Sunday, May 18, 2014

In Times Real Estate section, Greenland deal gets uncritical account

From a front-page Real Estate section article in today's Times, Chinese Developers Step Up, subtitled "Chinese Real Estate Developers Take the Lead on New York Projects":
Perhaps the highest profile project involves the Greenland Group, which is based in Shanghai and is an arm of the city’s government. Greenland ventured into its first New York project when it bought a 70 percent stake in much of the residential portion of Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards project from Forest City Ratner for $200 million. The site is also home to Barclays Center.
The deal between Greenland and Forest City still awaits approval from the Chinese government, Forest City officials say, though they added that the federal government in this country has agreed to allow it.
Specifically, the Treasury Department’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which reviews deals that could involve foreign entities taking control of American businesses, signed off on it this spring, said Joe DePlasco, a Forest City spokesman. He said Forest City was not required to file with the committee but did so out of an abundance of caution.
Mr. DePlasco added that Greenland would be an active development partner and not just an investor, which means that it would help build about 6,000 units, or 4,100 rentals and 1,500 condos across 14 buildings, though it is not involved in the construction of the modular 363-unit rental tower going up on the site now.
Well, that doesn't really make sense, since 4100+1500= 5600, not 6000. 

Atlantic Yards is supposed to have 4500 rentals and 1930 condos. So the rentals are taken care of, more or less, if you add 363 units in the first tower to the 4100 in the summary.

Does that mean they're cutting 430 condos? I don't know: either the Times or DePlasco may have been sloppy.

The ironies of framing

It's notable how DePlasco gets to portray Greenland as "an active development partner and not just an investor," given that Greenland seems to be in control of the joint venture, given that it has determined that the next towers would be built conventionally rather than via Forest City's innovative but troubled modular plan.

Also notable is the framing of the final sentence in the passage:
Critics have said that Forest City is taking too long to complete the housing portion of the Atlantic Yards project.
Those pesky critics! I think Forest City would say it's taking too long, as well. After all, the start of the first tower start was steadily pushed back, and the tower is now slated to take three years rather than two.

Y'know what else critics might say? That Forest City is taking too long to build the office part of the project, which would contain all those full-time jobs promised.

Another China angle

They might also say there's a whole 'nother China angle on Atlantic Yards that doesn't fit the industry-friendly Times Real Estate section: reaping low-cost capital by shilling green cards.

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