There was one conspicuous absence last Friday when a broad range of elected officials urged that the Atlantic Yards Development Agreement be revised to require the affordable housing to be built on the originally promoted ten-year schedule before the developer is allowed to sell 70% of the remaining project to the Chinese government-owned Greenland Group, and that the ongoing Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement study alternatives to Forest City's plan.
That absence: state Senator and Borough President-elect Eric Adams, who represents a district near the site and, of course, will soon represent the borough.
Those officials present were Assemblymembers James F. Brennan, Joan L. Millman, and Walter T. Mosley; State Senator Velmanette Montgomery; City Council members Letitia James and Stephen Levin, and Council member elect Laurie Cumbo. Those supporting the effort, but sending representatives, were U.S. Representatives Yvette Clarke, Hakeem Jeffries and Nydia M. Velázquez; Assemblymembers Karim Camara and Joseph R. Lentol, and Council Member Brad Lander.
|Adams at 1/22/12 press conference; photo/ Tracy Collins|
January 2012 criticism
Either way, it's a strong contrast from the 1/22/12 press conference Adams called, with Jeffries and Camara backing him, urging a new governance structure for the project and expressing outrage at the slow pace.
"One of the major problems we've had historically is that too many people have used taxpayers' dollars to give promises, and did not deliver," Adams said at the time, at a press conference seen as an opportunity for the Senator, seeking higher office, to gain some attention. "This developer has become the poster child of how we will not do business [any more] with taxpayers' dollars."
Since then, the first tower is finally under way, after a series of delays that cannot be attributed to opponents.
But a major gap between Atlantic Yards promises and performance remains, and it's understandable why the elected officials would want to impose new conditions, given the improved economy and Forest City's potential gain from the new investor. "Our state cannot allow FCR to cash out," said Michelle de La Uz of the Fifth Avenue Committee last Friday, "before the majority of public benefits are delivered."
For Adams, I suspect, the main difference is that he's now in office, and the Barclays Center and Atlantic Yards may prove to be more constituent--a place for press conferences, as with current Borough President Marty Markowitz--than object of criticism.
Adams faces the question
On NY1's Road to City Hall on 11/15/13, the same day as the elected officials' press conference, host Errol Louis brought up the issue briefly, at 3:27.
That wasn't the most specific question, and Adams responded evasively to the question and with clear support for the project.
"We can move those factories," Adams continued. "Jobs like that can go to Brownsville, you can actually train young people and those who have unemployment issues, you can train them to actually do the housing that's being done. So I'm encouraging Bruce to continue and move forward, we must do the housing in that area."