Skip to main content

Despite official efforts to downplay news, Friedman decision represents severe rebuke to ESDC; why did several news outlets ignore it?

Updated with mention of Daily News article, then Times and Observer.

At the Atlantic Yards arena groundbreaking in March, New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg soothingly declared, "[N]obody's going to remember how long it took, they're only going to look and see that it was done."

The official line regarding yesterday's ruling by state Supreme Court Justice Marcy Friedman seems similar: "Nobody's going to remember how it got done, they're only going to look and see that it was done."

“Nothing was announced today that’s going to impact construction,” Jeff Linton, a spokesman for Forest City Enterprises, parent of Brooklyn developer Forest City Ratner, told Bloomberg Business Week.

An Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) spokeswoman--who didn't respond to my queries--told the Brooklyn Paper that the agency was “reviewing today’s ruling, which does not enjoin construction taking place on the Atlantic Yards project.”

Why it's important

Well, it won't stop current construction, but it could impact future construction. And, despite the Brooklyn Paper headline (Yards foes win a big case that will not likely change a thing), the case will, at the very least, provoke the ESDC to issue more findings justifying its ten-year timetable.

That timetable is less and less defensible--and that could lead to additional lawsuits, possibly affecting Phase 2 of the project. The upshot: people can and will very much remember how it got done.

Also, despite attempts to downplay the ruling, it's news when a judge rebukes the ESDC for "what appears to be yet another failure of transparency" and "totally incomplete representations" in legal papers.

In other words, the agency in charge of economic development in the state behaves somewhat like a guy on Craigslist trying to rent you an apartment he doesn't quite own.

Press non-performance

However, the news was mostly ignored by the press, even though the winning petitioners, Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn and BrooklynSpeaks, each issued press releases.

Blame Atlantic Yards fatigue. Blame the inability to grapple with serious issues. Blame the easy reliance on covering more mundane, fluffy stories (see below).

The Post managed a blog mention, but there was nothing in the Times, the Wall Street Journal, or the Observer, which were scooped, so to speak, by the Bergen Record.

(Update: at 5:58 pm and 6:24 pm today, the Observer and Times finally followed up. Maybe they noticed my HuffPost piece.)


Update: there was an article in the print Daily News, on the YourBorough page (p. 35), headlined "Top state court rips agency over Atlantic Yards timetable." (Click to enlarge) The article was not put online (here's the Brooklyn section), and the placement on the Brooklyn page implies that the issue is not of citywide importance. Still, the Post did worse, devoting print space to a hole on Flatbush Avenue but not AY.

There was coverage in Bloomberg Business Week (Atlantic Yards Judge Questions Environmental Review) and Reuters (NY agency must revisit Atlantic Yards impact: judge), both rather bland.

Curbed summarized it, trivially, State Supreme Court judge rules she doesn't like Atlantic Yards timeline. Actually, Friedman's response wasn't personal; it was institutional. She ruled that the ESDC acted deceptively.

In the Times, AY on stage

Today, the Times's Arts section offers a long article on The Civilians' new play about Atlantic Yards--worthy of coverage but leaving the misleading impression that the Atlantic Yards story is over.

In fact, while the headline 'In the Footprint' Dramatizes Atlantic Yards Discord may be accurate, the key to understanding Atlantic Yards is less discord among opposing citizens than the balance between private power and the public interest.

What about Shake Shack?

What got more coverage than Friedman's decision?

Consider the significant interest in news that Danny Meyer's Shake Shack might move to Brooklyn, a story that emerged with a Daily News exclusive, got a follow-up in the Post, and generated coverage in the Brooklyn Paper, Gothamist, New York, and the Observer.

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…

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…

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…

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 …

For Atlantic Yards Quality of Life meeting Sept. 19, another bare-bones agenda (green wall?)

A message from Empire State Development (ESD) reminds us that the next Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life Meeting--which aims to update community members on construction and other issues--will be held:
Tuesday, September 19, 2017 @ 6 pm
Shirley Chisholm State Office Building
55 Hanson Place
1st Floor Conference Room
Brooklyn, NY 11217 The typically bare-bones, agenda, below, tells us nothing about the content of the presentation. One thing to look for is any hint of plans to start a new building on the southeast block of the project by the end of the year.

If not, ESD is supposed to re-evaluate a longstanding request from project neighbors to move back a giant wall encroaching on part of Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues. It's said to enclose construction activity, but, in recent months, has significantly served to protect worker parking.

Also, by the way, if you search for Atlantic Yards on Google or the ESD website, it leads to this page for the Atlantic Ya…