Skip to main content

Downtown Brooklyn Partnership tries to do what’s best for the entire community (claims $300K/year leader); some counter-evidence

The Real Deal Yesterday published Notorious B.I.D.s: Just how much influence do developers wield?, subtitled "Downtown Alliance, Downtown Brooklyn Partnership have evolved into power brokers."

We learn that Tucker Reed, departing president of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, earned $300,000 a year in the last year records are available (2014), and is probably earning more) and "at least 50 of the organization’s 73 board of directors are affiliated with the industry, and 30 of them are developers."

But if, as the Real Deal aptly says, "they wear many prominent hats [but] face little government oversight," why not some tougher coverage.

Instead we get:
Like the Alliance, the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, formed in 2006, has a well-established narrative for its dominion: Demand is high for office space while supply is woefully low.
Wait a sec. What about the 2004 rezoning for office that didn't quite work? What about the new incentives the DBP wants? I wrote about this in City Limits last March, concluding by warning that "business boosters don't necessarily make honest brokers."

A bit of skepticism

The Real Deal article contains a brief quote from me:
“By treating the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership as the leading or exclusive voice on issues in the area around Downtown Brooklyn, that ensures that the voices of landowners and developers get prioritized, with less attention to contrasting views and more representative voices,” said Norman Oder, a Brooklyn journalist who runs the watchdog blog Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park report. He noted that Forest City Ratner CEO MaryAnne Gilmartin serves as co-chair of the Partnership’s board.
But the closing word goes to the man himself:
Despite the developer-heavy makeup of the board, Reed insisted the Partnership tries to do what’s best for the entire community.
“I often kind of think of the space that we occupy as the well-informed, uncomfortable position,” he said. “Meaning that we probably know, better than anyone — maybe some community groups and maybe the elected officials have as good a finger pulse on it as we do — what the players are, what the gaps in the marketplace are, what the gaps in public services are, because that’s what we do. We focus on it 24/7, right? That’s our job.”
He added, “That’s difficult to navigate, of course. There’s a fine line you have to walk. You want to do what’s best for the neighborhood and you also want to keep people as happy as possible.”
My additional comments

I posted additional comments to elaborate on my contention. They were part of the email I sent to the Real Deal, which chose not to use them. Of course they can't print everything, but I had some specific examples.

For example, when developer Greenland Forest City Partners floated a purported plan to build an "iconic office building" at the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park plot known as Site 5, the only outside voice quoted in Crain's was Reed, described as "already" supporting the tower.

Of course he'd support it. As I wrote, he essentially works for Forest City Ratner.

As we now know, Reed and the DBP were supporting a plan that, according to a document presented a month earlier to the Department of City Planning, contained four scenarios, only one of which would include an iconic office tower (i.e., the taller of the two towers at the site), and in fact one in which there'd be zero office space.

Surely Reed knew there were multiple options. But it wasn't his job to serve the public, but rather to serve his bosses.

Also, the DBP had no trouble shilling for the DNC 2016 to come to the Barclays Center (which, I think is now clear, would have been logistically untenable and/or a disaster for nearby neighborhoods).

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 …

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…

Atlanta's Atlantic Yards moves ahead

First mentioned in April, the Atlantic Yards project in Atlanta is moving ahead--and has the potential to nudge Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn further down in Google searches.

According to a 5/30/17 press release, Hines and Invesco Real Estate Announce T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards:
Hines, the international real estate firm, and Invesco Real Estate, a global real estate investment manager, today announced a joint venture on behalf of one of Invesco Real Estate’s institutional clients to develop two progressive office projects in Atlanta totalling 700,000 square feet. T3 West Midtown will be a 200,000-square-foot heavy timber office development and Atlantic Yards will consist of 500,000 square feet of progressive office space in two buildings. Both projects are located on sites within Atlantic Station in the flourishing Midtown submarket.
Hines will work with Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture (HPA) as the design architect for both T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards. DLR Group will be t…

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park graphic: what's built/what might be coming (post-dated pinned post)

Click on graphic to enlarge. This is post-dated to stay at the top of the blog. It will be updated as announced configurations change and buildings launch. The August 2014 tentative configurations proposed by developer Greenland Forest City Partners will change, and the project is already well behind that tentative timetable.


Forest City acknowledges unspecified delays in Pacific Park, cites $300 million "impairment" in project value; what about affordable housing pledge?

Updated Monday Nov. 7 am: Note follow-up coverage of stock price drop and investor conference call and pending questions.

Pacific Park Brooklyn is seriously delayed, Forest City Realty Trust said yesterday in a news release, which further acknowledged that the project has caused a $300 million impairment, or write-down of the asset, as the expected revenues no longer exceed the carrying cost.

The Cleveland-based developer, parent of Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner, which is a 30% investor in Pacific Park along with 70% partner/overseer Greenland USA, blamed the "significant impairment" on an oversupply of market-rate apartments, the uncertain fate of the 421-a tax break, and a continued increase in construction costs.

While the delay essentially confirms the obvious, given that two major buildings have not launched despite plans to do so, it raises significant questions about the future of the project, including:
if market-rate construction is delayed, will the affordable h…