Skip to main content

When will MTA get any of FCR’s $100 million? Not yet, so it's worth asking about an alternative fate for the Vanderbilt Yard

(This is one in an irregular series of articles about issues that a State Senate committee might address when it holds a hearing on Atlantic Yards.)

So, when is the Metropolitan Transportation Authority supposed get Forest City Ratner's $100 million cash payment for rights to the Vanderbilt Yard? When is the MTA even supposed to get the $10 million nonrefundable deposit?

Not yet.

I wrote yesterday about developer Forest City Ratner's reported attempt to stretch out payments of the $100 million it owes as well as its reported effort to build a less extensive replacement railyard.

But it's worth a look at the documentation regarding when they're supposed to pay, and what the promises have been. And it's worth asking the MTA if it ever pressed Forest City Ratner.

The GPP on the $100 million

Note this sentence from Part 1 of the Empire State Development Corporation's (ESDC) Modified General Project Plan, or GPP (p. 14):
FCRC shall be required to consummate such purchase prior to or contemporaneously with the first acquisition by ESDC of a parcel within the Project Site not owned by the MTA.


After MTA Executive Director Elliot (Lee) Sander in Apri. 2008 expressed concern that the $100 million was delayed, Loren Riegelhaupt, a spokesman for the developer, told the Observer that the $100 million would be delivered later in 2008, once the company closed on the deal.

That didn't happen and, indeed, Riegelhaupt has left Forest City. The ESDC has yet to acquire any parcels. Sander recently said that the agency is "flexible and thoughtful" in its negotiations--but we don't know whether his successor will be more flexible.

Deposit comes later

Paragraph #3 of the 9/15/05 sale letter concerns the Purchase Price:
One Hundred Million ($100,000,000.00) Dollars payable as follows: Ten (10%) percent non-refundable deposit (in cash) on contract execution and the balance, in cash, at the Closing; provided, however, that if the MTA fails to close for reasons to be set forth in the contract of sale, the deposit will be returned to FCRC.

But the contract hasn't been executed. “As noted in the document, the 10% nonrefundable deposit is payable ‘on contract execution,’” MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan told me. "We expect that payment when the contract is executed at closing.”

When is closing? According to paragraph #7 of the 9/15/05 sale letter:
The Closing of the purchase and sale shall be subject to the completion of all public approvals for the FCRC Atlantic Yards Project, of which the development of the VD Yard as set forth in the FCRC Proposal forms a part, including approval of an ESDC General Project Plan, Public Authorities Control Board approval, approval under the Eminent Domain Procedures Law [EDPL], City and State funding approvals, and a final environmental impact statement. The parties will agree in the contract on the appropriate sequencing of construction of temporary and permanent improvements to the VD Yard, Closing of the purchase and sale, and an outside date for the Closing.
(Emphases added)

Cause of delays

The deal is still in the pre-closing period, during which work proceeds according to a license agreement. MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin told the Observer in September 2007 that the deal was expected to close at the end of that year or in the beginning of 2008.

He told me more recently that negotiations are still going on; the question of "appropriate sequencing" is apparently unresolved. Also, though he didn't say so, no property has been delivered via eminent domain, and the EDPL has been challenged in court.

Plans way behind

As I reported in December, according to the Construction Schedule attached to the Atlantic Yards Final Environmental Impact Statement, the temporary yard was supposed to open 8/17/07.

According to the Preliminary Draft Construction Schedule that is part of the 2/14/07 license agreement entered into by MTA and LIRR with FCR, the temporary yard was supposed to open 11/8/07. According to another document, Construction Schedule Stage One, dated 5/20/08, the Temporary Yard was supposed to open 10/24/08, more than 14 months late.

Reversal possible?

As I wrote in December, a license for temporary yard work signed 2/14/07 states that, if construction of a permanent railyard does not begin within 24 months, the MTA has the option to ask Forest City Ratner "to fully restore the Present VD Yard Functions" and--apparently, though the language is murky--end the deal.

There's no indication that the MTA would exercise such leverage, but no construction has begun within that timetable.

It's worth asking the MTA whether it renewed the license, and why, or in what circumstances it would restore the railyard functions. 

After all, it's been nearly four years, and the MTA hasn't received the capital funds it expected from the Vanderbilt Yard deal.

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…

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…

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…