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April 19, 2012

Phil Reisman: Caution is wise when dealing with Forest City

The Journal News
by Phil Reisman

In a certain well-known novel about a whale, the aged Elijah warns Ishmael and his tattooed pal Queequeg that they will lose their souls if they sign on with Captain Ahab.

They ignored him and ... well, you know the rest.

Is there a political lesson in this seafaring disaster story?

I contemplated the question after talking to former Yonkers City Councilman John Murtagh about Forest City Ratner Companies, the super-sized developer of literally millions of square feet of real estate in the metropolitan region — including the Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, Ridge Hill in Yonkers and the Echo Bay project in New Rochelle.

“Given their track record in Brooklyn and Yonkers, I would warn any municipality I came across to watch out for these guys because I just think they’re bad operators,” Murtagh said. “They ride roughshod over communities. They quite frankly — legally or otherwise — buy off politicians. They game the system for their advantage.”


NoLandGrab: There's really nothing we can add.

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Did Atlantic Yards "effectively wipe out the Flatbush section of Brooklyn"? No.

Norman Oder takes issue with one detail in the Journal News column, in which Reisman wrote:

Atlantic Yards is a colossus of a project that effectively wipes out the Flatbush section of Brooklyn. It has spawned many lawsuits and protests from residents and merchants who regard Forest City Ratner to be evil incarnate.

The comment I tried to post:

For the record, whatever you think of Atlantic Yards, it cannot "effectively wipes out the Flatbush section of Brooklyn," because it's not *in* the Flatbush neighborhood. That's more than a mile away. The project is located in the northwest edge of Prospect Heights, and has a significant impact there, including a stretch of adjacent Flatbush Avenue.

I'd add that merchants are likely divided, with some of them, especially purveyors of food and drink, pretty darn happy. And that a closer look at Atlantic Yards suggests that the developer, as with Ridge Hill, plays hardball when it counts.

Posted by eric at April 19, 2012 11:57 AM