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March 30, 2009

Getting It Right: Government’s Role in Housing and Economic Development

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder attended a symposium at Brooklyn Law School and filed two reports:

More criticism of the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement: it (mostly) doesn’t apply if Ratner sells the project

Atlantic Yards developer Forest City Ratner likes to tell anyone who will listen that the company's Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) is not only comprehensive but legally enforceable. Though critics have pointed out that the signatories were handpicked and most are financially supported by the developer, some other criticisms came up at a panel entitled, "Community Input in Megadevelopments."

However, a national expert on CBAs, speaking at a conference in Brooklyn Friday, identified three serious flaws in the AY CBA: it (mostly) doesn’t apply if Forest City Ratner sells the project; there are several roadblocks to enforcing the current obligations; and structures to implement the plan have apparently not been set up.

The two latter criticisms have been aired in the past, as have other concerns about enforceability, but I've heard little about the issue of successorship.

NYC EDC's Pinsky: Atlantic Yards "not over" but "missed the market;" is streamlining environmental review the answer?

On Friday, New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYC EDC) President Seth Pinsky was the luncheon speaker at Getting It Right: Government’s Role in Housing and Economic Development, a symposium held at Brooklyn Law School.

In his address, he talked about Yankee Stadium, CitiField, the World Trade Center site, Hudson Yards, Coney Island, Willets Point, and Hunters Point South, among other major projects.

Unmentioned was Atlantic Yards, Brooklyn's most controversial project, so, during the Q&A, I brought it up in a nonconfrontational way (despite the temptation to ask whether NYC EDC would ever tell me how much the project costs).

"Are there any lessons to be learned from Atlantic Yards?" I asked.

"Yes. The first is that it’s not over ‘til it’s over," Pinsky replied, to some chuckles. "We continue to work with Forest City and think that there are steps that can be taken that can allow that project to move forward. We’re hoping that that we can work with them to get the financing, to get at least the first phase of the project under way before the end of the year, but, no doubt, it’s a very tricky environment in which to do a major financing, so we’re hopeful, but nothing is real until it’s real...."

Posted by lumi at March 30, 2009 5:55 AM