Skip to main content

After Spitzer's election: Day One, everything changes?

A reader asked me what voters could do to send an Atlantic Yards message yesterday. The answer: not all that much. NoLandGrab compiled a list of candidates (independent, Green, WFP, Libertarian, write-in) who oppose the Atlantic Yards project, but only incumbent State Senator Velmanette Montgomery was elected.

The more interesting question involves our new governor, Eliot Spitzer, whose campaign slogan is "Day One: Everything Changes." He's pledged a program of reforms, and some of them are promising.

Will he get there? Former state Senator Seymour Lachman, speaking last week on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show, was both encouraging and cautious: “I know this man. He is a reformer. And I also feel it’s going to be very difficult. Eliot Spitzer cannot accomplish this in six months, or a year... or eight years.”

Then again, Lachman, in his book Three Men in a Room, coauthored by Robert Polner, suggests that only a constitutional convention can truly reform our dysfunctional state government.

And Spitzer, despite his undeniable reform credentials as Attorney General, isn't so pure as to follow his own prescriptions before the playing field is leveled. He wants to make it illegal "for those who do business with the state... to donate to candidates for state office."

However, as the New York Times reported Sunday, in an article headlined Many Former Pataki Donors Gave to Spitzer This Time:
Many of those lining up behind Mr. Spitzer are wealthy individuals or institutional givers with interests in Albany — political action committees, lobbying firms, labor unions and the like — who tend to gravitate to a perceived winner, regardless of political affiliation.

Governmental reform

Among Spitzer's pledges:
Accountability. In a democracy, elections are supposed to keep elected officials accountable to the people. In our state, however, incumbents are often isolated from the will of the people because of the influence of money in politics and the way election districts are drawn. Government has lost touch with the people it is meant to represent.

We need to end the pay-to-play culture in Albany by making it against the law for those who do business with the state to give gifts to state employees or to donate to candidates for state office. And to level the playing field in our election process, we must adopt robust campaign finance reforms, including public financing for campaigns and independent, non-partisan redistricting reform.

Efficiency. We must reform the way state government works so it comes into line with basic principles of good management. We must improve the governance of our public authorities. We must also enact debt reform that covers all state-supported debt.


The implication: old ways of doing business will change, and the state's many public authorities, including enormous ones like the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), will face new oversight and perhaps consolidation.

But will Spitzer heed Ron Shiffman's call, repeated yesterday, for a time-out on major development projects like Atlantic Yards and Columbia University's Manhattanville expansion?

Spitzer on AY

Spitzer's campaign told The Real Deal that Spitzer seeks more transparency for the Atlantic Yards project, which is proceeding under the auspices of the ESDC. What that would mean exactly is unclear.

Note that Spitzer recently declared that the most recent eight percent cut in the Atlantic Yards project was "appropriate" and sufficient. It seemed clear he had little idea that the project would be as large as initially proposed.

Support for housing

Spitzer's housing policy suggests new roles for the state, which has lagged behind New York City in supporting affordable housing. Advocates want the state to commit much more.

Some excerpts:
We must increase the supply of affordable homes by using three tools that New York State has: land, capital and increased densities where appropriate. First, we must increase the amount of land available for affordable housing. To increase supply, we should take inventory of all public land to determine where building affordable housing might be appropriate, revise the state's Brownfields laws to make it easier to build housing and create a "New York Affordable Housing Land Trust Program"...

Second, we must improve access to capital for homeowners and builders. We need to better leverage current state and federal housing resources and permit the state's housing agencies to use more of their resources for the development of affordable homes. We should also work with the State Comptroller's Office to expand its existing efforts to use a small portion of New York State's pension funds as a source of capital for affordable homes...

Finally, we should partner with local communities to encourage reform of zoning laws and permitting and approval processes to allow for higher densities of residential housing and make it easier for sites to become buildable.

Preserve existing affordable housing stock. New York State's affordable housing stock is a precious resource, yet we continue to lose affordable units for a variety of reasons. We must review rent regulations, when appropriate, encourage owners to rehabilitate and maintain our existing affordable housing and develop a strategy of how best to preserve the affordability of housing built under subsidy programs that are soon to expire.

Better administration, better planning and better leadership. Achieving the efficient production of affordable homes requires consolidating the state's housing efforts to eliminate administrative bureaucracy and inefficient regulations, appointing effective leaders to head our housing agencies and engaging in planning that integrates all levels of government more than simply the housing agencies and their programs.


A few billion dollars here, a few billion dollars there. That could add up to some significant changes, and remind people that the Atlantic Yards project would hardly be the only source for affordable housing.

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…

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…

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 …

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park graphic: what's built/what might be coming (post-dated pinned post)

Click on graphic to enlarge. This is post-dated to stay at the top of the blog. It will be updated as announced configurations change and buildings launch. The August 2014 tentative configurations proposed by developer Greenland Forest City Partners will change, and the project is already well behind that tentative timetable.