Monday, May 16, 2011

Saving six figures: likely one reason Forest City Ratner hasn't yet fulfilled the obligation to hire an Independent Compliance Monitor for the CBA

As I described 11/29/10, Forest City Ratner has claimed, dubiously, that it didn't have to hire an Independent Compliance Monitor (ICM) to provide a credible outside analysis of the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA), despite provisions in the document, signed 6/27/05, to hire one "[a]s soon as reasonably practicable."

"It didn't actually go into effect until we broke ground for the arena," Forest City Ratner executive Jane Marshall claimed last fall. Of course the developer had been proudly reporting some figures--such as minority contracting--all along.

One reason for that reticence, as I've suggested, may be that such an ICM might do its job.

Tight budget

Another may be simpler: Forest City Ratner keeps a close watch on its spending, and every six-figure sum it saves makes a difference.

After all, the developer recently sold a 49% interest in 15 retail and entertainment properties around New York, and seemingly nudged out executive Joanne Minieri, thus saving on salary.

Trying to save $159K on trees

After all, as I wrote 11/19/08, preparing to demolish 86 street trees around the Atlantic Yards footprint, Forest City Ratner contended in 2007 that it did not need to pay $159,000 in partial restitution to the city because the trees in the Atlantic Yards open space eventually would “add much more value than the trees that will be removed during construction.”

That argument required chutzpah, given that no part of the Atlantic Yards open space would be constructed until the project’s Phase 2, for which there was no announced timetable.

The city Department of Parks and Recreation, perhaps mindful of that timetable, held its ground, requiring the requested payment, and Forest City Ratner complied.

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