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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.


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