« Hearing at 9:30 am on "writ of assistance" sought by ESDC to compel Goldstein family and two businesses to leave | Main | Daniel Goldstein and his family are the last residents fighting Atlantic Yards eviction battle »

April 21, 2010

Orwellian, almost: mayor claims commitment from Ratner to build affordable housing in first tower, but it's really the other way around

Atlantic Yards Report

I finally figured out why Crain's New York Business last month proclaimed as news that the first apartment tower in the Atlantic Yards project would consist of at least 50% subsidized, "affordable" units.

Because Mayor Mike Bloomberg said so.

And, at the time, I didn't notice how "Orwellian, almost" it was, given that the mayor claimed that he'd gotten a commitment from developer Forest City Ratner, while the real news was that the developer could only make a commitment if he was ensured scarce city subsidies.

(Forest City Ratner has long promised that the first tower would be 50% subsidized, as in this 5/5/08 press release, also embedded below.)

From the press release

On the occasion of the March 11 arena groundbreaking, the press release from the mayor's office deviated from the official press release (both embedded below), in part, by adding this:

In the first phase of development, which includes four buildings, Forest City Ratner Companies committed that at least 30 percent of the housing units would be income-targeted. Mayor Bloomberg also announced today that the City has secured an additional commitment from the developer to ensure that at least 50 percent of the units in the first residential building will be affordable to a mix of low-, moderate- and middle-income families.

(Emphases added)

An additional commitment from the developer?

Forest City Ratner won't build subsidized housing unless there are sufficient affordable housing subsidies; that's in the Development Agreement, which allows for eight renewable one-year delays in the absence of subsidies.

So the news was really that Bloomberg has implicitly made a commitment to subsidize that tower.

article

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, If Bloomberg's fortune comes from selling financial information, should he be trusted on such municipal issues? Not when it comes to AY

New York Daily News columnist Errol Louis, in a column yesterday (Mayor Bloomberg right on the money in supporting community banks) hailing Mayor Mike Bloomberg's effort to change a state law and allow government agencies to put their money into community banks and credit unions, wrote:

The movement will get a huge boost if New York City government follows suit, particularly with the added credibility supplied by a mayor whose personal fortune was earned selling financial information.

It's a plausible observation, but, when it comes to the mayor's performance on Atlantic Yards, it doesn't hold water.

Spinning for Ratner

Rather, Bloomberg has been more than willing to spin for Forest City Ratner, though he and his staff haven't completely gotten their ducks in a row. Consider the press release issued March 11 on the occasion of the Atlantic Yards groundbreaking.

Posted by eric at April 21, 2010 11:25 AM