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June 25, 2010

City provides $32.5M cash for project infrastructure, claims total subsidy to Ratner is lower than previously stated; reasons for skepticism

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder takes another well-worth-a-read look at Atlantic Yards's fuzzy math.

Yesterday, the Empire State Development Corporation amended the State Funding Agreement for Atlantic Yards so it could pass along an additional $32.5 million in city funding to Forest City Ratner for project-related infrastructure.

From one perspective, it seems like a significant increase in city subsidies for Atlantic Yards, given that the Forest City Ratner will have directly received $171.5 million.

That's far more than the initial $100 million pledged in 2005.

City subsidy actually down?

However, representatives of the ESDC and New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYC EDC) both stated yesterday that the city's commitment to Atlantic Yards was well below the $205 million figure that has been reported for three years. (With $100 million from the state, that would be $305 million.)

I distrust that explanation, as I will explain below. After all, Forest City Ratner itself counted $205 million in city funds, as noted in the screenshot at right from the former Atlantic Yards web site.

Rather, the evidence suggests that NYC EDC is taking a very narrow view of subsidy--cash delivered directly to the developer--and excluding other infrastructure work that is related to the project but paid for directly by the city.

If so, that means that the administration of Mayor Mike Bloomberg has been willing to increase the city's commitment to a private-public project like Atlantic Yards, while proposing cuts to quintessential public services like libraries by $75 million. (The City Council just restored many of the library cuts.)

It all deserves a closer look, perhaps in an oversight hearing.

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Posted by eric at June 25, 2010 11:03 AM