Skip to main content

AY down the memory hole: Forest City Ratner's malls identified as "crime epicenter," again contradicting Atlantic Yards Blight Study, which absolved them

Of all the dubious work that the ubiquitous environmental consulting firm AKRF has done on Atlantic Yards, its crime study, aimed to support the conclusion that the Atlantic Yards footprint was blighted, was most clearly bankrupt.

Remember, AKRF suggested that a little-populated, railyard-dominated section of footprint, rather than Forest City Ratner's two malls, was responsible for the crime spike in Sector E of the 88th Precinct. But it never checked with the cops to square their observations and statistics with the surely self-serving numbers reported by the malls.

From the New York Times's blog The Local today, Our Crime Epicenter: The Atlantic Terminal and Atlantic Center Malls:
The Atlantic Terminal and Atlantic Center malls aren’t just hubs for Fort Greene shoppers and commuters — they’re also the neighborhood hotspots for criminals.
The adjoining shopping centers, owned and developed by Atlantic Yards master builder Bruce Ratner, have been the site of at least 26 reported crimes, and countless other thefts, making it the singular crime epicenter in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill’s 88th Precinct.
From the Atlantic Yards Blight Study:
For example, while there were 39 robberies in sector 88E in 2005, the shopping center security records indicate that no robberies occurred that year at Atlantic Center or Atlantic Terminal. Similarly, while there were 115 grand larceny crimes reported for sector 88E in 2005, the shopping center security force recorded only one incident of larceny that same year. Although crimes catalogued by the Atlantic Center and Atlantic Terminal security staff are not necessarily the same as those catalogued by the NYPD, the relatively low number of crimes reported at the shopping centers indicates that the high crime rate in sector 88E is more likely a result of crimes occurring on the project site than in Atlantic Center or Atlantic Terminal.
I've been reporting on the malls' crime problems for years. As I wrote in March 2009, the police had said that the malls were responsible for the area's crime problem.

Helpful study

But AKRF's work was very useful to Forest City Ratner and its enablers. Remember, Jim Stuckey, then president of the Atlantic Yards Development Group, straightfacedly told WNYC talk show host Brian Lehrer in July 2006, ""The crime in these [AY footprint] areas is substantially higher than areas around it."

Without quoting the police, I explained that month how an analysis of the AKRF methods showed that the conclusions were completely speculative.

Community Board 2 told the ESDC:
The crime statistics in the DEIS are misrepresented and cannot be used honestly as evidence of blight.
There was no response from ESDC, via AKRF.

When the crime statistics were attacked in the first case challenging the Atlantic Yards environmental review, Supreme Court Justice Joan Madden punted, writing that "since the incidence of crime is just one of the factors in determining blight... petitioners' arguments as to the accuracy of the crime statistics need not be addressed."

As I wrote in Jaunary 2008, what if she had tried to assess that factor in the state's claims of blight? That might have led, if not to a full unraveling of the state's case, at least the start of a cloud--potentially, a large cloud--over its legitimacy, notably the Blight Study.

No comment from FCR

For today's article, The Local tried to check with the malls, reporting:
Irv Hansen, a spokesman for Andrews International Security, which polices the shopping center, said he could not comment because security methods are “proprietary and not available to discuss.” Mr. Hansen referred such questions to Forest City Ratner, which declined to comment on the crime spree.
Big bucks for AKRF

AKRF's tab neared $5 million as of May 2007 and surely bumped up another 20-30% or so in 2009 and 2010, when it was commissioned by the Empire State Development Corporation to issue new sets of documents associated with the re-approval of Atlantic Yards and the court case challenging the environmental review.

The tab for the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement could reach $1.7 million. These are all pass-through costs to Forest City Ratner.

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…