Skip to main content

Ratner converts (?) projected AY office tower to apartments, claims de Blasio will be "great mayor" (and touts "barrier-of-entry" real estate)

Maybe he was being sloppy, or glib, or maybe he was revealing a change, but in a friendly Reuters interview this week Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner claimed that "we have sites for 16 residential buildings right next to the arena."

Actually, while there are sites for 16 buildings, one of them--at the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush replacing the (temporary) plaza--is supposed to be an office tower. Given the demand for housing in Brooklyn, it's not implausible they could build a residential tower there, but that would deliver even fewer "jobs" than promised.

The Reuters headline is Ratner: Bill de Blasio will be a great mayor:
From Barclays to de Blasio, Bruce Ratner, chairman of Forest City Ratner, talks with Reuters Lisa Bernhard about a variety of topics including Brooklyn’s budding sports franchises, the NYC mayoral race and the red hot New York City residential real estate market.
Ratner's praise for Democratic mayoral nominee de Blasio is not footnoted with any acknowledgment that Ratner has raised money for the candidate.

Another interesting moment was when Ratner described his belief in "barrier of entry," or a segment of the real estate business where they face little competition.

Fawning interviewer Lisa Bernhard asked Ratner about the state of New York and urban real estate.

"It's changed dramatically," Ratner replied. "Our city is beyond strong, compared to anyone else... the city has very little housing left... the city is really doing well."

A new mayor

Bernhard asked Ratner about the change in mayoralty.

"Well, I've seen a lot of mayors, I started actually working for Mayor Lindsay," Ratner said, "and Bloomberg was as good as they get, he and Ed Koch I think, stand out. And Giuliani," he added, recovering.

Berhard cited an article in New York magazine about how a lot of real estate developers are freaking out regarding the advent of de Blasio coming in. "So are you freaking out?"

"Not at all," Ratner replied. "I've known Bill de Blasio for a very long time. He's going to make a very good mayor, and he's going to be good for business because he has a [sic] good leadership, he's intelligent, he's going to do a good job. He listens. he's right now going around seeing all the real estate people...  Bill de Blasio I predict will be a great mayor."

de Blasio pressed Ratner?

Last night, during the mayoral debate between de Blasio and Republican Joe Lhota, the issue came up. To quote the New York Times fact-check:
Mr. de Blasio said he had pressed the developer of Atlantic Yards, Bruce C. Ratner, to follow through on his promises to build hundreds of units of affordable housing there, none of which have yet materialized.
But critics of the project, like Norman Oder, the author of the Atlantic Yards Report blog, say that while Mr. de Blasio expressed disappointment with the project, any pressure he may have applied on Mr. Ratner was negligible at best.
You don't have to be a critic of the project to know that de Blasio has not publicly pressured Ratner at all.

The Barclays Center

Ratner repeated his comments about the arena, citing the architecture, local workers, and programming, including boxing and the food.

"Yes, we expect to win the championship," Ratner said rather declaratively in response to a leading question about the Nets, but "you never know."

What's next?

"Where do you go next?" he was asked. "What's the next big place that you develop?"

"The first major thing to realize is we have sites for 16 residential buildings right next to the arena," Ratner responded. "So we've started the next one, and we're going to continue, continue, continue, until we've finished 16 buildings."

"In Brooklyn?"

"Yes, 16 residential buildings," Ratner responded. "We're going to push ahead on Atlantic Yards and get that housing really really going, and then we will begin to look for other projects because, this is a huge amount, and I've always been careful to never do more than I think our company can handle."

That's a wee bit disingenuous. Forest City Ratner bid unsuccessfully to develop the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area.

The real estate biz

Ratner called Brooklyn "the best real estate market in the country."

Asked what he might tell a real estate investor, Ratner responded, "I think residential is really where the strength ought to be."

"The second thing is, I always believe in barrier of entry," he added. "So if you find a company that's building garden apartments everywhere, I kind of stay away from it: competition. So I think you want to find a company that builds in urban areas or barrier-of-entry areas, and in residential. The general direction, I would say, is really high-rise residential, multi-family, whether it be condo or rental, in urban areas, that's where it's going to be strong."


  1. Anonymous11:51 AM

    "Right now he's going around seeing all the Real Estate People" That's very telling! If DeBlasio really wants to change the
    "two New York's" he is constantly talking about, doesn't he have to rein in the real estate interests? Once he is elected,
    (assuming he is) it will be this very contradiction between real estate power and people who can't afford to live her, that he
    will have to deal with.


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…