Saturday, September 06, 2014

Sussing out statement by Adams, Cumbo, Lander suggesting Forest City, Skanska work out differences & help "working families

Yesterday, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Council Member Laurie Cumbo, and Council Member Brad Lander issued a "Joint Statement on Construction Halted at B2 Tower":
“It is unacceptable that a financial dispute has left more than 150 workers unemployed, jeopardizing the economic stability of their families and further delaying the construction of affordable housing units in Fort Greene. The completion of the modular apartment tower is vital to the working families who have waited years for promises to become a reality. Forest City Ratner has proposed reopening the factory immediately and assuming responsibility to resume operations, to keep this job on track and individuals employed while the courts hear the broader issue. We urge both parties to work out a fair and amiable agreement for the betterment of our community.”
(Emphases added)

This is a rather sloppy statement, given that the tower (now known primarily as 461 Dean Street) is located in Prospect Heights, at the corner of Dean Street and Flatbush Avenue, not Fort Greene (as MyBrooklyn pointed out). Also, that last line should be "fair and amicable."

What do they want?

More importantly, it's hard to know what they're getting at. Given the mis-location of the tower, I doubt they're simply reprinting Forest City Ratner talking points. But these elected officials surely have a longer-running--and future--relationship with Forest City, not estranged partner Skanska. And the invocation of furloughed workers sounds a lot like Forest City's letter to Skanska

However, they're essentially saying that Forest City and Skanska, who are in court because they can't agree, should work something out in the meantime. Forest City's proposal to reopen surely has some serious business/contract implications, which Skanska has resisted, calling the plan "devoid of substance."

It's tough to know who's right in this dispute, but I suspect the only way to work out an interim solution is not--as Forest City suggested--to simply have Skanska give Forest City access to the modular factory but to do so under the supervision of a court or neutral third party.

Working families?

The elected officials' rhetoric goes a bit far, claiming that "completion of the modular apartment tower is vital to the working families who have waited years for promises to become a reality."

B2 has very few family-sized apartments in the first place, and the subsidized two-bedroom units it has are skewed toward upper-middle-income households who would pay rents far beyond what the elected officials likely consider typical for "working families.

There will be only 10 two-bedroom units for families around the median Brooklyn income and only five more--for a total of 15--renting for under $1500, according to 2012 estimates. (And those rents should rise by the time the tower opens, in 2015 or later.)

Pacific Park?

Note that they did not use the term Atlantic Yards to describe the project containing B2, but they didn't use the term Pacific Park either. 

Not only is it an awkward conceptual transition, it's tough to a straight face calling a tower with no green space--and no Pacific Street, either, given that it was de-mapped for the arena--"Pacific Park."

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