October 31, 2005
DDDb Press Release: In Debate, Mayor Bloomberg Distorts and Misleads on Ratner's Atlantic Yards
Ferrer's Opposition to Atlantic Yards Distinguishes Him From Bloomberg
News Organizations Should Look Skeptically at Mayor's Claim
There are lies, damn lies and made up stuff that Bloomberg rattles off when he hasn't got a clue what he's talking about.
Bloomberg got his facts on Atlantic Yards so unbelievably wrong during yesterday morning's debate that DDDb sent out a press release to set the record straight.
NEW YORK, NY--Over the past week, Bruce Ratner's 9.1 million square foot "Atlantic Yards" development proposal for Prospect Heights, Brooklyn has become a hot potato issue in the mayoral campaign. On Friday, Democratic candidate Freddy Ferrer forcefully announced his opposition to the Ratner plan as it is currently proposed. In the first mayoral debate on Sunday, Mr. Ferrer reemphasized his opposition to Ratner's plan and Mayor Bloomberg reemphasized his support.
Unfortunately, the mayor's supporting comments were incorrect and misleading. In response to Mr. Ferrer's opposition, Mayor Bloomberg said, "Well, I couldn't disagree more. And I think Al Sharpton who supported my opponent said it very well: this is about jobs for people in that community, this is about housing for people in that community. This is a project that has had as much scrutiny as anything: community boards, and scrutiny from the newspapers, and scrutiny from every single state agency thatís involved. This is the right kind of project for the city, builds houses, creates jobs, helps the spirit of Brooklyn, and takes a place that's been vacant for decades--50 years or more--and does something with it that will help this city."
Mr. Bloomberg distorted the record in the following ways:
When announced, Ratner's project promised 10,000 office jobs. As it stands today the project would only create space for about 2,336 jobs and, using the New York Economic Development Corporation's calculations, only about 700 of those jobs would be new jobs--and there is no guarantee that even one of those jobs would go to anybody in the community. It also would produce about 1,200 temporary construction jobs , according to the mayor's calculations, with a stated goal of 35% of those jobs for minorities. Rev. Sharpton had said the project would bring "thousands of jobs" to "communities of color." That's clearly a gross exaggeration. Anyone claiming this would bring jobs must also acknowledge the $1 billion-plus public cost of the project--a very expensive and inefficient way to create jobs.
Mayor Bloomberg and ACORN Director Bertha Lewis announced a 50% "affordable" housing agreement in May, regarding 4,500 rental units. Since then, Ratner added 2,800 luxury condos to the project. If public financing is forthcoming, the project would include 2,250 so-called "affordable" housing units, or 31% of 7,300 total units. This means that there will be 5,050 luxury units. Of the 7,300 total units, only 12% would be affordable to people earning Brooklyn's median income or less. So, contrary to the Mayor's statement, the project would provide barely any housing for the people in the community.
3. Oversight and Scrutiny:
The Mayor's most out of touch comments concerned oversight, transparency and scrutiny surrounding the Ratner plan. The Ratner plan bypasses all city oversight because the Mayor signed away the City's right to oversight to the state. The community boards have no official role in the project and have provided no meaningful scrutiny; the City Council has no official role, no oversight and no vote when it comes to the Ratner project; there is only one state agency involved in the project (not agencies) -- the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) -- and their oversight and analysis is paid for by Forest City Ratner; the ESDC first appeared in front of the public two years after the project was announced. The ESDC rents space from Bruce Ratner at Ratner's Atlantic Center mall in Brooklyn just across the street from the proposed development--talk about a cozy arrangement.
4. Newspaper Scrutiny: Compare the daily drumbeat of "newspaper scrutiny" of the West Side Stadium to the "newspaper scrutiny" of Atlantic Yards and the Mayor's comment doesn't pass the laugh test.
5. Site Location:
Here the Mayor simply lied. The project does not take "...a place that's been vacant for decades..." The proposed project site would require the use of state condemnation and demolition of about 60 properties through the use of eminent domain. The entire project footprint is 22 acres: 8.5 acres are currently functioning MTA/LIRR rail yards, the other 13.5 acres are comprised of city streets, which Ratner would get at a sweetheart price, along with private homes and businesses.
The MTA's Vanderbilt Yard is little more than one-third of the proposed 22-acre Atlantic Yards project site. And, given that this is a crucial place for development, why did the MTA negotiate exclusively with Ratner and accept a bid for less than half the appraised value?
For two years now the Mayor and Mr. Ratner have been portraying the proposed development site as a desolate wasteland. The reality is the project would level an existing mixed-use and multi-ethnic neighborhood.
Develop Don't Destroy spokesman Daniel Goldstein said, "We are pleased to see that both candidates have made their positions clear on Atlantic Yards. But we are dismayed that the Mayor bases his support on incorrect information and a fantasyland idea of what is going on with the Ratner plan. In the end the project is about luxury housing, the most expensive basketball arena ever built, a paltry fraction of the jobs initially promised, and Mr. Ratner's profits--all requiring an enormous public investment. It is not about the community and it is not for the community.
We support sustainable development and union job creation over the rail yards. But we do not, and cannot, support a secret, taxpayer-subsidized, sweetheart, backroom deal that destroys our communities and displaces our neighbors–all paid for with enormous public subsidies.
We expect that in the second debate on Tuesday night the Mayor and Mr. Ferrer won't get a free ride again when discussing Atlantic Yards."
Posted by lumi at 9:34 PM
BUILD gets a pay cut
The Real Estate Observer
BUILD, the community organization supporting the Atlantic Yards project, released parts of its revised IRS forms Friday, this time neatly typed, and acknowledges that its earlier application for nonprofit status was in error. James Caldwell, the president and CEO, will only get $69,000 a year, down from $125,000, and Marie Louis, chief operating officer, will get $60,000, down from $100,000.
Posted by lumi at 9:30 PM
Happy Halloween: Rat In Peace
From a Clinton Hill haunted house featured in Brownstoner.
Posted by lumi at 9:27 PM
Welcome to Ratnerville
by Daniel Triman
Increasingly it feels as if Brooklyn has become Ratnerville. The well-connected Ratner practically owns the corridors of power. His developments rake in massive government subsidies. He doles out goodies to all the right people.
Ratner may not know how to build beautiful things, but he knows how to get things built. That’s why the man who has already given Brooklyn three awful mega-developments seems set to give us a fourth.
Posted by lumi at 1:32 PM
TimesRatnerReport feeds Atlantic Yards News addiction
Addicted to Atlantic Yards coverage? If you haven't gotten your fix, check out TimesRatnerReport for analysis of every nitty-gritty detail on what coverage there is.
Ferrer vs. Bloomberg on Atlantic Yards (and it barely makes the Times)
Ferrer fumbles facts while Bloomberg bulldozes them. Check out the mayoral candidates' exchange on the Yards and The NY Times's coverage.
An alternate version of the Pace Poll--could tougher questions have made a difference?
The Pace poll published last week has been criticized for not asking the hard questions. Oder makes some suggestions for next time around, but places the blame on the media for inadequate coverage.
So, is the Community Benefits Agreement regarding Atlantic Yards supposed to help the local "community" or the minority "community"? There's an interesting tension there, because the signatories are local (and minority), but several beneficiaries are hardly local, with none based in Brooklyn and some outside New York City.
Posted by lumi at 7:12 AM
They’re Taking Away Your Property for What?
The Court’s eminent-domain ruling is useless as well as unjust.
A scathing article on the history of using eminent domain as a tool for centralized urban planning, with a big focus on the eminent domain-addicted Bruce Ratner:
As planners recognized that they couldn’t solve the problem of housing (and uplifting) the poor, and certainly couldn’t remake entire cities, they scaled back, rather than relinquished, their ambitions. By the seventies and eighties, cities focused on using eminent domain to build sterile business districts and industrial centers to trap disappearing well-paying jobs in inner cities, or to build convention centers, stadiums, and subsidized hotels to lure free-spending out-of-towners. Eminent domain for urban renewal morphed into eminent domain for economic development—with similarly dismal results.
Posted by lumi at 6:30 AM
October 30, 2005
Mike Lupica: Shooting from the Lip
Lupica fires back at the editorial board of his own paper in his weekly sports wrap-up:
I love it when people praise Ratner's project because it's using eight acres of railyards over there near Atlantic Ave., and completely ignore the fact that the size of this project is more than twice that.
Forget about steroids in baseball.
It's Ratner's land grab that's always been on the juice here.
And the only one with a real voice telling the truth about all this right now is Freddy Ferrer.
Posted by lumi at 5:20 PM
Ferrer and the Two Rats
The Village Voice's 2005 campaign blog, Power Plays, muses on the two Giant Rats at Ferrer's Friday press conference.
The Post asked: What about the rat? "I see some of the Bloomberg people here," Ferrer replied. Then he raised his finger to emphasize: "And I have two rats."
NoLandGrab: Ha! The irony of a Giant Rat infestation (enlarge image) in Prospect Heights was not lost on Brooklynites at the press conference.
Posted by lumi at 5:14 PM
Ratner execs huddle with heads of CB2
Another Community Board/Ratner scandal is brewing:
Two days after skipping the first public hearing on the environmental impact of the proposed Atlantic Yards mega-development, the executive committee [of Community Board 2] met privately with Forest City Ratner Executive Vice President James Stuckey and other top company brass.
Though some Board Members felt the meeting was "innapropriate":
Jon Quint, a member of the CB2 transportation committee and a former chair of the committee, said he didn’t see anything sinister about the private meeting.
“Most of the real work gets done in the committee meetings whether it’s the executive committee or the traffic committee,” he said. “That’s where the nitty-gritty gets done and if they had a meeting with Forest City Ratner, I am sure they got more done then we ever would at a public meeting.”
NoLandGrab: The testimony of members of CB6 and 8 made the absence of CB2 at the ESDC hearing all the more conspicuous.
Posted by lumi at 4:54 PM
Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project ‘Affordable’ units may go to Crown Hts.
The Brooklyn Papers
by Ariella Cohen
Is Ratner planning on moving the poor folk out of the Yards?
Forest City Ratner is considering the acquision of the former St. Mary’s Hospital in Crown Heights, leading some to speculate that the 3-acre site could be used for the affordable housing component of the proposed Atlantic Yards mega-project.
In a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MOU), dated May 17, 2005, between Forest City and the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), Forest City promised, among other things, to construct 600-1,000 “affordable for-sale units” in return for ACORN’s support of the project.
The off-site option for affordable home building has drawn criticism from community advocates who claim that by separating the luxury housing from the non-luxury, Ratner will be forcing lower income residents into ghettos.
NoLandGrab: Assemblymember Roger Green, casually mentioned the possibility of moving the so-called affordable housing off site in his testimony at the ESDC hearing two weeks ago. Green has been an ardent Ratner supporter going back to when the project was first announced.
Posted by lumi at 4:22 PM
October 29, 2005
Ferrer Is Chided Over Atlantic Yards
So the New York Times sort of covered Ferrer's press conference at the Atlantic Yards yesterday, where he publicly called for a halt to the project.
"Recently it's come to light that this proposal is not what we all thought it would be," Mr. Ferrer said. "Along with my concerns about infrastructure and total lack of community participation it's clear that this project just cannot go forward as it's currently structured."
Read the Times article here if you wish, but run don't walk over to TimesRatnerReport's uncoverage of the coverage.
So Democratic Mayoral candidate Freddy Ferrer held a press conference yesterday in which he made his most forceful statement in opposition to the Atlantic Yards project, offering specific criticisms about the amount of affordable housing, the lack of community review, and the prospect of "nearly a billion dollars" (actually, more, according to the developer--see Chapter 3 of my report) in subsidies. But the lead in all the coverage is that the Rev. Al Sharpton disagrees with him, with no effort to factcheck Sharpton.
The Daily News also jumped in on the action, with a weird summary of yesterday's campaign events: Freddy gets slap from his pal Rev. Al
Posted by amy at 10:23 AM
Ratner picks Philly firm for mega-project
From the Brooklyn Papers:
The announcement came during an Oct. 25 gathering at the House of the Lord Church in Boerum Hill organized by the Community Benefits Agreement Coalition and attended by Rev. Herbert Daughtry, who heads the coalition, Assemblyman Roger Green, and Forest City Ratner executives.
Absent from the event was Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development (BUILD), whose vice president, Marie Louis, first announced McKissack & McKissack’s participation in the project at a May 2005 meeting on the steps of Borough Hall.
After publicly denying being on the developer’s payroll, Louis has conceded receiving a salary of $100,000. BUILD’s non-profit tax filings report a $5-million donation from Forest City.
Posted by amy at 10:18 AM
Mattera Qualifies for Matching Funds in Run for Brooklyn Borough President
Green Party Press Release:
"I am proud to be the first Green Party candidate eligible for matching funds for this office," said Mattera. "This demonstrates tremendous support for our campaign from city residents who are tired of watching Marty Markowitz act as a doormat for Bruce Ratner and other developers who want to take over our city. The Campaign Finance Program levels the playing field for candidates such as myself who do not accept corporate campaign contributions, and is a wonderful tool in support of grass roots democracy."
Posted by amy at 10:12 AM
TODAY: Fans For Fair Play, Scott Turner on WLIB
Scott Turner from Fans For Fair Play on
"Sports Blues with Larry Hardesty"
WLIB, 1190 AM
Topic, The Ratner disaster and his misuse of sports to grease the project's skids.
Turner will be on at 2:15PM.
Posted by lumi at 10:07 AM
October 28, 2005
Ferrer expresses concerns in showndown with GIANT RAT!
In an ironic bit of street theater, Ratner sent union guys, who showed up with a giant Rat, to shout down mayoral candidate Fernando Ferrer during his press conference in Brooklyn highlighting his deep concerns about Ratner's Atlantic Yards Plan.
Posted by lumi at 7:54 PM
Ferrer, Then Marty, Speak Out Against Yards' Scale
Brownstoner reports that after Ferrer took a stand against Ratner's plan in his discussion with the Daily News editorial board, Marty followed. This isn't exactly acurate, Marty has been saying for months that "bulk is in play, " and his first public cries for a reduction in size came as early as late September.
Check out the post for a lively discussion in the comments section.
Posted by lumi at 7:22 PM
It's true, the neighborhood is blighted and we've got the photographic evidence to prove it!
Copies of BS 2.0, were dumped on the corner of Atlantic and 6th Ave., gratis a Ratner/BUILD distribution machine, across the street from the Worst Mall in America.
Posted by lumi at 8:53 AM
Beep's downsize call
NY Daily News
by Hugh Son
Markowitz told the Daily News that benefits from the $3.5 billion project such as jobs, affordable housing and park space should be preserved while building heights are reduced.
"The urban design challenge is how do we [preserve] the benefits and downscale the heights of the buildings proposed," Markowitz said.
"I'm confident that there will be modification in the original proposal," Markowitz said yesterday. "There has to be - there will be."
The TimesRatnerReport makes an interesting point.
* The project has been ENLARGED since it was originally announced in Dec., 2003. * Downsizing of the current plan by 10% would NOT even get the project back to its original size.
NoLandGrab: There's no mention of downscaling the use of eminent domain and no specific proposal.
Does anyone think that this is just a publicity stunt, engineered by Ratner's PR team, to give cover to politicians like Marty and Yassky who can claim a "win-win" for the community without hardly lifting a finger?
Posted by lumi at 8:30 AM
All good news all the time
by Azi Paybarah
The Press covers Newark's unabashed efforts to pay for good news, turns its attention to the gold standard of PR rags...
Before getting too uppity about wacky Newark Mayor Sharpe James and the gang across the river, though, let's pay tribute to our own agit-prop rag, the occasionally-printed Brooklyn Standard (again, no italics warranted), which is dedicated to providing in-depth coverage to the superb efforts of their benevolent parent company, Forest City Ratner, to build a stadium in the borough.
... and then takes a swipe at the NY Times's "warm, fuzzy stories" on the Ratner deal, suggesting, "Perhaps they could use the Brooklyn Standard as a wire source."
Posted by lumi at 8:18 AM
Pombo, Resources Committee Members Vow to Protect Private Property
Press release from the Office of House Resources Committee
"The Court set a precedent that will haunt the American people for decades to come," [House Resources Committee Chairman Richard W.] Pombo (R-CA) continued. "Invoking eminent domain should be an extremely rare occurrence in this country and for a very clearly defined public use."
Congress is fast-tracking legislation that would cut off federal economic development funding for state and local governments that consider actions under Kelo.
Posted by lumi at 8:17 AM
Eminent Domain and the Laws of Motion
While we are on the subject of polling, here's an the latest blog entry from eminent domain lawyer and blogger Bill Ward about recent polls surveying opinions of Jerseyites on emient domain and what has been dubbed, the "Kelo effect."
Posted by lumi at 7:47 AM
October 27, 2005
Daily News: Letter to the editor (Published)
More letters from Brooklynites were published in today's Daily News in response to Monday's Daily New editorial screed.
Crying foul ...
Brooklyn: The editorial on the Nets arena proposal ("A neighborhood grows in Brooklyn," Oct. 24) fails to acknowledge that opposition to the project dates to 2003, when it was made public. A project of this size causes problems that can cost the city and state huge sums of money. Bruce Ratner's company assumes no financial ability if it fails. The opponents are fighting for the people of the whole state.
... over stadium
Brooklyn: Re "A neighborhood grows in Brooklyn": A neighborhood already exists in Brooklyn. In fact, many neighborhoods exist in Brooklyn. The people you disparage love and respect Brooklyn neighborhoods and their neighbors. They are fighting to save civil rights: the right to own property, the right to freedom of speech and the right to a democratic process.
Posted by lumi at 10:17 AM
Freddy fires Net salvo
He'd downsize 'mother of all real estate deals'
The Daily News
by Michael Saul
Ferrer told the [Daily News] Editorial Board that he supported the project's affordable housing and other benefits it would bring to the community, but he lambasted the overall "secrecy and lack of transparency" surrounding the development.
He also rebuked what he called "apparent abuses of eminent domain," citing a secret memo that recently emerged about two businesses that could be evicted if a site were not made available by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
TimesRatnerReport analyses the article, wondering about the "secret memo" and how can Ferrer justify eminent domain for "underperforming" businesses.
Posted by lumi at 9:47 AM
Observer Poll: Nets Stadium Gets Nod From Brooklynites
The NY Observer
by Matthew Schuermann
The NY Observer, WNYC and WCBS commissioned Pace University to conduct a poll of 538 likely voters, which included questions surveying their opinions on the proposed Nets Arena and 16 highrise towers (results on page 21 & 22).
The survey concludes that there is a low level of public awareness, but generally found that respondents were in favor of the project.
Asked outright what they think about the plan, 39 percent of the 538 voters polled said they support it, 23 percent oppose it, and the rest were undecided. Support was even stronger among Brooklynites (50 percent) and black men (59 percent). A set of follow-up questions gave the best arguments in favor (jobs, housing, civic spirit) and against (the large size, a $200 million taxpayer subsidy, use of eminent domain) and then asked respondents to rate their support: 46 percent were somewhat or strongly for it.
Between 30 percent and 36 percent of the public opposed it, depending on how the question was worded.
Asked to comment on the survey:
FCRC Exec. VP Jim Stuckey was pleased, "that people in Brooklyn have obviously been paying attention and understand the concept and the issue."
Assemblywoman Joan Millman recalled when she, "was at a Christmas party in Sheepshead Bay and the question was asked, and everybody was for it. That’s because they don’t have to live with it.”
DDDb's Dan Goldstein noted, "considering that the developer is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, on lobbying and on public relations, including two newspapers—and grassroots activists just can’t match that—the results are pretty good.”
Check out TimesRatnerReport for an analysis of the poll. Norman Oder brings up some good points, including the fact that there was no mention to the respondents that the arena would be the most expensive EVER built.
NoLandGrab: In order to survey how the opinion of respondents might change as they learned more about the project, the sample was broken up into groups to be polled separately on arguments "for" and "against" the project.
Despite what The Observer article claims, respondents were never specifically asked about "eminent domain" or "taking of private property." One of the arguments "against" the project included "evicting residents," however this is not the same thing as eminent domain, the highest profile issue to come out of the US Supreme Court this year.
All in all, the main conclusions that can be drawn from the survey is that most New Yorkers don't care about a project not in their backyard, Forest City Ratner's money has done a great job of framing the public debate with those who do, and that Marty will probably go back to saying that "Brooklynites are for the arena" again.
Posted by lumi at 8:07 AM
Ratner Reveals Details of Unprecedented $182 Million Rail Yard Move
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle
by Raanan Geberer
The contract for rennovation of the MTA railyards was awarded to African American-owned contstuction firm, McKissack and McKissack. McKissack also holds the $700K contract to complete the pre-construction phase of the project.
The press conference was held at Rev. Daughtry's House of the Lord Church. Rev. Daghtry and Assemblyman Roger Green tied the event to the passing of Rosa Parks, a civil rights icon who, during her life was sensitive about being tied to everyone's message.
McKissack has previous experience with railroad projects and describes itself as the oldest minority-owned professional design and construction firm in the nation.
NoLandGrab: FCRC is touting a win-win-win for African Americans, the MTA and FCRC meanwhile the MTA never requested these renovations.
Posted by lumi at 7:08 AM
October 26, 2005
Daily News: Letter to the editor (Published)
Brooklyn: Brooklyn residents are to be applauded, not slammed, for fulfilling their civic responsibility of looking at the many environmental issues that need to be weighed in the enormous Atlantic Yards project ("A neighborhood grows in Brooklyn," editorial, Oct. 24). This is not a case of NIMBY (and name-calling isn't nice), but a state-mandated review that rightly insists on citizen participation.
Posted by lumi at 8:22 PM
BROOKLYN: BUILDER NAMED FOR ATLANTIC YARDS [again?!]
The NY Times, Metro Brief
by Nick Confessore
The real estate developer Forest City Ratner Companies announced yesterday that McKissack & McKissack, the country's oldest black-owned construction firm, would manage a planned $182 million renovation of the Atlantic Yards rail depot in Brooklyn. The renovation of the century-old railyards is the first major stage of the $3.5 billion development that Forest City Ratner has proposed. Supporters of the development said the selection of McKissack & McKissack was evidence that the developer was keeping its promise to hire contracting firms owned by minorities and women whenever possible. Critics have said that they hope to block the development.
NoLandGrab: Readers may remember that McKissack & McKissack was named as the builder last May by Marie Louis of BUILD.
The difference between the two annoucements is that Marie Louis's comments in May concerned the management of the pre-construction portion of the project, while yesterday's announcement was regarding the renovation of the railyards.
Posted by lumi at 10:55 AM
Ad for Air Rights at Arena-Area Building Raises New Questions
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reports on intrigue in the real estate world concerning a property in the Ratner footprint. Article by Raanan Geberer.
An large ad in Friday’s New York Sun, concerning an unusual building that falls within the footprint of Forest City Ratner’s planed Atlantic Yards development, raises more questions than it answers.
The ad, on page RE-9, reads, “Brooklyn, Atlantic Yards Area, 24 Sixth Ave., Air Rights Easement, Covers and Controls Forest City Ratner Companies Development. All Offers Considered.” ... Lupe Todd, a spokeswoman for Forest City Ratner, said that the real estate firm has run the ad before, and added that Forest City Ratner “needs that air right” to develop the project. Still, she said she was “not sure what [Helmsley-Spear’s] motives are.”
Posted by lumi at 9:22 AM
Letter to the Editor: Daily News
Here's another letter to the editor in response to the Daily News Editorial that characterized Brooklynites concerned about Ratner's plans as "NIMBY-ites."
To The Editors:
I was apalled to read your editorial categorizing all opponents of Atlantic Yards as "NIMBY-ites" and "anti-development complainers". Most Brooklynites would warmly welcome a sensible development plan for Atlantic Yards - one that integrates with instead of slicing through the surrounding neighborhoods, and one that is approved through a transparent public process and not back-room deals with one cherry-picked developer.
The Boerum Hill Association has always welcomed development that makes sense, and has enthusiastically supported numerous development projects in our Brooklyn neighborhood. To claim that anyone who opposes this particular project is simply anti-development betrays an ignorance of the facts. Until Forest City Ratner shows the slightest interest in working with the surrounding neighborhoods, studying and addressing the enormous environmental impacts, and addressing who (if anyone) will pay for the massive infrastructure increases this project will require, we oppose THIS development, and we don't want THIS in our backyards.
Boerum Hill Association
NoLandGrab: Just a hunch, but this project would likely never be sited in Publisher Mort Zuckerman's backyard since his neighbor Mike Bloomberg is already on record stating that he would not support such a move.
Posted by lumi at 9:12 AM
City Invokes Eminent Domain To Claim Stadium Site
AP, via ABC 7 News
DC did the deed, they filed papers to condemn properties for a new ballpark for the Washington Nationals.
NoLandGrab: Since the property valuations have been considered to be low for property in that area, it’s not certain whether or not property owners are holding out for a fair deal or as a matter of principle
Posted by lumi at 9:01 AM
New York Times Building Aims to Be Steel Landmark
McGraw Hill Construction
by Alex Padalka
An article about the engineering and construction innovations for the eminent-domain-addicted Bruce Ratner's existing monument to government taking for private enterprise.
Or, more plainly put, what's going on with the new NY Times headquarters.
Posted by lumi at 8:48 AM
To Publicize Its Good News, Newark Makes Deal With a Newspaper
The NY Times
by Jeffrey Gettleman
Why print your own paper like Brooklyn Standard Second Edition (BS 2.0) when you can just pay the media to print your stories:
Mayor Sharpe James and the City Council of Newark have devised a new way to get their message across: paying a weekly paper $100,000 to print "good news" about themselves and their city.
Posted by lumi at 8:18 AM
TimesRatnerReport Correction: Bloomberg's 'retouched' press release vs. the governor/ESDC
Oder smelled a rat, and erroneously jumped to the conclusion that Bloomberg retouched a press release. Now he has posted a correction, but still questions the use of different jobs, housing and economic benifit figures released to great fanfare by the City, State and Borough President's office back in March.
Posted by lumi at 8:14 AM
October 25, 2005
Times correction (TimesRatnerReport)
Behind today's New York Times correction on the location of a new Brooklyn railyard
The NY Times took their own sweet time (over a month) to print a correction brought up by Brooklyn gadfly, Norman Oder.
Posted by lumi at 12:31 PM
Times correction (Print Edition only)
Correction from The NY Times regarding Councilmember David Yassky's position:
"An article on Thursday about opposition to the Atlantic Yards development project in Brooklyn referred incompletely to the position of Councilman David Yassky. While the project's developer, Bruce C. Ratner, indeed solicited his support early on, Mr. Yassky said he was withholding it until his concerns were addressed."
Compare the correction to what was reported:
On Wednesday, "The crowd was impatient with those who seemed to have not yet made up their minds. Councilman David Yassky of Brooklyn, who has expressed cautious support for the project, said, 'If done right, the benefits will outweigh the costs.' But he added that it was 'out of scale' and would 'change irretrievably and irreversibly the character of the surrounding neighborhoods.'
"That prompted one audience member to yell out, 'Are you for the project or against it?'
"Mr. Yassky repeated that he was for the project if it was 'done right.'"
On Thursday, "In some respects, Mr. Ratner beat his opponents to the punch, taking care in the project's early days to line up support from community leaders and elected officials beyond the footprint. They include Councilmen David Yassky and Bill de Blasio, who represent most of the neighborhoods to the west of Flatbush Avenue, as well Marty Markowitz, the borough president."
NoLandGrab: We still maintain that Yassky is FOR the project, but not before he is AGAINST it.
We predict that Gehry has been working on a downscaled version of the project (why else would the model that was unveiled this summer be so incomplete?) that will be rolled out in the next couple of months, containing a few bollards and traffic calming initiatives. "Qualified" supporters will then declare "VICTORY" for the community, while taking credit for themselves.
Meanwhile, eminent domain, street closings and taxpayer funding will still be on the table and the traffic congestion band-aid and downsized-but-still-hugemongous project will remain a scourge on Brooklyn.
Posted by lumi at 12:01 PM
Re-Imagining Brooklyn's Inner Core: Atlantic Yards and Brooklyn Bridge Park
Project for Public Spaces
A NLG must read, that proposes a positive vision for Brooklyn, while promoting critical thinking about current proposals.
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.
NoLandGrab: Thanks to Brownstoner this article is making the rounds again.
Posted by lumi at 10:53 AM
Eminent domain headlines from the day's news:
The American Thinker, Why Bad Careers Happen to Good Justices
Justice Thomas's Kelo dissent opinion is held up as an example of Originalism on the High Court sought by Conservatives.
DCist, Property Owners Refuse to Sell Land
Property owners in the footprint of the DC's plan for a new ballpark for the MLB's Washington Nationals claim the City is lowballing property valuations.
The Day, Throwing Bombs At Fort Trumbull
Beleagured Ft. Trumbull homeowners who have taken their case to the US Supreme Court owe about $1 MILLION/each in back rent to the City of New London.
Posted by lumi at 9:20 AM
October 24, 2005
Letter to the Editor: Daily News
To the Editor,
I am one of those Brooklynites you falsely mischaracterize as a "not-in-my-backyard" "complainer" in your editorial of October 24th, entitled "A Neighborhood Grows in Brooklyn."
I, along with scores of concerned Brooklyn residents, provided thoughtful and well-researched testimony in a forum mandated by state law. The hearing lasted hours longer than planned because the Empire State Development Corporation's draft scoping document was woefully incomplete.
No one who testified at the hearing is "anti-development." Rather, we favor development that respects existing neighborhoods, doesn't rely on the abuse of eminent domain to transfer property to another "better" private owner, doesn't cheat the taxpayers, creates careers rather than dead-end jobs, and provides truly affordable housing rather than luxury condominiums.
And let me make one more thing perfectly clear: I wouldn't wish this project on anyone's backyard, let alone my own. Perhaps the Daily News's publisher, a billionaire real estate developer himself (surprise!), would like it in his?
Posted by lumi at 9:47 PM
Letter to the Editor: Daily News
To the editor:
Your Oct. 24 editorial ("A Neighborhood Grows in Brooklyn") criticizes Brooklynites for commenting on the proposed $3.5 billion Atlantic Yards project at a state-mandated public hearing, the first of only two for this project. We offered our comments in good faith, not to stop the project, but to make this project work for Brooklyn. To dismiss as "NIMBY" anyone who criticizes the project reflects a gross misunderstanding of the state's environmental review process. If no one is allowed to criticize the project, then why bother with hearings at all?
-David Alquist, Secretary
Park Slope Civic Council
Posted by lumi at 9:16 PM
A neighborhood grows in Brooklyn
This Daily News editorial screed rachets up the rhetoric, condemning Brooklynites who expressed their concerns at last week's hearings, calling them NIMBY-ites. Cheering the slow steady mark of progress, board cites the "innovative" "community" benefits agreement as a reason for their support.
Thank goodness for responsible leaders, including Mayor Bloomberg and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, who aren't letting the NIMBY-ites slow the progress on Atlantic Yards.
Despite the predictable howls from anti-development complainers, the interminable delays that have hobbled other big development projects - notably Ground Zero and the West Side of Manhattan - seem blessedly absent from the Brooklyn project.
That's the best news we've heard in a while.
NoLandGrab: The mandatory hearing's purpose was to submit comments on the Scope of the Environmental Impact of the project, as was not a pep rally for or against the project as proponents and the Daily News seems to believe. Many of the groups who submitted comments and concerns have not taken a stand on the project, but all these groups are working together to make sure that concerns of the entire community, not just handpicked groups receiving finanacial support from Ratner, are addressed.
The editorial is also riddled with mistakes, such as the number of housing units, the details of the CBA and how much land Ratner controls.
Posted by lumi at 10:18 AM
Factchecking the Daily News editorial on Atlantic Yards
The fact-checking machine at TimesRatnerReport corrects the mistakes and erroneous stats in the Daily News editorial and reminds the board to read its own reports.
Posted by lumi at 10:04 AM
Daily News scoffs at Scary Gehry warnings, and misses the point
The Daily News editorial board attacked "the bizarre notion" that Gehry's Disney Hall neighborhood-heating debacle could happen at Atlantic Yards, a point I brought up as a member of Park Slope Civic Council, a group that is far from NIMBY-istic, and still has yet to take a stand on the project.
The board failed to understand that Gehry's experimental forms have often been deemed environmental hazards in themselves. The Draft Scope Environmental Impact hearing was just the place to make that point.
THE CASE OF CASE WESTERN
Consider Case Western Reserve University's Gehry project. In the winter of 2003 students and faculty found the building to be downright dangerous.
From the an Associated Press report:
In its first winter, snow and ice have been sliding off the long, sloping stainless-steel roof, bombarding the sidewalk below. And in bright sun, the glint off the steel tiles is so powerful that standing next to the building is like lying on a beach with a tanning mirror.
''You might have to walk on the road to make sure you don't get hit by ice,'' said Adam Searl, a junior at Case Western's Weatherhead School of Management. ''Maybe they should have thought about it before they had built the building. It's Cleveland. We get ice. We get snow. We get rain.''
That's falling chunks of ice and sliding snow, plus the tanning-mirror effect in "sun-drenched(?)" Cleveland. Could it happen here?
ARCHITECTURE FOR ART'S SAKE
Gehry's emphasis on experimental "forms" flirts with the arrogant notion of "architecture for art's sake," a dangerous precedent that ignores people and environment, things that used to be foundation principles of architecture.
THE BIG QUESTION
Should master builder of unintended consequences Frank Gehry be allowed to experiment on skyscrapers, highrises and a glass arena in the heart of Brooklyn? In the very least, the environmental impacts of his architecture should be anticipated and scrutinized.
Lumi Michelle Rolley
Posted by lumi at 7:27 AM
October 23, 2005
Press Conference: REFORM CITY LANDMARK POLICY NOW
REFORM CITY LANDMARK POLICY NOW
Enact Intro 317 “ The Demolition Delay Bill” of Councilmen Mike McMahon of S.I.
The Four Borough Neighborhood Preservation Alliance and The Duffield Street Block Association present:
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 23rd
233 DUFFIELD STREET IN DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN
A press conference to expose the Bloomberg administrations biased policy against Landmarking buildings in the outer boroughs. Calling for the passing of the Demolition Delay Bill.
The press conference will be attended by Council Members Charles Barron and Letitia James, State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, Dr. Richard Green, Jacob Morris, speakers include Joy Chatell, Lewis Greenstein and Bob Furman and supporting community groups and members of The Four Borough Neighborhood Preservation Alliance which is fighting to save our neighborhoods from greedy developers.
Brooklyn history is in danger of extinction. The Graving Dock of Red Hook and The Six homes on Duffield Street are targeted for destruction. Both examples pushed by Bloombergs Department of City Planning. Why was the call for landmarking the Dock ignored? it qualifies for the National Register.
The Duffield Street homes are believed to part of the Underground Railroad, they were built in the 1840's. The Brooklyn chapter of The Municipal Arts Society believe 233 Duffield Street and The Graving Dock worthy of being saved. Does Bloomberg think black history less important than real estate deals? Why must Councilmen Barron continue to work to give the Duffield seven a fair process regarding the hiring of an oral historian.
IT'S TIME FOR REFORM NOW
A bill submitted to City Council (Intro 317) by Mike Mcmahon to require the Landmarks Commission to evaluate a building 50 years or older for Landmark status when a demolition permit is submitted. The Four Borough Neighborhood Preservation Alliance supports this bill.
Posted by amy at 1:56 PM
NOTES ON A NEW YORK SCORECARD (R.I.P. ALLAN MALAMUD) -- A GUARANTEED SEX-FREE POST #69
From Kelso's Nuts:
And at the nexus of basketball, education, and Jews that aren't fun, we have Bruce Ratner, Mayor Bloomberg, and schools chancellor Joel Klein. Want to earl? Take a look at Klein's hideous face someday. Ok, here's where it all fits together in a nice package. Bloomberg and Klein (and Levy before him: not as ugly but just as mean) have no problem cutting holy hell out of the public schools budget, but are pleased as punch to offer Ratner all sorts of incentives to build his Brooklyn arena and mall. Make no mistake about this, Kelso is a capitalist. He respects anyone with the brains and balls to make bundles, but not on the public dole and not at the cost of Kelso's child's education, when Kelso is paying ALL his taxes. Kelso couldn't give a shit if the Nets play in New Jersey or Brooklyn, but he wants his son to have the full complement of after-school activities from theater arts (now gone as of Sept 2005) to all sports. So, the privatization fantasy marches on, this time through the back door, as the Kelsos of the world have to write five-figure checks to their local public schools and toss around hundred dollar bills at bake sales so the Bruce Ratners of the world can get even richer and more self-important and build even bigger, more vulgar waterfront property in Bridgehampton.
Posted by amy at 1:07 PM
From Tony Fletcher's iJamming:
The proposed Forest City Ratner “arena” at Atlantic Yards is No Longer In My Backyard, but that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped caring about it. To be frank, this proposed mini-city in the midst of Brooklyn’s busiest intersection was a contributory factor in our decision to sell up and move out. Only one of many factors, mind, and I would never roll over and admit defeat just like that, but honestly and truly, if the project gets built to its current design, I’ll be happy I’m no longer living nearby to reap the undeserved punishment.
And NoLandGrab just can't resist the temptation to include this quote:
Such was the scale of discontent at Tuesday’s hearing that even Borough President Marty Markowitz, who instigated the very idea of a baseball arena in Brooklyn and has served these last two years less as a people’s representative than as public cheerleader for developer Bruce Ratner, was heard to say that the project needed “scaling back.” (Was that a pig flying over Atlantic Yards? No, just Marty’s hefty ego in free fall.)
Posted by amy at 1:00 PM
It came from the Blogosphere...
The Real Estate: BUILD gets a raise
TimesRatnerReport: "Modern blueprint"? Evidence points to increased BUILD/Ratner payments and collusion
Curbed: Atlantic Yards Brouhaha at City Tech
Field of Schemes: Nets arena gets noisy welcome
Big Cities Big Boxes: Times Reports Widespread Opposition to Ratner's Atlantic Yards Project
Bag of Rocks: Save the Clock Tower
TrueHoop: Messy Doings in Brooklyn
Gurgly: Atlantic Canards
Stay Free!: Astroturf for Ratner
Brownstoner: BUILD Finally Fesses Up to Ratner Funding
Retire Mike Bloomberg: Bloomberg & Ratner Inc.
Posted by amy at 12:43 PM
Miers got windfall in land deal
Knight Ridder via Star-Telegram
by Jack Douglas Jr. and Stephen Henderson
This article should wake up property rights advocates:
Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers collected more than 10 times the market value for a small slice of family-owned land in a large Superfund pollution cleanup site in Dallas where the state wanted to build a highway off-ramp.
Mediation efforts in 2003 reduced the award from $106,915 to $80,915, but Miers, who controls the family's interest in the land, hasn't reimbursed the state for the $26,000 difference, even after Bush appointed her to the Supreme Court.
Though not typical of eminent domain cases, once again the politically connected are the beneficiaries of government takings. There's also a connection between Miers's lawfirm, and the judge that made appointments to the panel that determined condemnation payouts.
Can Americans come to any conclusion about Miers's views on eminent domain from this one case? Or, is she merely the worst kind of crony who will make a mockery of the bench?
NoLandGrab: Too bad DDDb spokesperson "Danny Boy" Goldstein doesn't know "Dubya," he coulda made bank.
Posted by lumi at 10:26 AM
October 22, 2005
Yassky flops at public hearing, attempts to set the record straight
After claiming that he is for the project, but not before he is against the project, City Councilmember David Yassky attempts to set the record straight on his position on Atlantic Yards in a press release:
Office of Council Member David Yassky
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Evan Thies, 917 715 9265
NY Times Gets it Wrong --
Yassky Does Not Support Ratner Plan Without Major Changes
October 21, 2005 -- The New York Times erroneously reported yesterday that Council Member David Yassky supports the current plan by developer Bruce Ratner to redevelop Atlantic Yards. In a statement, Yassky rebuked the Times, saying that he is for housing, jobs and investment for Brooklyn at the site, but will not support the project until significant changes are made.
"I believe that a professional sports team has the potential to benefit Brooklynites, both as an amenity and by creating hundreds of job," Yassky said. "In addition to the arena, development at Atlantic Yards could also create much-needed housing and space for commercial development. However, there are many problems with the latest proposal. Chief among them is the scale of the project. I do not believe that Downtown and Brownstone Brooklyn can handle such out-of-scale development, nor do I believe that the current plan has adequately considered the impact on surrounding communities."
For more on Yassky's position, read his testimony from Tuesday's public hearing: http://www.davidyassky.com/show_issue.php?id=21&x=22&y=4
NoLandGrab: To be clear, the above link points to the written tesimony Councilmember Yassky submitted at Tuesday's hearing, not his oral comments. The distinction between the two seems to be that the Times reported that he was for the project provided it was done right, but really he is against the project, UNLESS it is done right.
Councilmember Yassky appears to be attempting to walk a fine line, neither too "for" nor too "against" the project as he susses out his chances for a congressional run in 2006.
Yassky, however, may be underestimating Brooklyn's voters. Given his constituents' deep-seated anger about the Atlantic Yards project, and the recent unraveling of Brooklyn's Democratic machine, it's likely that voters are ready for a candidate who is not afraid to take strong positions and act as an elected representative, rather than a politician.
Posted by lumi at 12:54 PM
Brooklyn Peace Fair
Develop Don't Destroy will have a table at the Brooklyn Parents For Peace Fair and will also run a workshop there at 3:30.
Brooklyn Peace Fair 2005
Saturday, October 22
30 Third Ave. @ Atlantic Ave.
Subway: D, Q, 2, 3, 4, 5 to Atlantic Ave.
B, M, N, R to Pacific Street
A, C, G to Hoyt Schermerhorn.
Buses: B25, B26, B37, B38, B41, B45, B52, B63, B65, B67, and B103
The Brooklyn Peace Fair is FREE and open to the public. Children, teens, educators, and adults of all ages are welcome for a day of performances, workshops, children's activities! Dozens of peace and social justice groups will be on hand.
Keynote address, Cindy Sheehan (co-founder, Gold Star Families for Peace; mother of Casey, killed in Iraq)
Posted by lumi at 11:48 AM
Ratner exec admits funding supporters
From the Brooklyn Papers:
A top Forest City Ratner official for the first time this week acknowledged that the development company has been paying large sums of money to organizations offering what they’ve presented as grassroots neighborhood support for the proposed Atlantic Yards development.
As reported by The Brooklyn Papers two weeks ago, Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development (BUILD) reported on its non-profit tax filings that it would receive $5 million from developer Bruce Ratner.
Posted by amy at 10:50 AM
Public packs Ratner meet
From the Brooklyn Papers:
Among the elected officials who testified, Brooklyn Heights-Park Slope Assemblywoman Joan Millman made her first public statement against the project.
She cited the problems that 18,000 new residents could create for the borough’s sewer capacity, subway system, police and fire personnel, and postal service.
“Thus far I have yet to see a detailed and adequate plan that will address such concerns, and I am not convinced the Environmental Impact Statement will do so,” she said, while many of the project’s opponents clapped or whispered a surprised response at the Brownstone Brooklyn legislator’s position.
Posted by amy at 10:46 AM
More questions about the Brooklyn Standard: fake bylines?
Norman Oder finds more muck in the murky BS (Brooklyn Standard):
So, five days after I first reported that the Fall issue of the Brooklyn Standard, the Forest City Ratner tabloid "publication," put contributor Nate Schweber's name on two stories he didn't write, and significantly changed the two stories he did write, most other media outlets in town have ignored the story. They shouldn't. The questions go beyond the publication's dealings with Schweber, who for three years had freelanced for Manhattan Media, a publisher that otherwise publishes four community newspapers in Manhattan (and one glossy magazine, Avenue). Schweber says he was led to believe that the Standard was a community newspaper in Brooklyn.
--Did Manhattan Media recruit other writers by telling them that they were writing for a community paper rather than a Ratner "publication"?
--If Schweber didn't write the front-page story attributed to him, who did?
--Who are Kim Last and Brigitte Labonte, the other two writers credited with front-page stories? Searches using both Lexis-Nexis and Google turn up no journalists with those names.
Posted by amy at 10:41 AM
Eminent Domain - the People Fight Back!
As the tide turns on acceptance of eminent domain, everyone from landowners to taxpayers to politicians is trying their hand at stopping the insanity...
Stadium Property Owners Balking: Property owners in the area of a proposed stadium in DC are starting to realize they've been offered a raw deal - "The city gave the 23 property owners on the site, near South Capitol Street and the Navy Yard in Southeast, until yesterday to accept offers that total $97 million. Only one owner agreed to sell."
Protests Against Eminent Domain Speak to Deeper Problem: Distrust - Kelo and New Orleans show how eminent domain abuse exhibits reverse Robin Hood syndrome: "There’s a deeper distrust at play here. Many opponents feel alienated from their elected leaders, and disenfranchised with respect to property rights. It’s not just that government can seize your property, it’s that government is taking it to benefit people who matter more — because they can pay more."
New London council reinstates development corporation: Although this is more backpedaling than victory, it shows that city councils CAN demand oversight of local projects:
In September, the development authority sent letters ordering some residents to vacate their houses.
That angered Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who put pressure on the agency to rescind the letters. State officials had asked cities and towns to hold off on seizing property until the legislature had a chance to review the state's eminent domain laws.
The notices also enraged the City Council, and led to last Monday's vote to sever ties with the development corporation.
Posted by amy at 10:24 AM
Brooklyn Standard trashes Brooklyn
An alert reader spotted a Brooklyn Standard eyesore near Pratt:
"the entire street from myrtle to dekalb was covered in newspapers blowing in the wind, like someone had just randomly dumped like 500+ on the street outside of pratt."
Posted by lumi at 9:48 AM
Condemnation practices under fire
The Journal News by Lan Maniace
From the coverage of the NY State Senate Eminent Domain hearings, a quote from an eminent domain supporter followed by a retort from DDDb's Dan Goldstein:
"Dissident property holders are rarely white knights altruistically seeking to hold on to the family homestead. In my experience, they are shrewd business people with distressed properties looking for economic advantage," said [Mark Weingarten, a White Plains attorney who has represented developers in Westchester and Rockland,].
A critic of eminent domain and a plan to build a sports arena and 17 high rises in Brooklyn took umbrage at use of the term "holdout" to describe people who want to remain in their homes and businesses.
"We don't call the condemning agencies interlopers, thieves or crooks. Until we start doing that, let's call the people what they are — people who are living in their homes," said Daniel Goldstein, spokesman for the group Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn.
Posted by lumi at 1:31 AM
House bill HR 3405 is very anti-eminent domain. It would block ANY federal funding, even to community block grants, if properties were aquired by eminent domain and then given over to private commercial development.
However, it will go through Rep. Richard Pombo's (R-CA, Dist 11) Resource Committee and he is likely to stick on something predictable, probably involving weakening the Endangered Species Act.
Stated Purpose: To prohibit the provision of Federal economic development assistance for any State or locality that uses the power of eminent domain power to obtain property for private commercial development or that fails to pay relocation costs to persons displaced by use of the power of eminent domain for economic development purposes.
Posted by lumi at 1:19 AM
October 21, 2005
Tiffany Taps New Designer: Frank Gehry to Create Jewelry Collection for Tiffany & Co.
Frank Gehry, coming to a neck near you:
NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sept. 21, 2005--Tiffany & Co. (NYSE - TIF) today announced a new partnership with internationally renowned architect Frank Gehry, who will create an exclusive jewelry collection in collaboration with Tiffany to be introduced in April 2006. With this historic agreement, Gehry becomes the jeweler's newest designer to bring a bold and original dynamic to the worlds of fashion and design.
"Sculptors and painters have inspired me with their ability to make things with their own hands. This process led to the discovery of new ways to give feeling and spirit to form, and realize our shared vision of jewelry that provides a beautiful context for living now."
NoLandGrab: OK, this doesn't have much to do with Brooklyn, but it contains a cautionary tale.
Gehry's emphasis on "form" is the chief complaint about his work. His projects cast aside centuries of common sense and have little consideration of people and their environment. Who else would create buildings that raise temperatures in LA, spark dangerous avalanches in Ohio, never mind the acres of uninviting, even dangerous, Gehry open spaces across the world (i.e. Bilbao, Cambridge, Seattle).
Should the environmental impacts of Frank Gehry be considered in the evaluation of the Atlantic Yards project? Tell us what you think. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by lumi at 8:56 AM
A Brooklyn Standard sighting from Gumby Fresh gives new meaning to "pulp fiction":
But we were taking the 2 train with Cutesome to work, and noticed this weird dried gray paste all over the northern entrance to the Bergen Street Station. "What was it?", we asked. "Oh," said Cutesome, "it was all of those free papers they were handing out the other day. They just dumped them down there and the rain turned them to pulp."
Posted by lumi at 8:30 AM
DDDb's Goldstein testifies before NY State Senate Committee
Dan Goldstein posted his testimony before the State Senate Committee on Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business on the DDDb web site.
The project proposes the use of eminent domain for about 53 buildings. It would displace around 800 people and 35 businesses. Wielding the threat of eminent domain Mr. Ratner has bought out many residents and some businesses, but many still remain and will challenge condemnation when the time comes.
For nearly two years an entire neighborhood has lived under the threat of eminent domain without the state or city even having the decency to outline a timeline or explain the law to homeowners, business owners and tenants in the Ratner footprint; people and places such as Vince Bruns the fish monger who lives in an irreplaceable converted factory loft he's worked for decades to own, or Hector Gonzalez whose family has lived on my block for 60 years, or Freddy's pre-prohibition era bar (and community center), or Johnny "Seatcovers" a senior citizen who has lived on his quiet block for 40 years, or the newly renovated roofer's union headquarters around the corner from me and on and on.
Goldstein goes on to tell the story of Simon Liu, whose family was displaced by the government in China and now, faces the same fate on these shores.
The testimony ends with an appeal to the State legislature to reform the definition of "blight:"
In most cases where blight is claimed to justify eminent domain, it's a bogus claim.
Posted by lumi at 8:25 AM
New London to rescind vote to sever ties with NLDC
AP, via Newsday
by Susan Hatch
This week's unthinkable event in New London may be impossible:
Under pressure from the state, New London officials said Thursday they will rescind this week's vote to sever ties with the quasi-public development authority at the center of a national debate over eminent domain powers.
Posted by lumi at 8:20 AM
Existing State Law Protects Property Owners, Experts Say
NY Law Journal
Both sides of the eminent domain debate are being heard by NY State lawmakers.
ALBANY — Legislative proposals to reform eminent domain law in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's controversial Kelo v. City of New London decision are unnecessary, as New York already protects private property owners from government condemnation, experts told a state Senate panel yesterday.
New York City Corporation Counsel Michael A. Cardozo and Patricia E. Salkin, associate dean and director of the Albany Law School Government Law Center, said yesterday the Court's decision that private property can be taken from one owner and transferred to another for economic development purposes has no impact in this state. However, both also said the eminent domain rule is ripe for thoughtful, considered review — as opposed to a knee-jerk reaction to Kelo.
Yesterday, a Senate committee held one in a series of statewide hearings to explore the potential impact of Kelo, and to compile testimony on what response, if any, is appropriate in New York.
Just last month, a group of senators led by John A. DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, proposed a constitutional amendment to make clear that in New York "property shall not be taken from one owner and transferred to another, on the grounds that the public will benefit from a more profitable private use."
Other legislative proposals are also pending. (See column on page 5 of today's Law Journal by John R. Nolon and Jessica A. Bacher describing remedial legislation both in Congress and the state Legislature).
Mr. Cardozo said those fears are unfounded since New York law already bars condemnation for economic development purposes unless the area in question is blighted or in danger of becoming a "substandard or insanitary area" likely to negatively impact the municipality.
"To place additional limits on the eminent domain power beyond those already contained in New York State and New York City law could cripple development in this state and hamper vital economic growth," Mr. Cardozo told Senator James Alesi, R-Monroe County, sponsor of yesterday's hearing, and Senators Elizabeth O. Little, R-Glens Falls, and James W. Wright, R-Watertown.
Mr. Cardozo said that without the power of eminent domain, and the restrained use of that power, the city would not have Lincoln Center on the Upper West Side or the Metrotech development near the Brooklyn Bridge, and Times Square would have remained the crime-infested "national showcase for urban decay and blight" that it was in the 1970s.
Ms. Little repeatedly asked about the scope and definition of "blight," implying that it may be too broad. Mr. Alesi also expressed concern that property can be taken for market value, a figure that may not accurately reflect its worth.
"I want to emphasize that New York City uses eminent domain sparingly," Mr. Cardozo said. "Still, the power of eminent domain is vital to the social and economic well-being of New York City and the entire state."
Ms. Salkin, an authority on land use regulation, decried the "unfortunate hysteria" sparked by Kelo and cautioned that it essentially means nothing in New York. She said that while the state is looking at eminent domain in a Kelo context, it should shift its focus and examine compensation levels, notice requirements and master development plan principles as those items relate to condemnation law.
But John Lincoln, a dairy farmer from Ontario County and president of the New York Farm Bureau, disagreed.
"I can assure you we will be using our resources to support legislation protecting landowners from municipal use of eminent domain to enhance economic development," he said. "The citizens of the state of New York are very upset about the Supreme Court decision. The Kelo decision changes the game dramatically. . . . Now private property can effectively be taken by a public entity for the profit of other private parties. . . . After Kelo, no property is safe. Any property can be seized and transferred to the highest bidder."
Mr. Lincoln and others in the agricultural community fear New York's current law does little to protect them against Kelo. For instance, farmers say it is conceivable that a municipality would target a farm with a dilapidated barn and acres of virgin land, using the rundown building as an excuse to condemn under the "blighted" provision and transfer ownership to a Wal-Mart or other commercial interest that would pay far more in local taxes.
Additional hearings are scheduled for today at Suffolk County Community College, Thursday at the Theodore D. Young Community Center in White Plains and Oct. 27 at City Hall Commons in Syracuse.
Posted by lumi at 7:47 AM
"Reality sets in" and "Buying love"
Crain's Cleveland Business Online
by Jeff Stacklin
The hometown business trade publication of Bruce's mothership, Forest City Enterprises, noted yesterday's NY Times and NY Post coverage of the opposition to Atlantic Yards and the revelation that Ratner has paid thousands of dollars to "community" "grassroots" organizations.
Posted by lumi at 7:37 AM
CU’s Expansion Plan Comes Under Fire at Forum
by Lydia DePillis
Here's an article we missed during all the hearing hoopla:
A panel of community activists and business owners blasted Columbia’s possible use of eminent domain in Manhattanville yesterday, addressing a standing-room-only crowd at a forum hosted by the Municipal Art Society in Midtown.
Posted by lumi at 6:37 AM
"Lose Your House" by Eminem Domain
If you had one shot
To seize everything you ever wanted
Through eminent domain
Would you grab it?
Or just let it slip?
In New London ... in Connectikitty
Homeowners are weak, but City Hall is heavy
And it can taste increased tax revenue already
And that's gotta be better for the public benefitty
The State's right to seize propitty
Goes back to King John
Until the Magna Carta barons wrote some restrictions down
But that old crowd, now, it ain't so loud, wow
Civic progress is chokin'! Your rights need to be broken -- now!
The clock's run out! Time's up! Over! Blaow!
today's reality, might as well fight gravity
Oh, there goes Sue Kelo, she's
Stoked, she's so mad, but she
Won't give up that easy
No, she won't have it
Her ol' back's to the ropes
It don't matter, poor dope
She knows that, 'cuz she's broke
The deck's so stacked, and she knows it
Might as well move to a mobile home
And stop givin' her crap to the guvamint, yo
This whole "rights" shit
We can capture your home, shit, and it's legal! Sic passim!
Lose your house! Face the music! You've blown it!
You think you "own" it, but you better let it go, go!
You only get one shot -- now the city needs its chance to grow
So with impunity, we can fuck your life up, yo...
We can grab anything we take a shine to, man...
Posted by Stevo Darkly, 02/26/05, http://www.reason.com/hitandrun/2005/02/newatreason_437.shtml
Posted by lumi at 12:05 AM
October 20, 2005
Property rights at stake
The Times Union
by Elizabeth Benjamin
But at a hearing in Albany on Tuesday, [Sen. James Alesi, R-Perinto,] said it appears the Legislature should at least more sharply define the definition of a blighted area, which under current law is the only property that can be taken for private development.
"If nothing else, we at least want to visit a legislative definition of that word," said Alesi, who was joined at the hearing by Sens. Elizabeth Little, R-Queensbury, and James Wright, R-Watertown.
Posted by lumi at 11:29 PM
Bronx cheers for Brooklyn arena
The Bergen Record
by John Brennan
The noisy crowd of at least 700 inside the New York Tech auditorium made the hearing seem at times almost like a ballgame - with some speakers being interrupted by loud cheers or equally emphatic Bronx cheers. Many of the project's backers, including labor union members, were as supportive of the plan as others were critical.
Posted by lumi at 11:24 PM
The Times follows up on project opposition, but misses some angles
TimesRatnerReport analyzes today's Times story:
It's chancy to consider the significant presence of middle- and upper-class Brownstone Brooklynites--many part of community boards and civic groups charged to address the project's impact--a referendum on the project. Similarly, the press shouldn't have made too much of the predominance of Ratner supporters at previous events. What if, on Tuesday, the two dozen union members had all signed up to testify? What if BUILD and ACORN decided to bring groups of supporters, as they did for a November 2004 hearing in the same venue?
Posted by lumi at 11:11 PM
U.S. House Considers Eminent Domain Reform
This from the Institue of Justice:
Very soon, the House Committee on the Judiciary will mark-up H.R. 3135, Congressman Sensenbrenner's "Private Property Rights Protection Act of 2005." This bill would respond to Kelo by withdrawing federal funds that support the use of eminent domain for private development. A mark-up is the time that language may be added or changed, so the Committee will be looking at issues like whether federal funds should be withdrawn from projects or from cities that take property for private development and also under what circumstances to allow federal funds to be used for eminent domain (utilities, blight, etc.?).
This is a wonderful opportunity for you to make your voice heard. We encourage you to call, write or visit members of the House Judiciary Committee and share your concerns about eminent domain abuse. Rarely does a Supreme Court decision generate such uniform and widespread outrage. Americans understand just how threatening the Court's decision in Kelo is for ordinary home and small business owners everywhere. Seize this momentum to make a difference at home and nationwide.
Below you will find contact information for all of the members of the House Committee on the Judiciary. Please let us know if you have any questions.
Assistant Castle Coalition Coordinator
Institute for Justice
Hon. F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.
Chariman, House Judiciary Committee
2449 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Posted by lumi at 10:22 PM
From Huge Project, a Mighty Anger Grows
The [ESDC] meeting also revealed that whereas early opposition was driven by a core of residents in Prospect Heights - the neighborhood that would bear the brunt of the new construction - opponents now draw support from a broader swath of neighborhoods in north Brooklyn and elsewhere in the borough, particularly Park Slope. Residents of that neighborhood, south of the project site, accounted for an unusually large number of speakers at the meeting, as did residents from nearby Boerum Hill.
"I think people began to realize how big this is," said Assemblywoman Joan L. Millman, who, in a setback for the developer, announced at the hearing that she would oppose the project.
NoLandGrab: Brooklynites gotta give the Times credit for quoting Assemblywoman Millman and working the announcement of her public stance against Ratner's proposal into the article.
Posted by lumi at 9:31 AM
Public Hearing Testimony Super Post
A couple speakers sent in their testimony from the Empire State Development Corporation [ESDC] Draft Scope EIS hearing this week. The concerns ran the gambit. All testimony was entered into the public record for consideration by the ESDC
Assemblywoman Joan Millman
City Council Member Letitia James
Community Board 6
Prospect Place Block Association Eric Hager, Riverkeeper
Doug Hamilton, Pacific Plan Alternative
Eric McClure, Park Slope Neighbors, Alternatives & Quality of Life
Aaron Naparstek, Park Slope Civic Council, Traffic & Parking/Transit & Pedestrians
Lumi Rolley, Park Slope Civic Council, Public Spaces, Shadows & Reflections
Alan Rosner, Terrorism & Security
If you testified on Tuesday evening and would like to publish your testimony on line, please send it to, email@example.com
Posted by lumi at 8:09 AM
NETS $HOOTING FOR LOCAL HELP
Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development (BUILD) was given $100,000 to develop outreach and job-training programs — and $38,000 to hire local residents to distribute Ratner's publication.
The Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance (DBNA), founded by the Rev. Herbert Daughtry, got $50,000 to start-up a child-care, youth and senior facility.
"It is very, very clear that the developer . . . has the . . . wherewithal to buy a lot of people," said a project opponent, the Rev. Dennis Dillon.
Posted by lumi at 7:19 AM
ESDC hears the critics on scale, scope, and more; BUILD is subdued; will affordable housing move east offsite?
Stuck in the office? Or, couldn't break a date to attend last night's ESDC hearing?
Check out the TimesRatnerReport for the best objective account of who said what at last night's hearing.
Get the scoop on where the politicians stand; the unions' point of view; traffic; air pollution; terrorism & security; traffic calming; the footprint property owner who can't get an answer as to why his property was listed in the ESDC document as already being controlled by Ratner; what James Caldwell has to say for himself; water pollution; why the time frame of the EIS is too short; open space; and blight.
Norman Oder took great notes and synthesized a SIX-hour meeting into a five-minute reading.
Of particular interest are Oder's notes on NY State Assemblymember Roger Green's testimony. Green spoke well after the press left to file their stories. Brooklynites want to know if Roger Green is setting the stage for an affordable housing bait and switch?
Also, for a more personal account of last night's hearing, read frogma, Brooklyn arena proposal hearing.
Posted by lumi at 1:07 AM
Newbies miss Millman?
It just occurred to NLG that all three reporters from the daily newspapers who covered last night's hearing were relatively new to the beat and probably are still getting up to speed on the developing story.
That would explain the fact that they all missed the significance of Assemblywoman Joan Millman's testimony.
Why all the fuss about Millman?
The Atlantic Yards project has expanded across Flatbush Avenue. That portion is in Millman's district, thus making her a strong voice in the NY State Assembly's Brooklyn coalition. Last night, she stated that she "will ask [her] Assembly colleagues, including Speaker Sheldon Silver, not to support" the project.
For your reading pleasure, you can check out Assemblywoman Millman's full statement after the jump.
October, 18 2005
Testimony Presented to:
Empire State Development Corporation
Joan L. Millman
Member of Assembly, 52nd Assembly District
Re: Atlantic Yards Arena and Redevelopment Project Draft Scope of Analysis
Thank you for the opportunity today to comment on the Atlantic Yards Arena and Redevelopment Project Draft Scope of Analysis for an Environmental Impact Statement. As the Assemblymember for the 52nd Assembly District, representing Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, DUMBO, Vinegar Hill, and Park Slope, I would like to voice my objections to the overwhelming scale of the proposed development and then comment on the need of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement to fully study the potentially harmful effects this project will have on the surrounding neighborhoods in my district.
First and foremost the preliminary plan for the proposed redevelopment at the Atlantic Yards is too large. From the time of this project’s inception we have seen a plan that brought an arena to Brooklyn with some housing attached, turned into a mega development with an arena attached. Seventeen high rises and an estimated 18,000 residents dropped into the middle of a neighborhood with low scale development will not merely change the character of that neighborhood, but will overload the existing infrastructure and impact the general quality of life for my constituents.
Thus far I have yet to see a detailed and adequate plan that will address such concerns, and I am not convinced the Environmental Impact Statement will do so. We need to take a hard look at what the potential effects of this project will be, and not just in the 1/2 mile radius as indicated in the Draft Scope, but within at least a 3/4 mile radius. Let us accurately look at the effect 18,000 people plus an arena will have on our sewer capacity, the effect 18,000 people plus an arena will have on our already crowded subways, the effect 18,000 people plus an arena will have on police and fire personnel demands, the effect 18,000 people plus an arena will have on the schools, and the effect 18,000 people plus an arena will have on already overburdened postal service. These are just some of the issues that will impact the quality of life for downtown residents.
I also want to specifically ensure that the potential effect of storm water runoff flowing into certain parts of my district is addressed. The community is fighting a long battle to improve the environmental condition of the Gowanus Canal. We need to ensure that any excess storm water runoff from the proposed project is mitigated and prevented from erasing the years of hard work that went into improving the Canal.
Also, an important concern is the sharp increase in traffic that will result from the arena, commercial development, and the thousands of units of housing. The analysis needs to evaluate how to mitigate traffic in Boerum Hill and Park Slope past the 1/2 mile boundary of study.
I would also like to address the recent addition of the proposed project that is located within my Assembly district. Site 5 is slated for construction located on top of or in lieu of the existing commercial structures. While I am not specifically opposed to development along Flatbush Avenue, I believe it is in excess in light of the already massive construction planned at the yards. Furthermore, I am concerned about the preservation of open space, specifically the community garden located within Site 5. The garden is a product of community cooperation and should be preserved.
Additionally I want to emphasize the need for the community to have significant input for this project as we move forward. I have signed a letter along with other elected officials requesting that the ESDC use fees from Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) to fund a community based study. The proper resources are needed in order to maximize the community’s concerns for a project of this magnitude.
Finally, I want to state my opposition to the use of eminent domain for the Atlantic Yards Redevelopment Project. The government takeover of private property should be a last resort and never implemented for private gain. This plan sets a dangerous precedent and I will not support it. Additionally, if State approval is needed to use eminent domain I will not support it, and I will ask my Assembly colleagues, including Speaker Sheldon Silver, not to support it.
While the arena and affordable housing components of this project are beneficial additions to Brooklyn, the size and magnitude of the proposed project is becoming too high a price to pay. FCRC has prided itself on being a development corporation that listens to community concerns, but I have yet to see an adequate plan for solving the potentially harmful problems that this project will create. Thank you.
Joan L. Millman
Member of Assembly
Posted by lumi at 12:07 AM
October 19, 2005
As New HQ Rises, Old Owners Cause Trouble Underfoot
The New York Observer
by Matthew Schuerman
Let's turn our attention from one Ratner land grab to another:
Over three years ago, the state condemned the 11 parcels on the site to make way for the new 52-story building, and at the time paid out $86 million to the former owners.
Now 10 of the landlords who feel they have been ripped off are calling for their day in court—and a bigger check. (The 11th took the money and ran.)
Read about how the government regularly undervalues property during eminent domain seizures. In the case of the Ratner/NY Times project, if the former property owners prevail in court, the taxpayers get to pay the difference.
Posted by lumi at 11:33 PM
Yeas and Nays Mark Atlantic Yards Meeting In Brooklyn
Commercial Property News
by Steve Viuker
Following a stormy town meeting last night in which protesters to Brooklyn's planned Atlantic Yards project vehemently shot it down, some wonder if the whole thing could be derailed.
The hearing, which was held to consider environmental concerns related to the project, instead became a shouting match on the proposal's pluses and minuses.
NoLandGrab: To be fair, the hearing wasn't just a big "shouting match." Most speakers were heard and even those who were being heckled still had their say.
Posted by lumi at 11:26 PM
Out of the Woods?
The Real Estate Observer
by Matthew Schuerman
Apparently there was no quid pro quo and no one lied. The entire issue about whether or not Forest City Ratner is paying for community support has been explained away by Ratner's PR guy they forgot to issue a press release!
“When we provide funding for programs that are good then we should let the public know about that, and when we gave these organizations money after we signed the community benefits agreement, we should have put out a press release at that time,” Forest City spokesman Joe DePlasco told the Real Estate. “If you are trying to operate in an open enough way as possible, when you miss one thing, people will say, ‘Oh you missed one thing.’”
Posted by lumi at 6:00 PM
Overdevelopment: Planning, Not Rezoning, Is The Answer
Gotham Gazette article by CUNY professor and speaker at last night's public hearing Tom Angotti:
The real problem with downzoning to stop overdevelopment, or upzoning to encourage development, is that they both avoid any serious planning, both in each neighborhood and in the city as a whole. They don’t allow local residents and businesses to address serious concerns they have with everything from housing needs to traffic, because zoning regulations are limited to use and density controls.
Imagine if the city were to take seriously the question of building housing to meet the present and future needs of New Yorkers. The city’s planners might do some projections and then work with every neighborhood in the city to see how they could accommodate their fair share of the need
Posted by lumi at 10:32 AM
How Eminent Domain Ran Amok
The Hoover Institution, Policy Review
By Carla T. Main
A thoroughly researched case for seriously taking on the cause of eminent domain abuse and not letting it become the issue du jour.
Posted by lumi at 10:12 AM
Ratner "seed money" buys lots of grassroots
TOTAL disclosed Ratner payout to date
* Payments do not include material support (i.e. rent, office equipment, hiring of PR firm, catering, etc.)
Posted by lumi at 9:30 AM
New London severs ties with development authority
The [New London, CT] Day (www.theday.com)
While Brooklynites' attention was focused on last night's hearings, the unthinkable happened in New London, CT (home of the Kelo eminent domain case).
NEW LONDON, Conn. -- The city council has voted to sever ties with the quasi-public development authority at the center of a national debate over eminent domain powers.
The council voted 6-0 Monday night to revoke the designation of the New London Development Corp. as the city's "implementing agency" for its Fort Trumbull development. The agency has guided the $73 million state-funded project since its inception in 1998.
The U.S. Supreme Court sparked a national debate in June when it ruled the development authority had the power to take homes for the private development project.
But the development corporation angered state and local officials by sending orders to vacate to five Fort Trumbull residents living on the property that the developer wants for a hotel and office space.
State officials had asked municipalities to hold off on property seizures until the legislature considers changing the state's eminent domain laws.
City officials asked the development authorities' two leaders to resign, but they declined. They did rescind the orders to vacate under pressure from Gov. M. Jodi Rell.
But council members said they could no longer deal with an agency that disregared the city's rights as a development partner and the wishes of the community.
"I don't think you can continue a partnership where there's only one partner saying, 'I'm willing to go back and forth,' and the other's saying, 'I've heard you, but I'm going the other way,"' Councilor Rob Pero said.
The council also voted Monday to demand the agency transfer title to all its real estate in the project area to the city of New London. That includes the former Naval Undersea Warfare Center at Fort Trumbull, which was transferred by the U.S. government to the development authority, not the city.
"I think we're divorced," Mayor Jane Glover said.
The future of the homes and the development project is unclear.
City Lawyer Thomas Londregan had asked the council to postpone the vote, until it consulted with the state Department of Economic and Community Development.
"The state has a 70 plus million dollar mortgage on the (affected) property," Londregan wrote in a memo also provided to the council. "We need to hear from them."
The development corporation's president, Michael Joplin, did not return calls seeking comment on the vote.
Information from: The Day, http://www.theday.com
Posted by lumi at 8:39 AM
The People Speak (Shout, Actually) on Brooklyn Arena Project
The NY Times
by Nick Confessore
Another BIG revelation about FCRC and "community" groups is buried at the end of the article.
[FCRC Exec. VP Jim] Stuckey was asked to specify which of eight groups that signed a community benefits agreement with Forest City Ratner last June were currently receiving funds from the developer.
He said that Forest City Ratner had also provided $50,000 in seed money to the Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance, a group founded by the Rev. Herbert Daughtry, a prominent supporter of the Atlantic Yards project
The Times's piece does a pretty good job of describing the scene at last night's hearing, but they missed the significance of Assembly Member Joan Millman's testimony (see below).
Posted by lumi at 8:19 AM
"Independent" Group Admits Getting Cash From Ratner
WNYC News Radio
by Andrea Bernstein
This article documents BUILD's recent denials. But, despite the headline "'Independent' Group Admits...," the only admission that BUILD received developer funding in this report is from a Forest City Ratner spokesperson. Does that mean that BUILD still hasn't admitted anything?
MARIE LOUIS: What you have is an application we don’t have anything that documents revenues, that 1023 form is an application form.
REPORTER: But it says, in answer to the question, it says 5 million dollars WAS contributed by Forest City Ratner.
MARIE LOUIS: No it doesn’t. There is there is nothing that says we have received any money because we have not.
REPORTER: So why did they tell the IRS that they had?
MARIE LOUIS: We have not received 5 million dollars.
REPORTER: How much money have you received?
MARIE LOUIS: We have not received any money from Forest City Ratner.
Posted by lumi at 7:54 AM
October 18, 2005
Millman headlines hearing with firm stand against Yards
Assembly Member Joan Millman led off the proceedings, hitting the ball out of the park to a mostly cheering crowd, when she announced that she will ask NYS House Speaker Sheldon Silver to NOT support Ratner's project.
Millman was the first speaker to be heard by the Empire State Development Corporation at this evening's hearing. The lead-off spot went to Millman after it was clear that tardy Marty hadn't yet arrived.
The Assembly Member protested the overscale, was deeply concerned about the effect of run-off in the Gowanus Canal, traffic congestion and the enlargement of the project to "Site V" in Park Slope. She came out firmly against the use of eminent domain in this case and called upon the ESDC to use the funding from Forest City Ratner to pay for a community-based review of the Environmental Impact Statement.
Posted by lumi at 11:28 PM
BUILD admits Ratner funding
The Daily News
Never mind the "smoking gun," Juan Gonzalez drops a BOMBSHELL!
It has taken a while for the story to develop because Forest City Ratner is coming clean in drips and drabs.
[BUILD] has finally admitted it is being bankrolled by Forest City Ratner, the project's developer.
First, Ratner lied about funding BUILD, and BUILD lied about being Ratner-funded. Then, BUILD's own IRS form indicated otherwise. When confronted by their own IRS filing, BUILD claimed no money changed hands.
Then late last week, the group and Ratner made a clarification.
Yes, some money has changed hands.
Aside from cash, Ratner also paid the bill on the Pacific St. storefront location, bought the office equipment, paid for BUILD's PR agency, and for BUILD to distribute both issues of The Brooklyn "it's-not-a-newspaper" Standard.
But wait there's more!
Read about how BUILD not only repeatedly lied to the press and the community, which is a sin, but also broke the law!
Posted by lumi at 3:30 PM
TODAY: Public Hearing for Draft Environmental Impact Statement Scope
NYC College of Technology, Klitgord Auditorium
285 Jay St.
This is the one chance for concerned Brooklynites to be heard in order to help shape the "scope" of the Environmental Impact Statment.
Each speaker gets three minutes to address his or her concerns about the project and to tell the Empire State Development Corporation what they want to to be analyzed in the report.
(Map, courtesy of OnNYTurf.com)
Posted by lumi at 12:51 PM
DDDb Poster Download
DDDb has a poster you can print out for tonight's meeting.
Check it out at www.dddb.net/#poster .
Posted by lumi at 8:33 AM
BUILD's got the CLAP?
NoLandGrab hasn't been warm and fuzzy towards BUILD in the past two weeks, but we've tried to be fair. Mainly, we've let the principals at BUILD do the talking (or denying). Meanwhile, for the past month, Ratner and BUILD have done nothing but lie to the public and press.
The only person telling the truth around here is the one person who really needs the work, a resident of Brooklyn Women's Shelter in Brownsville. In Juan Gonzalez's column, she mentioned that BUILD pays well and that she worked for them before, during the election. At that time she reported to and picked up her pay at BUILD, but, to be fair (dang, here we go, being fair, when everyone else gets to lie), the worker was paid by a company called, ironically, Community Leadership for Accountable Politics (CLAP!).
Forest City Ratner denies having any knowledge of a group called CLAP. A Google search for CLAP turns up an Erik Engquist column from July, 2004 that identifies CLAP as a group "running candidates in Ft. Greene and Prospect Heights." The campaigns were managed by "local politico James Caldwell, the president of the pro-development group BUILD." Also, the lawyer listed on the NY State Department web site for CLAP is a name we heard before, Sharai Erima, Esq., the lawyer who erroneously scribbled in "$5 Million Forest City Ratner" on BUILD's IRS 1023 form.
What Engquist failed to point out, but Gonzalez did not, is that IRS rules forbid tax-exempt organizations from campaigning for candidates. And guess what: the State Department web site identifies CLAP's "entity status" as "not for profit." Oops!
Can Brooklynites fairly conclude that Ratner has paid for office space for their own astroturf organization and a group running candidates for public office?
Posted by lumi at 8:02 AM
Begging to Differ in Brooklyn
The NY Times
by Jim Rutenberg
NIMBY says Bloomie:
When a woman approached to wag her finger at Mr. Bloomberg over plans for a new Nets arena in Downtown Brooklyn, Mr. Bloomberg sympathized by saying "if I lived here maybe I wouldn't like it, either." But he does not, and the project will be good for the city, he said.
article (scroll down the page)
Posted by lumi at 7:40 AM
Ratner-Financed Publication Includes Pro-Yards Articles With Incorrect Bylines
The NY Sun
by David Lombino
It looks like a newspaper. It sounds like a newspaper. But, Ratner PR genius Joe DePlasco says anyone who can't tell it is funded by Ratner needs “an IQ test.” That's a real good one; we were wondering if Ratner expected Brooklynites to believe any of their nonsense: Jobs, Housing and Hoopla!
Meanwhile Nate Schweber is real pissed:
Freelance journalist Nate Schweber said he was surprised on Saturday to see his byline on the front page of the Brooklyn Standard, a publication financed by the developer Forest City Ratner that seeks to portray its proposed Atlantic Yards project in a positive light.
Mr.Schweber said he did not write that story or another attributed to him on page 18.He said the two business profiles he did write were edited to portray another Ratner development, the MetroTech Center, as a thriving commercial hub.
“I’m just livid,”Mr.Schweber told The New York Sun yesterday, “having my name on the two stories I didn’t write for a publication I was led to believe was a newspaper, not a piece of propaganda.”
Posted by lumi at 6:16 AM
New Prospect Heights Condos to rise by Atlantic Yards project
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Construction on luxury condos a block away from Ratner's Atlantic Yards project footprint is scheduled to begin this fall. More evidence that this neighborhood is blighted and needs the state to take private property to give to Ratner.
The apartments have been designed with spacious open floor plans in one-and two-bedroom configurations, including several duplexes. The units will range in size from 850 to 1,000 square feet. Among the amenities are five-piece marble master baths, top-of-the-line kitchen appliances, exotic wood cabinetry and floors, oversized windows and balconies. Building-wide amenities will include a fitness spa with sauna and steam room, and three banks of elevators to coincide with the three separate entrances.
An alert reader sent in this link for the The Washington, another luxury condo adjacent to the eastern corner of Ratner's "blighted" footprint.
Posted by lumi at 5:37 AM
Attaching any handbill to a windshield is against the law
From an alert reader:
To paraphrase Mary McCarthy, every word in the Brooklyn Standard is a lie, including "and" and "the". Even the bylines are lies!
Attaching any handbill to a windshield is against the law in NYC. See: www.nyc.gov/html/dsny/html/pr2003/110303.shtml
This law went into effect in 2003. The fine is $75 per handbill. Small price to pay, of course, when you're anticipating profits on the scale of Ratner's. Laws like these mostly hurt small, locally owned businesses like car washes, not huge corporations like FCRC, which would just write it off as a business expense on the remote chance they ever actually received a ticket.
Posted by lumi at 5:30 AM
October 17, 2005
Sneaky doings at the Brooklyn Standard: How did Ratner's propaganda sheet snag a NY Times contributor?
Breaking news from the TimesRatnerReport:
Un-freakin'-believable! The relationship between Ratner and the Times has just gotten even murkier.
Four stories in the latest installment of Ratner's pseudo-newspaper, The Brooklyn Standard, carry the same byline as a Times stringer? Normally the Times considers this to be a conflict of interest and a breach of ethics.
[Schweber] said he didn't write that lead story, nor another with his byline, though he did write two others, at least in some form.
Read Oder's analysis of "Schweber's" "articles" and Schweber's attempt to salvage his reputation and career at the NY Times.
On another note, Oder points out that there is something amiss with the caption "A panoramic view of Vanderbilt Yards today," in his article, "Dissecting the Fall 2005 issue of the Brooklyn Standard: more distortions, evasions, and lies."
See the four-story brick building in the center? Well, one of the tenants won't sell to Ratner, and has posted a banner outside his window that reads "I love my neighborhood and my home. And I intend to stay." Either this picture was taken years ago, before Ratner announced the Atlantic Yards plan, or that banner was excised from the picture.
Posted by lumi at 5:11 PM
Ratner PR flacks attend Atlantic Antic "fun"
We were amused to find the ubiquitous Ratner PR flack Lupe Todd, lurking in the background of one of the photos accompanying the Brooklyn Standard "article", "Fun at the Atlantic Antic."
Another photo captures the new Ratner autograph-signing front man and former "Nets(?!) superstar", Darryl Dawkins (local hero, Bernard King was let go after being charged with beating his wife).
Posted by lumi at 4:51 PM
Bloomberg Quote of the Day
“You have Bruce Ratner’s word. That should be enough for you and for everybody else in this community … Pragmatists get things done… You cannot do anything if the test is everyone is going to be happy.”
June 27, 2005
Posted by lumi at 3:00 PM
DDDb Media Alert: First Official Public Hearing on Ratner's Atlantic Yards Proposal
First Chance of Only Two for Public to Weigh in on Impacts of Ratner's 10 Million Square Foot, 17 Skyscraper and Arena Development Proposal in Brooklyn
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK--Tomorrow evening the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), lead agency for Forest City Ratner's (FCR) proposed 10 million square foot development proposal in Prospect Heights and Park Slope Brooklyn, will hold the first of only two public hearings on the environmental impact of the development plan.
The Atlantic Yards Public Scoping Hearing will be held this Tuesday, October 18th from 5 - 8pm at the New York City College of Technology's Klitgord Auditorium, 285 Jay Street, Brooklyn (between Johnson and Tillary, near the A/C Jay/Street/Borough Hall stop) more information here: www.dddb.net/EIS
Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) spokesman Daniel Goldstein said, "If a genuine and comprehensive review of the environmental impacts of the Ratner proposal is undertaken, it will be shown that the project, as currently configured, is inappropriate for Brooklyn and its impacts are too overwhelming for it to be built as proposed. The ESDC must take the public comment seriously. When analyzing the environmental impact they should act on behalf of the public with an honest analysis and avoid past problems of kowtowing to the developer or any political meddling."
Goldstein continued, "We are opposed to the Ratner plan, as are most New Yorkers, and we are adamant that the approval process should run through the city's oversight instead of the non-representative state process that has been undertaken. But since it is the process we have to work with, we will vigorously work to make sure it’s a legitimate process. If we find the analysis to be illegitimate over the coming months we will seek recourse in the courts."
The Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods (CBN, www.cbrooklynneighborhoods.homestead.com/CBN_info.html), a coalition that formed ten months ago with the sole mission of ensuring a fair, genuine and methodologically acceptable environmental impact study, has collected over 600 responses to its public scoping survey over about a 2-week period. These 600 responses show the public's grave and serious concerns about the impacts of the Ratner plan and will be submitted to the ESDC.
CBN, DDDB, Community Boards 2, 6, 8 will all be submitting robust responses to the ESDC draft environmental scope.
Goldstein concluded, "As often happens at these hearings, project proponents try to pack the room with bussed in union members and 'ringers' bussed in by the developer. We hope that this does not occur, but if it does we want to ensure that the community is allowed its fair time to speak about environmental impact issues."
The public scoping hearing is meant to obtain comments on the draft scope of analysis for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) as part of the State Environmental Quality Review Act procedures.
Atlantic Yards Public Scoping Hearing
Empire State Development Corporation
Forest City Ratner
Tuesday, October 18. 5-8pm
New York City College of Technology’s Klitgord Auditorium
285 Jay Street in Brooklyn
(between Tillary and Johnson; A/C/F to Jay Street for the nearest subway service)
subway map: http://dddb.net/map.gif
street map: http://dddb.net/map2.gif
Posted by lumi at 12:39 PM
The Brooklyn Standard Sighting Park Slope automobile windshields
As if Brooklynites needed a reminder that Atlantic Yards will insure a lifetime of traffic hell in Central Brooklyn, Park Slope residents and night-shift workers at the local hospital were treated complimentary copies of The Brooklyn Standard on the windshield of their cars.
Don't know if this is legal or not, but who cares, people really like it when you leave things on their windshield.
Alert readers have also informed NLG that distribution of the Ratner rag began during the Friday morning rush hour at local subway stops. One Brooklynite was seen using the Brooklyn Standard to dry her shoes after she boarded the train.
Keep us informed send news and photos of Brooklyn Standard sightings to "firstname.lastname@example.org."
Posted by lumi at 11:25 AM
BUILD's jobs development: distributing Ratner's propaganda sheet
Norman Oder of the TimesRatnerReport wonders if the distribution blitz of The Brooklyn Standard was part of BUILD's job-training program, financed by Forest City Ratner. He references the Community Benefits Agreement, BUILD's mission statment and past statements by Joe DePlasco and Marie Louis for clues:
So the second issue of the Brooklyn Standard, the Forest City Ratner "publication" is out, and numerous people are standing on street corners in neighborhoods like Park Slope and Prospect Heights handing out copies. And who does Ratner choose to organize this? BUILD, the "jobs development" group that Ratner has just admitted funding. (Ask one of the street team members: they'll tell you they picked up their copies at BUILD.)
Posted by lumi at 9:03 AM
An alert NLG reader sent in this article in The Sunday NY Times Magazine, pointing out that the development comany, The Toll Brothers, partnered with Forest City Ratner in Bloomfield, NJ, where together they wanted to use eminent domain to displace small businesses to build a mixed-use development, including a Stop & Shop. The small business owners fought back and, at least for the moment, this project has been dubbed Stop & Flop. See: www.njeminentdomain.com
The Sunday NY Times Magazine
When [Bob Toll] hears about good ground in a town with a strong real-estate market and jobs nearby, Toll gets visibly excited. He gently claps his hands together and rubs his palms. Then he will give a green light to lock up the parcel for development. "Now we're cooking," he says. "What's next?"
Posted by lumi at 8:34 AM
October 16, 2005
Ratner's money tree grows in Brooklyn
Mike Lupica of the Daily News shoots from the lip once again:
Ratner is just smarter than Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff was with his vision for a new West Side, built around a football stadium. Ratner does not try to hide one of the sweetheart real estate deals in the history of New York City behind the Olympics. Instead, he spreads money all over the borough, trying to buy influence and loyalty, acting as if this is all about jobs when it is mostly about highly profitable luxury housing.
Lupica details all of Ratner's various con tactics and praises Letitia James' loud opposition to the destruction of Brooklyn neighborhoods.
Posted by amy at 12:11 PM
Bill Introduced As Joke Signed Into Law
A too true to life parody from the Onion via Stay Free!
S. 1718, also known as the Preservation Of Public Lands Of America Act, authorized a shift of $138 billion from the federal Medicare fund to a massive landscaping effort that, over the next five years, will transform Yellowstone National Park into a luxury private golf estate.
"I thought it was pretty damn funny when I read over the draft of the thing," said Allen, who said he struggled to keep a straight face when he introduced the law. "Especially the part about how it would create over 10,000 caddy and drink-girl jobs. But I guess it went over people's heads."
The bill passed with a vote of 63-37.
Posted by amy at 10:00 AM
October 15, 2005
The Straight Story on ‘Scaling Down’
Gloria Mattera, Green Party Candidate for Brooklyn Borough President, takes Marty to task for his dubious claim of wanting the Atlantic Yards Project scaled down. Letter to the editor of the Brooklyn Papers:
In the September 24 article entitled “Make It Smaller “, Jess Wisloski reports on the Brooklyn Borough President candidates’ forum held on September 19 at Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church.
The piece focused on Mr. Markowitz’s comment that the Atlantic Yards Projected needs to be ‘scaled down.’ Has Mr. Markowitz had some kind of revelation as to the tragedy of this proposal? Or was his comment made to blunt my criticism and the growing opposition to his relentless cheerleading of the biggest swindle in Brooklyn history?
I say it is the latter.
Fort Greene Association chairperson, Phillip Kellog, clearly expressed the sentiments of many when he was quoted as saying, “I’m not sure how much credibility it has in this point of the process.” Mr. Markowitz’s reluctance to answer the reporter’s follow up questions with specific proposals or ideas further indicates his grandstanding on one of the most important issues facing our borough.
Sounding like the career politician he is, Mr. Markowitz seems to have become aware that the community opposition to the Atlantic Yards Project will be expressed on Election Day, November 8.
By saying the Atlantic Yards Project should be less than proposed is meaningless.
It is an outrage that Mr. Markowitz abandoned his responsibility under the NYC charter by allowing Mr. Ratner to set up an extra-legal process and sign private agreements with supportive community groups rather than opening the entire proposal, for all the effected communities to have a say. His shameless cheerleading has made it impossible for him to be fair and critical about the wisdom of the proposal.
We can only view his comments about working “cooperatively and collectively” to create a scaled down version as a sham and hypocritical. The residents of Prospect Heights and Fort Greene deserve more than empty rhetoric and should be treated with the same respect the residents in the “suburban” areas of Brooklyn who Mr. Markowitz protects with “down-zoned” development.
Mr. Markowitz’s comments about scaling down the project does not address the de-mapping of streets, the abuse of eminent domain or the heavily tax subsidized basketball arena, which he is quoted as saying will stay. What “scaled down’ version of the project will Bruce Ratner agree to? Thirty stories instead of forty? The original seventeen towers instead of the current nineteen?
The Borough President should be the defender of Brooklyn – not its nemesis. As Borough President, I promise to do the following:
Immediately ask the MTA to rescind the below market hand out to Forrest City Ratner
Submit the project through Uniform Land Use Review Process, so .
Re-negotiate the Community Benefits Agreement with all the community groups affected - not solely with the ones who support the project.
Include a mandatory percentage of affordable housing for yearly household incomes below $35,000
Eliminate the threat or attempt to use eminent domain against current property owners.
Call on the current Borough President and Bruce Ratner to issue an immediate public apology to the residents who were bullied into selling their homes and businesses, and were coerced into signing gag order, by Forrest City
Borough President Markowitz, prove me wrong! Give up your self- serving dream of bringing a professional sports team into our high- density neighborhood. Reject Bruce Ratner cronyism. Work with communities instead of developers to build our borough’s future. Take action to leave a positive legacy in Brooklyn
Do nothing and lose your job.
Gloria Mattera Green Party Candidate for Brooklyn Borough President
Posted by amy at 6:21 PM
A more deserving prize than in the entry below, The Brooklyn Papers won the National Newspaper Association's top prize for Best Investigative or In-depth Story or Series for its coverage of the Ratner boondoggle.
Brooklyn Papers readers were repeatedly reminded that the project was a multi-billion-dollar super-block mega-development involving more than a dozen apartment high-rises and several office skyscrapers. The Papers pointed out that the story was not, as generally portrayed in other media, primarily about construction of an arena for the New Jersey Nets basketball team; the arena would fill only a small portion of the site.
“Your commitment to the truth shines through,” wrote the judges. “This is what it’s all about.” In a related citation, the NNA awarded The Papers an Honorable Mention for Community Service.
Congrats Brooklyn Papers!
Posted by amy at 10:36 AM
The Brooklyn Standard: Get your copies now!
The Ratner distribution machine blitzed local neighborhoods with copies of The Brooklyn Standard. The Ratner rag was distributed by workers today hired by "a company called BUILD."
Get your copies while supplies last.
What's new in the latest edition of the Brooklyn Pravda?
* MTA Approves Bid
* Historic Community Agreement
* Brooklyn's "Starchitect"
* Small Businesses Flourish at Metrotech
* Atlantic Yards FAQ
* Opinion: State Senator Carl Kruger*
* Q&A: Council Member Lew Fidler* * Q&A: Nets CEO Brett Yormark
* Arena facts**
* NOTICE OF PUBLIC SCOPING AND INTENT TO PREPARE A DRAFT EIS (seriously) * CBA at a glance
* FCRC Employees Pitch In for Prospect Park Park
* Neither Kruger nor Fidler represent districts including or adjacent to Ratner's proposed project.
** Arena facts fail to mention that the $555.3 MILLION price tag for the arena makes it the most expensive arena EVER.
"Send letters to the editor: email@example.com."
Posted by lumi at 10:25 AM
'We Are Trying to Be Better': Albert B. Ratner and Forest City Enterprises Are the 2005 Recipients of the Urban Land Institute J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries In Urban Development
Forest City Enterprises, Forest City Ratner's parent company, won a prize this week for "a commitment to the highest standards of responsible development."
Said Al Ratner, (and yes, they are all related):
"We don't have a great company, we have a good company, and we are trying to be better. Once you are a great company, what else is there to do? There are a lot of things we have to do that we don't even know about."
Perhaps you, dear reader, would like to help enlighten Al and the Urban Land Institute as to the things they don't seem to know yet about Cousin Brucie.
Forest City Enterprises:(216) 621-6060
Urban Land Institute: firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted by amy at 10:24 AM
The truth about Caldwell
James Caldwell spoke during the Community Session at this week's Community Board 8 meeting in order to set the record straight. To be fair to Caldwell, NLG is attempting to finally put some rumors to rest.
CAPTAIN M. BYPASSES THE TRUTH
A reader had posted in the DailyHeights community forum that Caldwell claimed to have had a triple bypass.
The plain-spoken truth is that he had a QUADRUPLE bypass. There is something suspicious about "Captain M's" missing the additional bypass, especially since the entry has been corrected; an investigation is pending.
BUILD RECEIVED $5 MILLION FROM RATNER
The Daily News reported that BUILD claimed to receive $5 million from Forest City Ratner.
It was good ole-fashioned investigative reporting, by The NY Observer's Matthew Schuerman that reported that BUILD's lawyer claimed that he made that number up. In case Caldwell missed it, NoLandGrab.org posted Schuerman's reports here and here.
Currently, FCR is only claiming it made a generous $100K donation to BUILD, only after the Community Benefits Agreement had been signed (no quid pro quo here?) and was only for job programs not the new storefront sign.
Aside from the cash, BUILD has only received material and logistical support from Ratner in the way of computers, office equipment, furniture, rent-free office space (to go with the new sign), paying the bill for the and outdoor catering for supporters in line for public meetings.
To set the record straight, there is no evidence that BUILD has received support from Ratner besides the above listed items.
CALDWELL IS MAKING BANK
BUILD's own IRS form claims that Caldwell is making $125K a year.
Caldwell told Schuerman "We haven’t been paid for the last 20 months. People don’t think that black people volunteer."
Caldwell could have started by volunteering the truth. Since September 5, 2005 he has actually been drawing a salary, though "at a rate equal to half the salaries listed on the group's original I.R.S. form," according to yesterday's NY Times report.
Caldwell is tired of everyone in the neighborhood asking him for money, according to sources in attendance at last week's CB8 meeting. So, those of you who are hitting Caldwell up for money, cut it out, unless you adjust your figures to "a rate equal to half" of what you originally had in mind.
CADILLAC IN AMERICA
Caldwell: "There is nothing wrong with a black man owning a Cadillac in America."
This is one item where we all agree (except for the public transportation junkies who want to deprive New Yorkers of their god-given right to drive a car).
NLG only pointed out Caldwell's fine set of wheels because he brought up cars and traffic at the NYC Council Hearing on May 26, 2005.
Caldwell's joked during his testimony, "Traffic. First of all, I'd like to get me a job so I can buy me a car so I can sit in the traffic." African American Brooklynites have noted that his joke was racially insensitive toward the group Caldwell professes to serve. They were further incensed when they found out that Caldwell drove a brand new Cadillac CTS.
NOGRAB.ORG AND DAILYHEIGHTS.ORG
Caldwell proclaimed to CB8 that we "can't even get our facts straight."
The truth is that it's "noLANDgrab.org" and "dailyheights.COM." Also, we try our best to be fair, in fact, the DailyHeights Forum has been a sounding board for both sides of in the fight. `
Posted by lumi at 9:15 AM
October 14, 2005
Best Reason to Hang a Banner Out the Window of Your Brooklyn Brownstone
ATLANTIC YARDS PROTEST
Now that the West Side Stadium war is history, the battlefront shifts to Brooklyn where the brownstone troops of the ATLANTIC YARDS PROTEST are rallying against Bruce Ratner's proposed basketball arena over the Atlantic Avenue rail yards. Tell the developer and his good buddy Borough President Marty Markowitz how you feel about eminent-domain abuse with a front-stoop slogan cooked up by your neighbors:
"Ratner, go home and plunder Cleveland."
"Supersize Brooklyn? Fuhgeddaboudit."
Posted by lumi at 7:43 PM
From The Real Estate Observer:
We laughed, then cried when reading this New York Times report on Forest City Ratner's support from community groups re Atlantic Yards.
Posted by lumi at 11:08 AM
To Build Arena, Developer First Builds Bridges
The NY Times
by Nicholas Confessore
The Times outlines Ratner's PR masterstroke, building "community" support, complete with dates and times, mostly provided by Ratner's slick PR machine.
THE FINAL SCORE?
NYS Assemblymember Roger Green and ACORN come out pretty much unscathed, but serious questions linger about Rev. Daughtry's sincerity and BUILD's financial ties.
BUILD GETS ITS STORY STRAIGHT?
BUILD now has a new spokesperson who admits that FCRC paid BUILD $100K "two months after" the community benefits agreement was signed. [Is that supposed to mean that there was no quid pro quo?] FCRC is also providing material support in office space, furniture and computers. Though Louis and Caldwell previously claimed they weren't being paid a salary, the spokesperson now concedes that they have been drawing a salary, but at a rate less than half of what BUILD claimed on the damning IRS form.
NoLandGrab: Though the article attempts to get to the bottom of Ratner's "community support," Ratner's professional PR machine once again did a great job of co-opting and spinning the debate in the pages of the Times. Brooklynites should be able to get the picture if they read the article with a grain of salt.
Posted by lumi at 8:47 AM
Atlantic Yards process a "modern blueprint"? Only if the Times ignores the evidence
Two weeks after revelations of a BUILD/Ratner financial connection, the Times runs a story:
instead of using the two weeks to further develop the story--the obvious extension would be the way Ratner and BUILD have used race as a tactic (see Chapter 4 of my report)--the Times instead, in a 10/14/05 article headlined To Build Arena, Developer First Builds Bridges, decrees that this project is... a model.
An earlier online version of the story was headlined, "Seeking to Avoid Fate of Jets Stadium, Builder Treads His Way to Brooklyn Arena Plan," and it partly echoes that 6/9/05 Times article headlined Unlike Stadium on West Side, an Arena in Brooklyn Is Still a Go. In both, the Times focused on strategy over substance, skating lightly over numerous issues that deserve some "journalism of verification."
Read Oder's complete analysis of today's Times piece.
Posted by lumi at 8:20 AM
October 13, 2005
New York’s Bloomberg acts like Bush
People's Weekly World Newspaper
Critics say Bloomberg’s job stimulation plan is the same as Reagan’s “trickle-down” economics: give handouts to billionaire developers, and claim this will create jobs.
Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, a community organization working against a deal that would give big developer Forest City Ratner over $1.1 billion in city money for a private Brooklyn development, said Bloomberg lied about the number of jobs the development would create.
Instead of the promised 8,500 permanent jobs, a study found only a few hundred new jobs would be created. In addition, only 900 out of thousands of housing units would go to those earning less than the median income.
Posted by lumi at 11:45 PM
DDDB Press Release: Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum Against the Use of Eminent Domain for Private Projects But Supports Bruce Ratner
Develop Don't Destroy Calls on Advocate to Withdraw Support for Ratner Project Which Uses Eminent Domain for Private Development Plan
NEW YORK, NEW YORK--During two primary debates in August incumbent New York City Public Advocate, Betsy Gotbaum, displayed an astounding dishonesty or detachment about the use of eminent domain for Bruce Ratner's 18-skyscrapers and arena proposed in Prospect Heights and Park Slope, Brooklyn. Ms. Gotbaum stated that Mr. Ratner will not use eminent domain for his project, and that she knows because he told her so.
During Tuesday night's general election debate Ms. Gotbaum said she is against the use of eminent domain for private development projects. The first official document on the Ratner Atlantic Yards plan were released by the Empire State Development Corporation on September 16. This document, the draft scope of analysis of the project, clearly states that eminent domain will be used for the project. The threat of eminent domain has hovered over the Brooklyn neighborhood since December 2003 when the proposal was unveiled.
Develop Don't Destroy spokesman, and a homeowner faced with a State seizure of his home to pave the way for the Ratner project, Daniel Goldstein, said, "Ms. Gotbaum is now simply being dishonest. On one hand she says she opposes eminent domain abuses, on the other she says Bruce Ratner's plan is wonderful. The problem is for two years now Bruce Ratner's plan has been, and is, dependent on the abuse of eminent domain. As public advocate her muddled and contradictory position on this issue needs clarification."
Goldstein continued, "She knows that Ratner's plan requires the use of eminent domain, as I, and others, informed her office many months ago. We can only conclude that she is exhibiting favoritism or is disengaged from one of the key public debates boiling in New York City and around the country. We hope she can show us that our conclusions are wrong."
In August Ms. Gotbaum stated that she is against the use of eminent domain but supports the Ratner project as it's her understanding eminent domain won't be used. She did say that if she learns otherwise, she would not support the Ratner project. The development proposal Forest City Ratner submitted to the MTA in July included a glowing letter of support from Ms. Gotbaum.
"Its time for Ms. Gotbaum to engage the powers of her office and oppose the abusive use of eminent domain for private gain at Atlantic Yards and everywhere else in the City," Goldstein concluded. "If she still doesn't believe eminent domain will be used for the Ratner plan, she is invited to meet some of her constituents in Brooklyn who can tell her otherwise. We expect that she will realize that she was terribly incorrect and inconsistent with her debate comments and will withdraw her support for the Ratner project."
Posted by lumi at 9:52 PM
Bring New Orleans Back Commission to Work With Urban Land Institute on Developing Rebuilding Strategy for the City
Al Ratner, CEO of Forest City Enterprises used an Urban Land Institute (ULI) award stipend and additional contribution of $100 thousand for seed money for a ULI fund to be used for rebuilding the Gulf Coast region, including New Orleans.
NoLandGrab: Brooklynites can appreciate the Ratner family's generosity, but are are still perplexed about the award. Really, with how many of the ULI's Smart Growth Principles does Atlantic Yards comply?
Posted by lumi at 9:16 AM
The Times vs. bloggers on Atlantic Yards: who practices the journalism of verification?
by Norman Oder
I basically agree with [New York Times executive editor Bill Keller], that journalists do--or aim to do--much more than bloggers. But sometimes bloggers, such as myself, do a lot more research than Times reporters.
Oder cites Ratner's jobs figures to make his point.
NoLandGrab: If the Times's "worldwide network of trained, skilled" reporters didn't deliver such transparently skewed reportage of their business partner's Brooklyn proposal, Oder could pull up stakes and many Brooklynites would have more free time.
Posted by lumi at 9:05 AM
Battle for Nassau Coliseum Shakes Sports Landscape
The NY Sun
by Even Weiner
It's a bidding war between titans over the fate of a sports franchise, an arena and development of surrounding property. What a novel idea!
Unless the Nassau County Legislature goes with Charles Wang's bid, the possibilities of what may happen with the Islanders and the headaches that it will create for broadcasters and the NHL are endless, including one scenario where Ratner would try to bring the Islanders to Brooklyn.
Posted by lumi at 8:46 AM
Beyond Brooklyn: Ratner’s Stadium
A multibillion-dollar real estate project set to transform a neighborhood. Hopes of job creation and economic revitalization. Fears of displacement and eminent domain. Columbia in Manhattanville? Yes, but also Ratner in Brooklyn.
At the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues, developer Bruce Ratner, Law ’70, hopes to build a $2.5 billion complex centered around a new basketball arena for the New Jersey Nets. If the project is completed as expected, it will revolutionize downtown Brooklyn. For better or for worse, it may also revolutionize the way developers and communities deal with each other across New York.
NoLandGrab: Ratner's project will "revolutionize the way developers and communities deal with each other," by using ASTROTURF to substitute for GRASSROOTS community support.
Posted by lumi at 8:18 AM
October 12, 2005
Walk, Don't Destroy!
A Walkathon Fundraiser for DevelopDon't Destroy Brooklyn and the Community's fight against Ratner's Skyscraper/Arena Project.
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 13
Walk for our Neighborhoods in support of the DDDb Legal Fund.
The WALKATHON is an opportunity to put your feet in motion to help fund the DDDb legal campaign against Bruce Ratner's development proposal. Help DDDb reach its monetary goals and raise awareness to unite their communities instead of dividing and destroying them by walking a path within our historic community and tracing the proposed project site.
To sign up or for more info, visit www.dddb.net/walkathon.
Posted by lumi at 6:18 AM
October 11, 2005
Sausage, Onion and an M-16 to Go Please...
The Brooklyn Greens leafleted Chuck E. Cheese to protest the screening of military videos to their 4-11 year old clientele.
One minute Ratner is promising "publicly accessible private property," the next minute Ratner security goons threaten to call the cops on peaceful protesters (including four children) standing on "privately accessible public property" (a.k.a. city-owned sidewalks). Here's an excerpt from an eyewittness account:
As we were running out of flyers, a mall security guard came outside and instructed us to move out of the area, claiming that the City sidewalk on which we were standing was actually private property owned by billionaire Bruce Ratner's Atlanic Terminal. We of course refused to move and the security guard called for the police -- 20 minutes later the police hadn't shown up, and we packed up our signs and said our goodbyes.
NoLandGrab: If the Greens get arrested, they could hire civil-rights lawyer and brother of Bruce, Michael Ratner, to represent them.
Posted by lumi at 10:26 PM
James avoids divisive showdown with Caldwell
Daily Heights Forum
City Councilmember Letitia James avoided a showdown with 77th Precinct President and BUILD CEO James Caldwell, after Caldwell had thrown down the gaunlet earlier in the week by banning James from last night's public meeting of the precinct group and threatened to throw her out if she made an appearance. This most recent threat added credence to the impression that Caldwell's primary tool exercizing power is divisiveness.
James Caldwell, still smarting from last week's outing of BUILD as an astroturf organization, largely blames Councilmember James for his group's PR woes.
When James was a no show at last night's meeting, it left plenty of time for Caldwell to speak. According to "Captain M's" comments on the DH Forum, Caldwell had a lot to say, he just couldn't remember all the details.
Posted by lumi at 9:48 PM
Gehry Partners, LLP Gets New, Foxy Partner
"New Brooklyn master builder"(?) Frank Gehry is pallin' around with sidekick, Hollywood hunk and Gehry devotee Brad Pitt.
Here the paduan learner is demonstrating his skill with the glue gun for Master Gehry-Wan Kenobi.
NoLandGrab: Yup, we're getting stupid here, but a ridiculous blog posting deserves a dumb comment.
Posted by lumi at 9:07 PM
The Times on runaway development: no mention of Atlantic Yards
Is the Times still asleep at the wheel?
In yesterday's article about NYC residents' growing concerns about overdevelopment, there was no mention of the largest development in the history of Brooklyn, not by PICCED's Brad Lander, not by City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden, and not by the The New York Times's reporter.
NoLandGrab: The TimesRatnerReport isn't saying that the Grey Lady is shilling for their development partner, but rather, the blog points out that if it LOOKS and SOUNDS like the Times is avoiding covering Ratner, well, New Yorkers can only conclude...
Posted by lumi at 9:56 AM
REMINDER: CBN Meeting TONIGHT
GENERAL MEETING TONIGHT
There will be a General Meeting for all members and prospective members of the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods on:
Tuesday, October 11th
YWCA at Third & Atlantic Aves., Board Room
The CBN will be discussing the Survey results and how to testify at the Scoping Hearings next week.
The public hearings for the Environmental Impact Statement Scoping will be held:
Tuesday, October 18th
5 PM to 8 PM
New York City College of Technology
Posted by lumi at 9:35 AM
The Washington Times
by Bruce Fein
This Washington Times opinion piece points out the folly of defending Harriet Mier's nomination to the high court on the basis that "a 'modicum of practical judgment' might have saved the Supreme Court from its asserted misstep in Kelo, which upheld eminent domain to boost economic growth." Without a track record, how would we know how she might have voted.
NoLandGrab: Don't be fooled by BOTH sides of this argument. Miers would be replacing Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who sided with the homeowners in Kelo. Even if O'Connor's replacement was a staunch property rights advocate, it wouldn't have changed the balance in the recent case. The same goes for the Chief Justice.
Property rights advocates are hardly watching the new faces on the court. They are more concerned with State legislatures enacting tough legislation and cases that might be headed towards the Supreme Court (i.e. Gambles vs. Norwood, OH) that will give the Supreme Court another stab at drawing a line between private property rights and public seizures for private developers.
Posted by lumi at 8:37 AM
October 10, 2005
David Walentas Unplugged
The Real Estate Observer
by Matthew Schuerman
Brooklyn's other builder, Dave Walentas slams superblocks when asked about Ratner's megablockolis.
Posted by lumi at 9:04 PM
Eminent Domain: Hope Grows in Brooklyn
NJeminentdomain.com blogger Susan Ward attended last week's screening and panel discussion of documentary filmmaker George McCullough’s “All for the Taking.”
If NLG wasn't so busy untangling every tentacle of Ratner's boondoggle (sports, politics, "affordable" housing, public funding of sports venues, the MTA, the Olympics, etc.), we would have liked to have taken the time to tell Brooklynites who missed the event more about the film and the work of Sociologist Dr. Mindy Fullilove.
Fortunately, Ward does it for us.
Posted by lumi at 11:07 AM
Ratner's no longer a rookie
NY Daily News
by Ohm Youngmisuk
The mere mention of Bruce Ratner's name evoked a smattering of boos from the 1,500 fans on hand at the Nets' open practice last night at Ramapo College.
However, that clearly is an improvement from last season, when Nets fans filled Ratner's E-mail box with irate messages about trading Kenyon Martin and moving the team to Brooklyn.
More coverage of Ratner's attempts at repairing his relationship withNew Jersey Nets fans that are supposed to follow their team to Brooklyn or the entire project won't make a dime for the City and State:
Posted by lumi at 10:31 AM
Brooklynites cry foul: "We gotta have park!"
The latest Ratner reneg first reported in the Brooklyn Papers ("Ratner to bar public from promised park") and on Brooklyn blogs (The Brownstoner, TimesRatnerReport) has finally caught the attention of local press (except for the NY Times).
Last week, the description of the rooftop park was decidedly more sober — and less generous.
The Daily News, Ratner's latest shell game (scroll down to "The Score hears...")
Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco acknowledges the rooftop park won't be open to hoi polloi.
A spokesman for Ratner tells the Post the company did not renege on any promises, saying the park is bigger and will be open to those who use the buildings being constructed.
From the Ratner defensive playbook:
The rooftop park may not be for the riff raff, but we have other space that will be.
Did we mention that there is more of that public space now that we have increased the size of the project and that 50% of the housing will be affordable for Brooklynites making up to $100,000/year (minus the 1,300 units that are luxury housing, which includes amenities such as a private rooftop park, some restrictions apply)?
Posted by lumi at 9:38 AM
Mike Lupica: Shooting from the Lip
When is someone in city government going to have the guts to take a hard look at the way Bruce Ratner is trying to buy himself the entire borough of Brooklyn? (link)
Read Mike Lupica's past observations about Ratner's Brooklyn.
Posted by lumi at 9:22 AM
TimesRatnerReport: NY Post and NY Daily News press Ratner on privatized park space
TimesRatnerReport takes an in-depth look at the recent coverage of Ratner's latest broken promise, complete with fact checking, incriminating quotes and a rehashing on why the 50/50-affordable-housing plan isn't 50/50 and isn't affordable.
Posted by lumi at 8:19 AM
October 9, 2005
Coming Soon to a Patio Near You: Nets Tickets
The NY Times, Sunday Sports
by Richard Sandomir
Ratner is holding "tupperware parties" for season ticket holders. It's "community outreach" the Bruce Ratner way.
In the backyard of Fred and Allison Randolph's house in Fords, N.J., the Nets were selling season tickets. It was part of an unusual effort by the suddenly marketing-savvy Nets, now in the second year of Bruce Ratner's ownership, to increase their season-ticket base in New Jersey even as they plan their move to Brooklyn in 2007.
So the team asked the Randolphs, who became season-ticket holders last year, to invite their friends and associates to what the Nets are calling an Influencer, a cocktail party sponsored by Tiffany & Company with one primary goal: to sell tickets.
Kester Hector, a financial planner from Somerset, said he was persuaded to purchase four half-season tickets by the mere proximity of the party. "It's great to reach out to the community, right here in the neighborhood," he said. [Empasis added.]
NoLandGrab: If you and a handful of your closest friends want to buy season tickets, Bruce Ratner will come to your party with players, execs and sportscaster in tow, but if you live in Brooklyn and have questions about the arena, he is no where to be found. But don't worry, you can have up to three minutes to speak at the next public hearing!
Posted by lumi at 10:49 AM
October 8, 2005
Will Caldwell Turn Tish Out on Her Ear? Find out Monday.
Daily Heights explores the unique relationship between BUILD and the 77th Precinct:
Random_person told Daily Heights: "We were walking down the Flatbush Street Festival on Sunday and ran into Tish James... she said James Caldwell 'banned' her from the Community Council meetings at the 77th Precinct, and said he would throw her out if she tried to show up."
[Oh yeah... in addition to being the CEO of BUILD, Caldwell also happens to be the President of the 77th Precinct's "Community Council," which is supposed to be some sort of interface between NYPD and "The Community."]
This month's 77th Precinct Community Council Meeting is Monday, Oct. 10 at 7:30 PM. 127 Utica Avenue.
Posted by amy at 10:04 AM
Kelo, Eminent Domain and Political Corruption
Daily Kos comments on eminent domain abuse:
Of course-- and this is the key point -- we should want no one gaining financially from manipulation of the political process. Which is why people need to FOCUS on the economic payoff from zoning changes and the public should demand that WHOEVER develops land after a zoning change has to pay the public for the windfall from the zoning change.
If new developers are brought in through eminent domain because an old owner refuses to share that zoning change windfall with the public, then the real question to ask is whether the new developers are sharing the windfall with the public. That's the test of whether buying the land is for the benefit of the public, or a sleazy corrupt deal.
Posted by amy at 9:59 AM
October 7, 2005
Mike Lupica: Shooting from the Lip
The Daily News
There are good citizens of Brooklyn who wish Cablevision would fight Caring Bruce Ratner the way Cablevision fought the West Side stadium.
NoLandGrab: Cablevision founder Charles Dolan is #125 on the Forbes 400 list with a personal net worth of $2.1 billion, which makes him something like WAY richer than Ratner. Man, those deep pockets would really grease the skids in the fight against moving building a second arena with a second NBA team in New York City.
Posted by lumi at 10:58 AM
Debate: 2 of 3 Ain't Bad
The Village Voice
by Jarrett Murphy
Ferrer and Ognibene crowed as Bloomberg ducked last night's Harlem debate.
Let's get to the lighting round: Both Ferrer and Ognibene like Bloomberg personally, have never been fired, oppose the use of eminent domain at Atlantic Yards, do not own an Ipod, feel the overall quality of life for most New Yorkers has not increased in the past four years...
Posted by lumi at 8:44 AM
Eminent Domain National News Roundup
Queen's Chronicle, Let The Rebuilding Of Ground Zero Begin
Plans for redevelopment of Ground Zero have nearly ground to a halt over controversy surrounding the cultural center, terrorism and public safety concerns of the Freedom Tower design, oversupply of commercial office space in NYC and lease holder Larry Silverstein's "vision" and mismanagement. One possibility being studied is the use of eminent domain to "de-privatize" Silverstein's lease so that a public authority can regain control of the rebuilding process.
Science Daily, D.C. to use eminent domain for ballpark
Our nation's capital is using eminent domain to build a new ballpark for the Washington Nationals. 10 of the 23 landowners have not responded to purchase offers and have been notified that they must be off of the property by Dec. 31.
The Toledo Blade, Eminent domain debate still rages in Michigan
The case of Poletown, the nation's first case where eminent domain for economic development purposes was upheld, was overturned by the Michigan State Supreme Court last year. When the US Supreme Court went the other way on Kelo, developers in Michigan were a little confused.
Atlanticville, Property owners get 2 weeks to negotiate
Property owners in the seaside town of Longbranch have two more weeks to negotiate with the Township to sell their homes before eminent domain will be used as a "last resort." Longbranch plans to raze the homes and bungalows to build condos that will boost the town's tax revenue base.
The Day, NLDC Purchases Fort Trumbull Home For $310,000
"[New London Development Corporation] executives said they paid $310,000 for the Guretsky property, which was never seized by the agency via eminent domain because the family was in bankruptcy at the time the NLDC began assembling parcels." Remaining homeowners were sympathtic to the Guretskys but felt that it wouldn't change their resolve to continue fighting.
Posted by lumi at 8:09 AM
October 6, 2005
NJ victors against Ratner eminent domain abuse toasted at film screening
“All For the Taking,” a film about personal and social consequences of eminent domain abuse in Philadelphia, played to a full house on Wednesday evening.
Local activists had the chance to meet the attorney and small business owners in Bloomfield, NJ who successfully beat back Ratner and the township attempt to seize their property for a mixed-use development during the pre-screening reception. At the beginning of the panel discussion everyone raised their glasses to toast Attorney Bill Ward, NJEminentDomain.com blogger Susan Ward and plaintiffs Alesandro & Elizabeth Lardieri.
Posted by lumi at 6:51 PM
DDDB Press Release: The Crain's Insider Says Ratner Opponents Wield Political Power
Leading Ratner Opponents, Letitia James and Norman Siegel Thump Ratner Supporters in Districts Impacted by the Developer's 18 Skyscraper and Arena Plan
BROOKLYN, NY-- Civil rights attorney Norman Siegel didn't win his primary against incumbent public advocate Betsy Gotbaum, but the candidate known as "the people's advocate" did win three Assembly districts in the citywide race. Mr. Siegel, vocal and high profile opponent of the Forest City Ratner plan to build 18 skyscrapers and an arena in Prospect Heights and Park Slope, Brooklyn, won the 57th and 52nd Assembly districts. The proposed Ratner development would be located in both of those districts. They were two of the three districts Mr. Siegel won. Some of these results were published in The Crain's Insider today (www.dddb.net/crains/crains.gif).
"Norman Siegel won in the districts and neighborhoods that would be most impacted by the Ratner project. It is clear that his strong opposition to the Ratner proposal garnered him the support to put him over the top in the neighborhoods of Prospect Heights, Park Slope, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Crown Heights, Downtown Brooklyn, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens and Boerum Hill," Develop Don't Destroy spokesman Daniel Goldstein said. "Large majorities in these communities are opposed to the Ratner plan, and they have shown that their opposition must be respected by any candidate seeking their vote for Citywide or district office."
A leading issue in the public advocate campaign was overdevelopment throughout the City and the abuse of eminent domain, particularly for Ratner's Atlantic Yards project. During two debates Mr. Siegel challenged Ms. Gotbaum's support of the Ratner plan and her false claims that the developer would not have the State use eminent domain. (More on Ms. Gotbaum's eminent domain flip flop can be found in the current issue of The Brooklyn Rail at: www.brooklynrail.org/LOCAL/hackworld.html)
Councilwoman Letitia James, who represents the 35th City Council district where the Ratner proposal is located, handily defeated her primary opponent and Ratner ally, Eric Blackwell, 85% - 15%. Mr. Blackwell is a supporter of the Ratner proposal and was a co-founder of Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development (BUILD) which was exposed as an "astroturf" organization funded by Forest City Ratner just last week (see: 'Snake in the Grassroots' in the Daily News). Councilwoman James has been the leading political opponent of the Ratner proposal, standing staunchly against the project throughout her first term. The Ratner plan has been, by far, the big issue in her district for the past two years. The Councilwoman has claimed her victory as a referendum against the Ratner plan.
Goldstein concluded, "The organized and individual opposition to the Ratner proposal--which straddles neighborhoods, race and economic class--can claim political power when we look at these electoral results. The opposition claims victory on these political referenda on Ratner's plans. The two mayoral candidates seeking votes in Brooklyn would be wise to take note of this."
Posted by lumi at 6:15 PM
RATNER FOES GET VOTES
Opponents of Bruce Ratner's $3.5 billion Atlantic Yards project are becomign a political force. Newly released results from the Democratic primary show that project naysayer Norman Siegel won the Assembly district that includes Atlantic Yards -- one of only three districts he won citywide. Councilwoman Letitia James, who is also against the project, took 85% of the vote against a Ratner ally.
The story gets better, the word is another one of the districts Siegel won is adjacent to the Atlantic Yards district (the thrid was in Queens), which can be read as a sign for support in Central Brooklyn for Siegel's tough stance on Ratner's boondoggle.
For more on Norman Siegel's race for Public Advocate, check out "Inside the Hackworld: How A Do-Nothing Became a Lame Duck" by the Brooklyn Rail's Theodore Hamm.
NoLandGrab: For Brooklynites who are still trying to register their opposition to the Ratner proposal, a vote against BP Marty will send a signal that Brooklyn doesn't support Ratner supporters.
Posted by lumi at 10:29 AM
Eminent Domain: Is It Only Hope For Inner Cities?
Wall Street Journal
by Ryan Chittum
Read about the other side of the eminent domain debate (no, not the side that says that African Americans have been displaced for decades so there's no harm in displacing a few white people) the side that is bringing services to underdeveloped neighborhoods.
You may or may not agree that there are instances where using eminent domain makes sense, but if you are interested in knowing what's going on, check out the story of mid-western mall magnate Jim Koman.
article (subsription only) or read the text after the jump...
Eminent Domain: Is It Only Hope For Inner Cities?
By RYAN CHITTUM
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
October 5, 2005; Page B1
EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. -- This city doesn't scream "build here" to most real-estate developers. One of the poorest urban areas in the U.S., its median household income is $21,324, and nearly 32% of families live below the poverty line, more than triple the national average.
Jim Koman looks at the numbers another way. He sees a city, like many other downtrodden places, with few quality stores to serve its residents. East St. Louis has just 3 square feet of retail space per person, compared with the national average of 20 square feet.
In 1999, after pharmacy chain Walgreen Co. came to him looking for retail space, Koman Properties Inc., of Clayton, Mo., built the city's first new shopping center in several decades. Now, amid street after street of trash-strewn lots and broken-down buildings, it is a commercial oasis stretching for several blocks, including a grocery-anchored strip mall with a beauty salon, a Foot Locker, an Auto Zone and other chains. About 95% of the shopping center's workers are from East St. Louis, bringing the city much-needed, if low-paying, jobs.
When the Walgreen's opened, then-President Clinton showed up to visit. The State Street Shopping Center "is night and day for these people that don't have anything," Mr. Koman says.
But to build in an urban area like East St. Louis, Mr. Koman must rely on eminent domain -- the government's power to force a landowner to sell property at what is considered a fair price. The State Street project wouldn't have happened if the city hadn't used the threat of eminent domain to clear about 40 houses and a gas station, Mr. Koman says. Of those properties, only two owners held out for long periods, and one of those buildings was condemned and appropriated through eminent domain after the owner refused to settle.
Such cases have received new attention following the Supreme Court decision in June upholding the use of eminent domain to seize property for private use. Opponents of the eminent-domain doctrine have pointed to high-profile cases such as arenas and other big urban-development projects as evidence of abuse. But situations such as Mr. Koman's are far more common and in some ways knottier.
Many builders say eminent domain is the only way to bring services and jobs to areas like East St. Louis. Mr. Koman says he wants to show a different side of the "big, bad developer." But to the people who are losing their homes and their businesses, Mr. Koman is exactly that.
He is currently involved in several disputes with property owners. Across the Mississippi River, on the north side of St. Louis, another struggling area, Mr. Koman plans to expand a shopping center he owns, with a regional urban-wear store, a fish-and-chicken restaurant and a men's hair salon committed to going in. But he is running into local opposition.
To get the land he needs, Mr. Koman wants to buy a trash-strewn lot and an old brick building that are located across the street. The building is owned by St. Louis Housing and Service Corp., a nonprofit group that bought it for $1 a few years back. "They have a business plan, and we have a business plan," says the group's chairwoman, Leeora Daniels, a 63-year-old retired schoolteacher. Mr. Koman's plan "is a strip mall. Our building has social programs along with storefronts to support what we're trying to do." The group plans to house day-care centers for children and adults among other social services, she says, adding that her group has hired a lawyer to fight the developer.
Mr. Koman says the roof is caving in and the building is a hazard. He contends there was no activity there until he came around looking to purchase it. The mayor's office agrees with him. "I think this would clearly qualify as blighted under pretty much anybody's definition," says Barbara Geisman, the mayor's executive director for development in St. Louis.
Next door, Mr. Koman is facing a fight over a postage-stamp-size vacant lot appraised at $7,000. The sale is being held up by one of six heirs to the property, who lives in Atlanta and wants $50,000 for his share alone. "It's all about greed," Mr. Koman says. "How much free money can I get from this developer?" The holdout didn't show up in court recently and couldn't be reached for comment.
Situations such as this, rather than those in which people are pushed out of their homes, make up a large percentage of cases in which St. Louis uses eminent domain, Ms. Geisman says. "There are always going be those poster children, but the reality is a whole lot more complicated than that. We can't let one person hold up something that the entire city wants and needs." It wouldn't be possible to do widespread redevelopment in an old, historic city like St. Louis if the Supreme Court hadn't upheld eminent-domain rules in its Kelo v. New London decision, Ms. Geisman adds.
Eminent-domain opponents, such as the Institute for Justice, the Washington nonprofit law firm that represented the homeowner in the Kelo case, beg to differ. "The idea that private development in cities can't happen without eminent domain is crazy," says Dana Berliner, senior attorney at the institute. "Private development happens all the time without eminent domain. People buy the property: If it's difficult to buy the property, they work around that person or they buy another property."
Why get involved in messy development battles? Mr. Koman doesn't deny it is a way to make a good profit, although he declines to say how much money he has made in the East St. Louis development. His properties there are 100%-occupied, and he hasn't had a tenant go out of business since opening. "Please come invest in the inner city," he says. "We are making money in East St Louis."
Mr. Koman's background, however, lends ammunition to critics who say eminent domain often benefits the powerful at the expense of the less well-off. Mr. Koman's father, Bill, played pro football for the old St. Louis Cardinals in the 1950s and '60s and then went into development. Jim Koman and his brother followed their father into the business. Now, the brother has a separate company that builds offices, and Jim handles retail development. He currently has 18 shopping centers under construction within 180 miles of St. Louis. Six of them may require the use of eminent domain to get the necessary land, including a big cornfield in Troy, Ill, just outside St. Louis.
Mr. Koman isn't averse to using hardball tactics. He tells people who don't want to settle that he will take them to court, where they will get much less than what he is offering. As he drives through a trailer park he is currently trying to buy out, he mocks the people who fight his efforts. "Oh my God, you're ruining my life!" he quotes them as saying. "But half these people can't even find jobs or are alcoholics or whatever," he adds. "Most people are just ecstatic [with the buyouts]."
In East St. Louis, Mr. Koman wants to expand his shopping center but has run into opposition from the owner of a beauty salon who has refused to give up his lease on a neighboring property. Tony Ngo, who owns U.S. Nails, has strong feelings about eminent domain. "Eminent domain is a horrible law...I feel that it's a little bit worse than communism," he says. "The communists -- you know they're going to come in and they're going to take. This is a business that I plan to grow."
He is negotiating with Mr. Koman, and the two sides appear to be close to a deal. "The question is, Is it faster for me to buy this guy off, or quicker to go to court and condemn it?" Mr. Koman says.
Write to Ryan Chittum at email@example.com
Posted by lumi at 9:51 AM
The headline we haven't seen: Brooklyn Arena Would Be Most Expensive Ever
The price tag of Ratner's arena has ballooned from $435 to $555.3 million, which would make it the MOST EXPENSIVE ARENA IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD .
But imagine a standalone arena. Wouldn't the cost generate some news coverage? Wouldn't reporters be asking Ratner and public officials why the arena would cost so much?
Norman Oder makes a good point in his follow-up blog to the report on the Times's coverage, that under normal circumstances this would be a big story. But Ratner's supersized megablockolis is anything but normal.
Posted by lumi at 8:00 AM
Investors Buisiness Daily
Another eminent domain article for Brooklynites who are keeping informed on the epidemic of eminent domain abuse across the nation:
Riviera Beach, Fla., a Palm Beach County town of 33,000 on the state's southeast coast, is planning to build an ambitious $1 billion waterfront yachting and housing complex that will include a hotel, shops, restaurants and perhaps an aquarium. The city believes the sparkling development will create 1,000 jobs and provide a much-needed economic boost.
Standing in the way, though, are 6,000 people who happen to be living where the development is planned. A spokesman for Viking Inlet Harbor Properties, the private firm selected to oversee the project, has told the media that it will "use condemnation as a last resort." But many of these folks are likely to be forced from their homes through the practice of eminent domain.
Oh, yes — let's not forget that most of the residents who will give up their homes for a playground for the wealthy happen to be poor and black.
More coverage: The Washington Times, Florida city considers eminent domain
Posted by lumi at 7:40 AM
Work Starts on New $310M Arena
by Eric Peterson
Newark city officials have broken ground on a new arena for the NJ Devils that was originally supposed to be home of the three-time Stanley Cup winners and the NJ Nets before Ratner bought the Nets and made the lives of Brooklynites so interesting.
Posted by lumi at 7:32 AM
Ridge Hill compromise seen near
The Journal News
by Michael Gannon
Ratner is trying to "get to yes" in Yonkers by proposing more affordable housing. Traffic concerns however still have not been addressed to the satisfaction of one City Councilmember.
Posted by lumi at 7:26 AM
Not About Image Building
Hiring of flack by NLDC shows agency's lack of understanding that it's dealing with people.
The [New London] Day
The City of New London won the Supreme Court battle, but lost the PR fight.
Posted by lumi at 7:23 AM
Landowners must yield to ballpark
The Washington Times
by Tim Lemke
DC will begin to use eminent domain for the Washington National's new ballpark by the end to the month. The city has set aside $97 million to finance the seizures and pay for relocation of property owners of the 21-acre site.
Many property owners on the site said the city's offers are inadequate. Others are suing the city on the grounds that it has no right to use eminent domain to acquire land at the site, despite a Supreme Court ruling affirming the right of municipal governments to take private property for the purpose of economic development.
In April, the city notified property owners on the site that they would be required to move out by Dec. 31.
Posted by lumi at 7:14 AM
It's a Ratner, Ratner World!
Posted by lumi at 12:04 AM
October 5, 2005
"Some Guy's Idea": MTA Chairman Peter Kalikow Creates Existential Crisis -- Resolves with Cronyism
The Brooklyn Rail
by Brian Carreira
"Curiouser and curiouser."
Carreira's latest update takes us back to the surreal happenings of Ratner's Adventures in Wonderland and the September 14th MTA Board meeting:
Knowing that a decision had already been reached attendees were freed of the usual restraints of topicality, accuracy, or advocacy.
The details of Forest City Ratner's "doubled deal" still remain opaque, but the possibility of a taxpayer funded feedback loop looms.
The money might be “real cash,” but a substantial portion will likely come from the taxpayer’s pocket to feed a taxpayer-funded agency, with Forest Citysimply giving it a good wash along the way.
Posted by lumi at 10:58 PM
TONIGHT! FILM & PANEL DISCUSSION: How to Stop Eminent Domain in its Tracks
Wednesday October 5th, 6:30 to 9 pm
BRIC Studio, 57 Rockwell Place
Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Council Member James, Senator Velmanette Montgomery, and Congressman Owens are sponsoring a movie and panel discussion on Eminent Domain.
7 pm Documentary Film, "All for the Taking"
8 pm Panel on Eminent Domain and Legislative Efforts
For subway info, check out onNYTurf's Google Map hack.
Posted by lumi at 10:07 PM
The eminent domain fight-back
The NY Sun
Empire State’s legislators are working to ensure that it’s harder for a New Yorker’s home to be seized to become someone else’s castle.
State Assemblyman Richard Brodsky has proposed a bill that would require local review and approval of any project using eminent domain.
Mr. Brodsky’s legislative director,James Malatras,told The New York Sun that “it would affect the Ratner deal” — the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn — because the MTA would have to get local approval for the deal.
State Senator Carl Marcellino has introduced a bill to restrict use of eminent domain to blighted area and reign the definition of "blight." State Senator John DeFrancisco's bill would require local approval. Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Economic Development, and Small Business, James Alesi will be holding public hearings to get input from the public on eminent domain.
Locally, City Councilmember Letitia James:
has proposed a bill prohibiting the city from using the “power of eminent domain to take ownership of private property solely for economic development purposes.” It also bars city funds from being used as part of any state or local project that uses eminent domain to seize private property. A spokesman for the speaker of the city council, Gifford Miller, said the “speaker is looking at it and has not made a decision on it” yet.
Posted by lumi at 7:55 AM
Nets Media Day
NJ Nets media day included all the predictable talk of playoffs, the NBA championship and the big three getting support from a retooled bench. Has President Rod Thorn finally set the team on the right path after Ratner gutted the team in 2004? Anything is possible on media day...
HoopsWorld.com, Strictly Business for the "Big Three" and Company
NY Daily News, Nets have 3 reasons to believe
The Newark Star-Ledger, Jefferson predicts championship
NY Post, NETS ARE 'SKY' HIGH AS CAMP OPENS
Posted by lumi at 7:27 AM
New York in bondage
We missed this NY Sun September 21, 2005 editorial. Thought that you'd like to know how this November's $2.9 billion Rebuild and Renew New York Transportation Bond Act of 2005 relates to Atlantic Yards.
The NY Sun editorial board cites the recent MTA approvals to sell MTA land to the lowball bidder as one reason to tell politicians that taking on more debt in the current political climate would be unwise:
Well, it would be better to sell the Brooklyn Bridge. Feature the track record of only one agency involved, the MTA. The agency has spent the past few months trying to sell of its Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn at a fraction of the assessed value. In July, the MTA discovered a surprise surplus of $833 million in its budget. It promptly proposed using half the money to build a platform over the West Side yards, after its earlier plans to sell off those yards at below-market prices failed.
Posted by lumi at 7:13 AM
October 4, 2005
Ohio Supreme Court To Hear Norwood Eminent Domain Case
The [Ohio Supreme] court ruled today in Columbus to accept the case involving two couples in Norwood in suburban Cincinnati. The families are challenging Norwood's plan to demolish their homes and others so that the Rookwood Partners development group can build the commercial property.
NoLandGrab: NLG readers may recall, the Norwood case is of interest to concerned Brooklynites since the details more closely mirror the Ratner land grab than the recently decided Kelo case.
A local politically-connected developer wants to expand his commercial real estate empire to the land adjacent to his current properties. The only problem is that the land isn't his, so the town got most of the residents to agree to sell their homes under threat of eminent domain and subsequently condemn the homes of the few remaining "holdouts" claiming that the neighborhood is "blighted."
Posted by lumi at 6:54 PM
Ratner Reneging Already
The Brownstoner sparks a flurry of commentary as readers mull over Ratner's broken promise to provide public access to the arena's recreational rooftop garden.
"Robert Moses must be chortling in his grave. This will surely go down in U. S. history as one of the most venal, anti-democratic urban developments of the last 50 years." -- Roz
"A 19,000 seat stadium without an increase in public transportation will create traffic nightmares. 7000 new apartments squeezed into a 3 block area will overcrowd schools. The city will not collect any property tax because the entire development is tax abated. 7000 new apartment will require increased police, fire and sanitation. Who pays for the increase in services?" -- StMarks
Posted by lumi at 6:15 PM
Pay day? That's rich
The Daily News
Borough President Marty Markowitz rakes in $135K a year (plus SUV benefits) and Bruce Ratner net worth is estimated at $4 BILLION!
How does Brooklyn's ruling class rank against the rank and file?
NoLandGrab: At least Marty makes more than Caldwell.
Seriously folks, we don't know where the $4 BILLION figure comes from (probably the market capitalization of the publicly traded Forest City Enterprises). The online version of the article doesn't provide a source.
Ratner's not on the Forbes 400 list, but it's not for the lack of trying.
Posted by lumi at 7:09 AM
Marty Markowitz, Revisionist Historian
Refill your coffee, hold your calls, Fans for Fair Play reacts to Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz's glossy-eyed Atlantic Yards sales pitch in yesterday's Daily News.
Read the litany of Ratner and Markowitz's PR abuses, culminating with yesterday's phoney nostalgia piece about the Brooklyn Dodgers World Series win.
Markowitz writes that the departure of the Dodgers for “La-La Land” (Marty, he’s such a card) was “symptomatic of the decline in many American urban centers in decades to come.”
First, it only had anything to do -- symptomatically or in actual fact -- with Brooklyn, and second, it was symptomatic of a greedy sports team owner who tried to shake down taxpayers, didn’t get it, and took a an immoral offer of free land cleared of an entire community of Mexican immigrants and a virgin major league market on the West Coast instead.
In other words, Walter O’Malley and Bruce Ratner are very, very similar beasts. Whether you’re taking a team away or bringing one in, if you operate at the public’s detriment, you’re running the same con game.
Fans For Fair Play's assesment of Markowitz:
Marty Markowitz is to Brooklyn culture what the Lucky Charms leprechaun is to Irish culture. A sad caricature that promulgates and reinforces the worst stereotypes about Brooklyn.
Posted by lumi at 6:43 AM
Alesi studying eminent domain
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
by Fernando Diaz
NY State Sen. James Alesi is touring the state holding public forums to study eminent domain in order to discuss "broad legislation that could protect property owners but also serve as a strong development tool."
Legislators in Albany have already proposed some bills in response to the ruling, but "it's a much bigger issue than just taking homes," said Alesi, adding that the bills that have been introduced aren't broad enough to adopt statewide.
Alesi said he would take the feedback that comes out of the meetings back to Albany and begin work on a bill that "could be handled easily before the start of the next legislative session in January."
Posted by lumi at 6:32 AM
October 3, 2005
The day Brooklyn conquered the World (Series)
NY Daily News
by Marty Markowitz
Marty can't let the 50th Anniversary of the Dodgers World Series win pass without stumping for Ratner's Nets arena:
Now a big kid of 60 championing a boroughwide economic and cultural Renaissance, I know what unites us: religion, music, family and sports. We have plenty of the first three here in Brooklyn, and the time is right to bring back a national sports team. With the prospect of the Nets playing basketball at Atlantic Yards in just three short years, we have a chance to create a spectacle, and a spirit, that the 10-year-olds of today and tomorrow will remember and celebrate when they are 60.
NoLandGrab History: Ratner and Markowitz want to put a new Nets arena next to the same site that Walter O'Mally wanted to build a new ballpark for the Dodgers. O'Malley was turned down by city planning czar and master of unintended consequences, Robert Moses, who postulated that it would create "a China Wall of traffic."
UPDATE: We were amongst the many who fell prey to the myth that O'Malley proposed a new Dodgers ballpark on the SAME site as Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal. In fact the ballpark plan was located at a site northeast of the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic, where Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Center Mall currently stands.
Posted by lumi at 10:55 AM
Freddy a switch hitter?
The Democratic mayoral nominee said yesterday that "not a single public dollar" should go towards the proposed Nets arena in Brooklyn or any other stadium.
"Not a single public dollar to pay for the construction of a stadium. Team owners can do that and team owners should do that," Ferrer said yesterday about the Nets arena.
Posted by lumi at 8:57 AM
State gaming board ruling may bar Harrah's
by Mark Belko
A recent Pennsylvania State Gaming Board decision could affect Forest City Enterprises's partnership with Harrah's to bring casino gambling to Forest City's Station Square waterfront redevelopment commercial/entertainment project.
NoLandGrab: Forest City has constructed a nationwide reputation for innovative development projects. Will controversial proposals utilizing eminent domain for a Nets arena and bringing casino gambling in Pittsburgh, cause their reputation to suffer?
Posted by lumi at 8:27 AM
October 2, 2005
It came from the Blogosphere...
"What is shocking is that BUILD and Ratner aren't very adept at covering their tracks. If a group with so much money at their disposal can't keep their Machiavellian machinations secret, why do we expect them to handle something infinitely more complex, like creating a vital urban space?"
"BUILD is known for invoking God. A "Connect to CBA [Community Benefits Agreement] Opportunities" document, handed out at the Forest City Ratner booth at the 9/25/05 Atlantic Antic street fair, contained this quote on the cover page of the 11-page document: God used us, the Coalition and FCRC, to achieve this so that the possibilities could be here for you. Now we must all keep and expand the faith and apply it to the task of manifesting the vision."
"what will ratner reap? downtown brooklyn development will likely draw thousands of jews seeking affordable housing, but where they will come from remains to be seen."
Posted by amy at 12:03 PM
October 1, 2005
Matthew Schuerman of The Real Estate Observer gets his gumshoes on and does some real investigative journalism to get to the root of the astroturf...
BUILD and Forest City Ratner deny that any money has changed hands or pledges have been made. Erima told The Real Estate today that he included Forest City’s name and the $5 million figure because under the Los Angeles airport community benefits agreement, one of the few such agreements in existence, a single corporation—Los Angeles World Airports--is paying for the job training at the rate of $3 million a year.
During subsequent negotiations with Forest City Ratner on the Atlantic Yards CBA, Erima said, “We found out that they would not be willing to be the sole funder.”
Erima was admitted to the New York State bar in 1999. His registration, under his old name, Sharai Elegba, is currently delinquent, which means that he cannot legally practice law--although that does not mean he cannot fill out tax forms.
Posted by amy at 9:50 PM
MTA Giveaway Cheered On By Markowitz, Says Mattera
Release from the Committee to Elect Gloria Mattera:
Brooklyn, NY -- September 20, 2005 -- "Marty Markowitz says he’s a cheerleader for Brooklyn but in fact he’s a cheerleader for private developers," said Gloria Mattera, Green Party candidate for Brooklyn Borough President. Mattera spoke at the Fort Greene Association Candidates’ Debate last night against the Ratner Nets Arena and development plan. "Markowitz has given his seal of approval to the handover of state MTA property to private developer Bruce Ratner for a bargain-basement price. Along with other subsidies and tax write-offs, this sale gives Ratner the go-ahead for his vast development scheme which has bypassed the city’s public review process. Markowitz has unquestioningly followed the lead of Ratner every step of the way without ever comprehending the details of the plan."
Word on the street is that Gloria is close to raising the amount of money her campaign needs to get matching funds from the city. If you'd like to help her on her quest to fight corrupt developers, click here.
Posted by amy at 5:25 PM
Ratner's delusions of 'blandeur'
This open letter to Bruce Ratner printed in The Brooklyn Papers is a must-read! Written by Meir Kahtan, a former employee of Forest City Ratner, it includes such gems as the following:
Why don't locals want your project? In it, they see disclocation, not continuity. Your project doesn't belong. It doesn't belong in scale, in style, in feel, in anything.
Posted by amy at 4:24 PM
Who built BUILD?
From Field of Schemes:
Seemingly from the moment that developer Bruce Ratner announced his plans to move the New Jersey Nets to Brooklyn, his main community ally has been Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development, or BUILD. (Okay, ACORN got all smoochy with him, but that was later.) The question most Brooklynites have had on their minds since then: Who the heck is BUILD, and where did they come from?
Posted by amy at 4:11 PM
One of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn's most innovative fundraising ideas was originated by a private citizen who pledged her $400 NYC tax refund:
"I know that a lawsuit contesting the use of eminent domain may be the final chance for opposing the plan and would like to donate my $400 'refund check' coming from Mayor Bloomberg (conveniently at election time) to the cost of the eminent domain fight."
For more info on how you can turn your tax refund into a tax-deductible contribution, click here.
Posted by lumi at 11:04 AM
Ratner to bar public from promised park
From the Brooklyn Papers:
Plans for a glorious, 52,000-square-foot publicly accessible recreational space on the roof of Bruce Ratner’s proposed Frank Gehry-designed basketball arena will not be open to the public, according to a document released last week by the state authority acting as lead agent for the project.
The elevated parkland, described as “1+” acres in earlier promotional material distributed by the developer’s Forest City Ratner Companies, which hopes to develop the site with the help of at least $200 million in public funds, is now going to be for private access only, according to the “Draft Scope of Analysis for an Environmental Impact” on the Atlantic Yards plan.
Posted by amy at 9:21 AM
Charge Ratner bought arena plan’s support
From the Brooklyn Papers:
If you fund BUILD, they will come … and support your project.
That’s the refrain being cited by opponents of developer Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards project, who this week uncovered tax filings that revealed $5 million contributed by Ratner’s company to a local non-profit group whose support of the arena, housing and office skyscraper project has been key to much of the development’s public and political support.
Posted by amy at 9:17 AM
Arena Opponents Blast 'Community Group'
From 1010 WINS:
One of the most vocal community supporters of a $3.5 billion Nets arena project said in a tax filing that it expected to receive $5 million from the arena developer.
Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, an anti-arena group that released the filing at a press conference Thursday, said the document proved that Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development was a front for developer Bruce Ratner.
Posted by amy at 9:15 AM
Brooklyn Arena Supporters Got Millions From Ratner
REPORTER: Brandishing documents obtained under the freedom of information act, members of the group develop don't destroy said the group BUILD had a conflict of interest. BUILD wrote in an application for federal non profit status that Forest City had "contributed" $5 million to the group. The application was made at the same time BUILD was negotiating with Forest City ratner to secure agreements on community hiring and affordable housing. The Reverend Clinton Miller said that was unethical.
MILLER: How you can negotiate on behalf of the community when on paper you've already received 5 million dollars?
Posted by amy at 8:57 AM