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February 20, 2009

Is the cost of Atlantic Yards now a "trade secret"? NYC EDC foils FOIL request

Atlantic Yards Report

So, what's the current price tag on the Atlantic Yards project, including the cost of the arena?

The information is surely relevant to understand, among other things, the potential pace of the project and the potential need for more government money. For example, more costly affordable housing likely would require a greater level of housing subsidies.

And it might back up BrooklynSpeaks' comment Tuesday that "the current design, program and schedule for the project is unknown."

Forest City Ratner surely has an estimate, so I suspect government agencies have one too. To learn more, I filed several Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests.

NYC EDC says no

So far, however, I've been stymied, as a city-affiliated agency, the New York City Economic Development Corporation, declares that the information is exempt from disclosure because it is either a trade secret or its disclosure "would cause substantial injury to the competitive position of the subject enterprise."

Really?

The cost of the project was certainly not a trade secret when Atlantic Yards was approved in December 2006. The price tag was $4 billion, with the arena at $637.2 million, according to the General Project Plan.

Did approval flip some kind of secrecy switch?

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NoLandGrab: This type of opacity alone should disqualify Atlantic Yards from consideration for stimulus funds. Here's the section about Accountability and Transparency from Recovery.gov:

This is your money. You have a right to know where it's going and how it's being spent. Learn what steps we're taking to ensure you can track our progress every step of the way.

Posted by eric at February 20, 2009 10:46 AM