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June 24, 2009

This Week in Bailouts: ESDC Edition

The Brooklyn Paper, Another bailout! This time, ESDC lets Ratner off the hook

The Atlantic Yards mega-project, initially envisioned by developer Bruce Ratner as a 16-skyscraper office, residential and basketball arena complex, is now officially dead, thanks to a new deal with state officials that calls for Ratner to only acquire land to build the arena and one or two buildings around it.

On Tuesday, the board of the Empire State Development Corporation approved a new “General Project Plan” that reveals that Ratner only wants to develop the eight acres above the Vanderbilt railyard near the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues. The state and Ratner have put off acquiring the other 14 acres that comprise what was once called the Atlantic Yards project site.

“The remainder of the site will be acquired when necessary for development,” Steve Matlin, the ESDC’s counsel, told the agency’s board on Tuesday.

In other words, the remainder of the project, which includes the vast majority of the below-market-rate housing and open space that was part of the project when it was originally approved in December, 2006, has been put off indefinitely.

NoLandGrab: Actually, the revised General Project Plan still indicates that the entire Atlantic Yards project will be built in 10 years (wink, wink).

Curbed, Today in Atlantic Yards: Subways Sell Out, Costs Rise, More!

The Empire State Development Corporation approved Forest City Ratner's amended, Frank Gehry-less plan for the Atlantic Yards yesterday, and the MTA's board of directors should approve the new sweetheart deal today. With all the Atlantic Yards action, new details about the arena and its 16 or so companion towers are coming to light. Here's a summary...

GlobeSt.com, ESDC Approves Modified Atlantic Yards Plan

Unlike a raucous public hearing on Atlantic Yards earlier this month, at which ESDC representatives warned of cuts to the project, order and procedure permeated Tuesday’s ESDC meeting. Board members listened to 40 speakers. The majority were project supporters, some wearing red ACORN shirts, while others sported blue "Build Atlantic Yards" buttons, all mixed with a smattering of hard hats and orange vests. Project supporter talking points included union job creation, minority participation, praise of FCRC’s track record in downtown Brooklyn and the eventual arrival of the Brooklyn Nets at the project’s arena.

Although outnumbered in the speaker roster, project opponents articulated concerns that included peppering the board with questions of transparency, oversight and taxpayer financed developments. There was even a moment of public policy theatre, when an Atlantic Yards opponent sporting a "Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn" T-shirt used his entire allotted three minutes as a silent protest.

Later, board members assured the audience that they were indeed listening, that they did not speak or engage speakers because it was "never their intent to engage the witnesses."

Posted by eric at June 24, 2009 12:59 PM