Skip to main content

Brutally weird: Courier-Life says "Yards opponents" are trying to block Ratner from applying for stimulus money

We know Atlantic Yards isn't dead, because things still keep getting brutally weird. The Courier-Life's Stephen Witt, who brought us the story of "the real land-grabbers," this week suggests that the real manipulators in the political system are the volunteer groups opposing a bailout for Forest City Ratner.
(Click to enlarge)

And the victim of the "counter lobbying offensive" is developer Forest City Ratner, which is paying uber-lobbyist Al D'Amato in an effort to get federal stimulus money for the Atlantic Yards project.

But the signers of the latest letter are not, as the headline suggests, "Yards opponents;" some are simply watchdog groups concerned with prudent infrastructure spending like the Straphangers Campaign and The Open Planning Project, as well as Good Jobs New York, notable for its scrutiny of subsidies, and the consultant Majora Carter.

As DDDB points out, the statement that a letter to Governor David Paterson was "obtained by this newspaper," is a tad overstated, given that the letter was widely distributed via a press release.

ACORN's role

The article gets truly weird when it comes to ACORN, recipient of a $1.5 million bailout via Forest City Ratner. That fact, as well as ACORN's contractual obligation to support the project, naturally goes unmentioned. So I'll "be the editor."

But Bertha Lewis, who heads the national organization, ACORN, and is a signatory of the community benefits agreement with FCRC, lambasted opponents of the project for trying to prevent anybody for applying for stimulus money.

No one's trying to block "anybody"--in this case, it would have to be a government agency, not the developer--from applying for stimulus money. The letter asks Paterson not to award stimulus money to the project.

"If there’s infrastructure money, it should go for infrastructure money. Why not?" Said [sic] Lewis. "You can even put strings on it. This is an opportunity to say, 'look, here is the strings we want.' He (Bruce Ratner) should have a chance for it like everyone else."

Stimulus money doesn't go to private developers. Joe Sitt and David Walentas aren't applying either.

DDDB = GOP?

Lewis said people lobbying against stimulus money for the project is akin to the Republican Party lobbying against ACORN from getting any of the money.

Lewis is known for her background in theater.

Bruce is an island

"They (opponents) should be fair and let him (Ratner) compete like everyone else. "We're absolutely committed to the affordable housing end of this (project) now more than ever," said Lewis. "Nobody else is applying for it (stimulus money) and the city and state let the area (Vanderbilt Yards) go forever. It’s not like someone is doing a gold-plated bathroom here. People shouldn't be so short sighted."

No one else is applying for stimulus money?

While Lewis may claim commitment, the developer has said the pace depends on the market.

Missing the point

The city and state didn't put the working railyard out to bid before Forest City Ratner proposed its project. But that's the point--even an eminent domain defender like John Echeverria says the decision to pursue condemnation should be separate from the process of selecting a developer. And that sequence would've nixed Atlantic Yards.

Comments

  1. In eminent domain cases, it is unwise to count on the "kindness of strangers," whether judges or politicians.

    Speaking as someone actually fighting eminent domain in federal court with Houston-based Spectra Energy, I can confirm that, nowadays, eminent domain has less to do with projects for the "public good," and everything to do with the financial good of publicly held companies.

    In Bedford County, Pennsylvania (about 2 hours from Washington), property owners are being hauled into federal court by Spectra Energy, backed by the power of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

    The "public good" argument is that this is an underground natural gas storage site (bring gas from somewhere else, charge a fee for storing it, then send it to the northeast via piplines and charge another fee).

    What goes missing is that the landowners' property is sitting on top of the gas-rich Marcellus Shale; but they can't develop that because Spectra Energy wants to use the Oriskany sands layer (which lies just beneath the Marcellus) for its underground gas storage facility.

    In addition, Pennsylvania has more underground natural gas storage sites than any other state in the continental US, according to the Dept. of Energy.

    Further, in its most recent motion, Spectra Energy asked that the federal judge exclude evidence that would argue "economic loss to the landowner" for fear that the jury would be "confused, misled and distracted ... waste time." (From p. 7 of the motion: Case 3:08-cv-00154-KRG, Document 59).

    Here is the great conundrum in eminent domain: property owners possess the key asset that companies and government covet – the land. But they are treated as a waste product in this process rather than as key stakeholders.

    For info:
    http://www.spectraenergywatch.com/blog/

    ReplyDelete

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.

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 …