Skip to main content

Atlantic Yards, Pacific Park, and the Culture of Cheating

I offer a framework to analyze and evaluate Atlantic Yards (in August 2014 rebranded as Pacific Park Brooklyn) and the Barclays Center: Atlantic Yards, Pacific Park, and the Culture of Cheating.


  1. Norman,

    If I remember correctly, you've had a longstanding relationship with the Institute for Justice for a while, so you may already be familiar with the interesting online article that William Stern, who used to be the head of the UDC, did for them in 2009. But in case you missed the article, it has some interesting specific criticisms of the involvement of "the New York Times" in the Times Square redevelopment project (which Stern headed early on). (Stern did an earlier, less detailed, version of this article for the "City Journal" in 1999 -- but it has less specific information about the involvement of the "Times" in the Times Square redevelopment project.)

    Here's a link:

    If the link doesn't work, you can find it doing with a search engine using the following key words: William Stern Times Square.

    Enjoyed your "City Journal" article, and agree that it's important to examine the past in order to learn from it.

    Benjamin Hemric
    Wed., 11/28/12, 8:35 pm

  2. Thanks for the comment. Actually, I've had no relationship with the Institute for Justice, other than to attend a few events where they participated.

    I'm familiar with the Stern article, and the passage cited below. That said, I suspect the situation in the newsroom is less blatant, though the editorials on Atlantic Yards--the most recent quoting a Forest City executive but no skeptic--clearly show what the Times believes.

    From the article:
    For example, Jack Rosenthal, then deputy editorial page editor of the paper, was the Times’ point man in representing their interests about the redevelopment. He acted not as a journalist covering a story but as a decision maker, dictating public policy. Rosenthal was speaking for the paper, and the paper was part of the New York Times Corporation. The Times Corp. had decided it should have as much decision power as city or state government with regard to 42nd Street.
    They did so in many ways. One of the primary methods was to use their close relationship with important city officials, such as city planning commissioner Herb Sturz (the city’s point man on the project and my equivalent for the city), who later went to work for the Times after he left city government. An incident that demonstrates Sturz’s relationship with the Times occurred at a city-state meeting to discuss the project. At the meeting, Sturz announced, “Punch [Arthur Sulzberger, former publisher of the Times] wants 1 Times Square down.” At other times it was unvarnished attempts at pressure. In a private meeting, Rosenthal made it very clear to me that the Times wanted Klein to develop the garment wholesale mart and grew increasingly upset at my opposition to the idea.

    1. I suspect the situation in the newsroom is less blatant *today*

  3. Anonymous4:19 PM

    I would like this blog to investigate the Brooklyn Navy Yard/Skanska/Ratner construction contacts. It's come to anon attention that they are supposed to use MWBE's to build housing. Some of the MWBE's they have been using their certification has expired, they are not certified MWBE's and one particular contractor is affiliated with Senator Malcom Smith. The reporting for these MWBE's are alledgly suppose to report back to Empire State Development's MWABE Division. This particular division of ESD should be investigated due to the fact their website of MWBE's are not up to date, there are contractors who have been investigated, indicted and numerous pass throughs to make sure the Gov & ESD who good on paper but they don't look good when it comes to compliance or quality of MWBE's. There is no compliance officer or anyone to verify what contractors are being used by Ratner.

    1. This is an accusation that would be stronger if not anonymous, but... I would note that ESDC does not count firms that are not certified, and Forest City's own numbers use such firms:

      I can be contacted directly via the email address at the top of the page.

  4. I'm curious why you are not being as vigilant about James Dolan and his media arm Newsday, Msg, News12LI and others representing Msg the tax exemption in perpetuity, want operating permit in perpetuity vs Ratner at the Nassau Coliseum for a facility the Dolan's have wanted since Charles Dolan signed an agreement to purchase the club in 1991 before setting for a co-ownership in Msg in 1994.

    1. I've written skeptically about the Dolans and the indefensible Madison Square Garden tax break, and pointed out that his company dominates LI media. That said, my focus is on Atlantic Yards and then, by extension, Forest City's related activities.

  5. Anonymous12:37 AM

    Curious to know since one of our local neighbors called ESD to see who was replacing Arana Hankin and we didn't get a response. We did notice on the ESD website they updated their organizational chart since people seem to be fleeing that shipwreck.

  6. Anonymous11:08 PM

    Please note ESD still has Arana Hankin as the Director of the AY on their website. We called and left a message with Joe Chan since numerous other contacts we were given didn't respond to our inquires at ESD, even left a message with Ken Adams. No response.

    1. Derek Lynch is the manager of community/government relations regarding Atlantic Yards:

  7. Anonymous7:43 AM

    There should be an inquiry into how many jobs went to local residents as part of the Community Benefits Agreement. There sure seem to be a lot of Italian kids from Staten Island and New Jersey on the stagehand crew, but where are the jobs promised to us?

    1. That's a question for the new Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation. Not that they've looked into it.


Post a Comment

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 January 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 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't be so cheap.

As …

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).


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 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…