Skip to main content

The contradictions of the Working Families Party: responsible development and silence on Atlantic Yards

From a 10/12/09 City Hall News article headlined Working Families Prepares To Bite Into The Big Apple: Broad strokes of agenda come into focus in wake of electoral victories:
“Responsible development is a huge one,” [executive director Dan] Cantor said, enumerating the party’s general principles. “Meaning from soup to nuts, it has to be built responsibly. The jobs that are created need to be good jobs. The housing that’s created needs to include a substantial amount of affordable housing. It needs to be sensitive to local neighborhood concerns. It’s got to be a democratic planning process as much as possible. We should not give away such a precious social resource without demanding a social benefit.”

Often in development projects in New York, however, those principles are in conflict: the city must choose between whether or not they want developers to add more affordable housing or build lower in deference to community concerns. Plus, Bloomberg administration officials say, there is more agreement than some of their critics allege, but that say translating those kinds of principles into deals with private-sector developers and community groups is often easier said than done.

WFP allies, though, say that the Bloomberg administration has often favored developers over neighborhood concerns. Now in power, they vow to re-orient local government’s priorities.

“It’s about making community concerns a core priority rather than an afterthought, and economic development geared towards that priority,” said Brad Lander, one of the WFP priority candidates who scored a convincing Democratic primary win with the party’s help. “If you start with increasing the tax base and letting the developer dream big, then yes, living wages are going to be a nuisance—but you can start with affordable housing, good jobs, sustainable neighborhoods and public amenities, and then gear development around that.”
(Emphases added)


With Atlantic Yards, however, the priority is the developer's vision, while neighborhood concerns--at least the neighborhoods represented by the three community boards touching on the project site--get downplayed.

The complication is that some community concerns, at least as represented by the Forest City Ratner-funded groups in the Community Benefits Agreement, are met, thanks in part to government funds funneled to the developer and then redistributed.

And where has the Working Families Party been on this? It's officially neutral on Atlantic Yards, and has criticized tax-free bonds for Yankee Stadium, but never mentioned the Nets arena.

As I wrote in June 2006, given that ACORN is a founder of the WFP, the party can't ignore ACORN's position supporting AY. But shouldn't the WFP care about a democratic planning process?


  1. The WFP staff frequent a neighborhood bar of mine, which I go to less and less because of it (a lot of their "staff" are underage and unfortunately get served booze no questions asked). Since the ACORN scandal wrought by the pimp/prostitute videotapes, it seems like the staff are being told to deny to the general public that ACORN has any relationship with WFP, despite the obvious (they share office space, for crying out loud), and on this basis, they feign ignorance on Atlantic Yards. However, they've never endorsed an openly anti-AY candidate in any Council race and if ACORN's influence isn't enough, it is also WFP's union base which carries weight (i.e., AY is the only way to "create jobs").


Post a Comment

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 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.

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…

Forest City acknowledges unspecified delays in Pacific Park, cites $300 million "impairment" in project value; what about affordable housing pledge?

Updated Monday Nov. 7 am: Note follow-up coverage of stock price drop and investor conference call and pending questions.

Pacific Park Brooklyn is seriously delayed, Forest City Realty Trust said yesterday in a news release, which further acknowledged that the project has caused a $300 million impairment, or write-down of the asset, as the expected revenues no longer exceed the carrying cost.

The Cleveland-based developer, parent of Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner, which is a 30% investor in Pacific Park along with 70% partner/overseer Greenland USA, blamed the "significant impairment" on an oversupply of market-rate apartments, the uncertain fate of the 421-a tax break, and a continued increase in construction costs.

While the delay essentially confirms the obvious, given that two major buildings have not launched despite plans to do so, it raises significant questions about the future of the project, including:
if market-rate construction is delayed, will the affordable h…