Skip to main content

If Forest City Ratner has breached its deal with ACORN, why has ACORN maintained support?

ACORN, we should remember, has stuck by Forest City Ratner even though the developer has likely breached the deal ACORN signed.

A reader points out that, in writing about public comments by the president of New York State ACORN, I left out part of the May 2005 Housing Memorandum of Understanding, agreed to "take reasonable steps to publicly support the project by, among other things, appearing with the developer before the Public Parties, community organizations, and the media."

The ACORN obligation

The preamble states:
As long as the Project will include the ACORN/ATLANTIC YARDS 50/50 Program as described in paragraph 1, ACORN agrees to take reasonable steps to publicly support the project by, among other things, appearing with the developer before the Public Parties, community organizations, and the media.

The 50/50 program

What was described in paragraph 1?
Developer shall develop fifty (50%) of the Residential Project as affordable housing in accordance with the ACORN/ATLANTIC Yards 50/50 program. Based on a projected number of units of 4,500 the affordable commitment will be 2,250 units.

However, just a week after the press conference announcing that deal, Forest City Ratner announced changes, proposing either an addition of 1500 market-rate condos while maintaining the same amount of office space, or reducing the office space and planning for 2800 condos. Now the number of proposed condos has been reduced to 1930.

As noted in Paragraph 5 of the MOU, if the number of units in the project should increase "for any reason that the Developer determines to be economically necessary," the developer and ACORN would try to follow the 50/50 program.

Have they done so? Forest City Ratner has agreed to build 600 to 1000 affordable for-sale units, not matching the announced 1930 condo units. But that agreement has never been part of documents approved by the Empire State Development Corporation.

Times coverage

On 11/6/05, taking note of some of those criticisms, the New York Times suggested that the project--in its configuration at the time--might include 40 percent affordable housing:
But if the developer chooses to build the maximum of 1,000 moderately priced for-sale units described in the Acorn agreement and builds them off-site, then the total number of for-sale and rental units associated with the project would reach 8,300, of which 3,250 would be priced below market rates - about 40 percent.

Now, if 1000 subsidized for-sale units are built along with the 1930 market-rate condos, the percentage would be 43.75%. If 200 of those 1930 on-site units are subsidized, as Forest City Ratner promised in December 2006, then the percentage would be even higher: nearly 45%. But there's no evidence either will occur.

ACORN stands firm

The Times article closed by quoting ACORN's Bertha Lewis. While in Ratner's Brooklyn Standard publication, she continued to insist that the 50-50 program had not been compromised (mentioning the 2,250 rentals but nothing about the offsite condos), here she was a little more circumspect:
Ms. Lewis said that Acorn remained a strong supporter of the project and of the agreement with Forest City Ratner. But she said she was negotiating with the company, and with the government agencies that help subsidize housing, to help make a greater proportion of the for-sale apartments available below market prices.

"We know that when we get through this thing, half of all the housing is going to be affordable - half of the rental, half of everything else," she said. "We haven't gotten down to the last part of this. But our whole principle is 50-50."


How do we know? Shouldn't the Times have pointed out that ACORN is required to publicly support the project? Or that ACORN could abandon that support by reading the MOU literally?.

However, like government agencies, ACORN is apparently in for a dime, in for a dollar.

And ACORN's now in hock to the developer, which, as Lewis has acknowledged, got a benefit: we were value-added: one, in expertise; two, in political cover – let’s face it – and political might and our ability to fight them.

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 …

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…

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park graphic: what's built/what might be coming (post-dated pinned post)

Click on graphic to enlarge. This is post-dated to stay at the top of the blog. It will be updated as announced configurations change and buildings launch. The August 2014 tentative configurations proposed by developer Greenland Forest City Partners will change, and the project is already well behind that tentative timetable.


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 …

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…