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January 25, 2010

Did the city give Forest City Ratner $31 million more for arena land? Despite previous reports, the answer is yes

Atlantic Yards Report

The Atlantic Yards master closing documents were made available publicly for the first time today by the Empire State Development Corporation.

Betcha can't guess who's first to report on their contents?

Among the voluminous documents that were part of the Atlantic Yards master closing, first made available today, is one that confirms that, despite previous reports, New York City gave Forest City Ratner $31 million for arena land purchases on top of the $100 million it originally provided.

In other words, $131 million of Forest City Ratner's land purchases in the AY arena footprint, made under the threat of eminent domain, came from public funds.

And even if that represents a reallocation of city subsidies, rather than an additional subsidy--the evidence is murky--it opens up the possibility for additional city infrastructure subsidies at some point.

Figure surfaces in December

That number was first indicated in bond documents that emerged in December, which cited certain costs incurred and to be incurred in connection with acquisition of the Premises by ESDC.

David Lombino, a spokesman for the New York City Economic Development Corporation, in December told me, "The $131 million referenced is part of the total original commitment (not new money) and will go to FCR for site acquisition and infrastructure work."

That indicates both property acquisition and infrastructure. I erred in initially emphasizing that it was for infrastructure. But it appears Lombino misled me by stating that it would go for both land and infrastructure.

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NoLandGrab: Lombino once did some decent reporting on the Atlantic Yards project for the New York Sun — before succumbing to the dark side.

Posted by eric at January 25, 2010 8:47 PM