Skip to main content

Stadtmauer Bailkin, Bruce Ratner, and the web of subsidies

The package of subsidies that have been pledged for Atlantic Yards are part of a pattern in large projects. A law firm specializing in wrangling such subsidies was where Forest City Ratner CEO Bruce Ratner got some key experience. And now that firm's behavior in a Yankee Stadium deal has been questioned.

Consider Metro's report July 30 on the questionable deal for parking garages at Yankee Stadium, and the web of insider connections:
At a Community Board 4 meeting last month, attorney Steven Polivy took credit for putting together the “private-public partnership.” Polivy works for Stadtmauer Bailkin LLP, which specializes in securing government subsidies for corporate clients. CIDC’s president, William Lowenstein, has had a long relationship with the firm.

That’s one of many backroom connections listed in a new report by watchdog group Good Jobs New York.

The report

Here's the press release for Insider Baseball: How Current and Former Public Officials Pitched a Community Shutout for the New York Yankees, and the full report--3.75 MB PDF.

The report states:
CIDC’s President William Loewenstein was a strategic partner with incentives procurement advisors Stadtmauer Bailkin Biggins, LLC, until 2006...
Lowenstein is currently a “market team member” with the successor firm Stadtmauer Bailkin Economic Development Group (SB-EDGe). One of Stadtmauer Bailkin, LLP’s specialties involves securing economic development subsidies for corporate clients; it is listed on the New York City Industrial Development Agency’s core application for the parking bonds as legal counsel for CIDC.
One of Stadtmauer Bailkin’s managing directors, Jane Orlin, has promoted herself as having written incentive guidelines while she was an employee of the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

The Bruce Ratner connection

An article in the January 1999 issue of the late magazine Brooklyn Bridge, headlined "King of the Deal," explained the origins of MetroTech:
At around the same time, Polytechnic, the private engineering university located on Jay Street, was suffering a financial crisis, and its president, George Bugliarello, came up with an idea that was designed to save both his university and the neighborhood. He proposed to turn the run-down area around the university's campus into an East Coast version of Silicon Valley, a high-tech research center to be called MetroTech. In 1984, Polytechnic issued a request for proposals (RFP) to develop the 16-acre site.
The attorney who assisted Polytechnic in the preparation of their RFP was Michael Bailkin, a partner at the law firm of Stadtmauer, Bailkin, Kessler, Walzer & Ratner. Bruce Ratner had joined the firm after leaving his position as consumer affairs commissioner in the Koch administration in 1982. "Bruce was at the firm to look for development deals when MetroTech came along," says Bailkin. And it was Ratner's connections that got the ball rolling.

Bruce Ratner's role in the firm is not mentioned in his biographical sketch on the Forest City Ratner web site.

The Forest City Ratner connection

At the law firm's web site, there's a page titled Representative Clients — Economic Development Incentives - Zoning, Planning & Large Scale Redevelopment.

Stadtmauer Bailkin's practice encompasses all aspects of land use. Its primary focus, however, is on major projects that create or redefine the urban framework. The firm has been responsible for some of the largest and most complex redevelopment projects in New York City.

Atlantic Center
The firm initially represented Rose Associates, the original developer of this 24-acre urban renewal site in Brooklyn, in securing a $10.7 million Urban Development Action Grant. The firm then represented Forest City Ratner Companies in the development of the multi-phased retail, office and residential complex. The first phase involved the construction of a 300,000 square foot shopping complex. The firm obtained City approvals, restructured the UDAG grant and obtained Caldor as the anchor retail tenant.

MetroTech - Brooklyn, New York
This project is a 6 million sq. ft. office complex for applied technology operations. The firm conceptualized the project, and was primarily responsible for urban renewal designation, rezoning, and incentives in the range of $300 million for the overall projects and for major tenants. The firm also negotiated incentives packages to attract each of the following anchor tenants:

One MetroTech Center / Bear Stearns and Co.
The firm assisted in packaging approximately $17.5 million in incentives for Bear Stearns' relocation to 250,000 square feet in One MetroTech Center. The package included electrical subsidies and sales tax exemptions on construction materials, machinery and equipment, in addition to job tax credits.

One MetroTech Center / Brooklyn Union
Stadtmauer Bailkin negotiated and secured an incentives package to induce Brooklyn Union to relocate its corporate headquarters to 450,000 square feet at One MetroTech Center, the newly constructed 865,000 sq. ft., 23-story building. The package included $10.3 million in City capital budget funds, $130 million in taxable Industrial Revenue Bond financing and an $8 million Urban Development Action Grant.

Two MetroTech Center / Securities Industry Automation Corporation ("SIAC")
Two MetroTech Center is a 535,000 square foot, 10-story building. SIAC, the company that processes securities transactions for the New York and American stock exchanges, relocated its corporate headquarters to 320,000 square feet in this building. The incentives secured by the firm included a $6 million Urban Development Action Grant, $80 million in taxable Industrial Revenue Bond financing and $16.3 million in Municipal Assistance Corporation and City capital budget funds.

Three & Four MetroTech Center / Chase Manhattan Bank
This project consisted of the construction of a 1.5 million square foot computer operations complex on two sites in MetroTech. The firm conceptualized and helped negotiate an incentives package that induced Chase to retain operations in New York by relocating to Brooklyn instead of to a competing site in New Jersey. A complex package of electrical subsidies, tax abatements, city grants and related incentives valued at $235 million was provided by the City and State.

There's no mention of Atlantic Yards, so it's possible the firm hasn't worked on the latest project. Had Forest City Ratner developed enough in-house expertise, or did some other firm help?


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 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 …

For Atlantic Yards Quality of Life meeting Sept. 19, another bare-bones agenda (green wall?)

A message from Empire State Development (ESD) reminds us that the next Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life Meeting--which aims to update community members on construction and other issues--will be held:
Tuesday, September 19, 2017 @ 6 pm
Shirley Chisholm State Office Building
55 Hanson Place
1st Floor Conference Room
Brooklyn, NY 11217 The typically bare-bones, agenda, below, tells us nothing about the content of the presentation. One thing to look for is any hint of plans to start a new building on the southeast block of the project by the end of the year.

If not, ESD is supposed to re-evaluate a longstanding request from project neighbors to move back a giant wall encroaching on part of Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues. It's said to enclose construction activity, but, in recent months, has significantly served to protect worker parking.

Also, by the way, if you search for Atlantic Yards on Google or the ESD website, it leads to this page for the Atlantic Ya…