April 4, 2011
NBA deal is 'net' loss for B'klyn
by Rich Calder
The hoop-la has faded in Brooklyn.
When the Atlantic Yards complex was announced in 2003, its developer promised the borough a basketball team, world-class arena designed by Frank Gehry, 16 soaring residential and office buildings, affordable housing, parks and recreational facilities.
To make the grandiose plans come true, some 800 residents and businesses were dispossessed and city and state taxpayers kicked in $305 million so far.
But it's looking like all Brooklyn will be left with is one of the worst teams in the NBA -- playing in a new, nondescript facility.
Documents filed last week with the Securities and Exchange Commission by developer Bruce Ratner and his Forest City Enterprises warn that the non-arena portions of the plan could experience "further delays" leading to most or all of the rest of the 22-acre, $4.9 million project being scrapped.
Councilwoman Letitia James (D-Brooklyn) and Prospect Heights activist Patti Hagan, both longtime foes of Atlantic Yards, said the SEC documents are the latest "proof" that Ratner can't deliver 2,250 affordable housing units and most of the 17,000 jobs he promised state officials in order to gain project approvals.
"It was all just a mirage," James said. "He underestimated the economy and opposition, and now all we're getting is an arena and a large parking lot."
Leave it to the New York Post to conjure up a conclusion out of a very uncertain situation and some boilerplate hedging language.
Yes, it is likely that "Brooklyn" will get far less than originally promised--after all, Forest City Ratner need not build out the entire project, has loopholes for affordable housing subsidy delays, and faces more significant penalties for Phase 1 and its buildings than the rest of the project.
But it's way too conclusory to state that the only thing that would be built is an arena. After all, as has been front-page news, Forest City Ratner is looking to save big by building the first tower via modular construction.
The Post recognizes that. Indeed, the print version of the article includes a graphic with the outline of potential towers, described as "what could be lost."
I reported on this "exclusive" news two days ago, calling the description of risks "boilerplate."
The real news from the SEC filings, as I pointed out, was that parent Forest City Enterprises is no longer talking about an Atlantic Yards office building, which would bring significant tax revenues.
Posted by eric at April 4, 2011 10:49 AM