Skip to main content

Ratner, Bloomberg provoke little skepticism about "2,000 jobs" announcement; recruitment efforts begin next week; Ratner admits more potential delay on first building

The press conference yesterday regarding jobs (press release) at the Barclays Center was mostly a success for Mayor Mike Bloomberg and developer Bruce Ratner, whom the mayor referred to as "a neighbor of mine, a friend of mine."

First, many media outlets provided the understandably dramatic visuals of the structure, as shown in the first video below that I shot, and Bloomberg's endorsement of the tight seating bowl.

And most media outlets reported, with relatively little skepticism, the claim that there would be 2,000 jobs at the arena, with recruitment focused on the neighborhoods and housing projects near the site.

Also note that Ratner nudged back the goalposts for the first residential building yet again, suggesting it could start either later next year or early next year. And I already reported on Bloomberg's dismissive response to a question about whether arena-going crowds would inundate neighborhood streets and sidewalks.



Reasons for skepticism about jobs

But there were reasons for skepticism about the jobs. I reported yesterday in Daily Intel that, when asked how many full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs there would be, Bloomberg responded testily, and Ratner dodged the question with a joke aimed at me (video here).

Only later did Forest City confirm that there would be 1,240 FTE jobs, though without any documentation. And, despite Ratner's claim that compensation would "be above living wage, I'm sure," it's unlikely doubt that such part-time jobs will qualify as living-wage jobs.

Let's say 1850 people have part-time jobs and 150 have full-time jobs. That means 1850 part-timers would be vying for 1090 FTE [1240-150] positions. That works out to 23.6 hours a week [(1090 x 40)/1850 = 23.57]. (Ratner said the jobs would be "up to 30 hours" a week.)

Existing legislation defines a living wage in New York City as a minimum of $10 per hour with benefits, or $11.50 per hour without benefits.

But if they're only working 23-25 hours a week, how can that be a living wage? Moreover, no one said anything about benefits. Presumably, when Forest City Ratner reps begin making presentations next week at area community boards (Monday at CB6, Tuesday at CB2, etc.), more details will emerge.

Right now only the higher-wage jobs are listed on the Barclays Center site.

Press coverage

The New York Times, which had two reporters there, didn't cover the press conference (yet). The Daily News reported there would be "2,000 jobs... some 90% of them part-time," but didn't clarify--despite the reporter's tweet--that it would mean 1,240 FTE.

The New York Post focused on remarks Borough President Marty Markowitz made in response to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, but did mention the 1,240 number.

(The Post in January, presumably citing information provided by Forest City Ratner, predicted 1500 full and part-time workers. When asked about those numbers yesterday, Ratner said, "I don't where you got the 1500... at any one time, we'll have at most 800 people in the arena.... on a major event.")

Metro didn't specify the number of jobs but did--unlike nearly every other press outlet--quote a statement issued later by Council Member Letitia James, which strikes me as on target, that most of the jobs "will do little to address the rising poverty in the borough."

Patch quoted the 2,000 figure as well as my pre-meeting reference to the state's projection of 1,120 FTE jobs. NY1 cited 2,000 jobs and some debate over the living wage, but didn't drill down. ABC was enthusiastic, with no skepticism. Ditto for Newsday.

The Observer focused on naming the Nets. amNY quoted skepticism from Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn but not the 1,240 figure. The Village Voice cited the interaction I had with Bloomberg.

 Gothamist didn't quote the FTE numbers but stressed:
Forest City Ratner is promising to "report quarterly on the number of employees and the neighborhoods that they are from." All the arena-haters noted that for future reference? Good.
Gothamist apparently doesn't know about the developer's long-delayed obligation to hire an Independent Compliance Monitor. The Epoch Times did focus on the questionable job numbers.

Bloomberg's opening remarks: economic growth

In his opening remarks, Bloomberg cited his enthusiasm for the arena and "a lot of economic growth, more tax revenues and more jobs." That of course is a bit more complicated.

The city devoted significant subsidies--Bloomberg yesterday said $200 million, though his administration would argue that the number's lower--and the New York City Independent Budget Office called the arena a net loss for the city.



Note that it was a tad ironic for Bloomberg to read, a bit stumblingly, press release praise for Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) signatories after he'd previously denounced CBAs as "extortion." Of course he didn't recognize that job-training group BUILD has been sued.

Bloomberg later said, in response to a question, about the possibility of a move by the New York Islanders, "This is an arena that is built so they can have hockey here." Actually, he has the situation exactly backwards: the arena was built for basketball, and could only have about 14,500 seats for hockey.

Ratner's remarks

Ratner, in his remarks, said job fairs would start in a New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) project. "We've got to employ everybody in the city, where you live in a NYCHA community or in our [Frank] Gehry building," he said.

"Today is one of the most important days in the history of this arena," he said. "You'll have championships here... It's one of the most important days because we're hiring 2000 people that are local residents... ushers and porters and ticket-takers from our own community."

"That's along with the 8 to 900 jobs, construction jobs, we have working here every single day," he said, not offering a FTE number, "along with the thousands of others that work off-site."



"We call ourselves a civic developer because jobs have always been important," Ratner said. "Whether it be 15,000 jobs at MetroTech, or 2500 jobs across the street, working in our two shopping centers--14 shopping centers built in these boroughs, where we have over 5000 other jobs, jobs are what it's about.... I really have been looking forward to this day, honestly, for eight years."

Markowitz's remarks

Note Borough President Marty Markowitz's statement, "I've always said this arena will create thousands of excellent-paying jobs, and here they come. A promise made, a promise kept." That's not exactly a solid claim.

Also note Bloomberg's introduction of Markowitz with a bit of doggerel.



Comments from NYCHA Chairman John Rhea



Comments from Small Business Services Commissioner Rob Walsh



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 (post-dated pinned post)

This graphic, posted in November 2017, 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 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.

The previous graphic, from August 2017 (without the ghost B1)

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…

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 …