Skip to main content

Silver on AY: "We'll look at it in a very favorable light"

State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat, got into a war of words this weekend with the lame-duck administration of Republican Governor George Pataki, but the news for Brooklynites were his words of steady if not complete support for the Atlantic Yards project--a suggestion that he might want to broker a compromise of sorts.

Still, Silver, whose vote on the Public Authorities Control Board (PACB) is necessary to approve Atlantic Yards, may be so peeved at Pataki and Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) Charles Gargano that he will refuse to greenlight the project during the last weeks of the Pataki administration but would rather wait until fellow Democrat Eliot Spitzer takes over in January.

"In Brooklyn, it's a mixed bag. There are people for it, people against it, and the proposal itself keeps changing somewhat," Silver said during an interview broadcast this morning on WNBC's News Forum. "So we'll look at it in a very favorable light because development is necessary down there, see how the developer responds to some of the criticism, either because of the mass of the project or some of the traffic."

The changes have been minimal, though they've garnered headlines. But the Atlantic Yards project, once it gets inevitable approval later this month from the ESDC, must get a unanimous nod from the Public Authorities Control Board (PACB), controlled by Silver, Pataki, and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno.

Pressuring Silver

Various parties have been pressuring Silver to postpone a vote until the Spitzer administration takes over. Others want him to wait until the eminent domain suit is resolved. Alternatively, some are probably pressuring him to at least broker a compromise.

And Forest City Ratner is surely lobbying Silver. (Don't forget, Bruce Ratner's brother Michael Ratner and sister-in-law Karen Ranucci each gave Silver's campaign $3000 in June even though he was running unopposed.)

I'd bet that the developer would rather compromise significantly with Silver before the end of the year than let the project carry over to a Spitzer administration that might take a closer look at the project. Even if such delay didn't lead to significant changes in the configuration of Atlantic Yards, it could least increase Forest City's carrying costs and construction costs.

Compromise coming?

What might such a compromise contain? Maybe a 20 to 30 percent scaleback in the project's density, to the size sought by several Assemblymembers, albeit with increased subsidies for affordable housing. Perhaps another element in a traffic management plan, just as the developer recently added shuttle bus service from Staten Island. And maybe a revision of the interim surface parking plan that swaps some parklike space for some of the parking lot.

After all, we know that most of the cuts announced in March and September were already in the can by January--and represent, in total square footage, a return to the project as originally announced.

And I was told by a source that the developer has long had a scaleback model prepared that illustrates significant concessions. And documents from the New York City Housing Development Corporation (NYC HDC) hint that several buildings could be considerably smaller than currently projected. Indeed, no building was described as more than 40 stories tall, even though four buildings currently planned would be more than 400 feet in height. (At ten feet per story, those buildings would exceed 40 stories.)

PACB questions

The segment began with discussion of the PACB--and Atlantic Yards.

Jay DeDapper:
Let me move on to another contentious issue, the Public Authorities Control Board. It's a little complex. A lot of people had never heard of this until the stadium, the West Side Stadium came about. And it's basically, you have a representative, Joe Bruno, Senate majority leader, has a representative, and the governor has a representative. And you control when public money is going to be spent on big projects in a bonding situation. You guys have a say as to whether it's going to go forward or not. You and Joe Bruno blocked the West Side Stadium with your votes. Recently, the Moynihan station, you blocked. And now there's talk that maybe the Atlantic Yards project, which we're seeing pictures of now, that's the big development Bruce Ratner wants to put into downtown Brooklyn, Flatbush and Atlantic, stadium for the Nets, basketball Nets, lots of high-rises, that you might block that, as well. Let me ask you first about that, and then I want to talk to you about this PACB.

Silver responded emphatically:
There's no indication that I have ever expressed any intention to block that... I supported legislation that provided state subsidy to that project, to the concept of the project. Let's understand, it's the only affirmative vote I've ever taken. It's the only affirmative thing I've ever done.

Silver went back to issues of public authorities, home of most of the state's debt, the role of the PACB in monitoring that debt, and the West Side Stadium he helped block. Then he defended his role in blocking the plan for Moynihan Station that Pataki and the ESDC favored.

Silver on Gargano

Asked about Moynihan Station, Silver responded to a statement in support by Gargano:
Let's talk about Charlie Gargano, the most corrupt, most corrupt member of this administration went out to campaign, finance for this governor. That was his purpose. Take a look what he did to economic development in this state. This--he has no credibility here. He has interests that obviously lie opposite the state of New York during his entire 12 years in this administration.... His gambling interests that he's had over the years, pushing for things that have absolutely nothing to do to benefit New York. So he was selected because he was the governor's fund-raiser, and he continued in that capacity for 12 years. That's all he's interested in. He has more... And that's why we are in such a sad economic state in upstate New York, because the governor took his fund-raiser rather than an economic development professional for New York. He has no credibility in this state, no matter what he says. So let's be very clear about that.

That exchange made it into the New York Post yesterday in an article headlined GOV STRIKES MOTHER LODE IN SILVER BLAST Pataki's communications director responded in kind to Silver's criticism: "For Shelly 'Vegas' Silver to lecture anyone about ethics is like a bad standup routine, especially since he's Alan Hevesi's biggest apologist, has employed a known sex offender, has covered up internal investigations and has presided over a body that had no less than seven of its members indicted, convicted, or resign under a cloud of disgrace."

The Post explained:
The spokesman's withering response referenced Silver's controversial dinner with a lobbyist at a Las Vegas casino several years ago, his support of state Comptroller Hevesi in the wake of an ethics scandal, and his retention of his former chief counsel, Michael Boxley, after the first of two women accused him of rape..

Atlantic Yards

Silver brought up Brooklyn again, on his own, apparently wanting to make sure his position wasn't misconstrued. DeDapper asked if Silver, from his post on the PACB, would stop block Atlantic Yards.

Silver responded:
I can't tell you what Joe Bruno's going to do; I can only tell you what I would consider. One, as an old Brooklyn Dodger fan, I believe professional sports belongs in Brooklyn, as far as that goes. The merits of the project still to be examined; they're still being actually developed on a day-to-day basis. It changes. We have members of the assembly who are for it, members of the assembly who are against it. Unlike the [West Side] Stadium, where every representative of the area and the surrounding area of that stadium, be it Congress, state Senate or assembly, opposed that stadium. I wasn't the only one opposed to that stadium, let's be very clear about that.

In Brooklyn, it's a mixed bag. There are people for it, people against it, and the proposal itself keeps changing somewhat. So we'll look at it in a very favorable light because development is necessary down there, see how the developer responds to some of the criticisms, either because of the mass of the project or some of the traffic, and I would say right now, the only vote we've taken is to support the development. We have voted for $100 million as a state component to that project.


  1. Silver's seeming lifetime tenure in NY poliltics is another compelling reason for term limits for everyone.

    However, if he has any brains, he will support the AY project because it will deliver jobs and years of opportunity to Brooklynites.

  2. Re: no_slappz's comment.

    That's like saying if he has any brains he will eat every meal at McDonalds, because it will keep him from going hungry. There's more than one way to skin a cat.

  3. jonathan,

    The last organization that had a decent plan for the AY site was the Dodger organization. But Robert Moses refused to let the Dodgers build a new stadium because he said the city had better uses for that empty area.

    No one has had a better idea and no one else has rounded up the financing to undertake a project of sufficient scale till now.

    It's going to happen, and when it does, Brooklyn and the city will benefit.

  4. It's a good thing we didn't get a stadium and end up with an area that looks like the South Bronx. Walked around Shea Stadium recently? No stadium IS better! And what do you mean by "sufficient scale"? Are you talking about what it would take to make the financing work to cover the railyards? This is not addressed in this plan. Development is happening by itself on the site; Brooklyn and the city would benefit most from smart incremental growth on smaller sites - issues of neighborhood context aside - smaller projects can react better to changes in the market. And please don't respond with that line about being near mass transit - why is the project providing 3800 parking spots?

  5. jonathan, youy wrote:

    "It's a good thing we didn't get a stadium and end up with an area that looks like the South Bronx. Walked around Shea Stadium recently?"

    I guess you haven't been in the South Bronx recently.

    As for the area around Shea Stadium, well, I guess you don't know it's been rezoned for massive development. The area is on the cusp of huge redevelopment.

    You probably also don't know that that area has been deprived of a multitude of various city services for decades, and it was the absence of those services that led to its present state of being home to scrap yards and other rag-tag businesses.

  6. No_Slappz:

    BTW, who are you? As a matter of fact, I have been to the South Bronx recently. And I know it's still a disaster and in no way compares to our area, despite the PR. And your comments on the area around Shea make my point. I know there's a bunch of ideas out there for how to make something out of it, but they're just a bunch of unfunded ideas and the area is still, well as you say, home to scrap yards and other rag tag businesses, surrounded by roads clogged with traffic on game days. Do you know a large event venue that isn't?


Post a Comment

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…

No, security guards can't ban photos. Questions remain about visibility of ID/sticker system.

The bi-monthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Community Update meeting June 14, held at 55 Hanson Place, addressed multiple issues, including delays in the project, a new detente with project neighbors,concerns about traffic congestion, upcoming sewer work and demolitions, and an explanation of how high winds caused debris to fly off the under-construction 38 Sixth Avenue building. I'll have more coverage.
Security issues came up several times at the meeting.
Wayne Bailey, a resident who regularly takes photos and videos (that I often use) of construction/operations issues that impact residents, asked representatives of Tishman Construction if the security guard at the sites they're building works for them.
After Tishman Senior VP Eric Reid said yes, Bailey asked why a guard told him not to shoot video of the site, even though he was on a public street.

"I will address it with principals for that security firm," Reid said.
Forest City Ratner executive Ashley Cotton, the …

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

This graphic, posted in November 2017, is post-dated to stay at the top of the blog. It will be updated as announced configurations change and buildings launch. Note the unbuilt B1 and the proposed shift in bulk to the unbuilt Site 5.

The August 2014 tentative configurations proposed by developer Greenland Forest City Partners will change. The project is already well behind that tentative timetable.

How many people are expected?

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park has a projected 6,430 apartments housing 2.1 persons per unit (as per Chapter 4 of the 2006 Final Environmental Impact Statement), which would mean 13,503 new residents, with 1,890 among them in low-income affordable rentals, and 2,835 in moderate- and middle-income affordable rentals.

That leaves 8,778 people in market-rate rentals and condos, though let's call it 8,358 after subtracting 420 who may live in 200 promised below-market condos. So that's 5,145 in below-market units, though many of them won't be so cheap.


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 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…

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park in 2017: no new towers, unfilled affordable units, Islanders prepare to leave, project timetable fuzzy

My 2018 preview.

It was another wait-and-see year for Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, with one big twist--the beginning of a slow goodbye for the New York Islanders--but continued delays for towers, a lost (mostly) 421-a subsidy for condos, and new skepticism about unfilled not-so-affordable housing units.

So ongoing questions linger regarding the project's pace, affordability, and even future ownership.

In my 2017 preview, I predicted--not exactly going out on a limb--that two and likely three more towers would open, though it would be unclear how fast they'd lease up and sell.

Indeed, we've learned that the middle-income below-market units at 461 Dean (which opened in 2016) and 535 Carlton have leased very slowly, while it's too soon to assess progress for commensurate units at 38 Sixth. (At 535 Carlton and 38 Sixth, middle-income units make up half the "100% affordable" buildings.) Meanwhile, many apartments are up for rent at the 550 Vanderbilt condo buildin…