Skip to main content

Brodsky seeks AY timetable, cost-benefit analysis in report on megaprojects

What might be the impact of the law (details from the New York Observer) proposed by Assemblyman Richard Brodsky that would require the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) to report within 45 days on the status of several megaprojects, including Atlantic Yards.

If passed, the law would require not merely a status report, but also would require a cost-benefit analysis that has so far not been conducted. It would require the ESDC to detail the full spectrum of public "incentives, benefits, subsidies, and revenues," the projected economic impact on the city, state, and metropolitan area, "and a comparison of expected benefits with anticipated costs."

That could be a watershed. The ESDC has produced a lengthy Final Environmental Impact Statement (see the last pages of the Socioeconomics chapter), as well as a General Project Plan, both of which estimate new revenues, but provide scant details on the totality of public subsidies and public costs. (The Independent Budget Office came the closest to estimating the total impact of the project, but shied away from a full study.)

It would be astounding if the ESDC produced a full cost-benefit analysis within 45 days. More likely the agency would supply an updated version of previously compiled documents.

Hearing coming

Even without the passage of the law, Brodsky pledged a hearing, saying, according to EmpireStateNews.Net, that "Our economic future is tied to our transportation system, and our first economic and social priority must be the funding of the MTA Capital Plan... The Governor has asked Richard Ravitch to Chair a gubernatorial Commission to address these issues. It is clear we are coming to a crisis. That crisis can be solved, but only with clear information and a willingness to set priorities, and make difficult decisions. The Committee will shortly convene a public hearing to inquire into the capital plan and other issues, in addition to awaiting the Report."

Of course, given Brodsky's role as a leader in killing congestion pricing, which would provided significant revenues to the MTA, he undoubtedly will face criticism for selective concern.

Then again, he has long taken a critical view of the ESDC; he chairs the Assembly committee that oversees state authorities and corporations and, shortly after the ESDC's passage of the Atlantic Yards project in December 2006 but before the vote of the Public Authorities Control Board, asked some (but, in retrospect, clearly too few) tough questions of the ESDC at a hearing.

Legislative rationale

The bill states:
The legislature finds that there are in the city of New York many large capital projects to be financed in whole or in part with public funds or to be supported by tax and other public incentives and which are crucial to the economic and cultural interests of such city and the state of New York as a whole, and which are at some stage of proposal, planning or implementation. The legislature further finds that it important that a full disclosure be made of the details of such projects, their projected costs to the city and state and to public benefit corporations, the projected benefits, the reasons why some of them have been delayed and why some of the proposals have been modified. Accordingly, it is critical that the New York state urban development corporation, also known as the Empire State Development Corporation, provide a prompt report to the legislature on such projects so the legislature can provide the necessary policy determinations and establish appropriate priorities so that necessary projects can proceed.

(Emphasis added)

Could "appropriate priorities" mean additional subsidies? Or a pledge for no more subsidies? Or a nudge to the head of the line for scarce affordable housing bonds?

Comprehensive report

The bill concludes:
The chairman shall prepare and deliver to the Governor, the temporary president and the minority leader of the senate and the speaker and the minority leader of the assembly not later than 45 days after the effective date of this act a comprehensive report on each of the projects individually and as they interact with and have any effect on the other. In preparing such report, the chairman shall consult with private developers, and government officials and agencies involved with each project, including without limitation, the port authority of New York and New Jersey, the lower Manhattan development corporation, the metropolitan transportation authority, the office of the mayor of the city of New York, the city council of the city of New York, and the governor of the state of New York, and other person or institution deemed appropriate. All such officials and agencies are hereby authorized and directed to consult with and assist the chairman in the preparation of such report.

Such report shall discuss all aspects of the progress of each project relating to planning, financing, permitting, contracting, constructing, and occupying such project, with comments on the current situation relating to organizational, legal, financial, economic and construction status and prospects, and the impact of such project, if any, on the capital needs of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, with reference to differing opinions from various stakeholders and parties involved to the extent that such opinions exist. The report shall make recommendations with regard to the goals of each project and the recommended methods to achieve such goals. It shall also present an analysis of the potential financing of each project, including incentives, benefits, subsidies, and revenues to be provided by any governmental unit or public benefit corporation and the economic impact that the project is expected to have on the city of New York, the state of New York, and the metropolitan area centered in the city of New York, and a comparison of expected benefits with anticipated costs.

It is unclear to me that such a report would require, for example, the ESDC to answer various questions about timing and enforceability raised by the State Funding Agreement.


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…

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 …