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Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park infographics: what's built/what's coming/what's missing, who's responsible, + project FAQ/timeline (pinned post)

Flashback: "ESDC is committed to assisting our private partners secure the financing they need." Translated to today, does that mean no enforcement of fines?

Given the very unresolved nature of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park--um, the subject of my Jane's Walk on Friday--it's worth looking back at an October 2010 quote from a representative of Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC, now simply Empire State Development), the state authority that oversees/shepherds the project.

"To that end, ESDC is committed to assisting our private partners secure the financing they need to ensure the project’s completion," we were told

In practice, that meant joining a dog-and-pony show in China, helping then-develper Forest City Ratner raise cheap financing from unwary immigrant investors, via the dubious EB-5 program, which was supposed to provide visas for those investing $500,000 into a purportedly job-creating project.

So an ESDC executive mouthed misleading platitudes about Atlantic Yards and bestowed boilerplate certificates on Chinese immigration broker.

Similar challenge today?

Today, ESD has a not dissimilar challenge, because its private partners--now Greenland Forest City Partners, owned nearly in full by Greenland USA--have stalled the project, unwilling/unable to start the platform crucial to three (and then six) towers, including the missing affordable housing.

The developer faces, at least on paper, a looming $2,000/month penalty for each unit of affordable housing--876, or 877, as of now, of the 2,250 required--that's not delivered by May 2025.

The evidence, however, is that ESD has little intention of enforcing that penalty.

At last month's long-awaited meeting of the (purportedly) advisory Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC), Director Gib Veconi noted that ESD representatives had previously claimed that the remedies were non-negotiable, so he asked if that was “still the agency’s perspective?”

“The project documents haven’t changed, so the requirements on the project are still the same,” responded ESD's Tobi Jaiyesimi carefully. “We recognize where we are with the developer’s ongoing discussion with the MTA as it relates to the platform… but at this time there have been no changes to the project documents, so those obligations are still standing.”

In other words, evidence suggests that ESD remains committed to assisting its private partners, if not always to secure the financing they need but at least to avoid the fines that would detract from their ability to proceed.

Except those fines are directed to the New York City Housing Trust Fund, so they might do some good.

The ESD is controlled by the governor. But it is subject to oversight, should legislators bother.