Skip to main content

Schumer touts stimulus funds for Moynihan Station, waves off question on Atlantic Yards

For New York, the big stimulus news of the day yesterday was Senator Chuck Schumer's plan to seek $100 million in federal funds to jump-start the Moynihan Station project, as the New York Times reported.

And Schumer followed up on his Moynihan Station vision at a breakfast speech sponsored by Crain's New York Business. That got a headline in Crain's, which additionally reported that Schumer's call for new, smarter regulation on financial transactions represents an about-face from his position two years ago.

But I wanted to ask him about Atlantic Yards, given that, a little more than two weeks ago, Schumer expressed quizzical ignorance regarding whether AY would be eligible for stimulus funds.

Waiting for Schumer

After Schumer's speech, and the 25-minute Q&A, the Senator stuck around the stage at the Hilton in midtown and greeted well-wishers and supplicants, among them the developers of the New Domino project in Williamsburg, who wanted him to know they needed help on the affordable housing component. (If Forest City Ratner wants to talk to Schumer, they can pick up the phone, right?)

He also took a few questions from reporters, answering in some detail.

When I finally got to him, he was less expansive. I told him I wrote a blog about Atlantic Yards and prefaced my question by stating that "Marty wants to use federal stimulus money for the railyards."

"Marty who?" asked Schumer, his mind apparently not on parochial borough politics.

"Marty Markowitz," I replied.

"I don't know," Schumer said dismissively, the statement responding (I think) to the propriety of the question rather than the policy issue. "I'm not--"

An aide interjected, saying it was time to go. And that was it.

What to make of it?

I don't think that means Schumer necessarily opposes stimulus funds for Atlantic Yards, but he clearly hasn't made it a priority. And it's not clear that the project would be shovel-ready, at least under the "transparent, immediate, and effective" dictum proposed by Governor David Paterson.

So, until other priorities like Moynihan Station fall by the wayside, there's no reason to go to bat for Atlantic Yards.

Still, it's notable that Atlantic Yards does not really compare to Moynihan Station, about which he declared, "Because it's just exactly what the stimulus ordered, which is important, long-lasting transportation projects that can be shovel-ready."

"In other words, there's a tension; the ones that are most shovel ready are sort of superficial: repaving a road," he explained. "And the ones that are deep don't often meet the criteria of being shovel-ready in 180 days. Parts of Moynihan Station meet both.'

Contrast with Queens West

"We've got to continue to develop more affordable housing and let neighborhoods evolve... We don't want neighborhoods to lose their character, but we don't want to be stuck in the past."

"Queens West is a great idea," he said. "More middle-class housing so that, as more young people get married and have families, they can stay here."

Note that Queens West, once announced as a project with some 5000 apartments affordable to to middle-income households, was last heard as having 40% market-rate units. That would all be on public land, with advocates calling for an open bid process.

While Queens West is controversial, it's a lot less controversial than Atlantic Yards, which is probably one reason why Schumer didn't mention it.

Also, while Queens West would not include low-income housing (900 such units were announced for Atlantic Yards, though hardly guaranteed), it would be 60% affordable, while AY would be 35% affordable, as announced (2250/6430 units)

Changing role of the private sector

Regarding Moynihan Station, the vision has changed from developers with office tower plans driving the project to a process led by government. "You can't wait for the private sector on this; you just can't," Schumer said yesterday. "It's not that they wouldn't do a good job--they wouldn't get the financing."

Crain's noted that, while Schumer said the developers should be pushed to “move as quickly as possible on the private development portion of the project,” he didn't detail how that could be done.

WNYC reported: But the president of the joint venture, Vishaan Chakrabarti, says the developers now want a smaller role, to act more or less as general contractors that public agencies would hire to renovate the Farley building.

In other words, it no longer seems wise for public agencies to expect private developers, as with Atlantic Yards, to produce public infrastructure as the byproduct of their projects. After all, as developer Forest City Enterprises has declared re AY, "We control the pace."

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 + FAQ (post-dated pinned post)

This graphic, posted in February 2018, 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--but not yet approved--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…

The passing of David Sheets, Dean Street renter, former Freddy's bartender, eminent domain plaintiff, and singular personality

David Sheets, longtime Dean Street renter, Freddy's bartender, eminent domain plaintiff, and singular personality, died 1/17/18 in HCA Greenview Hospital in Bowling Green, KY. He was 56.

There are obituary notices in the Bowling Green Daily News and the Wichita Eagle, which state:
He was born in Wichita, KS where he attended public Schools and Wichita State University. He lived for many years in Brooklyn, NY, and was employed as a legal assistant. David's hobby was cartography and had an avid interest in Mass Transit Systems of the world. David was predeceased by his father, Kenneth E. Sheets. He is survived by his mother, Wilma Smith, step-brother, Billy Ray Smith and his wife, Jane all of Bowling Green; step-sister, Ellen Smith Alexander and her husband, Jerry of Bella Vista, AR; several cousins and step-nieces and step-nephews also survive. Memorial Services will be on Monday, January 22, 2018 at 1:00 pm with visitation from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm Monday at Johnson-Vaughn-Phe…

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…

Some skepticism on Belmont hockey deal: lease value seems far below Aqueduct racino; unclear (but large?) cost for LIRR service

As I wrote for The Bridge 12/20/1, The Islanders Say Bye to Brooklyn, But Where Next?, the press conference announcing a new arena at Belmont Park for the New York Islanders was "long on pomp... but short on specifics."

Notably, a lease valued at $40 million "upfront to lease up to 43 acres over 49 years... seems like a good deal on rent for the state-controlled property." Also, the Long Island Rail Road will expand service to Belmont.

That indicates public support for an arena widely described as "privately financed," but how much? We don't know yet, but some more details--or at least questions--have emerged.

An Aqueduct comparable?

Well, we don't know what the other bid was, and there aren't exactly parcels that large offering direct comparables.

But consider: Genting New York LLC in September 2010 was granted a franchise to operate a video lottery terminal under a 30 year lease on 67 acres at Aqueduct Park (as noted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo).

As…