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Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park graphic: what's built/what's coming + project FAQ (pinned post)

In assessing Tish James' run for governor, AY down the memory hole (partly); no, she didn't bring increased affordable housing but rather criticized the deal

So Letitia James, who's served as 35th District Council Member, NYC Public Advocate, and is currently state Attorney General, has her sights set on the Governor's office, after producing the report that spurred Gov. Andrew Cuomo's resignation, elevating Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, whose base is in Buffalo.

A 10/29/21 TIME profile of James, Letitia James Does Not Want New York to Be 'Defined By the Failings of a Few Men.' Now She's Running For Governor, focused on her background and her performance as AG, skating over her time in Brooklyn. 

But her role in Atlantic Yards was covered, not always well, by some local publications.

Bringing affordable housing?

Here’s what a Gov. Letitia James would mean for business, Crain's New York Business wrote 10/29/21, including this curious paragraph:
Councilman Steven Levin, who served beside James from 2010 to 2014, said her years-long opposition to Atlantic Yards brought increased affordable housing into the final project once it was pushed through.
(The article is paywalled, but there's no more on AY.)

That's not true, however. The amount of affordable housing (2,250 units) was mandated during the approval process, completed in 2006 and 2009. What came later were debates and disputes about the level of affordability.

Council Member James did not so much oppose the first tower (B2, 461 Dean St.), as I wrote in July 2012, as request an adjustment in the formula to better serve larger, lower-income families. 

That didn't happen. Rather, there was a slight adjustment to increase the number of larger units--but for middle-income households, as I reported in August 2012.

After a June 2014 settlement in which the developer (soon to be Greenland Forest City Partners) agreed on a 2025 deadline for the affordable housing and two "100% affordable" towers skewed to middle-income housing, James said, "To negotiate this deal behind my back is totally unacceptable."

More complexity

Gothamist wrote 10/29/21, She’s Running For Governor. Here’s More On Letitia James:
She defeated Geoffrey A. Davis, the brother of Council member James Davis, who was fatally shot 14 times at City Hall in July 2003. James ran a campaign focused on rising housing costs and opposition to high profile development projects like the Atlantic Yards site, which ultimately became the Barclays Center, a revamped transit hub and 16 buildings for residential and commercial uses. Her position reportedly softened as the development took shape.
Well, the site has not yet become "16 buildings for residential and commercial uses," because the project's not halfway done.

But yes, her position "reportedly softened," as I reported in a May 2016 essay for Gotham Gazette:
While James told him she's not in touch with the grassroots, she said, as [Daily News reporter Michael] O'Keeffe put it, that "she doesn't really hear a lot of complaints from residents, what she hears is a lot of excitement about the possibility of affordable housing."
Also, in her campaign for Attorney General, as I wrote in an August 2018 essay for Gotham Gazette, Running for Attorney General, James Takes Strong Atlantic Yards Record Too Far.

The Commercial Observer, in a 10/29/21 article headlined Can Tish James Get Real Estate’s Backing in the Governor’s Race?, wrote:
[Public Advocate Jumanne] Williams is unlikely to win any of the real estate industry’s support in the election — thanks to his strong support for stronger rent regulations and opposition to the 421a tax abatement for new developments — but James could, depending on how she plays her cards.

“There was a fair amount of trepidation about her from the real estate community before she became attorney general because she was opposed to Atlantic Yards [as a council member],” said one real estate insider, who did not want to be named because they were not authorized to speak on the record about the governor’s race. “But I think there’s been a good relationship built between her and the community as AG. There was sort of an evolution on her part.”
That may not be wrong, but it bears watching.

James is a capable public servant and an astute politician, and those two identities sometimes come in conflict. She should have learned, as Council Member and Public Advocate, when to trust the "real estate community," and when not to.

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