So how did this sweet little article in Fort Greene Focus, At 550 Vanderbilt, There’s An Emphasis On Inclusion In The Construction Process, came about?
Methinks Forest City Ratner's publicity department reached out to a reporter with less than one month on the job--and the obligation to file multiple stories a day--and offered some copy. And the reporter didn't bother to check the more complicated history.
Here's the key passage:
550 Vanderbilt...is being built with significant MWBE [minority- and women-owned business enterprise] participation, including major jobs like metal and drywall construction...Maybe they are, but why haven't we seen the details? Because Forest City never hired the Independent Compliance Monitor required by the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement (CBA).
In order to qualify as a MWBE in New York City, a company must be at least 51% owned, operated, and controlled by a minority or woman, in business for at least a year, and either be located in the city or have a significant tie to the business community.
Greenland set a goal of 35% MWBE participation for the development of Pacific Park and at 550 Vanderbilt, they’re currently over 40%.
However, Empire State Development reported a total of 15.4% to certified MWBE firms, which meant Forest City had counted companies that had not registered or were too large/prosperous to qualify under state rules.
“Building buildings comes with thinking about the people who will live in those buildings, thinking about the people who will live across the street,” said Elizabeth Canela, who grew up in the Ingersoll Houses. Today, she’s the Senior Project Manager in External Affairs at Forest City Ratner Companies (Forest City). Canela acknowledged that development is a complicated issue, but thinks that they’re going about it the right way.Shocker. She's paid to say such things.
And what about the people who almost get hit by falling debris?
The Fort Greene Focus article states:
Canela said that the culture at Forest City is progressive, owing in part to the leadership of President and CEO MaryAnn Gilmartin, but also to Chairman Bruce Ratner himself.Double shocker.
Here's a progressive quote from Gilmartin, reported by an architect who was in discussion to work on a project but backed off:
"I was told they know the same people I know and they’ll make sure to fuck me whenever possible."Here's a progressive quote from Ratner, reported by a former business partner, which whom there was a dispute about cost overruns:
Bruce Ratner's response was to use a vulgar street epithet followed by "I don't care if it costs you fifty million to finish the project ... I'll see you at the grand opening."