Thursday, September 05, 2013

WNYC on de Blasio: "his handling of Atlantic Yards raises questions about whether he has been able to push developers to keep their promises"

WNYC's Matthew Schuerman, who covered Atlantic Yards carefully at the New York Observer and less often at his new job, has a solid piece today about Bill de Blasio, headlined  De Blasio’s Atlantic Yards Support Helped Old Ally: ACORN played pivotal role in 2001 City Council race.

Here's the crux:
Now the public advocate, de Blasio is polling ahead of his Democratic opponents in the race for mayor. He is campaigning in part on a promise to create more affordable housing: 100,000 new units, about half of which would be built by real estate developers in exchange for the right to build taller buildings in certain places.
But his handling of Atlantic Yards raises questions about whether he has been able to push developers to keep their promises.
Indeed, it does. Please go to both the article text and listen to the audio. I'm quoted in both.

My comment
I'd encourage people to listen to the audio, rather than rely on the text version, since there are some key differences and shadings.
Notably, in the audio version, the last word goes to the skeptical Letitia James, rather than the self-serving Bill de Blasio. And she deserves it.
Also, the audio cites the reporter's search of de Blasio's web site for reference to Atlantic Yards, and comes up with only two: a speech mentioning Atlantic Yards supportively, and a meeting with executives from developer Forest City Ratner and their lobbyist.
Both audio and article touch on de Blasio's commitment to fulfill and enforce the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement (CBA). However, de Blasio has delivered nothing but bromides about how it should be fulfilled, or government should do better.
One thing he could have done--and still could do--is simple: criticize developer Forest City Ratner for failing to appoint the Independent Compliance Monitor promised as part of the CBA.
Also, de Blasio gets off way to easy in claiming that his support for Forest City Ratner's modular construction plan represents his effort to get the affordable housing done.
The housing agreement that Bertha Lewis negotiated--and de Blasio saluted--promised that half the subsidized units, in terms of floor area, would be devoted to family-sized (2-BR and 3-BR) units. The first building falls way short: with no three-bedroom apartments among the 181 subsidized units.
The 36 two-bedroom subsidized units, as I've reported, would not be distributed evenly across the five affordable income "bands," but would have only nine (instead of 14+) units for households in the two low-income bands, which is ACORN's constituency.
To save Forest City Ratner money, some 17 (instead of 7+) units would be designated for the highest middle-income band, with households earning well over six figures. Subsidized, yes, but hardly affordable to those who rallied for the project.
Neither Lewis nor de Blasio publicly raised a question.
More here:
http://atlanticyardsreport.blogspot.com/2013/08/what-is-he-chopped-liver-bill-de.html
(The above link includes a critique of the speech cited on the Public Advocate's web site.)
http://atlanticyardsreport.blogspot.com/2012/12/the-atlantic-yards-b2-modular.html
I should add that Mr. Schuerman does a service in teasing out exactly how the Working Families Party non-endorsement went down: ACORN and unions like 1199 pushed back on the locals' choice.
Norman Oder
Atlantic Yards Report

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