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April 7, 2008

DDDB PRESS RELEASE: Forest City Ratner Says They "Still Need More" Subsidy for Heavily Subsidized Atlantic Yards Proposal

NEW YORK, NY— “We still need more” subsidies for the Atlantic Yards project, Forest City Enterprises president Chuck Ratner said during an investment analysts conference call last Wednesday. Forest City Enterprises (FCE) is the publicly traded parent of Bruce Ratner’s Forest City Ratner (FCR). (Journalist Norman Oder broke the news of Ratner’s “need” for more cash subsidies on his Atlantic Yards Report today).

From the conference call transcript it is clear that the Ratner team will seek more public subsidies; it is not clear if they will seek more city and state subsidies or just city subsidies. FCR’s Atlantic Yards $4-plus billion proposal already has been granted $305 million in direct cash from New York City and State. In total, the developer’s project would be the recipient of at least $2 billion in government-backed financing and tax breaks. The city’s direct cash contribution went from $100 million to $205 almost immediately after the project received political approval in December 2006.

During the conference call, FCE president Chuck Ratner said, “Just in these past six or eight months, we got the various governmental agencies, state, city, bureau in New York to increase their commitments to Atlantic Yards by $105 million on top of the $200 they had committed. We still need more.”

(It was actually the city that increased its direct subsidy to Ratner.)

How will local elected officials respond to an impending visit by Ratner back to the public subsidy trough? It doesn’t appear that they will welcome more Atlantic Yards subsidy:

Councilman, and Brooklyn Borough Presidential candidate, Bill de Blasio warned against additional public subsidies for Ratner’s Atlantic Yards in The Brooklyn Paper. “There has already been very generous public investment,” de Blasio told The Brooklyn Paper on March 29th. “I don’t see how we can go any farther.”

“The Atlantic Yards proposal is already subsidized to the hilt. Ratner’s highly profitable development plan should not be bailed out by the taxpayer, especially with budgetary tightening including education cuts,” Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn spokesman Daniel Goldstein said. “If Ratner can’t build his project--with over $300 million in direct cash subsidy, over $2 billion in government-backed financing, a blank city check for ‘extraordinary infrastructure costs,’ free land from the city, a below market rail yard purchase price, and the windfall benefits of eminent domain condemnation--he should not be rewarded with yet more taxpayer funds.

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Posted by eric at April 7, 2008 2:30 PM