Forest City Ratner’s new design for its proposed Atlantic Yards arena in Brooklyn—the developer’s sixth fanciful design—was released today. The new arena design, something like a big eye ball at Atlantic and Flatbush, lacks some key elements—such as the entire rest of the proposed project.
“The arena design is irrelevant. Designs continue to come and go, but they change nothing. It's all lipstick on a corrupt pig, window-dressing on a boondoggle. Ratner faces a serious eminent domain court challenge and other litigation, he doesn't have the land or any of the financing he needs for the arena, and won't be able to break ground this year, if ever,” said Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn spokesman Daniel Goldstein. “The project is still a sham, still a phantom, with no designs for the promised affordable housing and no designs whatsoever for anything besides a money-losing arena. It is unconscionable that any elected official could support this farcical project any more.”
The Atlantic Yards proposal—an arena and 16 towers including 6,430 residential units in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn—is expected to face a rubberstamp vote by the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) board on September 17th. Developer Bruce Ratner and the ESDC claim the project will take ten years to build and hasn’t changed from its initial approval in 2006. Such claims are not credible—the project would take at least twenty years to construct and has changed radically since its 2006 approval. All Ratner is able to show, six years since unveiling his mega-project proposal, is the sixth version of his arena design and nothing else. The previous five designs all failed, and this new one is likely to do the same.
Ratner promises thousands of units of affordable housing, but the designs released today show nothing but an arena, which the City’s Independent Budget Office has shown to be a financial loser for New York City. Additionally, since the project has changed so radically and would take twice as long to construct as the ESDC claims, the state is required by law to conduct a new environmental review.
“With no guarantees for the promised affordable housing, no designs for that affordable housing and no commitment to acquire the rail-yard land for the affordable housing, this glitzy new design for a money-losing arena, at the expense of everything else, should be the last wake up call needed for Governor Paterson and Mayor Bloomberg to scrap a project that can no longer deliver any of the developer’s promises,” Goldstein concluded.
Arena bonds in escrow
The Times reports:
The arena images figure into what promises to be an intense marketing effort. Forest City Ratner plans to get final state approval next week from the Empire State Development Corporation. It will then try to raise about $700 million in tax-exempt financing. But the state still faces a legal challenge from opponents to the state’s use of eminent domain on Mr. Ratner’s behalf. The proceeds would have to be placed in escrow until the Court of Appeals issues a decision later this year, even as Forest Ctiy plans to begin marketing the luxury boxes and premium seats at the arena.