Monday, April 21, 2014

From Response to Comments: no analysis of undervalued public land acquired by (or on behalf of) Forest City Ratner (and benefiting the Chinese government)

Yes, the Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) is out, and there's a public hearing April 30.

But the Response to Comments document produced by Empire State Development to accompany the release in in February of the Final Scope for the SEIS still has some nuggets worth noting.

One commenter briefly referenced my analysis that Forest City has significant uncounted savings--perhaps more than $100 million--from land, including former public streets like Pacific Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues, that it was either given or sold well below market.

The comment generated an oblique response:
Comment 33: We need to recover the value of the undervalued public land that Forest City was given under the public streets. (Ettlinger)
Response: Comment noted.
While he did say that in public testimony, his written comment was more specific: "The value of the public street being turned over to private use must be surveyed."

It won't be.

The Executive Summary of the Draft SEIS stated:
The street bed on Pacific Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt Avenues has been acquired by ESD (and has been leased to the project sponsors). It is used as a construction staging area and for access and egress to the Block 1129 parking lot.
So, at least for now, it hasn't been sold or given to Forest City, just leased. But it's highly doubtful Forest City paid significantly for it.

And guess what that means? The Chinese government-owned Greenland Group, the expected new majority owner of the remaining Atlantic Yards project, gets the benefit of free (or below market) public property.

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