Monday, July 01, 2013

On Bloomberg TV, Bruce Ratner claims 2000 arena jobs (1900 part-time) means "tremendous" impact on local economy

The headline on the 6/28/13 Bloomberg article was New York Office Prices May Be Too High, Bruce Ratner Says, but there was much more news in the associated video regarding Ratner's plans for his own residential buildings as well as the spin he's putting on the Barclays Center, calling the provision of part-time jobs a "tremendous" impact on local economy.

Office and residential

Ratner's comment referred not to office prices in general, just some "trophy prices" a few buildings.

"They're too high," he said. "You're using less square feet per person. And the economy is still iffy. All of us real estate people, all of us in business, are wondering what’s happening in this country. What's happening in this world While New York is doing great by comparison, we still do get affected.”

Is New York its own market?

"It's its own market," he replied. " Residential multifamily rental is going crazy, it's very very strong, that will continue. Condo prices are going up, I think that will continue. Retail is very strong, also... We live on an island, there's only so much land."

In other words, a good market for the Atlantic Yards residential units.

What's driving really high prices for Manhattan apartments, he was asked.

The answer: "foreign investment... When the world gets unsettled, we get foreign money coming here."

Next project

What about the Nassau Coliseum, he was asked. Is the Ratner bid the front-runner of the four?

"I think so, and I hope so," he replied. "Our plan's great. The Nassau Coliseum doesn't look great. "Were changing the whole way it looks like we did with Barclays....we've got great partners.... we've got the best design... This really reflects a bit of Long Island, a gray fence around the dunes."

The Barclays Center example

"When you first proposed the Barclays Center," he was asked, "a lot of people said they didn't want you to change the neighborhood in Brooklyn, now that it's been up and running, people have been much more enthused, has that helped you in your bid with Nassau Coliseum?"

"First of all, no one thought we could do it, so we're the people who get things done," Ratner replied. "I think people realize that. Second, we were very sensitive to the community, architecturally it's beautiful. Even the people who work there, we have turned around the way people look at employees of arenas, or Home Depots... we have nice employees."

"I will bear testament to that," a host replied. "I've been to several of the Nets games, Rolling Stones. I've been amazed how friendly everyone who works there. I don't know if it's they're happy to have jobs, they like the structure... almost a small-town feel."

"For one thing, we have Disney train the employee," Ratner said. "I'm very personally involved, I know the employees, I say hello."

He knows 2000 employees, with the rapid turnover at the venue?

"Tremendous" impact?

"The other thing is, believe it or not, we hired 80% from Brooklyn and in the neighborhood," Ratner added, citing "30% from the housing projects."

What has it meant to the local economy?

"It's tremendous," he responded. " Y'know, the area, the segment that has not recovered in New York and the country, people who are low, middle-income... Basically you have a situation where the less educated, people of lower income, have not recovered. So it's a big thing when you provide 2000 jobs."

Really? Remember, 1900 of those jobs are part-time, and the average weekly salary is likely in the $250 range. How does that make a "tremendous" impact?

The trade

Ratner was asked about the reported but not formally consummated Brooklyn Nets trade for Boston Celtics stars Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.

"These are great players, great All-Stars," he said. "Basketball is about the key celebrities, the best players... this is a world of celebrity, whether it be Jay-Z or Garnett or Pierce."

Condos vs. rentals

Ratner was asked about 8 Spruce Street, the Frank Gehry-designed residential rental tower in Lower Manhattan. Given that more people will want to buy, will Ratner build condos?

"I'm not a big condo person, honestly. We will build some," he replied, presumably referring to plans for 1930 Atlantic Yards condos along with 4500 rentals. "The thing I don't get about condos.. you have to decide today what the market's going to be like three years from now.... So I'm a bit nervous about condos. Money's been made in this city, in the multi-family, by rentals, not so much condos. So we'll probably build some, but this is still a rentals market, 70% of the city is still rentals."

Note that the Atlantic Yards condos still would be a better bet for the company than the long on-hold office tower that was supposed to rise over what is now the arena plaza.

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