Skip to main content

Ratner converts (?) projected AY office tower to apartments, claims de Blasio will be "great mayor" (and touts "barrier-of-entry" real estate)

Maybe he was being sloppy, or glib, or maybe he was revealing a change, but in a friendly Reuters interview this week Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner claimed that "we have sites for 16 residential buildings right next to the arena."

Actually, while there are sites for 16 buildings, one of them--at the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush replacing the (temporary) plaza--is supposed to be an office tower. Given the demand for housing in Brooklyn, it's not implausible they could build a residential tower there, but that would deliver even fewer "jobs" than promised.

The Reuters headline is Ratner: Bill de Blasio will be a great mayor:
From Barclays to de Blasio, Bruce Ratner, chairman of Forest City Ratner, talks with Reuters Lisa Bernhard about a variety of topics including Brooklyn’s budding sports franchises, the NYC mayoral race and the red hot New York City residential real estate market.
Ratner's praise for Democratic mayoral nominee de Blasio is not footnoted with any acknowledgment that Ratner has raised money for the candidate.

Another interesting moment was when Ratner described his belief in "barrier of entry," or a segment of the real estate business where they face little competition.



Fawning interviewer Lisa Bernhard asked Ratner about the state of New York and urban real estate.

"It's changed dramatically," Ratner replied. "Our city is beyond strong, compared to anyone else... the city has very little housing left... the city is really doing well."

A new mayor

Bernhard asked Ratner about the change in mayoralty.

"Well, I've seen a lot of mayors, I started actually working for Mayor Lindsay," Ratner said, "and Bloomberg was as good as they get, he and Ed Koch I think, stand out. And Giuliani," he added, recovering.

Berhard cited an article in New York magazine about how a lot of real estate developers are freaking out regarding the advent of de Blasio coming in. "So are you freaking out?"

"Not at all," Ratner replied. "I've known Bill de Blasio for a very long time. He's going to make a very good mayor, and he's going to be good for business because he has a [sic] good leadership, he's intelligent, he's going to do a good job. He listens. he's right now going around seeing all the real estate people...  Bill de Blasio I predict will be a great mayor."

de Blasio pressed Ratner?

Last night, during the mayoral debate between de Blasio and Republican Joe Lhota, the issue came up. To quote the New York Times fact-check:
Mr. de Blasio said he had pressed the developer of Atlantic Yards, Bruce C. Ratner, to follow through on his promises to build hundreds of units of affordable housing there, none of which have yet materialized.
But critics of the project, like Norman Oder, the author of the Atlantic Yards Report blog, say that while Mr. de Blasio expressed disappointment with the project, any pressure he may have applied on Mr. Ratner was negligible at best.
You don't have to be a critic of the project to know that de Blasio has not publicly pressured Ratner at all.

The Barclays Center

Ratner repeated his comments about the arena, citing the architecture, local workers, and programming, including boxing and the food.

"Yes, we expect to win the championship," Ratner said rather declaratively in response to a leading question about the Nets, but "you never know."

What's next?

"Where do you go next?" he was asked. "What's the next big place that you develop?"

"The first major thing to realize is we have sites for 16 residential buildings right next to the arena," Ratner responded. "So we've started the next one, and we're going to continue, continue, continue, until we've finished 16 buildings."

"In Brooklyn?"

"Yes, 16 residential buildings," Ratner responded. "We're going to push ahead on Atlantic Yards and get that housing really really going, and then we will begin to look for other projects because, this is a huge amount, and I've always been careful to never do more than I think our company can handle."

That's a wee bit disingenuous. Forest City Ratner bid unsuccessfully to develop the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area.

The real estate biz

Ratner called Brooklyn "the best real estate market in the country."

Asked what he might tell a real estate investor, Ratner responded, "I think residential is really where the strength ought to be."

"The second thing is, I always believe in barrier of entry," he added. "So if you find a company that's building garden apartments everywhere, I kind of stay away from it: competition. So I think you want to find a company that builds in urban areas or barrier-of-entry areas, and in residential. The general direction, I would say, is really high-rise residential, multi-family, whether it be condo or rental, in urban areas, that's where it's going to be strong."

Comments

  1. Anonymous11:51 AM

    "Right now he's going around seeing all the Real Estate People" That's very telling! If DeBlasio really wants to change the
    "two New York's" he is constantly talking about, doesn't he have to rein in the real estate interests? Once he is elected,
    (assuming he is) it will be this very contradiction between real estate power and people who can't afford to live her, that he
    will have to deal with.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

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…

Is Barclays Center dumping the Islanders, or are they renegotiating? Evidence varies (bond doc, cash receipts); NHL attendance biggest variable

The Internet has been abuzz since Bloomberg's Scott Soshnick reported 1/30/17, using an overly conclusory headline, that Brooklyn’s Barclays Center Is Dumping the Islanders.

That would end an unusual arrangement in which the arena agrees to pay the team a fixed sum (minus certain expenses), in exchange for keeping tickets, suite, and sponsorship revenue.

The arena would earn more without the hockey team, according to Bloomberg, which cited “a financial projection shared with potential investors showed the Islanders won’t contribute any revenue after the 2018-19 season--a clear signal that the team won’t play there, the people said."

That "signal," however, is hardly definitive, as are the media leaks about a prospective new arena in Queens, as shown in the screenshot below from Newsday. Both sides are surely pushing for advantage, if not bluffing.

Consider: the arena and the Islanders can't even formally begin their opt-out talks until after this season. The disc…

Skanska says it "expected to assemble a properly designed modular building, not engage in an iterative R&D experiment"

On 12/10/16, I noted that FastCo.Design's Prefab's Moment of Reckoning article dialed back the gush on the 461 Dean modular tower compared to the publication's previous coverage.

Still, I noted that the article relied on developer Forest City Ratner and architect SHoP to put the best possible spin on what was clearly a failure. From the article: At the project's outset, it took the factory (managed by Skanska at the time) two to three weeks to build a module. By the end, under FCRC's management, the builders cut that down to six days. "The project took a little longer than expected and cost a little bit more than expected because we started the project with the wrong contractor," [Forest City's Adam] Greene says.Skanska jabs back
Well, Forest City's estranged partner Skanska later weighed in--not sure whether they weren't asked or just missed a deadline--and their article was updated 12/13/16. Here's Skanska's statement, which shows th…

Not just logistics: bypassing Brooklyn for DNC 2016 also saved on optics (role of Russian oligarch, Shanghai government)

Surely the logistical challenges of holding a national presidential nominating convention in Brooklyn were the main (and stated) reasons for the Democratic National Committee's choice of Philadelphia.

And, as I wrote in NY Slant, the huge security cordon in Philadelphia would have been impossible in Brooklyn.

But consider also the optics. As I wrote in my 1/21/15 op-ed in the Times arguing that the choice of Brooklyn was a bad idea:
The arena also raises ethically sticky questions for the Democrats. While the Barclays Center is owned primarily by Forest City Ratner, 45 percent of it is owned by the Russian billionaire Mikhail D. Prokhorov (who also owns 80 percent of the Brooklyn Nets). Mr. Prokhorov has a necessarily cordial relationship with Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin — though he has been critical of Mr. Putin in the past, last year, at the Russian president’s request, he tried to transfer ownership of the Nets to one of his Moscow-based companies. An oligarch-owned a…

Former ESDC CEO Lago returns to NYC to head City Planning Commission

Carl Weisbrod, Mayor Bill de Blasio's City Planning Commission Chairman and Director of the Department of City Planning, is resigning,

And he's being replaced by Marisa Lago, currently a federal official, but who Atlantic Yards-ologists remember as the short-term Empire State Development Corporation CEO who, in an impolitic but candid 2009 statement, acknowledged that the project would take "decades."

Still, Lago not long after that played the good soldier at a May 2009 Senate oversight hearing, justifying changes in the project but claiming the public benefits remained the same.

By returning to City Planning, Lago will join former ESDC General Counsel Anita Laremont, who after retiring from the state (and taking a pension) got the job with the city.

Back at planning

Lago, a lawyer, in 1983 began work as an aide to City Planning Chairman Herb Sturz, and later served as the General Counsel to the president of the NYC Economic Development Corporation, Weisbrod himself.