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December 18, 2006

Fate of Project in Brooklyn Hinges on Nod of One Man

The NY Times
By Nicholas Confessore

SheldonSilver-NYT-06-12-18.jpg

Sheldon Silver could always just say no.

That is the nightmare facing Forest City Ratner, the real estate developer whose $4 billion Atlantic Yards project must now be approved by an obscure state oversight board on which Mr. Silver, the state Assembly speaker, controls one of three votes.

Over three years, Forest City has assembled an astonishingly wide and deep political coalition behind the Brooklyn project, ranging from outgoing Gov. George E. Pataki to Acorn, the liberal advocacy group for low-income people. The developer has endured thousands of pages of studies and reviews, staged hundreds of meetings and hearings, beat back lawsuits and persisted in the face of a growing and energetic coalition of opponents and critics.

But now — once again — the fate of a multibillion-dollar project comes down to Mr. Silver, a politician who has not hesitated to delay or halt grand development plans when he deems it appropriate.
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Both Forest City Ratner and the development corporation have so far kept the project’s financial projections secret. No one else knows how much the developer expects to make from the Atlantic Yards, how big it needs to be to turn a profit, or how much profit will be needed to sustain its more popular elements, including about 2,250 units of moderately priced housing.

In recent days, the development corporation has turned over some financial information to Mr. Silver’s control board staff. But Eileen Larrabee, a spokeswoman for Mr. Silver, described it as “very cursory information, basically what’s available on the Web.”

She added, “We have asked for some detailed financial and economic information that has not yet been provided.” article

Posted by lumi at December 18, 2006 9:34 AM