Skip to main content

Forest City Ratner's latest dubious claim about the Independent Compliance Monitor required by the CBA: "As the project progresses, especially, with residential, a monitor will be hired"

After I raised the issue in City Limits, and Council Member Letitia James followed up a public meeting and a press conference, we have a new pledge from developer Forest City Ratner regarding an Independent Compliance Monitor required by the Community Benefits Agreement.

Responding to a comment solicited by Our Time Press (almost certainly from the notorious Stephen Witt), FCR now says it  hire such a monitor--but sometime later.

The reporter didn't bother to look at the actual document, which required a monitor years ago.

But Witt doesn't try to hold Forest City Ratner accountable. Nor does the rest of the press when it comes to the CBA.

(The New York Observer ran a front-page article this week on problems with the Columbia University CBA. No contact info for the person in charge of the Columbia CBA? Ditto in Brooklyn. No web site for the CBA? Ditto. It's just that there's a Congressional candidate, Vince Morgan, who's decided to make an issue of it in Manhattan.)

The article

The article, in full, from the 11/24/11 issue:
Compliance monitor for Atlantic Yards CBA

Developer Forest  City Ratner Companies (FCR) last week responded to concerns that a compliance monitor in regards to the Atlantic Yards has yet to be hired.

The compliance monitor, as required as per the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) to ensure adherence by signatories of the CBA.

“The CBA and FCRC are committed to bringing on an independent monitor. To date, however, work has been confined to the arena,” said FCRC spokesperson Joe DePlasco. “As the project progresses, especially, with residential, a monitor will be hired. As for the arena we provide regular updates to the state and to others on MWBE and other construction related activities.”
That's a slightly more polished--but no less empty--answer than the one given earlier in the month by FCR executive Jane Marshall: that it's up to the CBA Executive Committee, which hadn't met in four months.

wrote at length on 11/29/10, describing how the CBA went into effect shortly after it was signed 6/27/05 (despite FCR's evasions), that implementation was supposed to begin upon signing of the agreement, and how quarterly status reports were supposed to be delivered to the Independent Compliance Monitor.

What the document says

The CBA states:
Independent Compliance Monitor. As soon as reasonably practicable after formation of the Executive Committee, the Executive Committee shall publish a Request for Proposals (“RFP”) to qualified, independent persons or entities with experience in overseeing compliance with similar arrangements or who have other experience deemed by the Executive Committee to be sufficiently relevant. The terms of employment and evaluation shall be determined by the Executive Committee. Such Independent Compliance Monitor (“ICM”) shall be selected and hired by the Executive Committee, at an annual payment of up to $100,000 to be paid by the Project Developer, and shall be responsible for oversight of the Project Developer’s, Arena Developer’s and Coalition members’ obligations under this Agreement, investigation of any complaints brought against the Developers or a Coalition member regarding implementation of this Agreement and review of the Developers reports required under Article X (the “Developer Reports”). After review of the Developer Reports, the ICM shall provide a report to the Executive Committee and the DBOAC [sic], as defined below, on the status of the implementation of all initiatives.
The ICM, not Forest City or its contractor The Darman Group, was supposed to provide a report to the Executive Committee and the Downtown Brooklyn Advisory and Oversight Committee, or DBAOC.

Moreover, the ICM was supposed to help monitor the bidding process during the construction period. Not the "construction period after the arena," as DePlasco seems to suggest.

According to the CBA, Forest City Ratner was supposed to put $100,000 down for an ICM when the document was signed.

The benefit to Forest City

Not only does the developer save an "annual payment of up to $100,000," as required by the CBA to fund the ICM, but Forest City also escapes significant scrutiny.

So there was no ICM to report that Forest City Ratner took five years to establish the job training program, which the CBA said should have begun immediately:
Commencing upon execution of this Agreement, Developers and BUILD [Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development] shall initiate and coordinate a job training program....
Nor was there an ICM to report on the progress of that training program, including:
Number of Community residents presently enrolled in the Pre Apprentice Training initiative; Community Boards in which they reside and percentage of Minority (by category) and women workers; household income; number who successfully completed such initiative, and number who obtained jobs at the Project Site; successful participants length of current employment at the Project Site; percentage of successful participants as to number of total apprentices at Project Site”
Now it's taken a lawsuit to allege the inadequacies and deceptions in that training program.

Comments

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…