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March 16, 2009

Despite Atlantic Yards slowdown, Forest City Ratner spent $928,652 in 2008 on city/state lobbying

Atlantic Yards Report

Nope, you're not imaging things — Norman Oder is reporting that in 2008, Forest City Ratner spent $928,652 to lobby the city and state, with 80% on behalf of the Atlantic Yards arena and high rise megaproject. All that for a project that stalled out last fall.

While the subjects of the lobby effort are described in broad terms (e.g., "budget regulatory and legislative issues"), they also offer some tantalizing hints. Forest City Ratner is apparently trying to ensure it receives credits for brownfield cleanup.

It is in talks with the city and Metropolitan Transportation Authority--remember, the New York Observer reported that FCR is trying to delay paying the MTA the $100 million in cash pledged, and has sought a speedier delivery of the city's pledged $100 million.

And, perhaps most importantly regarding the issuance of bonds for the planned Brooklyn arena, Forest City Ratner is lobbying the New York City Department of Finance (DOF). Remember, the arena site would be tax-exempt, but PILOTs (payments in lieu of taxes) would be used to repay the arena bonds. However, the PILOTs cannot be larger than the foregone taxes, and the arena site valuation must be high enough to ensure that the foregone taxes are significant.

In order to value the Yankee Stadium site, the DOF looked well beyond the South Bronx for comps (comparable properties), even to a vacant lot in Alphabet City, more than seven miles away.

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Posted by lumi at March 16, 2009 6:30 AM