on January 25 via City Council Member Letitia James and Carlo Scissura, the Borough President's Chief of Staff. No answers were forthcoming at the meeting February 10.

The Carlton Avenue Bridge is supposed to cost $40 million. The city in 2007 allocated $7 million. According to a 6/24/10 ESDC document (embedded below), which allowed the disbursal of additional City funds for the bridge:
It is expected that the Carlton Avenue Bridge related infrastructure work will cost in excess of $40 million. The City shall fund $24 million of the cost of the Carlton Avenue Bridge related infrastructure work. The remaining cost will be funded by Forest City.
The Towns earmark

I also queried Rep. Ed Towns' office via email regarding an apparent earmark.

According to a statement from Towns's office, the FY2011 request for the bridge was $3.5 million:
$3,500,000 for NYC Department of Transportation at 51 Chambers Street, New York, NY 10007: The Carlton Avenue Bridge will provide a vital north south connection over the Long Island Railroad’s Vanderbilt Yard. It will open Carlton Ave to new development and will enhance the currently blighted area’s appeal for future residential and office projects while providing essential transportation functions between Brooklyn’s neighborhoods.
However, it looks like $900,000 was appropriated.

Are there new requests coming? I'll check again.

The EB-5 feint

A project video produced by the New York City Regional Center, an investment pool marketing visas for job-creating investment describes the "project": "The Brooklyn Arena and Infrastructure project includes three primary components, the Barclays Center arena, the Long Island Rail Road trainyard, and various infrastructure."

The latter includes demolitions, utility work, paving of a surface parking lot, and the replacement of the Carlton Avenue Bridge. But the $249 million sought by Forest City would more likely go to refinance a land loan.

ESDC Atlantic Yards Funding Amendment 062410

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