Skip to main content

Minority/women contracting numbers lag 25% behind ambitious CBA "goals" (sometimes billed as "promises"); results better than WTC, other projects

Update February 3: it turns out that the Empire State Development's statistics are different, with lower numbers.

In building the Barclays Center and other Atlantic Yards construction activities, Forest City Ratner is lagging 25% behind its ambitious plan to devote devoting 20% of construction contract dollars to minority-owned business enterprises (MBEs) and 10% to women-owned firms (WBEs).

According to statistics released last week (see below) by Empire State Development (ESD), the state agency overseeing Atlantic Yards, the MBE awards total $91 million (about 16.3% of total purchases), while the WBE awards total $35.1 million (about 6.3% of total purchases). The total, as of the end of 2011, encompasses work back to 2005.

Thus the combined M/WBE participation is 22.6%, about three-quarters of the way toward the what ESD calls the "program requirement of 30% for M/WBE," which also appears as goals--20% and 10%, respectively--in the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA).

The Atlantic Yards web site, as noted in the screenshot at right, presents the figures as certainties.

While Forest City had previously publicly reported the MWBE percentages for various components of the project, such as at the Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meeting last July, it had not done so in the context of the CBA goal of 30%.

At the Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meeting January 26, Arana Hankin, Director, Atlantic Yards Project for ESD, said that Forest City is committed to submitting M/WBE reports monthly, as opposed to every other month, and she would then circulate them to elected officials and Community Boards. (I requested the latest copy. I didn't know copies were previously being circulated.)

In perspective

Asked to comment, Forest City spokesman Joe DePlasco said Forest City aims for such a goal in all its projects, and "we endeavor/use best efforts to achieve" it.

He pointed out that the Port Authority announced the milestone of $1 billion in WTC contracts to M/WBEs, representing 17% participation. I'd add that MTA contract goals of M/WBEs or similar DBEs (Disadvantaged Business Enterprises) are typically 15-20%.

Thus, while the Atlantic Yards numbers may outpace such other projects, Atlantic Yards--and the special governmental benefits attached to it--gained support, in part, because of promises to meet the goals of the CBA.

And had Forest City Ratner hired the Independent Compliance Monitor as required by the CBA, we'd have been reminded more often how well they're meeting those promise, including the status of M/WBE initiatives and lists of those M/WBEs selected.

Promises or goals?

The goals have been presented as "promises." For example, the 7/13/07 Brooklyn Daily Eagle presented this press release:
The largest class to date — 57 contractors — has graduated from the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) training program in June. The newest graduates, 57 in all, received certificates at a ceremony at Medgar Evers College School of Business in Brooklyn. Apart from what it might mean to some, the Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) Atlantic Yards development means work to minority- and women-owned Brooklyn contractors, because the CBA guarantees that 20 percent of construction dollars will go those that are minority-owned and 10 percent will go to those that are women-owned.
(Emphasis added)

Despite promotional statements (such as in this 2006 brochure) claiming "community commitments" that were "guaranteed by a legally binding Community Benefits Agreement," the CBA (p. 18) presents the targets as aspirational:
Developers will seek to award not less than twenty (20%) percent of the total construction contract dollars of each Development Phase to qualified Minority owned firms and not less than ten (10%) percent of the total construction contract dollars for each Development Phase to qualified women owned firms.
Even when the numbers were regarded as goals, as in this 10/24/05 press release, issued by the CBA Coalition, the issue was framed in a seeming effort to sway public opinion in favor of the project, which had not yet been officially approved:
McKissack & McKissack, the nation’s oldest minority-owned professional design and construction firm, will be announced as construction manager for the $182 million Atlantic Rail Yards at a press conference on Tuesday, October 25 at 1:00 P.M. at House of the Lord Church in Brooklyn. The Reverend Herbert Daughtry, interim chair of the Community Benefits Agreement Coalition, signatories to the historic Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement (CBA), and other members of the Coalition will join Assemblyman Roger Green and executives from Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) to welcome the award-winning firm as a partner in the CBA. 
Trends over time

It seems that, for certain contracts, it has been easier for Forest City Ratner and its contractors to reach out to MWBEs.

For example, early in the construction activities, in a February 2008 report (below) to the Downtown Brooklyn Advisory & Oversight Committee, Forest City said that MBE awards were 36.7% of total purchases, while WBE awards were 8.8%, for a total of 45.5%. That was well ahead of the 30% goal.

The recent report from ESD suggests that in certain aspects of work, M/WBE totals are well above the goals, while in others they lag.

For example, as the chart at left suggests, the entire $16.7 million (100%) spent on infrastructure has gone to MWBE firms.

On Stage II railyard/Carlton Avenue Bridge work, of the $48.6 million, the MBE total is more than 30%, while the WBE total is nearly 5%

However, of the nearly $392 million spent on the Barclays arena, the MBE total is less than 12%, while the WBE total is less than 6%.

With $52.7 million spent on the transit connection, the MBE total is less than 10%, while the WBE total nudges over 8%.

Some other projects aim for more consistency. The Port Authority press release states:
Each of the World Trade Center contracts has a specific M/WBE goal, typically 17 percent of the total contract amount, which is in line with the agency’s overall contracting goal for such firms.
Local MWBEs from Brooklyn

The new report from ESD describes some borough statistics, surely of interest to local elected officials:
The total contract amount for Brooklyn based M/WBEs is $34,416,541 which represents approximately 27.3% of the total M/WBE purchases. The total number of contracts to Brooklyn based MWBEs is 52 or approximately 28.2% of all contracts awarded to MWBEs.
Another measure

Earlier this month, Merritt & Harris, the real estate consultant to the arena PILOT Bond Trustee reported that about 12.3% and 9.5% of the workforce on the job last month were attributed to MBEs and WBEs. The CBA measurement, however, is contract dollars; after all, minority and women workers may be employed by a variety of companies.

MWBE Contract Awards as of December 2011


Report on the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement to the Downtown Brooklyn Advisory & Oversight Com...

Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement (CBA)

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…

Barclays Center event June 11 to protest plans to expand Israeli draft; questions about logistics

At right is a photo of a poster spotted in Hasidic Williamsburg right. Clearly there's an event scheduled at the Barclays Center aimed at the Haredi Jewish community (strict Orthodox Jews who reject secular culture), but the lack of English text makes it cryptic.

The website Matzav.com explains, Protest Against Israeli Draft of Bnei Yeshiva Rescheduled for Barclays Center:
A large asifa to protest the drafting of bnei yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel into the Israeli army that had been set to take place this month will instead be held on Sunday, 17 Sivan/June 11, at the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn, NY. So attendees at a big gathering will protest an apparent change of policy that will make it much more difficult for traditional Orthodox Jewish students--both Hasidic (who follow a rebbe) and non-Hasidic (who don't)--to get deferments from the draft. Comments on the Yeshiva World website explain some of the debate.

The logistical questions

What's unclear is how large the ev…

Atlanta's Atlantic Yards moves ahead

First mentioned in April, the Atlantic Yards project in Atlanta is moving ahead--and has the potential to nudge Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn further down in Google searches.

According to a 5/30/17 press release, Hines and Invesco Real Estate Announce T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards:
Hines, the international real estate firm, and Invesco Real Estate, a global real estate investment manager, today announced a joint venture on behalf of one of Invesco Real Estate’s institutional clients to develop two progressive office projects in Atlanta totalling 700,000 square feet. T3 West Midtown will be a 200,000-square-foot heavy timber office development and Atlantic Yards will consist of 500,000 square feet of progressive office space in two buildings. Both projects are located on sites within Atlantic Station in the flourishing Midtown submarket.
Hines will work with Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture (HPA) as the design architect for both T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards. DLR Group will be t…

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…