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September 30, 2005

Brooklyn arena opponents call community group a front

NY Newsday

More BUILD denials:

BUILD said in an August filing with the Internal Revenue Service that it would receive $5 million from the developer's Forest City Ratner Companies. BUILD chief operating officer Marie Louis said Thursday that the group had received no money from Ratner and did not expect to receive any. Cheryl Duncan, a spokeswoman for BUILD, said the group had projected receiving the money from Ratner but no longer expected to. She said Ratner is providing office space to the group.

A Ratner spokesman said the developer supported BUILD and other worthy local organizations but had not purchased the group's support.

"It is the right thing to do and FCRC encourages others to do the same," spokesman Joe De Plasco said.


NoLandGrab: Let's see if we get this straight. So, BUILD is not being supported by Ratner but IS receiving office space, they no longer expect to receive support, and Ratner IS supporting them, but the developer supports many other groups too and encourages other developers to do the same.

Posted by lumi at 6:37 AM

Critics Say Ratner Is Bankrolling Suppoters

The NY Sun
by David Lombino

BUILD's attorney does damage control:

The attorney that submitted BUILD’s application to the IRS, Sharai Erima, told The New York Sun that the $5 million in projected contributions from Mr. Ratner had been determined without consulting the developer.

Mr. Erima said the IRS application was an attempt to match the projected cost of the programs the group wanted to administer with an expected revenue stream from the most logical source — the project developer.

“We had a budget, what we proposed the programs would cost,” Mr. Erima said. Based on other community benefit agreements, he said he thought the developer generally provided the money for community programs.

Mr. Erima, who appeared to be angered by yesterday’s press conference, where he interrupted Mr. Goldstein more than once, said the salaries of BUILD’s officers were projected for 2005 and 2006 and had not yet been paid. The IRS statement showed three salaries of more than $100,000.


NoLandGrab: Contrary to Mr. Erima's assertion, groups that negotiate CBA's with developers DO NOT receive developer funding. That's bogus.

The C.B.A. stands for Cadillac Buying Allowance. There's no point in calling it a "community" agreement when the developer handpicked the groups and the leaders of the groups stand personally to fianancially gain from the agreement.

Posted by lumi at 6:06 AM

September 29, 2005

A Cool $5 Million

Real Estate Observer
by Matthew Schuerman

Caldwell is at it again, denying receiving Ratner funding, playing the race card and playing stupid:

“We have volunteers,” he said. “We haven’t been paid for the last 20 months. People don’t think that black people volunteer—I don’t know why—but we do have some people in the community who saw this as a good thing for the future and they are volunteering to make it happen."

“I've been working 18, 20 hours a day on this thing. I just have good credit. Like anybody else in this country, when I need money, I borrow it.”

As for the public relations firm that is representing them, Caldwell said he didn’t know who was paying them.

“The Terrie Williams Agency just called us up one day and said they would be doing our p.r.,” he said.


Posted by lumi at 10:32 PM

Snake in the 'grassroots'

Juan Gonzalez of the NY Daily News breaks a big story about BUILD and Ratner funding.

A nonprofit group that spearheaded neighborhood support for the huge $3.5 billion Atlantic Yards housing and commercial development in Brooklyn, reported to the IRS in January that virtually all its $5million budget for 2005 and 2006 was coming from Forest City Ratner, the project's developer.

Gonzalez reports that one officer of BUILD reported income of $125K and two others reported $100K on the IRS form.

True to form BUILD and Ratner deny the entire article.


NoLandGrab: Brooklynites have been wondering where BUILD has been getting its money. DDDb has been holding bake sales while BUILD is making bank?

Posted by lumi at 10:39 AM

BUILD IRS Form 1023


Download complete filing from DDDb's web site.

Posted by lumi at 7:36 AM

DDDb Press Release: Bruce Ratner Buys B.U.I.L.D., Fabricating Support for Atlantic Yards

Smoking Gun IRS Documents Reveal $5 Million Payment to Supposed "Community Organization
*B.U.I.L.D and Ratner Have Denied Funding Scheme *

[DDDb's press release on their website has hyperlinks to sources.]

NEW YORK, NY—Today Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) released IRS documents providing smoking gun proof that Bruce Ratner is paying $5 million to the group that he has used as foot soldiers to garner community support.

The $5 million payment to Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development (BUILD) was made in the midst of negotiations over a so called "Community Benefits Agreement" (CBA) for Forest City Ratner's (FCR) 17 skyscraper and arena development in Prospect Heights and Park Slope, Brooklyn.

BUILD, a recently formed 501c3 organization established by Assemblyman Roger Green, has no track record in workforce and small business development (the areas for which it is responsible in the CBA), and it came into existence after the Ratner proposal was announced in December 2003. BUILD came out strongly in support of the Ratner proposal during its first public appearance.

Of the three BUILD officers, according to the IRS 1023 form, President James Caldwellreceives a salary of $125,000, while Chief Operating Officer Marie Louis and Chief Administrative Officer Shalawn Langhorne each bring in a $100,000 salary. These officers also form 75% of the Board of Directors, thereby determining their own salaries. Some of Ratner's $5 million pays these salaries, while nearly $4 million is budgeted for unaccountable "salaries and wages." BUILD budgets the entire $5 million over 2005 and 2006­the key years where Ratner seeks political support and governmental approval for his proposal.

BUILD and Forest City Ratner have repeatedly denied that the developer funds the group created to support Ratner's Atlantic Yards project. As recently as September 21, on the Brian Lehrer show, BUILD COO Marie Louis emphatically denied and took strong issue when Mr. Lehrer asked if Ratner funds her group. In an April 2005 New York Sun article Ms. Louis called the claim that Ratner finances BUILD, "a malicious and outrageous lie." Forest City Ratner Executive Vice President Jim Stuckey in a November 2004 Brooklyn Papers article said, "of course BUILD and ACORN are not getting paid."

"It is clear that Mr. Ratner has fabricated the appearance of community support by paying BUILD to be his leading foot soldiers" said DDDB spokesman Daniel Goldstein. "Ratner has cynically paid BUILD to do his bidding, such as: making claims that Prospect Heights isblighted; filing an amicus brief in the Supreme Court in favor of Ratner's favorite tactic--eminent domain; rallying against and accusing Councilwoman Letitia James of being against jobs and housing; turning every serious concern about, and objection to, the project into an issue of race."

"What was already viewed as an illegitimate "Community Benefits Agreement" is now nothing but a clearly compromised Personal Benefits Agreement, negotiated at the expense of the community it's supposed to benefit. We have been witness to a hoax; there is no reason at all to trust anything that comes out of Ratner's PR machine or his supporters' mouths," Goldstein said.

The district's Assemblyman and Ratner supporter, Roger Green, was a driving force in the creation of BUILD. Mr. Green's former staffer Randall Toure was hired out of Green's office by Forest City Ratner to act as a community liaison seeking support for the Atlantic Yards project. From that relationship BUILD sprouted.

Bonnie Brower, Executive Director of the non-partisan public policy organization City Project, said, "If New York City had a genuinely democratic, rational and effective process for discussing and approving major developments, residents of communities immediately affected by proposed projects would be active participants in shaping such deals from beginning to completion, and other city residents and officials would also have a voice, whenever such projects affected city revenues. The problem with the Atlantic Yards project and the so-called ‘Community Benefits Agreement' is that there is neither any authentic public process for participation nor any effective public oversight. As a result, there is far too much opportunity for self-dealing and narrow interests to cut deals that will predictably have long-term, adverse impacts on the affected Brooklyn neighborhoods and on the city as a whole."

Goldstein continued, "The CBA is a charade. Community support for Ratner's project is a fabrication; Ratner's chief cheerleaders are overpaid employees of his. What did Roger Green know about this $5 million paid to the organization he founded? Mr. Green must come clean and explain himself and his organization's behavior. We call on the 25 politicians who endorsed the CBA, including Senator Schumer, Mayor Bloomberg, Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, and Comptroller Thompson, to withdraw their support for Ratner and his ‘community benefits agreement.'"

"We want to know what Ratner has offered the other seven CBA signatories, four of who are not even incorporated. As members of the community that is supposed to be represented in the CBA, we will be calling for an investigation of the CBA groups and the entire mechanism employed by Forest City Ratner to negotiate such a compromised agreement," Goldstein said.

Mr. Ratner has tried to create and foment racial division in his quest to build his publicly funded 9 million square foot development. BUILD has aided him in this deliberate attempt by publicly describing opposition to the project as a "white" position (see: www.dddb.net/BUILD/bidding.php). Oddly enough BUILD's President James Caldwell and a another core member of BUILD appeared in a Mayor Bloomberg campaign advertisement this past summer. The Mayor, who fully supports Ratner's plan, endorsed the CBA but did not sign it. Instead he released a statement misleadingly stating "Bloomberg...signs CBA." At the CBA signing ceremony, when asked about the enforceability of such a non-governmental document, the Mayor said, "...you have Bruce Ratner's word. That should be enough for you and for everybody else in the community."

DDDB spokesman Goldstein concluded, "Today's news must be the tip of the iceberg, and we encourage New York's press corps to look below that tip. For two years now the public has been asking this: Will our elected officials finally stop giving Bruce Ratner a free ride and start scrutinizing his secret, taxpayer-subsidized, sweetheart deal and his unacceptable tactics? Clearly he can afford to pay."

Posted by lumi at 7:26 AM


CaldwellCaddy.jpgYou might be thinking that NoLandGrab is participating in a mass hallucination that BUILD is being paid off by Ratner and James Caldwell is flaunting his wealth, parking his Caddy in a "blighted" neighborhood that his own colleague Marie Louis claimed was "barely safe to walk past."

Here are the photos, you judge for yourself.

Nothing has stopped Caldwell from implementing programs aimed at making a dent in the unemployment figures of African-American men in his neighborhood, except for the fact that for the past year, Caldwell has done nothing but invoke the name of God while shilling for Ratner at press conferences and public meetings. At least now, he can cruise to these events in style.

Today Caldwell should ask himself, "What would Jesus drive?"

Posted by lumi at 7:15 AM

Source of BUILD's Wealth REVEALED? (For real this time?)


Juan Gonzalez broke the story in the dailes, but DailyHeights had it first:

A couple months ago DailyHeights wondered if BUILD's "wealth" came from hocking 65-cent color copies out of their group's store-front office. Commentator's to the DailyHeights message boards picked up on the irony that BUILD's head James Caldwell new Cadillac is an "instrument to contrast the 'extreme rates of poverty, unemployment and underclass entrapment' in the surrounding neighborhood?""

Imagine DailyHeights surprise when someone posted to the message board that they had proof that BUILD was funded by Ratner and that it's corporate officials were pulling in six-figure salaries.


Posted by lumi at 7:02 AM

BUILD: Bribe Us in Large Denominations (NLG Commentary)

Ratner pays community group to stump for his plan and play race card in the name of Our Lord.

Shocked, shocked! There is bribery in Ratnerville!

BUILD (Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development), has been exposed as “Astroturf,” a group that looks and acts like a grassroots organization, but in reality is primarily a shill for, and funded by, a large corporate entity.

Today, Juan Gonzalez's column in the New York Daily News, “Snake in the 'grassroots'” reveals that BUILD is funded by Forest City Ratner (FCR) to the tune of $5 million. We repeat, that's a tax-deductible contribution of $5 million! Moreover, BUILD executives James Caldwell and Marie Louis are making bank, raking in six-figure salaries ($125,000 and $100,000, respectively).

The rumors that BUILD was funded by Ratner have never been put to rest, since one of the founding members of BUILD, Darnell Canada, left the group, “claiming that fellow group members were seeking financial gain” (Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 3/26/04). Since then, FCR, BUILD and the powerful tenant-advocate group ACORN have been on the defensive, and have repeatedly denied any financial connection between the groups and Ratner.

During a public meeting sponsored by Community Boards 2,6 & 8, FCR Executive VP Jim Stuckey deflected a question about whether ACORN and BUILD were being paid by FCR by answering, “Why don’t you ask them yourself?” Stuckey later backtracked and clarified his statement to a Brooklyn Papers reporter, claiming that “he didn’t answer the question because, ‘It was insulting. Of course, BUILD and ACORN are not getting paid.’” (Brooklyn Papers, 12/25/04)

In April, 2005, BUILD’s Marie Louis called the claim “a malicious and outrageous lie.” (The NY Sun, April 29, 2005) Just last week, talk show host Brian Lehrer caught her off guard when he popped the question. When Lehrer asked Louis, “So to what extent, just by way of full disclosure, is your group funded by Forest City Ratner?," she replied, “Wow, I mean, we are not funded by Forest City Ratner.” (Brian Lehrer Live CUNY-TV, September 21, 2005)

The revelation that BUILD is lavishly funded by Ratner places the entire Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) under suspicion. BUILD is receiving direct funding and ACORN is to be awarded affordable-housing marketing and management contracts. That means that two of three groups that “negotiated” the CBA have a direct financial stake in the project. How can a group negotiate with a party from which it receives funding without undermining its authority to speak for the community which it purports to represent?

Politicians like Mayor Bloomberg and Borough President Markowitz can distance themselves from the CBA since they were not actual signatories. However, Reverend Herbert A. Daughtry (the third “community representative”), has a real PR problem. NoLandGrab is not suggesting that a man of the cloth could be bought off by Ratner, but Rev. Daughtry should probably disclose all contributions from Ratner or sever any relationship with the Ratner-funded BUILD.

Marie Louis has repeatedly cried sour grapes to the complaints by long-standing and upstart grassroots community organizations that were not handpicked by the developer to participate in the CBA. Louis contends that Ratner's door was open to any groups that wanted to negotiate: “I think when people raise all these arguments it's because they're bitter that they didn't think of taking advantage of the opportunities.” (The Brooklyn Papers, September 3, 2005)

The way BUILD has played the race card is particularly distasteful and has churned the stomachs of progressive liberals throughout Brooklyn. The tactic of dividing the community along racial lines has been employed on multiple fronts: in the news media and in public meetings.

In an article in Forward, the Jewish weekly newspaper, BUILD’s James Caldwell attempted to arouse suspicions of racism: "I don't want to make this out to be a black versus white situation, but it seems like that's what it's turning out to be." (August 04, 2005)

On Brian Lehrer’s show, Marie Louis diverted the conversation about whether BUILD was Ratner-funded by pretending to be insulted and playing the race card: “many folks coming from communities of color, we wonder why is it that folks think that we cannot think for ourselves?” (Brian Lehrer Live CUNY-TV, September 21, 2005)

ACORN head Bertha Lewis was the headliner of racially divisive chorus when she unleashed the following diatribe: “It is because of race and class that whenever you have a small group of white liberals running and screaming about something, people think it’s important. They don't have to worry about affordable housing. They don't give a damn about people of color. All they care about is preserving their little Prospect Heights community.” (Brooklyn Daily Eagle, June 9, 2005)

Invoking God and Ratner in the same breath has become a trademark of James Caldwell. In a speech that seemed a little over the top at the time, Caldwell seems to display the tact and compassion of Barbara Bush after Katrina, showing little regard for the people he claims to serve while raking in the big bucks from Ratner. Caldwell “thanked God and Ratner for the big check [to Carver Federal Savings Bank], which he said ‘gives the little people an opportunity…. This is bringing opportunity to our community,’ Caldwell said. ‘It is truly great to work with a person who was sent by God.’” (Brooklyn Downtown Star, March 24, 2005) Since then, nearly every time Caldwell has spoken in public, he has given praise to Ratner in sound bytes such as, “FCRC is truly like an angel in heaven.” (The Brooklyn Downtown Star, August 4, 2005)

While we are strolling down memory lane, revising our opinion of the entire cast of characters handpicked by Ratner, let’s not forget NY Assembly Member Roger Green. 2004 was a big year for Green. In January, he joined with other “community activists” to form BUILD. In February, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for misreporting travel expenses, which led to his disgraced resignation in June. How did the corrupt sycophant who sold out his district to Ratner get re-elected? After recent revelations, one has to wonder if Ratner cash funded his re-election campaign.

BUILD claims that three of its executive board members are also members of Community Board 8 (CB8). According to thier non-profit IRS filing these CB8 members are officers in BUILD. Two of these CB8 members, Marie Louis and Shalawn Langhorne, are reportedly drawing $100,000 in salaries from BUILD and while the other Marlene Sanders is only listed as an offier. These members of CB8 should step down from BUILD or CB8 and explain what they know about the finances of this sordid affair. Involvement in BUILD undermines their work and standing on CB8.

Shame on BUILD, Bruce Ratner and their community partners for exploiting the plight and aspirations of poor Brooklynites, trading on people’s religious beliefs, lying to the public and press and being arrogant to boot.

Last November, James Caldwell claimed “We are grass roots, and we're not at the table for ourselves. We're at the table for the community.” (Brooklyn Downtown Star, November 24, 2004) Now we know that all along, BUILD’s leaders have been fattening themselves at Ratner’s table, and their green grassroots were really cash-rich Astroturf.

BUILD shall henceforth be referred to as Bribe Us In Large Denominations.

And all that nonsense about the project being built to serve the community can be put to rest, while the rest of us discuss the project’s real impacts on our Brooklyn.

Posted by lumi at 6:42 AM

September 27, 2005

DailyHeights Forum: Marty wants Ratner to downsize

There's a heated discussion going on in the DailyHeights forum about Marty's calls for Ratner to downsize the Atlantic Yards project.

As of this evening, three out of ten "authors" think Marty is "full of sh*t," while the others think that any "huckster in chief" who has "eaten that much of Junior's cheesecake" is "Ratner's puppet," whose "slimy political move" is just a "half-hearted attempt to be a 'voice of the people.'" One posting points out that the project has scaled up since first announced, so any calls to scale it down is meaningless.

What do you think?

Posted by lumi at 6:30 PM

Ratner's Ridge Hill Village on ice?

Ratner's controversial Ridge Hill Village project has been stopped in its tracks for the time being. The Yonkers City Council did not vote on the final rezoning approval since it was dissatisfied with Ratner's traffic mitigation proposals in light of NY State Department of Transportation's rejection of "turnaround ramps" on the Sprain Parkway.

Does this mean that the project, with all of its approvals, political support, years of political infighting over charges of corruption and nepotism, lobbyists and 30-second TV spot — everything money can buy — is dead? We can't make promises or predictions — we're talking about the nation's largest publicly traded commercial real estate development company.

What we can tell you is that Ratner has been beaten back in Bloomfield, NJ and in Yonkers. Brooklynites can always dream...

Posted by lumi at 1:22 PM

Ridge Hill Village: or how Muffy stopped worrying and learned to love Ratner

muffy01.jpgIf it's such a great idea, why does Forest City Ratner need to run a 30-second commercial spot on WNBC News at 11?

No, it's not "Atlantic Yards: Live, Work, Play," it's "Ridge Hill Village: A blueprint for our city's future."

Watch commercial.

Posted by lumi at 9:35 AM

Ridge Hill Village Update

The Journal News
All reports by Michael Gannon

Forest City Ratner has been making a big push to close the deal on the final approvals for zoning changes for their controversial Ridge Hill Project in Yonkers.

Yesterday it was reported that FCR hired Michael Spano, a former Republican assemblyman and Yonkers mayoral candidate, "brother of powerful state Sen. Nicholas Spano, R-Yonkers," to lobby the City Council who is to vote today (see, "Michael Spano lobbies for project in Yonkers").

Today's report that the NY State Department of Transportation rejected the traffic mitigation plan for the project, located between the Sprain Parkway and NY State Throughway might put the entire project on hold (see, "State spurns Sprain solution to Ridge Hill").

NoLandGrab: Just when you think something is a done deal we find that Ratner is still having difficulty getting final approvals on a project that does not use eminent domain and has already been apprpoved by the Public Authorities Control Board.

Posted by lumi at 9:33 AM

Houses stand stubborn

The Cincinnati Enquirer
by Steve Kemme

The three houses sit in isolation in the vast expanse of empty land cordoned off from Edwards and Edmondson roads by a chain-link fence extending around half the block.

The houses draw curious stares from passersby seeing them for the first time.

The three structures are the most visible reminders of a protracted, bitter battle over whether Norwood had the right to use eminent domain to seize homes and businesses so that commercial developers could demolish them and build an office-retail-condo project.


NoLandGrab: We've brought you news about the Norwood homeowners in the past. Like the Kelo case, this case is considered to be a bellweather in the national fight against eminent domain abuse.

One of the greatest ironies about the situation in Norwood is that this "isolated" neighborhood was made so when Interstate 71 was built using eminent domain and carved the neighorhood in two.

Posted by lumi at 7:17 AM

September 26, 2005

Ahead of the Bounce

The NY Times

This cheeky little intro about Prospect Height's eats does nothing to endear residents to The NY Times, and the fact that the Times still doesn't seem to take Ratner's plan seriously.

A new basketball arena for the Nets in Brooklyn came closer to reality this month as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority agreed to sell development rights to the railyard at Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues. One way or another, these little gems nearby in Prospect Heights may feel the impact.


NoLandGrab: The owners of Franny's (295 Flatbush Ave.) probably felt the impact when they realized that their apartment was in the footprint, and that as tenants they would soon to be displaced by Ratner's plan.

Posted by lumi at 9:53 PM

Tough Choice for Brooklyn Businessman: Accept Ratner Offer or Risk Seizure

simonliu01.jpgThe NY Sun
by David Lombino

Simon Liu saw his father’s butcher shop seized by communists in China. Now the butcher’s son is facing government seizure of his own New Yorkbased business as part of real estate developer Bruce Ratner’s plan to bring the New Jersey Nets and 7,300 housing units to Brooklyn.

Mr. Liu said that even after what happened to his father, he never thought that the powers of government would be used to seize his own property. “My father would seldom talk about that,” Mr. Liu said. “I could never imagine it would happen here.”


Posted by lumi at 9:06 AM

September 25, 2005

Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards a Step Closer to Being Owned by Ratner

From Wakeup Call on WBAI:

GUEST: Daniel Goldstein, Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn spokesman

Click here for the MP3 of the entire show
DDDb is the third story (35:30)...

Posted by amy at 11:10 AM

Re-Imagining Brooklyn's Inner Core: Atlantic Yards and Brooklyn Bridge Park


From the Project for Public Spaces:

This essay addresses two major projects that are now in the works--Brooklyn Bridge Park and the Atlantic Yards development--that present a once-in-a-lifetime chance to re-shape Brooklyn's inner core around a truly vibrant public realm. As currently envisioned, both of these projects will be tragic missed opportunities, because they are not designed as compelling places that people will enjoy using. With a thorough re-evaluation and re-design of these proposals, however, we can do what's best for Brooklyn.


Posted by amy at 10:58 AM

September 24, 2005

Standing Up Against Marty


From the Brooklyn Downtown Star:

Mattera worked it into her opening statement, attacking Markowitz for his support of the proposal, which she called "the biggest sweetheart deal that has ever been done," and she continued to provoke him throughout the debate.

"I don't know if he was clueless about the scope of the plan or he just didn't care," Mattera said about Markowitz.


Posted by amy at 11:43 AM


From the Brooklyn Papers:

Borough President Marty Markowitz has urged that developer Bruce Ratner downsize his Atlantic Yards mega-development, a project vigorously supported by Markowitz since 2003.

“We do have to scale down this project,” Markowtiz said during a debate Monday among Markowitz and three challengers seeking his job in the November election.

“There is no question, in terms of the project, in terms of the housing, and in terms of the buildings, it is time for all of us to join together to work cooperatively and downscale the project and to make it more reflective of the needs and aspirations of those of the environment it’s in.”

His comments came after two of Markowitz’s rivals voiced their opposition to the way in which Ratner’s bid to erect skyscrapers, high-rise housing and a sports arena was being handled.

article NoLandGrab: The proof is in the pudding that the jolly BP is feeling the heat from a well-spoken and popular Green party candidate.

Posted by amy at 11:31 AM

But wait, there's more...

Reporter Matthew Welch, all hot and bothered by the Times-Ratner connection, fuming over Ratner's use of eminent domain for his privately owned Brooklyn arena, might cheer himself up by adding a near miss to his list of Ratner's weapons of eminent domination.

Merchants in Bloomfield, NJ beat back the threat of eminent domain by Ratner and the township to build a mixed-use development, to be anchored by a Stop & Shop. (Details at www.njeminentdomain.com.)

Brooklynites have the opportunity to meet and toast these reluctant heros at the reception in advance of Wednesday's Film Screening and Panel Discussion on Eminent Domain.

How to Stop Eminent Domain in its Tracks

Wednesday October 5th, 6:30 to 9 pm
BRIC Studio, 57 Rockwell Place

More info and events flyer.

Posted by lumi at 7:45 AM

September 23, 2005

Ratzo Crosses the East River

Reason.com — Hit & Run
by Matt Welch

Reporter Matt Welch connected the dots between Ratner and The New York Times in his article, "Why the New York Times ♥s Eminent Domain." Now, Welch catches on that the "sleazebag New York real estate developer named Bruce Ratner" is at it again across the river.

Hey, it's hard to keep up with a developer who is addicted to eminent domain and has a subsidy abuse problem.


Posted by lumi at 9:53 PM

House property rights bill seen as top priority

by David Lawder

Legislation restricting the ability to seize private property for private development may be ready for a House of Representatives vote later this fall, the chairman of the House's constitutional subcommittee said on Thursday.

Following the second congressional hearing this week on eminent domain and a controversial U.S. Supreme Court decision, Ohio Rep. Steve Chabot, a Republican, said the bill could come before the full Judiciary Committee in the next several weeks.


Posted by lumi at 9:07 AM

Eminent domain news from around the region

Here's some updates on a few ongoing eminent domain stories in the region:

New London, CT
The Day, New London Plaintiff Tells Story
A Fort Trumbull homeowner who has served by eviction notices twice in one lifetime tells his tale to the House Jucidiary Committee.

Long Branch, NJ
Letters are going out to MTOTSA: Homeowners have 14 days to sell or face eminent domain

The lastest step in Long Branch's bid to demolish beach bungalows for condos. Remaining property owners have vowed not to sell.

West Harlem, NYC
Columbia Spectator, Most Students Say CU Needs Space
A poll conducted by the Columbia University newpaper finds most students feel the university needs more space, but are unaware of the controversy over the use of eminent domain.

Columbia Spectator, Some Groups Weighing In on Manhattanville Expansion
Student groups form on both sides of the issue of the university's expansion.

Westchester County, NY
Westchester.com, Legislation Proposed To Reform Eminent Domain Law
Westchester County legislators cross party lines to propose legislation that prohibits "County funds from being contributed to any development project that uses eminent domain to take private property for private use" and "bans the County from using its own power of condemnation for projects that misuse eminent domain in this fashion."

Bloomfield, NJ
NOTICE: A reception and toast to Bloomfield, New Jersey merchants who stopped developer Forest City Ratner from taking their properties (http://www.njeminentdomain.com) will be held before the screening of the documentary film by George MCCullough, “All For the Taking” and panel discussion on eminent domain. More info.

Posted by lumi at 7:41 AM

What Will Ratner Reap?

The Jewish Week
by Adam Dickter

b&wskyline.gifIf he builds it, will Jews come?:

“It will very likely encourage more Jewish life in an area that has not been the main focus of Jewish life in the borough of Brooklyn,” [demographer Jack] Ukeles said.

On the other hand:

But because Orthodox Jews require more local infrastructure than other denominations or unaffiliated Jews, it is unlikely a large Orthodox community will spring up in the new neighborhood despite overcrowding in areas like Williamsburg, Crown Heights and Borough Park.


Letter to the editor from a Jewish Week subscriber.

Posted by lumi at 7:13 AM

Forest City reaches deal for NY land

Crain's Cleveland Business
By Brandon Glenn

tomsmith.jpgThis report touting the MTA deal prompted by yesterday's Forest City Enterprise's press release contains some quotes by the comedic Tom Smith:

CFO Tom Smith said he didn’t know how much of the 21-acre site Forest City already has acquired.

Mr. Smith said the basketball team’s ownership group is “considering” changing the team’s name.

“It would be hard to call them the New Jersey Nets when they’re in Brooklyn,” he said.

And, here's a quote that is the closest thing to an admission by any Forest City executive that it isn't about "Bringing Basketball to Brooklyn":

"Our long-term objectives are to build a great NBA franchise and use the arena as a catalyst for the Atlantic Yards project," CEO Bruce Ratner said in the statement.


NoLandGrab: Bruce says "catalyst," others say "red herring." Whatever, it's going to be big and it ain't about basketball.

Posted by lumi at 6:48 AM

FCE Press Release: Forest City Announces Agreement to Acquire Land for Brooklyn Atlantic Yards Mixed-Use Project

CLEVELAND--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sept. 22, 2005--Forest City Enterprises, Inc. (NYSE:FCEA)(NYSE:FCEB) today announced that the New York State transit agency has accepted the Company's offer to acquire 8.3 acres of land in Brooklyn for the development of its Brooklyn Atlantic Yards project.

The $100 million agreement with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is a significant milestone in Forest City's long-term development of the 21-acre Atlantic Yards mixed-use project. The site is located atop MTA's downtown Brooklyn rail yard. Forest City has also been acquiring additional adjacent land for the project from various private entities, and hopes to begin construction next year.

Atlantic Yards' centerpiece is expected to be a new 850,000-square-foot, Frank Gehry-designed sports and entertainment arena for the Nets basketball team, in which Forest City is an investor. The project will also feature 2.1 million square feet of commercial office space; 300,000 square feet of retail space; and 4.4 million square feet of residential space, consisting of approximately 4,500 units of affordable, middle-income and market-rate housing.

The Atlantic Yards site is adjacent to Atlantic Terminal, one of the largest transportation hubs in New York City, where nine different subway lines and the Long Island Railroad converge.

"Our long-term objectives are to build a great NBA franchise and use the arena as a catalyst for the Atlantic Yards project," said Bruce Ratner, president and chief executive of Forest City Ratner Companies. "We are excited to have the opportunity to implement a vision for a re-energized downtown Brooklyn. New York City is the most dynamic real estate market in the world, and we expect that Atlantic Yards will add to that feeling of energy and opportunity."

"We entered the New York City market in the 1980s with a focus on office buildings, and consistent with our Urban Strategy, expanded our presence to include retail, mixed-use and residential projects," said Charles A. Ratner, president and chief executive officer of Forest City Enterprises. "Today, through our Forest City Ratner Companies affiliate, we have a unique franchise that enables us to utilize public/private partnerships to develop large, complex projects that transform and improve the quality of life."

Other Forest City Ratner Projects

In addition to Atlantic Yards and Atlantic Terminal, Forest City owns properties in all five New York boroughs, and New York City is the Company's largest single market. Forest City has been working to revitalize downtown Brooklyn for nearly 20 years, including developing and owning the 10-block, 16-acre MetroTech Center corporate campus. Additionally, Forest City has under construction the new 1.5-million-square-foot, 52-story New York Times headquarters building, of which The Times will own and occupy (800,000) square feet and Forest City and its partner will own and manage the remainder of the building.

Corporate Description

Forest City Enterprises, Inc. is a $7.4 billion NYSE-listed national real estate company. The Company is principally engaged in the ownership, development, management and acquisition of commercial and residential real estate throughout the United States.


Forest City Enterprises, Inc.
Thomas G. Smith or Thomas T. Kmiecik, 216-621-6060
On the Web: www.forestcity.net

Posted by lumi at 6:36 AM

September 22, 2005

Council of Brooklyn Neighorhoods seeking community input for Environmental Impact Statement scoping

cbn.jpg The Scoping Period for the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is now underway. Your input is needed NOW!

The Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods (CBN) is seeking to make the EIS reflective of the true concerns of out community.

Please take a moment to complete their SURVEY to help gather community feedback for the process. Any information you volunteer will remain confidential as stipulated in their Privacy Policy.


Posted by lumi at 5:29 PM

Ridge Hill vote postponed

The Journal News
by Michael Gannon

Check in on our neighbors in Yonkers who have serious concerns over Ratner's proposal to build a mixed use development (promising jobs, NO hoops and housing). The plan requires a city zoning change as the last step in the approval process.

YONKERS — The Yonkers City Council last night fought over and ultimately stalled a critical vote needed to build the proposed $600 million Ridge Hill Village development.

Republican Council members John Murtagh and Dee Barbato, whose Sixth District includes Ridge Hill, have been adamant that the council should not vote on the zoning proposal until it has a chance to meet with and digest input from entities like the state Department of Transportation to discuss traffic and other lingering concerns.


Posted by lumi at 8:58 AM

House hearings today, Senate hearing transcripts and video available

The House Judiciary Committee is holding hearings today on eminent domain and the implications of the controversial Supreme Court ruling in Kelo v. New London.

Here are more reports about Tuesday's Senate hearings:
Fox News, Questioning Eminent Domain
United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary: all hearing testimony
CSPN Video Coverage (Real Audio)

Posted by lumi at 8:04 AM

...what's yours is mine


Posted by lumi at 8:00 AM

Pataki's Shanghai Noon

NY Newsday, Politarazzi
by Chuck Bennett

Gov. Pataki had a very private lunch date with Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng yesterday. Though no one knows what they discussed, maybe they chatted about large-scale development projects that are reshaping neighborhoods and displacing residents.

Shanghai is experiencing a real estate development boom and is gearing up for the 2010 World Expo. It has reshaped entire neighorhoods in the name of development. nophoto.gif

More than 55,000 Shanghai families were relocated from their homes last year alone under Mayor Han’s watch as part of this development. Evictions are expected to grow this year.

Pataki, in his role as governor, is overseeing the rebuilding of Ground Zero. He also has thrown his support behind the proposed Nets arena in downtown Brooklyn -- a development project under fire for its use of eminant domain.

"Clearly Gov. Pataki found a kindred political spirit with the mayor of Shangahi," quipped Daniel Goldstein, spokesman for the anti-Nets arena group Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn.


Posted by lumi at 7:40 AM

September 21, 2005

Letitia James takes on rat problem


rat.jpgIf you gotta Rat problem, who you gonna call? Ratbusters???

A Prospect Heights resident called 311 to report a rat infestation next door. Instead of relief he received a violation from the City for his trouble.

Once again it's Tish James to the rescue!

Read the account of another satisfied constituent.

Posted by lumi at 8:26 PM


liu.gifSeptember 23 — October 21, 2005

Simon Liu Gallery
645 Dean Street, between Carlton and Vanderbilt Avenues

Reception: Friday, September 30th, from 6-8pm

Artists include: Joseph Ellis, Ellsworth Ausby, Jamillah Jennings, Cecile Chong, Cecilia Whittaker-Doe, Jim Porter, Todd Deluca, Shoshana Cooper, Julie Tersigni, Eleni Karotseri, Many Chong, Dmitry Gubin, Carol Bruns, Ernest Pappanastos, Joan Reutershan.

Simon Liu's gallery and art-supply manufacturing company is in the footprint of Ratner's plan and is one of the successful small business that stand to be displaced if the project is approved.

Posted by lumi at 8:01 PM

TONIGHT: Brian Lehrer Live


WNYC's Brian Lehrer interviews local newsmakers for his CUNY TV call-in talk show. Tonight's show covers Atlantic Yards.

TONIGHT: Brian Leher LIVE on CUNY TV, Channel 75 at 7:50 pm.

* Dan Goldstein from DDDb * Marie Louis from B.U.I.L.D.

more info (including webcasting)

Posted by lumi at 6:27 PM

At W.T.C. and Brooklyn Arena, Death and Life of the Superblock

The New York Observer
by Matthew Schuerman

wtc.jpgWhen planners contemplated rebuilding on the World Trade Center site, the first mistake they unanimously hoped to rectify was the restoration of through streets, since the superblocks and raised plazas, popular in the 60s, proved to be an anathema to vibrant neighborhoods.

Now, in our post-end-of-history world where terrorism concerns trump all others, it looks like New Yorkers are going to have to accept street closings in Lower Manhattan. Adding to the mix the Ratner arena/high-rise megablockolis in Brooklyn and recent nostalgia for Robert Moses, reporter Matthew Schuerman detects a new trend towards supersizing New York City.

Jane Jacobs, we hardly knew ya.


Posted by lumi at 2:35 PM

Bruce Ratner: Powerman, the Eroica, and Atlantic Yards

The Brooklyn Rail
by Brian Carreira

beethoven.gifBetter late than never — the Brooklyn Rail finally posted the article that was a summer reading favorite during Brooklyn's dog days of August.

A musician's wet dream, this article comes with multiple soundtracks.

Check out Carreira's update on how the project might hinge on eminent domain legislation, the MTA fix and where Site V fits into the scheme, all juiced up with slick quotes from Ratner spokesperson Joey "from Cobble Hill" DePalsco.


Posted by lumi at 12:32 PM

Will eminent domain laws affect NY?

NY Newsday
by William Murphy

A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in a Connecticut case on eminent domain should not change how the city seizes private land for public use, according to a top city lawyer.

"What happened in Connecticut is not authorized by the legislature at this moment in New York State," attorney Lisa Bova-Hiatt told Queens neighborhood leaders Monday night at Borough Hall.


NoLandGrab: What happened in Connecticut is not prohibited by the legislature at this moment in NY State either.

In the case of Atlantic Yards, the State is handling the eminent domain seizures, so this article doesn't stricly apply. However, let it be noted that the City is on record supporting projects using eminent domain and in the case of the Nets arena, the Memorandum of Understanding allows the City's $100 million contribution to be allocated towards the aquisition of private property via eminent domain.

Posted by lumi at 12:13 PM

New London woman asks Congress to step into eminent domain case

kelo3.jpgNY Newsday, via Associated Press
by Jesse J. Holland

Susette Kelo testifited at yesterday's Senate hearings on eminent domain to urge for passage of legislation that protects Americans' homes from government seizures for private development.

"I sincerely hope that Congress will do what judges and local legislators so far have refused to do for me and for thousands of people like me across the nation: protect our homes," Susette Kelo told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

If you've been following the New London case, you will be interested to hear about the fallout from the standoff between Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell's moratorium on eminent domain and the NLDC's issuance and subsequent retraction of eviction notices of some of the Ft. Trumbull, New London homeowners:

Meanwhile, in New London Tuesday night, the City Council voted unanimously to express no confidence in the quasi-public New London Development Corp., which is overseeing the Fort Trumbull development. The council also ordered the corporation to dismiss its president and chief operating officer, and threatened to dissolve the agency within a week if it did not do so, The Day of New London reported.

The House will be holding hearings on Eminent Domain tomorrow (September 22).


More coverage of Senate Judiciary Committee's Eminent Domain hearing:
Fox News, Bipartisan Support for Eminent Domain Reform
The NY Times, Senate Panel Hears Concerns About Eminent Domain Ruling
The [New London] Day, Panel Hears Concerns About Eminent Domain

Posted by lumi at 7:55 AM

Land Grab or 'Just Desserts?'

Fox News
by Rick Leventhal


Logan Darrow Clements wants to build a hotel on an eight-acre property owned by Supreme Court Justice David Souter (search) in the small New England town of Weare, N.H., as a way to protest the eminent domain ruling.

"We're trying to educate five special people about the importance of the Fifth Amendment by using their own flawed logic and applying it to their own situations,” said Clements. "It is a PR effort to call attention to eminent domain abuse and it's a creative way to do it."

This may seem like a crackpot scheme, but Clements only needs 25 signatures to get the issue on the ballot next March.


Posted by lumi at 7:54 AM

Political Fallout Could Land the Islanders in Brooklyn

NY Daily Sun
by Evan Weiner

Nassau County politicians shouldn’t feel so smug about the longterm prospects of having an NHL team — not with Nets owner Bruce Ratner’s new Brooklyn arena in the picture. As the centerpiece of the urban development being proposed for the Atlantic Yards, Ratner’s arena is slated to house the Nets and other, yet unplanned, sports events. That could mean hockey.

[Islander owner Charles] Wang is hoping that Nassau County will give him the go ahead later this year to proceed with his plans to modernize the Nassau Coliseum. If that falls through, Brooklyn could finally lasso its first professional hockey team and transform the borough into America’s newest pro sports hub.


Posted by lumi at 7:51 AM

Fox Sports Net: Blue Lines

Fox Sports Net
by Stan Fischler

While the Sun is reporting that the Islanders could skate in Brooklyn, here's another hockey rumor:

If developer Bruce Ratner ever gets his arena in downtown Brooklyn, it could be home to an AHL team.


Posted by lumi at 7:43 AM


A benefit to underwrite the cost of Mooney’s trans Atlantic Row for AIDS is announced, which will honor Mayor Mike Bloomberg and the Mayor of Goree Island, Senegal next month in New York.

In the footprints of the Atlantic Yards Development Project, Mr. Bruce Ratner, of Forest City Ratner Companies, recently donated space so AIDS Activist, Victor Mooney can build a ocean rowboat. Mooney is halfway in his first boat building attempt.

When: Thursday, September 22, 2005, 11:00 AM

Where: Atlantic Yards Boat House
814 Pacific Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201

For more on the Goree Challenge – a trans Atlantic Row for AIDS, visit www.goreechallenge.com.

Posted by lumi at 7:35 AM

September 20, 2005

NY Times/Ratner Report

You come to NoLandGrab for your Ratner news, but for detailed media analysis check out Norman Oder's blog, TimesRatnerReport. Oder a journalist and the author of the white paper released earlier this month, The New York Times & Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards: High-Rises & Low Standards and he's been blogging on media coverage of Ratner's plan ever since.


Posted by lumi at 10:38 PM

B.U.I.L.D. @ Brooklyn Bridge Park Hearing

James Caldwell, Marie Louis and Jasmin Miller were sighted at yesterday's Brooklyn Bridge Park Draft Environmental Impact Statement hearing. One member of a neighborhood organization commented that, "it is unusual to see BUILD members at a meeting that wasn't catered by Forest City Ratner interns."

Seriously, does anyone think that they were there doing their homework for the Atlantic Yards hearings?

Posted by lumi at 9:23 PM

DDDb Press Release: Mayor Bloomberg Misleads and Misinforms on Ratner's Atlantic Yards

Grossly Overstates Jobs Promised, Understates Number of Luxury Apartments

NEW YORK, NY—Mayor Michael Bloomberg is misleading and misinforming the public regarding Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards development proposal in Brooklyn. The Mayor's statements last week about jobs and housing contrast drastically with the official proposal announced by the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) two days later.

Bloomberg said on September 14 that the project would provide "4,500 apartments including much-needed affordable housing" and would "also create 8,500 permanent new jobs."

However, a project description issued on September 16 by the ESDC describes 7,300 residential units, which would include 2,800 market-rate condominiums along with the 4,500 rentals, half of which would be market-rate, half “affordable.” That means the total project would include only 31% "affordable housing"--not 50% as announced in May by ACORN, Forest City Ratner and Mayor Bloomberg, and still touted by the developer and supporters.

Also, the "affordable" housing would do little to help low-income Brooklynites. Of the 2,250 "affordable" rentals, 60% would go to middle-income tenants earning an average of $75,000. Only 900 units, or 12% of the total units, would go to people earning below $35,000, Brooklyn's median income.

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn spokesman Daniel Goldstein said, "Given the $1.1 billion in public costs that this project would consume over 30 years, this is a thoroughly inefficient and costly way to provide affordable housing. By the way, that $1.1 billion figure comes from Ratner; the overall cost would likely be much higher."

Also, Bloomberg vastly overstated the number of permanent jobs the project could provide. The proposal would involve 628,000 square feet of commercial office space. The addition of so-called Site 5 would add 347,000 square feet of office space. The New York City Economic Development Corporation says the standard is 250 square feet of office space per job, so the two segments of the project would provide space for 2,512 jobs and 1,388 jobs, respectively. The total: space for 3,900 office jobs.

None of those jobs would be guaranteed to local residents, and many jobs would be recycled from elsewhere (“retained”) rather than new. There would be a few hundred more permanent jobs in retail, the arena, and at the proposed hotel. This is a huge drop from the 10,000 permanent office jobs originally promised, and a substantial decline from 8,500 jobs promised last week by the Mayor.

Goldstein said, "Forest City Ratner has traded office space, and promised jobs for luxury condominium space, so the company can gain additional profits at the expense of our communities. Why can't the Mayor and our other elected officials tell the public the truth about the Ratner proposal?"

Posted by lumi at 9:10 PM

74 homes in Ratner's path

The Daily News
by Paul D. Colford

The truth about residents to be displaced by Ratner:

Up to 74 households could be uprooted to make way for Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, a new document filed by the developer shows.

The document, which outlines the mixed-use development and Nets basketball arena in advance of an environmental review, says 82 housing units are still occupied within the 21 acres needed.

Of the 82 units, eight are condos or co-ops whose owners have agreed to sell them to Forest City Ratner Cos., and another 32 are rental properties that the developer controls.

At the end of the article, Colford erroneously states:

The new document also elaborates on Ratner's plans for the block at Flatbush and Atlantic Aves. occupied by Modell's and P.C. Richard & Son, even though it's not technically part of the Atlantic Yards project.


NoLandGrab: Au contraire mon frere, the documents released last week mean that "technically" the Atlantic Yards Project has been expanded to include the triangle bounded by 4th Ave. Pacific St. and Flatbush. Unbeknownst to local officials and residents, the initial plan to include this portion was outlined in the double-secret MOU. This memo was eventually discovered and released by Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn.

Officially, the project now straddles Flatbush Ave. This new section, on the tip of Park Slope, was included in the Atlantic Yards Project plan because, under normal circumstance, Ratner would have to go through the local land use review approval process (ULURP). ULURP would lead to a contentious battle with politicians and residents, probably resulting in massive changes to the scale of the building(s). The plan from the start has been to avoid this and use the less stringent State review process (SEQRA).

Posted by lumi at 8:13 AM

MTA BS may stink, but its Damn Funny!

onNY Turf

Now why would the MTA sell off its property for less than half the appraised price, since no homeowner in their right mind would ever sell their house for half the value? Well, every irrational decision deserves as rich an irrational answer as that coined by MTA chairman Peter Kalikow. Mr. Kalikow's explination, and I swear its so bad its good, Mr.Kalikow actually said that the $214.5 million appraised value of the Atlantic Yards "is just some guy's idea of what it's worth."

Some Guy?


Posted by lumi at 8:09 AM

Residents Flee Ratner Wrecking Ball; Pause to Hold Stoop Sale

475deanst.jpgSorry we missed the listing. Usually Brooklyn's Stoop Sale Season is the best chance for cramped Brooklynites to clear out their closets before loading up again during the holiday season.

Last Sunday, soon-to-be-displaced residents of 475 Dean Street took advantage of the great Brooklyn Bazaar to purge themselves of extra belongings before being cleared out by Ratner's wreckingball.


Posted by lumi at 7:43 AM

NBA, 10 things we learned this week

by Mike Kahn

4. Item: The Metro Transportation Authority in Brooklyn has agreed to sell the 8.3-acre railyard to New Jersey Nets owner Bruce Ratner, who plans to build a spectacular business and retail complex, plus an arena for the Nets.

What this really means: Contrary to what so many in Brooklyn — and even some in New Jersey want to believe — Ratner is determined to make Brooklyn a destination point for business, shopping and entertainment. But most of all he wants to give them a professional sports team again ... and that would be the Nets. Just how long it will take for all of this to come down is a huge question mark, but he has remained on task. Besides, if Ratner ever gets any inclination this isn't going to work, the for sale sign would go up on the Nets quicker than a Kidd-to-Jefferson-to-Carter fast break.


NoLandGrab: Contrary to what many reporters want to believe, "most of all [Ratner] wants" to build the biggest privately owned taxpayer-funded outerborough boondoggle in history.

Posted by lumi at 7:30 AM

September 19, 2005

MTA, as Expected, Gives Its OK to Ratner’s Arena Plan

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle
by Raanan Geberer and Michael Weissenstein of the AP

The Eagle uses the AP wire report on the MTA hearing as the basis of their own article. The rub is that the AP report contains several mistakes that the Eagle's reporters and editors, having covered Brooklyn real estate in Brooklyn for more than a century, should have picked up.

Local reporting contains quotes from BUILD, Markowitz, James, Yassky's spokesperson, DDDb and local neighborhood organizations.


Posted by lumi at 9:28 AM

DDDb Press Release: Councilmember Letitia James Wins Resounding Victory Over Ratner Supporter

Leading Political Opponent's Victory is a Clear Referendum Against Ratner's Arena/Skyscraper Development Plan

BROOKLYN, NY—For the last two years the leading and most controversial issue in the City's 35th council district has been Bruce Ratner's proposal for 17 skyscrapers and an arena in the Prospect Heights section of her Brooklyn district. The staunchest political opponent of the Forest City Ratner (FCR) project has been the district's councilwoman, Letitia James, who has had to contend with the issue since her first day in office. Last week, in what was widely seen as a referendum on the Ratner project, Councilwoman James won a resounding 84% to 16% primary day victory over a Ratner backed candidate, Eric Blackwell.

Mr. Blackwell is a leading supporter of Ratner's proposal and a co-founder of Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development (BUILD), the group that was formed to support the Ratner plan.

"Letitia James has stood strongly against Mr. Ratner and his destructive development plan for her beloved district. She has been bolstered by the community that supports her and her opposition to the Ratner plan. Her re-election, by a gigantic margin, is a loud and clear sign to Mr. Ratner, Mayor Bloomberg and all of Mr. Ratner's political supporters, that our community is opposed to his Atlantic Yards development plan," said Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn spokesman Daniel Goldstein. "We don't have referendums on such issues in this City, but Councilmember. James' victory is clearly a referendum on Ratner's plans. The answer from the 35th district is: 'No, Mr. Ratner, we do not want your project."

Goldstein concluded, "Our elected officials should take note of Councilmember James' primary victory--there is a political price to pay if you support the Ratner plan."

Posted by lumi at 8:50 AM

September 18, 2005

DDDb Press Release: Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn To Request Finder's Fee From MTA

Community Group Seeks $6.0008 for Raising Ratner Bid Plus Printing and Mailing Reimbursement

NEW YORK, NY—Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB), the leader of the coalition fighting Forest City Ratner's (FCR) arena and 17 skyscraper gated complex situated on top of an existing neighborhood, will seek a finder's fee from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for the group's efforts which led to the $50 million increase of Ratner's low-ball offer for the 8.5 acre Vanderbilt Yard.

“We got the MTA $50 million more than they would have gotten without us," said DDDB spokesman Daniel Goldstein. "At a 12% finder's fee that comes out to $6 million. Plus it cost us around $800 in printing and mailing to alert developers to the property sale, which the MTA didn't really do. That comes out to $6.0008 million, which we would accept in cash or check. We know that may sound like a lot of money, but it's much less than the finder's fee we were expecting based on the MTA's appraised value of $214.5 million--then they'd owe us $19.7408 million. Too bad they accepted a bid $114.5 million less than their own appraised value."

MTA Chairman Peter Kalikow dismissed his own agency's two-month-old appraisal, saying that $214.5 million "is just some guy's idea of what it's worth." Goldstein said, "Why would Mr. Kalikow's agency hire just 'some guy' to do their appraisal, and then ignore that guy? Shouldn't they hire an appraiser instead of 'some guy?' That's odd behavior. Hopefully Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn is not 'just some grassroots community group,' in the MTA Chairman's cataractous eyes."

Because the MTA held a rigged bidding process and barely advertised a call for bids, DDDB took it upon themselves to advertise the MTA's Request for Proposals (RFP) by mailing it with additional information to one hundred developers around the United States. When only one developer, Extell Development Company, responded, DDDB encouraged them to submit a proposal and they did. Extell bid $150 million while FCR bid $50 million. Because of the unexpected competition to the Ratner bid, the MTA was able to demand more money and they got $50 million more. The new Ratner bid of $100 million was still much lower than the Extell bid, and less than half of the MTA's $214.5 million appraised value for their rail yards.

“We deserve this finder's fee. But if the MTA refuses to pay it to us, at the very least we would want reimbursement for our costs of $800 and perhaps some monthly MetroCards for our efforts and time,” concluded Mr. Goldstein.

Posted by amy at 1:26 PM

Atlantic Yards taken over by New York State and defined

Government agencies typically quietly release controversial or bad news on Friday to keep the public/media outcry to a dull whimper.

Here's what Brooklynites have been waiting for:

NY State officially takes over the project and schedules a public scoping meeting to obtain comments on the draft scope of analysis for the DEIS, which is attached to this notice. The document also announces the intention to condemn property using eminent domain.

The meeting will be held on Tuesday, October 18, 2005 from 5:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. at New York City College of Technology, 285 Jay Street, Klitgord Auditorium, Brooklyn.

This document is a draft of what environmental impacts will be studied. It also defines the actual size of the project which now officially includes Site 5 across Flatbush Ave. in Park Slope.

Posted by lumi at 8:52 AM

September 17, 2005


Theodore Alatsas • Marty Markowitz • Gloria Mattera • Gary Popkin

Monday, September 19 at 7:30pm

Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church (at S. Oxford Street in Fort Greene)

ARRIVE EARLY, the debate will start promptly at 7:30pm. Please plan to arrive and be in your seat by 7:20.

Submit a Debate Question Now, click here: debate@historicfortgreene.org

Deadline for e-mail submissions: 4pm, Monday, September 19, 2005

You can also submit your question on the night of the debate by filling out an index card at the door before the start of the debate.

PLEASE NOTE: Posters, flyers, leaflets, banners and other materials will not be permitted in the church.

Presented by the Fort Greene Association and Co-Sponsored by the following community organizations:
Atlantic Avenue Betterment Association, Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association, Clinton Avenue/ Wallabout Block Association, Clinton Hill Association, Cobble Hill Association, Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership, Park Slope Civic Council, Vinegar Hill Association (a partial list current as of the writing of this notice)

Posted by amy at 9:55 PM

It came from the Blogosphere...

Gleaming Towers of Ratnerville "Caring Bruce immediately had a great idea! He’s a land developer so he always has great ideas. And a good land developer has ideas that are great for the city. If, when you think of the city, you think of the Mayor and his homies." athletes in action

MTA Backs Ratner, Sun Rises in East "Man bites dog is news, people. Dog bites man — or, in this case, favored and pre-approved dog OK’d to bite MTA — isn’t." Gawker

Brooklyn Arena Deal Greeted with Silence "We eagerly await the Brooklyn Standard's account of the [MTA] meeting. Something tells us the whole Shabnam Merchant part may get cut out." Curbed

MTA and Ratner to Brooklyn Tomorrow "Ratner's bid was recently doubled to $100 million, only after the MTA had to ask for more because a dope would be able to understand that a cash bid of $50 million is less than Ratner's rival bid of $150 million in cold hard cash money." Gothamist

Local Catch-Up "Anyway, the FCR paper [The Brooklyn Standard] is a rah-rah Brooklyn-booster that happily glosses over controversial issues attached to the project -- like eminent domain...Ironically, some local activists believe that that is something it shares with, yes, the New York Times." Ragged Thots

Posted by amy at 11:51 AM

Why The New York Times ♥s Eminent Domain

From Reason Online:

Bruce Ratner, president of the real estate development company working with the Times on its proposed new Eighth Avenue headquarters, called the project a “very important testament to our values, culture and democratic ideals.”

Those “values” and “democratic ideals” included using eminent domain to forcibly evict 55 businesses—including a trade school, a student housing unit, a Donna Karan outlet, and several mom-and-pop stores—against their will, under the legal cover of erasing “blight,” in order to clear ground for a 52-story skyscraper. The Times and Ratner, who never bothered making an offer to the property owners, bought the Port Authority–adjacent property at a steep discount ($85 million) from a state agency that seized the 11 buildings on it; should legal settlements with the original tenants exceed that amount, taxpayers will have to make up the difference. On top of that gift, the city and state offered the Times $26 million in tax breaks for the project, and Ratner even lobbied to receive $400 million worth of U.S. Treasury–backed Liberty Bonds—instruments created by Congress to help rebuild Lower Manhattan. Which is four miles away.


Posted by amy at 11:29 AM


The Brooklyn Papers reports:

The Ratner bid was less than half the value of the real estate determined by an MTA appraiser, and $50 million less than a rival developer’s bid.

The approval was voted 10-1 by the MTA Board of Directors, which is largely appointed by Gov. George Pataki, a law school classmate of Bruce Ratner.

“The MTA and Ratner have treated taxpayers with disdain and have ignored the desires of the community,” said Daniel Goldstein, a spokesman for Develop-Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, which opposes the Ratner project and its dependence on the potential use of eminent domain seizures of private property.

“We know Ratner stands to make a huge profit on this project, something on the order of $1 billion, yet he is determined to rip off the straphangers of by nickel-and-diming them,” he said.


Posted by amy at 11:23 AM

Ratner seeks to house Katrina exiles

From the Brooklyn Papers:

While none of the remaining condo owners object to the idea — they uniformly praised the plan, even though it was put forth by Ratner — the point that people who lost their homes were replacing their former neighbors was not lost on them, either.

“It’s extraordinarily ironic that these people who have been driven from their homes by natural disaster would be moving into homes that have been vacated by people who have been driven form their homes by threat of eminent domain,” Vince Bruns said with a laugh.

NoLandGrab: It will be even more "ironic" when the people who take the homes that are empty due to eminent domain have their orginal homes taken by eminent domain.


Posted by amy at 11:14 AM

September 16, 2005

Nets double up

"Go Brooklyn!" says the Daily News editorial board in regards to the deal just struck between Ratner and the MTA.

On the surface, Ratner's payment looks smaller than the rival $150 million bid from Extell Development, but he also is investing another quarter-billion in MTA facilities. In addition, he's building that arena and far more apartments than Extell would. So even with the city and state chipping in $100 million each for infrastructure, the complex to rise at Flatbush and Atlantic Aves. will actually make money for the public by producing new tax revenues.

You can e-mail the Daily News editors at voicers@edit.nydailynews.com.


NoLandGrab: What do you expect from a paper owned by a real estate developer?

The figures from the Independent Budget Office report that show Ratner's project making money for the public hinges upon 50% of the current Nets fans base to come to games in Brooklyn. Current Jersey fans have intimated that figure is pure fantasy.

Also, the News fails to take into account that the Extell bid doesn't propose as much housing because they aren't going to use EMINENT DOMAIN to take private property. The New York press corps is way behind the rest of the nation on this issue, and it's not just a liberal-vs.-conservative thing. The fight against eminent domain abuse has crossed ideological lines and, like abortion, has become a bell-weather issue for legislatures and courts nationwide.

Posted by lumi at 7:21 AM

Atlantic Yards Project Still Needs Several Approvals

WNYC Radio
by Andrea Bernstein

Stuckey says with the sale, the company now owns 80 percent of the land it needs. The next step is an "environmental impact statement" which will show how the complex will affect surrounding communities. That process will help to determine the as-yet-unexamined traffic impact of the project. The state's Economic Development Agency and the Public Authorities Control Board must also give approvals.


Posted by lumi at 7:02 AM


As the controversy surrounding Bruce Ratner's plans gets more press, news reports will pop up that plain get the facts wrong. NoLandGrab readers will get very good at spotting these errors. Take this dispatch from Manhattan College's online news journal (errors in bold):

[TO quote Dr. Evil, "BWA-HA-HA!" The actual price tag is $100 million.]

Amid controversy over the Metropolitan Transportation's acceptance of Developer Bruce C. Ratner's low bid to develop the Atlantic Railyard in Brooklyn, a rival bid forced Ratner to double his bid to construct a Frank Gehry-designed basketball arena for the Nets, which plan to move across the Hudson River from New Jersey.

The newest bid, as reported by the New York Times, will give the MTA an additional $50 Million dollars to spend on improvements to the City's transportation grid that includes subways, commuter trains, and buses. A new rail yard would be added to the lot, as per the new agreement.
[No matter who won the bid, the railyard would have had to have been moved.]

Ratner came under fire this summer after residents protested the planned demolition of nearby buildings under the policy of "imminent domain," [property owners who haven't sold to Ratner are facing "imminent EMINENT domain"] which allows the city government to evict tenants and businesses from buildings seen as dilapidated or detrimental to the community. [Cities have the power of eminent domain, but it is NY State that is going to do the nasty here. Also, as per the US Supreme Court in Kelo v. New London, the property does not have to be declared "blighted," merely only needs to generate more tax revenue to be considered a "public use".] Critics accused the city [State] of abusing this statue to clear space for Ratner's design for the rail yard. [Eminent domain is NOT being used on the rail yard (which is already public property and only 8.3 acres of the 20-plus-acre project), it's being used on private property.]

The planned arena would cost about $555 million, and other buildings incorporated in the design would include 6,000 apartments, offices, and stores aimed at transforming the area into an affluent neighborhood. [Many factors are already changing the area into an affluent neighborhood. The big beef here is that the mammoth project will turn parts of Ft. Greene, Park Slope, Prospect Heights into a superblock compound with a 19,000-seat arena and over 20 high-rise buildings — it's overdevelopment to the extreme.]

link to original article

Posted by lumi at 6:36 AM

September 15, 2005

PBS Analysts Ridicule Eminent Domain Concerns of Conservatives and Talk Radio Hosts



During PBS's coverage Wednesday of the Senate hearing with Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, analysts ridiculed the concern of some conservative Senators over the Supreme Court's recent eminent domain ruling and mocked the role of naive talk radio hosts.

Boston Globe columnist Tom Oliphant was befuddled by "the vigorous nature of this opposition to a rather mundane eminent domain case from New London, Connecticut, this Kelo thing."


NoLandGrab: Oliphant probably never looked into the eyes of those whiny holdouts in New London who are standing in the way of progress.

Posted by lumi at 7:20 PM

New London Rally: Mon, September 19, 6PM

handsoff.jpgThis message from the Castle Coalition, the anti-eminent domain abuse campaign brought to you by the Institute of Justice, the that represented the homeowners in the case of Kelo v. New London:


As you may know, the New London Development Corporation has begun sending eviction letters to residents of the Fort Trumbull neighborhood in New London. Breaking their promise to Governor Rell, the NLDC seeks to send everyone that remains in the neighborhood packing. That can't happen.

To support the folks in Fort Trumbull, please join members of the New London community at a rally on Monday, September 19 at 6:00 p.m. The rally will be held at City Hall, 181 State Street, immediately PRECEDING the scheduled City Council meeting and will call for the New London City Council to support a moratorium directing the NLDC to immediately suspend eviction proceedings in the Fort Trumbull neighborhood. This is the first City Council meeting since the NLDC broke its promise to the governor.

Let them hear your voice - tell the City what's happening is not just unconstitutional, it's morally wrong.


Steven D. Anderson
Castle Coalition Coordinator
Institute for Justice
1717 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Suite 200
Washington, DC 20006
T: 202.955.1300
F: 202.955.1329
E: sanderson@ij.org

Posted by lumi at 7:03 PM

Congress can trump Supreme Court on eminent domain, Roberts says

NY Newsday

Eminent domain opponents were heartened by Chief Justice nominee John Roberts comments Wednesday that Congress can counter divisive Supreme Court rulings such as the one that allowed New London, Conn., to seize homes for private development.

"He certainly highlighted what is desperately needed now, and that is action at the congressional and state legislative levels to stop the use of eminent domain for private development," Bullock said. "It is good that he reminded the legislatures that they do in fact have the power to put a stop to eminent domain abuse."


Posted by lumi at 9:16 AM

MTA board approves sale to Ratner. Opponents readies suits. Brooklynites look towards Environmental Impact Statement.

vanderbiltyards.jpgHere are snippets of today's coverage of the MTA Board decision and what comes next:

The NY Times, Huge Arena Project in Brooklyn Takes a Major Step Forward
The Times covers the MTA Board's Special Meeting:

Although Mr. Ratner's $3.5 billion project, the largest private investment in the borough's history, would bring his team, the Nets, to Brooklyn from New Jersey and create at least 7,000 apartments, there was a glum tone to the authority's board meeting. Few speakers - whether supporters or opponents of the plan - voiced any passion at the public hearing before the vote, in part, because the outcome was never in doubt.

However, a local resident, Shabnam Merchant, who lives near the project site at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues, stepped up to the microphone to say, "It's a sham." She said she could not pretend otherwise, then spent the rest of her allotted two minutes standing there without speaking.

Asbury Park Press, Ratner clears one hurdle in moving Nets to Brooklyn

[Develop Don't Destroy spokesperson Dan] Goldstein contends that because Forest City Ratner's plan has not yet undergone an environmental review by the ESDC, the sale of the Atlantic Yards is not legal or valid. The environmental review usually takes about six months after it is submitted to the state's Public Authority Control Board.

"The deal doesn't close until that ends," Goldstein said. "No money will transfer."

NY Daily News, MTA on track for Nets. Green-lights Ratner arena complex plan.

"The Forest City Ratner offer benefits all concerned," said veteran political activist the Rev. Herbert Daughtry, whose House of the Lord Pentecostal Church is near the site.

Daughtry pointed to a 47-page community benefits agreement between Ratner and a coalition of neighborhood groups saying, "I have never witnessed any contract of this scope and of this diversity."

NoLandGrab: With all due respect, the original Staples Center CBA makes Ratner's look like Cliff Notes.

NY1, MTA Votes In Favor Of Ratner Arena Development Plan
Bobby Cuza reports:

The proposal still has to undergo an environmental review. It also must go before the state Public Authorities Control Board, which is likely to approve it.

The project has faced community opposition, particularly from property owners who fear Ratner may try to work with the city to use eminent domain to force them out.

NoLandGrab: To clarify, since NY State is taking over the project, thus circumventing the City's more stringent Land Use Review Process, it's NY State who is planning to use eminent domain to execute government takeover of private property to hand over to Ratner.

DigitalBrooklyn.com, MTA Sells Out to Ratner
DigitalBrooklyn quotes BP and Cheerleader in Chief Markowitz:

“Now that the Atlantic Yards bid has been accepted, the next step is for the EIS scoping hearing to be set. We will now delve into the nitty gritty of every single legitimate issue that the community has brought forth. Brooklynites must see a comprehensive and realistic plan that addresses traffic, parking, public transit, parks and open space, community facilities, noise, air quality, density, and every other planning challenge that a project of this scale entails.

The Newark Star-Ledger, MTA OKs selling land to Ratner
Forest City Ratner Executive VP Jim Stuckey plays down the fact that they are going to throw people out of their homes:

The company still needs to acquire several tracts around the arena site, but Stuckey said most are auto repair shops or vacant land rather than private residences.

Reuters, NY agency OKs Brooklyn project with new Nets arena
Reuters looks ahead to the vote of the Public Authorities Control Board (the group that killed the West Side Stadium/Hudson Yards deal) and gets a quote from NY Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's office:

A spokesman for Silver, who represents Lower Manhattan, said: "The speaker is aware that the project has the support of members of the Assembly, but before he makes a decision he'd like to see more details."

NY Daily Sun, MTA To Sell Rights to Atlantic Rail Yards
The MTA voted to approve the sale against the protestations of the one "no" vote on the board:

Mr. Pally, an attorney from Suffolk County, said those improvements were never identified as needed by the Long Island Rail Road. Mr. Pally was alone, however, in his sharp criticism of the Authority,just as he was in July in objecting to the board’s decision to negotiate exclusively with Forest City Ratner.

“Instead of buying something the Long Island Rail Road does not want, which is this project, we should take the entire $214 million in cash and use it for projects which the Long Island Rail Road does want,” he said.

Groups are poised for a legal challenge:

The City Council member from Prospect Heights, Letitia James, vowed a legal fight, as did property owners who could lose their homes or businesses if the city invokes eminent domain.

NY Newsday, Deal sets up shot for Nets
Another Pally quote:

"This board has one responsibility only," Pally said. "If it is going to sell property ... it sells that property at the most value to the authority or all of the riders of the authority. In my opinion, this deal does not do that."

Newsday reports that the Public Authorities Control Board, "who blocked that deal have said they would not do the same with the Nets."


The politician who killed the Jets' dream of a West Side stadium said yesterday he hasn't made up his mind about the Nets' planned arena in Brooklyn, hours after that proposal cleared a major hurdle.

Posted by lumi at 6:58 AM

September 14, 2005

Nets win MTA land

Neil DeMause, author of Field of Scheme's covers "Backwards Day at the MTA" on his blog, and then cleans house on the Associated Press wire coverage:

The Associated Press got some things backwards in its story, as well: Not only does Ratner still need to "wait for environmental approvals and a vote by the state's Public Authorities Control Board," as the AP reports, but $200 million in state and city subsidies still must be approved by the legislature and city council, unless Mayor Michael Bloomberg finds some more money under the sofa cushions. And lastly, the proposed Nets arena site is not where the Brooklyn Dodgers almost built a ballpark, already! (That was across the street, where a Ratner mall now stands.) Listen, AP, don't make me go all Snopes on your ass.


Posted by lumi at 10:28 PM

Develop Don't Destroy Vows to Fight On Vs. Ratner

The snarky Curbed.com carries today's press release from DDDb and, during a tender moment, reveals a slightly sensitive side:

If we can get serious, for just a moment: We've had our fun over the past few months poking fun at Develop Don't Destroy and its leader, Dan Goldstein—commentary that Goldstein didn't always take warmly to, judging by emails he sent our way. And though we've been amused and confounded by the absurdities on both sides of this fight, Goldstein and DDDB earn our praise for tirelessly fighting for a neighborhood they care passionately about*. Seriously.


* In otherwords: We don't understand why those nutty DDDb guys are doing it, but they are really into it and ya gotta love that.

Posted by lumi at 9:50 PM

Developer Has Mixed Record in Brooklyn

WNYC Radio
by Andrea Bernstein

pcrichards.jpgBernstein reveals an uncomfortable truth, about Forest City Enterprise's largest tenant:

One of the biggest employers [in Metrotech] is the City of New York.-The Fire Department has its headquarters here, and so does the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications. According to city records, the city pays 32 million dollars every year to rent office space in these buildings it helped to build. Documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission show Forest City Enterprises, the parent company of Forest City Ratner has $7.3 billion in assets and does business in 19 states and the district of Columbia. But what is its largest tenant? The City of New York.

Furthermore, the Atlantic Mall, Forest City Ratner [FCR] couldn't hold down an anchor tenant until NY State's economic development agency relocated there. Eventually, FCR receives props for the Atlantic Terminal mall housing the popular Tar-jay.


Posted by lumi at 9:30 PM

Greatest Hits

We laughed, we cried, and for once Ratner opponent Shabnam Merchant was speechless — The Real Estate Observer has collected "Greatest Hits" from today's MTA Board meeting.

Posted by lumi at 9:16 PM

MTA to transit riders: It's deja screw all over again!

The MTA Board has done it again. As in the ill-fated Hudson Yards, MTA board members executed the bidding of their political sponsors, conducted a sham RFP process in full public view and overwhelmingly picked the lowball bidder to redevelop MTA railyard property.

In the same year as the MTA raised fares on subway, train and bus riders (the region's working class), they handed over very valuable real estate to the politically well-connected Bruce Ratner for a song.

DDDb makes a good point in their press release where they explain one difference between the Hudson Yards scam and today's approval:

The MTA's action for the Vanderbilt Yards is in stark contrast to the procedure used for the West Side Yards/Jets Stadium project. There, the MTA's review and acceptance of proposals came after the SEQRA review was completed, not before. In that case MTA arguably had the benefit of the environmental impact statement to guide its decision making. Here the decision-making came first and the environmental review will come later.

Summary of MTA inaction: * May 19, 2005, MTA publishes public notice of RFP for Vanderbilt Yards in NY Times real estate section and a real estate trade. Proposals due in six weeks. * July 6, proposals are due. Extell Corporation hands in last-minute surprise bid that does not include the use of EMINENT DOMAIN. * July 22, MTA unveils competing bids (without Ratner financial projections). The Extell bid is $100 Million over Ratner's. Ratner quickly points to promised infrastructure improvements to boost their low-ball bid. * July 26, MTA Board votes to "negotiate" exclusively with Ratner. * September 7, press reports that Ratner has doubled his initial bid. * September 14, in a special meeting held by MTA, board members agree to accept Ratner Redux (the NEW lowball bid).

Posted by lumi at 8:18 PM

DDDb Press Release: The MTA Accepts Low-Ball Bid From Bruce Ratner

Ratner and MTA Rip Off Taxpayers With Deal Well Below Competitor Extell's Offer and Half the MTA's Appraised Value
Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn Planning Lawsuits

NEW YORK, NY—At a special meeting today, the MTA board approved the disposition of 8.5-acres of prime Brooklyn real estate to the lower bidder, Forest City Ratner (FCR). The Ratner offer is less than half the MTA's appraisal of $214.5 million and well below the $150 million cash offer made in July by Extell Development Company.

"Any way you look at it, there is no justification for today's MTA decision to hand over 8.5 acres of valuable property for Bruce Ratner's low-ball offer. The MTA's so-called bidding process has been a charade from the start. The MTA and Ratner have treated taxpayers with disdain, and have ignored the desires of the community," said Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) spokesman Daniel Goldstein. "We know that Ratner stands to make a huge profit on his project, something on the order of $1 billion, yet he is determined to rip off the straphangers of New York City by nickel-and-diming them. He refuses to come even close to the MTA's appraised price on this valuable piece of property, and the MTA is willing to abet this. Why isn't the MTA demanding full market value?"

At the May 4, 2004 City Council Economic Development Committee hearing, FCR Executive Vice President Jim Stuckey made a promise that the company is apparently unwilling to meet: "What I will say to you is that for the land, the public land, the MTA land, is that, what we have agreed to is that we will lease or buy that land at the fair market value… by whatever independent process that they normally use."

The sole MTA "no" vote was cast by board member Mitchell Pally, Suffolk County's appointee, who excoriated chairman Kalikow for not getting anywhere near fair market value for the railyard.

"Apparently there is only one MTA board member looking out for transit riders and willing to speak the truth, and that is Mr. Pally. The MTA has never truly wanted an open bidding process or sought fair market value. After holding a closed and rigged bidding process with a ludicrous RFP response timeframe–which was barely advertised–granting special treatment to Ratner, relegating competitors to the sidelines and refusing to ever meet with Extell, the MTA has once again agreed to the lowest offer for their property," said Goldstein. "Its time for our public officials, agencies and our public-interest organizations, many of whom sued the MTA for taking the low bid on the West Side railyards, to raise their voices and consider suing to protect the public from the MTA's mismanagement and Ratner's continued feeding at the public trough."

Regardless of the MTA and FCR agreement today, their deal would not close for at least six months, which is the earliest the State-mandated environmental review process would reach a conclusion. The MTA risks a repeat of the West Side Hudson Yards debacle—where they never see their deal close—as Ratner's project will face legal challenges, including a vigorous challenge to the State's use of eminent domain—which could take many years—as well as legislation that could scuttle the entire project.

Additionally, the MTA's decision to enter into a contract with FCRC is also a violation of the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA). The contracting action pre-determines the outcome of the environmental review and makes the legally mandated environmental analysis a hollow exercise. The MTA's action, together with the February Memorandum of Understanding between ESDC and FCR, demonstrates that both agencies have pre-judged the Ratner project and are prepared to approve it without changes, regardless of the adverse environmental impacts disclosed through the environmental review. The State's review process requires that agencies incorporate the potential environmental impacts of their actions as early in the process as possible to avoid situations exactly like this where the momentum of a project overwhelms an objective analysis of the environmental impacts. Rather than putting the consideration of environmental impacts at the beginning of the process, the MTA has put those considerations at the end of the process

The MTA's action for the Vanderbilt Yards is in stark contrast to the procedure used for the West Side Yards/Jets Stadium project. There, the MTA's review and acceptance of proposals came after the SEQRA review was completed, not before. In that case MTA arguably had the benefit of the environmental impact statement to guide its decision making. Here the decision-making came first and the environmental review will come later.

"DDDB will not passively accept this blatant disregard of New York's most important environmental law. As the review of this project moves into the next stage, DDDB will insist that the Environmental Review Statement (EIS) include a detailed discussion of the Extell proposal as a viable alternative," Goldstein stated. "DDDB is confident that an honest, objective review will demonstrate that the Extell plan presents an environmentally sound proposal that also meets the needs of providing affordable housing, jobs, an increase in the tax base and superior financial benefits to the MTA."

Goldstein added, "Ratner wants the taxpayers to pay and pay and pay, for a meager return for the public and a mega return for his real estate firm. "The $100 million low-ball deal comes one week after the City's Independent Budget Office (IBO) released an incomplete and exaggerated report, based on highly questionable assumptions, projecting a miniscule surplus, less than 1% of the public investment, for New York City from Ratner's arena.

The IBO study fails to consider additional "extraordinary infrastructure" costs, covered by taxpayers, as identified in the Memorandum of Understanding between the City, State and FCR. The FCR bid details these costs to be at least $163 million. Notably, the IBO refused to estimate revenues for the much larger development of 17 towers associated with the arena, citing "methodological limitations." The IBO report also relies on Ratner's guess that 50% of Nets' game tickets will go to New Jersey fans. This assumption is grossly exaggerated. Said Goldstein, "the translation is that the projections of public revenue in reports written by Ratner's paid consultant, Andrew Zimbalist, are purely speculative. That means political leaders backing Ratner's plan, such as Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Pataki, have based their support on biased speculation by Ratner's paid consultant and have failed to protect the public trust."

Posted by lumi at 7:52 PM

Ratner wins rights to Brooklyn rail yards

Crain's New York Business
by Catherine Tymkiw

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority approved developer Bruce Ratner’s $100 million bid for the right to build on rail yards in downtown Brooklyn.

The 10-to-1 vote followed 45 days of exclusive negotiations that the MTA had agreed to hold with Forest City Ratner Cos. starting in July. Today’s vote leaves Gary Barnett’s Extell Development Corp, which had submitted a competing bid, out in the cold.

Posted by lumi at 7:51 PM

Regional Planning Association letter to MTA, read at "Special Meeting"

RPALetter.jpgThis letter from the Regional Planning Association (RPA) was read at today's MTA Board's "Special Meeting." The RPA is calling for three conditions to be met: * receiving full value for the MTA property, * full pubilc disclosure of all competing bids (the profit projections were missing from version of Ratner's bid the MTA released in July), and * traffic and transportation impacts be identified and added to the real costs when considering the project.

Download letter.

NoLandGrab: The MTA ignored all of the RPA's requests, including the release of Ratner's profit projections which were required to be submitted with their bid.

Posted by lumi at 3:56 PM

Roberts Questioned on Eminent Domain Ruling


Washington Post
by William Branigin

Claiming that his office's phone has been ringing off the hook since the Kelo ruling, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) questioned Chief Justice nominee John Roberts about his views on the recent eminent domain case.

Roberts declined to say whether he thinks the decision was correct, since he may have to deal with the issue if he is confirmed and it comes before the high court again.

Roberts did offer that it was:

"very appropriate" for Congress to consider legislation that would counter a recent Supreme Court ruling that allows cities to seize private property in the interest of private economic development

The ruling "did leave open the question of whether it applied in a situation that was not a broader redevelopment plan," Roberts said. "And if the issue does come back before the court, I need to be able to address it without having previously commented on it."


NoLandGrab: Though Roberts didn't reveal his personal views on the recent eminent domain ruling, he did a great job of outlining the issues and explaining where the next battle line will be drawn in the nationwide fight against eminent domain abuse.

Posted by lumi at 9:01 AM

INSTITUTE OF JUSTICE PRESS RELEASE: New London Development Corporation Breaks Eminent Domain Moratorium Pledge

Some Fort Trumbull Residents Ordered to Vacate Homes in 90 Days And Pay NLDC Rent

Washington, D.C.-Breaking its word and defying both Governor M. Jodi Rell and the Connecticut legislature, the New London Development Corporation (NLDC) has apparently decided not to abide by a moratorium called for by both the governor and legislature. At least two residents in so-called Parcel 3 of the Fort Trumbull area on Monday, September 12, 2005, received notices (dated September 9, 2005) that they must vacate the properties in 90 days and must start paying rent to the NLDC during that period.   

“The NLDC’s actions are breathtaking in their arrogance and defiance of the wishes of Governor Rell and Connecticut’s legislature,” said Scott Bullock, a senior attorney at the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Justice, which represents the Fort Trumbull homeowners. “The NLDC is an unelected, unaccountable body that has been given the government’s eminent domain power and is out of control. It is time Connecticut’s political leaders at the state and local levels reel in this group that has been abusing the rights of New London property owners,” he added.

Less than two months ago, on July 26, 2005, the NLDC agreed to honor a moratorium called for by the Connecticut legislature and agreed not to seek to take possession of the homes while the legislature considered changing its eminent domain laws.  

“Virtually the entire country is against the abuse of eminent domain by the NLDC, but its actions demonstrate that it could not care less what it has done to the rights of the citizenry and reputation of New London,” added Dana Berliner, another Institute senior attorney.

Berliner added that unless the NLDC agrees again to abide by the moratorium, Connecticut political leaders at either the state or local level must formally pass one to force the NLDC not to let anything happen to the homeowners while the Connecticut legislature considers changing its eminent domain laws.

Posted by lumi at 8:56 AM

Eviction Notices Sent Out By NLDC

Remaining Fort Trumbull residents are told to leave, pay occupancy fee

The [New London] Day
by Kate Moran and Ted Mann

The City of New London moves to evict homeowners who brought the eminent domain case to the US Supreme Court. Despite promising to abide by the Conneticut State moratorium on eminent domain takings, New London has performed an about face, declaring that the moratorium only applies to NEW eminent domain actions.

Armed with a victory before the U.S. Supreme Court, the New London Development Corp. moved this week to take possession of three houses on the Fort Trumbull peninsula and evict the renters and owners who live in them.

The owners of the houses were outraged that the NLDC was moving to take control of their property after the state legislature and Gov. M. Jodi Rell had asked cities to refrain from flexing their eminent domain powers while lawmakers considered measures to protect private property rights.


Posted by lumi at 8:37 AM

September 13, 2005

MTA unit backs Ratner's deal for Nets arena

NY Daily News
by Paul D. Colford

Do the $100 million deal with Ratner.

That's what the MTA real estate division recommended yesterday to agency board members, who are expected to vote tomorrow on developer Bruce Ratner's sweetened bid to build a Nets arena in Brooklyn.

The written summary of negotiations between the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Forest City Ratner Cos. confirms that the developer doubled his original July offer of $50 million to build atop the Atlantic Ave. railyards.


Posted by lumi at 8:36 AM


The NY Post
by Patrick Gallahue

Opponents of Bruce Ratner's plan to relocate the New Jersey Nets to Brooklyn lashed out yesterday in a letter to Metropolitan Transit Authority Chair Peter Kalikow.

The angry missive claims the developer's offer for the rights to build an arena and high-rise condos on the site of the Atlantic Rail Yards fails to meet the MTA's criteria.

Co-signed by the Citizens Union, the New York Public Interest Research Group and others, the letter says Ratner's $50 million bid does not include requested statements about the project's financing or his expected return over 20 years.


Posted by lumi at 8:35 AM

Nets look for gains when it comes to ticketholders

USA Today
by Greg Boeck

jerseyjefferson.jpgProject "Ticket Influencer Program" has been deployed by the tireless Nets CEO Brett Yormark. Season ticket renewals are at 96%. To seal the deal, fans are hobnobbing with marquee players, Nets dancers and even Caring Bruce himself over plates full of pancakes.

This attempt to make nice with the fans is an attempt to shore up the fan base in anticipation of a move to Brookyn where Ratner hopes that Jersey fans will come to Brooklyn.


NoLandGrab Reality Check: How long will it take Jersey fans to realize that they can zip into Central Brooklyn by subway during rush hour, but it will take forever to get home via public transportation? Then again, the same fan could be home within the hour by car, if they can stand sitting the evening rush for a couple of hours to get to the game.

A Brooklyn team's fan base is in Long Island, but don't tell that to the politicians who are counting on Jersey folks to spend their entertainment income in Brooklyn. Otherwise, the entire deal won't pay for itself in increased tax revenue — that would be bad.

Posted by lumi at 7:55 AM

September 12, 2005

DDDb Press Release: 32 Organizations Demand MTA Release Ratner Profit Projections

Sweet Deal for Ratner Kept Secret While Taxpayers Get Raw Deal

NEW YORK, NY–The public has not yet seen Bruce Ratner's projected profit for his proposed arena and 17 skyscrapers in Brooklyn.

While the MTA is on the verge of awarding its 8.5-acre Vanderbilt rail yards to the lower bidder, Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC), Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) and 31 other public interest and community groups have sent a letter to the MTA demanding the release of Bruce Ratner's pro forma income statement. The 20-year financial projection was required by the MTA's Request for Proposals (RFP), but does not appear in the FCRC proposal the MTA released publicly. High-bidder Extell Development Company's pro forma cash-flow statement was released to the public, but FCRC's pro forma cash-flow statement has been withheld by the MTA.

"We know Bruce Ratner's corporation stands to make upwards of $1 billion profit from his project," said DDDB spokesperson Daniel Goldstein. "Why has Mr. Ratner and the MTA hid this from the public? Contrast Bruce Ratner's profit with New York City's microscopic profit from his arena, as projected by the Independent Budget Office, and we can understand the secrecy. The MTA and FCR don't want to publicize their sweetheart deal while taxpayers get such a raw deal."

An excerpt from the letter to the MTA reads:

*In light of the fact that:

* neither bid met the appraised value for the Yards ($214.5 million),
* you chose to exclude the higher bidder (Extell) from the negotiation process, and
* according to the Sept 7 edition of The New York Times, you will be settling for a sale of the Yards to FCRC at less than half of the appraised value and at two-thirds the value of the Extell bid,

we believe that it is in the public interest to understand, not just what the public is getting back in revenues for our investment, but also what FCRC is getting in profits from our investment.

The taxpayers are being asked to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in the arena, relinquish city-owned property to private interests, accept the bypassing of the city-review process, accept the condemnation of citizens' property, accept the eviction of renters and business owners, and accept a lower bid to the MTA at less than half the appraised value of the yards - all in return for what the Independent Budget Office has identified as a 1% annual return to the city on their financial investment.

In the interest of transparency, the taxpayers also have the right to know what and how much the developer will be getting from this transaction.

To read the complete letter to the MTA visit: http://www.dddb.net/mta/proforma.

Posted by lumi at 10:07 AM

Bruce Ratner gets a boost on BCAT

B.U.I.L.D. is hitting the public airwaves this week. The show "BUILDing a CBA" will air on Time Warner channel 56 and Cablevision channel 69 this Friday 9/16/05 at 11:30PM and 3:30 PM.

The first special features James Caldwell and Marie Louis discussing the CBA and B.U.I.L.D.'s role in it.

If you have any comments about the show, or ideas about future programs, please email buildtvshow@aol.com or call 917-815-1392.

B.U.I.L.D. is also looking for volunteers who are willing to donate some of their spare time and become certifiied producers with BCAT so they can continue to produce future programs.

Posted by lumi at 8:48 AM

"Ridiculous:" The Brooklyn Nets look like they are about to have a home...

FoxSports.com calls Ratner's arena scheme "ridiculous" in the daily dispatch from Dime Magazine:

The Brooklyn Nets look like they are about to have a home, and it looks like it is going to be ridiculous. Nets owner Bruce Ratner has reached an agreement to buy the nine-acre rail yard in downtown Brooklyn for the Nets' proposed arena. Ratner is planning a $550 million arena, the most expensive building of its kind in the country. The current plan is for the Nets to be in their new home by the '08-'09 season ...


Posted by lumi at 8:42 AM

Let them build stadiums

The Daily News
by Michael O'Keefe

babs.jpgBush matriarch, fondly known as "Babs," spoke volumes about political reality in the States last week as she expressed her concern that the "underpriviledged" would take advanatage of Texan hospitality and decide to stay. While her boy genius, fondly known as "W," cut back programs that could have mitigated the extent of the disaster wrought by Katrina, the government has continued to find funding for stadiums and arenas, like the Texas Rangers deal that put W on the map and launches his political career. The Daily News sports writer, Michael O'Keefe connects the dots:

Meanwhile, here in New York, Nets owner Bruce Ratner wants $200 million in public subsidies, tax-exempt financing, tax breaks and other perks to build a $3.5 billion development that would include an arena for his NBA team, 6,000 apartments, stores and offices.

Ratner and his political allies - including Mayor Bloomberg, Gov. Pataki and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz - tell us this will be great for New York, even if they haven't figured out how they'll take care of the traffic congestion, polluted air and crowded schools that will follow.

In return for throwing people out of their homes and businesses, according to the Independent Budget Office, the city gets a whopping $28.5 million for its investment over the next 30 years - or less than $1 million year


NoLandGrab: If we had a dollar for every time we asked this question, we'd have two dollars (see "Mike Lupica, Shooting from the Lip"). *Why does it take a Daily News sports writer to scrutinize the Ratner proposal and point out its profound effects on public policy and life in our city? Stepping out of their ordinary beat, these writers have become the boy who isn't afraid to say that the emperor has no clothes.*

Posted by lumi at 7:58 AM

September 11, 2005

Marty Markowitz Faces Muted Opposition in Upcoming Election


The Brooklyn Daily Eagle discusses Brooklyn's 'republican' borough president - Marty Markowitz - and the opposition challenging his seat in November...

But outspoken Brooklyn patriotism aside, some of Markowitz’s critics have alleged that, when it comes to concrete policy, the Borough President is just as pro-business, pro-borough development and pro-free market as his Republican counterparts.

Markowitz has never garnered support in Brooklyn through a strict adherence to the Party platform. And some have criticized the Borough President’s relationship with real-estate developer Bruce Ratner, and his uncompromising enthusiasm for that mogul’s plan to build the new Nets basketball stadium in Downtown Brooklyn, at the current site of the Atlantic Rail Yards. One of Markowitz’s would-be opponents, the Green Party’s Materra, described herself as “part of a coalition of community activists who are scandalized by Markowitz’s behavior around the Ratner development.”

“I think he hasn’t made good decisions,” she told the Eagle.


Posted by amy at 3:22 PM

Mike Lupica: Shooting from the Lip

NY Daily News

Isn't anybody in town supposed to find it interesting that Caring Bruce Ratner's development project in Brooklyn, the one being built around Jason Kidd, is going to cost the public about a billion dollars over the next 30 years?

You know what the most profound difference between Ratner's sweetheart deal and the one the Jets were trying to get off Mayor Money?

Ratner's is in Brooklyn.

And it's the Nets, not the Jets.


NoLandGrab: "Isn't anybody in town supposed to find it interesting that" the only columnist who is asking the hard questions about "Caring Bruce Ratner's development project in Brooklyn" is a DAILY NEWS SPORTS COLUNMIST?

Posted by lumi at 11:14 AM

MTA "Special Meeting" to seal deal for Ratner

The ever accommodating MTA (you know, the one who just raised fares for the rest of us) is planning to accept Ratner's second lowball bid before the regular monthly Board Meeting by convening this "Special Meeting":

In accordance with Section 4 of the MTA by-laws ("Special Meetings"), please be advised that there will be a special MTA Board Meeting on Wednesday, September 14, 2005 at 9:30AM on the 5th Floor of MTA headquarters at 347 Madison Avenue, New York City.

The purpose of this Special Meeting is to present the Board with updated information concerning the proposal by Forest City Ratner Companies ("FCR") to purchase air space above and real property interests in LIRR's Vanderbilt Yard ("VD Yard") in Brooklyn, to brief the Board regarding negotiations that have taken place between MTA staff and FCR, and to seek additional authority from the Board regarding the FCR proposal.

Posted by lumi at 10:28 AM

EMINENT DOMAINA! Souter-home seizer to meet with residents

Will travel to New Hampshire to plan condemnation of justice's property


The California property-rights activist who is determined to have a New Hampshire town seize the property of Supreme Court Justice David Souter under eminent domain plans to travel there this weekend to meet with local residents working on the project.


NoLandGrab: To quote local Ratner supporters who are big fans of eminent domain, "TEAR IT DOWN! TEAR IT DOWN!"

Posted by lumi at 9:56 AM

September 10, 2005


Higher bid still far short of MTA site’s value

The Brooklyn Papers
by Jess Wislowski

Wislowski goes looking for comment and/or confirmation of this week's story in The NY Times that the MTA is set to approve Ratner's new lowball bid for the railyards at Atlantic and Flatbush:

Neither MTA nor Forest City Ratner officials would comment for this article.

Additionally, an MTA spokesman said that neither Lapp nor Kalikow had been around when the Times story broke.

“I can’t verify that [the Times article is correct] because I don’t know about it,” said MTA spokesman Tom Kelly, a spokesman for the MTA.

“Kalikow has been away and Lapp has not seen a final [bid], so I don’t know,” said Kelly, who insisted that whatever information had been leaked was likely coming from the developer.

“This is not an MTA source,” Kelly said. “The ‘officials,’ as far as I can see, could be Ratner people; this could be their way of getting this out there,” he said, as a test balloon to gauge the MTA’s reaction.

“Based on what they’ve said [here], I’ve looked around, but nobody knows anything about scheduling a special meeting. So far, nothing has been changed,” he said.


Posted by lumi at 9:32 AM

Report rips NY Times on Ratner

The Brooklyn Papers
by Jess Wislowski

Charging that the New York Times has shied away from critical coverage of Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards housing, office skyscraper and basketball arena plan because of its own land deal with the developer, about two dozen Brooklynites gathered outside the newspaper’s Manhattan headquarters last Thursday to draw attention to the issue.

Thing is, almost nobody covered the event.


NoLandGrab: Even the media organizations who LOVE to tweak the Times, found something else to do during the news-starved Thursday afternoon in August.

Posted by lumi at 9:24 AM

the money trail

From The Citizen-Viewer blog on The NY Times's puzzling endorsement of Betsy "Do Nothing" Gotbaum:

I'm not saying that the NYTCo-Ratner connection is why the editorial board endorsed Gotbaum, and I hope not. Unfortunately, we mere citizen-viewers are not privy to its collective thoughts. But as the journalists like to say: Follow the money.


Posted by lumi at 9:19 AM

Nets close in on their Brooklyn property

The Newark Star-Ledger
by Matthew Futterman

On the Ratner-MTA negotiations:

The two sides have been locked in exclusive negotiations for six weeks and had until today to reach a deal. Earlier this week, Ratner doubled his original offer for the rail yard to $100 million. While neither side would comment on the negotiations, the MTA set a special board meeting for Wednesday to consider Ratner's proposal. The state agency usually only makes such a move after it has reached a deal.


Posted by lumi at 8:42 AM

September 9, 2005

Ratner set to Net MTA deal

NY Daily News
by Peter Donohue

There's not much in this article that hasn't already been printed in the last few days about the MTA accepting Ratner's NEW & IMPROVED lowball bid early next week, except for the citing of the Daily News's own "sources."

MTA officials are expected to approve as soon as Wednesday a deal to clear the lane for the Nets to play in Brooklyn, transit sources said yesterday.

Ratner since has upped his initial bid of $50 million to the $100 million range and has offered improvements on a few other fronts, sources said.

"It's a better deal," said one source.


Posted by lumi at 6:57 AM

September 8, 2005

Net loss or Net gain?

Field of Schemes
by Neil DeMause

DeMause gives his take on recent news that the MTA is set to accept the new lowball bid from Ratner and the Independent Budget Office's report. He identifies two "potential gaps" in the IBO report, the subsidy figures and the fantasy that Nets fans from Jersey will schlep to Brooklyn.

Finally, while the IBO deducts the $224 million in direct cash subsidies (plus sales- and property-tax deductions) that the arena would get from the city and state, the actual public subsidy would be significantly greater - more like $451 million according to my estimates, though that could go down a bit once Ratner's increased bid is taken into account. Needless to say, tacking on an extra $227 million in costs would turn a $107 million windfall into a whole mess of red ink - so don't enter that "slam dunk" in your scorecard just yet


Posted by lumi at 6:23 PM

CITY IN THE WILDERNESS: After four years of barren Ground Zero, New York needs a new Moses.

NY Press
by Harry Siegel

City planning is in disarray, with misguided priorities begetting missed opportunities. Instead of rebuilding Lower Manhattan, has the bumbling Bloomberg administration managed to develop a nostalgia for the days of Robert Moses?


Posted by lumi at 7:37 AM

Forest City Reports Second-Quarter and Year-to-Date Financial Results


Forest City Enterprises reports:

Consolidated revenues reached record highs for the second quarter and first six months of fiscal 2005

Charles A. Ratner, president and chief executive officer of Forest City Enterprises, said, "We opened three properties and acquired one through the first half of the fiscal year. We expect to open seven additional projects during the balance of the year. In 2005, our portfolio additions will be approximately $513.0 million of cost on a full consolidation basis and $586.7 million of cost at the Company's pro-rata share, as we approach becoming an $8 billion company.


Posted by lumi at 7:27 AM

Ratner doubles cash offer to less than Extell bid

Coverage of the NY Times's scoop on Ratner's latest bid:

NY1, Report: Ratner Doubles Bid For Right To Build Arena In Brooklyn
CPN Online, Ratner Doubles Offer to Develop Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards For Arena

Posted by lumi at 7:12 AM

September 7, 2005

DDDb Press Release: MTA Set to Accept Low-Ball Bid From Bruce Ratner

Ratner Nickel-and-Dimes Taxpayers With Brooklyn Railyard Bid Well Below Competitor Extell's Offer and MTA's Appraised Value
What is Ratner's Profit for His Atlantic Yards Project?

NEW YORK, NY—According to a report in today's New York Times the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is preparing to accept Bruce Ratner's approximate $100 million offer for the 8.3-acre Vanderbilt Yard in Brooklyn, which would comprise a portion of Forest City Ratner's (FCR) proposed Atlantic Yards development plan.

The MTA has appraised the property at $214.5 million. The Ratner offer is substantially below the MTA's appraisal and well below the $150 million cash offer made in July by Extell Development Company.

"We know that Ratner stands to make a huge profit on Atlantic Yards, something on the order of $1 billion, yet he is determined to rip-off the straphangers of New York City by nickel-and-diming them. He refuses to come even close to the MTA's appraised price on this valuable piece of property, and the MTA is willing to abet this. Why isn't the MTA demanding full market value? The pungent smell of favoritism continues to waft through city air," said Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn spokesman Daniel Goldstein.

The MTA has released Extell's profit projections, but has inexplicably not released Forest City Ratner's (FCR) projections or pro forma income statement.

"We call on the MTA to immediately release FCR's profit estimates, as contained in their proposal." Goldstein said. "It's insulting to New Yorkers that after two years of negotiations and an additional 45-day grace period, Ratner continues to low-ball transit riders. He must pay the appraised value to help fund our transportation system. The MTA has a lot of explaining to due if this does not occur."

At the May 4, 2004 City Council Economic Development Committee hearing FCR Executive Vice President Jim Stuckey made a promise that the company is apparently unwilling to meet: "What I will say to you is that for the land, the public land, the MTA land, is that, what we have agreed to is that we will lease or buy that land at the fair market value… by whatever independent process that they normally use."

FCR's offer is less than half the MTA's appraised value.

The Times also reported that the MTA might call a special meeting next week to expedite an approval vote for FCR's low-ball bid instead of waiting for their scheduled end of month board meeting.

"This tells us that Ratner is prepared to make a bundle off the backs of the taxpayers and straphangers and that the MTA has never truly wanted an open bidding process. By holding a closed and rigged bidding process, granting special treatment to FCR, relegating competitors to the sidelines and refusing to ever meet with Extell, the MTA has once again agreed to the lowest offer for their property," said Goldstein. "Its time for our public officials, agencies and our public interest organizations, many of whom sued the MTA for taking the low bid on the West Side railyards, to raise their voices and consider suing to protect the public from the MTA's mismanagement and Ratner's continued feeding at the public trough."

If the MTA and FCR reach an agreement, their deal would not close for at least six months, which is the earliest the state mandated environmental review process would reach a conclusion. The MTA risks never seeing their deal close as Ratner's project will face legal challenges, including a challenge to the state's use of eminent domain, which could take many years.

Goldstein added, "Ratner wants the taxpayer to pay and pay and pay, for a meager return for the public and a mega return for his real estate firm." The $100 million low-ball deal comes one day after the City's Independent Budget Office (IBO) released an incomplete and exaggerated report, based on questionable assumptions, projecting a miniscule surplus for New York City from Ratner's arena.

The IBO study fails to consider additional "extraordinary infrastructure" costs, covered by taxpayers, as identified in the Memorandum of Understanding between the city, state and FCR. The FCR bid details these costs to be at least $163 million. Notably, the IBO refused to estimate revenues for the much larger development of 17 towers associated with the arena, citing "methodological limitations." Said Goldstein, "The translation is that the projections of public revenue in reports written by Ratner's paid consultant, Andrew Zimbalist, are purely speculative. That means public backers of Ratner's plan, such as Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Pataki, have based their support on biased, commissioned speculation and have failed to protect the public trust."

Posted by lumi at 8:38 PM

Offer Is Doubled by Developer to Build Arena in Brooklyn

The NY Times
by Charles Bagli

Ratner has doubled his offer for the railyards to $100 million, "according to people on both sides of the negotiations." This is still $50 million below the Extell bid without the same negative impacts. Ratner has been contending all along that his bid is more valuable since it includes building a new railyard. MTA officials stated that they didn't know if the Extell bid included building a new railyard (maybe they forgot to ask?).

Meanwhile costs have ballooned:

The project has evolved over the last two years, with the value of construction rising to $3.5 billion from $2.5 billion, while the cost of the arena jumped to $555 million from $435 million.


Posted by lumi at 7:26 AM


The NY Post
by Rich Calder

The Post emphasizes the total return for City and State. However, the article points out that Ratner and public officials are banking on New Jersey fans to continue coming to games in order to post a net financial gain for the City and State.



Posted by lumi at 7:15 AM

September 6, 2005



The Independent Budget Office (IBO) predicts a potential upside of for NYC of ONE M-I-L-L-ION DOLLARS a year for the Atlantic Yards project. That's what $100 MILLION DOLLARS will buy New Yorkers.

And get this — the report predicts a net financial gain by banking that NEW JERSEY Nets fans will cross the border to spend millions of dollars in Brooklyn instead of Jersey.

The IBO report also falls short by not examining the costs associated with traffic and additional city services such as police, fire, sanitation and schools.

Brooklynites have been subjected to enough irony and comedy since this project was annouced nearly two years ago. What taxpayers needed from the IBO report was clarity, not fantasy predictions and obfuscation.

Nevertheless, based upon the assumptions of the IBO report, taxpayers have to wonder if even modest benefits outweigh the need to force people out of their homes.

Posted by lumi at 7:02 PM

$1 Million a Year

The Real Estate Observer
by Matthew Schuermann

A report today by the city’s Independent Budget Office found that the proposed Atlantic Yards basketball arena would net (hee-hee) the city about $1 million a year. The upshot: a little political cover for project supporters, though its opponents are claiming victory, too.

In other words, what the city loses from its $100 million donation—plus some other goodies—it would make up over 30 years in sales and incomes taxes. (Those are taxes from all the players, team execs and spectators, mind you, not the developer, Forest City Ratner.)


Also, Crain's New York Business, City releases forecast for Brooklyn arena

Posted by lumi at 6:53 PM

Independent Budget Office releases analysis of Atlantic Yards and solicits comments

NOTICE FROM Independent Budget Office (IBO)

The IBO has done an analysis of the fiscal returns from proposed city and state subsidies for the Atlantic Yards project. Our findings: a modest fiscal surplus for the city over 30 years, and somewhat more for the state.

This new fiscal brief is available on IBO's Web site at www.ibo.nyc.ny.us/iboreports/atlyards_fbsept2005.pdf. To receive printed versions of this or any other IBO publication, e-mail ibo@ibo.nyc.ny.us or call (212) 442-0632. IBO also encourages you to forward this e-mail to friends or colleagues who may be interested in its contents.

IBO welcomes your comments and questions about this report. To send us your thoughts, send an e-mail to us at ibo@ibo.nyc.ny.us.

Doug Turetsky
Chief of Staff/Communications Director
NYC Independent Budget Office
110 William Street, New York, NY 10038
Phone: 212-442-0629/Cell: 917-513-7488

Posted by lumi at 6:41 PM

DDDb Press Release: Sweet Deal for Ratner, Raw Deal for Taxpayers

In Incomplete Analysis, Independent Budget Office Projects Meager Return for the Taxpayer on Ratner Arena

NEW YORK, NY—Today the City's Independent Budget Office (IBO) released an analysis of Forest City Ratner's (FCR) proposed 8-million square foot mixed-use development in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. The IBO projects a meager return on taxpayer investment–a return of less than $1 million per year for New York City. The IBO report only analyzes the proposed Nets' arena but fails to analyze the bulk of FCR's proposal—7.2 million square feet of approximately 7,300, mostly luxury, residential units. In their analysis the IBO fails to consider numerous public costs and economic impacts such as traffic, pollution, rezoning, security, police, fire, sanitation, and schools. The report also overestimates some key revenue streams.

FCR's commissioned economic analysis, by Dr. Andrew Zimbalist, wildly exaggerates the projected benefits from the arena to the taxpayer. Zimbalist, who the Mayor, Governor and other elected officials have relied on for the project's economic benefit projections, predicted a surplus for the city and state that is four times that projected by the IBO.

The public also does not know what the estimated profit is for Ratner. FCR's profit estimate, or pro forma, was part of their proposal document submitted to the MTA. But the FCR profit estimate has not been released to the public by the MTA.

"Ratner's projected profits for the city and state are exponentially greater than any independent study has shown, and Ratner has hidden his own projected corporate profits. How sweet a deal is Ratner getting and how raw a deal is the public getting? Very sweet and very raw," said Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn spokesman Daniel Goldstein. "Less than $1 million a year is an unacceptably small return on a huge public investment. It is incumbent upon the MTA to publicly release Ratner's projected profits, as they did for his competitor, Extell. We need to know what kind of profit Ratner will make on his project, because the IBO report shows that the public will barely get a return on its investment."

The MTA reaches its self-imposed 45-day exclusive Atlantic Yards negotiation deadline with FCR this Saturday, September 10th.

Goldstein concluded, "How can the MTA reach an agreement with FCR before they have publicly announced Ratner's profit projections? The IBO report shows that there is nothing unique about the Ratner proposal that would justify what has effectively been a closed bidding process by the MTA."

Posted by lumi at 6:20 PM

NLG Volunteer Opportunity: Research, Writing (HTML a plus)

NLGVolunteerCorps.jpgMore details about Brooklyn's biggest land grab have been uncovered since we first summarized the Ratner proposal.

NLG needs volunteers to help to update "The Land Grab" section. HTML skills are a BIG plus.


Contact volunteer@nolandgrab.org.

Posted by lumi at 7:49 AM

States have long history of taking land for economic reasons

AP, via NY Newsday
by Norma Love

In 1867, New Hampshire's Supreme Court upheld the state's right to take private land for dams to power the mills that were the economic engines of the time.

"Nature has denied to us the fertile soil and genial climate of other lands, but by way of compensation has endowed us with unrivaled opportunities of turning our streams of water to practical account," the court said.

The court reasoned the overriding public benefits justifying the takings were the jobs provided by the mills and the wages spent on commodities produced in New Hampshire.

Now state legislatures are trying to figure out how to balance property rights with the powers states have historically enjoyed.


Posted by lumi at 7:17 AM

September 4, 2005

Gleaming new Brooklyn courthouse engenders respect

NY Newsday
by Sean Gardiner

The opening of the Family Court house at 330 Jay Street, part of Forest City Ratner's Metrotech complex, is a substantial upgrade over the overcrowded dilapidated three-story structure dating from the 1950's.


NoLandGrab: Consistent with the rest of Metrotech, it's no architectural gem. However, the new courthouse, the tallest in the nation, is stocked with amenities that make it much more user friendly for the people they serve and the gleaming austere interior adds a touch of respect to the institution. Family Court lawyers feel that the move provides more than relief from overcrowded conditions, it's like having a "new job."

Posted by lumi at 6:30 AM

September 3, 2005

O.K., the Whole Paper Is Basically an Ad

The NY Times
by Michael Brick

No, it's not what you think — another Times mea culpa, this time throwing themselves on the mercy of Brooklynites, conceding, "YES, we HAVE been shilling for Ratner. Our internal investigation revealed that all articles covering our business buddy Bruce Ratner and his company were actually ghost written by some guy named 'Joey from Cobble Hill.'" [Yup, were really trippin' here at NLG.]

BKStand.jpgIn reality, the Times is covering Ratner's "newspaper-shaped thing," The Brooklyn Standard, and muses about its ties to Walt Whitman:

Though the new Standard invokes the legacy of the old Brooklyn Standard and the subsequent Brooklyn Standard Union, [Ratner spokesperson Joe] DePlasco said it "would be presumptuous of us to suggest what Whitman would have thought."

Mr. Goldstein, one of the arena opponents, hazarded a guess.

"I think he'd probably say he prefers free verse to free propaganda," he said.

Despite the free distribution, the efforts of one "young, indefatigable reporter," the rejection of free press by Rooftop Films, the adulation of Ratner and his "customary humble, winsome manner" and the fact that local activist Patti Hagan has memorized the first issue and waits for the second installment "with bated breath," the NY Times probably isn't fretting about losing market share to the Ratner rag.


Posted by lumi at 8:41 AM

September 2, 2005

Save This Office


The Village Voice advocates for a new advocate:

When Siegel compared her "wonderful, wonderful" praise of the gigantic Atlantic Yards development planned in Brooklyn with her condemnation of the use of eminent domain for private projects, she insisted in the debates that she'd been told by developer Bruce Ratner that he was "not going to use it." In fact, a Ratner-tied group filed an amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court in the recent eminent domain case, the memo of understanding for the project explicitly authorizes "acquisitions by eminent domain," and it is the threat of such compelled sales that often makes its use unnecessary. While the project itself has compelling pluses and minuses, Gotbaum's rose-colored contradictions suggest a disquieting ignorance of well-reported fact as well as the history of publicly aided development.

Read NoLandGrab's guide to the Public Advocate candidates HERE.

Posted by amy at 10:40 PM

Fresno agency seeks more eminent domain power

Fresno Bee
by John Ellis

The eminent domain addicted Forest City Enterprises is waiting for the Fresno Redevelopment Agency to supersize the authorization to use eminent domain to create, in total, a 85-acre zone for "a master development plan expected to be unveiled in the next few months."


NoLandGrab: There they go again — Forest City is addicted to eminent domain to feed their subsidy abuse problem. Property owners in Bloomfield, NJ escaped the mental frustration and financial drain of having to fight against Forest City and their political pals just to keep their own property. Brooklynites hope that Fresno property owners can quickly get organized to protect their own civil rights.

Posted by lumi at 6:45 PM

How do the Public Advocate candidates rate on Ratner?

This last month, the campaign for Public Advocate heated up with two broadcast debates. Candidates presented their ideas, but, generally, the incumbent, Betsy Gotbaum was on the defensive about her ineffectiveness during the past four years in office.

Our pet project, the Ratner proposal, was discussed on both occasions, highlighting the difference between Gotbaum and her opponents.

Due to the untenable position held by Gotbaum, NoLandGrab has added the Public Adovcate candidates to our Pol Precinct ratings. Here's what we found.

Betsy Gotbaum

Gotbaum supports Ratner's plans, but insists that she stands against the use of eminent domain (???). Since Ratner told her that eminent domain would not be used, and she believes him, she sees no conflict in her position. This type of runaround is not what New Yorkers expect from their Public Advocate — maybe there's a position open for Gotbaum on the NYC Chamber of Commerce where she can do something that doesn't require thinking or working hard.

Andrew Raseij

Rasiej opposes the Ratner proposal due to lack of transparency and lack of community input and he is on record stating his belief that eminent domain should never be used to enrich a private developer. He also has a plan for free wireless access in NYC, which would help NLGers post blog entries on the fly.

Norman Siegel

Siegel has been on the forefront of the fight against eminent domain abuse. He filed a friend of the court brief in the case of Kelo v. New London on behalf of Develop Don't Destoy Brooklyn and groups fighting to keep their property in West Harlem and continues to advocate on their behalf.

It has dawned on us here at NoLandGrab that Norman Siegel has effectively been acting as a Public Advocate while Gotbaum has been MIA during her four-year term. Through his private practice, Siegel has been working with families of 9-11, protecting property owners threatened by eminent domain, advocating for the non-violent protesters arrested during the RNC convention week, and representing an individual who unveiled corruption at the MTA. Maybe we should just give him the job.

Posted by lumi at 10:10 AM

Strange bedfellows in Rat-Nets village

The Brooklyn Papers
by Jess Wislowski

BUILD has moved into one of Ratner's recently purchased properties, rent FREE! What's just plain weird is that the group is now next door neighbors to Dan Goldstein, spokesperson for Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn and the one person on his block who hasn't sold out to Ratner under threat of eminent domain.

BUILD has a more serious concern than the people in their neighborhood; the arrangement smacks of "quid pro quo" and creates an appearance of conflict of interest that could "discredit BUILD's achievements" (a list of BUILD's achievements to follow at a later date).

Wislowski uncovers more about standards for groups who have negotiated Community Benefits Agreements:

Greg LeRoy is executive director of Good Jobs First, a non-profit policy group in Washington, D.C. that has advocated for community benefits agreements and supported the development of CBAs in Los Angeles development projects. He said negotiations for CBAs tend to be conducted with the agreement that no party involved will receive favors from another negotiating party.


Posted by lumi at 9:33 AM

ratnerlicked.jpg...and speaking of "strange bedfellows," does Ratner know when he's been licked?

Posted by lumi at 9:25 AM

‘NIMBY’ Bloomie films TV ad in Fort Greene

The Brooklyn Papers
by Jess Wislowski

Mira, mira! Mayor Bloomberg visited Ft. Greene to film a Spanish-language campaign spot in front of the local yuppie margarita hang. Never mind that the Hispanic neighborhoods are on the other side of Ratner's proposed project footprint, the production company just imported a few guys to play dominos -- Insta-barrio!

In a fit of honesty, the type that makes a spokesperson feel like they're living la vida loca, Bloomberg told residents of Ft. Greene who approached the Mayor with their concerns about the Ratner project and its proximity to local brownstone neighborhoods, "If I were in your position, I’d feel the same way."


Posted by lumi at 6:56 AM

Circulation War

Matthew Schuerman covers the white paper on the Times's coverage for The Real Estate Observer:

Times spokesman Toby Usnik e-mailed The Real Estate when we asked him about the report.

"Please note that the Times newsroom operates wholly independently of the Corporate operations of the Times Company," he wrote. "The Company's development project with Forest City Ratner Companies is not remotely a consideration in the newsroom's editing decisions. The newsroom discloses the Company's relationship with FCRC in its pages when it is relevant, just as it would disclose any other such relationship -- for example, a review of a novel written by a Times reporter."


NoLandGrab: NLG readers know differently. Hey, we don't make this stuff up.

Posted by lumi at 6:45 AM

Behind the nuts and bolts of schools

NY Newsday
by Ellen Yan

From a Newsday interview with William Goldstein, President of the School Construction Authority, discussing innovative ways the authority is creating more classroom space:

We're also working with developers. We're going to be condominium participants in a 75-story high-rise that Bruce Ratner is building [in lower Manhattan]. We're going to be the bottom five floors of that. If that works and he can get us a school up more quickly, that would be great.


NoLandGrab: What New Yorkers should be aware of in this deal between Ratner and NYC is that at $650 per square foot, this Gehry-designed school will be the most expensive school in NYC history. This deal begs the question if this is honestly the most effective use of the school construction dollars.

Posted by lumi at 6:08 AM

September 1, 2005

DDDb Press Release: The New York Times & Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards: High-Rises & Low Standards

Report: Newspaper Shirks Duty to Cover Development by its Own Business Partner, Ratner
Coalition Requests Response from Executive Editor, Public Editor

(The report and executive summary, with backup documentation, is available at www.dddb.net/times.)

NEW YORK, NY—The New York Times's coverage of Forest City Ratner's proposed Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn over the past two years has been inadequate, misleading, and mostly uncritical, according to a report--The New York Times & Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards: High-Rises & Low Standards--by independent Brooklyn-based journalist Norman Oder. The report was released today by the author, and endorsed by four Brooklyn neighborhood groups--Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn; Fort Greene Association; Park Slope Neighbors, Prospect Heights Action Coalition—and the media watchdog NoLandGrab.org.

The report is being delivered today to Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., Executive Editor Bill Keller; Assistant Managing Editor and Standards Editor Allan Siegal; Metro Editor Susan Edgerly; Editorial Page Editor Gail Collins; Editorial Board Member Carolyn Curiel; and Public Editor Byron Calame. The groups endorsing the report request that the Times promptly issue corrections of errors and that Editor's Notes disclosing the Times's business relationship with developer Forest City Ratner be appended to archived versions of articles. The groups also request that Public Editor Calame conduct a thorough and prompt investigation of the Times's coverage of Forest City Ratner and Atlantic Yards.

The New York Times Company and Forest City Ratner (FCR), which has proposed a massive set of 17 towers plus a basketball arena for the Brooklyn site (spanning at least 22 acres), are partners in building the Times Company's new headquarters on Eighth Avenue.

Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn spokesman Daniel Goldstein said, "As a business collaborator, the Times Company has an interest in Forest City Ratner's overall success. As a newspaper, the Times has an obligation to cover FCR in all its ventures, including the $3.5 billion Atlantic Yards project, without fear or favor."

A thorough assessment of the Times's coverage, from FCR's announcement of the Atlantic Yards development in December 2003 to the present, reveals numerous stories missed, legitimate critics ignored, issues downplayed, and mistakes uncorrected. Other media outlets have reported crucial information on the Atlantic Yards project that the Times has omitted, as this report points out; it suggests more issues to pursue. They include: number of jobs promised; the public costs of the project; polls showing most New Yorkers oppose a taxpayer-funded arena; and Forest City Ratner's public relations tactics. Also, the Times has not consistently disclosed its relationship with Forest City Ratner--even after its own Public Editor, the ombudsman position established in 2003 to independently critique newsroom operations, urged such disclosure.

Goldstein concluded, "The Times's inconsistent coverage of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards development doesn't mean that reporters and editors at the Times have been told to go easy on Forest City Ratner. However, given the two companies' corporate relationship, the newspaper should report on FCR exactingly, taking care to dispel any suspicion of conflict of interest. The Times has failed to do so."

For further information on report contents, contact Norman Oder:TimesReport@hotmail.com; 646-373-6539

For further information on the groups endorsing the report, contact:
Develop Don't Destroy-Brooklyn: Daniel Goldstein, press@dddb.net, 917-701-3056
Fort Greene Association: Phillip Kellogg, theFGA@HistoricFortGreene.org, 718-875-1855
NoLandGrab.org: Lumi Michelle Rolley, lumi@nolandgrab.org, 917-972-1805
Park Slope Neighbors: Eric McClure. Atlantic Yards Campaign Coordinator, eric@parkslopeneighbors.org; 718-369-9771
Prospect Heights Action Coalition: Patti Hagan, 718-219-2137

Norman Oder, the writer of the report, has been a journalist for more than 20 years. As a freelancer, he has contributed to a wide range of publications, including Columbia Journalism Review, American Journalism Review, New York Newsday, New York Daily News,Tthe Village Voice, New York Press, and Gotham Gazette. He earned a Master of Studies in Law as a journalism fellow at Yale Law School. A licensed tour guide, he also has operated a part-time tour business in Brooklyn since 2000.

Develop Don't Destroy—Brooklyn (DDDB; www.dddb.net) leads a broad-based community coalition fighting for development that unites communities instead of dividing and destroying them. It co-sponsored the creation of six alternate development plans (for both an arena and for the site targeted by FCR), which illustrate deep flaws and weaknesses in the FCR plan.

Fort Greene Association (www.fortgreeneny.com) is devoted to historic preservation, neighborhood and park enhancement, as well as cultural, economic, and housing advancement.

NoLandGrab.org (nolandgrab.org) is a media watchdog group and blog devoted to the Atlantic Yards project.

Park Slope Neighbors (www.parkslopeneighbors.org) is a neighborhood organization, which was formed in 2005, committed to the protection and enhancement of quality of life in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

Prospect Heights Action Coalition is a group of “street fighters” defending Brooklyn's neighborhoods from predatory developers. It was the first organization to publicly expose and oppose Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project.

Posted by lumi at 8:27 PM

Atlantic Antics

The Real Estate Observer
by Matthew Schuerman

The Observer takes a look at the "double secret" MOU (dubbed "MOU2") and clarifies what it means for Ratner's ill-conceived eyesore and financial disappointment in Fort Green, the Atlantic Center Mall. If you can believe Ratner flunkie Joe DePlasco (a.k.a. "Joey from Cobble Hill" when he calls local talk shows), he "emphasizes that Forest City has not developed alternative plans."


NoLandGrab: The Observer missed the part that made Park Slopers go ballistic called "Site 5." MOU2 heralds the creep of the project over Flatbush Ave. The PC Richard and Modell's would be razed to build highrises butressing Sloper's precious brownstone neighborhood.

So now, that makes a total of three historic brownstone neighborhoods that are privileged to host Ratner/Gehry highrises.

Posted by lumi at 7:48 PM

Forest City Enterprises Notice of Semi-Annual Earnings Conference Call, Friday (09/09/05)

Forest City Ratner is a subsidiary of Forest City Enterprises, which is publicly traded. For those of you who are interested in the financial health of the Cleveland-based real-estate development comany, the one that wants your home and neighborhood for their Brooklyn superblock compound, you may want to check out the conference call.

Hey, maybe we can all buy a few shares and get together for a field trip to the stockholders meeting.

Here's the listing:

CLEVELAND -- Forest City Enterprises (NYSE:FCEA)(NYSE:FCEB) fce.gif
TO: Interested analysts, brokers, and investors
FROM: Forest City Enterprises
RE: Forest City Enterprises' Semi-Annual Conference Call

Forest City Enterprises will release its fiscal second quarter and year-to-date financial results on Wednesday, September 7, 2005 and will hold a conference call on Friday, September 9, 2005 to discuss these results. You are invited to dial into a conference call with Charles A. Ratner, President and Chief Executive Officer.

The conference call is scheduled for 10:00 A.M. ET, Friday, September 9, 2005. To participate, please dial 1-866-543-6411, approximately five minutes before the scheduled time of the conference call and tell the operator you wish to join the Forest City Enterprises conference call. The live broadcast will also be available on-line at Forest City's Website - www.forestcity.net.

We hope you will be able to join us for this call, but if you are unable to participate, the call will be replayed from September 9, 2005, 5:00 P.M. ET to October 9, 2005, 11:59 P.M. ET. The number to hear the teleconference replay is 1-888-286-8010 and the access code for the replay is 36104383. Webcast replay will be available from September 9 to October 9 on the Forest City website - forestcity.net.

If you have questions, or if you have trouble joining the conference call, please call Debbie Thompson at Forest City Enterprises, 216-621-6060.

Posted by lumi at 7:10 AM


The NY Times, Metro Briefing
by Charles Bagli

The Jets formally notified the Metropolitan Transportation Authority yesterday that the team would not buy development rights at the West Side railyards for a stadium that would be used for football and trade shows. After nearly five years of effort, the $2.2 billion project suffered a potentially fatal setback in June when state legislative leaders refused to approve the stadium, which had been opposed by some neighborhood and civic groups. The team is negotiating to build a stadium in New Jersey that would also house the Giants, while also exploring the possibility of building its own home in Queens.


NoLandGrab: So NoLandGrab doesn't have a cable network, television stations, and millions of dollars to speand on telling folks why Bruce Ratner's arena and high-rise towers in Prospect Heights (and coming soon to Ft. Greene and Park Slope) is a bad idea. But remember, this ISN'T A DONE DEAL.

Posted by lumi at 6:02 AM