Skip to main content

Arana Hankin, after ESD: "I was looking for ways to do development in a new, progressive way" (which means AY wasn't?)

So, Arana Hankin, former Director, Atlantic Yards Project, for Empire State Development, has left for the prestigious mid-career Loeb Fellowship at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD), a place where "accomplished practitioners" can recharge "in the middle of promising careers shaping the built and natural environment."

A Loeb Video Profile: Arana Hankin posted 12/4/13 provides some insight into her work and path. It barely mentions her Atlantic Yards work, though it leaves hints she wasn't satisfied in her work. Could that have been because she had to kowtow to developer Forest City Ratner?

The summary:
Arana Hankin viewed her anthropology background as a vehicle for activism and entered politics poised to make a difference. Recruited by David Patterson [sic] to deliver constituent services, she later became manager of several key projects for the Empire State Development Agency. It was Hankin who shepherded the public process of the Atlantic Yards/Barclay Center project, but she began to feel that her work in government was not allowing her to have the impact she wanted. Enter the Loeb Fellowship opportunity and a chance to retool.
The video: Arana Hankin, Community Economic Development Specialist



Wanting to make a difference

"I entered into politics because I really felt like it was a forum and a vehicle to make a real substantive difference in the world," Hankin says, leading off, "and working in Harlem, on 125th Street, doing constituent work, I was making a real, substantive difference in individual lives."

Hankin was not only Director for the Atlantic Yards Project for ESD, but also President of the Queens West Development Corporation and Project Manager for Columbia University's Manhattanville expansion. Which means she was stretched rather thin.

"My background was in anthropology and archeology," she says. "My job out of college was working on the skeletal remains for the African Burial Ground project.... the largest colonial cemetery ever excavated in the United States. Through that process, I met [state Sen.] David Paterson... who was one of the first officials to advocate for the preservation of the site."

Hankin joined Paterson's office, and did constituent work in Harlem as well as work with cultural organizations. "I view myself as an activist, and I entered into politics because I thought it would be a forum to be able to make a difference," she says. "Anthropology, for me, was a vehicle for activism. Working on the African Burial Ground project, I was actually able to re-write history and share the historiographies of a population that had been quieted."

What did she do?

Then, whether it was Hankin's choice or simply the constraints of brief profile, there's no discussion of how she came to work for Paterson when he became governor, or how he placed her in ESD, or what she did while there.

"I was looking for ways to do development in a new, progressive way, and I started to feel as though working in government was not allowing me to do so, so I was certainly for searching for something better," she says.

Wait--hasn't Atlantic Yards been billed as "development in a new, progressive way?"

Ready to move on

"And I was to move on," Hankin continues. "So the Loeb opportunity actually I think came at the exact right moment, where I needed to take time away from the hustle and bustle of working in New York City, in the political circle. To try to figure out the best way to really make an impact through real estate devleopment.

Y'know, I've been at the GSD now for just about three weeks, and I feel like I've gained so much. I fell very lucky to be here... we get to really explore a lot of different things... I've learned quite a bit from specifically an urban planning theory course that I'm taking, in understanding better the dynamic I experienced first hand, in New York, working in politics."

On the job

Hankin was regarded by many less as an arbiter than an implementer of the developer's plans. For example, at a 2/7/13 meeting of the Atlantic Yards Quality of Life Committee, Hankin said, "Forest City Ratner has been working diligently with their sound engineer to improve the structure so sound doesn't escape. It's a very complex process."

At a 5/7/13 meeting, after Forest City agreed to pay a $3200 fine for noise violations, resident Peter Krashes asked Forest City if they could write contract language with concert acts stipulating sound limits.

“The update I gave is pretty much the best I update can give,” executive Cotton responded. “It's certainly at the top of our attention, and certainly something that we do not want to happen again. so we have our eyes and ears on it.”

Is there a timetable, Krashes asked.

“They're working diligently to solve the problem,” Hankin ultimately responded, shutting down the issue.

At that same meeting, Hankin said she couldn’t predict when the Scope for a Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) --which was to be revised based on comments at a February public hearing--would be issued but hoped for the “near future... We're moving diligently an expeditiously to finalize the SEIS as quickly as possible.”

There's still no Final Scope, nor a Draft SEIS. It's inexcusable; the only plausible explanation is the state has been waiting for Forest City Ratner's business deal with the Greenland Group to clear.

Was Hankin frustrated by political decisions above her head? If so, she certainly didn't act that way. Or was she at peace with carrying Forest City Ratner's water?

The rat complaints

By the way, the video, as shown in the screenshot at right, contains a photo of Hankin at a June 2011 meeting on rats.

The photo depicts Hankin present and willing to engage with the community.

As it happens, at that meeting, Hankin also dismayed several attendees by claiming ESD was unaware of the rat problem because it had not received complaints directly--though complaints had been filed regularly via 311 and on the Atlantic Yards Watch website.

Comments

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…

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…

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…