Skip to main content

Missing in ESDC presentation to PACB: housing subsidies

For the past week, questions have been raised about the adequacy of the Atlantic Yards fiscal impact analysis conducted by the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC). First, the ESDC, without comment or explanation, revealed a drop of nearly a half-billion dollars in net fiscal impact.

Then the authority released a memo purporting to explain its new fiscal calculations, but the document raised more questions than it answered. (In fact, the inhouse memo is hardly the same thing as the "independent economic analysis" that the ESDC "has performed" but not released.)

Now questions have emerged about exactly how the ESDC accounts for affordable housing subsidies, which are necessary to the project but unspecified in available project documents.

Questions in PACB document

The project is pending before the Public Authorities Control Board (PACB), which must analyze the finances before approving $100 million in state funds. (The PACB is controlled by departing Gov. George Pataki, Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who is under pressure to delay consideration of the project until the administration of incoming Gov. Eliot Spitzer, a fellow Democrat.)

A project summary in the Atlantic Yards Affirmation Document--an overview presented by the ESDC to the PACB--describes "anticipated funding sources" and "funding uses," which both add up neatly to nearly $4 billion.

But there's nothing in there about affordable housing. The document states:
As part of the Project plan, Forest City has committed to develop not less than 2,250 units of affordable housing. It is expected that Forest City will receive customary housing subsidies that are in existence at the time of such development for the development of the affordable housing.

There is no accounting for the amount of those subsidies, which likely would exceed $100 million. But if the subsidies are "customary," can't the ESDC at least offer an estimate?

City resists FOIL, again

Last week, I was stymied again in an attempt to get the city Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD) to reveal the amount of the affordable housing subsidies. I had previously been told that such figures couldn't be revealed because of "interference with contracts" and "inter- or intra-agency material."

I filed an appeal to HPD, writing, in part:
My request for the records was denied, as noted on the attached copy, because the records are deemed “interference with contracts” or “inter- or intra-agency material.”
While I recognize that some documents might fall under that rubric, I find it surprising that no documents could be made available to explain to the public how much the city plans to spend to subsidize affordable housing in the Atlantic Yards project.
That is a matter of public policy and thus public discussion.


The response (right; click to enlarge) reiterated the reasoning and added to it. Oddly, however, it seemed superseded by events. On 12/8/06, the ESDC approved the project. In a letter dated four days later, HPD stated:
As you are aware, the proposed Atlantic Yards development is a contemplated development which is being negotiated between the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), a entity of the State of New York, and Forest City Ratner corporation, a non-governmental entity. ESDC has already determined that release of data not otherwise available on their website would impair the process of their negotiations with the potential developer...

Negotiations?

First, how can the ESDC still be negotiating? They just sent the project to the PACB. Would they want to have a project approved for which negotiations have yet to conclude?

Is HPD still negotiating? In September, HPD's Rafael Cestero told the City Planning Commission that a funding agreement regarding bonds and other subsidies was in process. Wouldn't that funding agreement be finished by the time the ESDC signed off on the project?

Or should the PACB assume that the sum of city subsidies for housing is a mystery?

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…

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.

The previous graphic, from August 2017 (without the ghost B1)

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 …