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July 11, 2011

Forest City Ratner's deceptive memo opposing new ESDC subsidiary to oversee Atlantic Yards inadvertently makes strong argument for more transparency, passage of governance bill

Atlantic Yards Report

Forest City Ratner has issued a self-serving and misleading Memorandum in Opposition to a pending bill that would allow a state subsidiary to oversee Atlantic Yards.

A subsidiary, argues Forest City, would delay public benefits. Rather, the document suggests it would do more to delay private profits.

The memo, with numerous half-truths and deceptions, ultimately makes a huge argument for such a subsidiary. However weak a subsidiary, it at least could create more oversight and transparency regarding the project, and help right a balance of power that tilts toward the developer.

The memorandum, embedded below, was made available on the BrooklynSpeaks web site this weekend. As BrooklynSpeaks explains, FCR's praise for current oversight is rather myopic:

FCRC extolls [sic] the existing project oversight being provided by the ESDC, ignoring a New York Supreme Court Justice’s characterization of the agency’s review of the 2009 plan as having “lacked the candor that the public was entitled to expect, particularly in light of the scale of the Project and its impact on the community.”

The bill, which has passed the Assembly, died at the end of the legislative session in June, but should get another look in the state Senate this summer. At that time, not just the developer but the ESDC itself should be asked to defend the memo's claims.

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Related coverage...

BrooklynSpeaks, Forest City Ratner lobbies unsuccessfully against reform of Atlantic Yards oversight

As Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries bill to reform oversight of the Atlantic Yards project was on its way to the floor of the New York State Assembly, developer Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) lobbied legislators to vote against the bill by, among other things, circulating a “Memorandum in Opposition.”

The arguments in FCRC’s memo are sometimes inaccurate, misleading and outrageous, but unfortunately not surprising. The developer continues to represent itself as a concerned corporate citizen, blaming the community for delays FCRC itself extracted from the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) as concessions during the renegotiation of the 2009 Modified General Project Plan.

Posted by eric at July 11, 2011 12:50 PM