Skip to main content

BrooklynSpeaks on AY CDC: "we are confident they will... work together to harness diverse perspectives into solutions"

A post on the BrooklynSpeaks website, A milestone in Brooklyn, contains a rather enthusiastic take on the first meeting of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation, which I described as evincing guarded optimism from observers, and containing definite reason for skepticism, notably the appointment of board members with seeming conflicts of interests and an executive director with no experience overseeing real estate projects.

I've bolded some passages that deserve more analysis:
Last Friday afternoon at four o’clock, the first meeting of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AYCDC) took place in a conference room at the Brooklyn campus of Long Island University.
In the eleven-year history of the Atlantic Yards project, no meeting like this had ever happened before. Fourteen board members appointed by the Governor, the Mayor, the Brooklyn Borough President, the New York State Senate, the New York State Assembly, and the City Council met to formally organize a new State agency charged with ensuring the public benefits for which the Atlantic Yards project was approved would in fact be delivered as promised, and that the project would comply with all commitments and regulation intended to mitigate the impact of its construction on neighboring residents and businesses.
Not only had the members of the AYCDC board each been recommended by a local elected official with a unique perspective on the challenges of accountability at Atlantic Yards, the appointees themselves represented a diverse cross-section of project stakeholders, including affordable housing advocates, signatories of the Community Benefits Agreement, and residents living at the edge of the footprint. At past Atlantic Yards meetings, members of these groups had often sharply disagreed. On Friday, for the first time, their representatives gathered at a single table, and committed to the goal of making the Atlantic Yards project work for Brooklyn.
There was no evidence that each of the members had been recommended by a local elected official, and that seems doubtful, since Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed state officials, including current Empire State Development officials, among his nine appointees. (One slot has yet to be filled, so actually only 13 board members met.)

And the presence of Community Benefits Agreement signatories who have past, current, or future financial connections to the developer should raise a red flag.
Now the real work of project oversight will begin. AYCDC has inherited a project that is obligated to deliver its 2,250 affordable apartments ten years from now, instead of the twenty years that had been approved in 2009 by shortcutting environmental review. Still, Atlantic Yards has yet to complete a single unit of housing, and questions remain as to how affordable what is to come may be to average Brooklynites. Now that construction has resumed in earnest, previously unforeseen impacts from work at the site have materialized. And although the AYCDC board members individually have varying degrees of personal experience with the Atlantic Yards project, none could have been unaware of the difficulties and contention that have marked its history before accepting their appointments. But we are confident they will now do what all responsible and professional boards do: work together to harness diverse perspectives into solutions for the challenges and opportunities facing their stakeholders. We cannot but express our appreciation for the commitment made by the AYCDC appointees and the agency’s new project director, and share the hopeful sentiments expressed by community members at Friday’s meeting.
Note that the 2035 outside date gave the developer 25 years from the 2009 approval, though that's 20 years from now.

Given that only a couple of board members spoke at the meeting, it's hardly clear how much knowledge and commitment they bring.
The BrooklynSpeaks sponsors must also express our gratitude to you, the thousands of Brooklynites and New Yorkers who have lent your voices to this initiative over the past eight years. It has not always been easy to pursue a path based upon principles of democracy, inclusiveness and accountability while advocating on an issue as charged as the development of the Atlantic Yards project. We could not have persevered without your encouragement and active support. The establishment of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation is very much your achievement.
Thank you for speaking up for Brooklyn.
Um, the establishment of the AY CDC is also the achievement of behind-closed-doors negotiation, involving Michelle de la Uz of the Fifth Avenue Committee and Gib Veconi of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council as representatives of the public. (One or both are surely behind this post.) The level of accountability remains a question mark.

An exchange on Twitter






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…

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 February 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--but not yet approved--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…

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).

As…

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…