Skip to main content

The ESDC's economic impact (not cost-benefit) analysis won't be subject to any public scrutiny because it doesn't yet exist

Just as information about the Atlantic Yards site plan and renderings of the arena won't emerge in time for the public hearing Wednesday and Thursday, nor will the Empire State Development Corporation's (ESDC) economic impact analysis.

That number--not a real cost-benefit analysis, despite use of that term at the informational meeting last Wednesday--may emerge when the board of the ESDC votes to approve the plan in September. There just won't be an opportunity to comment on it or examine the methodology behind it.

During the meeting, moderator Craig Hammerman, District Manager of Community Board 6, asked how the ESDC’s economic impact analysis was conducted.

The answer from ESDC Senior Counsel Steve Matlin (in video, below, with Forest City Ratner's MaryAnne Gilmartin) was vague. Expected construction costs and tax benefits were plugged into a model, and calculations were reflected in the 2006 Modified General Project Plan (MGPP).

“We’re constantly looking at that analysis and updating that analysis,” he asserted, a statement belied by the absence of any new numbers in the 2009 MGPP. He suggested that, since the the cost of the project has increased, “I’d expect that fiscal benefits will probably increase.”



“Will the cost-benefit analysis be available on the ESDC web site?” Hammerman asked later.

Matlin looked slightly quizzical, then offered a bland answer: “The summary of the cost-benefit analysis was in the 2006 [Modified] GPP and carried forward in the 2009 [Modified] GPP. To the extent those numbers are updated, we will reflect them at our next board approval, which we expect will be in September of 2009.”

Later, the issue came up again.



"How can the Empire State Development Corporation properly evaluate the appropriateness of subsidies for the project without producing an independent cost-benefit analysis?" Hammerman read.

"Well, ESDC does do a cost-benefit analysis," Matlin replied. "We have folks that look at the benefits of the project and the costs of the project. That''s an ongoing analysis, and we perform that internally."

"How come it's never been released?" asked project opponent Scott Turner from the crowd.

I'd add that the ESDC analysis is premised on the impacts of a ten-year buildout, and that seems very unlikely--given that the project, should it be built, more likely would take "decades," as former ESDC CEO Marisa Lago said in April.

What about the IBO report?



Hammerman read a question about a New York City Independent Budget Office (IBO) report that concluded the arena would be a net money-loser for the city.

“We have heard that report,” Matlin replied phlegmatically. “We do our own analysis. We basically do an analysis of the entire project. We don’t do a separate analysis just of the arena component. What we bargained for was the entire project. We bargained for the benefits generated from the entire project. Our calculations determined that there would be a significant benefit to both the city and the state from the buildout of the project. I believe the city--the Mayor’s office and the EDC [New York City Economic Development Corporation] also reached a similar conclusion.”

However, they use different methodologies and the IBO has been more scrupulous about trying to assess public costs and subsidies.

Later, asked if ESDC or FCR disputed the IBO report, watch how Gilmartin handed the microphone to Matlin with a slight scowl. Matlin then said, "We have not looked closely at that report. We do our own number-crunching. We looked at the project as a whole as opposed to the arena specifically."

Later, Hammerman read a question asserting that the costs to create jobs and affordable housing are two to four times the city average--so how do ESDC and FCR justify spending public money this way.

“Stupid question,” offered a heckler.

“Y’know, I’m not sure what that question is premised on,” Matlin responded. “What we do is, on a project-by-project basis, we evaluate the investment that the state is making, that the public sector is making. We look at the potential benefits that we expect to be generated from the project. And we make an evaluation as to whether the project is worthwhile or not. That’s basically what we did in this project. I don’t know how it compares to other projects.”

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 (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.

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't be so cheap.

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…

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…

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park in 2017: no new towers, unfilled affordable units, Islanders prepare to leave, project timetable fuzzy

My 2018 preview.

It was another wait-and-see year for Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, with one big twist--the beginning of a slow goodbye for the New York Islanders--but continued delays for towers, a lost (mostly) 421-a subsidy for condos, and new skepticism about unfilled not-so-affordable housing units.

So ongoing questions linger regarding the project's pace, affordability, and even future ownership.

In my 2017 preview, I predicted--not exactly going out on a limb--that two and likely three more towers would open, though it would be unclear how fast they'd lease up and sell.

Indeed, we've learned that the middle-income below-market units at 461 Dean (which opened in 2016) and 535 Carlton have leased very slowly, while it's too soon to assess progress for commensurate units at 38 Sixth. (At 535 Carlton and 38 Sixth, middle-income units make up half the "100% affordable" buildings.) Meanwhile, many apartments are up for rent at the 550 Vanderbilt condo buildin…