Skip to main content

Fair fight? In the Real Deal, "NIMBYs" ($1.15M budget) vs. "YIMBYs" ($26.9M); one "NIMBY," DDDB, isn't even fundraising

The Real Deal, that industry-friendly real estate magazine, offers in its November issue NYC’s NIMBY posse: A roundup of the city’s most influential neighborhood organizations fighting developers.

But the most salient facts are here in this graphic I compiled at right, comparing the budgets and staff sizes of selected so-called "NIMBYs" (Not in My Back Yard) and "YIMBYs" (Yes in My Back Yard).

Note that the YIMBYs surely do not devote all their budgets to development fights, and that the YIMBY list ignored organizations like the powerful Real Estate Board of New York.

Also ignored are YIMBY developers, who can muster political contributions, lobbying, and public relations efforts.

As the budget totals suggest, there are only two "NIMBYs" with significant budgets and staff, and they are far smaller than the YIMBYs.

The article suggests that some of the groups actually go farther than the literal definition of NIMBY--no, not because they have valid points of view, but because "some have pushed to protect whole swaths of the city, successfully curtailing development projects and swaying public opinion." Quelle horreur. (Also see my post on the issues raised by the NYU expansion.)

What about DDDB

It's interesting that one mention goes to Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, which is barely active--and, in its activity, has joined several other groups--Brown Community Develop Corp;, BrooklynSpeaks, FUREE, and Fifth Avenue Committee--in actions surrounding the arena opening, under the rubric AYCrimeScene.com.

The article states:
In late September, the Barclays Center at Atlantic Yards opened to much fanfare. But Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn and other groups wanted to hammer home a message: Developer Forest City Ratner promised jobs and housing along with the basketball.
Develop Don’t Destroy is considered the most visible opponent of the massive project, but cofounder Daniel Goldstein explained that, with the first phase of the development complete, the nonprofit is shifting its focus. “We’re more interested in the longterm macro issues of what’s going to happen with this site,” said Goldstein, who advises other Brooklyn nonprofits and is working on a memoir about Atlantic Yards, but declined to discuss his day job.
That doesn't sound particularly NIMBY, does it?

The article suggests that DDDB "racked up some impressive victories, including pressuring the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which owned the 22-acre site, to request alternative proposals for the land in 2005." Council Member Letitia James also applied significant pressure and, really, both were just trying to get the MTA to do its job.

More impressive is that DDDB contacted other developers and got one, Extell, to compete, ultimately bidding three times as much cash as Forest City but seeing the MTA deem the former's bid better and negotiating solely with Forest City.

DDDB lawsuits

The article states:
The group also filed six lawsuits, challenging the use of eminent domain, the soundness of the environmental review and a renegotiated agreement between Forest City Ratner and the MTA.
Though the group met with mixed success in the courts, an appeals court ruled this past June that the developer and the state must conduct an environmental impact study, since the project is now estimated to take 25 years instead of 10. (Forest City Ratner appealed the decision, but New York State’s highest court declined to hear the appeal.)
Yes, "mixed success," but given that courts almost always defer to government agencies, the latter victory was significant.

What now?

The article concludes:
Today, the group is a streamlined operation: The all-volunteer staff of about four or five is no longer working full-time on the issue, and they have not raised funds in about a year, Goldstein said. (In fiscal year 2009, the group raised about $162,000, according to figures from nonprofit data provider GuideStar.)
Moreover, the group is now focusing on a “political effort” that, in part, hinges on the environmental review. Since the review requires studying alternatives to Forest City Ratner’s plan, and since the company has not closed on all of the land at Atlantic Yards, Develop Don’t Destroy is hoping to persuade state officials to renegotiate their development agreement with the company.
The goal is to have the state issue RFPs for the remainder of the site and to have multiple developers finish Atlantic Yards.
“The struggle over the rest of the site, and what happens there, is really the long-term, ongoing struggle that our group … and other groups are going to have to deal with for a very long time,” Goldstein said.
Is that NIMBY, really? And is this group, and its allies, in a fair fight with the YIMBYs?

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…