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October 5, 2010

Markowitz pulls out of controversial China trip to benefit Nets arena

NY Post
by Rich Calder

At least he can still hop on the subway and ride to Chinatown.

Bowing to pressure fueled in part by a Post story last week, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz confirmed today that he’s pulling out of an all-expenses-paid trip to China. He had planned to take the weeklong 7,000-mile trip this month to help his longtime pal -- developer Bruce Ratner -- peddle green cards to rich foreigners in exchange for investing in Ratner's cash-poor Atlantic Yards project.

The Beep won’t be accompanying Ratner, Peter Davidson, executive director of the Empire State Development Corp., and other officials on the trip -- even though the city Conflicts of Interest Board earlier today green-lighted the trip for Markowitz by ruling it wouldn’t violate city ethics laws.

Markowitz’s trip would have been paid for by New York City Regional Center LLC. The Manhattan company locally oversees the federal "EB-5" program, which gives green cards to investors of at least $500,000 in US job-creating projects. Ratner is seeking 498 such investors as he tries to raise $250 million for the $4.9 billion Prospect Heights development, which includes an arena for the NBA’s Nets.

Markowitz through a spokesman denied caving in to heavy criticism from project critics, including postings today by the blog Atlantic Yards Report claiming Ratner and his contingent have over-hyped the projects benefits -- such as job estimates -- to sway potential Chinese investors. The blog was also the first to report about the planned trip last week.


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Atlantic Yards Report, Post: Feeling pressure (?), Markowitz pulls out of China trip, even though it was OK'd by the Conflicts of Interests Board

Surely the pressure was fueled in part by the Post, but I have to think Atlantic Yards Report had a larger impact. And, actually, the trip would not benefit the Nets arena--that's the hype--but rather developer Forest City Ratner's search for low-cost financing for the railyard it's obligated to build.

According to the Post, I am "claiming Ratner and his contingent have over-hyped the projects benefits -- such as job estimates -- to sway potential Chinese investors."

Actually, I'm not claiming that they've over-hyped benefits. I'm proving it. [Emphasis added by NLG.]

Any promotion that uses a 2004 quote from Sen. Chuck Schumer about 10,000 office jobs--office jobs destined for no-longer-planned office towers--is an over-hyped promotion. There's no debate about that.

Posted by eric at October 5, 2010 11:36 AM