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November 18, 2011

Ratner's modular tower release and the mostly compliant press: an FAQ on timing, misdirection, jobs, the lack of larger apartments, and Ratner's astounding admission

Atlantic Yards Report

There are plenty of news outlets simply repeating Bruce Ratner's news releases on plans for housing units for the Atlantic Yards project, but only Norman Oder digs deeper to reveal the continuing story of the project as a series of deceptions and promises not kept.

Well, Forest City Ratner yesterday announced plans for Building 2, a 32-story, 350-unit tower with half subsidized apartments--the world's tallest modular tower--and the press piled on.

They just didn't answer all the questions.

Why were the renderings released yesterday?

No report explained that. There's no financing for the first building. The modular plan isn't final.

I'd bet that the release was strategized to deflect any lingering attention from the lawsuit filed two days earlier by construction workers charging they didn't get promised jobs and union cards after going through a selective training program mandated by the Atlantic Yards Community Benefit Agreement.

And to put pressure on construction unions. Remember, Ratner stopped building the Beekman Tower (aka 8 Spruce Street) midway to renegotiate with the unions.

What kind of pressure?

Well, Gary LaBarbera, president of the Building Building and Construction Trades Council, said, in a statement, "We are in the process of attempting to reach an agreement on modular construction that will work for the building trades and Forest City in an effort to create permanent employment opportunities for our members,"

Is Ratner definitely building modular?

Not at all. "We intend to do it modular," he told the Wall Street Journal, but said the decision isn't final. Indeed, you have to watch his language. In November 2009, after the state eminent domain decision, Ratner said they had the "intent" to move the New Jersey Nets to Brooklyn for the 2011-12 season.

Didn't the permit application describe a non-modular process?


Did any press outlet mention that?

Not yet.


Does this announcement represent an about-face by Ratner? The Daily News said "project opponents saw another about-face by the developer." The Times quoted Council Member James, "who denounced what she described as the growing distance between the promise and the reality of Atlantic Yards."

It's another example of journalists pitting Ratner against "opponents" and maintaining what Jay Rosen calls the "View from Nowhere," the false middle, the inability to do any analysis. Actually, Bruce Ratner said it himself, that "existing incentives" don't work for high-rise, union-built affordable housing.

He said that?

Yup. Of course, he proposed--and the state approved--high-rise, union-built affordable housing.

Does that mean all the promises about Atlantic Yards residential rental towers, and the approval of those promises, were bogus?

Uh, yeah.


Related converage...

The L Magazine, Yup, It's a Prefab High-Rise for Atlantic Yards

Fort Greene - Clinton Hill Patch, Design Revealed for Atlantic Yards' Pre-Fab Tower

International Business Times, Forest City Ratner, SHoP Unveil Atlantic Yards Tower [PHOTOS]

Gothamist, Sorry, Brooklyn: This Is What Atlantic Yards Is Supposed To Look LIke

WNYC, Atlantic Yards Tower Design Revealed

The Wall Street Journal, Ratner Goes 'Modular' in Brooklyn

Daily News, Apartment tower at Atlantic Yards will be built in a factory

The Brooklyn Paper, Unions, aesthetes dunked as Ratner plans pre-fab building at Yards

New York Post. Atlantic Yards building with ‘Legos’

Curbed, Here's a Glimpse at the World's Tallest Prefab Condo Tower

Smart Planet, NYC SHoP Architects take modular construction to new heights

Crain's New York, Bruce Ratner’s breakthrough

NY1, Plans For Atlantic Yards Modular Tower Unveiled

Media Bistro, Details Released for ShoP’s Atlantic Yards Residential Buildings, Will Include World’s Tallest Modular Tower

Posted by steve at November 18, 2011 6:52 PM