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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)

New state Enhanced Database of Economic Incentives excludes Atlantic Yards, because it was approved before 2018. Database also omits tax breaks & local subsidies.

What are the economic incentives, past and present, behind Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park?  (They include direct city and state subsidies of $305 million and far more in tax breaks, roughly summarized in my FAQ.)

Well, a new Database of Economic Incentives from New York State isn't that helpful, since 1) it doesn't provide information on projects that were approved prior to 2018 and 2) even if it did, it ignores city subsidies and most tax breaks. 

Note: ESD says "Details on [previously-approved] projects can be found in historical ESD reports," but I haven't been able to find anything related to Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park.
A trumphant announcement

Governor Hochul Launches Enhanced Database of Economic Incentives to Increase Transparency Around Key Economic Development Projects, the state announced Nov. 8, updating a project first launched in 2021 and updated quarterly

"New York State’s Database of Economic Incentives [link] is nation-leading in terms of number of programs and projects included, frequency of updates, and the number of data fields provided for each project," the announcement states.

"It is also one of the only databases that allows the data to be exported, mapped and graphed. Recently, the Good Jobs First, a trusted watchdog entity which promotes corporate and government accountability in economic development, gave New York’s Database of Economic Incentives a high score for data accessibility, meaning the site was easy to find, understand and use," the announcement states.

That's true, but data accessibility is only one metric in that 2022 report, which does rank New York eighth in the country overall, but with a low overall ranking of 41.2 out of 100. It also cites a competition between Texas and New York for a Samsung plant:
A few days after the announcement, articles started to appear that New York State had offered about $2 billion in subsidies for the same project. Even though New York had been mentioned as a competitive location, the value of subsidies offered came as a surprise. This is a striking difference between two systems—one where the public has access to information before a deal is done and can therefore voice its concerns, and the other (New York State) where the public is left in the dark until after a deal is done. 
A critique from Reinvent Albany

Watchdog Reinvent Albany noted that a requested (since 2014) Database of Deals was finally created in 2022 by a state law--"repeatedly watered down by Governor Hochul and legislative leaders pressured by New York’s multi-billion-dollar subsidy-industrial complex," which is why the databse excludes local subsidies.

Reinvent Albany noted disappointment "that the “enhanced” database still does not provide simple answers to the basic subsidy questions we’ve been posing since 2014," such as the lack of history to show the past decades or a company's track record.

Nor does it show when project goal posts are moved, when original commitments are revised to, for example, "vastly reduce the number of jobs" promised.

The design is off-putting, says Reinvent Albany, and the interface "surprisingly clunky," requiring users to “drill through to appendix to view project details,” uses small type, and offers various blank fields.

More caveats

According to the FAQ (below), "The Database provides information on ESD loan, grant, and tax credit projects that support community priorities such as infrastructure, innovation, place-making and revitalization, tradable sectors, and workforce development."

Loans, grants, and tax credits may be easier to measure. But that's not the same as tax breaks (on property taxes, mortgage recording taxes, sales taxes, housing bonds, etc.), as well as below-market public property and the gift of arena naming rights. 

Some of those--not the naming rights--were addressed by the New York City Independent Budget Office in its 2009 analysis of theAtlantic Yards arena, which touched on but didn't assess the full project. Independent entities are better positioned to get closer to the truth.