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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)

In corporate history of Forest City (from new enterprise launched by another Ratner branch), Bruce Ratner's triumphs and failures are ignored or downplayed

I wrote yesterday about how Bruce Ratner's cousins had formed two separate real-estate ventures, The Max Collaborative and Uplands, organized on familial lines, after their nationally traded, family-controlled company, Forest City Realty Trust (originally Forest City Enterprises), was absorbed in 2018 by the conglomerate Brookfield Asset Management.

It's notable how the history of Forest City Enterprises, as told by The Max Collaborative (TMC), diminishes and obscures Bruce Ratner's role as head of the New York subsidiary, Forest City Ratner Companies (later Forest City New York), responsible for some of the nationally-traded company's signature achievements, in its largest market..

As shown in the screenshot at right, TMC makes just one mention of Bruce--his departure from the corporate board. He's almost disappeared.

The dis seems deliberate. I can only speculate why.

Partly it may be to emphasize the collective achievements of those currently running TMC, thus giving them partial credit for Ratner's successes.

Partly it may be to obscure Ratner's failures, which cascaded losses and, arguably, led to Forest City's corporate extinguishment.

It also might be estrangement or resentment, given that Ratner until 2006 was able to make business decisions--some unwise--with the parent company's money.

After all, when Ratner finally stepped down from the parent company's board, he got boilerplate, rather than praise, in the company's 12/6/16 press release. (By contrast, his cousin Chuck Ratner, whose sons co-founded TMC, got effusive praise.) 

From the company history

Consider some excerpts from TMC's account of Forest City's history:

The 1980s and 1990s: Major Urban Projects and Foreign Investment

... Renamed Tower City, the project helped push Forest City's real estate portfolio over $2 billion in 1991. Major retail and commercial projects in Boston, Pittsburgh, Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Tucson, San Francisco, Chicago, and elsewhere echoed the scale and impact of Tower City in Cleveland. Forest City also continued to pursue residential developments throughout this period, creating everything from single-family inner city projects to luxury apartments and condominiums.

(Emphases added) 

That doesn't mention Bruce Ratner's MetroTech office park, though, in fairness, many but not all of the individual project names go unmentioned. Below, note the mention of one Ratner cousin, now part of TMC, but nothing about Bruce:

Novel Projects As Company Enters the New Millennium

Forest City closed out the 20th century with a burst of urban development activity. Among the projects the company completed in 1998 and 1999 were a large office building in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's University Park; a luxury apartment high-rise in Bethesda, Maryland; a mall near San Diego, California; and a shopping center in New Jersey. James Ratner, as the Chairman and CEO of Forest City’s Commercial Division, spearheaded the University Park at MIT project, which added significantly to Forest City’s net value as a large, urban mixed-use project. As these new properties were opening, Forest City had plenty in the pipeline to replace them. In 1998 alone the company launched more than a dozen projects. Two of the most high profile jobs were on opposite coasts: in New York City, the company began construction of a 300,000-square-foot hotel and entertainment complex in Times Square, while in San Francisco it kicked off redevelopment of the city's historic Emporium building near Union Square.
That hotel, of course, was from Forest City Ratner. Also:
By the time the company broke ground on the Stapleton project, it was in the midst of planning for a number of other developments including a Times Square headquarters for the venerable New York Times Company; a one million-square-foot mall near Richmond, Virginia; an upscale shopping area in Pasadena, California; and a state-of-the-art facility in Cleveland, designed to house telecommunications and IT companies.
That was one of the company's big successes, attributed to Bruce Ratner and his deputy MaryAnne Gilmartin.

Years of growth, but...

In the section "2002–2007," notably, the December 2003 announcement of Atlantic Yards goes unmentioned:
Also in 2006, in one of the most significant achievements in the company’s history, ownership of Forest City Ratner Enterprises was consolidated. This strengthened the company’s position in their largest single market, New York City, by increasing the interest in 30 operating properties in the greater metropolitan area, and gaining full ownership rights to all future FCRC development opportunities in the market.
You'd think that the person responsible for that position would get mentioned. Similarly, the person behind the company's largest single asset might deserve mention:
2007 marked the grand opening of a new urban landmark, the 1.5-million-square-foot New York Times Building, which immediately became Forest City’s largest single asset. It stood as a testament to the company’s commitment to urban development and ability to attract premier partners and tenants.
Note: a separate graphic timeline at the bottom of TMC's Forest City history page--excerpted above right--does cite, in the 2000s, that Forest City "celebrates grand opening of NYT building; secures entitlements for Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn; and begins development at the Yards and Waterfront Station mixed-use projects in Washington D.C."

That blurs the fact that the entitlement to build Atlantic Yards was first achieved in 2006, but, after lawsuits and the recession slowed the project, Bruce Ratner renegotiated more favorable financial terms in 2009.

Somewhat sloppily, despite the purported 2007 endpoint, the section's narrative goes through 2009:
Only one project saw construction commence, Master Closing complete, and groundbreaking celebrated in 2009: Barclays Center arena in Brooklyn, NY. With this development, Forest City focused on providing Brooklyn with economic benefits, housing, jobs and revitalization, all within the Atlantic Yards project umbrella. As the dust cleared after the financial crisis, Forest City continued to focus on the positive results of core markets and key urban centers. The company forged ahead—albeit with a guarded outlook—despite the lingering weakness in the economy and real estate business.
Actually, while the master closing for Atlantic Yards did take place in late 2009, after a second round of approvals, the groundbreaking for the arena was in March 2010.

Was the focus on "providing Brooklyn with economic benefits, housing, jobs and revitalization"? 

Maybe it was also on building an arena for the money-losing New Jersey Nets, long delayed on their move to Brooklyn, and also gaining cash from new Nets majority investor Mikhail Prokhorov, who also bought a minority share in the arena company. That helped stablize Forest City's investment.

The final years

In the "2010–2017" segement, the corporate history states:
Another significant partnership came to Forest City in 2012: the creation of a $400 million residential development fund with the Arizona State Retirement System. B2 BKLYN at Atlantic Yards and 2175 Market Street in San Francisco were the first two apartment projects created with the fund. 
That's a bit odd to crow about, unless TMC is similarly looking for institutional funding. (Note: the separate timeline at the bottom of the page, excerpted at right, doesn't call it a "significant partnership.")

In neither case is there a mention that B2, then the tallest tower built via modular construction, was a failure, suffering delays and leaks, or that Forest City had to buy out the Arizona State Retirement System's investment, as well as repay tax-exempt financining.

Interestingly, there's no mention of the various awards and recognition the arena won.

Regarding board changes, the history states:
At the end of 2016, Charles Ratner retired as Chairman of FC’s Board of Directors, bringing to a close a 50-year career of remarkable achievement and leadership. With Chuck’s retirement, the board appointed James A. Ratner to serve as chairman of the board in a non-executive capacity. Bruce C. Ratner, founder of the New York subsidiary and a director since 2007, also stepped down from the board at yearend.
Note that Chuck Ratner gets praise, as in that corporate press release, but Bruce Ratner does not. (The text in the timeline excerpted above right is similar.)

The end of Forest City

The highly contentious corporate demise of Forest City is also handled sunnily. There's no mention of the hedge fund pressure, forced board revamp, and opposition from members of the Ratner family:
In 2018, Brookfield Asset Management, Inc. acquired Forest City Realty Trust, Inc. Forest City’s existing common stock was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange at the close of business on December 7, 2018. Brookfield acquired all outstanding shares of common stock of Forest City for $25.35 per share in an all-cash transaction valued at $11.4 billion. Members of the founding families re-emerged as two new real estate entities: The Max Collaborative and Uplands. TMC is owned and operated by members of the Max Ratner family—and it aspires to build upon Forest City’s legacy of thoughtful, innovative, prosperous, community-centric real estate well into the next century.

Two prized projects but no Bruce

It's notable that a separate page on the New York Times tower ignores Bruce Ratner:
This project came to Forest City immediately following September 11, 2001, one of the most tumultuous and uncertain times in New York City history. Uneasiness about taking on this project loomed large–why invest in a 52-story building when the high-rise market had collapsed overnight? Ultimately the Forest City team was won over. The architect Renzo Piano, the institution of the New York Times and the picture-perfect NYC location made it an opportunity that couldn’t be turned down. The result is an iconic building that remains fully leased and highly successful. In the legacy of Forest City, it has exceeded every possible expectation.
Similarly, a separate page on New York by Gehry (aka 8 Spruce Street) ignores Bruce Ratner:
Forest City didn’t want to make yet another office building in an already overcrowded, office-centric market. Instead, the team allowed themselves to daydream—and make those dreams a reality. Forest City tapped the incomparable Frank Gehry to design something unique and unforgettable; a development that would stand out in the crowd of downtown New York City buildings. After working through almost 90 iterations of architectural mockups, the result is a rippling, shining feat of construction and engineering; 80 stories of sparkling waves in Deconstructivist style.