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July 7, 2009

Public's interests must be preserved at Atlantic Yards

NY Newsday, editorial

After Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner secured a better deal from the MTA, resulting in public benefits being "relegated to the back burner," Newsday's editorial board declares that "major, continuing changes argue for the creation of a new government subsidiary to oversee progress and ensure that the project's public benefits are not relegated to the back burner."

The editorial also misses some key points about Ratner's new deal with the MTA, namely the interest rate that the two parties agreed upon in order to finance the development rights over the railyards is much lower than what Ratner could get in the open market, and that the "better Long Island Railroad facilities" comprises of a railyard with smaller capacity than the current one.

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NoLandGrab: The only reason we might need a "government subsidiary to oversee progress and ensure that the project's public benefits are not relegated to the back burner" is because the boards of the Empire State Development Corporation and MTA totally abdicated that role and are now, seemingly, receiving their orders from developer Bruce Ratner.

Atlantic Yards Report, In editorial, Newsday channels two of RPA's relatively mild AY reforms (that the MTA ignored)

Norman Oder catches an ignorant mistake and connects the editorial to the position of the Regional Planning Association (RPA):

...it wouldn't be downtown Brooklyn. And how exactly would it be a financial boost for the MTA, given that it would deliver far fewer dollars than the MTA initially expected in the short term?

The editorial continues:

Instead of the original $100 million paid upfront for the right to develop the LIRR's rail yards, Ratner wants to stretch payments over 21 years, with interest, which works out to $193.5 million. The MTA should require a share of future revenue in addition, to take advantage of a market recovery.

The editorial doesn't say that the interest rate would be a notably low 6.5%. As for the share of future revenue, that's a not unreasonable concept should the project go forward, but it should be way more specific. When the RPA suggested it at the June 24 hearing, no one took it up.

Posted by lumi at July 7, 2009 6:15 AM