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December 5, 2008

Documents show FCR has missed three deadlines to construct temporary railyard (and that litigation was not a factor)

Atlantic Yards Report

Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner is blaming the halt of construction on litigation brought by opponents, while opponents are saying that Ratner has nothing to blame but himself, his hairbrained city-from-scratch megaproject proposal and cash-flow problems.

By examining Ratner's own construction timeline, submitted to the Empire State Development Corporation, Norman Oder reviews his own call and uncovers a very interesting detail (emphasis added):

I've already cited sworn affidavits by FCR executives who promised that work would continue during litigation, claiming that the developer's "construction schedule has been carefully drawn... by commencing work now on vacant properties that are owned by FCRC, the MTA and the City...."

There's another reason not to believe the ESDC/FCR explanation. Construction schedules prepared by/for the developer regarding completion of a temporary railyard--Stage 1 of three at the Vanderbilt Yard--offer no indication that litigation would be a factor.

And, contrary to the claim by FCR spokesman Joe DePlasco that "we've gone about as far as we can go at this point with preliminary work," the temporary railyard is way behind schedule, having missed three deadlines.

In fact, a license for temporary yard work signed 2/14/07 states that, if construction of a permanent railyard does not begin within 24 months, the MTA has the option to ask Forest City Ratner "to fully restore the Present VD Yard Functions" and--apparently, though the language is murky--end the deal. There's no indication that the MTA would exercise such leverage, but the option would become available in some ten weeks, as the authority waits for the $100 million FCR has pledged to lease the railyard.

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NoLandGrab: Oder is right to caution that there are no definitive signs that the project will get killed by the State; however, concern that Ratner might not be able to close the deal with the MTA is a very good reason to suspend preliminary railyard work.

Posted by lumi at December 5, 2008 5:48 AM