Skip to main content

The backlash to NY Mag writer's portrait of "pleasant and affable" Bruce Ratner; in 2003, sports biz reporter transcended "engaging" Ratner to note, "people are doing this to make money"

The backlash to Will Leitch's big, conclusory New York Magazine Barclays Center feature ("This is no longer... an example of private might overcoming public interest") continues, thanks to the author's admission in a sidebar:
* We talked to a ton of people for this story, but without question, the most pleasant and affable person we talked to was ... Bruce Ratner. The controversial — to say the least — real estate magnate is not known for this warmth and cuddliness, but in all honesty, his aw-shucks demeanor was disarming, to say the least. (This is not entirely because he thought our son was cute, though he did and that never hurts.) We don't know if he'll be happy with everything that's in the story, but for a guy who had a whole theatrical documentary made about how awful he is, we were surprised by how likable we found him in person.
Well, "we" clearly didn't talk to enough people--not even colleagues--who might give "us" a more rounded perspective.

Turning on the b.s. detector

The thing is, journalists don't have to know about the gag orders and the broken promises and the lobbying/p.r. spending that are part of Forest City Ratner's hardball business practices.

They just should be professional and turn on the b.s. detector. For example, here's Matthew Futterman, then a sports business reporter for the Newark Star-Ledger, talking on the 12/12/03 Brian Lehrer Show:
I like Bruce Ratner very much personally. He’s a very engaging person, he’s very enthusiastic, and I think he’s sincere, he has his heart in the right place, but it’s amazing how similar he sounds to the people who wanted to build the arena in Newark five years ago, in terms of, y’know, 'we’re doing this for the community, and we’re doing this for the kids, it’s important for them.'

Is it really important that you have a basketball team right there? And, y’know something, people are doing this to make money.
Which should have left Leitch to do some homework. After all, the last person to buff Ratner as "humble, winsome" was a Community Benefits Agreement signatory whose organization was paid by the developer. Leitch did it out of sporting enthusiasm.

Doc director responds

And Leitch dissed Battle for Brooklyn, which he may not have actually watched. Director Mike Galinsky responded in a comment:
I try to stay out of the fray but I take exception to the idea that "Battle for Brooklyn" was devoted to making Ratner look bad. This kind of dismissive throw away line about our 8 years of work plays into the FCR playbook, and its simply not true. In fact major project proponent Errol Louis, on NY1's Inside City Hall, called the movie very fair, as did James Caldwell from BUILD when he saw it. As you can see from the link you posted, over 100 NY Times readers have given it an average 5 star rating and a slew of positive reviews. I'm curious to know if you saw it yourself or if you are simply quoting Bruce Ratner. What the film does do is follow the opposition, which was largely denied a hearing in the main stream press. To qoute your colleague Chris Smith from a year ago (well before the current FCR charm offensive) "Battle for Brooklyn is at its best showing how Atlantic Yards used the pretense of democracy to enrich the powerful, but how it also energized actual citizens to fight the good fight. Seeing the girders climb for the Nets' new home, though, there’s little comfort in being noble losers." Articles like yours give creedence to both Ratner's and Bloomberg's idea that "No one's going to remember how long it took. They are going to just look and see that it was done". Our goal is to explode this myth of power and try to help people to remember so this kind of corrupt kleptocratic nonsense isn't so easy to pull off next time.

Another commenter, DeanStreetDude, broke it down:
Let me get this straight if I like your baby then I get a free pass to an article that yanks my wanker? ....

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…

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…