Skip to main content

"Super design for a great project," says the Daily News (no surprise)

The Daily News editorial page has staunchly supported the Atlantic Yards project, and yesterday's editorial, headlined A super design for a great project, was no surprise. It begins:
The latest designs for the Atlantic Yards development are in, and they are stunning. More than ever, this is a project that must be built - for the good of the city, for the good of Brooklyn and for the good of the thousands of working-class New Yorkers who will get affordable apartments in a spanking-new neighborhood.

There's a strong argument for density at the railyard site, and for affordable housing as part of new construction, but that doesn't equal cheerleading for the single-source Atlantic Yards plan. There's no mention, of course, of the public costs of the project, or Forest City Ratner's dubious economic projections.

Update

The editorial would become fodder for a full-page ad in the 5/29/06 Courier-Life.

About the roof

The editorial notes:
The new arena would blend into a new backdrop and be topped by 3 acres of vegetation, designed to become something of a sanctuary for migrating birds. Adding to enviro-friendliness, rainwater that falls on the 21 acres would be collected, filtered and reused, primarily in the aforementioned ponds.

First, the project would be 22 acres, not 21 acres. Second, however welcome the vegetation might be, it shouldn't be forgotten that the arena roof was originally pitched as a public park, and even Borough President Marty Markowitz was upset about the switch.

NIMBYs, right

The editorial takes on the opponents:
So what's the rub? A small number of property owners is holding out, potentially requiring the use of eminent domain if futher negotiations are fruitless. And some community activists, including chi-chi Hollywood types, think their lives in upscale abodes that are, say, a mile or so away will be crimped somehow. And in full, elitist sanctimony, they cry that the project will defile the character of Brooklyn.

The biggest concern in the community, according to a survey by the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods, is traffic. City Council Member David Yassky said in March that, "unless there’s a serious and concrete plan” regarding traffic, “I think the project has to be resisted on that ground alone.”

So it's hardly elitist to worry about the spillover effects from the largest development in the history of Brooklyn. After all, the Daily News was the first paper to report that several local politicians, including Atlantic Yards supporter Roger Green, want the project scaled down by a third.

And the newspaper's own Mike Lupica on the same day observed:
This remains, in broad daylight, one of the great shell games in the history of real estate in New York City.
Only the people in the neighborhood look at this thing honestly


If the project were really so super, then why did Forest City Ratner issue such a misleading brochure?

It's about the housing

The editorial makes the pitch for affordable housing:
What Brooklyn? The Brooklyn where they sip lattes, or the Brooklyn that would gain 1,800 apartments for families of four with incomes of $56,720 or less - none paying more than 30% of their income in rent. Another 450 apartments would be reserved for families with slightly higher incomes, and none of them would pay more than 30% of their incomes for rent.
That's not ruining Brooklyn, that's building a Brooklyn where real people can afford to live in decent surroundings.


But the characterization lacks perspective. There would be 2250 affordable rental units, and 2250 market-rate rentals. On top of that, there would be 2360 market-rate condos on site, plus 600 to 1000 affordable for-sale units on or offsite (likely offsite). This is, more than anything else, a luxury housing project.

And the numbers are imprecise. The income limit for those 1800 apartments would be $62,800, not $56,720. And the "slightly higher incomes" go up to six figures.

[Updated: 10/10/07: Now it would be about 1100 apartments, not 1800.)

Yes, a significant percentage of affordable housing is a good thing. However, as noted, the affordable housing represents a zoning bonus privately negotiated between Ratner and ACORN, unlike, say, in the Greenpoint-Williamsburg rezoning, where the rules were set by City Council. Who decided the project should be the current size?

It was once about jobs

Finally, it's curious that the Daily News doesn't acknowledge how job projections have shrunk. On 1/25/04, an editorial stated, "Having a pro sports team relocate to Brooklyn would become the vivid emblem of the borough's renaissance while producing that most elusive treasure, jobs." Forest City Ratner likes that out-of-date quote enough to reproduce it on its web site. But that "most elusive treasure" is more elusive now.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Barclays Center/Levy Restaurants hit with suit charging discrimination on disability, race; supervisors said to use vicious slurs, pursue retaliation

The Daily News has an article today, Barclays Center hit with $5M suit claiming discrimination against disabled, while the New York Post headlined its article Barclays Center sued over taunting disabled employees.

While that's part of the lawsuit, more prominent are claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, with black employees claiming repeated abuse by white supervisors, preferential treatment toward Hispanic colleagues, and retaliation in response to complaints.

Two individual supervisors, for example, are charged with  referring to black employees as “black motherfucker,” “dumb black bitch,” “black monkey,” “piece of shit” and “nigger.”

Two have referred to an employee blind in one eye as “cyclops,” and “the one-eyed guy,” and an employee with a nose disorder as “the nose guy.”

There's been no official response yet though arena spokesman Barry Baum told the Daily News they, but take “allegations of this kind very seriously” and have "a zero tolerance policy for…

Behind the "empty railyards": 40 years of ATURA, Baruch's plan, and the city's diffidence

To supporters of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, it's a long-awaited plan for long-overlooked land. "The Atlantic Yards area has been available for any developer in America for over 100 years,” declared Borough President Marty Markowitz at a 5/26/05 City Council hearing.

Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, mused on 11/15/05 to WNYC's Brian Lehrer, “Isn’t it interesting that these railyards have sat for decades and decades and decades, and no one has done a thing about them.” Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in a 12/19/04 New York Times article ("In a War of Words, One Has the Power to Wound") described the railyards as "an empty scar dividing the community."

But why exactly has the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard never been developed? Do public officials have some responsibility?

At a hearing yesterday of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, Kate Suisma…

Barclays Center event June 11 to protest plans to expand Israeli draft; questions about logistics

At right is a photo of a poster spotted in Hasidic Williamsburg right. Clearly there's an event scheduled at the Barclays Center aimed at the Haredi Jewish community (strict Orthodox Jews who reject secular culture), but the lack of English text makes it cryptic.

The website Matzav.com explains, Protest Against Israeli Draft of Bnei Yeshiva Rescheduled for Barclays Center:
A large asifa to protest the drafting of bnei yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel into the Israeli army that had been set to take place this month will instead be held on Sunday, 17 Sivan/June 11, at the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn, NY. So attendees at a big gathering will protest an apparent change of policy that will make it much more difficult for traditional Orthodox Jewish students--both Hasidic (who follow a rebbe) and non-Hasidic (who don't)--to get deferments from the draft. Comments on the Yeshiva World website explain some of the debate.

The logistical questions

What's unclear is how large the ev…

Atlanta's Atlantic Yards moves ahead

First mentioned in April, the Atlantic Yards project in Atlanta is moving ahead--and has the potential to nudge Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn further down in Google searches.

According to a 5/30/17 press release, Hines and Invesco Real Estate Announce T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards:
Hines, the international real estate firm, and Invesco Real Estate, a global real estate investment manager, today announced a joint venture on behalf of one of Invesco Real Estate’s institutional clients to develop two progressive office projects in Atlanta totalling 700,000 square feet. T3 West Midtown will be a 200,000-square-foot heavy timber office development and Atlantic Yards will consist of 500,000 square feet of progressive office space in two buildings. Both projects are located on sites within Atlantic Station in the flourishing Midtown submarket.
Hines will work with Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture (HPA) as the design architect for both T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards. DLR Group will be t…

Not quite the pattern: Greenland selling development sites, not completed condos

Real Estate Weekly, reporting on trends in Chinese investment in New York City, on 11/18/15 quoted Jim Costello, a senior vice president at research firm Real Capital Analytics:
“They’re typically building high-end condos, build it and sell it. Capital return is in a few years. That’s something that is ingrained in the companies that have been coming here because that’s how they’ve grown in the last 35 years. It’s always been a development game for them. So they’re just repeating their business model here,” he said. When I read that last November, I didn't think it necessarily applied to Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, now 70% owned (outside of the Barclays Center and B2 modular apartment tower), by the Greenland Group, owned significantly by the Shanghai government.
A majority of the buildings will be rentals, some 100% market, some 100% affordable, and several--the last several built--are supposed to be 50% market/50% subsidized. (See tentative timetable below.)

Selling development …

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…

"There is no alternative": DM Glen on de Blasio's affordable housing strategy

As I've written, Mayor Bill de Blasio sure knows how to steer and spin coverage of his affordable housing initiatives.

Indeed, his latest announcement, claiming significant progress, came with a pre-press release op-ed in the New York Daily News and then a friendly photo-op press conference with an understandably grateful--and very lucky--winner of an affordable housing lottery.

To me, though, the most significant quote came from Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, who, as the Wall Street Journal reported:
said public housing had been “starved” of federal support for years now, leaving the city with fewer ways of creating affordable housing. “Are we relying too heavily on the private sector?” she said. “There is no alternative.” Though Glen was using what she surely sees as a common-sense phrase, it recalls the slogan of a politician with whom I doubt de Blasio identifies: former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, a Conservative who believed in free markets.

It suggests the limits to …