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September 29, 2009

The ESDC's non-responsive Response to Comment document: looking at evasions about benefits, renderings, timetables, signage, blight, etc.

Atlantic Yards Report

"Atlantic Yards Modified General Project Plan for Dummies:" Norman Oder spells out the issues and evasions in the official Empire State Development Corporation document that was adopted as part of the re-approval of Bruce Ratner's controversial arena and highrise megaproject.

I've already written about major changes agreed to by the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) at the September 17 approval of the Modified General Project Plan (MGPP), including:

  • a speed-up of government funds
  • a pass-through of city payments
  • a hedging defense of the announced ten-year timetable
  • the dubious "economic benefit analysis"
  • a cut in size of the project by one-third
  • an acknowledgment that affordable housing depends on subsidies.

The Response to Comments document distributed by the ESDC at the September 17 board meeting is notable for non-responsive or evasive responses, including, as I've previously explained:

  • the claim that an "economic benefit analysis" equals a cost-benefit analysis
  • the claim that a construction schedule represents a "useful timetable"
  • the evasion of the question of whether affordable housing financing would be available
  • the claim that a ten-year timetable is reasonable
  • the questionable critique of the New York City Independent Budget Office's report on the Atlantic Yards arena.

But the rest of the document deserves scrutiny, as well, given the ESDC's avoidance of candor.

Below are some selected responses, with my commentary. Among the highlights, the ESDC:

  • punts on whether project benefits would be binding
  • ignores the request for architectural renderings
  • claims an Arena block program required closing Fifth Avenue
  • doesn't acknowledge the likelihood of extended surface parking
  • ignores a question about the timetable for reopening the Carlton Avenue bridge
  • disregards how an extended project timetable would extend blight
  • ignores a request for renderings of signage.


Posted by lumi at September 29, 2009 5:40 AM