Skip to main content

Forest City claims "we've been working very hard to make Atlantic Yards a reality," says "there's a certain irony" about protest today (well, only a bit)

In a preview today about the Atlantic Yards protest at 3 pm, Patch offers a quote from Forest City Ratner:
We understand fully the need for more jobs and more housing in Brooklyn and throughout the City, which is why we’ve been working very hard to make Atlantic Yards a reality. But there’s a certain irony that people who were opposed to the project, and worked hard to stall the project, now criticize it for not delivering fast enough the benefits.
The arena is scheduled to open this September and we have started an extensive outreach initiative to fill the 2000 arena jobs, including visits with community groups, public housing and churches. We hope as well to begin the housing this year. Fifty percent of the first building will consist of affordable units.
We are hopeful that as Atlantic Yards progresses, that we can all work together to achieve the benefits that we believe Brooklyn needs and that this development will provide.
Looking more closely

Forest City has been "working very hard to make Atlantic Yards a reality" under the timetable and program that makes sense to it as a company that must meet certain profit and revenue goals. 

Bruce Ratner admitted in 2010 that the project was never expected to be built in the promised ten years, even though that's the time frame that the developer and governmental officials used to estimate project benefits. And last he said that "existing incentives" don't work for high-rise, union-built affordable housing, which is of course what his firm proposed.

As for the "certain irony that people who were opposed to the project, and worked hard to stall the project, now criticize it," Forest City has a slender point, though not a convincing one. The Coalition for Arena Justice organized by Brown Memorial Baptist Church consists mainly of churches that were not part of the Atlantic Yards battle, though a few pastors were periodic critics.

BrooklynSpeaks, a co-sponsor of the rally, never opposed the project but has tried to improve it, and went to court to seek a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, given that Forest City, while promising a ten-year buildout, negotiated contracts that give the firm 25 years. (It had previously avoided going to court.) Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, which did oppose the project and led several lawsuits, has promoted the protest, but is not an official sponsor.

Has Forest City "started an extensive outreach initiative to fill the 2000 arena jobs"? Nearly, but not quite.  The 105 full-time jobs do not require "extensive outreach," while the 1901 other jobs are part-time--but not the equivalent of full-time jobs once promised by the project. That said, Forest City had not previously promoted this number of arena jobs, and they will surely be welcome to those who have them, and tell their friends and associates.

While fifty percent of the first building will consist of affordable units, affordable does not mean low-income, and most of those who rallied for the subsidized housing will not be eligible for many if not most of the affordable units. And Forest City Ratner, as Council Member Letitia James has pointed out,  has not lived up to its promise for larger affordable apartments in the first tower.

As for how "we can all work together to achieve the benefits that we believe Brooklyn needs and that this development will provide," consider the passive sentence construction: "this development will provide."

The development won't provide anything without investment, subsidies, pressure, and penalties. That's the argument for oversight.

Who's talking

The "certain irony" quote also depends on who's speaking.

Elected officials expected to speak, according to Patch, include Council Member Letitia James and state Senator Velmanette Montgomery. Given that James and Montgomery are longtime opponents, if they simply talk about the overall project--rather than specific issues of accountability (like the size of the apartment) or general oversight--then they're vulnerable to charges of irony.

The rally would demonstrate broader support, however, if other elected officials, such as state Senator Eric Adams, a candidate for Borough President in 2013, also attend.

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…

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 …

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…

"There is no alternative": DM Glen on de Blasio's affordable housing strategy

As I've written, Mayor Bill de Blasio sure knows how to steer and spin coverage of his affordable housing initiatives.

Indeed, his latest announcement, claiming significant progress, came with a pre-press release op-ed in the New York Daily News and then a friendly photo-op press conference with an understandably grateful--and very lucky--winner of an affordable housing lottery.

To me, though, the most significant quote came from Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, who, as the Wall Street Journal reported:
said public housing had been “starved” of federal support for years now, leaving the city with fewer ways of creating affordable housing. “Are we relying too heavily on the private sector?” she said. “There is no alternative.” Though Glen was using what she surely sees as a common-sense phrase, it recalls the slogan of a politician with whom I doubt de Blasio identifies: former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, a Conservative who believed in free markets.

It suggests the limits to …