Thursday, March 01, 2012

Forest City plays nice: just after Bender reveals corporate hardball in court, successor Cotton introduces herself to neighbors, promotes effort to recruit Brooklyn food firms big enough to serve arena

It was just a day after Forest City Ratner's former Executive VP for Government Affairs, Bruce Bender, testified in court in the Yonkers corruption trial, the second of two appearances, which were marked, perhaps most notably, by Bender's pungent message in September 2005 to lobbyist Mike Spano:
"No fucking around. Get Sandy on board. Tell your brother we need help now."
Sandy would be Council Member Sandy Annabi, now on trial, and the brother would be Yonkers powerbroker Nick Spano, a longtime state Senator turned legislator with his own recent legal troubles.

Bender has receded from the Forest City scene, having left, perhaps with encouragement, to form his own lobbying firm with longtime deputy Scott Cantone, who was equally involved in the developer's near-desperate efforts to get the Ridge Hill project passed in 2006.

A message from Cotton

Testerday, a select group of neighbors got the following message from Ashley Cotton, the former city official hired to replace Bender:
Dear Neighbors,

I am writing to introduce myself and share some exciting news about the Barclays Center.  I started this week at Forest City Ratner as the head of Government and Public Affairs and look forward to working with all of you.   We plan to regularly share news about the arena going forward and I hope you won’t hesitate to call me at any time.

Today we announced that the Barclays Center is expanding its already extensive search for Brooklyn-based food service businesses to become an integral part of the arena when it opens on September 28, 2012. I have attached our press release to this email.

Barclays, Forest City Ratner and Levy are committed to working with local businesses and suppliers, and to integrating local companies into the Barclays Center food program.

We are committed to bringing the best of Brooklyn to Barclays Center.  Drawing on the borough’s dynamic food scene, we are excited to cast a wide net to make Barclays Center’s culinary experience as quintessentially Brooklyn as it gets.

Interested Brooklyn-based food businesses should visit www.atlanticyards.com to complete our online survey and read more about the process. The survey will be open for responses from Monday, February 27>until Monday, March 26, 2012.

We hope you will share this information with interested businesses in your community.

Thank you,
Ashley Cotton
Vice President
Forest City Ratner Companies
718-923-8690
The news already shared

The news in the press release had already been handed yesterday morning to the ever-eager New York Daily News, which, perhaps not coincidentally, had chosen not to cover the ongoing Yonkers trial.

In Barclays Center looks for Brooklyn foodie vendors at new Atlantic Yards Nets arena: Looking for local eateries to sell 'Everything from pickles to pizza,' say officials, the newspaper reported:
“It has to be a company that can fulfill the orders for an 18,000 seat arena,” said Barclays Center spokesman Barry Baum, who said the team hopes to draw a big group of would-be vendors by handing out the surveys through community groups and ads in newspapers.

“We’re looking for everything from pickles to pizza and from silverware to sandwich picks,” Baum said. “We really want to showcase all Brooklyn-based items that might not otherwise have an opportunity to be considered for an arena.”

Arena officials said they haven’t pinned down what proportion of food vendors will be from Brooklyn. They’ve already made deals with national outfits for some major products, like Coca-Cola for soda. Food operations will be overseen by a Chicago-based firm, Levy Restaurants.
So there's an inherent contradiction between local vendors, which in the main are small, and those large enough to service an arena.

It's reminiscent of another media stunt, in which Forest City held an open call for wannabe arena announcers, gaining coverage from the compliant press, but wound up skipping that pool to hire a guy who got noticed through other connections.

The press release
BARCLAYS CENTER EXPANDS SEARCH FOR BROOKLYN-BASED FOOD SERVICE BUSINESSES

Wednesday, February 29, 2012
BROOKLYN – Barclays Center is expanding its already extensive search for Brooklyn-based food service businesses to become an integral part of the arena when it opens on September 28, 2012 with a JAY Z concert.

In conjunction with the venue's majority owner and developer Forest City Ratner Companies and world-class food operator Levy Restaurants, Barclays Center is unveiling a survey today on www.BarclaysCenter.com and www.AtlanticYards.com to help identify qualified, Brooklyn-based businesses in the food service industry.

"We are committed to bringing the best of Brooklyn to Barclays Center and to draw on the borough's dynamic food scene," said Forest City Ratner Chairman and CEO Bruce Ratner. "Our goal is cast a wide net to make Barclays Center's culinary experience as quintessentially Brooklyn as it gets."

Levy Restaurants has made a commitment to work with local businesses and suppliers, and to recruit, train, and integrate community-based operators and suppliers into the Barclays Center food business.

Barclays Center will be advertising the survey in various media outlets, and also plans to reach out to Brooklyn community boards, the Downtown Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, and Community organizations. The application survey will help determine if Barclays Center will consider utilizing qualified vendors' goods and services.

The application survey will help determine if Barclays Center will consider utilizing qualified vendors' goods and services. The information collected will be kept confidential and responding to the survey's questions does not guarantee an interview. Online responses are encouraged, but written responses can be mailed to:

Levy Restaurants, 1 MetroTech Center, 23rd floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201.

Surveys must be received by March 26, 2012.

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