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Does Islanders' move to Brooklyn speed up Atlantic Yards housing? No, says Ratner. Bloomberg blames opponents for delays. Both ignore the record.

During the press conference following the announcement this afternoon of the New York Islanders' move to the Barclays Center in 2015, there was exactly one question about the larger Atlantic Yards project and its unfulfilled promises.

"Of course this arena was supposed to be part of a overall complex, 6,000 housing units, many of them affordable," asked Mike Pesca of NPR. "Can you talk about how this deal affects building those units, and can the mayor comment on how he's satisfied with the progress building of the housing?"

Ratner kept it brief: "This deal doesn't affect the housing, and I announced at our last press conference...  that on December 18th we will have the groundbreaking for our first building, which is 50% affordable."

Bloomberg blames opponents

Bloomberg tried harder at defense, "I would say that we'd obviously like to get things done quicker, but given all of the angst that Bruce had to go through to get the building going, the fact that the housing is a little bit behind schedule isn't the least bit surprising."

"Those people that tried to stop the project or delay the project are the ones that really caused all of that," he added. "The marketplace also wasn't terribly helpful, but I think the fact that New York City's at a record population, is having a record number of tourists coming here... there's a lot of good indicators that say that Bruce will be able to build and get it done reasonably expeditiously. Would it have been nice if it was done earlier, sure? But the real world is what it is."

Or blame the developer and government

Though some, like a new City and State reporter, took Bloomberg at face value, that ignores history. In the real world, Ratner has made two self-sabotaging--if rather little-noticed--statements regarding those promises:
  • he repudiated the ten-year timeline to build the project previously endorsed by his company and the state
  • he claimed that high-rise, union-built affordable housing isn't feasible, even though that's what he long planned and the state approved twice
As for the ten-year timetable, after the state approved the project a second time in 2009, it signed a contract with Forest City giving the developer 25 years to build Atlantic Yards.

Just this week an executive from Forest City indicated, for the first time to my knowledge, that the six planned towers over the railyard would not be constructed until seven other towers are built first. So much for removal of the below-grade blight, a major justification for the project.

Reported Matt Chaban in the Observer:
After the press conference, reporters tried to ask Mr. Ratner if he had made a final decision on whether the first apartment building would be built modular or not. “We’re not talking modular today,” he responded curtly. Maybe that is because he still does not have financing for the tower, as Mr. Oder reported.

Welcome to the real world, indeed.
The Times whiffs

The Times reported, at least in the early editions:
The project has been met with fierce opposition with critics citing its size, the increased traffic the arena will attract and what they claim is an inadequate amount of low-priced housing that will ultimately be built.
I don't think critics haven't claimed "an inadequate amount of low-priced housing that will ultimately be built." I think they've pointed out that Forest City has delayed plans to build the housing,

Actually, according to the invaluable, which tracks how articles change, the final article doesn't say that. Here's the latest version:

 Below is the earlier version:

Something's lost: the "absence of governance" quote. Yes, I know they have to pick and choose, and Council Member James represents more people. But her statement about "reviewing this deal" is empty. Krashes' assessment is more valuable.

Also note that the only required traffic study is next year, before the Islanders are set to move. Surely another is in order.


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