Forest City execs to investment analysts: arena revenues should stabilize in 2014; open to partner on AY housing (but don't need one), "well-positioned" in NY market for "multifamily products"
Chief Financial Officer Bob O'Brien said company executives had an opportunity to see the arena, calling it "a pretty amazing thing."
He said they were "pleased" with progress on the contractually obligated income for the arena, which he said would stabilize in 2014, the second year of operation
Note that the rise from 56% to 64%, while not insignificant, does not point to them reaching close to 100% by the time the arena opens.
"Can you talk about the residential entitlements at Atlantic Yards," asked analyst Sheila McGrath in the lingo peculiar to those talking about the business of development. Is the company thinking of bringing in a partner?
Matt Messinger, Executive VP at Forest City Ratner, responded: "We’re focusing our efforts at the moment on the towers immediately around the arena, the first three residential towers... Our hope is break ground on that [first] building in the later part of this year. And then, we’re actively in predevelopment on the other towers, as well. That's wort of where our focus is at the moment."
(Note that they've pushed back the groundbreaking date for that first tower, B2, numerous times.)
Messinger said the company has taken on partners with other projects, such as the 80 DeKalb apartment tower: "we continue to look at cost of capital and take on partners as appropriate."
O'Brien said the company, while always exploring options for partnership: "We're prepared, and want to move forward with the first tower at Atlantic Yards before the end of the year, and we're committed to do so. It's not contingent upon obtaining a partner. But we're looking at it as a way to enhance and expand the kind of capital sources we can utilize to activate the entitlement that we have."
The first three buildings, O'Brien said, represents about 1.4 million square feet: "There's obviously, beyond that, another 4 to 5 million square feet of entitlement, not all of which is obviously yet ready to go. But we think, long term, we’re well positioned in the New York marketplace to bring on multifamily product, over many number of years. It's a product type that, obviously, from a performance standpoint, has done well, and there continues to be significant demand. So we feel like our pipeline matches up well with future market needs."
Do they tell housing advocates like their partner Bertha Lewis the same thing?
For a reporter who spent the last six weeks listening to talk about Forest City's Ridge Hill project in Yonkers in the context of a corruption trial, it was a little bit cognitively dissonant to hear investment analysts focusing firmly on issues like “lease-up.”
The EBDT Bridge
Note how, as announced yesterday, the Nets are a drag on corporate earnings.