Skip to main content

A partial loophole in Forest City Ratner's plan to hire an Independent Compliance Monitor for the CBA, but the developer still hasn't fulfilled its obligation (and backers are quiet)

I should revise my analysis of Forest City Ratner's obligations under the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) to hire an Independent Compliance Monitor (ICM).

I wrote 11/29/10 that Forest City Ratner lied about CBA, claiming it went into effect only when the arena broke ground, and avoided hiring an ICM. I stand by that overall critique. The CBA went into effect shortly after it was signed in June 2005.

However, in terms of hiring an ICM, a footnote in an RFP (Request for Proposals) gave the developer slack until shortly before the groundbreaking, thus contradicting the language (likely) and spirit (clearly) of the CBA.

Even with that slack, however, Forest City Ratner has evaded its obligation, leading to regular situations, as I've described, in which the developer publicly self-reports on compliance with the CBA.

The whole point of the ICM was to have an independent authority, rather than rely on the developer and its contractor, The Darman Group, led by the ethically compromised Darryl Greene and his daughter Yvette Dennis.

Securing all approvals

The RFP for an ICM (embedded below), was issued in March 2007. It includes this line:
The contract will become effective upon Developer securing all approvals necessary to commence the Project.
No contract was ever announced.

Those approvals were acquired, I'd suggest, in November 2009, when the New York State Court of Appeals dismissed the eminent domain lawsuit, allowing the developer and state to proceed to a Master Closing, and to the sale of tax-exempt arena bonds.

Or, to give Forest City Ratner even more slack, then the final approval came 3/1/10, when Supreme Court Justice Abraham Gerges dismissed a challenge to condemnation.

What FCR said

However, as I reported last November, Forest City Ratner officials weren't making such distinctions. Executive Jane Marshall claimed that the CBA itself--not merely the RFP for an ICM--had been put on hold.

"The CBA agreement was signed a long time ago," Marshall responded. "It didn't actually go into effect until we broke ground for the arena."

What the CBA said

The CBA was signed 6/27/05. It clearly contradicts Marshall's claim:
TERM. This Agreement shall commence on the date hereof and continue until either (i) the Developers abandon their efforts to acquire or lease from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and to obtain a rezoning of the Project site for large-scale development, or (ii) thirty (30) years from commencement of construction of the first residential building to be constructed by Project Developer or its Affiliates at the Project.
(Emphasis added)

In other words, it was supposed to govern site work that preceded "all approvals." After all, Forest City Ratner kept issuing press releases, such as on 2/20/07, touting its minority contracting and compliance with the CBA.

Beyond that, in several places the CBA indicates that implementation would begin soon after it was signed, rather than some unspecified later groundbreaking.

The ICM loophole?

So, what if Forest City Ratner waited to hire an ICM, as per the loophole in the RFP, until "all approvals" were secured--say, March 2010?

That clearly violates the spirit of the CBA; after all, if the developer was to tout its minority contracting it should have paid for the promised monitor.

And it sure seems to violate the language of the CBA, given that the ICM was part of the reporting process.

As per p. 41 of the document, the ICM was supposed to get quarterly reports on such things as number of people placed through CLE (Community Labor Exchange) program, construction and non-construction contracts awarded to "Community based, Minority and women owned businesses"; and notices of upcoming bids for contracts.

So that's further evidence an ICM should have been hired early not, and not until "all approvals" were secured.

Delay, and silence

But even giving Forest City Ratner the most generous interpretation, the developer is already late--at least 16 months late.

And none of the CBA signatories, the only parties with legal standing to ensure CBA compliance, have tried to enforce this provision. Nor have any of the elected officials who supported the project, citing the CBA.

RFP for Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement Independent Compliance Monitor

Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement (CBA)

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 + FAQ (post-dated pinned post)

This graphic, posted in February 2018, 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--but not yet approved--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…

The passing of David Sheets, Dean Street renter, former Freddy's bartender, eminent domain plaintiff, and singular personality

David Sheets, longtime Dean Street renter, Freddy's bartender, eminent domain plaintiff, and singular personality, died 1/17/18 in HCA Greenview Hospital in Bowling Green, KY. He was 56.

There are obituary notices in the Bowling Green Daily News and the Wichita Eagle, which state:
He was born in Wichita, KS where he attended public Schools and Wichita State University. He lived for many years in Brooklyn, NY, and was employed as a legal assistant. David's hobby was cartography and had an avid interest in Mass Transit Systems of the world. David was predeceased by his father, Kenneth E. Sheets. He is survived by his mother, Wilma Smith, step-brother, Billy Ray Smith and his wife, Jane all of Bowling Green; step-sister, Ellen Smith Alexander and her husband, Jerry of Bella Vista, AR; several cousins and step-nieces and step-nephews also survive. Memorial Services will be on Monday, January 22, 2018 at 1:00 pm with visitation from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm Monday at Johnson-Vaughn-Phe…

Some skepticism on Belmont hockey deal: lease value seems far below Aqueduct racino; unclear (but large?) cost for LIRR service

As I wrote for The Bridge 12/20/1, The Islanders Say Bye to Brooklyn, But Where Next?, the press conference announcing a new arena at Belmont Park for the New York Islanders was "long on pomp... but short on specifics."

Notably, a lease valued at $40 million "upfront to lease up to 43 acres over 49 years... seems like a good deal on rent for the state-controlled property." Also, the Long Island Rail Road will expand service to Belmont.

That indicates public support for an arena widely described as "privately financed," but how much? We don't know yet, but some more details--or at least questions--have emerged.

An Aqueduct comparable?

Well, we don't know what the other bid was, and there aren't exactly parcels that large offering direct comparables.

But consider: Genting New York LLC in September 2010 was granted a franchise to operate a video lottery terminal under a 30 year lease on 67 acres at Aqueduct Park (as noted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo).

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…