September 28, 2012

Ratner: “We’ve Kept Every Single Promise We’ve Ever Made”

NY Observer
by Kit Dillon

So Barclays Bruce Ratner told Charles Bagli today. In typical fashion, The Times scribe cut the Brooklyn developer down to size without so much as uttering a nasty word against him, as he has done to so many big builders and outsized egos over the years.

We could count the ways in which Mr. Ratner has broken his promises over the years, on jobs, housing, subsidies, timetables, architects… the list goes on and on, but we’ll leave that up to Norman Oder.

After all, Mr. Ratner qualifies his promises in the conditional, adding, “We’ve built the arena. They said we’d never build it. And I’m going to build the affordable housing.” Fair enough.

Better still, let’s let Mr. Bagli himself count the ways in which Mr. Ratner has snookered the city over the years. His writing is as understated as Mr. Ratner’s work is bombastic.


Posted by eric at 12:04 AM

September 27, 2012

Nets Helped Clear Path for Builder in Brooklyn

The New York Times
by Charles V. Bagli and Joseph Berger

Shark Synergy week continues in The New York Times!

Look at that determination and resolve!

Bruce C. Ratner did not pretend to be much of a basketball fan when he paid $300 million in 2004 for the New Jersey Nets. Before long, the team had the worst record in the National Basketball Association, and he had a reputation as one of the worst owners in professional sports.

But he also had the leverage he needed to pull off a real estate megadeal.

The purchase was the most glaring demonstration of Mr. Ratner’s single-minded dedication to a goal: building a 22-acre, $4.9 billion project in the heart of Brooklyn, the largest development project in the borough’s history. Though the Atlantic Yards plan also called for residential towers, a significant portion of which will be subsidized, he sold it to the public as a way to finally bring professional sports back to the borough.

“So, how did we get here?” Mr. Ratner asked last week, almost giddy, at the ribbon cutting of the nation’s most expensive basketball arena, the Barclays Center. “We first needed to buy a basketball team, and against all odds we did it.”


NoLandGrab: "Against all odds?" He must be delusional. The game was rigged in Ratner's favor from day one. "How did we get here?" You lied, cheated and connived your way, that's how.

Photo: Richard Perry/The New York Times

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report Front-page New York Times profile of Bruce Ratner buries the lead: "promising anything to get a deal, only to renegotiate relentlessly for more favorable terms"

In which we leave the dissection to Norman Oder...

A front-page New York Times profile of Bruce Ratner, headlined Nets Helped Clear Path for Builder in Brooklyn, contains enough criticism (and one new revelation about Ratner tactics) to avoid being a puff piece, but it barely touches on all the reasons for criticism.

But what if the article had proceeded from the observation lower down in the article, regarding "his reputation for promising anything to get a deal, only to renegotiate relentlessly for more favorable terms"? That might have led to the Culture of Cheating.

Ratner claims “We’ve kept every single promise we’ve ever made,” which is simply a lie.

His new mantra, apparently, is "they said we'd never build" the arena. No one ever counted that as a promise. Rather, he promised, "Jobs, Housing, and Hoops." He got rid of the office jobs, plans to cut down the construction jobs, fudged about the arena jobs, etc. Culture of Cheating.

Posted by eric at 10:41 AM

September 26, 2012

Barclays Center Developer Bruce Ratner Talks Brooklyn, Jay-Z, And New Arena's Cultural Impact
by Ray Waddell

Not content with assaulting us with an interview with Brett Yormark, Billboard now brings us a equally fawning sit-down with Bruce Ratner.

Brooklyn has also become important in contemporary culture, and the Barclays Center will add a lot of juice to that process.
Yes. The arena is kind of the heart and soul of this tremendous culture that has, frankly, been in Brooklyn for 150 years. It's the right exact time for it. The arena will have the Nets, shows for children, boxing, cultural events, tennis, college basketball, amazing artists from Jay-Z to Barbra Streisand, from Brooklyn to all over this country. The amazing thing is we've already booked 200 of our 220 dates. This is the place to play.

Nothing says culture like Disney on Ice or Loverboy.

But it gets better.

I've seldom seen a building with a design so integrated into the community. Clearly that was important to you.
It was very important. This could have been built in a very different way. There were originally railroad tracks there, which had to be moved at a tremendous cost, and a rail yard relocated. The Garden in Manhattan makes sense-it's the right height-but in Brooklyn, it's pretty much low-rise. We made an intentional decision to move the rail yards and basically sink [the arena] so that when you enter you're on the main concourse, half the seats are above grade and half are below grade. When you live in an urban environment, you want to have beautiful surroundings-it really makes the experience that much better. We really paid attention to the architecture and we had an architectural firm in SHoP, which did an amazing job. It's got the steel on the outside, which gives a certain grittiness much like Brooklyn. The colors blend in with Brooklyn, yet it's so contemporary. It has that sleek look that says, "I'm taking off into the 21st century."



Posted by eric at 10:47 AM

Barclays Center Opens in Brooklyn with Official Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

The Jewish Voice
by Dr. Dan Miller

We celebrate Yom Kippur by celebrating The Jewish Voice's celebration of the Barclays Center, brought to us by Brooklyn's two greatest Jews.

The visions of a prominent Jewish family, a popular longtime popular borough president, a Russian billionaire and the mayor of New York City—not to mention myriads of local sports fans—came to fruition last Friday at the ceremonial ribbon cutting for the new Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn. The auspicious event was hosted by visionary real estate developer Bruce Ratner, who was joined by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Barclays Executive Chairman of the Americas Thomas L. Kalaris, senior executives from Forest City Enterprises including Charles Ratner, Brooklyn Nets CEO Brett Yormark, and Lt. Governor Robert Duffy.

Bruce Ratner, the Chairman and CEO of Forest Ratner Companies (FCRC) was humbled, visibly showing tears during his highly emotional speech as well as during his introductions of the dignitaries who sat on the stage. It was obvious that this new venture was a dream come true for Mr. Ratner as it was for Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, the leading cheerleader for Brooklyn, whose 2.6 million residents making it the fourth largest city in the United States. The project itself began almost a decade ago as an idea discussed between Ratner and Markowitz.

Sure it did. We all know that it was Stephen Witt who hatched the idea.


Posted by eric at 10:30 AM

September 25, 2012

Mayor’s Tale of Recovery Hasn’t Been Reality for Some

The New York Times

The only Times columnist to really take a pointed look at Forest City Ratner's Culture of Cheating does so again.

New York’s leaders and titans are a wonderfully self-congratulatory lot. To listen to them and watch their posturing, you might guess that the recession was a summer thunderhead long ago blown out to sea.

There’s the ubiquitous Bruce C. Ratner, the developer who convinced New Yorkers to deeply subsidize his new luxury arena in Downtown Brooklyn without so far having produced a single apartment of the affordable housing he promised. He draws loud cheers from the artisanal-cheese-munching, Russian-oligarch-digging, Jay-Z-loving, “Please, please boost my property values” set.

There are the college presidents, of Cornell and New York University and Columbia, competitive men about town who find themselves in a gold rush as they attempt to turn the East Village, Roosevelt Island and West Harlem into dormitories with sidewalks.

And there is, of course, our mayor, a billionaire of rapidly appreciating net worth, who felt compelled to travel to Washington to lecture Democrat and Republican alike on why they need to pay closer heed to New York City, where jobs flow like vintage cabernet.

The mayor’s claims would come as a revelation to Stephanie Rosario, 20, and Woodeleine Beaujour, 19, two young women strolling down Newkirk Avenue in Flatbush, Brooklyn, on Sunday. They appeared well shielded from the bright light of our economic miracle.


NoLandGrab: Nobody loves artisanal cheese more than we do, but you don't hear us cheering.

Related overage...

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Michael Powell: Bruce Ratner, One of the Self-Congratulatory Plutocracy

At least there is one columnist who gets that the most important stories are not about Daniel Goldstein being harassed by a neighbor. Michael Powell, keep at it.

Posted by eric at 1:26 PM

Bruce Ratner Likes Eating as Much as He Likes to Feed at the Public Trough

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Apparently Bruce Ratner likes to eat as much as his company likes to feed at the public trough. At least that is what appears to be the case in the NY Times' hard hitting expose and photo slideshow on the food at Barclays and what Ratner thinks of it.


Posted by eric at 11:41 AM

September 24, 2012

Yet One More Bald-Faced Lie From Bruce Ratner

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

The NY Times' article, "In Brooklyn, Bracing for Hurricane Barclays" has an accompanying slideshow, which includes a photo of Bruce Ratner in his arena with this caption:

Bruce C. Ratner, the chairman and chief executive of Forest City Ratner Companies, which built the New York Times' Midtown headquarters, is proud of the arena. "We have changed the landscape, we will have created a beautiful work of art, and created a place for entertainment and sports that will be wonderful for generations," he said. "Our biggest critics complained that the arena wasn't built. Now that the arena is done, they switched to something else."

Mr. Ratner must think we are all idiots, because that is an absurd, bald-faced lie.

Our biggest complaint is that his project is a corrupt land grab. And the fact that many community organizations (not including the ones that partnered with Ratner in the bogus Community Benefits Agreement) are attempting to hold him accountable for the broken promises of 10,000 permanent jobs and 2,250 affordable housing units.

We can assure Bruce that one complaint he's never heard from us is that the arena wasn't built. Quite the opposite.


NoLandGrab: "The delirious Bruce Ratner."

Posted by eric at 1:44 PM

September 17, 2012

Brooklyn Holds Court: Road To Barclays Center A Long One, Developer Says

by Jeanine Ramirez

Brooklyn is getting ready for a new era as it welcomes its first professional sports team since the Dodgers left town. All this week NY1 is taking a look at the impact of the Nets and the Barclays Center on the community, on the borough and on the national stage. In part one, Brooklyn reporter Jeanine Ramirez has an exclusive interview with the developer and a look at how the controversial project evolved.

The Barclays Center is getting its finishing touches and developer Bruce Ratner is happy with what he sees.

"Even I was a little surprised at how magnificent and beautiful it is. I almost started crying because it's been a long haul, a long time," says Ratner.

[Sniff, sniff.]

We're a little [sniff, sniff] choked up ourselves [sniff, sniff]. In fact, we need a moment to collect ourselves.

[Sniff, sniff.]

article [with video]

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Ratner calls arena "public building," says "I think everyone right-thinking realizes that this was well worth it"

"I think everyone right-thinking realizes that this was well worth it," Ratner tells Brooklyn reporter Jeanine Ramirez, implicitly suggesting that the New York City Independent Budget Office, which called the arena a loss for the city, is wrong-thinking.

"That's the right place for a public building like this," Ratner tells his interviewer, which prompts some editorial pause:

But whether a privately owned arena is a public benefit sparked much debate and prompted lawsuits over the use of eminent domain.

The debate continues. After all, while the building may be open to the paying public, Ratner famously told Crain's New York Business 11/8/09, "Why should people get to see plans? This isn't a public project."

Posted by eric at 10:11 PM

September 16, 2012

BK hoops essayist (and Forest City contractor) Klores: Ratner "cannot share the depth of the Brooklyn soul" but it "hardly matters," because he and allies "have brought us a triumph"

Atlantic Yards Report

There's a nice essay about the roots of Brooklyn basketball in the Times Sports section today headlined The Brooklyn Game Had Its Own Beat, by Dan Klores, described as "a Peabody Award-winning filmmaker and playwright. His first film was 'The Boys of Second Street Park.'”

Unmentioned is that Klores is also the founder and chairman of dkc Public Relations, Marketing & Government Affairs, which just so happens to have Forest City Ratner as a client. And though Klores on the one hand suggests that pro hoops can never compete with the real rooted Brooklyn game, he also ultimately gives his clients major props and suggests--in a vision most commonly experienced by men of a certain age--that the Brooklyn Nets can replace the loss of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

His essay concludes:

So now, here are the Brooklyn Nets, an idea hatched out of another vision, a real estate deal, and promoted with the all-consuming vigor of a tummler borough president, Marty Markowitz. On Nov. 1, they will become a grand and appropriate replacement for a gaping loss, a sense of revenge, a concept in the psyche of all true Brooklynites.

No doubt, the arena will be filled. But when all the noise dies down, the child walking into the gym, ball in hand, alone, ready to bank his first shot off the board, that is still the point of the game and its people. Much has changed. The sounds of Jay-Z have replaced Little Anthony and The Tokens. Yiddish and Italian are now Creole and Russian. The transistor has died. Even Spike Lee’s Radio Raheem is 23 years gone. Neighborhoods filled with junkies and hookers where the White Rose was the place to cop are now buzzin’ trendy. The walk from park to park in search of proving yourself is no more. Now kids get free shirts from sponsors, endure the desperate hopes and anger from their fathers to make it in the nasty A.A.U. world in which thug “coaches” rant and rave, juice birth certificates and believe the game is merely about “pressure, pressure.”

In the new Brooklyn, the argument of the day revolves around baby strollers, while the real Brooklynite still waits for the bus to get to work. The new Brooklyn doesn’t know that only 10 years ago, hailing a yellow cab home from “the city” was a test of creativity and guts. “Yeah, well, I’m already inside so whattaya gonna do about it?” Banks and nail salons have replaced the record store and the shoemaker. The scheduled play date will hopefully at least result in, “I’ll be Deron, you can be Amaré.”

Dreamers and doers, though, win out. You can’t get one without the other. So here comes a new 18,000-seat arena. It hardly matters that an outsider, Bruce Ratner, from Cleveland, created the concept but cannot share the depth of the Brooklyn soul. Nor can the Nets’ new owner, Mikhail Prokhorov from Moscow, nor General Manager Billy King, nor even the cerebral coach Avery Johnson.

Still, they have brought us a triumph that related to the gut of all Brooklyn b-ballers: be proud and play to win.


Posted by steve at 5:14 PM

September 14, 2012

Bloomberg's Soda Ban Victory Lap: "Biggest Step A City Has Taken To Curb Obesity"

by Jen Chung

The big news is that the Barclays Center will not wait until March to follow the new rules. Developer Bruce Ratner of Forest City Ratner was present for the event and Bloomberg said, "I raise a 16 ounce cup and toast Barclays for joining us today and implementing this plan 6 months ahead of schedule. This is a game-changing vote and the new Barclays Center is on the winning side."


NoLandGrab: What Bruce isn't telling us is that he still plans to charge as if it's a 64 oz. soda.

Related coverage...

NY Observer, Nets Say ‘Nyet’ to Super-Sized Drinks: Bruce Ratner Announces Barclays Center Backing Soda Ban

So far the biggest drinking controversy at the arena has been over how late it would be serving alcohol until (a state panel settled on 1 a.m., an hour earlier than the arena wanted but hours after neighbors had prayed for). The size of alcoholic beverages will not be impacted, which is really all most sports fans care about, though there have been rumors that is where the mayor will turn his attention to next.

Still, what of the poor Justin Bieber fans who will have to shell out repeatedly to slake their thirst during the pop stars upcoming concerts?

Posted by eric at 11:23 AM

September 12, 2012

Victory lap: in Bloomberg interview, Ratner calls arena "whole big good," claims "we've done a huge amount" to placate neighborhood

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder dissects another insipid Bloomberg TV love-fest with Bruce Ratner.

Barclays Center developer Bruce Ratner, speaking yesterday with Tom Keene, Sara Eisen and Scarlet Fu on Bloomberg Television's "Surveillance," got the typical hero treatment from unskeptical business reporters.

Asked Keene, "What did you learn about NIMBY, not in my backyard?"

"Too much," responded a grinning Ratner. "When you live around a project and near a project of this size, it's likely that you will be opposed to it.... And it's understandable on one level. On the other, when you look at the whole big good, it's not understandable."

The "whole big good" that says the arena's a loser for the city, according to the Independent Budget Office?


NoLandGrab: Ah, we get it now. This isn't a real interview. It's a Second City spoof starring Eugene Levy.

Posted by eric at 11:45 AM

September 10, 2012

The "Civic Developer" and the Culture of Cheating: how Bruce Ratner backed off promises to build Atlantic Yards in ten years and to build conventional towers with union labor

Atlantic Yards Report

There's nothing criminal about Atlantic Yards, nothing corrupt--at least nothing found or even investigated.

But many people feel uneasy about the project and the process, suspicions validated by a finding of serious civil illegality--the state's failure to study the impacts of a 25-year buildout.

That failure, left unresolved when the Barclays Center opens Sept. 28, was linked to the signing of a Development Agreement in 2009 after the project was approved. The Development Agreement, which gave developer Forest City Ratner 12 years to build the first towers on the arena block and 25 years to build the project, was initially withheld from public and legal scrutiny.

It's part of a pattern that pervades the Atlantic Yards saga. I call it the "culture of cheating," drawing on The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead, a book by business ethicist David Callahan. (The book doesn't deal with Atlantic Yards, though an update could.)

Developer Bruce Ratner has made two self-sabotaging--if rather little-noticed--statements that back up charges of cheating:

  • he repudiated the ten-year timeline to build the project previously endorsed by his company and the state
  • he claimed that high-rise, union-built affordable housing isn't feasible, even though that's what he long planned and the state approved twice

Ratner's been using the word civic a lot, but it's a weasel world. It means "relating a city," or to citizenship, but it does not necessarily denote the public interest. Ratner seems to be saying that, as long as he's building in the city, he's somehow helping the city. The reality is a bit more complicated, since he also gains things like public subsidies, tax breaks, and eminent domain.


Posted by eric at 11:34 AM

August 29, 2012

Flashback: at a funeral, the intersection of Bruce Ratner and Vito Lopez

Atlantic Yards Report

A 7/22/12 essay from Paul Berman in Dissent, Regular Politics: Judge Reichbach, contains cameos for both Bruce Ratner and Vito Lopez, both typically in the news for other reasons:

On Saturday, July 14, a New York State Supreme Court judge named Gustin L. Reichbach succumbed to cancer. On Sunday his funeral service took place at a synagogue in Brooklyn Heights. And the first and most eloquent of the speakers to address the mourners was a politician named Vito Lopez, who holds the office of New York State Assemblyman from Bushwick, Brooklyn, and the still more exalted office of chairman of the Democratic Party of Kings County, otherwise known as Brooklyn Democratic boss, whose powers are myriad, vast, and rooted in affairs so profoundly local as to be incomprehensible. The boss is known, for instance, to influence the election of minor officials called District Leaders, who are unpaid yet nonetheless have the power to select the modestly paid workers who supervise the voting on Election Day. And God knows what happens next, except that everyone recognizes that, when the Brooklyn Democratic boss presides over a nonprofit organization, the state and municipal contracts descending upon the organization tend to be profitable indeed, even if the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council is currently under investigation. And still larger contracts come into play. The very skyline is at stake. And, lo, prominently mentioned at Gus Reichbach’s funeral was a man named Bruce Ratner, who, in the Brooklyn of our time, is widely known—reviled!—as the preeminent developer, the destroyer of Brooklyn’s antique charm (as per his detractors), or else the creator of jobs (as per his admirers) and the benefactor of basketball (objectively true). And, to be sure, Bruce Ratner turns out to have been a law school roommate of Gustin L. Reichbach. And Lopez made a point in his funeral oration of invoking Bruce Ratner’s influence in the most affectionate of terms, and the name of George Pataki, the former Republican governor of New York, came up, whom Bruce Ratner evidently lobbied on behalf of the judicial career of Gus Reichbach, and no name was left unsaid.


Posted by eric at 1:32 PM

August 22, 2012

The backlash to NY Mag writer's portrait of "pleasant and affable" Bruce Ratner; in 2003, sports biz reporter transcended "engaging" Ratner to note, "people are doing this to make money"

Atlantic Yards Report

The backlash to Will Leitch's big, conclusory New York Magazine Barclays Center feature ("This is no longer... an example of private might overcoming public interest") continues, thanks to the author's admission in a sidebar:

* We talked to a ton of people for this story, but without question, the most pleasant and affable person we talked to was ... Bruce Ratner. The controversial — to say the least — real estate magnate is not known for this warmth and cuddliness, but in all honesty, his aw-shucks demeanor was disarming, to say the least. (This is not entirely because he thought our son was cute, though he did and that never hurts.) We don't know if he'll be happy with everything that's in the story, but for a guy who had a whole theatrical documentary made about how awful he is, we were surprised by how likable we found him in person.

Well, "we" clearly didn't talk to enough people--not even colleagues--who might give "us" a more rounded perspective.

Turning on the b.s. detector

The thing is, journalists don't have to know about the gag orders and the broken promises and the lobbying/p.r. spending that are part of Forest City Ratner's hardball business practices.

They just should be professional and turn on the b.s. detector. For example, here's Matthew Futterman, then a sports business reporter for the Newark Star-Ledger, talking on the 12/12/03 Brian Lehrer Show:

I like Bruce Ratner very much personally. He’s a very engaging person, he’s very enthusiastic, and I think he’s sincere, he has his heart in the right place, but it’s amazing how similar he sounds to the people who wanted to build the arena in Newark five years ago, in terms of, y’know, 'we’re doing this for the community, and we’re doing this for the kids, it’s important for them.'

Doc director responds

And Leitch dissed Battle for Brooklyn, which he may not have actually watched. Director Mike Galinsky responded in a comment:

I try to stay out of the fray but I take exception to the idea that "Battle for Brooklyn" was devoted to making Ratner look bad. This kind of dismissive throw away line about our 8 years of work plays into the FCR playbook, and its simply not true. In fact major project proponent Errol Louis, on NY1's Inside City Hall, called the movie very fair, as did James Caldwell from BUILD when he saw it. As you can see from the link you posted, over 100 NY Times readers have given it an average 5 star rating and a slew of positive reviews. I'm curious to know if you saw it yourself or if you are simply quoting Bruce Ratner. What the film does do is follow the opposition, which was largely denied a hearing in the main stream press. To qoute your colleague Chris Smith from a year ago (well before the current FCR charm offensive) "Battle for Brooklyn is at its best showing how Atlantic Yards used the pretense of democracy to enrich the powerful, but how it also energized actual citizens to fight the good fight. Seeing the girders climb for the Nets' new home, though, there’s little comfort in being noble losers." Articles like yours give creedence to both Ratner's and Bloomberg's idea that "No one's going to remember how long it took. They are going to just look and see that it was done". Our goal is to explode this myth of power and try to help people to remember so this kind of corrupt kleptocratic nonsense isn't so easy to pull off next time.


Posted by eric at 11:01 AM

August 21, 2012

Map: Is Your Favorite Sports Team for Romney or Obama?

It's a Free Country
by Steven Melendez and Stephen Reader

In a town with two football teams, local fans are divided. Turns out the same goes for the team owners and their politics.

A big RNC donor owns the AFC team, a DNC donor the NFC team. We're talking about Woody Johnson and Jonathan Tisch, owners of the New York Jets and Giants, respectively.

Johnson's a Republican bundler who's contributed over $70,000 to national Republican committees, presidential candidates, and a pro-Romney PAC this election cycle. Tisch has given over $60,000 to Barack Obama and Democratic committees.

Basketball in the Big Apple? Similar story. Knicks owner James Dolan contributes to Mitt Romney; Nets co-owner Bruce Ratner gives to Obama.


NoLandGrab: Bruce Ratner is a "co-owner" the way Joe Biden is "co-President." The Nets' real owner, Mikhail Prokhorov, did more than give — he ran a phony campaign for the Russian Presidency to help smooth the way for the autocratic Vladimir Putin's election.

Posted by eric at 11:56 AM

August 15, 2012

The Wall Street Journal Pitches Big Fluffy Cotton Balls to Bruce Ratner

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Surprise, surprise, the world's greatest man, Bruce Ratner, gets fluffed by The Wall Street Journal:

At one point Ratner is asked if he is planning on running for office. Why would he do that, he already has far more control over NYC and NYS government then he'd have as a lowly elected official.


Posted by eric at 9:03 PM

Bruce Ratner Talks Brooklyn Nets & Barclays Center

The Wall Street Journal

Softball all-star Lee Hawkins sits down with America's Greatest Human Being.

Bruce Ratner, chairman and CEO of Forest City Ratner Companies, talks to WSJ's Lee Hawkins about the new Barclays Center arena and his shift from majority owner of the New Jersey Nets to owning 20 percent of the new Brooklyn Nets. Plus a look at upcoming Barclay's concerts featuring Jay-Z, Justin Bieber, Bob Dylan, and many other major artists.


NoLandGrab: He's humble, he's winsome — he's just plain awesome.

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, WSJ interview with Bruce Ratner: "I am about making sure people have jobs" and "We work just on the merits"

Norman Oder debunks the bunk.

Would you believe that Wall Street Journal interviewer Lee Hawkins, whose beat is The Business of Celebrity, makes local columnists like Denis Hamill and Andrea Peyser, known for fawning treatment of developer Bruce Ratner, look like hard-nosed investigative reporters?

Hawkins, as if reading off a Ratner-provided script, not only hit all the talking points, in some cases he made the point for his interviewer himself. He started off with the inevitable mention that the Barclays Center arena would open 55 years after the Dodgers left.

"55 long, hard, Brooklyn years," responded Ratner, in affirmation, doubling down on the cliche.

Click through for the blow-by-blow.

Posted by eric at 10:06 AM

August 3, 2012

Barclays Center CEO 'trying like hell' to get Islanders to move to Brooklyn
by Brian Stubits

More like "lying like hell."

When trying to find a way to keep the Islanders in New York beyond 2015, all signs end up pointing back to Brooklyn. Because the new Barclays Center isn't perfectly suited for hockey and would have the league's smallest seating capacity, many haven't seen it as a viable option. The layout for hockey would be unique as one endzone would be empty for hockey.


NoLandGrab: That's because it's not a viable option. "Unique" is just a synonym for incompatible.

Posted by eric at 10:42 AM

August 1, 2012

Daily News columnist Hamill: "once-forgotten area of weedy rail yards... will be the entertainment pacemaker"

Atlantic Yards Report

New York Daily News columnist Dennis Hamill is not as much an abusurdist as his New York Post counterpart Andrea Peyser, though 1) that's a pretty high bar and 2) they both seem to have forgotten the 10,000 office jobs that so enthused them.

But, as in the past, he remains a reliable conveyor of developer Bruce Ratner's press releases. Today, in A whole new arena: Brooklyn's O'Malley curse begins to end in 60 days, he writes:

this once-forgotten area of weedy rail yards, empty lots and a few blocks of vital homes claimed in eminent domain will be the entertainment pacemaker of our most populous borough.

He seems to not know that parent Forest City Enterprises then-CEO Chuck Ratner called it a "great piece of real estate." Or that two-thirds of the "weedy rail yards"--the "blight" that this project was supposed to overcome--have not been developed, because Forest City Ratner has not started paying for them.


Posted by eric at 7:48 PM

A whole new arena

Brooklyn's O'Malley curse begins to end in 60 days

NY Daily News
by Denis Hamill

Speaking once more of values, integrity and honesty, the Daily News's answer to Andrea "Mad Dog" Peyser transcribes Bruce Ratner's talking points.


“That’s how many days till the curse of Walter O'Malley starts to lift from Brooklyn,” says Bruce Ratner, the tenacious builder and CEO of Forest City Ratner.

Amazing coincidence! That's exactly when the curse of Bruce Ratner's arena boondoggle will settle on Brooklyn.

Six years ago, I pressed Ratner when he told me a portion of the 18,000 seats would be “affordable” to working Brooklynites. “How much?” I said. “Gimme a dollar amount.”

“Okay, $15," he said.

I printed it.

Since then, Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov has purchased the majority share of the Nets. He went along with that promise. On Monday, Ratner said, “There will be 2,000 $15 seats at every Brooklyn Nets game, and 50% of Nets tickets will be $55 or less. About 7,000 of Jay-Z’s tickets at each concert sold for $29.50.”

And about 6,800 of those were bought by scalpers, who are reselling them for hundreds of dollars.

“And I am trying like hell to get the Islanders to make Barclays Center their new hockey home,” says Ratner, sweeping his hand across the big arena where workers in cherry-picker buckets installed acoustic panels on the domed ceiling as others installed black seats. “They will play a pre-season game here against the Devils.”

Are they seriously going to try to work every one of Ratner's b.s. lines into this column?

Oh, wait — it gets better. Here comes the random construction worker to ask a question of the big boss (who surely knows absolutely nothing about job-site details). Jonah Lehrer just resigned for a lot less contrivance.

As we spoke, a Laborers Local 79 member named William Jackson approached Ratner with a work-related question.

I asked him about working for Ratner. Jackson said he’s been on a half-dozen Forest City Ratner jobs since 2001, including a courthouse on Adams St., Metro Tech and the Barclays Center.

“Ratner kept his word,” he says. “He hired people from the community like me. I live a few blocks from here. This arena put a lot people to work, paid a lot of bills for a lot of families. His people come into the community and train people in entrepreneurship, help them start new businesses. He even throws parties for the construction workers when the job is finished. Nobody does that. I'll be here opening night to root for the home team because I'm already a Nets fan. Now they'll be playing in Brooklyn a few blocks from my house."

[Sniffle, sniffle] Sorry, but we're too choked up to go on. You'll have to click through if you're more hardened and cynical than we.


NoLandGrab: Peyser last week, Hamill this week. Do you think next week's arena tour with Steve Witt is already scheduled?

Posted by eric at 7:19 PM

July 27, 2012

Nets Ready to Pay Luxury Tax For First Time Since Ratner Bought In


Just in case you had even a shred of doubt remaining about Bruce Ratner's love for basketball...

Mark Deeks of ShamSports, who regularly gets the best data on NBA salaries, has taken a long and comprehensive look at the history of the luxury tax - who's paid it and who hasn't; who's paid the most and what is the trend line. The analysis is relevant now because the Nets will be paying about $12 million in taxes this season, after not paying a dime since Bruce Ratner bought the team.

Deeks points out that the Nets paid taxes $5.7 million in 2003, their last visit to the NBA Finals, and $9.7 million in 2003-04, just before Ratner bought the team and began dismantling it. Since then, as losses mounted and the team prepared for Brooklyn, the Nets appeared to have a dictate from ownership: No luxury taxes. (There was a double benefit for non-tax payers: A team that didn't pay taxes would get as much as $3 million from those that did.)


Posted by eric at 11:06 AM

July 25, 2012

Bruce Ratner: Brooklyn’s Barclays Center Already A Success

CBS New York
by Peter Haskell

“What you see here is almost complete interior of the arena,” [Bruce] Ratner told [WCBS 880's Peter] Haskell as he looked out over over what will be the floor of Barclays Center. “You’re going to feel more like you’re on top of the action than any arena that anybody has been in.”

He said fans will also appreciate how bright it is on the inside.

“So, there’s a lot of light and a lot of glass along the concourses,” he said.


NoLandGrab: Take that, Madison Square Garden! You may be the World's Most Famous Arena, but ours is bright on the inside.

Posted by eric at 11:08 AM

What Planet Is Andrea Peyser Living on?


NY Post columnist Andrea Peyser has said some ridiculous things in her day, but her fawning column yesterday about Bruce Ratner and the Barclays Arena may take the cake. Here’s one of the gems:

When Barclays is christened this fall as home of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets, Ratner will have pulled off the seemingly impossible. Almost single-handedly, he’ll have brought the Borough of Kings, long neglected and overshadowed by Manhattan, back to buzzworthy health.

What planet is this woman living on? Seriously. Sure, plenty of folks are now excited about the games and concerts that will come to the area in the fall, but the arena’s riding on the coattails of a bottoms-up resurgence that’s been building for many, many years and would have been plenty strong without any help from Ratner. The land where the arena’s being built was never blighted and the borough’s been getting plenty of buzz without any help from Ratner et al. For more mockery and dissection, see Norman Oder’s take(down) on AYR.


NoLandGrab: Is Andrea Peyser, the psycho arena lady who pens a column for the NY Post, nuts? Or maybe Peyser, the hater of neighborhood activists (and bike lanes), is just an incompetent, overpromoted, overzealous newspaper hack.

Posted by eric at 10:54 AM

July 24, 2012

Two of Our Favorite Brooklynites, Bruce Ratner and Andrea Peyser, Tour the Barclays Center

NY Observer
by Matt Chaban

We're not certain, but we think that headline might be mocking its subjects.

A lot of bombast has been spread on both sides of the great Barclays Center battle of the past decade, but Andrea Peyser manages to take the cake as she always does, along with the amazing “photo composite” the Post put together of Bruce Ratner as ring leader.

The buzz is back! But not without alienating the poor, project-dwelling locals. How about those $30 tickets for all! Without this, there would be nothing but needles littering the borough’s beloved brownstones.

When I toured this site in 2004, it was a disgrace. It was scarred with toxic rail yards that had squatted on this spot, like a disease, for decades. Then I spied a pile of hypodermic needles.

It was long past time to breathe air back into Brooklyn. Or shut the lights and get the hell out.

Brooklyn 2.0: We’ll leave the lights on for you.


Image: NY Post

Posted by eric at 10:18 AM

July 23, 2012

B’klyn revival’s ringmaster

NY Post
by Andrea Peyser

Guess who's off her meds (again).

Bruce Ratner doesn’t walk. He bounces. In a hard hat, rumpled suit and never a tie, Ratner vibrates giddily amid buzzing saws and deafening drills, before leaping amid never-sat-in seats covered in dusty plastic.

We’re in the brand-new crux of the known universe, Barclays Center, now under construction, talking about the rise of Brooklyn.

“It’s incredible!’’ enthused Ratner, 67, the hyperactive developer and CEO of Forest City Ratner.

When Barclays is christened this fall as home of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets, Ratner will have pulled off the seemingly impossible. Almost single-handedly, he’ll have brought the Borough of Kings, long neglected and overshadowed by Manhattan, back to buzzworthy health.

Yes, Andrea, Brooklyn was nowhere without Bruce's basketball arena. Once it's open, real estate values should start to take off, and maybe people will want to live here.

“It was crazy. A lot of newcomers from outside New York’’ fought the arena. He tries not to be bitter.

That's right, we were busing in protesters from Wisconsin.


NoLandGrab: The circus motif is actually spot on.

Paul Martinka/Post Photo Composite

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Absurdist Post columnist Peyser: "Almost single-handedly, [Ratner]'’ll have brought the Borough of Kings... back to buzzworthy health"

Giddy, fact-challenged New York Post columnist Andrea Peyser, having completely forgotten the 10,000 Atlantic Yards jobs she once promoted, but maintaining her dada take from 12/1/09, writes a valentine today to Bruce Ratner, headlined B’klyn revival’s ringmaster.

So, Ratner gets credit for Brooklyn's revival? Puh-leeze.

Peyser writes:

When I toured this site in 2004, it was a disgrace. It was scarred with toxic rail yards that had squatted on this spot, like a disease, for decades. Then I spied a pile of hypodermic needles. It was long past time to breathe air back into Brooklyn. Or shut the lights and get the hell out.

Rail yards that "squatted," or functioned? They still "squat," by the way. As for the needles, and the weeds, well, that was a clean-up problem that neither the city nor the LIRR wanted to grapple with.

Even Roger Green, the Assemblyman who supported the project, said the neighborhood wasn't blighted.

Job fictions

Peyser writes:

The arena will pump 2,000 sorely needed jobs into the economy, putting a dent into Brooklyn’s unemployment, which stood at an unconscionable 10.3 percent in May, compared to 8.2 percent in Manhattan. Half the job applicants live in public housing. Plus, 6,400 “awesome’’ housing units are going up next year, about a third of them classified as “affordable.’’

"2,000 sorely needed jobs"? Even Forest City claims the full-time equivalent figure is 1,240, which seems vastly exaggerated. So much for the dent.

The promised 6,430 apartments aren't going up next year, just--maybe--the first tower, with 363 units.

True News, NYP Peyser Kisses Developer's Ratner Ass

NLG: That'd explain Andrea's constant prune face.

Posted by eric at 10:14 AM

June 25, 2012


Room Eight

Howard Graubard, aka "Gatemouth," thinks City Council Member Diana Reyna is making a mistake by endorsing Charles Barron in tomorrow's Congressional primary rather than Hakeem Jeffries.

Could anything define parochial idiocy better than a so-called "progressive" who thinks Atlantic Yards is more important than same sex marriage.

Wow, she has something in common with Bruce Ratner besides being utterly repugnant.


Posted by eric at 10:38 AM

June 19, 2012

Diary of an Angry (ex)Nets Fan: My Final Words

Tales from the Dokes Side

I've seen great Net's teams, horrible ones, Hall of Famers, has beens, and never was's. But what continues to frustrate me is the outright lie the that predicated the move. It was obvious to just about everyone that it was a land grab from then majority owner Bruce Ratner to get his Atlantic Yards project built. For 7 years I've watched his dream ruin my hopes as fan as he dismantled what to took 25 years and 3 owners to build.

Proponents say that move is great for the franchise, that they'll make make more money, have a bigger market, and a wider audience, blah, blah, blah, but that's just lip service. The the grim reality is that the Nets are one of the most mismanaged teams in all of the NBA.


Posted by eric at 12:26 PM

May 26, 2012

Why buy an NBA team?

TrueHoop []
by Henry Abbott

There are 100 reasons to buy an NBA team. I'm sure some people will tell you it's a good business, and for some people it probably is. There are tax advantages. In places like Salt Lake City and Oklahoma City, owners talk convincingly of civic duty.

For Bruce Ratner, a team offered a sophisticated real estate play, because a stadium was a key to using eminent domain for his sprawling downtown Brooklyn Yards [sic] development. For Mikhail Prokhorov, it made him an internationally recognized name, which did wonders for his domestic political career.


Posted by eric at 10:04 AM

May 11, 2012

Ratner on Bloomberg TV: first tower "definitely" will start this year; controversy was "more than I expected"

Atlantic Yards Report

On Bloomberg TV's "In the Loop," jolly Bruce Ratner met friendly anchor Betty Liu, fresh from her hard-hitting interview last September.

The one piece of news? When Liu said the modular housing tower has "sort of become a moving target," Ratner responded, "It's not been a moving target because of financing," but didn't quite explain the delay.

He said the modular plan was "important in terms of cost, in terms of environment" and said "we've had tremendous success on" agreements with unions to build a modular union factory. But he didn't say whether, for example, the city Department of Buildings or any other agency has caused roadblocks.

When will the building start? "By the end of the end the year we'll be starting," Ratner said. "Definitely by the end of the year."

Liu didn't point out that, in the interview last September, Ratner said the building would start at the end of 2011 "or at the beginning of next year." Or that, at a press conference last month with Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Ratner said it could start in the beginning of 2013.


NoLandGrab: Fortunately, no video has been posted — yet.

Posted by eric at 12:33 PM

May 10, 2012

Commercial Observer has some fun with my "defense" of Bruce Ratner

Atlantic Yards Report

Not to get all meta-insider-y or anything, but The New York Observer/Commercial Observer, which devoted one whole paragraph to developer Bruce Ratner in its "Power 100" list, devotes a whole bunch more to the purportedly man-bites-dog phenomenon of my argument that Ratner deserved a somewhat higher rank.

In Ratner’s Drop In Power 100 Too Much: Norman Oder, readers are told of the belief that "this is the first time Mr. Oder has ever defended Forest City Ratner."

For the record, I "defended" Ratner--or, rather, argued for his placement above partner Mikhail Prokhorov--in my comments on the 2011 and 2010 Observer lists. I even disagreed with my placement on the list in 2008.


Related content...

The Commercial Observer, Ratner’s Drop In Power 100 Too Much: Norman Oder

Posted by eric at 11:35 AM

May 9, 2012

Observer downgrades Ratner (not completely fairly) from #48 to #72 in "Power 100" list; the fate of modular could change all that

Atlantic Yards Report

Bruce Ratner can't be all that thrilled about his plummet in the latest iteration of the New York Observer's Real Estate Power 100, from last year's #48 to this year's #72.

And, wouldja believe it, I think the Observer went too far. Sure, Ratner deserves a downgrade because of the continued delays in his plan to build the first Atlantic Yards apartment tower. But if Ratner can pull off modular construction, likely only with help from the city and/or state, you can bet he'll jump in next year's list. And he's opening an arena, no small feat.

As for the observation that "the brand, not to mention the family name, has been so blackened in Brooklyn, it will be a wonder if [Ratner] ever builds there again," well, that sounds like the item got outsourced to NoLandGrab, previously un-consulted by the Observer on sunnier Ratner mentions.

I agree the brand has been blackened, including by the loss last month in court on the environmental review case and the pending lawsuit filed against Forest City Ratner and its Community Benefits Agreement partner BUILD, plus the machinations in Yonkers. But I don't think that most elected officials and reporters/editorialists either agree or would say so publicly.

And if Ratner pulls off the modular plan, he sure will be building in Brooklyn again. Perhaps the Observer has some insight on modular snags?

This year's mention

72. Bruce Ratner (48) Chairman and CEO, Forest City Ratner
Mr. Ratner has taken his ball, but he can't go home yet. The Barclays Center will actually open on time this fall, bringing professional sports back to Brooklyn, as well as Jay-Z, but the Cleveland-born developer has still yet to secure financing for the now-well-behind-schedule apartment towers. Those are now planned to be built modular, which has the potential to transform the way the city builds, but most New Yorkers will believe that when they see it. He completed one of the most beautiful buildings on the skyline by the world's most famous architect, with sky-high rents to boot, but the brand, not to mention the family name, has been so blackened in Brooklyn, it will be a wonder if he ever builds there again.


Posted by eric at 1:26 PM

April 24, 2012

Post tours Barclays Center construction site

The Brooklyn Blog []
by Rich Calder

Credit the Post's Rich Calder for not letting Bruce Ratner dodge the crazy idea that the Barclays Center could ever be the permanent home of a professional hockey team (or the Islanders).

Q: What are your thoughts on the potential of the Islanders playing at Barclays Center permanently?

A: First off, I think the goal for everyone is that the Islanders stay in New York State. That’s No. 1. Obviously, if they are able to build an arena in Long Island -- wonderful. But we’d love to have them here if it does not work out. Having a two-sport arena would be terrific. The Islanders have a wonderful history, and it would be great to have them in Brooklyn. And Brooklyn is part of Long Island after all, so it would be great to have them.

Q: What is your sense or gut feeling on the likelihood of the Islanders coming to Brooklyn?

A: I don’t think I have a sense one way or another. It is still three years until [the Islanders] finish up their lease, so we’ll have discussions and I think it depends on what happens with building an [new] arena in Long Island.

Q: How many people will the arena hold?

A: 18,200 for basketball, 19,000 for concerts and likely 14,500 for hockey.

Q: Regarding hockey, is there any chance that more seating down the road could be added for hockey? [14,500 seats would make it the smallest NHL hockey venue]

A: Here’s the issue: Hockey is the kind of sport that because of the dasher [boards] you can get a slightly obstructed seat when the puck is right on your side. We can hold 18,000 for hockey. The question is how many above 14,500 would have somewhat obstructed seats. We have a good sense of it [that the number of seats not obstructed is about 14,500], so if your question is whether we’d want to put in more seats? Probably not. Can we change the obstructions? Probably not. Will more seats be okay? Possibly.


Posted by eric at 10:46 AM

April 18, 2012

Barclays Center Taking Shape As 1010 WINS Gets Tour Inside

CBS New York
by Al Jones

1010 WINS asks Bruce Ratner the tough questions.

Could the Islanders potentially make a move to Brooklyn? Ratner certainly doesn’t discount the possibility.

“They could play here. It would be a lot to do the arranging for and so on, but yes it could be done,” he said.


NoLandGrab: Yup, the Islanders could play in the Barclays Center the same way Mike Bloomberg once said Bruce Ratner would build the thing without public money.

Posted by eric at 10:19 AM

April 10, 2012

Developer Bruce Ratner shows #NETS owner Mikhail Prokhorov the future practice court

netsbasketball via yfrog


NoLandGrab: "There, Patti Hagan, right over there!"

Posted by eric at 12:00 PM

April 2, 2012

Charlie Rose Does Infomercial For Forest City Ratner

Noticing New York

Michael D.D. White returns from an Atlantic Yards hiatus with a takedown of the Channel 13 interview he very aptly terms an "infomercial."

On March 10, 2012 Charlie Rose broadcast what was in effect a half hour, high production value infomercial for Bruce Ratner, his arena and his proposed Atlantic Yards.

Rose's interview of Ratner was so much like a late night infomercial that you can read Rose’s questions to, and other exchanges with, Ratner without reading Ratner's responses to know approximately what Ratner came prepared to say and ultimately did say during the interview. I am providing them further below in this article so you can put this assertion to the test. Rose's exchanges are like cue cards to keep Mr. Ratner on track with a predetermined message. Rose's side of the conversation consisted of three categories of things: 1.) friendly and leading questions, 2.) helpful restatements of what he suspected Ratner hadn't said well enough, 3.) oddly enthusiastic exclamations of praise. The eager breathlessness with which Ratner tumbled out his responses added to the feel of this being an infomercial.

Read on for more, including the fascinating one-sided transcript (Charlie could really have handled the infomercial solo), and White's exposure of bad-poker-player Bruce's "tell."


Posted by eric at 11:05 AM

April 1, 2012

Leading New York Developer Arrested in FBI Raid

The New York Times
by Avril Fous

Wow. Wow. Wow.

In a pre-dawn raid today, agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation swept into the Upper East Side home of New York real estate developer Bruce C. Ratner, taking him into custody and seizing computers and documents in what Dia de los Inocentes, an Assistant U.S. Attorney for New York's Southern District, called a major escalation in an on-going investigation into corruption in several real estate projects in the metropolitan area.

Ms. de los Inocentes, speaking shortly after the raid was executed, said that she expected to charge Mr. Ratner under the Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations statute, or RICO, a prosecutorial tool more commonly used in pursuing organized-crime figures. In addition to Mr. Ratner, who is the Chief Executive Officer of leading New York real estate development firm Forest City Ratner (the development partner of The New York Times headquarters building on 8th Avenue — this newspaper is not a target of the investigation), FBI agents also arrested several other executives of Forest City in similarly executed raids.

"Following their convictions in Federal Court last week, [former Yonkers City Councilwoman] Sandy Annabi and [former Yonkers Republican Party head] Zehy Jereis suddenly became much more forthcoming with details about what really happened with the reversal of Ms. Annabi's vote," said Ms. de los Inocentes, referring to the Councilwoman's sudden about face in dropping her opposition to Mr. Ratner's Ridge Hill project in 2006. Ms. Annabi was convicted on several counts last week, including the acceptance of "corrupt payments" in return for switching her vote. "Someone was the ultimate beneficiary of that vote, obviously, and it was a much bigger fish than Mr. Jereis."

Click through for the rest of this stunning, must-read news.


Photo: The New York Times

Posted by eric at 11:22 AM

March 31, 2012

Brooklyn Barclays Center Sends Ratner, Daily News Into Frenzy

New York Magazine Daily Intel
by Eliza Shapiro

Ratner, who has been unfavorably compared to a modern-day Robert Moses, has waged a long and costly battle for the space over the last decade. He is also finding an outlet for his excitement in hyperbole: “This is the first truly 21st-century building in New York City.” He also calls it "the greatest arena I've ever seen."

Sheftell likens the space to other great New York "civic spaces" like the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The excitement is spreading — at least to other people with major investments in the project. "When the Nets get good, the place is going to hop," said Gregg Pasquarelli, a partner at SHoP, one of the architecture firms that designed the Center.


Posted by eric at 11:31 PM

In Daily News, Bruce Ratner packs multiple lies into one sentence: "For 100 years, this was a train depot in the middle of downtown Brooklyn."

Atlantic Yards Report

Bruce Ratner tells the New York Daily News, "For 100 years, this was a train depot in the middle of downtown Brooklyn. Now it’s the greatest arena I’ve ever seen.”

No, it wasn't.

About half the arena site was a railyard used to store and service trains. The rest consisted of buildings where people lived and worked, as well as a public street.

Nor was that a depot, in the common definition: a "building for railroad or bus passengers or freight."

Nor was it "in the middle of downtown Brooklyn" but rather in Prospect Heights. And even if you consider the arena site an extension of Downtown Brooklyn--as Forest City surely will argue--it's by no stretch of the imagination in the middle.


NoLandGrab: And that was the least objectionable part of the article.

Posted by eric at 12:01 AM

March 28, 2012

Bruce Ratner on fawning CEO Radio: "I always felt kind of special" traveling to Brooklyn

Atlantic Yards Report

You wouldn't expect a series of minute-long interviews last month with Bruce Ratner on CEO Radio, a collaboration between WCBS NewsRadio and the Wall Street Journal, to be too hard-hitting. After all, the show's slogan is upbeat:

Ray Hoffman interviews CEOs about their business practices. Learn what it takes to be at the top of your business game!

But there are some nuggets amid the puffery, although the package can't match the awesome duet earlier this month between Charlie Rose and Ratner.


Ratner, says the host, "may be the most important figure in the history of Brooklyn since the Dodgers left," given the work his firm has done "to transform the face of Brooklyn, including now the new Barclays Center."

The most important figure? Well, Ratner's certainly up there, but I bet supporters of longtime Borough President Howard Golden would disagree.

But when he was growing up, that wasn't his goal. "I came out of the '60s, and so I thought I would wind up going into some sort of public interest law," Ratner tells his interviewer, noting he "did 12 years of public interest," either teach law or government service. (He sure likes to invoke the '60s.)


Posted by steve at 9:07 AM

March 26, 2012

40 Under Forty: Jonathan Rosen, 33

Crain's NY Business
by Daniel Massey

BerlinRosen, Principal

Mr. Rosen is a top strategist for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, New York State Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch and real estate titan Bruce Ratner.


Posted by eric at 11:17 AM

March 21, 2012

Ratner is Guest of Honor at NY Building Congress awards luncheon

Atlantic Yards Report

Meanwhile, if you don't have the $40,000 to $60,000 for a month in one of his penthouses, you can fete Bruce Ratner at a dinner for just $25,000.

Guess who's the Guest of Honor at the New York Building Congress's 91st Anniversary Leadership Awards Luncheon, to be held 5/10/12? None other than Bruce Ratner. Tables start at $25,000.

And the Kick-Off Reception for the Leadership Committee is being held at New York By Gehry, aka Beekman Tower/8Spruce Street, built by Forest City Ratner.


Posted by eric at 10:20 AM

March 16, 2012

New York Islanders/MSG Just Happen To Interview Brooklyn Barclays Center Developer Bruce Ratner

Lighthouse Hockey

Poor Bruce Ratner is milking the big lie about hockey at the Barclays Center for everything it's worth. Though hockey ambassador Bruce's "real goal is to make sure the Islanders stay in New York honestly," which, considering the source, is kind of an oxymoron.

The first intermission of MSG's broadcast of the New York Islanders vs. Philadelphia Flyers game carried an interesting surprise: A lengthy interview between Islanders play-by-play announcer Howie Rose and Bruce Ratner, the original developer of the Barclays Center, the Brooklyn arena many hope the Islanders will one day call home.

The Islanders will play a preseason game there against the New Jersey Devils Oct. 2 (tickets, it was mentioned, go on sale March 29), so there is your ostensible reason for the interview. But the interview on the home team's broadcast was not treated as a sales pitch for the preseason game -- it was an open "So, could the Islanders move to Brooklyn?" forum with only cursory verbiage paid to finding a solution in Nassau County and the Town of Hempstead that has been such a gracious home.


Posted by eric at 1:03 PM

March 14, 2012

Ratner, in softball Times interview, moves the housing goalposts again: groundbreaking will be "toward the end of the year"

Atlantic Yards Report

Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner gets the requisite gentle treatment in the New York Times's real estate page, in the regular feature, SQUARE FEET | THE 30-MINUTE INTERVIEW: Bruce C. Ratner.

I'll annotate some excerpts.

Arena schedule

Q. One of your latest Brooklyn projects is the Barclays Center sports arena, future home of the Nets basketball team. Is it still opening in September?

A. That’s correct. Virtually all the steel is up, and it’s virtually all enclosed. Now basically we’re working on the interiors. Some parts of it are even ahead of schedule. It’ll finish on time.

It'll finish on time, meaning that the building will open for a concert on September 28. But the substantial completion date has already been nudged back to 9/5/12, more than two weeks later than an earlier version.

And the arena, in terms of cash flow, was behind in January--and described as on schedule only by moving the goalposts.

And the rebuilding of the Carlton Avenue Bridge, a key artery, is a month behind.


Q. What is the status of the Atlantic Yards housing? Groundbreaking was supposed to have begun this year.

A. Breaking ground on the housing we had hoped would begin this year, and it will begin this year, toward the end of the year. A major reason that it’s gotten delayed is a strong desire to do modular.

Let me just say, there’s a lot of construction going on there besides the arena. Part of what we are doing and had to do was the infrastructure. We also had to move a railroad storage yard. And we’re working on additional infrastructure: the subway tunnel that connects the project, the arena, with existing subways.

Hold on. The construction besides the arena is nearly all connected to the arena. The housing was part of the public benefit created by the project.

The Times interviewer had the question wrong. Groundbreaking was not "supposed to be have begun this year." It was supposed to have begun in late 2010, but Forest City officials have consistently moved the goalposts.


Posted by eric at 11:50 AM


The New York Times
by Vivian Marino

Fresh off being fawned over by Charlie Rose, Bruce Ratner sits down with the Murrow-esque New York Times real estate section.

Q. So you were born on 1/23/45.

A. It’s significant because I’m obsessed with numbers. They just stay in my head forever, and that’s what I think about.

Some numbers Bruce is apparently not so obsessed with: his empty Atlantic Yards promises of 10,000 permanent jobs, 17,000 construction jobs and 2,250 units of "affordable" housing.

Q. You seem a bit obsessed with Brooklyn, too, yet you were born and raised in the Midwest and live on the Upper East Side.

A. When I came to the city after law school, my first job was working for the City of New York. Actually, it was in Queens during the Lindsay administration, and I worked in all the boroughs. Brooklyn had a fascination for me. Everybody has heard of Brooklyn — be it the Brooklyn Dodgers, Coney Island or the Brooklyn Bridge. We would have moved to Brooklyn had my kids not started school in Manhattan.

And now that the kids have been all grown up for how many years? Oh, forget it. We'll leave this to Norman Oder.


Posted by eric at 11:27 AM

March 12, 2012

Uninformed sycophancy: Charlie Rose interviews Bruce Ratner about "Atlantic City Yards" (sic), betrays zero recognition of controversy

Atlantic Yards Report

Charlie Rose's first-ever interview with real estate developer Bruce Ratner, conducted 3/9/12, was spectacularly uninformed sycophancy, as Rose asked virtually no hard questions, and seemed completely unaware that Ratner's Atlantic Yards project had generated sufficient controversy to spur a documentary film and play.

A "civic" developer

Noting that "we do lots of architects on this program," such as Ratner's friend Frank Gehry, Rose noted that few developers appear.

"Tell me how you see developers, and what do you think of the role of developers," Rose asked. "Why should we admire them and why should we not so very much admire them?"

"That's a very, very good question," replied Ratner, almost purring. "First of all, the way I think about myself as a developer is as a civic developer. We do a lot of civic projects. Every project that we do has to have some civic component. It can be architecture. It can be economic development, or it can be something like the arena, where we're providing entertainment, where it's in some sense a public building."

Ratner's been using the word civic a lot, but it's a weasel world. It means "of a city," but it does not necessarily denote the public interest. Ratner seems to be saying that, as long as he's building in the city, he's somehow helping the city. The reality is a bit more complicated, having to do with things like public subsidies, tax breaks, and eminent domain.

Click through for more of Norman Oder's dissection of the interview.


NoLandGrab: Perhaps by "civic developer," Ratner means "one who develops real estate projects that are heavily subsidized with city (and state and federal) money." In that case, indeed, he's as "civic" a developer as you're ever going to find.

Posted by eric at 11:23 PM

Bruce Ratner, real estate developer

"Holistic," "happiness-creating" "civic" developer Poor Bruce Ratner sits down to be tickled with powder puffs by Charlie Rose, who refers to Bruce's signature project as, not inaptly, "Atlantic City Yards."

Watch it if you dare.


Posted by eric at 3:22 PM

March 10, 2012

On Charlie Rose, Ratner talks up arena: Conseco + glass/steel = "first building... in the last ten years that is really a contemporary new building"

Atlantic Yards Report

Charlie Rose's interview with Bruce Ratner last night is not yet online, so for now I'll rely on some quotes from NetsDaily, which suggests that, over a half hour, nearly all the questions were about the Barclays Center arena.

(Remember, when asked recently by the Commercial Observer about the timetable for other buildings, Ratner snapped, "We’re here to talk about the arena.”)

Ratner called the arena "one of the most important civic buildings built in the city," a very generous use of the word civic ("of or relating to a citizen, a city, citizenship, or community affairs").

He called it "the most important arena built in the last half century in this country"--perhaps, though that "important arena" can't be separated from significant trade-offs, like its impact on a residential neighborhoods.

Like Conseco, but updated

Ratner asserted:

Basketball people will love it. First of all, it's built for basketball. It's much like inside the Conseco Center [in Indianapolis]. Very good sightlines. We studied 16 different arenas to get the best sightlines. It will be very tight, exciting, noisy. It's going to have all the latest technology and amenities. So when you're there, you're going to feel you're right in the action.

It's much like the Conseco Fieldhouse (now BankersLife Fieldhouse) because it was modeled on Conseco. Then, after that leaked design was slammed by New York Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff, Ratner hired SHoP to put a new skin on the building, thus earning some praise from the critic.


Posted by eric at 11:38 PM

March 9, 2012

Poor Bruce Ratner

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

The Real Deal, in a hagiographic article on the city's powerful real estate wingmen, says while Bruce Ratner and his lieutenant MaryAnne Gilmartin play the levers of government in back rooms to get Forest City Ratner's deals done, it is Bob Sanna who gets the boondoggles built.

Yes Poor, poor beset Bruce Ratner, he who said of the Atlantic Center Mall's odd, cold design:

"It's a problem of malls in dense urban areas that kids hang out there, and it's not too positive for shopping," Mr. Ratner said. "Look, here you're in an urban area, you're next to projects, you've got tough kids."

Adding that it was not an issue of class or ethnicity, he said: "You know it's kids that cut school. In the burbs, a 15-year-old can't get to the mall without his parents. Here, it's a little different."


Posted by eric at 2:11 PM

On Charlie Rose tonight, Bruce Ratner

Atlantic Yards Report

From the New York Post: "Barclays Center developer Bruce Ratner visits tonight's "Charlie Rose Show" (11 p.m./Ch. 13)."

How many tough questions will the host ask? Prediction: few if any. The segment should ultimately posted on Rose's website and Hulu.


Related coverage...

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Tonight: When Charlie (Rose) Met Ratner

One wild card is Charlie Rose's long time relationship (we don't know if it is current or ended) with City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden. We know that Burden, behind the scenes, wasn't too pleased with Atlantic Yards and it is hard to imagine that she is pleased with how it has played out so far, so maybe she'll feed some good info to Rose. On the other hand Rose, Burden and Ratner surely all rub friendly shoulders and are loathe to say an unkind word in public about the other. And on the third hand, perhaps Burden plays as much of a meaningful role on the Charlie Rose show as she did in the State-run Atlantic Yards project, which is to say--no meaningful role.

Posted by eric at 2:05 PM

March 8, 2012


City & State

Poor Bruce Ratner.


Bruce Ratner – Forest City Ratner’s head honcho hasn’t been accused of doing anything wrong, but the powerful developer’s company is linked to a string of questionable characters, including disgraced former state Sen. Carl Kruger, lobbyist Richard Lipsky and several figures involved in a corruption case in Yonkers. Even if he played by the rules, those kinds of connections look bad for a man who sees himself as a force for good in New York – and whose business lives and dies on its relationship to government.


NoLandGrab: Don't forget to vote for this week's "biggest loser" — Poor Bruce Ratner isn't even winning that.

Posted by eric at 11:11 AM

February 25, 2012

Betsy Gotbaum's birthday present for Bruce Ratner: a letter to the Times

Atlantic Yards Report

Remember how former Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum wrote that fawning letter to the New York Times last month defending Bruce Ratner from the slings and arrows of columnist Michael Powell?

Well, it was published on Wednesday, 1/18/12, and thus made a nice--if unintended as such--birthday present for Ratner. I just noticed that the New York Post reported 1/20/12 on its Page Six gossip column:

We hear...
That Bruce Ratner, developer of Brooklyn’s Barclays Center for the Nets, had a surprise birthday party at Stand Up New York on West 78th Street on Wednesday. Marty Markowitz and wife Jamie, Betsy Gotbaum, journo Lizzy Ratner (Bruce’s daughter) and Fox News’ Ellen Ratner (his sister) were among a group of 30.

So, Markowitz and his wife made the top 30?


NoLandGrab: Marty achieved his top 30 status by taking a big "number two" all over Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.

Posted by steve at 11:09 PM

February 23, 2012

The Three Things The Nets Can Do To Survive in Brooklyn

The Sports Fan Journal
by Jason Clinkscales

Bruce Ratner purchased a seemingly distressed property, dressed it up for staging purposes and sold a majority of it in record fashion within a few years.

Bruce Ratner essentially flipped the New Jersey Nets.

Whoa! Stop right there. "Distressed?" The New Jersey Nets were two-time defending NBA Eastern Conference Champions. Distress only set in once Ratner bought the team as the necessary Trojan horse in his land-grabbing scheme.

We’re still months away from seeing Brooklyn Nets merchandise, as the Nets are playing out the string in Newark. However, there are a few things the Nets need to do once they arrive in The City’s most boisterous borough in order to not only make headlines, but to finally build a permanent identity.

The truth is that the future Brooklyn Nets are going to struggle for a while. They very well might struggle for another thirty-five years, despite their new home. This is a franchise that has had brief periods of success couched under generations of mismanagement, disinterest and just plain bad luck. There are plenty of examples of franchises that have experienced the same small peaks and deep valleys, but a handful of them have been able overcome their history. We don’t know how the Nets will buck or follow the trend, but they’re giving themselves a decent shot by embracing Brooklyn. However, what remains to be seen is how Brooklyn itself will embrace the Nets.


Posted by eric at 11:18 AM

February 13, 2012

Judy: Update the Rolodex...

@ShellySilver via Twitter



Posted by eric at 10:21 PM

February 3, 2012

Developer: Never Mind About Morton's -- Downtown Brooklyn 'On Fire'


By now local carnivores have discovered that Morton's Steakhouse in Downtown Brooklyn has abruptly closed, but not to worry, landlord Muss Development told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle Thursday.

A spokesperson for Muss told the Eagle late Thursday that in the previous 24 hours, Muss had received a dozen calls from interested restaurants.

Question: Did Morton's give advance notice to members of Brooklyn's high society who kept their personal bottles in the restaurant's private wine cellar before they closed? (Like Bruce Ratner's, shown [right].)


NoLandGrab: Will you be having the Subsidy Chardonnay or the Domaine Eminent today, Monsieur Ratner?

Posted by eric at 12:44 PM

February 1, 2012

Deconstructing the latest softball Ratner interview: plans for affordable housing are even shakier than before, and Ratner's tense even with a friendly publication

Atlantic Yards Report

This New York Observer article, Waiting for Bruce: The Commercial Observer Tours Atlantic Yards Arena, is such a nada-burger that it deserves some off the cuff annotation.

The article is in italics, my commentary not. I'm not sure why it was published other than a generalized desire by the Commercial Observer, which is owned by a real estate mogul, to play nice with Bruce. (Well, here's the justification, I guess: slideshow.)

A chauffered Lexus LS sedan pulled up to the corner of Dean Street and Flatbush Avenue and out slid Bruce Ratner from the back seat. He was 15 minutes late.

In a navy suit with a merino v-neck sweater over a dress shirt with no tie and an open collar, he was also underdresed for the sunny but windy chill swirling across the $1 billion Barclays Center that his firm Forest City Ratner is well into building at the Atlantic Yards site in Brooklyn.

“I thought it was going to be 50 degrees,” Mr. Ratner said, immediately noticing the cold.

This is what's called "setting the scene."


Related coverage...

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Bruce Ratner Loses Tempter in Softball Barclays Center Interview

Such petulance just because a friendly publication's reporter was attempting to dig a wee tiny bit and perhaps broke the restrictions of Mr. Ratner's narrow interview ground rules? Of course Mr. Ratner wouldn't want to talk about anything besides the arena...because there is nothing to say about any of the rest of the phantom project.

Posted by eric at 11:40 PM

Waiting for Bruce: The Commercial Observer Tours Atlantic Yards Arena

NY Observer
by Daniel Geiger

Bruce lets his testy side slip out...

Mr. Ratner bristled when asked to make further reaching projections of progress on the Atlantic Yards site. Standing inside the arena and gazing into its nearly finished bowl of seats, The Commercial Observer’s gaze couldn’t help but trail farther, through a large entryway being used by construction vehicles. Beyond was the rest of the site, a stretch of train tracks and dirt recessed below grade that runs east for several blocks between Atlantic Avenue and Pacific Street.

“We’re here to talk about the arena,” Mr. Ratner snapped when asked when those portions of the development would begin.

One could forgive Mr. Ratner’s edginess given the opposition he has faced. Sensing that he had perhaps recoiled a little too fiercely, his demeanor quickly loosened.

“You have to understand, my words have been twisted around in the past,” Mr. Ratner said.

Translation: "My 'promises' have been exposed as lies time and time again.'"

Mr. Ratner also pointed out that games will be partially visible from the plaza in front of the arena.

“It’s going to be the only court in the league where you can literally watch the game from the street outside,” Mr. Ratner said, pointing out the arena’s embrace of the surrounding community.


NoLandGrab: If by "embrace" Mr. Ratner means "death grip," then, by all means, the arena is embracing the surrounding community.

Posted by eric at 1:06 PM

January 26, 2012

Two-for-one: Bruce Ratner's wife matches campaign contributions to Cuomo, Senate Republicans, Camara

Atlantic Yards Report

I wrote today about how Pamela Lipkin, Bruce Ratner's wife, gave a $3000 contribution to the campaign of Assemblyman Karim Camara on the same March 2009 day her husband also gave to Camara.

That's not the only time Lipkin (list, reproduced below) has matched Ratner's contribution.

Notably, Lipkin gave $5000 to Andrew Cuomo's gubernatorial campaign in February 2009 and $7500 in May 2010, matching Ratner's contributions.

And she gave $7500 to the New York State Senate Republican Campaign Committee on the same November 2010 day Ratner also gave. (Remember, as architect Frank Gehry put it, "Bruce Ratner is politically my kind of guy, he's a do-gooder, liberal, we can talk.")

I mentioned Lipkin, then Ratner's girlfriend, in a 9/5/06 post, but she's made other contributions since then, including a $3100 October 2006 contribution to the uncontested Assembly campaign of Brooklyn Democratic Chair Vito Lopez, and a $5400 September 2006 contribution to the Senatorial campaign of Martin Connor.

The list (click to enlarge)


Posted by eric at 11:28 AM

New Atlantic Yards critics Camara and Adams got Forest City Ratner-related campaign money in the past. Maybe now they don't think they need more.

Atlantic Yards Report

When covering the press conference last Sunday by three elected officials previously on-the-fence or supportive of Atlantic Yards, I didn't point out that two of three had received campaign contributions from people connected to Forest City Ratner and Atlantic Yards.

Such contributions, along with constituent feedback, might have nudged Assemblyman Karim Camara and state Senator Eric Adams toward their respective AY positions, supportive and near-the-fence.

My armchair analysis: Camara and Adams don't need such campaign money now, and they're more worried about constituents who haven't gotten expected/hoped-for jobs, contracts, and housing at the project.

While I had covered most of those contributions, I'd also missed some. In no case did the Atlantic Yards-related money represent a large percentage of the total, but the contributions were significant enough to be noticeable.

Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, who did not get Ratner-related contributions, probably is happy to distinguish himself from Rep. Ed Towns, an Atlantic Yards supporter whom he's challenging for Congress. In criticizing Atlantic Yards, Jeffries also might take some votes from those constituents sympathetic to the anti-AY stance of city Council Member Charles Barron, who's also in the race.


Posted by eric at 11:23 AM

January 23, 2012

Happy Bruce Day!

This Day ... In Jewish History

Time to dust off one of our favorite annual features (and time for This Day ... In Jewish History to update their citations)...

Appropriately, alternate-side parking was suspended today.

On this day in 1945:

Birthdate of Bruce Ratner. Appointed by Ed Koch to the position of Commissioners of Consumer Affairs for New York City in 1978, he became a real estate developer in 1982. He is now the owner of the New Jersey Nets basketball team, his net worth now several hundred million dollars. Ratner is the developer charged with building the New York Times Tower He is a member of the board of the Jewish Heritage Museum.


NoLandGrab: Happy Birthday, Bruce! We hope you might be charged with something else soon, too!

Posted by eric at 6:56 PM

January 20, 2012

Arena "Tremendous" For Recruiting


Fantasy sports site NetsDaily replays another of Bruce Ratner's hollow claims:

Talking to Bloomberg's Rick Horrow, Bruce Ratner said Wednesday he believes that the Brooklyn brand and Barclays Center will be a "tremendous advantage" for the Nets in recruiting free agents in the future.

Without mentioning specifics, Ratner said, "There's a tremendous desire, generally, to play in a big market and there's already a tremendous interest by players and fans alike" in Barclays Center.


NoLandGrab: Oh, really? The wait-list of stars clamoring to play for the Nets is currently rather short, kinda like the list of "fans" interested in season tickets and the list of corporate entities interested in $500,000 Jay-Z-desigend suites.

Posted by eric at 11:06 AM

January 19, 2012

Basketball Heavyweights

Bloomberg Sportfolio

This week on Sportfolio, Nets owner and real estate developer Bruce Ratner gives a progress update on the Barclays Center; Philadelphia 76ers CEO Adam Aron discusses his transition from private equity to NBA ownership; and Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski explains why he admires professional players, but has turned down multiple offers to become an NBA coach.

The segment with Bruce runs from 1:10 to to 6:40.


NoLandGrab: Is it possible we're more excited about the arena than Bruce is? Someone get that landgrabber a double espresso with a Red Bull chaser.

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, A softball interview with Ratner on Bloomberg TV's "Sportfolio": success depends on location (not government assistance)

Last night, on Bloomberg TV's Sportfolio, "Bloomberg's weekly inside look at the business of sports," the first guest was Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner, at whom host Rick Horrow (not a journalist but "a leading facility development advisor") beamed lavishingly and described, at the end of the interview, a "true visionary, quintessential developer."

Horrow pitched a bunch of softball questions. The first:"tell us about progress" on the arena.

"The time has come," Ratner pronounced, in tones more stentorian than usual. "The progress is going great. We're about 60% done with the arena. The last piece of steel went up last week. You can walk around inside... and it's in a great location, right in the heart of Brooklyn, the center of the world, I might add."

If it's "the center of the world," why does he live in Manhattan?

Posted by eric at 5:08 PM

New York Times Tags Bruce Ratner, Noam Bramson's Favorite Developer, as "Intriguing Tie" in Federal Corruption Cases

Talk of the Sound
by Robert Cox

At a recent New Rochelle City Council meeting, newly-seated Council Member Ivar Hayden caused New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson to visibly squirm in his seat by mentioning a recent New York Times article during a discussion of Forest City/Ratner's MOU for Echo Bay. For those who missed it, Times reporter Michael Powell documents the many crooked twists and turns by which various Forest City/Ratner projects have been advanced by corrupt politicians and the convictions obtained by the U.S. Attorney. Yonkers is up next.


Posted by eric at 4:46 PM

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn takes Gotbaum to task for support of Ratner

NY Daily News Sport ITeam Blog
by Michael O'Keeffe

Former Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum’s recent rush to defend Nets’ minority owner Bruce Ratner shows that when it comes to New York politics, the fox is quite welcome in the hen house, according to Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn.

“We don't remember her doing any meaningful public advocacy as Public Advocate but she sure hopped to it as Ratner Advocate when Ratner called,” DDDB says on its web site.

Gotbaum is the former elected official who once said she would support Ratner’s plans to build the massive Atlantic Yards project, and its arena for the woeful Nets, because the developer told her he would not use eminent domain to acquire Brooklyn real estate.

Gotbaum is apparently willing to overlook Ratner’s fib. She wrote a letter that appeared in The New York Times last week that praised the developer for always demonstrating the “highest ethical standards.”


Gotbaum does have her fans, however...

@ShellySilver via Twitter: Betsy, we miss you. As your letter to the editor reminds us, you were everything a Public Advocate should be.

Posted by eric at 4:37 PM

January 18, 2012

Praise for a Developer

The New York Times, Letters to the Editor

The following letter, which reads like it should rather have been addressed to The Onion, is so completely ludicrous that it's spurred us to dust off an old NoLandGrab feature.

To the Editor:

I disagree with Michael Powell (“A Developer Between Legal Clouds,” Gotham column, Jan. 10) that two bribery investigations with ties to the developer Bruce Ratner and his company, Forest City Ratner, suggest misdeeds on his part.

More important, the professional investigators have not found that the company or its employees behaved in an illegal manner.

While I do agree that we have an unprecedented amount of corruption among elected officials, lobbyists and others, you cannot and should not assume that a developer is guilty of the same behavior because, well, he’s a developer.

As a former New York City public advocate and during many years in public service, I have had the honor to work with Mr. Ratner. He has always demonstrated the highest ethical standards and behavior. As consumer affairs commissioner and as a developer, he has worked to improve the city and help those with greatest needs.

New York, Jan. 11, 2012


5Bruce-BogusPoints.gif"He has always demonstrated the highest ethical standards and behavior?!"

Madame Public "Advocate," you've achieved our highest honor — a full FIVE out of FIVE BOGUS POINTS!

Posted by eric at 10:14 AM

January 10, 2012

Bruce Ratner “Walked Between the Legal Raindrops”

NY Observer
by Matt Chaban

That is Michael Powell’s assessment of the Brooklyn developer in his column in today’s Times, noting that Mr. Ratner is involved in at least two corruption scandals involving state politicians.

Who says The Times never goes after Mr. Ratner. Not that the paper managed to stop either of the projects while they were in the works.


NoLandGrab: The Observer's caption for the photo above is "Rain man." We had a different movie in mind: The Godfather.

Photo: Getty Images

Related coverage...


Cleveland's Roldo Bartimole — a little bit Norman Oder, a little bit Daniel Goldstein, a little bit Patti Hagan — weighs in on Bruce Ratner's Singin' in the Rain routine.

Equally disturbing, the Times today reveals that "Mr. Ratner... would haul in $726 million in special public benefits" from development in NYC. Indeed, Mr. Ratner (Bruce) is related to our Forest City Ratners. The article points out he is "Developer No. 1" and "Developer No. 2" in two corruption cases in the city, though he isn't charged in either. The article notes that Bruce Ratner "walked between the legal raindrops."

Development and Corruption seem uniquely tied so often. But, hell, money is involved so why not?

Posted by eric at 9:42 PM

January 6, 2012

i just figured it out!!!

Amazin' Avenue

A Mets fan frustrated that the team's marquee off-season signings are Jeff Stevens and Corey Wimberly has a revelation...

Wilpon is actually Bruce Ratner!!! Ahhh, now it all makes sense……


NoLandGrab: The difference, though, is that Bruce Ratner is the bilker while Fred Wilpon, if you believe his claims, is the bilkee.

Posted by eric at 11:37 AM

What Did Bruce Rattner [sic] Know and Do?

Your Free Press

The spelling might be off, but the question is a good one.

Feds Must Find If the High Fees Paid To Lobbyists Are Intended for Bribes


Posted by eric at 11:24 AM

What Did Bruce Rattner [sic] Know and Do?

Your Free Press

The spelling might be off, but the question is a good one.

Feds Must Find If the High Fees Paid To Lobbyists Are Intended for Bribes


Posted by eric at 11:24 AM

December 31, 2011

Cognitive dissonance: Bruce Ratner, he of the ever-shifting Atlantic Yards vision, salutes DUMBO developer Jed Walentas because he "holds firm to the vision"

Atlantic Yards Report

In a front-page Real Estate section article tomorrow, headlined DUMBO on His Mind, the New York Times profiles Jed Walentas, son and successor to David Walentas, the wily and wise developer who bought up defunct manufacturing structures for a song and, over decades, alchemized them into residential gold.

And who does the Times find to salute Walentas?

Bruce Ratner, the president of the Forest City Ratner Companies, which is developing the Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, said he had watched Mr. Walentas grow more confident as he took control of the company.

“What is really interesting about David and Jed is that they both have a vision for what they want,” he said. He pointed to other large-scale development projects across the city, saying the extent of their success had been dependent on the developer’s vision.


In Dumbo, he said, the guiding vision was to retain the area’s industrial flavor (without the industry), while providing a street-level experience both diverse and interesting — even if it means subsidizing rents for small-business owners and declining the high rents offered by big-box stores, or selling off properties and cashing out.

“Jed holds firm to the vision,” Mr. Ratner said. “And that is not a minor comment.”


Pause for just a moment of cognitive dissonance.

The guiding vision for Atlantic Yards has been... to make it work.

Architect Frank Gehry? Gone.

Four office towers around the arena? Gone (though one may come someday).

Running track and bird sanctuary above the arena? Gone.

A ten-year timetable? Never really believed it, Ratner admitted last year.

Affordable housing buildable as planned? Never really believed it, Ratner admitted this year.

Unionized on-site construction jobs? Far fewer than promised.

Independent Compliance Monitor for the Community Benefits Agreement? Promised, but never delivered.


Related content...

The New York Times, Dumbo on His Mind

Posted by steve at 6:01 PM

December 28, 2011

Hip Hop and the (Near) Future

The Huffington Post
by Eric J. Henderson

Ness touches a particular bundle of nerves that are base ingredients: futurism, hip hop, and the "occupy" spirit long before the tents went up.

I was introduced to him by actor and dj, DJ TAbu, who showed me his first EYE2025* salvo, "Pedalin." He sharpens his political angle to deliver part I of the vision:

"...set in Ratner Heights, (the area formerly known as Fort Greene/Clinton Hill/Downtown Brooklyn, now owned entirely by construction mogul/re-gentrification king Bruce Ratner). EYE2025*Chapter1 is a dystopic vision of the future, a future that is rapidly approaching. Blurring the lines between genres, the music twists and turns through sounds [on a] mission to bring to light the world of the have-nots, and send out a call to arms to rise up, educate and build community."

That's old school hip hop -- basic political agitation -- but it's also near future for a new age, especially if you live near the Atlantic Yards he's talking about, flashpoint for the Battle of Brooklyn.


Posted by eric at 10:52 AM

December 8, 2011

Inspiration, Fun and More at the Annual Winter Benefit

New York Cares

Who's more deserving of New York Cares Leadership award than Caring Bruce Ratner (and his sidekick from Barclays)?

Great conversation, wonderful food and a successful auction all contributed to making our Annual Winter Benefit a huge success. With your help, we raised almost $1.3 million, which goes a long way in supporting our projects that benefit New Yorkers in need all year long. Our staff had a blast taking pictures, enjoying the amazing Cipriani’s food, running the auction, and most importantly, meeting some of our biggest supporters. The cocktail hour was an ideal moment and opportunity to meet New Yorkers who are dedicated to improving our city, and it was great discussing the amazing work we’re doing together in a fabulous, fun setting.

Honorees Bruce C. Ratner, Chairman and CEO of Forest City Ratner Company, joins Gerard LaRocca, CAO for the Americas at Barclays Capital, onstage as they accept their Leadership Awards.


NoLandGrab: Mic check?

Posted by eric at 10:51 AM

December 5, 2011

You See, the Mayor Sees, We All See ICSC

NY Observer
by Daniel Edward Rosen

OK, we changed our minds. But we can't wait to see Roger Green at the opera.

We were inside the West Ballroom at The Hilton New York, on the hunt for available seats when a large and friendly man sitting dead center in the front row waved us over and asked us to sit with him.

That friendly man was Bruce Ratner, head of Forest City Ratner Companies, who had no idea that he had just invited two reporters from The Commercial Observer to join him.

When we—colleague and fellow “Dan” Daniel Geiger is here as well—introduced ourselves to Mr. Ratner, he politely asked that we not ask him anything on the record. So we did not, and instead shared a nice conversation about growing up in New York City—he is originally from Cleveland, Ohio, and I grew up blocks away from where he lives now on the Upper East Side—and on the imminent return of the NBA.


NoLandGrab: The Observer can be so droll that we can't quite tell if they're playing this straight or with a wink. "Humble, winsome," anyone?

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Atlantic Yards down the memory hole; Observer reporter describes project as "thriving"

In New York Observer coverage of Mayor Mike Bloomberg's appearance at a shopping center convention, the reporter (and a colleague) sit down with "friendly man" Bruce Ratner, who asks not to be asked anything on the record:

In person, Mr. Ratner is a delightful and forthcoming chap—nevermind that his vision for a basketball arena in Brooklyn has also included the removal of homeowners living in Prospect Heights through the use of eminent domain.

Perhaps that good feeling leads the reporter to reference the Atlantic Yards project as "the controversial – and thriving – development headed by my esteemed new seat mate."


Bruce Ratner just acknowledged that he could never keep his promises, given for the last eight years, to build high-rise affordable housing with union labor.

He also acknowledged last year that, after promising for years that the project would be built in a decade, that was "never supposed to be the time we were supposed to build them in."

Posted by eric at 9:21 PM

November 22, 2011

Boxy and Timely

by Javier Arbona

Forest City Ratner has released renderings of their SHoP-designed high-rise condos for Atlantic Yards. And let's face it, assuming Ratner doesn't backtrack on the design yet again, the project resembles the same ho-hum, cookie-cutter vertical sprawl of a thousand-and-one other transit-oriented development boondoggles. But this one is even special-er, cus the business and modular-savvy of SHoP seems to have been put to good use for Ratner's union-busting scheme. As L Magazine writes:

The union workers who would be assembling the towers, in various factories, before they're stacked up, would stand to make less the half the hourly wage they could expect if the tower was constructed on-site. Forest City Ratner told the Times, "We are in the process of attempting to reach an agreement that will work for the building trades and Forest City in an effort to create permanent employment," because they are definitely trustworthy when it comes to delivering the jobs they'd long promised the community.

Someone, quick, please break-down what Bruce Ratner makes per-hour, given his $931,584.00 annual income.


NoLandGrab: We're going to wager that the income figure represents only his Forest City Enterprises compensation, and not his Forest City Ratner haul, too.

Related coverage...

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Is Bruce Ratner "Union-busting?"

Is Ratner's dangling of modular construction a "union-busting" ploy to build conventionally on the cheap? That's the charge from Archinect and it is difficult to argue against....

One wonders if the unions will let this happen, after all, Ratner has no choice but to build union.

Posted by eric at 1:29 PM

November 21, 2011

Bruce Ratner, seeker of housing solutions for the city, or cost-cutter?

Atlantic Yards Report

Do what you love, the money will follow, especially if what you love is getting your cronies in government to help you make money.

From Crain's New York Business yesterday, Modular thinking could shape NY's future skyline: Bruce Ratner wants 32-story stack to rise at his Atlantic Yards:

Developer Bruce Ratner thinks he has found a solution to the city's vexing housing shortage and wants to showcase the answer at his massive Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn.

That suggests Ratner's motivation is civic virtue of some kind. It's a business, man.

Cutting costs

How about:

Developer Bruce Ratner was desperate to cut costs at his massive Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn and is taking the risky step of building modular housing, which if it works, might be a solution to the city's vexing housing shortage.


Posted by eric at 11:52 AM

November 15, 2011

Mayor Bloomberg: "You have Bruce Ratner's word. That should be enough for you..."

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Seven construction workers, including former outspoken supporters of Atlantic Yards, promised union cards and construction jobs on Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project are filing suit in federal court today against the developer, the community group funded by him—Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development (BUILD)—and others.

The video clip below is from Battle for Brooklyn. The clip is a response to a reporter's question about whether the Atlantic Yards Community Benefit Agreement (CBA) is legally binding, Mayor Michael Bloomberg answers, "You have Bruce Ratner's word. That should be enough for you and everybody else in this community."

You gotta see it to believe it:


Posted by eric at 11:44 PM

November 14, 2011

The renaissance of Brooklyn? Credit Ratner, or the creative class?

Atlantic Yards Report

Is Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner "the man chiefly responsible for the renaissance of Brooklyn," as Brett Yormark, the relentlessly promotional CEO of the New Jersey Nets, introduced him at the 9/26/11 media event featuring Jay-Z?

Of course not. Not even ubiquitous environmental consultant AKRF tried to say that, even though it did offer a very selective history for the Atlantic Yards Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

And, a city official suggested last week, credit goes to the creative class. (I don't disagree, but I think it's more complicated.)


NoLandGrab: No, we're pretty sure it was Bruce Ratner, when he wasn't busy curing polio, putting a man on the moon and caring for poor children in India.

Posted by eric at 10:35 AM

November 12, 2011

Prokhorov, Jay-Z, Gehry, Ratner (for "Athletics"!) make "The Haute Living 100" of New York

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder catches up on the Haute Living 100.

The luxury mag Haute Living Magazine, in The Haute Living 100 of New York, places the Nets' owner in the top 20 of its Business category:

19. Mikhail Prokhorov
What makes him haute: Billionaire entrepreneur Mikhail Prokhorov began by becoming one of Russia’s leading industrialists in the precious metals sector. While running Norilsk Nickel, the company became the world’s largest producer of nickel and palladium. Prokhorov is the chairman of Polyus Gold and the president of Onexim Investment Group. Prokhorov is the third richest man from Russia and the 39th richest man in the world, with an estimated $18 billion net worth. He also is co-owner of the New Jersey Nets.

He's also the only Russian on the list, so clearly the basketball association is what got him there. Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner does not appear in this section, though he appears lower down.


Posted by eric at 1:12 PM

November 11, 2011

Billy Crystal to Host the Oscars - YES!!

TV Takes All
by Debra Caruso Marrone

If there's a takeaway from all this, it's that Hollywood holds its Ratners to a higher standard than New York does.

War. Famine. Presidential politics. A terrible economy. Forget all of that for awhile because all is right in the world - in Tinsel Town, at least.

Billy Crystal announced today via Twitter that he will be back for a ninth time to host the 84th annual Oscar awards on February 26th.

Crystal, 63, is stepping in after a fiasco that brought down a politically incorrect (and dumb) producer (Bruce Ratner) and an ill-advised initial choice of host (Eddie Murphy).

Ratner was forced to resign after making anti-gay slurs. Murphy walked away following Ratner's resignation.


NoLandGrab: They, of course, mean Hollywood director Brett Ratner. But regardless, don't worry, Eddie — for a guy as loyal as you, there's a job waiting at One Metrotech.

Posted by eric at 10:24 AM

November 9, 2011

Eddie Murphy will skip the Oscars

Crain's NY Business
by Matthew Flamm

What's this have to do with Atlantic Yards? Nothing. We just wanted to say that, while in the past we've felt bad for Hollywood director Brett Ratner when he got confused with land-grabber Bruce Ratner, this time we actually feel bad for Bruce.

The Oscars are having the week from hell. Eddie Murphy, who had been scheduled to host the Academy Awards telecast Feb. 26, announced Wednesday that he would not be doing the show.

His decision came one day after director Brett Ratner stepped down as the show's producer. Mr. Ratner, who recently directed Mr. Murphy in Tower Heist and who picked him as host, had sparked a firestorm of controversy by using an anti-gay slur at a press event promoting his new movie.

It didn't help that Mr. Ratner then went on the Howard Stern Show and talked about his sex life.


NoLandGrab: Really, Crain's?

Posted by eric at 9:44 PM

November 4, 2011

The Top 10 Stupidest, Most Incredibly Annoying Things Said by Rich People: 1% of the Money, 1% of the Compassion (and 1% of the Intelligence?)

When you're Mrs. Bruce Ratner, sometimes you just have to grit your teeth and stiffen your spine to make it through the tough times.

The Occupy Wall Street people are saying that the 1% is heartless and just don’t understand. We say, “Whaddya talkin’ about?!?” They care. They really care. Just read these insightful quotes from some of the 1%.

#6: “It’s the summer season coming up, so my patients must have [plastic surgery] tuneups. But instead of doing liposuction on seven areas, they’re doing three or four. These decisions are so painful.”plastic surgeon Pamela Lipkin explaining the difficulties of the economic downturn

Fun Facts about Pamela Lipkin:
• Married to multi-millionaire real estate developer Bruce Ratner (net worth roughly $400 million, according to USA Today).
• Lives on the Upper East side in a $7 million brownstone.
• Will only buy jewelery at auction houses like Sotheby’s and Christies. As she says: ”I cannot deal with paying retail.”


Posted by eric at 11:40 AM

November 2, 2011


Haute Living
by Rachel Morgan, Rachel Willis, Marie Condry, Alexandra Delgado, Amanda Lang

The Haute 100? We thought they said hate.

19. Mikhail Prokhorov

What makes him haute: Billionaire entrepreneur Mikhail Prokhorov began by becoming one of Russia’s leading industrialists in the precious metals sector. While running Norilsk Nickel, the company became the world’s largest producer of nickel and palladium. Prokhorov is the chairman of Polyus Gold and the president of Onexim Investment Group. Prokhorov is the third richest man from Russia and the 39th richest man in the world, with an estimated $18 billion net worth. He also is co-owner of the New Jersey Nets. ...

50. Beyonce Knowles and Jay-Z

67. Frank Gehry

And last, but not least...

89. Bruce Ratner

What makes him haute: Bruce Ratner is a prominent real estate developer and minority owner of the New Jersey Nets. He shares ownership with Mikhail Prokhorov, which became official this past May. Ratner is planning to move the Nets to Brooklyn for the 2012-2013 NBA season.


Posted by eric at 9:37 AM

October 28, 2011

Price hike! Brooklyn Museum raises its ‘suggested’ donation

The Brooklyn Paper
by Juliet Linderman

The cash-strapped Brooklyn Museum has increased its “suggested” admission fee $12, a 20-percent jump caused by the poor economy, museum officials said.

“The financial climate is such that we unfortunately need to raise the prices of suggested admission to cover the costs of operation — presenting exhibits, personnel, a whole range of things,” said Museum spokeswoman Sally Williams.


NoLandGrab: Well, increasing the admission price is better than the museum doing this again.

Posted by eric at 1:19 PM

October 24, 2011

Bard College professors attack Occupy Wall Street

Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

Don't count us as surprised when you-know-who's name pops up in a game of "who's worse."

In my email exchange with [Bard College professor Roger Berkowitz] last year, I brought up the names of a number of Bard trustees who certainly fit the description of “one percenters”, all of whom he regarded as “respected people”.

It is difficult to figure out which one of them has abused democracy the worst. Is it Bruce Ratner who used political connections to get the green light for an abysmal development project in downtown Brooklyn and who secretly funded Astroturf “civil rights” groups to back Ratner’s ambitions?

Or is it Stewart Resnick who uses his connections to the Democratic Party in California to divert precious water resources to his pistachio nut and pomegranate plantations, leaving ordinary citizens without clean drinking water and toilets that will not flush? One wonders if this muddle-headed liberal would be so willing to defend the Stewart Resnicks of the world if it was his drinking water that was coming out of the faucet the color of tobacco juice.


Posted by eric at 11:24 AM

October 20, 2011

Hope Reichbach's family launches memorial fund in honor of young political activist

NY Daily News
by Katie Nelson

The News picks up on a story first reported by the Brooklyn Daily Eagle last week.

Burgeoning political activist Hope Reichbach's efforts to build a better Brooklyn were tragically cut short earlier this year, but a new memorial fund created in her honor will give others the chance to continue her altruism.

At least one boldface name is already funding the cause. The family of Brooklyn Nets owner and real estate developer Bruce Ratner has pledged $15,000 a year for the next five years.

Ratner and Gus Reichbach are decades-old friends who lived together while attending Columbia Law School.

The Ratner family hopes the donation will help "keep some version of Hope's amazing heart beating," said Ratner's daughter Lizzy, a journalist. "Some version of her brilliant mind thinking. Some version of those amazing boxing-trained biceps fighting for a better world."

"It's a wonderful idea, excellent because it empowers and provides opportunity," Lizzy Ratner said. "But is also going to create a generation of young people who can help realize Hope's vision and live out her ideals of social justice and build on them."


NoLandGrab: Maybe some of those empowered young people will fight against the kind of eminent domain and subsidy abuse for which Lizzie's dad is famous.

Posted by eric at 11:58 AM

October 19, 2011

Catching up on Bruce Ratner's campaign contributions: to de Blasio and New York Uprising (and would past gift to Schneiderman stave off Downtown Brooklyn Partnership investigation?)

Atlantic Yards Report

Money can buy you friends, and even better, the obeisance of people who shouldn't be looking the other way.

After late 2010 campaign contributions to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and to Senate Republicans, Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner has made two other notable contributions.

On 12/23/10, he gave $4,950, the maximum, to Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, a likely 2013 mayoral candidate and a reliable, if not always credible, Atlantic Yards supporter. Ratner in June was the co-chair of a de Blasio fundraiser.

Ratner on 4/1/11 gave $25,000 to New York Uprising, the clean-up Albany effort founded by his old mentor Henry Stern of New York Civic, with support from several noted former elected officials, including former Mayor Ed Koch.


NoLandGrab: As we've said before, there's something Orwellian, almost about Bruce Ratner giving money to a clean-up Albany effort.

Posted by eric at 1:30 PM

October 14, 2011

Bruce Ratner, charitable contributions, and money not spent

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder follows up on Bruce Ratner's latest act of selflessness.

It's difficult to look at Bruce Ratner's most recently-announced charitable gift--obviously a worthy cause--without looking at the larger context of the developer's spending.

Ratner went to Columbia Law School with Reichbach's father. So there's likely a personal connection involved. And it doesn't look like Ratner's p.r. people pushed this article, unlike, say, the New York Post's coverage of Ratner's "quiet" support for a Sudanese refugee.

Still, as I wrote, Ratner's been a little quieter about a lot of other things, such as the unmet obligation to fund the Independent Compliance Monitor required by the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement. And, perhaps, assistance to ensure that residents near the Atlantic Yards construction site are able to sleep.

Also, Ratner can't be unmindful that Reichbach worked for Council Member Steven Levin, a moderate on Atlantic Yards who represents some of those up-all-night residents.


Posted by eric at 10:10 AM

October 12, 2011

Memorial Fund Will Honor Young Brooklyn Activist

Hope Reichbach, 22, Council Aide, Died in April

Brooklyn Daily Eagle
by Samuel Newhouse

Friends and family of Hope Reichbach, the up-and-coming Brooklyn activist who died in April, will meet next week in front of the Brooklyn Supreme Court to announce a scholarship fund honoring her life.

“Our goal is to groom the future leaders of Brooklyn, because that’s what Hope was,” said Ellen Meyers, Reichbach’s mother.

The Hope Reichbach Memorial Fund has already attracted considerable support and plans to provide college students doing unpaid internships in political or community service in Brooklyn with $300-a-week cost-of-living stipends.

Developer Bruce Ratner is one of the fund’s biggest supporters, having already promised $15,000 a year for the next five years. About 30 of Reichbach’s friends are on the fund’s steering committee, Meyers said, as well as many others.


Posted by eric at 11:21 AM

September 26, 2011

Ah, now we know what that mysterious smoke was...

Probably Bruce Ratner "sparking up" with some Barclays Center construction workers, if his rambling at this morning's press conference, as recounted by Atlantic Yards Report, is any indication:

"As Jay-Z knows, this arena is largely about the children and youth of Brooklyn," Ratner said. "We can give them more moments--each one of us has had a time in our life--that first circus, that first basketball game, that first ice hockey, or whatever it happens to be--we all remember those moments, and we want to give those first warm moments to every child in Brooklyn and have that feeling and inspiration that'll lead them to become more Jay-Z's, more Brett Yormarks, more of the many, many people who are out here."

Posted by eric at 5:14 PM

September 19, 2011

Rescue mission

Ratner’s fight to help tragic Sudan teen

NY Post
by Rich Calder

"Liberal do-gooder" Bruce Ratner is "quietly" helping a young Sudanese refugee by giving the Post an exclusive complete with heart-warming photo op.

It’s not just basketball and skyscrapers with Bruce Ratner.

The uber-developer -- best known for his under-construction Brooklyn arena for the Nets -- is vigorously trying to cut through bureaucratic red tape to keep a teenage Sudanese ex-slave in the United States to help restore the boy’s eyesight.

Ratner and his sister, Fox News analyst Ellen Ratner, first met tortured, blinded Ker Deng, now 18, on a trip to Sudan in April, nearly a year after the rights group Christian Solidarity International rescued him from slavery. The Ratners were touched by Deng’s horrifying story.

Bruce Ratner has quietly covered all of Deng’s expenses, including his travel and medical costs and those of an uptown apartment for him and a round-the-clock caretaker.

Deng says he doesn’t know much about basketball, but Ratner hopes to change that when his Barclays Center arena opens in next fall.

“If you are still here, I am going to take you to the first Nets game and explain everything,” Ratner told Deng, while both embraced.


Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Post: Ratner "quietly" helping blinded Sudanese ex-slave

Well, Ratner's goal is certainly worthy, but it's hard to avoid thinking that the publicity effort is a tad strategic: after all, if "Ratner has quietly covered all of Deng’s expenses," he wasn't so quiet as to keep that information from the Post.

Ratner's been a little quieter about a lot of other things, such as the Independent Compliance Monitor required by the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement. And the latter surely would cost Ratner's firm far more than the support he's offered to one worthy, needy Sudanese.

Photo: Chad Rachman/NY Post

Posted by eric at 11:00 AM

September 16, 2011

Isles to Brooklyn? Nets' Ratner would like it

Let the idiocy continue...

In an interview with Bloomberg TV today, New Jersey Nets minority owner Bruce Ratner expressed interest in having the New York Islanders as tenants in the Barclays Center.

"I would hope that's possible," Ratner said in the interview. "It depends on a lot of things. It depends on whether the Islanders want to come. It depends on whether they have different choices."

Like the arena magically expanding to accommodate an NHL-sized rink and NHL-quality sight lines.


NoLandGrab: Bruce Ratner would like to have the Los Angeles Lakers and the Green Bay Packers move to the Barclays Center, too, which is just as likely as the Islanders moving there.

Related nonsense...

Lighthouse Hockey, Meanwhile, Ratner Hopes the Islanders Join the Nets in Brooklyn

Ratner -- who remember, is angling for his own interests here -- said he "couldn't talk about" whether discussions have taken place with the Islanders. There were reports in August of a meeting between Ratner, CEO Brett Yormark and NHL executives about the NHL playing in the new arena, but no specifics were given.

Just remember that executives stay tight-lipped when they want to. And when they want to float something publicly in a way that publicizes or advances their own interests, they'll do that, too.

NY Post, Nets would welcome Islanders in Brooklyn

Although Ratner declined to reveal whether he has had talks with the NHL team, his comments were the strongest he has made yet about pro hockey joining the NBA's Nets at the Barclays Center, which opens in September 2012.

Yahoo! Sports, Islanders moving to Brooklyn? NHL Blog, Brooklyn 'possible' for Islanders, says Nets owner: report

Posted by eric at 12:15 PM

Ratner Interview - property players

Bloomberg via Rumur and Vimeo

Speaking of Battle for Brooklyn, has Bruce Ratner seen the film yet?


Posted by eric at 12:10 PM

September 15, 2011

Ratner, in softball interview, says ticket sales good, sidesteps question about financing, plays dumb when asked about EB-5 venture, again claims AY a "civic project"

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder deconstructs today's Bloomberg interview with Bruce Ratner.

In a softball interview (Bruce Ratner on Atlantic Yards Project, Real Estate) posted today on, Ratner asserted that ticket sales for Nets games were ahead of schedule and that "there's certainly a chance" that the hockey Islanders might move to Brooklyn.

Though he said financing for the first tower would be in place, he cagily sidestepped a question about financing for the rest of the project and played dumb when faced with a misdirected question about the role of Chinese investors in Atlantic Yards.

As for Atlantic Yards, he again dubbed it a "civic project," as if it were somehow designed to deliver civic benefits ahead of returns to corporate investors. And in an echo of his ally, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Ratner asserted that "people who know me" continue to think his reputation positive.


Posted by eric at 12:53 PM

Bruce Ratner on Atlantic Yards Project, Real Estate


The great oracle speaks. But he seems to have forgotten about the $249 million in green-card fundraising he was doing a few months ago. And if Mikhail Prokhorov has "probably the next six months" to make a decision on investing in the first non-arena Atlantic Yards building, then repeated promises of a 2011 groundbreaking have been greatly exaggerated. And, oh, Bruce can't really talk about the Islanders.

Bruce Ratner, chairman and chief executive officer of Forest City Ratner Cos., discusses the New York real estate market and the outlook for the U.S. economy. Ratner, speaking with Betty Liu on Bloomberg Television's "In the Loop," also talks about the Barclays Center, a new sports and entertainment venue being built in the Atlantic Yards section of Brooklyn, New York.


NoLandGrab: In a great bit of synergy, the video is preceded by an ad for Barclays Center underwriter Goldman Sachs, touting all the wonderful (and not exactly true) benefits of its financing of an arena in Louisville [you may see a different Goldman spot]. Oh, and be sure to watch to the end to see Bruce's earplug fall out.

Posted by eric at 12:12 PM

September 7, 2011

This shameless profiteering rakes over the ashes of 9/11

Belfast Telegraph
by Eamonn McCann

Meanwhile, major corporations have been gifted billions to stay or move into the area around Ground Zero and the bonanza is by no means over.

The current edition of Village Voice cites a couple of startling figures: $1bn to Goldman Sachs for its plush building across from the site, $764m for a Durst Tower in midtown Manhattan and a Bruce Ratner office tower in Brooklyn.

In other words, some of the biggest and most profitable companies in the US are being paid vast sums of public money to operate in districts vaguely relevant to 9/11 in which they'd very likely have chosen to operate anyway. Who would have thought it - that Goldman Sachs would make $1bn from al-Qaida murdering 3,000 New Yorkers? Apart from Goldman Sachs, that is.

"When we were eating and sleeping post-9/11 stuff, the powers-that-be insisted that these subsidies would rescue lower Manhattan", Village Voice quotes Bettina Damiani of watchdog group Good Jobs New York. "Ten years and billions of dollars later ... we need to do some rethinking."


Posted by eric at 10:55 AM

September 5, 2011

Eddie Murphy Up for Oscar Host: Report

The Daily Beast

Real estate developer Bruce Ratner's notoriety once again leads to a case of mistaken identity with Hollywood producer/director Brett Ratner.

Looks like James Franco won't be invited back again: reports that Eddie Murphy is the front runner to host this year's Academy Awards telecast. The comedian is reportedly the top choice of new producer Bruce Ratner, who is said to be presenting only Murphy's name on his shortlist to Academy brass. Murphy, who was up for an Oscar in 2006 for Dreamgirls but lost, is apparently an awards-show buff. He also has a slate of upcoming films that could benefit from the exposure the gig would bring.


Posted by eric at 9:10 AM

August 9, 2011

Oscar's "Rush" Job

Enlisting "Rush Hour" director Bruce Ratner to co-produce the awards show is a bold move. But if the Academy really wants to be really daring – and attract a crowd – make Ricky Gervais host and give Harry Potter his due

NBC Washington
by Jere Hester

Worst Oscar's telecast ever? No, just Bruce Ratner's notoriety leading NBC Washington to confuse him with film director Brett Ratner.


Posted by eric at 10:13 AM

July 29, 2011

Upper Floors of New York by Gehry Now Officially Renting

by Sara Polsky

Clink! You're still fired!

The lights are on, the crane is down, and now, the moment we've been waiting for: the upper floors of New York by Gehry/8 Spruce Street/Beekman Tower are now renting. By "upper floors," we mean floors 40 through 76, which have two- and three-bedroom apartments. A bunch of brokers have already been inside the new 45th-floor model units, to join Gehry and developer Bruce Ratner in a champagne (or perhaps it's sparkling cider?) toast earlier this week. The 22,000 square feet of amenities, including the 50-foot swimming pool, the spa, the screening room, and the library, are also officially open.


Related content...

New York by Gehry, Ripple Effect: Frank Gehry’s Acclaimed NYC Skyscaper Debuts Upper-Floor Luxury Rental Units to High Demand

How sad that New York by Gehry comes up in a "blog" search. Maybe Google will start selling news to sites that are actually ads.

Photo: Philip Greenberg

Posted by eric at 12:31 PM

July 22, 2011

Casinos, gaming and horses, oh my!

Real estate moguls look to win in a new field

The Real Deal
by Michael Stoler

Becoming successful in real estate is not easy. Not only does it take a stomach for risk, it also takes the ability to bounce back from failed projects -- as many are trying to do now.

But once real estate executives achieve a certain level of success, they often seem to branch out to other areas of business.

Over the last decade, a number of successful real estate leaders have also been investing in their hobbies -- which include big moneymakers like baseball and football. Fred Wilpon, head of real estate investment firm Sterling Equities Associates (and more recently, a Madoff victim), is the principal owner of the New York Mets. In February 2008, Related's Ross famously purchased 50 percent of the Miami Dolphins football team, its venue Dolphin Stadium and the surrounding land from Wayne Huizenga for $550 million. A year later, he completed his purchase of 95 percent of the franchise for $1 billion.

Meanwhile, Bruce Ratner is the minority owner of the New Jersey Nets, after heading up an ownership group that paid $300 million in 2004.


NoLandGrab: Yes, Bruce Ratner was investing in his hobby, alright — his hobby being subsidy- and land-grabbing.

Posted by eric at 9:38 AM

July 15, 2011

A Story about Bruce Ratner

Nets Are Scorching
by Vivek Netrakanti

Bruce Ratner is an infamous name around here. The precursor to Mikhail Prokhorov bought the team with the sole purpose of moving it to Brooklyn; Brooklyn came first, winning came second. However, now that the move to Brooklyn is right around the corner, the Wall Street Journal writes a fantastic recap of what it took to get to this junction. It is appropriately titled “The Great Basketball Swindle.”

Essentially, that’s what Ratner did; he swindled us. Years of mediocre basketball, sold draft picks, and hemorrhaging finances punctuated the Ratner era. While the move to Brooklyn is nice, acquiring good players to support the Big 3 would’ve been even nice, too. In short, Ratner was the worst owner in the NBA during his time with the Nets. Even Donald Sterling was better, in my opinion. Luckily, the Nets now have one of the best in the business.


NoLandGrab: Spot-on assessment of Mr. Ratner. However, calling newbie owner Mikhail Prokhorov "one of the best in the business" is a wee bit hyperbolic.

Posted by eric at 11:31 AM

July 1, 2011

Cultural Circus? Mr. Ratner’s Attempt to Rechristen His Arena A “Cultural Center”

Noticing New York

Michael D.D. White takes an entertaining look at the recent "news" that Bruce Ratner will stage some "cultural events" in his arena.

One respect in which Ms. Hopkins and Mr. Ratner have not coordinated to get their act together (about what they are “coordinating”) is whether we are talking circuses here. Mr. Ratner is saying NO, Ms. Hopkins is saying YES.

In contradistinction to the “cultural institution” camouflage Ratner says he is interested in gaining with his wham-BAM press release, Ratner describes circuses as part of the commonplace perception people generally have of arenas from which he wants to move away:

“. . . . . then you have an arena, which, people think about sports and circus and so on”

But Ms. Hopkins contradicts Mr. Ratner by apparently envisioning that recommending circuses (pardon her French) may be exactly what BAM will do:

She said she expects the performances to be “on a very large scale, large nouvelle cirque kind of work, big dance kind of things, music.”

For those who might need it translated “cirque” is simply French for “circus,” whether “nouvelle” or not.


Posted by eric at 10:04 PM

The official press release on the BAM-Barclays alliance, the imaginary new "cultural district," and reflections on Bruce Ratner's gift for irony

Atlantic Yards Report

Leave it to Norman Oder to point out the greatest irony of all.

"I always like to put things that are a little bit ironic together" was the money quote from Bruce Ratner in today's New York Times exclusive on the alliance in which the Brooklyn Academy of Music will bring three or four large-scale shows to fill empty dates at the Barclays Center arena.

The first irony is that this was seen as big news rather than as a question mark over the event projections for the arena. Remember, they've booked 150 shows and aim for more than 200 events a year.

The problem with those numbers is that a Moody's analyst in 2009 said its just-above-junk rating for $511 million in Barclays Center PILOT bonds depended in part on 225 events a year, and Forest City Ratner's original projection of 225 events depended on no new arena in Newark, though one has since opened.

There's an even greater irony. The alliance with BAM could turn the Barlcays Center into the "18,000-seat opera house" that Assemblyman Roger Green once said Atlantic Yards protestors might embrace.

From Chris Smith's August 2006 New York magazine article, Mr. Ratner's Neighborhood:

Green isn’t quite so blunt, but he sees the divide over Atlantic Yards almost as starkly. “Here’s the question: If we were building an 18,000-seat opera house, would we get as much resistance? I don’t think so,” he says. “Basketball is like a secular religion for most Brooklynites. The opposition to the arena is actually coming from people who are new to Brooklyn, who lived in Manhattan, mostly. And who have a culture of opposing projects of this nature. People who opposed the West Side Highway project; people who opposed the Jets stadium; people who opposed a host of other things. Some of those families now live in Brooklyn. That’s the reality. There’s a class of people who are going to the opera. And there’s another class of folks who will go to a basketball game and get a cup of beer.”


Posted by eric at 10:39 AM

June 30, 2011

NY Times Tries to Buff Ratner Image With "News" of Arena Alliance With Tone Deaf BAM

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

So this, apparently, is what The Times deems to be front page arts newsworthy: Bruce Ratner, Brooklyn Academy of Music board member, former BAM board director, minority owner of the Nets, majority owner of a basketball arena and roughly 18 acres of a demolition zone/interim surface patking lot is, maybe, going to allow the Brooklyn Academy of Music to hold "three or four shows a year" in the taxpayer subsidized billion dollar arena named after Barclays.

Newsflash for The Times: just because your business partner comes to you with an exclusive story doesn't mean it is anything more than a press release. And pretty much the only time Bruce Ratner himself will talk with The Times or any reporters is when his company feeds you the news.

Speaking of irony, as Bruce Ratner does below, isn't it just a wee bit ironic that the Brooklyn Academy of Music is so tone deaf about the Atlantic Yards project?


Posted by eric at 8:08 AM

June 29, 2011

Ratner feeds exclusive to Times, which hypes plan for BAM to bring three or four events to Atlantic Yards arena

Atlantic Yards Report

The article does quote a critic:

But as with all things related to Atlantic Yards, the cultural plans have their doubters. Michael Galinsky, the director with his wife, Suki Hawley, of the new documentary “Battle for Brooklyn,” which chronicles the years-long fight against the project, was skeptical that the Barclays Center would deliver on all its promises to the neighborhood.

He pointed to the changes in the original Atlantic Yards plan, from the departure of the architect Frank Gehry to the exclusion of a rooftop track to the number of jobs created.

“Any time the arts has more of a venue that’s a wonderful thing,” Mr. Galinsky said. “But the question then becomes at what cost to public process.” He added, “this is a much greater benefit to Ratner from this P.R. perspective than it is to BAM.”

Mr. Ratner said the partnership with the Brooklyn Academy was not meant to appease critics. “I don’t care,” he said, then corrected himself. “We care a tremendous amount about the community, but we don’t do it to get credit,” he said. “We must do stuff here because we think it’s good to do, not because it just happens to make a splash. Everything has to be substantive. Most of it has to be as substantive as possible.”

Actually, Ratner doesn't respond to Galinsky's substantive points, which should've led the reporter to be skeptical of the enterprise she'd embarked on. But they didn't fit the presumed storyline.

If Ratner does "care a tremendous amount about the community," maybe he should be asked about paying for rat abatement. Or how people are going to walk on narrow Dean Street sidewalks to the arena. But the Times didn't cover the meeting last night.


NoLandGrab: Go with your first answer, Bruce. You don't care.

Related coverage...

NetsDaily, In the Battle of Brooklyn Values, Nets Score a Cultural Victory

Noted arts & culture site NetsDaily calls it a coup for Bruce.

It's a tiny number of dates --the Nets have booked 150 out of a promised 200+ events so far-- but the arrangement will give the arena an advantage in the continuing war with critics over the value of putting an 18,000-seat sports facility in brownstone Brooklyn.

NLG: Uh, no.

Posted by eric at 9:49 PM

In Alliance, Nets Arena to Offer Arts

The New York Times
by Melena Ryzik

The munificent Bruce Ratner is going to give the people culture along with sub-par basketball.

It’s been a springboard for Brooklyn nostalgia, a debate about urban design and the politics of eminent domain and, depending on your perspective or basketball affiliation, a community uniter or divider. Now Atlantic Yards, the development that will bring the New Jersey Nets to downtown Brooklyn, will also be a cultural center.

The Barclays Center, the 18,000-seat arena at the heart of the project, will host performances by artists selected by the Brooklyn Academy of Music in a programming alliance between the two neighboring institutions, their directors said. The collaboration will include three or four shows a year and allow the academy to bring to Brooklyn work that would not fit into its theaters — the largest of which has 2,000 seats — with costs underwritten by the arena.

And since the taxpayers are underwriting the arena, ergo, the costs will be underwritten by the taxpayers.

“I always like to put things that are a little bit ironic together,” Bruce C. Ratner, the chairman and chief executive of Forest City Ratner Companies, the developer of the arena, said in an interview Tuesday.

Like Jobs, Housing & Hoops, perhaps?

Karen Brooks Hopkins, the academy’s president, said in a telephone interview that Mr. Ratner “called me and said that he really was hoping that this arena would be different from every arena, from the basic commercial fare.” She said she expects the performances to be “on a very large scale, large nouvelle cirque kind of work, big dance kind of things, music.”

Ms. Brooks Hopkins would not specify the artists the academy was considering for the Barclays Center, except to say that they would be culled by the academy’s executive director, Joseph V. Melillo, from around the globe. “I know that he has seen a number of large-scale works in Asia that he is very enthusiastic about,” she said, adding that, in an effort to fill seats, “we’re not married to one aesthetic or one point of view or even one audience demographic.”


NoLandGrab: What a coincidence! Bruce saw a number — 498, to be exact — of large-scale ($500,000 each) investors in Asia, that he is very enthusiastic about.

Posted by eric at 7:41 PM

June 24, 2011

Marriage Equality Remains on the Cusp

GOP Senate majority holds back Cuomo bill as session into overtime

Gay City News
by Paul Schindler

The momentum for moving marriage equality through the New York State Senate –– which amped up dramatically on June 13 and 14, when five new supporters were announced –– remained short of its goal as Gay City News went to print on the evening of June 22.

Since June 13, advocates led by Governor Andrew Cuomo have pressed not only for the one additional supporter needed to reach the 32 votes ensuring passage, but also for the Senate Republican majority to move the bill from their conference onto the floor.

That same week [the first week of June], a list of leading business leaders supporting marriage equality was released, and included names such as Citicorp chairman Dick Parsons, Loews Corporation co-chairman Jonathan Tisch, and real estate developer Bruce Ratner.


NoLandGrab: Perhaps "do-gooder, liberal" Bruce's lobbying convinced Carl Kruger to change his vote!

Posted by eric at 10:10 AM

June 13, 2011

Some back story on the Daily News's friendly Ratner interview today: no questions about Goldstein

Atlantic Yards Report

Daily News sports reporter Stefan Bondy produced a suck-up interview with Bruce Ratner today, and while he did quote Ratner opponent Patti Hagan, he nonetheless declared the arena "Bruce Ratner's triumph" and otherwise skated over any countervailing evidence.

And Hagan, at the Brooklyn Film Festival June 3, offered a little back story about Bondy's interview, as shown in the video below.

"You might be interested to know I got called by a Daily News sports reporter a couple of days ago," she recounted, "who said that he had been able to have an interview with Bruce Ratner, and the one thing that Bruce Ratner said, on agreeing to be interviewed, was that no questions could be asked--the name Daniel Goldstein could not be mentioned."

Actually, Goldstein is mentioned in the story, but it doesn't look like Bondy asked Ratner about Goldstein.


Video: brokeland11217 via YouTube

Posted by eric at 10:13 AM

June 12, 2011

Bruce Ratner finds vindication as Nets' new digs take shape in Brooklyn, but residents still angry

Daily News
BY Stefan Bondy

In this item about the state of the Atlantic Yards project, the Daily News drinks the Ratner Kool-Aid in an abdication of journalistic responsibility. The piece is chock-full of errors.

It's a moot debate now, no longer a fistfight. Ratner was a perfect 35-for-35 in judicial decisions throughout the eight-year process, even as the recession that nearly killed his construction project forced a downgrade of sorts. He dumped the original architecture plan, a Frank Gehry design, for one less grandiose and less costly, and has put off related proposals such as the residential buildings that were supposed to be erected adjacent to the arena. Ratner says the apartments should start going up in December or January, but he's waiting on a $100 million bank loan.

Can anybody explain what 35 judicial decisions are being referenced? It's very trusting to think that Frank Gehry was ever anything more than window dressing to entice supporters and that jettisoning him wasn't part of a plan. Also, the promised housing has yet to materialize, but we should just trust Ratner that it will somehow appear ... sometime... eventually... if a loan comes through... or something.


Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Daily News basketball writer declares Ratner has found "vindication" since "The proof is in the construction site"

The article begins:

Bruce Ratner's triumph stands tall on the corner of Atlantic & Flatbush Avenues, his horizontal battleground finally transformed into vertical steel beams.

Ratner and the opponents of this Brooklyn arena were never going to see eye-to-eye, no matter how many court fights, press conferences and protests were staged. But Ratner has won, in part by buying off the last remaining combatants. The proof is in the construction site. His image was damaged and his wallet is lighter, but Ratner, the millionaire developer who fought so hard to relocate local residents, feels closer to exoneration with every rivet pounded into his $1 billion project.

(Emphases added)

For whom does an arena, without all the promised jobs, housing, and open space, count as a triumph? Sports fans, maybe, but certainly not the elected officials who joined the Ratner bandwagon based on air promises.

Is "his horizontal battleground battleground finally transformed into vertical steel beams"? Not at all, if you consider that a larger piece of the battleground will become interim surface parking and other large chunks remain unchanged.

Bondy quotes his eager subject:

"Groundbreaking alone was vindication of sorts," Ratner says. "But, of course, the final frosting on the vindication cake will be when we open the doors."

The final frosting? Only for sports fans.

Posted by steve at 5:17 PM

June 2, 2011

Ratner says in Bloomberg interview that $100M financing for first tower is coming; no word on whether it would be modular

Atlantic Yards Report

I'm coming a bit late to Bruce Ratner's interview (and article) on Bloomberg, but here's the gist: Ratner expects to get a $100 million loan for the first tower, and that work should start around the end of the year.

Unmentioned is whether it would be modular and thus save big bucks. (As the New York Observer pointed out, $100 million seems small for that size building.) Unmentioned is whether Ratner is still seeking additional subsidies, which the city has denied. Unmentioned is the history of delays with this tower.


Related coverage...

NY Observer, First Atlantic Yards Tower Coming This Winter, Will It Be Prefab?

Bruce Ratner went on Bloomberg yesterday to discuss the state of the local economy and progress at Atlantic Yards. During the interview, he said he expects to break ground on the first apartment tower at the site by December or January.

That is pushing Ratner's promise made last fall to have the tower under construction sometime this year. He also promised renderings in the first half of the year, but here we are in June. Could this further undermine the blown 10-year timetable for the project?

Who cares, because everyone is cheerleading for the new basketball arena, even this Bloomberg reporter.

Posted by eric at 4:54 PM

June 1, 2011

Bruce Ratner Interview


Bruce Ratner, chairman and chief executive officer of Forest City Ratner Cos., discusses the New York real estate market and the outlook for the U.S. economy. Ratner, speaking with Betty Liu on Bloomberg Television's "In the Loop," also talks about the Barclays Center, a new arena in the Brooklyn borough of New York that will be the home of the Nets.

Ratner says today's ADP report of 38,000 private-sector jobs created this month is "terrible" and "much more disappointing than I would have expected" (forecasts predicted about 175,000 new jobs).

Of course, he's not exactly helping, since he promised 17,000 construction jobs and 10,000 permanent jobs at Atlantic Yards, and has delivered about 100 and zero, respectively.

He also says that Mikhail Prokhorov will make a decision on his option to acquire up to 20% of the total Atlantic Yards project "sometime in the next six months."


NoLandGrab: Check out the amazing car-free Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues in the animation beginning around the 5:15 mark.

Related coverage...

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Ratner: Prokhorov Will Decide in Next 6 Months if He Wants 20% Share of Atlantic Yards Housing

Nets minority owner and Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner was interviewed this morning on Bloomberg TV. The biggest news out of the interview is that Ratner said that within the next 6 months "Michael" Prokhorov will decide whether or not to take the option he has to own 20% of the non-arena part of the project. He already owns 45% of the arena.

Ratner also claimed that the first residential building will start in December or January. If true that would be nearly a year later than claimed in 2010.

Posted by eric at 4:08 PM

Bruce Ratner among the co-chairs of planned de Blasio fundraiser

Atlantic Yards Report

Capital Tonight's Liz Benjamin reports that Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, widely seen as a mayoral candidate in 2013, is holding a 50th birthday fundraiser on June 23.

Check out the list of co-chairs (below) and see the name Bruce Ratner.

That suggests that de Blasio's essential backing of Atlantic Yards--he belatedly criticized the process, not the project--hasn't deterred Ratner. (Here's my analysis of de Blasio's due diligence.)

Is Ratner backing just one horse in 2013? Too soon to tell.


Posted by eric at 4:00 PM

May 13, 2011

Cognitive dissonance in Ratner-land: is Bruce Ratner a corporate hero or a guy who plays the system? It depends what you read

Atlantic Yards Report

The first two weeks of May have featured a high level of Ratnerian cognitive dissonance: two media mentions that buff developer Bruce Ratner as a white knight, countered by two other mentions that raise serious questions and qualms.

First came Ratner's refute, that sycophantic cover story in The Real Deal. Then comes word (via The Graduate Baruchian and No Land Grab) of Ratner's well-received appearance at the Baruch Business School's Zicklin Leadership Series.

Business ethics

NLG's Eric McClure pointed to this excerpt:

What can an organization do to encourage good business ethics?
BR — It starts from the top. Ethics is an issue of culture. That comes directly from the executives and people who run the company. Lectures turn people off. Leading by action sets the tone. At FCRC a balance between life and work is strongly encouraged. The job is important, but friends and family come first. When people recognize that work is not everything, they become less susceptible to temptation and making poor decisions. Moreover, a culture of fairness further creates an environment where people can make good decisions.

If Forest City Ratner and parent Forest City Enterprise really believe in ethics, well, wouldn't they:
--stop issuing wildly misleading brochures
--not pay consultants (who later get indicted) for no-show jobs
--feel some chagrin about disruptions made in their name

The list could go on.


Posted by eric at 1:39 PM

May 12, 2011

Good corporate citizen? Profile of Ratner in the Forward quotes Atlantic Yards opponents and mentions Kruger charges

Atlantic Yards Report

Here's some news unmentioned in The Real Deal's sycophantic profile of Bruce Ratner last week: as headlined in the Forward, the weekly newspaper geared to a Jewish audience, From Humble Lumber Sellers to Clout-Wielding Developers: An Immigrant Tale: Federal Indictment of a Local State Senator Shines Light on Bruce Ratner’s Brooklyn Redevelopment Project.

The piece, by Neil deMause of the book and blog Field of Schemes, recognizes Ratner's history of gaining government support and gives reasonable credence--and the last word--to Ratner's opponents, notably Candace Carponter of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn.

Still, I'd contend, the article could have been even tougher. I posted a comment:

“I think all of this stems from his sense of what it means to be a good corporate citizen,” said [Joe] DePlasco.

DePlasco is the developer's paid spokesman. Of course that's what he thinks.

I think, based on an examination of the record, that Forest City Ratner has long made compromises and pursued policies that privileged its bottom line over corporate citizenship. (That's not surprising; FCR's obligations are first to its parent company and shareholders.)

The question for readers and journalists caught in the "he said, she said" back-and-forth is whether the developer, by dint of its track record, deserves more or less credence.

I'd argue for less. Take, for example, the developer's history of deceptive promotional brochures and publications.


NoLandGrab: Actually, we don't think DePlasco really thinks Bruce is a good corporate citizen. He's just paid to say it.

Posted by eric at 12:48 PM

From Humble Lumber Sellers to Clout-Wielding Developers: An Immigrant Tale

Federal Indictment of a Local State Senator Shines Light on Bruce Ratner’s Brooklyn Redevelopment Project

by Neil deMause

The Field of Schemes author writes a counterpoint to last week's Real Deal puff piece.

When federal prosecutors charged New York State Senator Carl Kruger with taking more than $1 million in bribes in March, few were surprised to see seven others indicted with him. The colorful Kruger, who represents the heavily Jewish Brooklyn neighborhoods of Brighton Beach, Gravesend and Sheepshead Bay, has long attracted media attention for high-profile deal-making among a wide network of politicians and lobbyists.

But the scandal has also swept into its purview an affiliate of one of the country’s most prominent real estate developers, throwing a spotlight on the storied Jewish family that controls it.

Among those indicted was Richard Lipsky, a state lobbyist, who is alleged to have offered bribes to Kruger in exchange for political favors. In FBI wiretaps, Lipsky allegedly conspires with Kruger to share Lipsky’s lobbying fees in exchange for legislative approval of his clients’ projects.

One of the clients the indictment alleges Kruger helped in response to Lipsky’s payoffs is a company labeled “real estate developer #1” that was “spearheading an over $4 billion, multi-year, mixed-use commercial and residential development project in Brooklyn.” That company has been identified in multiple news reports as Forest City Ratner, the developer behind the Atlantic Yards project, a 22-acre residential and retail complex in Brooklyn. An executive for FCR is also captured on wiretaps talking with Kruger about seeking state money for development projects, and this conversation is included in the indictment.

Prosecutors did not charge anyone at FCR with wrongdoing, and there is no indication that FCR knew of Lipsky’s alleged actions. The company’s spokesman emphasized to The New York Times that the indictment “does not suggest that Forest City Ratner behaved in any way that’s inappropriate.” (The spokesman, Joe DePlasco, told the Forward that FCR was not commenting further on the Kruger matter.)

Nevertheless, the Kruger scandal has brought new attention to the business practices of a family-run firm whose real-estate developments have long attracted controversy for using public cash to support private projects.

At the center of the dispute: Bruce Ratner, the camera-shy scion of a storied Cleveland real estate family, who has gained attention in New York for building the new New York Times building, buying the New Jersey Nets with the intention of moving the team to Brooklyn, and remaking the Brooklyn skyline with a series of skyscrapers that are both lauded and reviled by locals. To his defenders, Ratner is a hero of Brooklyn’s rebirth; to his critics, he’s a businessman who has made a career of using his political connections to secure large government subsidies for his development projects.


Posted by eric at 12:39 PM


The Graduate Baruchian
by Lemuel Morrison & Tex Morgan

MBA students at Baruch College have been graced by the wisdom of Bruce Ratner.

On May 4th the speaker series started with an introduction by Frank Fletcher for Mr. Ratner. He is the CEO and Chairman of Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) and has led the firm as a prominent developer of urban real estate. He is recognized beyond his firm with a long career in the public and private sectors.

Professor Donald Vredenburgh joined Mr. Ratner on the dais. The format was a question and answer session.

What is it like to be a leader in real-estate development in New York City?

BR – You must be comfortable with chaos — not necessarily in the strict sense. The world is always changing and something always happens. I found that being flexible is really important in a leader. Can you move quickly and change with the circumstances? Avoid the bureaucracy that stops your progress.

A couple good ways to "avoid bureaucracy" are to have the state override local zoning laws, and use its power of eminent domain to seize property for you.

What can an organization do to encourage good business ethics?

BR — [Silence]

Just kidding — real answer below:

BR — It starts from the top. Ethics is an issue of culture. That comes directly from the executives and people who run the company. Lectures turn people off. Leading by action sets the tone. At FCRC a balance between life and work is strongly encouraged. The job is important, but friends and family come first. When people recognize that work is not everything, they become less susceptible to temptation and making poor decisions. Moreover, a culture of fairness further creates an environment where people can make good decisions.

Silence would have been a truer answer.

Do you have suggestion for business school that have a real-estate program?

BR — Aside from all the usual material, dealing with the media is an important topic — especially in today’s world. Knowing how to work with blogs and social media is becoming very important.

Indeed it is.


Posted by eric at 12:12 PM

Tea’d Off: Lone N.Y.C. GOPer Michael Grimm Feels the Pinch

by David Freedlander

"Do-gooder, liberal" Bruce Ratner makes a cameo in the Observer's profile of conservative local Congressman Michael Grimm.

A few days before the New Yorker piece, and before Mr. Grimm met the voters of Brooklyn, and before Republicans pulled the rug from under the backers of the Ryan budget, Mr. Grimm toured Beekman Tower, a still-under construction residential tower in Lower Manhattan, which, when completed, will be the tallest such structure in the city’s history. Mr. Grimm wore a hard hat and blue jeans and chewed gum and was led on the tour by a bunch of similarly outfitted union reps and the project’s developer, Bruce Ratner. The group took a rickety cage of a construction elevator up the side of the building. The whole city seemed to breeze through the bars. “It’s the working people of America that drive this country, Mr. Grimm told the group. “Always has been.”

His presence there illustrated the awkwardness of life as a Republican these days. It is hard to talk about the need to reduce government spending and simultaneously call for more government investment in construction projects.


NoLandGrab: Nobody can reach across the aisle (and into the public pocketbook) like Bruce can! Wonder if Grimm noticed that the building's flat side faces Staten Island?

Posted by eric at 11:38 AM

May 11, 2011

Even in 1997, some in the press were questioning Ratner's use of political donations and influence

Atlantic Yards Report

On May 3, I pointed to a 11/1/2000 City Limits article that cast a critical perspective on Forest City Ratner--evidence that, despite claims in the Real Deal that developer Bruce Ratner "enjoyed largely favorable PR" before Atlantic Yards, less favorable PR was hardly insignificant.

Consider this 12/28/97 article from the New York Post, headlined King of the Retail Deals:

Ask megadeveloper Bruce Ratner why questions of political donations and connections dog virtually every development his hugely successful Forest City Ratner Companies builds - or even vies for - and he snaps, "It's just silly."

The 52-year-old developer, lawyer and former commissioner of the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs angrily dismisses the persistent notion that his heavy contributions at the city, state and federal level get Forest City favored treatment - and even allow him to make special deals.


Posted by eric at 10:32 AM

May 6, 2011

In latest Observer "100 Most Powerful" in New York Real Estate list, Prokhorov again leads Ratner, bike lanes called example of "Mrs. Moses"

Atlantic Yards Report

The New York Observer has chosen its fourth annual list of The 100 Most Powerful People in New York Real Estate and, once again, Nets majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov, inexplicably to me, was placed ahead of Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner.

Well, the list (slideshow) "was chosen internally by The Observer using subjective criteria" and, below, I offer a few comments.

Note that the numbers in parentheses reflect last year's rank.

The Russian mogul

#24. Mikhail Prokhorov (43)

Controlling owner of the New Jersey Nets

When Mr. Prokhorov stepped forward last year as the new owner of the New Jersey Nets, he not only established himself as the latest real estate investor to interlope the city’s gridlock of property assets, but also forced himself onto Gotham’s cultural scene. So much so that New York magazine named him as the leader of the city’s “Global Russians.” Whether he can really make it in this town has yet to be seen, but, either way, for now he’s bought himself a ticket to the top.

Prokhorov owns a 45% stake in the arena holding company, which means he's less of a real estate investor than Bruce Ratner, and, as I wrote last year, Ratner has the connections and pays for the lobbying (and still does, as documented today). He's still more powerful, in my book.

A small bump-up for Bruce

#48. Bruce Ratner (53)

Chairman and CEO of Forest City Ratner

With the last of the lawsuits behind him, Mr. Ratner began work on what may still be the most cutting-edge arena in the country, even without Frank Gehry designing it. The developer is struggling to find financing for the first apartment tower on the site-but if he does, there are rumors it could be the largest prefabricated structure in the world, and something with the possibility to transform the way New York builds. And there is a certain Manhattan apartment building he and Mr. Gehry managed to finish together.

Not the largest, but the tallest prefab structure. And the last of the lawsuits still lingers.


Related coverage...

NY Observer, The 100 Most Powerful People in New York Real Estate

Posted by eric at 10:45 AM

May 3, 2011

Reading The Real Deal on Bruce Ratner: a "strange twist of fate," housing doubts, and big arena profits

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder continues his dissection of today's Real Deal puff piece on Bruce Ratner, and while it's all worth a read, this bit is particularly eye-opening.

While I don't take pleasure in criticizing a fellow reporter, I have to recount some of the back story. The writer, new to Atlantic Yards, contacted me in mid-April.

He was obviously typing sloppily: "Everybody talks about how Ratner entered development with a social conscious, which seems ironic, givcen all the opposition he has engendared with Atlantic Yards. I'm wondering what your thoughts are on that."

So I sent him some things to read, notably a piece on Ratner's campaign contributions and links to an essay headlined Democracy Now? Ratner Plays Hardball When It Counts and excerpted significantly here.

I sent links to six more pieces, including The Mystery of Ridge Hill. His response: "ei yi yi. I just want some quotes not a dissertation."

He didn't bother much with what I'd written, obviously, nor did he contact me again.

It was a dismaying example of what press scholar Jay Rosen criticizes as “He said, she said” journalism, in which "No real attempt is made to assess clashing truth claims in the story" and "The means for assessment do exist, so it’s possible to exert a factual check on some of the claims, but for whatever reason the report declines to make use of them."


NoLandGrab: Ei yi yi is right. Ask the journalist who knows about Atlantic Yards than any other reporter, and then complain about TMI? That's how you end up with hard-hitting stories like Ratner's Refute.

And "Ratner entered development with a social conscious?" If that was ever true, it ceased being so a long, long time ago.

Posted by eric at 6:07 PM

Atlantic Yards Report Refutes Ratner's Refute

Atlantic Yards Report, "Ratner's refute"? Real Deal claims "Developer insists Atlantic Yards is moving forward"

Well, we shouldn't expect that much from the real estate industry-friendly publication The Real Deal, which has published a cover article headlined Ratner's refute: Developer insists Atlantic Yards is moving forward.

I'll have more of a critique in a bit, but first, consider that such head-in-the-sand reporting somehow misses the news from last fall, as I wrote 9/28/10:

From WNYC today, Ratner Abandons 10-Year Timeline for Atlantic Yards:

Developer Bruce Ratner said Tuesday morning what many of his critics and even some of his associates have been saying for years: there is no way the entire Atlantic Yards project will be done in 10 years.

He said the 10-year timeline was always misunderstood. It was never meant to be more than a best-case scenario to be used in environmental impact statements.

“That was really only an analysis as to what the most serious impacts [would be], if all the other planned development in downtown Brooklyn happened right away,” Ratner says. “It was never supposed to be the time we were supposed to build them in.”

He added: “I would say it's really market-dependent as to when it will really be completed.”

Atlantic Yards Report, "Ratner's refute"? Real Deal claim of "largely favorable PR" deserves some footnotes

True, there were many fewer negative articles, but they were not insignificant. Consider the 11/1/2000 City Limits article headlined Wage Rage: Big corporations and developers reap major subsidies from the city, but their service staffs make starvation wages. Now a wave of organizing campaigns is trying to change the equation.:

One week before the Renaissance Plaza strike began, on May 9, demonstrators marched outside the Atlantic Center Mall to demand better wages and benefits for workers in all of malls operated by Forest City Ratner, the city's largest retail developer. Al Sharpton led the chants, but the protest was organized by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now--better known as ACORN. The group, organizer Bertha Lewis explains, wants heavily subsidized, "big box" retail developers like Bruce Ratner to make mall tenants agree to pay decent wages and benefits. "If you are feeding at the public trough, then you must at least pay your workers a living wage," she says.

Ratner's company, Lewis readily admits, is no worse than any other developer. They all have the same "dead-end, low-wage, non-union, no-benefit jobs," she says. ACORN singled out Ratner because he's one of the biggest developers in the city, and because he is currently receiving more than $20 million in city subsidies.

Those are the same Al Sharpton and Bertha Lewis who Ratner, thanks to strategic giving and questionable promises, has been able to recruit to support Atlantic Yards.

Atlantic Yards Report, Bruce Ratner, once "humble, winsome" to a supporter, becomes "affable, rumpled" to a journalistic sycophant (but what about the grim photo?)

Once upon a time, in the memorable words of the Rev. Herbert Daughtry, Bruce Ratner was described as having a customary "humble, winsome" manner.

I guess we'll have to add "affable, rumpled" to the list, since that's the shorthand description in The Real Deal's cover article headlined Ratner's refute: Developer insists Atlantic Yards is moving forward.

Consider the quote from Ratner accompanying the photo: "Ultimately the truth will come out -- that this project will be very good for Brooklyn."

The article makes no attempt to discern the competing evidence regarding that truth, but doesn't Ratner in the photo appear not so affable but rather a bit grim?

NoLandGrab: Bruce will heretofore be known as "The Grim Rumpler."

Posted by eric at 12:38 PM

Ratner's refute

Developer insists Atlantic Yards is moving forward

The Real Deal
by Adam Piore

The legend of Bruce Ratner, as told by Bruce Ratner. Cue violins.

For a developer who prides himself on building with a "social mission," the bruising battle to break ground on the mammoth Atlantic Yards project has not been easy -- to say the least.

Over the last eight years, Bruce Ratner has been repeatedly excoriated by community activists and Brownstone Brooklynites, attacked in the press, and called everything from a "liar" to a "serial eminent domain abuser and corporate welfare queen."

If you type the words "Bruce Ratner" and "scumbag" into Google, you get 567 hits.

It's a strange twist of fate for the affable, rumpled Cleveland native, who spent his summers at Columbia Law School working for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and the rest of his 20s and 30s as a consumer advocate, defending the poor from the scams of small-time hucksters and corporate con men.

Without Bruce, there would be no Brooklyn as we know it today.

Kathryn Wylde, president and CEO of the Partnership for New York City, credited Ratner with "literally, over the course of almost two decades, dragging Brooklyn into the 21st century."

"When Bruce and Forest City made a commitment to Downtown Brooklyn, there were no other private investors interested," she said, noting that the new investment also brought funds for subways and other infrastructure.

Funds for subways and other infrastructure that the state of New York appears to be giving back.

There's an irony, [Wylde] noted, in that "the people who are now trying to close the door" on new development at the Atlantic Yards, and protect their turf, "wouldn't have anything worth much if it wasn't for Ratner's investments over the years."

"There was such an overwhelming sense in the '80s that Brooklyn was a classic area of urban decay," she said. "The local homeowners were battling high crime and the spread of blight, so I think there was appreciation of the importance of new investment. I think that the opposition to Atlantic Yards is in fact a function of a neighborhood that is gentrified thanks to decades of investment by Forest City."

Thank you, Bruce!

Of course, we have to have a dash of the Atlantic Yards creation myth...

But when [Marty Markowitz] suggested Ratner construct an arena on the vacant Atlantic rail yards, "[Bruce] saw something much greater than me. He saw a possibility of a major development that Brooklyn needed."

...with a little "vacant rail yard" myth thrown in for good measure.

Here's a better idea:

However, Council Member [Letitia] James -- one of the most vocal politicians in the fight against Ratner -- said in a statement that the site he controls is "too big and too important to be held hostage and kept barren for decades by the developer."

"Mr. Ratner," she said in a long statement her office sent in response to an interview request, "knew that he wanted those 22 acres cheap, and to get the land, he promised the world while maintaining the impression that he could deliver. Because of this, Mr. Ratner has already come back to the city and state for more taxpayer money, for a project that, when initiated in 2003, was proclaimed to be 'primarily privately funded.' I fully expect there will be future efforts to extract yet more public subsidy for Atlantic Yards."

She said the government should "take back the land" and divide it into "manageable parcels." She also demanded that officials initiate a "transparent, competitive bidding process to award the parcels to multiple developers, making it financially feasible in a way that Atlantic Yards is not and never was."

Here's a surprise (not):

Ratner estimates that the profits from the arena "are going to equal or surpass where I thought they would come out."

He estimated the arena will generate annual net income of about $110 million to $120 million, cost $30 million to operate, and require about $45 million to $50 million a year to pay off financing, leaving the company with about $35 million a year in profit -- which will generate a roughly 10 percent return on the $350 million invested by Forest City to build the stadium.

"That is pretty good out of the box," Ratner said. "It will increase as time goes on."

The Real Deal gives Bruce the last word:

Ratner insisted that the Atlantic Yards is back on track.

"This wound up being challenging in ways I did not expect, though I probably should have expected the opposition," Ratner said. "I know the housing is going to be incredible, and the arena will be the most beautiful in the country. Ultimately the truth will come out -- that this project will be very good for Brooklyn."


NoLandGrab: If by "Brooklyn," Bruce Ratner means "Bruce Ratner," he may be right yet!

Posted by eric at 12:14 PM

April 4, 2011

Carver Federal Savings on the brink

Feds order Harlem bank to raise new capital. Or else.

Crain's NY Business
by Aaron Elstein

We take no pleasure in reporting the woes facing the bank into which Bruce Ratner made a much-touted (and to some, controversial) $1 million deposit in March of 2005. Though it is ironic that the bank is in trouble due to bad real estate loans.

The parent of Carver Federal Savings Bank holds its annual stockholders meeting April 4 at The Studio Museum in Harlem, near the bank's 125th Street headquarters. It could be the last.

Time may be running out for Carver, the nation's largest bank founded and run by African-Americans and an integral part of the city for 63 years. Staggering under a load of delinquent real estate loans, the bank is under orders from the U.S. Office of Thrift Supervision to raise $20 million in fresh capital by the end of this month. That's a steep climb for a bank that at best posts annual profits of $5 million. Yet if Carver can't raise the cash, regulators can either seize the institution and sell it to another bank, or dissolve it.

Longtime Chief Executive Deborah Wright has pulled Carver back from the brink before and has many high-level business and political connections who could help the bank get the needed funds.


NoLandGrab: But of course, Ratner, who made the deposit for TV cameras while surrounded by signatories of the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement, claimed his deposit had nothing to do with Atlantic Yards. Which is good, since he might not get it back. But that's ok, because he encouraged everyone else to put their money there, too.

Here's what he told NY1 back in March, 2005.

Bruce Ratner, the president of Forest City Ratner, said the public deposit, made with a ceremonial giant check, has nothing to do with his hopes of building an arena for the Nets in Downtown Brooklyn.

“This is part of a commitment by our company to constantly, whether an arena or not arena, to support local institutions,” said Ratner. “I have to say one other thing: This is a great bank, and it's a good business move for us and everybody to put deposits here. This is a very important part of the community and very important part of our city.”

Posted by eric at 10:54 AM

March 25, 2011

Comment of the Day

by Joey Arak

"The mystery developer is Bruce Ratner. He's promising housing PLUS a new hospital, sure, but when the whole thing is developed (scheduled for 2014, pushed back to 2031) there will be a 2-room clinic with one semi-retired nurse and a doctor who got his degree from Surgery Univeristy (an Internet-accredited institution), a large parking lot, 2 piles of dirt and a whole lot of angry Russian and Chinese investors. However, it's okay because 1,000% of Manhattanites (and 2,300% of West Village residents) support the project."—JGP [Mystery Developer Working on Alternate St. Vincent's Plan]


Posted by eric at 8:09 PM

Where should architects draw the ethical line? In discussion, Gehry and Ratner inevitably come up

Atlantic Yards Report

On the Glass House Conversations web site (connected to the Philip Johnson Glass House), writer Mark Lamster recently raised a question about architectural ethics, and of course Frank Gehry and Atlantic Yards came up.

Lamster posed the question:

How do we choose our clients? On this subject, Philip Johnson, self-professed "whore," was apt to quote H. H. Richardson's admonition that the "first principle of architecture is to get the job." That is rather cynical, perhaps, and in fact there were some clients (the mafia, for instance) for whom even Johnson would not work. But how do the rest of us know when and where to draw the line? Is it acceptable to work for a government with a spotty record on human rights? How about a corporation with a poor environmental history? How do we balance commercial imperatives with a desire for a moral practice?

To be a design professional is to navigate ethical territory that is rarely black or white, but some shade of gray. What compromises are and are not acceptable in this world?

Brooklyn-based writer Karrie Jacobs:

Architects in particular, because they rely on clients with excess money and clout to achieve their artistic and professional goals, are susceptible to temptation and moral failure. (See: Faust.)

Two examples come to mind:

...2) Frank Gehry and Bruce Ratner. To the many opponents of the Atlantic Yards project, this seemed like an unholy alliance. All I could figure was that Gehry was, for a very long time, blind to the politics of this gig because it gave him something he badly wanted: the chance to design an entire high-rise urban neighborhood. And because it promised to keep his firm in black-ink for a long, long time. I’m not convinced that morality had anything to do with Gehry’s exit from the deal. I just think that Ratner, ultimately, couldn’t afford to build Gehry’s dream neighborhood. The money and the clout had diminished.

Morality had nothing to do with Gehry's exit; his design (four towers constructed simultaneously with the arena, sharing HVAC) was impossible, and his cordial words upon leaving the job likely had to do with his other gig with Ratner, designing the Beekman Tower.


Posted by eric at 10:27 AM

March 23, 2011

Who Made the New Brooklyn (and Who Controls the Old)

The L Magazine

Brooklyn is the fourth-largest city in the country—as such, it is a complex place. For some, it is a throwback to the greatness of immigrant America, for others, it is the frontline of international hipster monoculture... Whatever the case, the idea of "Brooklyness" has never been more out in the world, even if it's impossible to pin down. What follows is a look at the people who've created that idea, and in whose hands its future rests.

Marty Markowitz
Though powerless to undo new bicycle infrastructure (phew!), Marty remains a mighty political force, by far the likeliest borough president to make a bid for city hall if/when Bloomberg's reign ends. Brooklyn has changed dramatically since the third-term prez took office in 2001. He's notched noble efforts in education and affordable housing, but there's the far more substantial list of less laudatory causes Marty has championed: tearing down Admiral's Row; turning Brooklyn from a place where people live into a brand that people buy; and a little real estate project called Atlantic Yards—he harnessed the power of denial for a recent video message courting potential Chinese investors, proclaiming: "Brooklyn is one thousand percent behind Atlantic Yards!"

The Forever Yards: Bruce Ratner
However many of Atlantic Yards' planned infrastructure-toppling residential towers ever go up over "blighted" Prospect Heights, given the current housing market (and however many pol-placating low-income units they ever include), the man still brought major league sports back to the BK, and the shockwaves—like Park Slope's panic over a stadium-crowd-catering hip-hop club—have already begun.


Posted by eric at 10:17 AM

March 22, 2011

Gehry parties with U2's Bono and actress Candice Bergen on his bday at 8 Spruce Street

The Real Deal

Really, Bono? Really?

Famed architect Frank Gehry celebrated his 82nd birthday this past Saturday during a fete on the 76th floor of New York by Gehry, the starchitect's latest project located at 8 Spruce Street in Lower Manhattan. Among the guests at the party, held in a penthouse unit inside the newly opened rental tower, were numerous stars of the art, music and real estate worlds, including actress Candice Bergen, singer Bono and Forest City Ratner CEO Bruce Ratner, which developed the 903-unit building.


Related coverage...

Curbed, Bono, Candice Bergen Get Invites to Frank Gehry's Penthouse Party

Developer Bruce Ratner presented the man of the hour with a 40-inch birthday cake shaped like a Gehry-esque tower, and God altered the elliptical orbit of the moon to create a lighting effect that helped New York by Gehry's steel curves shine extra bright above the Lower Manhattan skyline.

Photo: Philip Greenberg

Posted by eric at 10:41 AM

March 18, 2011

Bruce Ratner's late 2010 campaign contributions: $12,500 to AG candidate Schneiderman, $7500 to the Senate Republicans

Atlantic Yards Report

Michael Ratner, of course, is not the only Ratner doling out lavish campaign money.

To architect Frank Gehry, whose grasp of development politics appears (in retrospect) enormously shaky, Bruce Ratner is "politically like me" and a fellow "liberal, do-gooder."

But a look at Ratner's pattern of campaign contributions again suggests otherwise.

Would a "liberal, do-gooder" in New York State give $7500 to the New York State Senate Republican Campaign Committee, as Ratner did on 11/1/10?

Or would that donor more likely be, as I wrote in February 2008, someone who "plays hardball when it counts?"

The Schneiderman contribution

Ratner on 10/28/10 also gave $12,500 to the campaign of Democratic Attorney General candidate Eric Schneiderman, who won his race with 55 percent of the vote.

(The contribution limit in statewide elections is $37,800.)

Could that be an effort to ensure that Schneiderman not pursue a lingering investigation from the Andrew Cuomo-led AG's office into the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership's lobbying on behalf of Atlantic Yards and other projects?

Or is it just to make sure that Schneiderman takes some calls ahead of others?

Previous coverage

Last year, I noted $12,500 in contributions to Cuomo's gubernatorial campaign, $2000 to Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli's campaign, and $10,000 to New York Uprising, the clean-up-Albany project spearheaded by former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, Citizens Union Director Dick Dadey, and former New York City Parks Commissioner and New York Civic Director Henry Stern, Ratner's mentor.


NoLandGrab: The idea of Bruce Ratner supporting an effort to clean up Albany always makes us chuckle — right before we puke.

Posted by eric at 12:06 PM

March 15, 2011

Writer Austin Ratner 'Jumps' Into Brooklyn Heights Beauty

NY Observer
by Matt Chaban

There goes the neighborhood?

Walt Whitman, Truman Capote, Simon Rich—Brooklyn Heights has long been home to some of New York's best-known writers. Now, America's oldest suburb can welcome Austin Ratner to its ranks.

A Johns Hopkins-trained doctor, Mr. Ratner has penned the textbook Concepts in Medical Physiology as well as the far less technical The Jump Artist, a novel about postwar photographer Philippe Halsman that has been praised by Harper's, among others. Yet it stands to reason that it is family connections as much as book royalties helping to pay for the stunning five-story home at 96 Joralemon Street. According to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, Mr. Ratner is the stepson of James Ratner, who is an executive at Cleveland-based Forest City and cousin to Brooklyn macher Bruce Ratner.


NoLandGrab: The home apparently was not acquired through an eminent domain proceeding, so we wonder what portion of the $3,000,000 purchase price is attributable to public subsidies padding Forest City's bottom line?

Posted by eric at 11:29 AM

March 7, 2011

An Atlantic Yards tidbit in a Beekman Tower review

Atlantic Yards Report

From Paul Goldberger's enthusiastic New Yorker review of the Beekman Tower, headlined Gracious Living: Frank Gehry’s swirling apartment tower:

Had Gehry merely licensed his name to Ratner (as many felt he did by his involvement with Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, in Brooklyn), letting him sell a standard-issue tower as a Frank Gehry building in exchange for Gehry's adding a few flourishes?

Goldberger says no.


Posted by eric at 11:31 PM

February 17, 2011

Credulous Daily News columnist Denis Hamill asserts "Atlantic Yards" dream real for Ratner, buys into Ratner spin, fails to check facts

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder takes apart Denis Hamill's love letter to Bruce Ratner.

Denis Hamill, the Daily News's most prominent Atlantic Yards apologist, today pens a fabulist valentine to Bruce Ratner, headlined Atlantic Yards and the Nets Barclays Arena dream real for Bruce Ratner - after 7-yr. nightmare.

First, let's check the headline. The arena might be happening, but Atlantic Yards isn't very real at all. Hamill couldn't be bothered to check, but the much-ballyhooed affordable housing is yet again delayed.

And instead of taking ten years, as Ratner repeatedly promised, the project more likely would take 25.

But that's not why--I suspect--Forest City Ratner reached out to the convenient Hamill. They need to sell some suites, and some sponsorships.

Read on for Oder's line-by-line takedown.


Posted by eric at 11:11 AM

Atlantic Yards and the Nets Barclays Arena dream real for Bruce Ratner - after 7-yr. nightmare

NY Daily News
by Denis Hamill

OK, some things are more tedious. Like Denis Hamill ♥ Bruce Ratner.

The first time I met him he was 59, and I walked with him along Dean St., where he explained his dream of building a sports arena for the "Brooklyn Nets" basketball team on this place called Atlantic Yards.

Today Bruce Ratner is 66, and seven years, 35 lawsuits, two architects and one economic meltdown later, he's sold off 80% of the Nets and 45% of the arena. But standing at a window 13 stories above the zigzagging yellow bulldozers and swinging boom cranes in the steel armature of the under-construction Barclays Arena, he says: "It's real."


NoLandGrab: Wait, Bruce Ratner's nightmare? Oh, right, it's been a picnic for everyone else for the past seven years.

Related coverage...

The L Magazine, Daily News Jerks Off Atlantic Yards Developer, Asks if He Wants to Come in Their Mouths, Too

Daily News columnist Denis Hamill recently sat down with devil-horned Bruce Ratner, developer of Atlantic Yards, to ask him if he's OK—does he need anything? A drink? A back massage? Maybe just an astoundingly fawning profile in a daily tabloid?

After a bunch of stupid idiots stood in Ratner's way—creating for him a "nightmare," poor thing—he's finally getting to build his giant stadium. "Next year Brooklyn will have its first professional sports team since the Dodgers left in 1957," Hamill writes. "The 18,500-seat Barclays Center will host more than 200 events, including big-name concerts, pro boxing promoted by Oscar de la Hoya, tennis, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus and Disney on Ice."

Whoa, cool! Disney? The circus? Look out, Newark, New Jersey—Brooklyn could start encroaching on your reputation as Cultural Capital of the World! Maybe next we can has a Walmart?

More seriously, though, the piece is also glaringly inaccurate, as though it emerged from Ratner's deepest fantasies. Just about every sentence Hamill writes—literally, every sentence—contains a mistruth or a distortion about the pernicious project. Tireless anti-Atlantic Yards crusader Norman Oder goes through the piece paragraph-by-paragraph to reveal the fictions.

Posted by eric at 10:52 AM

February 16, 2011

"Anticipate" in the Ratner lexicon = "the placeholder date we don't believe but think we can get away with"

Atlantic Yards Report

I think the word anticipate needs to be added to the Atlantic Yards Lexicon, since it does not, to Forest City Ratner, mean foresee, but rather "the placeholder date we don't believe but think we can get away with."

Follow the link for some examples of Bruce's weasel words (apologies to weasels).


Posted by eric at 10:45 AM

February 10, 2011

Congrats to the Packers, but let's end the talk of moral superiority

The Sports ITeam Blog
by Michael O'Keeffe

Let me make one thing clear: I was rooting for the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. I like their history. I like their uniforms. I like Aaron Rodgers.

I especially like the fact that the Packers are publicly owned, and that somebody like Dan Snyder or Bruce Ratner will never have the opportunity to buy them and turn them into a laughingstock.

It is indeed cool that the Packers' archaic ownership structure means they'll never threaten to move to Wauwatosa if the good people of Green Bay don't build them a new stadium, and it is indeed cool that profits not used for payroll or infrastructure are contributed to the community.

But that doesn't turn Vince Lombardi into Dorothy Day, and I wish my progressive friends would stop preaching about the moral superiority of the Green Bay Packers.

While the Packers don't socialize debt and privatize profits, lots of athletes, coaches and teams have foundations that donate lots of money to good causes. And isn't there a bigger question to be asked here? The starting salary for a New York City cop is $35,000. The starting salary for a New York City teacher is $45,000. The NFL's rookie minimum is $325,000. What's wrong with this picture?


Posted by eric at 11:31 AM

February 3, 2011

Please give us all the facts next time, Lizzie

The Sports ITeam Blog []
by Michael O'Keeffe

There's a good story - "Boom Town and Bust City: A Tale of Two New Yorks" - in The Nation's Feb. 14 edition that examines how the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer thanks to the Great Recession.

But author Lizzie Ratner fails to note that her family has been one of the winners in the economically anxious times.

Ratner's father is Bruce Ratner, the Nets minority owner and Atlantic Yards developer who has received hundreds of millions of dollars in state and city subsidies and tax breaks. And let's not forget that the MTA sold Bruce Ratner prime real estate in central Brooklyn for the Barclays Center for a bargain-basement price - $150 million for land that was appraised at almost $215 million.

Lizzie Ratner, by the way, has been listed as an officer in Forest City Ratner-related companies involved with Atlantic Yards. So has her uncle, Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights. Ratner has been a hero to many people who care about civil and human rights, but you have to wonder why he's opposed to throwing Palestinians out of the West Bank but does’t seem to care when Brooklyn residents are thrown out of their homes for a basketball arena.

So when you're standing on a dirty, overcrowded subway car, when you have to pay yet even more money for your Metrocard, when you read that Gov. Cuomo is hacking education and Medicaid funding, it may be some consolation that Lizzie Ratner of The Nation knows the score.


NoLandGrab: Michael O'Keeffe is being too generous — Papa Bruce is paying only $100 million for the MTA's Vanderbilt Yard. And when paying in one lump sum became a little onerous for Ratner, the MTA sweetened his already syrupy deal by allowing him 22 years (at a below-market interest rate) in which to pay it off.

Posted by eric at 10:51 PM

January 20, 2011

Mondo Weiss

Idiosyncratic and influential anti-Zionist blogger Philip Weiss has a complicated relationship with Israel, American Jewry, and himself

by Michelle Goldberg

What does this have to do with Atlantic Yards? Read on.

Lately, Weiss is particularly gratified to see a growing number of Jews moving in his direction. “I think there’s going to be a big anti-Zionist moment in American Jewish life,” says Weiss. “I just think it’s inevitable.”

He may be right. Take Lizzy Ratner, for example. One of Weiss’ co-editors on the Goldstone book, Ratner is a former New York Observer writer who was born into New York’s elite Jewish establishment—her father is millionaire real-estate developer Bruce Ratner. Lizzy was 4 years old the first time she went to Israel; during college she spent a semester there and was at the rally when Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated. Her horror led her to get involved in pro-Palestinian work.

“The moment I crossed a checkpoint, 15 minutes from Jerusalem, the world changed,” she told me. “My worldview shattered. You grow up being told ‘they’ want to push us into the sea and we have to do everything we can to stop this evil enemy that wants to kill us and is going to kill us, and then you meet the terrible evil enemy, and not only are they nice, and decent, but they’re actually oppressed.”


NoLandGrab: Of course one can't compare Mideast strife to Atlantic Yards, but Lizzy (and Uncle Michael), who's obviously concerned about justice issues, sure has been quiet about her "liberal do-gooder" Daddy rolling the bulldozers into Prospect Heights.

Posted by eric at 11:08 AM

December 23, 2010

The Observer's Power 150: many Atlantic Yards connections, with Prokhorov somehow well ahead of Ratner

Atlantic Yards Report

The New York Observer has issued its "purely subjective" ranking of the city's Power 150, and it's worth a look to see how many intersections there are with Atlantic Yards.

In the top 50, Mayor Mike Bloomberg is #1, while Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver ranks #9, and Kathryn Wylde, CEO, Partnership for New York City, snags the #11 spot. Wylde testified for Atlantic Yards, while Department of City Planning Director Amanda Burden, at #30, played a peripheral role.

At #38 comes Mikhail Prokhorov, pictured with a Nets logo in the background; he "embodies a new Russian elite swarming the city." Well, billionaires embody things slightly differently than the rest of the world, but it's hard to think Prokhorov has more local juice than a developer like Bruce Ratner who's built relationships over decades.

Prokhorov's billboard partner, Jay-Z, ranks #46, cited for remaining "a relevant musician while commanding a growing empire worth almost half a billion dollars."

And Bob Diamond, President of Barclays, is #47, not for the arena naming rights deal, which is unmentioned, but because next year he will run the firm.

The second 50 includes Knicks (and Cablevision) owners the Dolans at #52 (not an AY link, just a comparison).

NBA Commissioner David Stern ranks #79 and is credited for having "built 28 new arenas," which kind of scants the ability of team owners to extract local subsidies.

In the third 50, Bruce Ratner is #109:

Real estate developer; minority owner, New Jersey Nets

The saga over the Atlantic Yards, Mr. Ratner's baby, is fit for a long Russian novel, but this year he won his battle against landowners. Construction is under way at the multibillion-dollar arena and residential center. Now if he can only get the Nets to move to Brooklyn.


Posted by eric at 9:41 AM

December 21, 2010

Gentrification: Inspiring Art, Regardless of Implications

A new show at the Brooklyn Artists Gym explores gentrification through art

Park Slope Patch
by Deborah Lynn Blumberg

When Brooklyn painter Geoffrey Raymond thinks about gentrification, an image pops into his head of Bruce Ratner, the real estate developer bringing the New Jersey Nets to the Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn in 2012.

So Raymond created an interactive portrait of the developer entitled "The Annotated Ratner" for a new show at the Brooklyn Artists Gym that opened Saturday—"Gentrified."

The show features some 45 paintings, photographs, videos and other works from 20 local artists that address the huge transformations New York neighborhoods have undergone in recent years — the upheaval, friction and changing populations.

Ratner's "brass-knuckles use of eminent domain in clearing the way for his development of the Atlantic Yards almost defines gentrification," said Raymond, a Brooklyn resident known for painting Wall Street titans at key moments in history, such as during the Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers collapses.

Visitors to the "Gentrified" show, which runs through January 8, will be able to "annotate" their thoughts on Raymond's painting in magic marker, helping to complete the painting as scrawls start to look like small brushstrokes, and providing a snapshot of how visitors feel about the subject at a particular time in history.


Posted by eric at 11:50 AM

December 7, 2010

New York's 15 Biggest Real Estate Machers of the Year

NY Observer

The Observer is wild about Bruce — and his newest edifice.

#3. Bruce Ratner

It has been a banner year for the Brooklyn-based developer. He finally broke ground on the new Nets arena, and while a long haul remains ahead to find financing for the rest of Atlantic Yards, Ratner can take solace in the completion of his Beekman Tower, one of the best buildings of the year.


New York's Most Eye-Popping New Buildings of the Year

#1. 8 Spruce Street, Frank Gehry

New York finally has the Frank Gehry building it has been hungering for for years. We missed out on the Times Building, the East River Guggenheim and Atlantic Yards, and the IAC Building is meh. This tower, soon to be the city's tallest residence, makes it plain why Gehry is the world's most famous living architect. While the rentals at 8 Spruce Street will not open until early next year, this building came into its own in 2010, as an underwhelming concrete frame was transformed by those rippling steel panels. The curtain wall has been pulled back and a masterpiece revealed.

Posted by eric at 11:04 AM

November 19, 2010

The Center for Constitutional Rights Shame

Frum Forum
by John Podhoretz

NeoCon John Podhoretz is none too enamored of Michael Ratner's selectivity when it comes to Constitutional rights.

[The Center for Constitutional Rights] is run by Michael Ratner, who conveniently espouses a hate-America and evils-of-capitalism philosophy even as he swims in his own family’s real estate billions. (His brother Bruce is, among other things, the Machiavellian developer of Atlantic Yards, the Brooklyn megaproject.)


Posted by eric at 5:11 PM

November 9, 2010

Brooklyn Hellmouth Opens, Begins Devouring the Young

by Joey Arak

OK, or maybe it's just a "collapsed back plate in the catch basin" of the sidewalk. Either way we're blaming Bruce Ratner.

· The sidewalk that swallows women whole! [Brooklyn Paper]


Photo: Stefano Giovannini/The Brooklyn Paper

Posted by eric at 5:17 PM

October 7, 2010

(Still) New Jersey Nets: Last In Eastern Conference, Tops In Managerial Sketchiness, Undermining

Can't Stop The Bleeding

I’ve written a lot, here and elsewhere, about Brett Yormark, the poisonous but apparently untouchable anti-genius behind the Nets’ noxious rebranding during the Ratner era. Cynical, self-amused and prickly by turn, Yormark is first and foremost pretty bad at his job — the Nets are unlovable and largely unloved, and look likely to once again rank among the NBA’s worst teams after winning just 12 games last year. The last point, you might argue, isn’t so much Yormark’s fault as it was that of Rod Thorn, the team’s GM during the era in which the Nets furiously stripped assets and salary, attempted to leverage the useless sub-Radmanovic forward Yi Jianlin into a greater presence in the Chinese marketplace, and managed to hemorrhage money all the while. Thorn can’t be blamed for the Yi deal — he never evinced any real excitement about swapping Richard Jefferson for Bobby Simmons’ crummy contract and Yi’s defective Yi — but the buck has to stop somewhere in the vicinity of his office, you’d think.

It might just be a case of a veteran NBA writer sticking up for a universally respected NBA personality, but something Peter Vecsey wrote earlier this week would suggest that Yormark might actually deserve some blame for this as well. In what might be the least surprising bit of news to emerge during the offseason, Vecsey writes that Yormark (above, far right) took it upon himself to antagonize, alienate and undermine Thorn in a public gaslighting campaign of a full-spectrum dickiness that’s downright Dolan-ian.

And where was the owner while his two highest-paid non-players were locked in team-destroying combat? Probably in China, where the reliably pelf-chasing Ratner has been trying to take advantage of a little-publicized bit of immigration law in an attempt to, as the Atlantic Yards Report’s Norman Oder writes, find “498 Chinese millionaires, to supply $249 million in low-cost financing for the [Atlantic Yards arena] project.” And why, the since-departed Yi notwithstanding, would these millionaires put up all that money? “In exchange for creating ten direct or indirect jobs or retaining ten direct ones–a formulation that offers enormous wiggle room–the investors would get permanent residency for themselves and their families, a chance to live anywhere in America, and an opportunity to get kids educated in the American system.”


Posted by eric at 10:24 AM

October 4, 2010

The Approval Matrix: Week of October 11, 2010

Our deliberately oversimplified guide to who falls where on our taste hierarchies.

New York Magazine


Posted by eric at 6:25 PM

September 22, 2010

Bikes in buildings law is a big flat tire in Brooklyn

The Brooklyn Paper
by Stephen Brown

Bruce Ratner isn't all bad — or at least someone who works for him isn't.

“It went extremely well! The building’s management was really cooperative,” said Gail Kovach, who works for the Social Science Research Council, which has offices at 1 Pierrepont Plaza. “We filed the request, two weeks later the manager filed the necessary plan and a week later it was approved. It was really quick!”

After some planning, cyclists and the buildings management were able to make room for bikes in the office, so now roughly 10 two-wheelers are up against the walls and cubicles of the offices of the Social Science Research Council.

“It’s kind of funny seeing the bikes around the office,” said Kovach, “But no one objects and we feel we’re making a small dent in all the pollution of the environment.”

The building is owned by Bruce Ratner, who has also been quick to allow bikes in one of his Metrotech office buildings in Downtown. But the developer has not allowed bikes in his 1 Metrotech Center building.


Posted by eric at 9:58 AM

September 21, 2010

Nail Household Fighting Against Bruce Ratner?

While Bruce Ratner is on his China green-card-peddling tour, will he take the time to demolish some nail houses?

Posted by eric at 11:43 AM

September 2, 2010

Why no company has signed a naming-rights deal with the Giants and Jets

New Jersey Newsroom
by Evan Weiner

Looks like Barclays was the last of the big-time spenders — and even they won't be spending anywhere near what they were once said to be spending.

Fred Wilpon is clearly one lucky owner although New York Mets fans will clearly disagree with that statement based on the on-field results of Wilpon's baseball team. Bruce Ratner was also one lucky owner while he controlled the New Jersey Nets basketball team although Nets fans will clearly disagree with that statement based on the on-court results of Ratner's Nets.

Both Wilpon and Ratner are in much better shape than the owners of the Giants (the Mara and Tisch families) and the Jets (Woody Johnson) in that they got two banks, Citibank and Barclay, to come up with a multi-year, multimillion dollar agreement for naming rights at Wilpon's Queens baseball park and Ratner's Brooklyn multi-purpose arena.

The Mara-Tisch-Johnson troika is still looking for a financial angel and if one major industry player is correct, it may be a long while before the East Rutherford, New Jersey home for the Giants and Jets along with the Arlington, Texas-based Cowboys Stadium and Major League Baseball's Nationals Stadium in Washington, D. C. will get naming-rights partners.


Posted by eric at 10:17 AM

August 31, 2010

Why does Ratner not contribute to local races? Maybe because contributions keep the line open to Cuomo, the next governor

Atlantic Yards Report

A couple of people have asked me: if Bruce Ratner is no longer a campaign contribution refusenik, why isn't he giving money to Mark Pollard, who's challenging Atlantic Yards opponent Velmanette Montgomery in the 18th Senatorial District and has gained the support of some Atlantic Yards backers?

Well, maybe it's purely pragmatic; Montgomery has endorsements galore and a record of achievement.

Even a strong candidate--and I don't think Pollard qualifies, having started his campaign only in May, rather than building momentum over time, and relying disproportionately on charter school backers outside the district--would have trouble beating a veteran like Montgomery, even in this anti-incumbent political climate (and her failure to fully embrace reforms in Albany).

(When the 11-day pre-primary reports are made available on Friday, we'll see if Ratner's changed his tactics.)

Influence at the top

Ratner is not averse to contributions in local races, but maybe it's purely pragmatic on another level.

Ratner, I suspect, doesn't worry much about local elected officials; his concern is the governor, who controls the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), the unelected agency that's shepherding Atlantic Yards and not looking too hard.

So that's why Ratner gave $5000 to the campaign of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo in February 2009, plus another $7500 this past May.

From Ratner's perspective, Montgomery may be a pest. But as long as the man at the top takes his calls, he'll be fine.

Or, to paraphrase Leona Helmsley, only the little people need to buy state Senators.

Even better, how's this for a laugh?

Ratner also gave $10,000 to New York Uprising, the clean-up-Albany project spearheaded by former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, Citizens Union Director Dick Dadey, and former New York City Parks Commissioner and New York Civic Director Henry Stern.

I suspect that Ratner's contribution was generated less by desire to support candidates signing New York Uprising's worthy three-part pledge (Non-Partisan, Independent Redistricting; Responsible Budgeting; and Ethics Reform), than by his relationship with his old mentor Stern, an often-useful civic watchdog whose critical scrutiny has reliably bypassed Atlantic Yards.


NoLandGrab: Ratner giving money to an effort to clean up Albany is like Bonnie and Clyde making a deposit five minutes before robbing the bank. And the fact that they would take Ratner's money tells you all you need to know about New York Uprising.

Posted by eric at 1:04 PM

August 3, 2010

EXCLUSIVE: Toys ‘R’ Us coming to Downtown!

The Brooklyn Paper
by Andy Campbell

It’s Christmas in August!

Toys “R” Us will open a “seasonal” store in the empty Sid’s Hardware store on Jay Street, bringing toys, games and Geoffrey the Giraffe to the otherwise all-business Downtown area through Christmas.

It’s unclear what will happen to the shop once the Christmas buying season ends — or if Toys “R” Us would even want to stay, given the “high” rents that developer Bruce Ratner is apparently asking.

In February, Sid’s workers told us that the shop was forced to move to Gowanus after its initial sweet deal with Ratner expired, and the landlord upped the rent.


NoLandGrab: It's Christmas every day for Bruce Ratner, and New York's taxpayers are Santa Claus.

Posted by eric at 1:38 PM

July 24, 2010

Who's missing from Dave Zirin's new book "Bad Sports"? Bruce Ratner

Atlantic Yards Report

It's a good bet that a book called Bad Sports: How Owners Are Ruining the Games We Love might contain a chapter on one Bruce Ratner, the owner who ran the Nets into the ground in pursuit of a real estate deal.

After all, ESPN, in its Ultimate Standings, recently ranked Nets ownership, led by Ratner, at 121, the second-worst in all of sports, behind only Donald Sterling of the Los Angeles Clippers, who paid $2.73 million last November to settle a housing discrimination lawsuit.


And it's a good bet that author Dave Zirin, who writes with left-wing, populist force about sports, knows about Ratner.

After all, Zirin's listed on the Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn Advisory Board, a group with a number of members who've done little more than lend their names.


But Zirin, as far as I can tell, never wrote about Ratner, neither in his Edge of Sports column nor the book. (This May he did write about new owner Mikhail Prokhorov.)

Donald Sterling gets a chapter in Bad Sports. So do George Steinbrenner of the Yankees and James Dolan of the Knicks.

Ratner deserves one too.

Count it as a missed opportunity.


Posted by steve at 7:29 AM

July 21, 2010

D-Lee's agent tells it like it is: "the hypocrisy of the whole world of sports"

Atlantic Yards Report

Recently departed Knicks forward David Lee, an ever-improving player who became a (last-minute) All-Star this past year, got some well-deserved ink from Times columnist Harvey Araton today, in Traded by Knicks, Lee Was Still a Team Player.

Araton noted that Lee was the only team member to attend funerals of two men connected with the team and that he was the only one to watch from courtside the halftime ceremony 40th anniversary of its 1970 championship team.

Araton wrote:

“People talk about how much they want good citizens, guys who are committed to an organization and a city,” said Mark Bartelstein, Lee’s agent.

“At the end of the day, it is what it is, the hypocrisy of the whole world of sports.

Flashback: hypocrisy

Remember how Bruce Ratner, in a 6/26/05 New York Times Magazine interview, went out of his way to puff the Nets:

The players are terrific. They are of good character. They are incredibly charitable. They are family-oriented. They have integrity.

As I wrote 2/15/08 upon Jason Kidd's departure for Dallas, we wouldn't see any more stories about his tempestuous divorce, his churchgoing, nor his image rehabilitation via Take a Net to School.

Then, as with the Nets' current slogan, It's All New.


Posted by eric at 11:57 AM

Ratner and Blumenfeld's $400 million East River Plaza opens

The Real Deal
by Amy Tennery

Bruce Ratner claims that shopping in his newest mall is "equivalent to getting a raise." Say what?

Bruce Ratner, chairman and CEO of Forest City Ratner, said that while he's excited about the plaza opening, he's still cautious about development in general. "We're finishing all our projects, that's what's most important now," Ratner told The Real Deal following the ribbon cutting this morning. "In the development business... there's really not [much of a] difference between now and six months ago."


NoLandGrab: Yeah, finishing all their projects... in a few decades.

Posted by eric at 11:16 AM

July 20, 2010

Three Arrows, a Co-op That Loves Its Committees

The New York Times
by Susan Dominus

Congratulations, Bruce Ratner! You're now the poster child for undemocratic development projects!

Hi, Jen and David — it’s your Realtor, Sasha, calling. I don’t want to clog your voice mail, but I just found a summer property at Three Arrows that I absolutely think you should see. Actually, it’s not a property. Don’t call it a property. They hate the word “property.” They call it a site, and what you really buy is the house on it. The land itself is owned by Three Arrows. It’s a co-op, like in the city, only it’s in Putnam Valley, N.Y., up past Peekskill.

Anyway, it’s got great lake access just for members and their friends, but it’s not a club. Three Arrows is not really clubby — definitely not country-clubby, I mean. Think socialist, not socialite. A bunch of actual socialists started the place nearly 75 years ago: “Cooperative living at proletarian prices.” Those old lefties were pretty good branders, it turns out.

A majority vote of the membership can overturn any decision — direct democracy in action, they like to say (try putting that in the brochure for Bruce Ratner’s newest development!).


Posted by eric at 9:27 AM

July 19, 2010

Consensus, trust and bad faith

Cap'n Transit Rides Again

Part of the problem is simply that so many of the actors are obviously acting in bad faith. Marty Golden sits by and watches as the MTA fails to get proper funding, votes for the budget that strips $143 million from the agency, and then attacks Janele Hyer-Spencer for voting for that same budget. The TWU leaders make a mockery of the overtime rules that earlier labor leaders worked so hard to establish. Real estate mogul Bruce Ratner milks the MTA for all it's worth, even as it's preparing to cut subway and bus service.

Ultimately, the thing to do is to reform the system so that dishonest politicians like [John] Sampson and Richard Brodsky can't get the kind of power that they currently have, and so that greedy unelected business owners like Ratner have limited influence.


Posted by eric at 1:17 PM

July 16, 2010

The Hezitorial: Yonkersites Likes it ‘Nice and Rough’

Yonkers Tribune
by Hezi Aris

The editor of the Yonkers Tribune imagines a future in which reverse-Robin Hood Bruce Ratner cuts out the middleman.

In preparation for 2012, acid tongued bloggers have formulated a credible and new form of governance, created about a triumvirate of exceptional people who would share power in intervals of 4 months apiece over a two-year cycle, permitting only one re-election. The most proficient for Yonkers’s success are the “the three amigos”, better known to Yonkersites as Bruce Ratner, Louis Cappelli, and Peter Kelly. Each has been able to amass preeminent corporate structures, incorporating an OPM [Other People's Money] philosophy. OPM is the antithesis of Robin Hood’s conduct of robbing the rich to benefit the poor. Specifically for Yonkers, Robin Hood’s philosophy will revert to robbing the poor to benefit the well to do. It seems an appropriate concept. It may not be “nice", but it will be “rough". Each of “the three amigos” will exact a return for economic development projects that will dwarf all those planned until now. Future projects will exact sizable sums from every Yonkersite before permitting a corporation, small, medium, or large, to use the funds Yonkersites will give their corporations as payment for their coming to Yonkers. Yonkersites’ investment in them will give Yonkersites great pride in offering the corporations our funds. Our children will sing songs in their name. We will serve them without concern for ourselves, happy in knowing that our lot is to pay them homage for looking in our direction. Green is a powerful color.


Posted by eric at 10:00 AM

July 13, 2010

The Nets draw blanks, but that's OK for Prokhorov and Ratner

Atlantic Yards Report

The Record's Al Iannazzone sums up, in an article headlined Nets look to solve puzzle, the team's positioning:

The Nets wanted Mike Krzyzewski or Jeff Van Gundy to be their coach. Tom Thibodeau was their third choice. The Nets hired Avery Johnson.

They hoped their 25-percent chance of winning the draft lottery would get them the top pick in the draft and John Wall. They took Derrick Favors third.

The Nets wanted team president Rod Thorn to continue to guide the basketball department. Thorn is resigning at the end of the week, with former Sixers’ president Billy King a candidate to replace him.

In free agency, they hoped – and wanted to believe – Mikhail Prokhorov’s money and global vision and Jay-Z’s appeal would result in LeBron James and other superstars coming to the Nets.

They wound up with Travis Outlaw, Johan Petro, Jordan Farmar and Anthony Morrow...

Well, for team fans, that's not so hot, but Prokhorov has already reaped enormous good publicity from his purchase and media tour.

And former majority owner Bruce Ratner and his partners at Forest City Enterprises are no longer saddled with the team's losses.

So some bad luck likely doesn't hurt them as much.


NoLandGrab: As for Brooklyn residents unlucky enough to live anywhere near Ratner's Atlantic Yards site, their bad luck will cause them pain for many years to come.

Posted by eric at 11:41 AM

July 12, 2010

A partnership slows in Downtown B'klyn

Stalled merger exposes political divisions

Crain's NY Business
by Erik Engquist

Something is rotten in Downtown, and guess who's one of the players?

The Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, a local development corporation formed by the Bloomberg administration in 2006 to reshape the city's third-largest business district, has run into financial and political difficulties that cloud its future.

The seed money it was getting from the city, a robust $2 million only two years ago, has plunged to a mere $250,000, forcing it to shed personnel and accelerate a long-envisioned takeover of three local business-improvement districts and their reliable revenue streams. But the longtime head of one BID has balked, and local politicians have put the merger on hold.

The partnership must pull off the ambitious reorganization if it is to survive as anything but a shell. The BIDs would account for $5 million of the organization's proposed $7.5 million budget for the fiscal year that began this month. Member contributions would total just $340,000.

Meanwhile, some Brooklyn City Council members—who view the organization as an arm of the Bloomberg administration, characterized by big salaries and nebulous accomplishments—want it disbanded.

The partnership—which is down to nine employees after cutting several positions from its 19th-story MetroTech suite—has support for its restructuring plan from the large corporations that dominate its board. But Michael Weiss, executive director of the MetroTech BID, who would lose his job in the shakeup, has rounded up political support to stall it.

Mr. Chan declined to comment, but his spokesman, Lee Silberstein, paints a bright picture of the partnership's accomplishments and future. “On balance, this is playing out as it was supposed to,” he says, noting that the partnership enjoys strong support from the downtown Brooklyn business community, including titans like developer Bruce Ratner, banker Alan Fishman and former KeySpan chief Robert Catell.

But Councilwoman Letitia James says Mr. Chan miscalculated in his handling of Mr. Weiss's BID. “Joe's usurpation of MetroTech was not wise, was not smart politically. He did not do his homework and is now suffering the consequences,” she says.

Mr. Ratner tried to broker a compromise by offering Mr. Weiss a job paying more than the $165,000 he is making, but Mr. Weiss declined.


NoLandGrab: Of course, Mr. Ratner collects rent from the Partnership, and Partnership personnel have turned up at public hearings to laud his Atlantic Yards project, a good chunk of it on the public dime.

Posted by eric at 9:36 AM

July 6, 2010

Ratner: Vandeweghe deserved better

ESPN The Magazine
by Ric Bucher

Bruce Ratner is shedding a few crocodile tears over the team's dismissal of Kiki Vandeweghe.

Bruce Ratner remains a minority partner in the New Jersey Nets, so he's not at liberty to question the decisions made by the team's new majority owner, Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov. But if there's one consequence of the new regime's attempt to distance itself from last season's nearly historic -- as in historically bad --12-70 record that bothers him, it's how assistant general manager Kiki Vandeweghe was sent packing.

Enough so that Ratner's conscience apparently compelled him to speak out about it. Especially now that team president Rod Thorn is stepping aside as well and the team is in search of new leadership altogether.

"He didn't go out the way he should have," Ratner said now of Vandeweghe. "The team is in a really good position and he was instrumental in putting it there."

Ratner's conscience? We wonder if Bruce also feels that Daniel Goldstein "didn't go out the way he should have."

That said, Ratner doesn't see the Nets bringing Vandeweghe back. His gratitude for Vandeweghe's work and guilt over how he was dismissed stops short of going to bat for him.

"It's Mikhail's team now and he wants to put his stamp on it," Ratner says. "I can understand that."


NoLandGrab: You're a stand-up guy, Bruce. Maybe if you hadn't been desperate for Proky's cash to keep your crooked Atlantic Yards deal afloat, Kiki would still have a job. But that's not how it went down. So shut up already.

Posted by eric at 7:24 AM

July 5, 2010

ESPN's Ultimate Standings show Nets, in pre-Prokhorov season, declining to 118 (among 122 franchises), with Ratner still the second-worst owner

Atlantic Yards Report

Congratulations, Bruce Ratner! You're still the second-worst owner in pro sports, even though you don't even own most of your team anymore. And the only guy worse than you is "The Most Evil Man in Sports."

With no way to factor in a brighter future in Newark (and Brooklyn) and a deep-pocketed new owner, the New Jersey Nets actually declined from 111 to 118 in ESPN the Magazine's Ultimate Standings 2010, a ranking of how much the 122 franchises in four pro sports give back to the fans.

(The unimpressive New York Knicks nudged up to 119 from 121.)

The Nets ownership, led by Bruce Ratner, held steady at 121, the second-worst in all of sports, thanks to Donald Sterling of the Los Angeles Clippers, who paid $2.73 million last November to settle a housing discrimination lawsuit.

The best scores for the Nets were in the categories of Title Track (championships won or expected in the lifetime of current fans) and affordability. Look for the latter to decline, though perhaps not until the expected Brooklyn move, and the former to increase, at least if major free agents are signed.

Title Track: 99
Ownership: 121
Coaching: 121
Players: 114
Fan Relations: 113
Affordability: 82
Stadium Experience: 119
Bang for the Buck: 116

The explanation, from ESPN's Insider (subscription only), comes with some digs at marketing man Brett Yormark:

Mikhail Prokhorov is a genius when it comes to buying low. And that's what he got with the Nets. "It was the single worst fan experience in ANY professional sport," says Net Income of We feel you guys, we really do, because New Jersey hasn't been embarrassed this badly since Jersey Shore debuted. We're not even talking about the Vince Carter trade and the NBA-record 18-game losing streak to start the season. There were the reversible jersey promotions (one side: a New Jersey Nets player, flip it inside-out: Kobe Bryant!). And CEO Brett Yormark scolding a fan who donned a paper bag. Amazingly none of this even begins to address the IZOD Center, which housed this entire spectacle. Net Income, please do the honors: "It hadn't been updated in 30 years. It had virtually no amenities and was always crowded, perhaps even an unsafe concourse. Traffic and parking configurations were changed, sometimes game to game, to accommodate a massive and still-empty shopping mall, the construction of a new Giants/Jets stadium and then the destruction of the old one." Luckily for Nets supporters, the Ratner era ends with a temporary pit stop in Newark and an overhaul of the organization, Russian-billionaire style. "Nets fans on the whole are excited by the prospect of Prokhorov, if only because we know our owner is now committed to basketball rather than real estate," says NJ4Life of Hey, that's not a bad place to start.


Posted by eric at 10:47 AM

June 23, 2010

Ratner's Latest Gobbledygook

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Literally every time Bruce Ratner is quoted in news article his odd use of the English language or illogical statements or foot-shooting statements lead one to wonder who lets this guy speak to the press? From today's Times puff piece:

"Slowly but absolutely surely you will have Brooklyn Knick fans, particularly the younger generation, become Nets fans, especially if they live in Brooklyn," said Ratner. "I also think it will be somewhat true for Staten Island, somewhat true for Queens and for Long Island certainly."


Posted by eric at 8:56 AM

June 22, 2010

Ratner, in Times Sports section portrait, admits, “when a developer speaks it’s not always believed”

Atlantic Yards Report

A one-source New York Times Sports section portrait of Bruce Ratner, headlined Ratner Content to Succeed in the Shadows, offers the message that Ratner still can make a bunch of money from Atlantic Yards:

As the owner of 55 percent of the planned arena, Ratner will have a sizable stake in what could become a fascinating battlefront — downtown Brooklyn against Midtown Manhattan, or the Barclays Center versus Madison Square Garden.

Norman Oder lists some reasons why, in Ratner's words, "when a developer speaks it’s not always believed.”

Maybe there's good reason for that. The chairpersons of three community boards criticized Forest City Ratner for "overstating" the CBs participation in "crafting" the Community Benefits Agreement.

Forest City Ratner told prospective renters that half the affordable units--rather than half the square footage--would be two-bedroom and three-bedroom units.

Or the $6 billion lie.

Or the no-towers brochure.

The list could go on.

Civic venture?

The article continues:

Ratner conceded that he would continue to be assailed as a franchise snatcher and team destroyer, all for the sole purpose of constructing a small city of residential towers, while insisting that bringing a major professional sports team back to Brooklyn was always his first priority. The residential component, he said, was necessary to finance an arena on a railyards site that was going to require extraordinary infrastructure costs the city would not incur.


NoLandGrab: "Bringing a major professional sports team back to Brooklyn was always his first priority?" That's funny, because his flunky in charge of Atlantic Yards told attendees at last week's Brooklyn Real Estate Summit that "Atlantic Yards is primarily a housing initiative with an arena attached." But like Bruce says, "when a developer speaks it’s not always believed."

Related coverage...

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Bruce Ratner: “when a developer speaks it’s not always believed."

Really? Bringing pro sports back to Brooklyn was always the first priority? Creating investor and shareholder value by gaining cheap ownership to prime real estate wasn't the first priority? Or, wasn't it affordable housing? It is difficult to know what to believe when this developer in particular opens his mouth.

Posted by eric at 10:25 AM

Ratner Content to Succeed in the Shadows

The New York Times
by Harvey Araton

It's Bruce Ratner vs. Norman Oder in today's New York Times. Ratner's up first, and gets to tell his own story without any counterpoint. He does say one honest thing, however:

“There’s a bittersweet feeling in having a majority owner in Brooklyn not be us,” he said, acknowledging his many critics will scoff because “when a developer speaks it’s not always believed.”

The other interesting bit in the story involves yet another major blunder by Knicks' owner James Dolan, Ratner's main competition as worst NBA team owner ever.

[Former Madison Square Garden President Dave] Checketts said it was possible that Dolan might have fought the wrong venture when he opposed the Jets’ attempt to build a stadium on Manhattan’s Far West Side. A Brooklyn arena that is roughly the same size as the Garden may pose a much bigger threat, he said.


NoLandGrab: It's safe to say that had Dolan invested a fraction of the $13 million it spent fighting the West Side Stadium in Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn — and had he similarly enlisted the help of his buddy, Shelly Silver — Atlantic Yards would now be one for the history books.

Posted by eric at 9:58 AM

Mermaid Parade: A Coney Island Tradition

Brooklyn Daily Eagle
by Samantha Sherman

Bruce Ratner can thank BP for taking the heat off.

The parade is not often thought of as a political hotbed (even though its very existence could be seen as a cultural and political statement), but this year many costumes carried with them notes of unrest and frustration at the aftermath of the BP oil spill.

Made to look like they were covered in crude oil, many mermaids and sea creatures covered themselves in black paint and carried fishing nets strewn with blackened creatures.

In the past, some groups of parade participants conveyed messages criticizing developer Bruce Ratner and his planned Atlantic Yards development.


Posted by eric at 9:36 AM

June 15, 2010

Brooklyn Museum’s Populism Hasn’t Lured Crowds

The New York Times
by Robin Pogrebin

When it opened a new glass entrance in 2004 meant to beckon the masses, the Brooklyn Museum said it hoped to triple attendance in 10 years by concentrating on a local audience. It had stopped worrying about competing with Manhattan museums or about its image — despite its world-class collections — as a poor man’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Instead, the museum invited the neighborhood to view its McKim, Mead & White Beaux-Arts building as a community resource and openly celebrated popular culture with shows like its recent photographic history of rock ’n’ roll.

But six years in, the effort to build an audience is not working. Attendance in 2009 dropped 23 percent from the year before, to about 340,000, though other New York cultural institutions remained stable.

The attendance drop of 23 percent in 2009 came as attendance at 32 other cultural institutions monitored by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs lost an average of 1 percent, according to city statistics.


NoLandGrab: What The Times fails to realize, or at least acknowledge, is something that's obvious to folks who've followed the battle over Atlantic Yards. In April, 2008, the Museum chose to honor the immensely unpopular Bruce Ratner at its annual gala. Is it any wonder Brooklynites have stayed away since?

Posted by eric at 11:41 AM

June 14, 2010

Doblin: To build a tunnel, you need tunnel vision

Bergen Record
by Alfred P. Doblin

Congratulations, Bruce Ratner. You've replaced Robert Moses as the poster child for the ruthlessly efficient deployment of eminent domain.

This month, The New York Times reported that more than 3,000 occupants of buildings in the way of the ARC Tunnel and deep-station project will be displaced. Maybe Bruce Ratner, the developer of the long-delayed Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, can offer the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey some tips on moving that process along.


Posted by eric at 12:33 PM

June 12, 2010

Bruce Ratner Drops $5 Million On Hampton Bays Home

Huffington Post

Divisive Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner just closed on a Dune Road estate in Hampton Bays for $5 million.

Ratner sold his $10 million Montauk property in 2009.

The ocean front home has 5 bedrooms, a pool and a three car garage.

Worth it?


NoLandGrab: Click through to have a look at the slide show. It's a gorgeous setting — Forest City CEO Chuck Ratner might call it "a great piece of real estate" — but the place itself looks like a cheese factory akin to cousin Bruce's Atlantic Center mall. Sure, Ratner's decorator hasn't had at it yet, but finish-wise, it looks like it won't survive the next hurricane.

Posted by eric at 4:23 PM

June 9, 2010

Bruce Ratner Closes on $5M Hampton Bays Oceanfront Estate

by Ian Ratner

Courtesy of a tip from our friends at PropertyShark, notorious real estate developer Bruce Ratner has closed on a $5 million Dune Road estate in Hampton Bays. The property spans two adjacent parcels, which together create a two acre oceanfront spread. At 4,200 SF, the home also boasts six bedrooms, an oceanfront pool, views of Shinnecock Bay, and a detached three car garage.

Ratner buys this estate after selling his $10 million Montauk estate in 2009. According to an older Post article, Ratner wanted to scale down a bit and move further west—all while staying on the ocean. After looking around in Quogue, he apparently settled on this place. Looks like his wildest dreams came true!


NoLandGrab: Did you catch that byline?

Related coverage...

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Ratner's New Hampton Home is Blighted and Vulnerable to Eminent Domain Seizure

Because Bruce Ratner's new Hamptons beachfront getaway is exhibiting characteristics of blight (weeds, underutilized, presumably vacant most days, etc.) it is vulnerable to seizure by eminent domain. Under current New York State law, removing those blight characteristics would be a public use justifying eminent domain.

Posted by eric at 11:00 PM

June 2, 2010

Bloomberg’s Do-Gooder Charity

NY Observer
by Reid Pillifant

Since taking office, Mayor Bloomberg has made the Mayor's Fund a particular priority, transforming a little-used nonprofit into a robust public-private player that has helped stem deep budget cuts in city agencies, and advanced objectively good causes like tree planting, reducing domestic violence and increasing economic literacy.

In Mr. Bloomberg's eight years in office, the Mayor's Fund has raised more than $150 million--for everything from portrait conservation, to eye care for underprivileged kids, to Katrina and Haitian relief efforts. But it's tough to deny the fact that a substantial part of that money comes from people who do business, in one way or another, with the city. "It's a really great arrangement for people making the donations, because they get to please an influential elected official and they get a tax deduction," said Susan Lerner of Common Cause NY. "There is an increasing tendency-which is pushed very vigorously by this administration-to completely blur the lines between public and private, between profit and charity," Ms. Lerner said.

The mayor, who has sole discretion to appoint the fund's directors, placed friends and supporters on the board to help fill the fund's coffers. Financier Steven Rattner--the mayor's personal money manager--was tasked with tapping the donor community; gossip columnist Liz Smith organized a lavish fund-raiser for the society set.

Around the same time, the Conflicts of Interest Board revised its guidelines for city nonprofits: City officials could pursue private donations for pet projects, as long as the donor didn't have a "specific matter either currently pending or about to be pending before the City official or his or her agency."

Real estate interests, including the Rudin and Speyer families and the Association for a Better New York, are all consistent contributors. (Rob Speyer, the co-CEO of Tishman-Speyer and currently the chairman of the fund's board, declined an interview request.)

Bruce Ratner, one of the board members, gave liberally--a fact occasionally noted by the press, since his controversial Atlantic Yards project was, at the same time, winding its way through the city bureaucracy. In one December 2005 flurry, three Ratner-related entities-Forest City Beekman Associates LLC; Forest City East River Associates; and Forest City Ratner LLC-together gave between $450,000 and $1 million to restore a Coney Island carousel.

"Bruce and Forest City Ratner have indeed supported the rehabilitation of that amusement, and they are guilty of thinking it will be much loved again by kids and their families," a spokesman told The Observer in 2007.


NoLandGrab: Guess that whole conflict-of-interest thingy needs a little reworking.

Posted by eric at 10:28 AM

May 30, 2010

In friendly interview, Ratner claims team purchase was a "civic venture," dodges question about arena economics

Atlantic Yards Report

When an interviewer is not knowledgeable and the interviewee is Bruce Ratner, Truth is probably going to take a big hit. Fortunately for us, John Gambling's interview with the subsidy-sucking developer has been reviewed by Norman Oder, who adds the truthiness that is otherwise missing.

Gambling started off by asking if arena construction had begun.

BR: We've been in construction for about a month and, in two years, we will have a brand new arena.

JG: There's more to this than just an arena.

BR: There's the arena. There's housing, both affordable and market-rate housing. It's an architecturally beautiful project. And of course the arena brings the Nets and circuses and all kinds of concerts and entertainment.

Whether it's architecturally beautiful is an open question, given that the only renderings beyond the arena are "vaportecture." Keep in mind that Ratner famously told Crain's New York Business last November, "Why should people get to see plans? This isn't a public project."


JG: I wonder whether or not it will detract from New York... maybe suck some of the dollars out of New York into Brooklyn. Have you done any speculation along those lines?

Gambling, a notably uninformed (but authoritative-sounding) interviewer, might have pointed to the June 2009 New York Times article "arena glut" article, which suggests that five arenas--and maybe even four--are too many for the region.

The Barclays Center would compete with the main arena in New York City, Madison Square Garden, but it could compete more with the antiquated Nassau Coliseum on Long Island.

BR: No, I think really what it is is additive.., whether it's the rides that you're about to watch or a new arena anything really new like that is just additive to the experience of New York and it's always been that way, Whether it's a new team when the Mets came, some 30-40 years ago, or whether it's the Nets coming.... It's an additive to the experience, particularly for Brooklyn.., Brooklyn has not had a pro sports team for over 50 years, and now we have a professional sports team in our great borough.

Note that Ratner stresses "an additive to the experience," which is undeniable, rather than analyzing the revenue issue.


NoLandGrab: "Additive experience" apparently means the addition of city and state subsidies to Ratner's fortune while the rest of us wonder at the addition of a money-losing arena and acres of parking to Prospect Heights.

Posted by steve at 8:29 AM

May 14, 2010

In third list of NY Observer's "most powerful people in New York real estate," Ratner drops down and Prokhorov debuts

Atlantic Yards Report

The New York Observer has produced its third edition of the Power 100: The Most Powerful People in New York Real Estate. Notably, Bruce Ratner continues to drop down the list, from #8 in 2008 to #23 in 2009 to #53 this year.

And Mikhail Prokhorov debuts ahead of Ratner, at #43.

Sure, Ratner could not have moved Atlantic Yards without the deal to sell 80% of the Nets and 45% of the arena--actually, the arena operating company--to Prokhorov, but Ratner has the connections and pays for the lobbying. He's still more powerful, in my book.

Also notable is the debut appearance of New York Times real estate/development reporter Charles Bagli, who should have made all three lists, though not for his coverage of AY.

It's hard to believe that, in 2008, I was on the list. Not anymore.


Related coverage...

NY Observer, Power 100: The Most Powerful People in New York Real Estate

#43: Mikhail Prokhorov, Would-be owner of the Brooklyn Nets

Assuming the NBA gives him the thumbs-up, Mr. Prokhorov, a Russian billionaire, is slated to become owner of New York City’s newest professional sports team, as well as a co-owner of the Barclays Center now under construction in downtown Brooklyn after seven years of planning.

#53: Bruce Ratner (23), Chairman of Forest City Ratner

For the past seven years, Mr. Ratner’s focus has been on Atlantic Yards, the planned home to a Brooklyn Nets arena and, eventually, thousands of units of housing. This spring, he finally emerged the winner of the fight with defiant landowners. He was clearly wounded by delays and the economic crash, but he is still standing, and construction is under way.

#61: Charles Bagli, Staff writer for The New York Times

In a world of blogs, sometimes it takes the most influential news organization to call the end of an era. Mr. Bagli (an Observer alumnus!) did just that in October 2008, in a story titled “Failed Deals Replace Boom in New York Real Estate.” Since then, he’s documented every major development, successful or struggling, from Stuy Town to N.Y.U. to Atlantic Yards.

Posted by eric at 11:33 AM

May 13, 2010

New Jersey Nets CEO Brett Yormark defends Bruce Ratner as new owner Mikhail Prokhorov moves in

NY Daily News
by Julian Garcia

Brett Yormark redefines "toady."

Of all the reasons Nets fans are so optimistic these days, the fact that their team now has one of the richest owners in sports is at the top of the list. Mikhail Prokhorov, who officially took control of the franchise yesterday, is worth an estimated $13.4 billion, so spending mere millions on top players every year should not be a problem.

But Nets CEO Brett Yormark thinks that the team's former majority owner deserves some credit, too. After all, Yormark said that if not for Bruce Ratner, the Nets would not be moving to Brooklyn, where they are hopeful of becoming one of the marquee teams in the league.

"There was an incredible amount of uncertainty with Brooklyn, and through Bruce's incredible efforts, (it got done)," Yormark said. "And he deserves all the credit in the world. No one thought he was going to get it done."


NoLandGrab: What? The project had the backing of three governors, the mayor, the Assembly speaker, the local U.S. senator, and the borough president, among others.

Posted by eric at 10:34 AM

May 12, 2010

After NBA approval, Forest City's deal to sell Nets to Prokhorov finalized; Ratner talks about jobs and housing

Atlantic Yards Report

Even though the deal involves hoops--the Nets basketball team and the Atlantic Yards arena--note that Bruce Ratner is still talking about jobs and housing.

(Yes, there will be construction jobs but not the 10,000 office jobs initially promised. One tower might begin construction later this year.)


NoLandGrab: Why would Bruce Ratner let the truth start to get in the way of his bullshit now?

Additional coverage...

Curbed, Russki's Atlantic Yards Deal Sealed; Williamsburg Wreckage

Well-armed Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov closed on the Atlantic Yards deal with developer Bruce Ratner today. In a statement Prokhorov said, "This much-anticipated day has finally come and now the real fun begins of building a championship team with a state-of-the-art home in the Barclays Center at Atlantic Yards." Such hope!, Done Deal: Mikhail Prokhorov Owns the New Jersey Nets

The new principal owner, who was overseas when the final papers were signed in Brooklyn, closed the deal at 12:30 Wednesday afternoon with Bruce Ratner’s group, according to a statement issued through his holding company, Onexim Sports and Entertainment Holding USA, Inc.

AP via USA Today, Sale of New Jersey Nets to Russian billionaire complete

The team was ruined by cost-cutting moves under Ratner, who signed off on the trades of Jason Kidd, Kenyon Martin, Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson.

Bloomberg Businessweek, Developer Forest City closes sale of Nets stake

Shares of Forest City Enterprises rose 41 cents, or 2.7 percent, to $15.50 in afternoon trading.

Gothamist, New Nyets Owner Approved To Begin Giving Out False Hope

The Brooklyn Blog [], Russian billionaire closes deal to buy Nets and move club to Brooklyn

Cleveland Plain Dealer, Russian billionaire closes Nets deal with Forest City subsidiary

Posted by eric at 6:31 PM

May 11, 2010

Ratner's Arena Was on the Brink of Failure. Not a Good Sign for the Rest of the Atlantic Yards Project.

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

As Mikhail Prokhorov is about to shove Ratner off of the NBA stage, The Wall Street Journal sat down with the developer for an exit interview. (Atlantic Yards Report notes, amongst other things, that Ratner admits Gehry was gone six months before Ratner actually announced it to the public.)

Ratner was on the brink with the Atlantic Yards arena. This is portentous for the future of Atlantic Yards, which, we should remember, is supposedly an affordable housing project.


Posted by eric at 12:28 PM

May 10, 2010

Bruce Ratner's NBA Waterloo

The Developer Looks Back on His Ill-Fated Nets Purchase; My Four-Hour Dinner With Prokhorov

The Wall Street Journal
by Matthew Futterman

With the formal handover of the New Jersey Nets to Russian tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov just days away, Bruce Ratner can go back to what he's good at, things like building big buildings in Brooklyn and making a lot of money in the process.

"I was never one to puff my chest out with some big ego about being the owner of a basketball team," Mr. Ratner said during a rare interview.

History will show that from the fall of 2004 until this week, Mr. Ratner owned the Nets and, unlike nearly all of his other professional endeavors, he wasn't very good at it.

Before he bought the team for $300 million, Mr. Ratner admittedly wasn't a basketball fan. The only reason he made the deal was so he could build an arena and a massive development in downtown Brooklyn across the street from two very profitable shopping centers he began building there a decade ago. He subsequently lost $25 million to $30 million each season, he estimates, as the franchise declined from one of the league's best to its worst, winning just 12 games last season.

But a championship team was never the point.

"He had a vision for a team that was for sale and didn't have many takers," NBA commissioner David Stern said of Mr. Ratner. "He had a vision of using it for an anchor for a spectacular new building and a new real-estate development, and that's what he's going to do."

Mr. Ratner's employees speak of how he was always optimistic about his project, through six years of litigation and a global financial crisis, when, in basketball parlance, he learned to rebound. Mr. Ratner always promised his troops they would figure out a way to keep alive his dream of moving the basketball team into a gleaming arena in Brooklyn. He didn't tell anyone what he really thought—that the project was dead.

"Back then, no one knew if anything would succeed," said Mr. Ratner, 65 years old. "And we were running out of time."


NoLandGrab: Wait — we thought it was "100% about basketball."

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Wall Street Journal reports Ratner had decided to ditch Gehry by November 2008, portrays sale to Prokhorov as a coup

In anticipation of the expected transfer of the New Jersey Nets to Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, developer Bruce Ratner granted what the Wall Street Journal described as a "rare interview" and was rewarded with an article that, while portraying him as bruised by the experience of ownership, delves neither into questions about Prokhorov nor the propriety of the latter's benefiting from significant public subsidies and eminent domain.

Ditching Gehry

The WSJ's Matthew Futterman pinpoints November 2008 as the moment when Ratner ran the numbers and, "[w]ithin hours," decided to ditch Frank Gehry as the arena designer.

Oh. That's not what they told us.

New Jersey Nets CEO Brett Yormark, in March 2009, told WFAN:

"Frank Gehry is still the architect of this project. And he loves it. It’s very dear to his heart, no different than it is to all of us – Bruce Ratner, our investors and myself."

The New York Daily News reported in May 2009:

Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco said a reevaluation of Gehry's design would be completed by July, at which point Ratner will determine whether the world-famous architect would remain on the project.

Revising the deal

The Journal reports:

He also knew he'd have to delay construction of his commercial and residential buildings and negotiate a new deal with the state's Metropolitan Transit Authority. In the previous deal, he'd agreed to pay $100 million for the 22-acre site where the project, known as Atlantic Yards, will be built. But now he would have to replace that lump sum with a series of staggered payments.

Oh, he would, would he? (If only he'd have to pay $100 million for the entire site, rather than for the 8.5-acre railyard.)

The framing here suggests, not without foundation, that Ratner is fully capable of getting public agencies to renegotiate. Whether that's a good thing or not goes by the wayside.

Posted by eric at 11:28 PM

April 27, 2010

Would-be replacements raise for Harry Reid

by Manu Raju and John Bresnahan

Sen. Chuck Schumer invited Harry Reid to spend Monday morning with him in Brooklyn, where some of Schumer’s well-heeled friends opened their checkbooks to help the Senate majority leader’s struggling reelection bid.

So, there Schumer was Monday morning, introducing Reid to the big-money developers of the New Jersey Nets’ new $4.9 billion facility in Brooklyn. Schumer told the developers that he and Reid had been “through war together,” and he called the Nevadan his “foxhole buddy,” according to someone who was there.

Monday’s fundraiser was headlined by Bruce Ratner, the real estate mogul who owns the Nets — and who has donated more than $127,000 to Democrats in recent years.

While Schumer’s office won’t say how much money the event raised for Reid, cash poured in from a number of developers and real estate types. The event came just hours before a procedural vote on a plan to rewrite the rules for Wall Street, but Reid’s office stressed that the donors who turned out Monday weren’t bankers or Wall Street officials — and that, in fact, many work for Ratner’s company as well as for electrical and construction companies.


NoLandGrab: OK, time for a shower — we feel filthy just reading that. Remember when Bruce Ratner actually claimed he'd sworn off making political contributions? Kidding!

Posted by eric at 11:25 AM

April 13, 2010

Bruce Ratner reflects on past with Nets, looks to future under Prokhorov

The Internets []
by Julian Garcia

Bruce Ratner talking basketball sounds almost as phony as Bruce Ratner talking international sanctions.

"I’m gonna miss this place," Ratner said of the Meadowlands arena. "It’s been six years of ownership and we were fortunate to be in the playoffs three times and three times we didn’t make it. Obviously it was a difficult year. The team stuck with it though and the last third of the season they played hard and the last 12 games they won five. So I think we’ll do well next year."

"I think we thought we’d win 25 or 30 games and we did worse than that," Ratner said. "But the purpose was to try to get ourselves better and I think we’re in a great spot. We’ll have a great draft choice opportunity and there’s also free agency. So I think we’ll be great. We’ve got three or four very good players."

As for the transfer of power, Ratner said "everything is in great shape" despite accusations by New Jersey Democratic Congressman Bill Pascrell that Prokhorov is violating U.S. sanctions against Zimbabwe by doing business with that country.

"It was inaccurate," Ratner said of Pascrell's accusation. "Not accurate."


Related coverage...

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Noted Basketball Genius Bruce Ratner Gives an Exit Interview on the Nets; Denies Zimbabwe Problem

International human rights law expert and basketball genius Bruce Ratner attended the Nets' final (losing) game at the Meadowlands IZOD Center last night.

It was inaccurate," Ratner said of Pascrell's accusation. "Not accurate."

Interesting. Both inaccurate and not accurate. What is certainly accurate is that Bruce Ratner will go down in history as one of the worst sports team owners ever.

Posted by eric at 1:28 PM

April 4, 2010

New Net Ready to Dig Deep
by Jason Keidel

In about two weeks, the NBA will approve the sale of the New Jersey Nets to Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, extending David Stern's dream of infusing the league with international money and flavor.

Mr. Prokhorov promises to invest in the franchise, which stands in stark relief against Bruce Ratner, the penurious owner whose primary goal was to buy land in Brooklyn for the team rather than procure top talent for the team.


NoLandGrab: Land, we might add, which in some cases wasn't for sale.

Posted by eric at 10:08 PM

March 23, 2010

Warriors Latest NBA Team to Hit Market

NBA FanHouse
by Tom Ziller

The Warriors join the Pistson as the only NBA teams officially for sale, given that sales of the Nets and Bobcats have effectively been completed. Cohan figures to get a price substantially larger than what either Bruce Ratner or Robert Johnson received, given the Warriors' excellent market location and seriously devout fan base.


Posted by eric at 10:19 AM

March 14, 2010

Daily News columnist Lupica: "It was a hustle in broad daylight by Caring Bruce Ratner from the start"

NY Daily News via Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder excerpts Daily News columnist Mike Lupica quoting New York Magazine's Chris Smith on Bruce Ratner and his Atlantic Yards groundbreaking.

Daily News Sports Columnist Mike Lupica was a couple of days late, and he prudently avoided criticizing his own newspaper's pandering, but today he punctured the Atlantic Yards bubble:

At a time when the city and the state have no money to do anything, they kept plodding ahead on Atlantic Yards until they finally broke ground the other day.

And then acted as if the rest of us were supposed to cheer.

It was a hustle in broad daylight by Caring Bruce Ratner from the start.

It was always a real estate deal masquerading as a sports deal, no matter how many politicians want you to believe they're bringing the basketball Dodgers to Brooklyn.

Chris Smith was so right in New York magazine the other day:

In the end this was a losing deal for everybody, starting with the people who got moved out of their homes by a flagrant abuse of eminent-domain laws.

You wonder why nobody trusts politicians around here anymore?

Because of no-bid scams like this.


Related coverage...

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Atlantic Yards: A Hustle in Broad Daylight From the Start

Wouldn't it be nice if all the news columnists were replaced with all the sports columnists? Then we'd really know the score.

Posted by eric at 10:11 PM

March 8, 2010

Brooklyn lodgers

The Daily Blahg
by Filip Bondy

The Daily News columnist would prefer that the Nets take up permanent residence in Newark.

On Thursday, the Nets finally, supposedly will break ground on their new arena in Brooklyn, after signing a two-year lease with Newark to play in the Rock until the 2012-2013 season.

It's a shame the move to Newark isn't more than an interim commitment. That North Jersey city and region probably can support a good NBA team. And I've become so inured to Bruce Ratner's false deadlines, it's hard to believe this groundbreaking will actually happen.

But I think it will, I think the arena will get built, and my position on this hasn't changed since Day 1:

The move to Brooklyn is absolutely great for the Nets. I'm just not sure it's so great for the borough.


Posted by eric at 9:56 AM

February 25, 2010

Meet the New Bobcats Owner... Soon

NBA FanHouse
by Tom Ziller

Bruce Ratner is believed to have sold the Nets to Mikhail Prokhorov for less than the $300 million he spent on the team, but one could argue Ratner's financial interest in the Nets was merely a necessary evil to get his massive Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn built.


NoLandGrab: You mean it wasn't "100% about basketball?"

Posted by eric at 9:28 PM

February 24, 2010

Best candidate for Rod Thorn’s job: Rod Thorn

Bergen Record
by Ian O'Connor

O'Connor's column suggesting that Mikhail Prokhorov hang on to Nets president Rod Thorn contains this tidbit about Bruce Ratner's stellar ownership record.

Through phone calls placed to informed NBA sources, Prokhorov also learned that Thorn’s boss, Bruce Ratner, was an absolute joke as an owner. Ratner’s decision not to pay Kenyon Martin way back when was the beginning of the end of the Nets as legitimate contenders.


NoLandGrab: Ratner's basketball acumen is especially impressive given that his owning the Nets has been "100% about basketball."

Posted by eric at 9:51 AM

February 20, 2010

Brownfield Cleanup Program to Transform Yonkers Waterfront Property

Yonkers Tribune
By Hezi Aris

After a cleanup of the site, an RFP is projected for the sale of One Point Street in Yonkers. Forest City Ratner is mentioned as a possible buyer.

City Hall is also most interested in inducing Bruce Ratner’s, Forest City Ratner (FCR) to make an investment for the property. They are comfortable working with FCR.FCR is very interested.


NoLandGrab: The comfort level with Bruce Ratner should be a lot lower considering FBI investigations and indictments resulting from FCRC's Ridge Hill Development in Yonkers.

Posted by steve at 10:18 AM

February 18, 2010

Ratner kicks off Citi awards ceremony

The Real Deal

Citi Habitats held its 2009 company awards ceremony this week, honoring its top-producing employees, with a keynote address provided by Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner.


NoLandGrab: Guess all the Elvis impersonators were booked.

Posted by eric at 9:00 PM

February 1, 2010

Names for KeySpan Park we’d like to see

Courier Life Publications
by Stephen Witt

All we can say is, consider the source.

With the Brooklyn Cyclones ending their naming rights relationship with National Grid, which bought the old KeySpan energy company, we at CNG’s Courier-Life have some suggestions on naming rights deals we’d like to see.

3. Ratner Field - The borough’s biggest developer, Bruce Ratner, already sold the naming rights to Barclays for the arena he’s building. Perhaps he can turn out one of his side pockets for the Cyclones and put his personal brand on the ball park.


NoLandGrab: Witt, who once famously threw a bear hug around Bruce Ratner, may be the only person in Brooklyn not on Bruce's payroll who could stomach a Ratner Park. But at least he didn't suggest "Marty's Parkowitz."

Posted by eric at 10:11 PM

January 28, 2010

Ratner Protesters Stage ‘Citizen’s Arrest’

The Local [Fort Greene/Clinton Hill]
by Igor Kossov

It’s hard to imagine a man in Brooklyn who has more critics than real estate developer Bruce Ratner, head of the controversial Atlantic Yards project. Yesterday morning, a dozen people gathered in front of One Metrotech Plaza, home of Ratner’s company headquarters, to attempt a citizen’s arrest of the developer.

The crime, they said, was bribery. Earlier in January, newspapers reported that Sandy Annabi, a Yonkers councilwoman,was charged with changing her vote on a Ratner development site for a bribe of $60,000 paid to her cousin. The protesters argued that Mr. Ratner should be indicted as well.

Calls made to Mr. Ratner’s office requesting comment on the attempted arrest were not returned.

“This is a case of letting Mr. Big go to catch the little fish,” said Steve de Seve, an activist who organized the gathering. A handful of representatives from advocacy groups FUREE and Picture the Homeless joined him in the street.


Related coverage...

Gothamist, Developer Bruce Ratner Escapes Arrest By Homeless People

Posted by eric at 3:53 PM

Hey Kids! Who Wants to Be the Next Bruce Ratner?

Hasbro releases Monopoly: City Edition to train future real estate moguls in eminent domain, property devaluation, and rent dodging.
by William Bostwick

Congratulations, Bruce Ratner! Your name is now synonymous with everything that's wrong with the real estate business.

What do you get the next generation's up-and-coming Bruce Ratners? How about Monopoly: City Edition. Just released, the game scraps houses and hotels for industrial parks, skyscrapers, stadiums, power plants, and other urban icons. Apparently, the rules state you don't need to own all the streets on one block to start building there--eminent domain, I guess. You can also build "hazards" (like trash dumps) next to your opponents' residential properties to devalue them. Sounds like fun.


NoLandGrab: Bruce's favorite game token? The bulldozer.

Posted by eric at 1:19 PM

January 26, 2010

The Perp, Alias Mr. Big, Seen Near Freddy's Bar Locking Children Out In The Cold

The Fightin' Freddy's

Taking heed of Dylan Thomas, the Fightin' Freddy's are (is?) not going "gentle into that good night." Here's their latest communique.

The Fightin' Freddy's, the politically active group of patrons from Freddy's Bar, Esquire Magazine's Best Bar of 2006, have temporarily suspended efforts to save the bar in order to save the neighboring Pacific Dean family homeless shelter at 603 Dean St. from being torn down.

Here is a picture, drawn late at night by a police artist of the perp. Billionaire Bruce Ratner has not only closed down the homeless family shelter in the middle of Winter ON MARTIN LUTHER KING'S BIRTHDAY, NO LESS, because he needs a parking lot for the Barclays Center (more than families need a roof over their kids' heads). He has also allegedly bribed a Yonkers City Council member. And the allegations of bribery come from . . . . himself! They are being used in an indictment against the Council member that he alleges he bribed!

If you see this man, call Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. Oh, wait. Ratner is a campaign contributor to Cuomo, who has failed to indict him for being Mr. Big in a conspiracy to bribe a public official. If you see this man, and he is near homeless children, do anything in your power to drive him off. Studies show perps who attack homeless children and their parents this way can never stop. They will keep on with what they are doing to them all Winter long.

First Save the Shelter
Then Save the Bar,

The Fightin' Freddy's

Posted by eric at 3:05 PM

December 4, 2009


by Mark Ginocchio

Unlike The New York Times, some media outlets aren't avoiding assigning proper blame for the demise of the New Jersey Nets.

The boos that filled an otherwise empty Izod Center as the Nets set a record in futility against the Dallas Mavericks last night should be meant for one person, and one person only.

Bruce Ratner.

At some point, he needs to own up to the fact that as the owner of this franchise, he’s been the ultimate failure where it matters most – on the basketball court, not in the courtroom pushing people out of their homes. The hypothetical day Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov takes the reins of this organization can’t come soon enough. One can only hope that afterwards, Ratner crawls back in a hole somewhere, never to torture a sports team, a fanbase and a community, like Prospect Heights in Brooklyn, ever again.


Thank you, sir. May we have another?

AP, Bottom-dwelling Nets take their cues from the top

Everyone insists the New Jersey Nets can't get much worse.

In that case, we'll take the under.

Team president Rod Thorn blames "a perfect storm" for his team's record-setting 0-18 start to the NBA season, but that's just the short-term forecast. Actually, it's the lack of interest and effort from owner Bruce Ratner that's swamping the franchise, steadily drip-drip-dripping down the organizational chart like a five-years-long-and-counting version of water torture.

The team is losing an estimated $30 million to $40 million a year, and the Nets arena is barely half-filled most nights, largely owing to Ratner's half-baked plan to move the franchise to a new stadium he planned to build in Brooklyn. Why NBA commissioner David Stern went along with the scheme is anyone's guess, but it has already cost his league plenty in credibility.

Thank you, sir. May we have another?

NBA FanHouse, Nets Are Committing Consumer Fraud

The Nets aren't just bad, folks. They aren't even trying. I am not kidding when I suggest the NBA commissioner, David Stern, apologize to their diminishing fan base and either issue ticket refunds or offer free concessions and parking in the Meadowlands. If not, we're talking about a legitimate case of consumer fraud.

What owner Bruce Ratner didn't calculate was the team sinking to such wretched depths that no superstar -- including LeBron James, even if he's Jay-Z's close pal -- wants any part of this operation. Worse, the Nets are plotting a move to a new arena in Brooklyn in June 2012, meaning the poor fans of Jersey are being asked to support a lame-duck franchise that is moving across the Holland Tunnel, the entire expanse of Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge. As it is, entire sections of the arena are empty, forcing the team to take desperate marketing measures and send players into the community, such as Harris' appearance at a South Orange grocery store. What happens the next two seasons when they're playing either in the Meadowlands or in downtown Newark? And, for that matter, what happens in Brooklyn if no major free agent signs?

Click through for some stand-up talk from the Nets' Chris Douglas-Roberts, a good guy who deserves much better than Bruce Ratner's special brand of misery.

Posted by eric at 10:22 AM


Here's a shot of 14-year-old Evan Juliano holding the sign that he was told to put down at Wednesday night's game, because it was "derogatory," as reported by Star-Ledger reporter Steve Politi.

Seeing as how owner and Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner has dismantled a championship contender in less than five years, we're impressed that resignation and wit on the part of fans haven't already given way to chants of "Ratner sucks."

Posted by lumi at 5:05 AM

December 3, 2009

Politi: Negative signs are everywhere for downtrodden NJ Nets

The Star-Ledger
by Steve Politi

Here's a must-read piece from Steve Politi: not only are the New Jersey Nets the worst out-of-the-gate NBA team ever, but apparently, "Ratner" is considered offensive language at the IZOD Center.


The sign was a simple protest, scrawled on a white poster board in black Magic Marker. It did not contain any naughty words. It was, as these things go at sporting events, rather tame.

“End Ratner’s Reign of Error!” the sign read, and 14-year-old Evan Juliano held it up twice from his seats a few rows behind the Nets bench.

He held it up because he and his father, Dave, are season-ticket holders for what is fast becoming the worst team in NBA history, an 0-18 train wreck that didn’t even bother to show up for its date with infamy Wednesday night.

But somewhere in the second quarter, as the Mavericks impossibly scored on 22 of 24 possessions en route to a 117-101 victory, the Julianos were told to put their sign down. They were told it was derogatory.


Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, At the Izod Center, an "End Ratner’s Reign of Error!” sign is squelched

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, "End Ratner's Reign of Error!" In NJ and BK.

Nets fans, sports fans—heck, all humans—should now understand why Brooklynites (sports fans many), have been in an uproar for six years. If Ratner can do this to something he owns, just think what he does to things that are not his.

Posted by eric at 9:14 AM

December 2, 2009

Nets' problems of their own making

But if you were to jot down a quick list of the Nets' problems, Frank would be nowhere near the top.

Sitting alone in that position is Bruce Ratner, New Jersey's cost-conscious owner who has overseen the dismantling of a franchise less than a decade removed from back-to-back Finals appearances. With the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn bleeding him for millions, Ratner's team paid the ultimate price.

The Nets will try to avoid setting the NBA's record for futility to open a season when they face Kidd (one of Frank's staunchest supporters) and the Mavericks Thursday in the Meadowlands. They will likely lose, and lose badly. Interim coach Tom Barrise, who will coach the team until GM Kiki Vandeweghe takes over on Friday, will face the media and shoulder the blame. A few players might do the same. But the real culprit in this Titanic-sized season is Ratner. This ignominious record will be all on him.


Posted by eric at 1:30 PM

Unfair Substitution of Fiction For Fact in the Atlantic Yards Dialogue

Noticing New York

A prevailing hallmark of the promotion for Forest City Ratner’s proposed Atlantic Yards Brooklyn real estate mega-monopoly is the extremely unfair way that fiction has been routinely substituted for and intermingled with what are theoretically the actual facts. Not only have the fictions enlisted to support this abusive eminent domain taking been patently false factwise; they have for the most part not even been believable.

Things That Are Not True About Atlantic Yards

One supreme work of fiction in the mix has been the AKRF “blight” study. With high-end condominiums recently developed and built within and immediately outside of the megadevelopment’s footprint it is clear that there was no blight. Another unfortunate way that the intrusion of fiction has been amplified is that for the Court of Appeals decision its official “record” of non-facts was closed as of late 2006 by which choice the court ignored all sorts of conspicuous subsequent events that contradicted the fictions on the record.

Here is a list of other significant fictions that Forest City Ratner and the state officials servicing that firm have unfairly intruded into the public discussion. The list is not exhaustive. To make it so would be a difficult challenge.

Click through for the lengthy list of fictions, and for a very interesting tale of overheard dialogue at the meeting approving the issuance of tax-exempt bonds for Baron Bruce's basketball barn.



Atlantic Yards Report, AY facts and fiction, from Noticing New York

Some of the fictions are more debatable than others--after all, the Atlantic Yards site likely would have an arena, thus different from the infamous site in New London.

But White and other critics/opponents have a lot of ammo, starting with incontrovertible deceptions like the crime analysis in the Blight Study.

Posted by eric at 9:53 AM

November 30, 2009

Nets Ownership Dictation Opens New Doors, May Modification Vendee Profile

Windows Live

We're assuming that English was not this post's first language.

Prokhorov was cited in an article last hebdomad naming this a "hostile bidding". Hostile or not, Prokhorov looks more interested in the squad as an investing vehicle, not as the typical sportswoman proprietor ( IE Grade Cuban, Steinbrenner, Can H,etc. ). The squad is hemorrhaging money, Bruce Ratner 's immovable company is holds founder under the economical pressure, and merely like many other American corps the Nets ( and its current ownership ) necessitated a fresh extract of cash to keep operations and hold the dreaming of travelling to Brooklyn live. The trade looks to be more Risk capital than typical squad ownership dealing, an outsider investor rendering running cash exchange for equity.

While the conference is likelily excited about the new international frontiers that go available with a Russian proprietor, could it but be that most American businessman hold shied forth from the hazard and low one-year gainfulness of sports squad ownership, and VC type investings in the wide marketplace hold virtually vanishes in that economy, squeezing Ratner to turn elsewhere.

Funding the trade with upward front cash, highly rare in what I 've seen of these type of minutes, farther supports the dealing of more VC investing than new ownership squad. Ratner apparently remains in the icon and gets new cash flowing to proceed the Brooklyn venture and will now share in the top with his gent investor, in the procedure disintermediating himself from the squad, which he holded small or no involvement in in the first place.


Posted by eric at 11:31 AM

November 25, 2009

Nets Have Dug a Big Hole, but Their Foundation Is in Place

The New York Times
by Jonathan Abrams

The Nets have lost their first 14 games in a start that is threatening to make their season irrelevant before the calendar turns to 2010. The long-term future, however, looks a lot brighter.

The final challenge to their plans to build an arena in Brooklyn was denied Tuesday, increasing the likelihood of the Nets’ opening the 2012-13 season there. No matter where they play that season, their two budding stars — Brook Lopez and Devin Harris — give them the building blocks for an improved on-court product.

NoLandGrab: Final challenge? The decision was a blow for project opponents, to be sure, but four lawsuits challenging the project are still unresolved.

New York’s Court of Appeals dismissed a challenge over the use of eminent domain in constructing the long-planned and long-delayed Atlantic Yards project near Brooklyn’s downtown and ushering in a new arena for the Nets.

The ruling was the last major hurdle in the groundbreaking process.

NLG: Last major hurdle? Hardly. Ratner still needs to sell $700 million worth of arena bonds, for which there may not be a market, in the next five weeks.

The present is not quite as promising. Coach Lawrence Frank and the Nets flew to Denver for their game against the Nuggets on Tuesday night barreling toward the worst start in N.B.A. history with a four-game trip in their forecast.

Their 101-87 loss dropped them to 0-14, the effects of a raft of injuries and salary purging over the last two seasons. The trip ends in Los Angeles against the Lakers on Sunday, and if the Nets return home winless, they will have matched the 1988-89 expansion Miami Heat and 1999 Los Angeles Clippers for worst start in league history.

If so, history will not reflect the injuries, the long hours of Frank, whose job is on the line, or the cost-cutting demands from the current owner, Bruce C. Ratner. Instead, the Nets may stand as holders of the league’s worst start if they lose to the Dallas Mavericks on Dec. 2.

After Tuesday’s court ruling, the future appears much brighter, but how to bridge that gap is still uncertain. Ratner purchased the franchise in 2003 for $300 million, originally planning to transplant the Nets from New Jersey in time for this season.

NLG: This season? No, when he announced the Atlantic Yards project in 2003, Ratner said the Nets would begin playing in Brooklyn in 2006.


NLG:Could it be that The Times doesn't realize that Bruce C. Ratner runs the company that was the development partner for their eminent domain-abusing headquarters building? They seem to have omitted that fact from this article.

Atlantic Yards Report, No, Ratner didn't buy the Nets in 2003 to move them in 2009

NoLandGrab's Eric McClure reminds us that the original move date was 2006 and also points out some other miscues.

Would you believe that some bloggers in Brooklyn have a heck of a lot more institutional memory than the Paper of Record?

Posted by eric at 12:50 PM

From the Times: a misleading "Atlantic Yards" photo, a buffing of "tenacious" Ratner, and no rebuttal to claims of benefits

Atlantic Yards Report

There are some unsurprisingly dismaying aspects to the front-page New York Times article today, headlined in print "Atlantic Yards Wins Appeal To Seize Land" and online as Ruling Lets Atlantic Yards Seize Land.

First, though the article correctly states that the state would exercise eminent domain, the shorthand headline inaccurately casts the inanimate "Atlantic Yards" as the actor.

Public benefit?

Second, the Times quotes developer Bruce Ratner, unrebutted, as saying "“The courts have made it clear that this project represents a significant public benefit for the people of Brooklyn and the entire city.”

The courts have made no such determination. Rather, the Court of Appeals decision issued yesterday was based on a record compiled in 2006 by the Empire State Development Corporation. The assertions in that record have not been vetted by the courts and there's much evidence--such as from the New York City Independent Budget Office--casting doubt on official claims.

"On the railyard"

Third, the original version of the article posted online said that the "arena would be built on an 8.5-acre railyard;" it took several messages to convince the Times to revise that description to "an 8.5-acre railyard and on adjacent property." (That's a basic error the Times has previously corrected.)

Actually, part of the arena would be built over the western segment of that railyard, occupying less than 30% of the total railyard acreage.

Another misleading photo

Fourth, and most important, the Times published a picture (above) of only a fraction of the Vanderbilt Yard, the railyard, and called it Atlantic Yards. The photo covers the railyard and a few buildings between Sixth and Carlton avenues and Atlantic Avenue and Pacific Street, or Block 1120, outlined in red on the map below left.


NoLandGrab: And this article could be considered error-free compared to the one in The Times' sports section, posted above.

Posted by eric at 12:21 PM

November 13, 2009

Ratner Family Ties: ACORN and Justice Department Plot Thickens
by John M. O'Hara

The right-leaning Big Government suspects that Democratic politics are at the heart of the ACORN-Forest City Ratner relationship.

One family’s involvement with ACORN and the Obama administration is of particular interest and elucidates the complicated web of connections and cash behind ACORN and this President.

Meet the Ratners.

Bruce Ratner is a New York real estate developer who has given thousands of dollars to Democrats including President Obama. His philanthropy also includes having bailed out ACORN with $1.5 million to pay off their embezzlement debt, a decision he stands by despite ACORN’s recent prostitution scandal and a Congressional report detailing the systemic criminal elements in the organization.

As of late, Mr. Ratner has spent thousands lobbying the Obama administration for stimulus funds for an affordable housing / basketball arena boondoggle called Atlantic Yards. Oh yeah, Ratner owns the Nets who will occupy the new stadium should he have his way. In addition to paying back Mr. Ratner for his generous support over the years, the stimulus funds would benefit, you guessed it, ACORN! What’s more, the project would be seizing property from the very poor ACORN and liberals claims to represent by invocation of the extremely controversial doctrine of “eminent domain.”


Additional coverage...

Norman Oder, however, points out that ideology has nothing to with it.

Atlantic Yards Report, A caution on the alleged Ratner-ACORN conspiracy

In a post on the conservative site Big Government, John M. O'Hara connects the dots between Bruce Ratner's Democratic campaign contributions, the Forest City Ratner bailout of ACORN, the FCR lobbying for stimulus funds, and the job of Ratner's nephew at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), concluding that this would stymie a DOJ investigation of ACORN.

Another writer for the site notes that Bruce's brother Michael Ratner, head of the Center for Constitutional Rights, has sued the federal government on behalf of ACORN.

While that does constitute some very interesting circumstantial evidence, and FCR surely has an interest in ACORN's health, we should remember that the company and its principals are not ideological in their campaign contributions. Michael Ratner, acting apparently on behalf of corporate interest, has given campaign contributions to some politicians who are far from progressive.

It's all about business.

Posted by eric at 9:56 AM

November 12, 2009

Meet the Ratners: Defending ACORN is Their Family Business
by Chris Berg

All in the family.

Today the Center for Constitutional Rights sued the federal government on behalf of ACORN. They are alleging that Congressional efforts to defund ACORN constitute an unconstitutional Bill of Attainder. This tired argument has been thoroughly rebutted, but the Center for Constitutional Rights is going to make it anyway. Republican National Lawyers Association Chairman David Norcross has noted that: “The actions of Congress to defund ACORN clearly do not meet the definition of a Bill of Attainder.”

The Center for Constitutional Rights is going to stand up for this corrupt organization, and I think I know the reason why. It’s all about family.

The President of the Center for Constitutional Rights is Michael Ratner. Michael Ratner is a well known liberal lawyer who has fought against the Patriot Act and Guantanamo Bay. He also teaches at Columbia Law School.

If you haven’t heard of Michael, that’s all right, I’m sure you’ve heard of his brother Bruce. He’s a prominent developer and owner of the New Jersey Nets. His company is Forest City Enterprises.

ACORN had been supporting Bruce Ratner’s plans for a massive new arena for the team and his surrounding real estate development plan. Last September as the embattled community organization was dealing with the repercussions of the Rathke embezzlement Ratner came to the rescue with a $1 million loan and a $500,000 grant. The money, which helped ACORN through some of its darkest days, also bought their silence as criticism of Ratner’s development became widespread.

Now we see Michael Ratner’s Center for Constitutional Rights fighting to overturn Congressional efforts to defund this corrupt organization.

These two brothers are working hard to defend this troubled organization. One brother provides the bail money while the other defends them in court.

Now it appears that one of the next generation of the Ratner family has received a political appointment at the Department of Justice. Matthew Ratner, who has worked for the Ohio Democratic Party, and who according to SEC filings is the beneficial owner of 267,117 shares of Forest City Enterprises, has received a political appointment as a “confidential assistant” at the Department of Justice.

Only time will tell if Matthew has joined the family business.


Related coverage...

AP, ACORN lawsuit raises question: Can it survive?

ACORN has been cut off by banks, the government and most of its private foundation funders, severely hampering its housing operations and raising the possibility that it will not survive in its current form, according to a lawsuit the group filed Thursday against the U.S. government.

The lawsuit claims that Congress' decision to drop all funding to the group and its affiliates was unconstitutional because it punitively targeted an individual organization.

In affidavits accompanying the lawsuit, ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis and other employees paint a bleak picture of an organization damaged by a string of scandals and the loss of federal funds.

When the funding measure first passed Congress, "I thought ACORN could survive. But I underestimated the effect ... and its consequences with our other sources of funding," Lewis said. "We want to comply with every investigation, but we cannot comply if we do not have staff and are closing our offices."

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in Brooklyn federal court by the Center for Constitutional Rights on behalf of ACORN and its affiliates, seeks reinstatement of the funds.

Posted by eric at 10:02 PM

November 11, 2009

Ratner: Atlantic Yards Is Not a Public Project

The Huffington Post
by Daniel Goldstein

"We don't need no badges. I don't have to show you any stinkin' badges!" DDDB's Daniel Goldstein reveals the essential truth behind this week's testy declamation by Bruce Ratner, who's got the federales, er, well, at least the ESDC, on his side.

"Why should people get to see plans? This isn't a public project."

— Bruce Ratner discussing Atlantic Yards in Crain's Nov. 8, 2009

Forest City Ratner is the Brooklyn-based division of Cleveland-based Forest City Enterprises which is a publicly traded corporation listed on the New York Stock Exchange (FCEA). Bruce Ratner is its CEO.

FCE is not a charity or a non-profit organization. Like any other publicly traded corporation they endeavor to make profits to increase shareholder value. They do this through development deals always infused with large taxpayer subsidies and gifts, which often benefit from eminent domain powers used by political friends. Broadly speaking, they are corporate welfare kings and eminent domain addicts. As such, they have served their shareholders well.

So when Bruce Ratner told Crain's that Atlantic Yards is not a public project, and demanded to know why people should get to see his plans for the project—he wasn't kidding, it's not a public project.

By nearly every standard Atlantic Yards is, indeed, a private project. But Ratner's honest, foot eating comment could not have pleased his public relations people or attorneys who have spent six years trying to convince politicians, the public and courtrooms that Atlantic Yards is a great public project, a grand civic gesture out of the goodness of the corporation's heart.


Posted by eric at 1:14 PM

November 8, 2009

Tenacious B - Bruce Ratner must clear yet more do-or-die hurdles at Atlantic Yards

By Theresa Agovino

This article about Bruce Ratner, although largely worshipful, shows the uncertainty of the proposed Atlantic Yards project.

Any day now, New York state's highest court will rule on whether eminent domain can be used to clear the site. If its use is barred, the Atlantic Yards project will most likely die. In addition, the developer faces a year-end deadline to sell $700 million worth of bonds for the arena in order to qualify for much-needed tax-free financing.

Here, even Ratner admits there's no need to build the mega-project:

Yet he doesn't know when many elements of the plan will progress, and he's agitated by questions about them. In light of a financial crisis that has hobbled many developers, Mr. Ratner refuses to discuss what the project will look like, whether or not it will include an office building and even who will design the first residential tower, which he's slated to break ground on early next year.

Initially, the project called for four office towers, but by early this year, only one was on the drawing boards. Asked when it will go up, Mr. Ratner responds with a question: “Can you tell me when we are going to need a new office tower?”

And here we see how public subsidies do not mean the public has any say in the project itself:

He has no intention of sharing the designs for the complex. “Why should people get to see plans?” he demands. “This isn't a public project. We will follow the guidelines.”

As you might expect, Norman Oder of Atlantic Yards Report gives a full assessment of this article: In profile, Crain's calls Ratner "tenacious;" wouldn't "desperate" and "strategic" also apply?


Posted by steve at 10:27 AM

October 28, 2009

Bust Out the Sand Chair! Ratner Buys Long Beach Spread for $2 M.

NY Observer
by Max Abelson

Is it time to start calling Bruce Ratner the "Flamingo Kid?"

...last month, he was said to be selling his 4,500-square-foot, Francis Fleetwood–designed Montauk house to an art dealer for $10 million. Leaving behind 7 acres, Mr. Ratner reportedly wanted something less expensive.

He found it.

According to a source, he bought up a relatively modest three-bedroom oceanfront house off Long Beach’s Arizona Avenue. He paid $2 million to a Manhattan couple, Seema Kalia and hedge fund manager Vedula Murti.

Listing broker Susan Solomon would not comment on the deal. “It’s an oceanfront piece of property and, you know—it’s a big piece of property and it’s on the ocean,” she said. “What do you want me to tell you?” The place looks cozy, but probably needs real renovation. “You can come in and do a little; you can come in and do a lot,” the broker said. “You want to knock it down, you can do that.”

Might Mr. Ratner, who spent $6,965,000 last year on an East 62nd Street brownstone, build something Yards-proportioned? “If somebody wants to knock that house down,” Ms. Solomon said, “they have to build something by the code.”


NoLandGrab: Unless, of course, his good friends at the Empire State Development Corporation override local zoning.

Posted by eric at 11:32 PM

October 21, 2009

The Power Dozen

There is Michael Bloomberg, and there is everybody else. Here’s everybody else.

New York Magazine
by Jacob Gershman and Chris Smith

When it comes to power in New York City, Michael Bloomberg is the only game in town—but that doesn’t mean there are no other players. We canvassed the city in an extensive if unscientific vetting process, culling the selections of dozens of businesspeople, politicians, and other assorted machers.

Stephen Ross
WHO: Chairman and CEO
WHAT: Related Companies

The chief executive of Related Companies, Stephen Ross has been described as the real-estate industry’s last man standing. It’s more accurate to say he’s the only one sprinting ahead. While developers like Jerry Speyer and Bruce Ratner are running for cover, Ross is planning to form a bank to snap up distressed assets.


Posted by eric at 11:14 PM

October 2, 2009

Ratner says bond sale should start in two weeks, has no regrets about losing Nets, won't claim he got a "great deal"

Atlantic Yards Report

The New York Observer's Eliot Brown managed to turn a photo op at Forest City Ratner's Frank Gehry-designed Beekman Tower (in progress) into an opportunity to produce When Bruce Met Mikhail: The Backstory on the Nets-Atlantic Yards Deal.

There's not a huge amount new there, though Ratner said he expects the bond sale to begin in two weeks. Would that be after the eminent domain hearing at the Court of Appeals on October 14?

He expressed no regret at losing the Nets, plausibly pointing out that a deep-pocketed owner is best for the team and diplomatically avoiding the confession that he's just not a hoops guy.

And he avoided acknowledging that Mikhail Prokhorov got a good deal or claiming it was a great deal for him.


Posted by eric at 11:15 AM

When Bruce Met Mikhail: The Backstory on the Nets-Atlantic Yards Deal

The NY Observer
by Eliot Brown

The Observer's Brown gets a few minutes with Bruce Ratner during a tour of Forest City's Beekman Tower.

By Bruce Ratner's telling, his deal to sell the Nets to Mikhail Prokhorov began in earnest this summer over dinner at the Russian billionaire’s home.

Asked whether he would miss owning an NBA team, Mr. Ratner hardly displayed remorse. He suggested that with an owner that has substantial resources (Forest City Ratner and its parent have been struggling in the recession) might be a better caretaker for the team than he.

That's a shocker, since Bruce famously said "it's 100 percent about basketball."

“It was important to go to Brooklyn, and we’re going to Brooklyn, and it’s important that we have a really good team in Brooklyn,” he continued, “and he’s going to make that more possible than I think we could, economically.”

Speaking of economics, Bruce is getting itchy to start selling bonds.

The state’s top court on Oct. 14 is hearing arguments in a key eminent domain lawsuit regarding Atlantic Yards, and while Mr. Ratner has been victorious in the courts thus far, a loss would surely kill the project. On the financing side, Mr. Ratner plans to start selling $700 million in tax-free bonds in coming weeks, which must be sold before a Dec. 31 Internal Revenue Service deadline.

“I think the ratings agencies will probably have ratings in about two weeks,” Mr. Ratner said. “And then we’ll start selling ’em.”


Posted by eric at 10:43 AM

September 24, 2009

Exclusive: Nets Owner Bruce Ratner on Deal With Russian Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov

Fox Business (The Glick Report)

"Do-gooder Liberal" Bruce Ratner, and his sidekick, Yormarketing Genius, sure spend a lot of time on the Right-leaning Fox Business network. It couldn't have anything to do with Alexis Glick's gee-whiz softball's, could it?

And, oh yeah, this deal is really, truly, about world peace, or as the altruistic Ratner puts it, the aim is to "really bring Russia and the United States closer in so many kinds of ways."


Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, "Orwellian, almost": ESDC says construction schedule = "useful timetable," but Bruce Ratner admits "projects take a long time"

Posted by eric at 6:53 PM

September 3, 2009

The Nets’ Future - An FAQ

Nets Daily

Uber Nets' fan and Atlantic Yards-booster NetIncome posts an interesting and lengthy analysis of the team's dire predicament situation.

Are the Nets for sale?

In spite of denials and protestations, Bruce Ratner has been trying to sell the Nets for the past nine months, hoping to find a buyer who’ll be willing to pay $400 million for the team, a $100 million premium on what he paid for it five years ago, according to Nets insiders.

Who are the likely buyers?

So far, three investment groups have shown interest in the team, all of whom have been identified previously: those led by Vincent Viola, the former chairman of NYMEX and the team’s second largest investor after Ratner; Terry Semel, the former CEO of Warner Brothers and Yahoo!; and Mikhail Prokhorov, a Russian oligarch who is among the world’s richest men with a fortune between $10 billion and $15 billion. (In addition, a fourth investor, Marc Lasry, a hedge fund manager, has shown some interest, but it has waned recently, according to published reports confirmed by a team insider.)

What the prospects for a sale?

No better than 50-50, according to insiders. Ratner does not want to give up control of the Barclays Center in any sale or recapitalization. Instead he hopes the team’s new owners will be a tenant only in the new arena, pay him a large annual lease in addition to the substantial premium for the team. The insiders say new buyers are unlikely to pay the premium or the large lease, which is significantly greater than the $2.02 million the Nets now pay the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority for the IZOD Center.

“In that scenario,” said one team insider, “Ratner sells the team, you get control of the team and the right to lose $20 - $35 million a year on the team. Key to the franchise success is the arena, not the team.”

Why does Ratner want to sell now?

Ratner’s desire to sell is tied to the team’s increasingly desperate finances—the Nets have lost $70+ million the past two years, according to filings made by Ratner’s parent company, Forest City Enterprises, with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Forest City owns 23% of the team and has increasingly funded team losses, going from 38% to 100% over the past four years, as the filings have noted. It has agreed to fund this year’s losses as well, but reportedly has told Ratner after this year “we’re done”.

Overall, Forest City has lost $119.1 million and all investors $353 million, according to a New York Times analysis of team finances.

There’s also the urgent need to find a significant amount of capital to construct the $774 million Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn. Ratner or whoever owns the team must put up at least $200 million in cash and show prospective financiers they have substantial revenue streams—like the lease—in order to obtain tax-exempt financing. And he must do that by year’s end, if not sooner.

What about debt? Aren’t the Nets heavily in debt?

According to one insider, half the $400 million would go towards the down payment on the Barclays Center and half towards reducing team debt.

The team’s debt is more than $200 million, says Forbes Magazine. That, reports Forbes, makes the Nets’ debt-to-value ratio the highest in the NBA, if not professional sports, at 71%.

How critical was the critics’ legal strategy?

Two insiders offered begrudging praise for the critics’ legal plan, noting that they first took it to federal court, then state court. Even without a victory, that sequencing slowed the legal process to a crawl. It was “brilliant”, said one insider.

Suppose it doesn’t work. What happens then?

“The team will be sold to whoever can pay for it,” said an insider. “They could wind up in Seattle or St. Louis.” A sports marketing expert agreed, suggesting that Brooklyn gets less and less likely every day.


NoLandGrab: While we frequently find ourselves at odds with Mr. Income, he does seem to have good information, though he remains anonymous, as do his sources. If he's on-target, however, Bruce Ratner appears to be suffering from delusions — and a desperate need for cash.

Posted by eric at 11:13 AM

August 28, 2009


NY Post, Page Six

No, not to Newark — yet anyway.


TOUGH times for embattled Bruce Ratner? The Atlantic Yards developer has already replaced architect Frank Gehry and whittled down the cost of his $1 billion Nets arena by $200 million. Now he's sold his Montauk estate for $10 million to Chelsea art dealer David Zwirner, reports The Post's Jennifer Gould Keil. The 4,500-square-foot house on 7 acres on Old Montauk Highway was designed by classic East End architect Francis Fleetwood. Prudential Douglas Elliman broker John Golden had no comment. Ratner, we hear, has been looking in Quogue --for something less pricey, on the ocean and closer to the city.


Related coverage...

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Tough Times for Bruce Ratner

His money-losing Nets aren't moving to Brooklyn, and neither is Bruce Ratner. He's moving ot Quogue. Wherever he is, he must be busy peparing those renderings for Atlantic Yards which nobody has seen...what a way to spend the last week of summer!

Posted by eric at 10:38 AM

August 27, 2009

Ratner to be featured in film
by Gerald Magpily

Who wants to bet Bruce plays the villain?

Real estate dealmaker Bruce Ratner of Forest City Ratner Cos. is next to have his moment in the limelight. The owner of the National Basketball Association franchise the Nets will take center court in a documentary titled "The Battle of Brooklyn" about a neighborhood's struggle with the real estate mogul's plan to build a stadium in Prospect Heights for his team.

The six-year saga is still developing with the stadium still not built, which brings a slight dilemma for the filmmaker Michael Galinsky, who has more than 300 hours of footage and expects to have a finished product for film festivals by next year.

"You can't really edit a documentary until you kind of know the end of the story," he told the Daily News. "We don't know the end, but we do have a sense of an arc, and the end is coming. By Dec. 31, either shovels will be in the ground or they will not, and that will be the end of the story."


Posted by eric at 9:52 AM

August 10, 2009

It came from the Blogosphere...

Brownstoner, A Turning Point for Atlantic Yards

Atlantic Yards, Atlantic Yards, Atlantic Yards. It has been one of the biggest issues in Brooklyn for years, but now the controversial 22-acre development seems to be approaching its shit-or-get-off-the-pot moment.

Nets Daily, Ratner Remains Optimistic as Deadlines Loom

In an interview with the New York Times, Bruce Ratner remains confident of getting financing, winning final legal appeals, finding new investors for the Nets. He also says the city needs the overall project more than it did when first envisioned. As for the Nets, he states he intends to retain some ownership in the team no matter who invests in it. Meanwhile, critics vow new lawsuits.

Pinko Magazine, Gay Marry It … Or Abort It? Brownshirts and ghost trains edition.

I don’t think I was very clear in my post yesterday about Mayor Bloomberg, and I gave the impression that I think Atlantic Yards (and the West Side/Jets Stadium redevelopment) are GOOD ideas that I supported. That’s totally not what I meant, Atlantic Yards is a complete fiasco and if you live in New York and want to understand what it is and why it’s a complete fiasco, New American City has a good summary of where things stand today.

My argument was this: The whole thing is a dud and should be scrapped, but if the developers win and they get to build something, I’d rather see them build the whole plan with the Gehry arena etcetera. Right now we’re staring into a half-assed Atlantic Yards with a bullshit shoe-box arena that will be a blight on Brooklyn for decades. I hope none of it happens, and I hope that’s clear. But it is an example of a botched project on the Mayor’s watch.

Lost City, Ratner-Owned Brooklyn Cineplex a Potential Fire Trap

My friends found their own way down the many escalators by themselves and the building was quite smoky. The whole affair was horribly handled, and, even though the fire was localized, it's a miracle no one was seriously hurt.

It's just what you'd expect from a movie theatre owned by Bruce Ratner, isn't it? Screw the public; let's make money!

Extra Time [NY Post Soccer Blog], Beckham interested in buying MLS team

Could you see Beckham prying the Galaxy away from AEG after 2011? Or would you love to see him buy the Red Bulls? Figure it's a lot more likely that he purchases an expansion team? Since he loves Brooklyn so much, maybe he could get done the deal Nets' owner Bruce Ratner hasn't been able to...

Evil Cowtown, INC., I’ve got an idea with regards to the 2011 CBA negotiations: Let’s keep it the way it is!

That's CBA as in the NBA's Collective Bargaining Agreement, not the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement. But Bruce Ratner does make an appearance.

Yeah. Michael Heisley is more valuable to the NBA than LeBron James. Yuh. Right. (Ditto with clowns like Bruce Ratner, Donald Sterling, George Shinn and Jerry Reinsdorf. If you had a scumbug all owner 1st team, those guys would make it up.

From The 3s, Net Worth – Atlantic Division – New Jersey Nets rebuilding from the ground up

Nets owner Bruce Ratner is allegedly selling the team, in spite of the fact today’s economy is not filled with prospective buyers. He would like the team to ultimately end up and play in Brooklyn. Along with the move, he prefers to be an owner, but is actively pursuing other ownership to ease the financial burden he has and will continue to endure.

Job Hut, Gilmartin on jobs, funding CBA partners; Darnell Canada interruption

A job-search site links to video from the Community Board 2, 6 and 8-hosted Atlantic Yards meeting on July 22nd.

MaryAnne Gilmartin of Forest City Ratner is asked about how to get jobs at the Atlantic Yards project. Darnell Canada loudly interrupts.

The Daily Politics, News Of The Day

Bruce Ratner is still racing to start work on the scaled-backed Atlantic Yards project, but could yet be derailed by the state's highest court.

Posted by eric at 9:41 AM

Lupica: Stern should tell Ratner to get out of the basketball business

Atlantic Yards Report

Here's one AYR slipped past us yesterday.

From New York Daily News sports columnist Mike Lupica today:
But when does [NBA Commissioner David] Stern tell [Nets owner] Bruce Ratner that it is time for him to get out of the basketball business?

When does the commissioner tell Ratner to see if he can find a buyer who's more interested in the NBA than real estate?

Ratner is Donald Sterling of the [Los Angeles] Clippers, just taller.

Last month, ESPN The Magazine called Ratner the second-worst owner in professional sports, and the worst owner in pro basketball. Ratner was ranked #121, while Sterling was #116, though his team was overall rated worse (#122) than the Nets (#111) in the Ultimate Standings.


NoLandGrab: Calling someone a taller Donald Sterling is not a compliment.

Here's the original story:

NY Daily News, Government must tell us what triggered positive test for Red Sox slugger David Ortiz

Posted by eric at 9:29 AM

August 6, 2009

American Icons FRANKIE VALLI AND THE FOUR SEASONS Set Audience Record at Brooklyn's Asser Levy Park

Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner shows up at Brooklyn BP's Marty Markowitz's free summer concert series and now he's a "luminary"?

Rock and Roll Hall of Famers FRANKIE VALLI AND THE FOUR SEASONS once again set attendance records as the popular group returned to Brooklyn's Asser Levy Seaside Park's outdoor music series and performed to an audience of more than 15,000 fans. The Seaside Summer Concert Series is the largest free outdoor music series in New York.
In addition to die-hard fans, luminaries seen rocking out included famed concert promoter Sid Bernstein; NY Times Publisher, Arthur Sulzberger; Sopranos actor Lou Martini, Jr., and NJ Nets (soon to be Brooklyn Nets) Owner and Urban Real Estate Developer Bruce Ratner.


NoLandGrab: Given the hundreds of thousands of dollars Ratner has given to Markowitz's pet projects to purchase his undying loyalty, we sure hope Bruce got a good seat.

Posted by lumi at 5:22 AM

July 8, 2009

Bruce Ratner: Scumbag Liar

By Genaro Brooks-Church

Here's a pretty good rant from green builders ECO Brooklyn.

I read in the Carroll Gardens Courier that Ratner is continuing his dishonest takeover of the Brooklyn community in Atlantic Yards.

After securing a corrupt deal with the MTA where he will be allowed to buy part of their land he said of the site this week:

“….it is about affordable housing and public space. It is about jobs and opportunity. It is about creating new community in the heart of a thriving borough.”

Lies, lies, lies. It is about his profit. Period. Bruce Ratner is the antithesis of green building and the concept of Build It Forward.

He says the area will be used for sports, conventions, meeting, concerts etc. Anything where you need to put a large group of people together for a couple hours.

So how is the community around Javitz Center? A bunch of desolate concrete roads.

What about the area around Madison Square Garden? Cheap pizzerias and tourists.


Posted by eric at 5:06 PM

July 2, 2009

Ultimate Standings 2009

ESPN The Magazine
by Morty Ain


Congratulations, Bruce Ratner! You're the second worst owner in professional sports! (and the worst owner is bankrupt and is trying to sell his team to a guy who plans to move it out of the country!)

But don't worry, even with all that, you stand alone in last place when it comes to "Community Commitment."

Welcome to ESPN The Magazine's seventh annual Ultimate Standings, in which we measure how much MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL franchises give back to the fans in exchange for all the time, money and emotion the fans invest in them.

Developer Bruce Ratner is starting to resemble that college friend who just wasn't ready to move on after graduation. Hey, Jersey, we're hitting snafus with that planned move to Brooklyn, so, ummm, ya mind if I crash here a while longer? "I'd like to say we have the most hated owner in sports, but of course that's not possible," says Mike from, "because a) Al Davis is still around, and b) Nets fans can't work up enough contempt to get stoic, let alone angry."


See the complete, sortable rankings

More coverage...

Nets Daily, Ratner Ranked Second Worst Owner in Sports

Only the bankrupt owners of the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes are ranked lower than Bruce Ratner in ESPN’s listings of all 122 professional sports teams. The Nets also sit 111th–third from the bottom in the NBA–overall. The “stadium experience” at the IZOD comes in 119th.

Posted by eric at 10:32 AM

July 1, 2009

Six Charged with Vending Violations in Sting (Also: Screw Your Bidding System)

Fork in the Road, [Village Voice blog]
by Sarah DiGregorio

Bruce Ratner merits a dishonorable mention in this piece on street-food vendors.

New York's street vending has been pushed into its current state of chaos and disrepair by unchecked bureaucracy--vendors are regulated by as many as seven city agencies--and unreasonably low permit limits, which were set in 1979 by then Commissioner of Consumer Affairs Bruce Ratner, always a friend to the common man.


Posted by eric at 9:09 AM

June 28, 2009

Another Word on Franchise Ownership – Beware the Real Estate Mogul


The first point specifically targets owners who try to use sports teams as pawns in a real estate project. Bruce Ratner is playing out this same game with the New Jersey Nets. He bought the team with the sole purpose of creating a mammoth development in Brooklyn with an arena, apartment buildings, and retail. The focus has been on his project, not the team for the past 5 years, as he has battled court cases, had his staff strike landmark sponsorship deals, hired and then fired a well-known architect, and for better or worse stirred controversy. Meanwhile, the team was forced to cut expenses and trade its best players, and is losing over $40 million a year. Admittedly, they probably needed to make the trades and start over from a player development perspective, but the franchise is in a holding pattern. Everything centers around “when the Nets move to Brooklyn” – the free agents will come, fans will come, profits will come.

The deal may never happen. Ratner reportedly wants to sell, another indication it will never happen. If that’s the case, they are stuck in the Meadowlands losing boat loads of money and have basically lost the last 5 years when they could have addressed the situation because Ratner was trying to leverage the team for a project to benefit his business.

Owners with real estate motives destroy franchises, then leave the problem to the next person. The franchise suffers, the league suffers, the fans suffer, and the players probably suffer. Given their control over the situation, leagues should recognize this type of deal and either prevent it or put stipulations in that prevent an owner from leveraging a franchise for real estate, ruining the team in the process, then walking out on it. The leagues should blame themselves – and do something about it.


NoLandGrab: He means you, David Stern.

Posted by eric at 11:10 PM

June 15, 2009

Wedding bells

Bleed Scarlet

The Rutgers University sports fan site has this to say about the Nets' owner.

Is it possible at this point not to hate Bruce Ratner and his Major League-level nefarious scheming? Now the architects are mad at his plans for moving the Nets to Brooklyn.


Posted by eric at 9:46 PM

June 11, 2009

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross ranks No. 2 in real estate “Power 100”

The Business of Sports [The Sun-Sentinel]

The New York Observer’s latest Power 100 ranking of “The Most Powerful People in New York Real Estate,” places Dolphins owner Stephen M. Ross No. 2, behind only… President Barack Obama.
Two other sports team owners made the list: New Jersey Nets owner Bruce Ratner, who is still trying to develop Atlantic Yards with a new Nets arena in Brooklyn, fell from No. 8 last year to No. 23 this year; and New York Jets owner Woody Johnson ranks No. 68, as board president of luxury co-op 834 Fifth Avenue.


Posted by lumi at 5:15 AM

June 4, 2009

The Power 100: The Most Powerful People in New York Real Estate

An Observer List! Who Runs This Town?

NY Observer

The Observer has updated its list of the most powerful people in New York real estate, and Bruce Ratner's not half the titan he used to be.

No. 23: Bruce Ratner (2008: 8)

CEO of Forest City Ratner

He controls prime real estate in downtown Brooklyn and has two architecturally distinct new Manhattan towers, one unfinished. But his real test will be whether he can cobble together the money and political support to launch the project that has defined Forest City for the past half-decade: Atlantic Yards.

Here's the complete list.

Atlantic Yards Report, The Observer's Power 100: Ratner drops down the list; Gehry, Oder, Lipsky drop out

Norman Oder, no longer among the powerful, runs down the notables.

Last year, according to the New York Observer's quite arbitrary list of the 100 Most Powerful People in New York Real Estate, Bruce Ratner was #8, Frank Gehry was #51, and I was number #77.

Things sure change. Ratner has dropped to #23 in The Power 100: The Most Powerful People in New York Real Estate, indicating uncertainty about Atlantic Yards, and Gehry and I have been dropped from the list--as has lobbyist Richard Lipsky, who snarked at my selection.

Well, Gehry appears to be off Atlantic Yards. And I sure can't be too powerful if elected officials holding an oversight hearing don't bother to consult the questions I've publicly posed.

Posted by eric at 7:48 AM

May 31, 2009

Ratner's hardball pays off: construction resumes at the Beekman Tower

Atlantic Yards Report

The construction workers cheering for Atlantic Yards on Friday probably don't embrace the developer's hardball tactics to reduce construction costs at two extant projects.

After all, FCR stopped work halfway through the construction process of the Beekman Tower in lower Manhattan, what the New York Times calls an effort to "desperately sought to cut costs on the project."

In an article Friday headlined Savings on Labor Allow Work on Residential Skyscraper to Resume, the Times reported that work resumed this week, just as abruptly as it stopped.

The key: a cut in labor costs and cheaper construction materials and appliances. Among the other projects helped by a new agreement with unions is the tower under construction at 80 DeKalb Avenue.


Posted by steve at 8:00 AM

May 25, 2009

Ratner, Botstein and Gehry: birds of a feather

Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

An unrepentant Marxist, blogger, and Bard College alum notes that Bruce Ratner was recently appointed a trustee of his alma mater.

In a tiny announcement, the magazine informed its readers that “Bruce C. Ratner, director of Forest City Enterprises, was appointed to the Board of Trustees.” Right off the bat, I had to assume that Ratner was cut from the same cloth as Asher Edelman, Susan Weber (George Soros’s ex-wife), and Charles P. Stephenson Jr. He was likely to have made his money through some ill-gotten gains or to have come by it through marriage as Susan Weber and fellow board member and ultra-Zionist Martin Peretz did. Edelman, a Bard graduate who the Gordon Gekko character in Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street” was based on, used to be a business partner of corporate raider Stephenson before the threat of arrest for insider trading forced him to relocate to Europe and out of the securities business.


NoLandGrab: Proyect's on the right track with his hunch about ill-gotten gains, but he's a little shaky when it comes to other details, like the idea that community opposition forced the Atlantic Yards project to relocate from Prospect Heights to Downtown Brooklyn. Score one for Ratner's public relations effort!

Posted by eric at 11:29 AM

May 22, 2009

The face of overdevelopment

stefano giovannini’s journals

Bruce Ratner - developer - 80 DeKalb event


Brownstoner, >80 Dekalb Tops Out

B-Stoner's invitation to the toppipng out probably got lost in the mail.

Posted by eric at 9:10 PM

80 DeKalb Avenue

Photo, Tracy Collins, via flickr Atlantic Yards Photo Pool

Photog Tracy Collins tried to gain entry to the topping-out ceremony for Forest City Ratner's 80 DeKalb Avenue project (this was a case of the topping-out actually being at the top, unlike Ratner's Beekman Tower, which may or may not have been topped-out at its original half-way point), but his "I'm with Atlantic Yards Report" didn't seem to sway security. Wonder why not?

Anyway, his long lens managed to capture Forest City's Les Deux Bruces, Ratner and Bender, trailing, we think, MaryAnne Gilmartin. And other luminaries were on hand, as well.

More coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Tracy Collins on the block: a curious new condo at 499 Dean and a topping-out moment at 80 DeKalb

Posted by eric at 9:01 AM

May 13, 2009

Fight night

The Brooklyn Paper, Police Blotter
by Mike McLaughlin

More true crime from Bruce Ratner's formerly crime-free Atlantic Center mall.


A man trying to break up a brawl outside the Atlantic Center mall was hospitalized after a blow to his head with a glass bottle on May 5.

Lost their shirts

A known shoplifter escaped from Old Navy on Atlantic Avenue with 60 shirts on April 30.

Video surveillance showed the “known booster” loading up with about $1,470 of merchandise at 2:30 pm from the retailer in the Bruce Ratner-owned mall between Fort Greene Place and South Portland Avenue.

Posted by eric at 4:37 PM

April 21, 2009

Cold crime — Unbelievable!

The Brooklyn Paper Police Blotter

This Atlantic Center Mall swindle took place a couple months ago, but we just had to reproduce it here, since it's actually a parable.

One man, in his 40s, approached the woman and asked her for directions in the Bruce Ratner-owned galleria between Fort Greene Place and South Portland Avenue at 4:45 pm. Then, the accomplice joined the conversation and showed off documents that supposedly indicated that he would receive an $81,000 settlement from a car accident.

But the sharpie said he can’t bring money back to his unidentified home country and instead planned to give it to charity. He also said he’d give tens of thousands of dollars to the woman (who, for some reason, did not find this hard to believe).

At this point, the supposed benefactor asked the mark to take him to a bank because he’s never seen American money. The woman then withdrew $2,000 from a Court Street bank, a ceremony that was followed by dinner at McDonald’s with the two confidence men.

In the fast food restaurant, the older of the two con artists intoned a prayer over the greenbacks, wrapped the bills in a cloth and returned the bundle to the woman.

Hours after the “chance” encounter began, the lady took the sanctified cash to her church to donate it, only to unwrap the cloth to find that the scammers had pulled the old switcheroo and left her with old newspapers.


NoLandGrab: Substitute Bruce Ratner and the ESDC for the two perps, the people of Brooklyn for the vic, a billion dollars in public subsidies for the cash, and a basketball arena for the old newspapers, and — voila! — you have the great Atlantic Yards swindle!

Posted by eric at 11:54 AM

April 14, 2009

Nadler, ACORN and the Working Families Party: No Credible Evidence?

Anita MonCrief

The ACORN whistleblower connects the dots between ACORN, NY Congressman Jerrold Nadler, and... Atlantic Yards developer Bruce C. Ratner.

Over the past several weeks, ACORN has been in the news regarding the startling call by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) for a hearing on ACORN after Heather Heidelbaugh read my testimony into record at a hearing on April 2, 2009. However, “House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) shut down a request by Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) to launch an investigation into ACORN, with Nadler citing not enough “credible evidence” to proceed.”

Interestingly enough Nadler has also received donations from Bruce Ratner and his brother Michael (who has sat on boards and panels with Nadler). As Norman Oder explained in his Atlantic Yards Report, the Ratners and ACORN have quite a lot of negative history with the residents of Brooklyn.


Posted by eric at 1:28 PM

April 5, 2009

CULTURE: The Abyssinian Baptist Church

H A R L E M + B E S P O K E

The iconic Harlem house of worship gets a rap on the knuckles over its choice of friends.

The church would become the most powerful Baptist church in the city and has since used its coffers to acquire property in the past several decades. New malls by controversial developer Bruce Ratner, favoritism to large scale construction with disregard to historic conservation, and the neglect of the Renaissance Ballroom has spurred some criticism on the direction of the church's future.


Posted by eric at 10:20 PM

April 1, 2009

Mail's In (Scorched Earth Edition)

The Star-Ledger
By Dave D'Alessandro

From sports writer Dave D'Alessandro's Q&A mailbag column in yesterday's Star-Ledger:


Dave: Reading the piece on Gehry himself disclaiming the building of the atlantic yards (and to a larger degree, the Nets' eventually move there), do you in the media share our ground-level fan's perspective that Ratner, in refuting all these claims, is basically the new information minister of Iraq, loudly claiming victory & mass suicide by his country's oppressors as bombs are going off a few yards behind him, and Iraqi forces are openly retreating? On a scale of 1 to 10, how accurate would you rate the idea that the Nets are in the Prudential Center in the next 2 years? Dave Barrett

David: Thanks. The image of Bruce as Baghdad Bob is something the Home Office has already turned into a new marketing campaign ("Come for the basketball, stay for the sorties"). But as for credibility, let's try to maintain some perspective here: One guy's a businessman, the other one was a 21st century Goebbels. OK, sometimes we can't always tell the difference. But to cut to the chase: I doubt the Nets will consider Prudential (for 10-11) unless something bizarre happens during those three preseason games next October, or they recognize it as a viable place to crash because it can significantly slice their $25-35M annual deficit.

Posted by lumi at 4:01 AM

March 28, 2009

A Short Look At Bruce Ratner's Credibility on Atlantic Yards

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

On March 21, 2008 in The New York Times Bruce Ratner expressed confidence:

...[Bruce Ratner] did say he was confident about starting construction on a $950 million basketball arena for the Nets by the end of the year. The arena was to be surrounded by the office tower, known as Miss Brooklyn, and three residential buildings in the first phase of the project. ...

It is March 2009. Not only has the "developer" not started construction on his billion dollar arena, but he doesn't own the land or have the financing to start.

The article, "Slow Economy Likely to Stall Atlantic Yards," continued.

...In another indication of the problems facing the project, Forest City recently sent a letter signed by the project’s celebrity architect, Frank Gehry, to chief executives of many of the city’s biggest corporations, inviting them to become a tenant in the “centerpiece of the project,” Miss Brooklyn. It was originally scheduled to be completed in July 2009..

What a difference a year makes. Last March Frank Gehry was signing direct mail solicitations to find an anchor tenant for his client's office tower.

Just this last week, Frank Gehry said about Atlantic Yards: "I don't think it's going to happen." And his client Bruce Ratner, trying to do damage control, called Gehry his "friend," but did not deny the obvious—his Atlantic Yards star architect was no longer working on his project.


Posted by steve at 6:45 AM

February 1, 2009

Forty years later, Joe Namath's still Super

NY Daily News
Mike Lupica

If Bruce Ratner scales down his own business model on that great, big, change-the-skyline plan for the Nets and Atlantic Yards, it's going to resemble a model train set.


Posted by amy at 10:39 AM

January 25, 2009

Alonzo Mourning's legacy not so stellar outside South Florida

Palm Beach Post
By Chris Perkins

Miami Heat basketball star Alonzo Mourning announced his retirement from professional basketball this past Thursday. Mourning's career outside of Miami is the focus of this article. Here is further confirmation that the New Jersey Nets are just part of the scheme by developer Bruce Ratner to win support for the proposed Atlantic Yards project.

In July 2003, Mourning departed the lowly Heat - remarking he didn't owe the franchise anything - and signed with title-contending New Jersey as an unrestricted free agent. But things soon went awry in New Jersey (owner Bruce Ratner didn't want to pay to keep center-forward Kenyon Martin or swingman Kerry Kittles) and when it seemed the Nets were finished throwing money around in pursuit of a title, Mourning, who went there to win a title, forced his exit.

He made life miserable for the Nets, spouting off to the media at every opportunity. Remarking on a conversation he had with Ratner, Mourning said, "I asked him, 'Other than your investment in this team for financial purposes - obviously getting a significant return - what's the reason why you bought the team?' " "And you ask anybody in here," Mourning continued, "he said, 'To move it to Brooklyn.' I mean, I didn't hear, 'To win a championship.' "I just shook my head."


Posted by steve at 7:16 AM

January 24, 2009

The weekly wrap-up, January 23

New York Post

This week we learned that...

... Bruce Ratner isn't quite so excited about this Atlantic Yards thing anymore.


Posted by steve at 8:20 AM

January 23, 2009

Happy Bruce Day!

From Wikipedia (emphasis added):

Bruce Ratner (born January 23, 1945 in Cleveland, Ohio) is president and CEO of Forest City Ratner, the New York division of Forest City Enterprises, which is based in Cleveland. Ratner was New York City's most active real estate developer during the 1990s. Ratner graduated cum laude from Harvard University in 1967 and graduated from Columbia Law School in 1970.

After obtaining his J.D. Ratner became the director of a Model Cities program for the Lindsay administration in New York City. Subsequently he served in the capacity of chief of the Consumer Protection Division in the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs under Mayor Ed Koch in 1978.

In 1992, Crain's New York Business selected Ratner as the top New York City executive in the fields of real estate, finance and insurance. His projects generally involve large public subsidies, but to his credit has only once used the power of eminent domain.

NoLandGrab: "Only once used the power of eminent domain"?


As a birthday tribute, maybe the Bruce Ratner Fan Club can get crackin on that Wikipedia entry.

Posted by lumi at 5:48 AM

December 2, 2008

You Don’t Have to Be Rich to Get Into the Holiday Mood in Brooklyn

Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Compiled by Mary Frost

The economy may be tanking, but enjoying the holidays doesn’t have to be an expensive proposition. With tree lighting ceremonies, snowflake celebrations, winter craft fairs and free musical performances, everyone can have a great time in Brooklyn this season.

MetroTech Tree Lighting Ceremony
MetroTech Commons Associates kicks off the holiday season on Wed., Dec. 3, 4:30 – 5:45 p.m. by lighting a 50’ Colorado blue spruce tree decorated with white lights and red ribbons. Attendees will be entertained with performances by the Joey Morant & Catfish Stew and The All City High School Chorus plus special performances by a soloist from the Brooklyn Music School and the kids of P.S. 58. Santa Claus has scheduled an appearance to hand out candy canes to children in attendance. Bruce Ratner, President and CEO of Forest City Ratner Companies hosts the festivities. Mike Weiss, executive director of the MetroTech BID, is the emcee.


NoLandGrab: We know nothing gets us into the holiday spirit like watching the Grinch Who Stole Prospect Heights lighting his phony tree at MetroTech.

We also don't know what they're feeding that tree, but the Brooklyn Paper described it a couple weeks ago as being 15 feet tall, not 50.

Posted by eric at 1:56 PM

November 28, 2008

The cozy relationship between Sheldon Silver, the Met Council, and Bruce Ratner

Atlantic Yards Report

I know I'm late on this, but let's take another look at the cozy relationship between Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, and developer Forest City Ratner. There's nothing illegal, just another episode of the questionable one-hand-washes-the-other power configuration that seems so prevalent in the city and state.

Silver says that those who care about process are "naive." Perhaps that's also his message for those who had hoped he'd ask hard questions about Atlantic Yards.

Each year the Met Council holds a "Builder's Luncheon" to honor someone in the real estate field and raise funds for its supportive housing initiatives. This year's event, as the Council's widely-reported press release stated, raised $1 million and honored Bruce Ratner:
Numerous other elected and appointed officials were present as the keynote speaker, Speaker of the Assembly Sheldon Silver, presented Mr. Ratner with a beautifully decorated charity box.

That gets the developer, Silver, and the Met Council some nice publicity for a relatively small amount of money, even while the developer and Assembly Speaker deal in much larger sums for a project in which affordable housing does not come first.


Posted by eric at 9:41 AM

November 21, 2008

NY State Budget Crisis

mole333 via Daily Gotham

Politics blogger mole333 lists re-thinking government-sponsored development projects among his ideas for dealing with New York State's budget crisis. Can you guess the identity of his poster-child for wasteful development schemes?

Sane Development. This state and city has a bad habit of pouring money into ill conceived development projects with little oversight. They do this largely based on promises of affordable housing. Yet there are few guarantees that these promises will ever be carried out. Bruce Ratner is merely the most obvious and egregious example, using his connections and family donations to Pataki, Bloomberg, Vito Lopez, etc. to get massive amounts of tax money from the people of NYC and NY State. Yet he is now saying he will largely back out of all promises regarding affordable housing. In the end, these development projects become more about patronage and political donations than about improving our city, and taxpayer money is wasted with little return for the community. The job creation is anaemic, the affordable housing non-existant or not affordable, and the only people to benefit are the developer and his political cronies. I am for devlopment if it is sane development, and I am for giving tax breaks to developers if they make enforceable promises and are held accountable if they don't keep them. But this habit of giving development projects to a low bidder, paying for his land purchase anyway, pouring tax money into his pockets, then getting nothing out of it is a huge waste of our time and money.


Posted by eric at 2:17 PM

November 7, 2008

Wrong Ratner...

BrettRatner.jpg The Moscow News Weekly reported that, "Late last month, Yahoo! Sports reported that the New Jersey Nets might be up for sale, and that owner Brett Ratner has been entertaining some interesting offers."

Brett Ratner is a hot movie director, Bruce Ratner is an overdeveloper (not hot)... none of whom are related to financier Steven Rattner.

Posted by lumi at 4:37 AM

November 5, 2008

Bruce Ratner Votes Obama

NY Observer
by Lydia Depillis

Bruce Ratner, president and CEO of Forest City Ratner, via a spokesman: "He enthusiastically voted for Barack Obama."


NoLandGrab: The bottom line for Bruce isn't blue or red — it's green.

Posted by eric at 9:54 AM

November 1, 2008

Construction Watch: Ratner's Big Kondylis Rising in BK


With all the Bruce Ratner talk that swirls around Atlantic Yards, there's a forgotten Ratner. This is it. It's 80 Dekalb Aveue, just a block in from Flatbush and it will be a 34-story Costas Kondylis-designed glass number straddling the Fort Greene-Downtown Border. When all is said and done the Ratner-Kondylis tower will have 292 units, 73 of them "affordable" housing. Oh, yeah, and the devleopment got $109.5 million in tax-exempt bonds and $27.5 million in taxable bonds.


Posted by amy at 10:16 AM

October 30, 2008

Ratner no king for queens

The Brooklyn Papers
By Sarah Portlock

Here's the story of one community group that didn't suck up to Ratner:

Brooklyn’s gay community is moving forward with a plan to create a community center in or near Downtown, even without promised space from developer Ratner.

Last year, Ratner and Borough President Markowitz had discussed providing space for the “Brooklyn Pride Community Center” in a Ratner-owned building Downtown, but the Lambda Independent Democrats, a gay political group, had a falling out with the Atlantic Yards developer and his chief cheerleader over suspicion that gays would need to support the mega-project in exchange for getting the community center.

Now, organizers of the pride center are moving full-steam ahead without Ratner.


Posted by lumi at 4:26 AM

October 28, 2008

Sources: Foreign owners eye Nets

Yahoo! Sports
by Adrian Wojnarowski

Could Atlantic Yards become "Caspian Yards" or "Persian Gulf Yards?" One thing we do know — those repeated denials of Nets' sale talks are starting to ring hollow.

With tens of millions of dollars in annual operating losses and a $3.5 billion Brooklyn arena and real estate deal in peril, New Jersey Nets owner Bruce Ratner has listened to overtures of two prospective foreign ownership groups, two league executives with knowledge of the talks told Yahoo! Sports.

The most serious advance, sources say, were made in recent months by Russian oligarchs, tycoons invested in the country’s oil industry. The Russians’ working plan would’ve been for full ownership of the Nets and control of the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, one source said.

Also, a Middle Eastern group, based in Dubai, expressed interest to the NBA and Nets ownership.

So far, Ratner has resisted selling the franchise as he tries to revive the floundering arena project in Brooklyn. Most league officials have grown increasingly pessimistic that the economic climate will allow Ratner to obtain the hundreds of millions of dollars left to finance the construction. [NBA commissioner David] Stern declared optimism about the Nets getting the arena financed and moving to Brooklyn, but many others believe the situation is dire and ultimately unlikely to happen.


Posted by eric at 11:32 PM

October 27, 2008

...and your little dog too!

yourlittledogtoo.jpg Seen at yesterday's Fort Green Pups Costume Contest, an eminent-domain-lovin' overdeveloper and his political lap dog.

Full photo.

Posted by lumi at 8:00 AM

October 24, 2008

Number 1: Bruce Ratner


No matter how one may feel about him or his Atlantic Yards project, there's little doubt that Bruce Ratner is deserving of the #1 spot on the "Most Influential" list.


Anyone capable of sequestering $2 billion in public subsidies and 22 acres of private and public land (most through voluntary purchase and MTA approval, but some through still-pending eminent domain) for a single project, Atlantic Yards, has influence and then some. But even Bruce Ratner, president of Forest City Ratner, may not be mightier than a crash in the financial market, though he recently managed to fit through a loophole in the IRS’s tougher arena financing regulations. If built, Atlantic Yard's basketball arena and high-rises will change life in Brooklyn forever. If not, it could be "Atlantic Lots," blighting Brooklyn for a decades. Ratner is also responsible for three other local game-changers: Metro Tech, Atlantic Center and Terminal, and Lowe's (the first big box store in Gowanus), but his bid to build the tallest tower in Brooklyn, City Tech, fell through. At least his rental tower at 80 Dekalb looks to be on track.


NoLandGrab: This is not Bruce Ratner's first #1 hit.

Posted by eric at 12:14 PM

October 22, 2008

Tax-Exempt Bonds: The Evening Wrap

Here's the rundown on today's coverage of the IRS's decision to tighten a "loophole" on the use of PILOTs to finance arenas and stadia — only the Yankees, Mets and, maybe, the Nets, have slipped the knot.


Gothamist, Atlantic Yards Project Gets Big Bond Break from IRS

These New York teams may be hard-pressed to find investors who will buy the bonds, given the current Wall Street turbulence. Not so incidentally, the ruling comes four days before Yankees president Randy Levine and city officials are expected to testify at a Congressional hearing investigating the tax-exempt financing of the new $1.3 billion Yankee Stadium. Representative Dennis Kucinich, who is holding the hearing Friday, has threatened to prosecute officials if they lied about the value of the land the new stadium occupies.

State Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, a Westchester Democrat, slammed the IRS decision, telling the Times and the AP, "This is the same kind of socialism for the rich, and capitalism for the rest of us that’s gotten us into the current economic mess...The rules don't apply if you've got enough juice."

Curbed, Atlantic Yards Crap Tossing V.3.5: Financing Edition

The IRS issued a ruling yesterday that has monstrously huge implications for anyone that will ever want to build a stadium or arena ever again (don't go to sleep yet...this is big). You wouldn't know it in NYC, though, because even though it impacts the new Yankee Stadium and Citi Field, it's playing out as an Atlantic Yards story. At issue is whether tax-free financing can be used to build Frank Gehry's $950 million arena. (Leaving aside the issue as to anyone will ever finance a facility that is sure to go above $1 billion given traditional Gehry cost overruns in the middle of one of the most massive credit meltdowns in history.) The ruling creates a loophole for projects that are "substantially in progress," while banning it for new ones.

The Angry New Yorker, Tax Free Stadiums

Hey if I want to build myself a new house, think I can get me some tax free bonds to pay for it?

Brownstoner, Treasury Dept. Hooks Up Ratner Big-Time

One potential snag for FCR: The new regs require that the bonds be issued by December 31, 2009.

Gowanus Lounge, So, Does Mr. Ratner Get Tax-Free Bonds for Atlantic Yards?

The key phrase is that it grandfathers in projects “substantially in progress.” We can see lawyers and bureaucrats arguing this point about Atlantic Yards until we live in Green-Wood Cemetery.

Be sure to check out Gowanus Lounge's reflections on the ethics of subsidizing arenas.

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Ratner Spokesman Vs. Treasury Department Spokesman on IRS Regulation

Bloomberg News, New York Yankees, Mets Get Approval for Tax-Exempt Bond Funding

Village Voice [Runnin' Scared blog], Atlantic Yards Gets Tax Break, Or Not

The Times spoke to Daniel Goldstein of DDDB, who "said it appeared to him that federal tax officials went out of their way to help the developer," the paper writes, "which he said 'makes no sense' when the federal government is in the midst of a costly bailout of the banking industry." Actually it does make sense: the bailout is an attempt by the powerful to restore a failed, obviously unsustainable confidence scheme to viability; this tax break (if it is a tax break), ditto.

Posted by eric at 9:18 PM

Bailout! Feds save Ratner millions with new ruling

The Brooklyn Paper
by Sarah Portlock

"Joe the Plumber" has been all the rage for the past week. Now, courtesy of the U.S. Treasury Department, we bring you "Bruce the Plunderer."


The Treasury Department has bailed out Bruce Ratner.

In a much-anticipated ruling issued late Monday, the federal agency exempted Ratner’s Atlantic Yards project from a ruling that bars the use tax-free bonds to finance stadium projects.

Atlantic Yards was apparently exempted because it is “substantially in progress” — a term defined as having received “preliminary approval of the government” and involved “significant expenditures” before Oct. 19, 2006; and having a finance plan in place that contemplated the use of tax-free bonds.

“It’s a slight of hand that allows the city to stick it to taxpayers on behalf of developers,” said Neil DeMause, author of “Field of Schemes,” which focuses on the massive public cost of stadium financing.


Posted by eric at 1:11 PM

October 21, 2008


NY Post
by Rich Calder

The Nets have yet to start building their long-delayed Brooklyn arena, but team brass are breaking ground on posh playgrounds at public schools.

The first of eight being funded with $150,000 from Nets owner Bruce Ratner and Barclays Bank, which has naming rights to the new arena, is set to be unveiled today at PS 19 in Williamsburg.


Posted by eric at 10:59 AM

October 20, 2008

Ivanka Trump: the New Face of Tacky?

New York Magazine


The Daily Intel has changed its mind about Ivanka Trump, officially dubbing her tacky. The tipping point was her new line of microwave meals, but they cite ample previous evidence (emphasis, ours):

...we're going to go out on a limb to say most of the brands Ivanka has shilled for have fallen on the wrong side of tacky.

For instance:

Jewelry line (as seen on Home Shopping Network)
Zone Diets
Quattro, a restaurant in Miami
Fox Business Network
Bruce Ratner
Celebrity Apprentice
Trump SoHo
Trump Casinos
Donald Trump

Gross, right?


NoLandGrab: They said it, not us.

Posted by eric at 9:19 PM

Brooklyn Miracle: Slowest Project Inches Forward Overnight



Was it just last week that this structure on Flatbush Avenue, across the street from our beloved One Hanson was kinda', sorta' noted as perhaps one of the slowest moving projects ever seen in Brooklyn. Slow enough to make a Shaya Boymelgreen condo look like the fastest building to go up in human history? Well, lo and behold, the scaffolding hiding the thing came down between Wednesday and Saturday. The bad news comes in two parts. First, the thing looks like it's going to be fugly with a capital "F." Second, with the scaffolding gone, it's easy to see that there's another 25 years of work, give or take, mostly give, remaining to be done. By the way, it will eventually the entrance to the Long Island Railroad Terminal at Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Center.


NoLandGrab: That's actually Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Terminal mall. The Atlantic Center is the god-awful mall across the way.

Posted by eric at 9:04 PM

Doctoroff antagonist Carter wins NY Post Liberty Medal, chosen (in part) by Ratner

Atlantic Yards Report

Among the winners of the New York Post's seventh annual Liberty Medals, "a program that hails the hometown heroes whose can-do attitude, bravery and generosity give the city its unique spirit," under the category Lifetime Achievement, is Majora Carter, founder of Sustainable South Bronx, and a fervent foe of former Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Dan Doctoroff.

Among the "distinguished panel of New Yorkers" who selected the winners was Bruce Ratner, President and CEO of Forest City Ratner Companies. Did Ratner vote for her?


Posted by eric at 9:53 AM

October 19, 2008

Barry Bonds' desperate swing

NY Daily News
Mike Lupica

The politicians, wearing their old Dodgers caps like the Nets were going to be playing in some modern version of Ebbets Field, wanted to do everything for Ratner but build a statue outside the basketball arena that would be surrounded by all the high rises.

Only it was never about the Nets.

It was about the property.

About Ratner's vision of those high rises.

Only now, all this time later, Ratner has the shorts, the way a lot of rich guys do, and needs help from government on this deal.

The way a lot of rich guys do.

And a shovel still doesn't go into the ground where the Nets arena is supposed to be.

You know why?

Because Ratner has been the one shoveling something from the start.


Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn says Lupica "is right on target when he wonders where 'fiscally responsible' Bloomberg and 'reformer' Paterson are on Atlantic Yards. As we have said before, and Lupica says now, reform in New York State begins with the Atlantic Yards project. New Yorkers need to hear from the Mayor and"

From Atlantic Yards Report:

Lupica's right in noting that the developer wants more subsidies. The mayor has been a big Atlantic Yards supporter, adding $105 million in new subsidies in 2007. His effort to have the City Council override voter-imposed term limits, as I've written, shares a spirit of backroom governance.

Paterson (whose name was misspelled) has been basically supportive of the project and, of course, his administration's Empire State Development Corporation is vigorously defending pending lawsuits. Perhaps one of them will cause him to question the state's finding of blight.

Posted by amy at 12:17 PM

October 18, 2008

Never Surrender

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

No one can accuse Downtown developer and New Jersey Nets owner Bruce Ratner of giving up easy. Though yet another court ruling has delayed his plans to begin construction on the state-of-the-art, $950-million, 18,000-seat Barclays Center, the Cleveland native refuses to let litigation or the crumbling economy, curb his enthusiasm for the project, which would pave the way for the arrival of our borough’s first major pro sports franchise since the Dodgers got shanghaied to Los Angeles in 1957.


Posted by amy at 9:32 AM

October 11, 2008

Ratner Contributions Questioned

NoLandGrab: A storm is brewing over at NetsDaily where a commenter makes the mistake of invoking Norman Oder's name, thus inviting himself to a thorough fact-checking:

Norman Oder says:

Since my name was invoked, I’ll agree that the project isn’t dead and, as I’ve written, if the tax-exempt bonds become available and legal challenges overcome *within a reasonable time*, Ratner certainly will build the arena.

By the same token, delay eventually will have its costs, given the effect on parent company Forest City Enterprises’ bottom line, especially if the stock continues to tank:

We just don’t know their decision-making process.


Posted by amy at 9:17 AM

October 10, 2008

Brooklyn BP Defends Donations From Atlantic Yards Developer



Markowitz defended the donations, saying that he has always been a proponent of this project and these contributions had no affect on his support.

"Make no mistake, I advocated for this project with no strings attached, no promise of any reciprocal support whatsoever," he said in a statement. "And I continue to do so adamantly because it will be a major catalyst for continuing what we call the 'Brooklyn Renaissance.'"


NoLandGrab: You say "Brooklyn Renaissance," we say "conflict of interest." Let's call the whole thing off!

And remember, when you point a finger, there are three fingers pointing right back at you.

More coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Post: FCR, allies funnel at least $680K to Markowitz's "pseudo campaign accounts"

NY Observer, Report: Atlantic Yards Backers Reward Markowitz Nonprofits

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Mega-bucks for Markowitz, Mega-project for Ratner

Posted by eric at 1:20 PM



NY Post
by Rich Calder and Chuck Bennett

All this time, we thought Marty Markowitz was all-in on Atlantic Yards because he missed the Dodgers so much. Wrong!

Being the biggest booster of Brooklyn's controversial Atlantic Yards project has really paid off for Borough President Marty Markowitz.

Since 2003, Nets owner Bruce Ratner and others involved in the $4 billion plan for an NBA arena and 16 apartment and office towers in the heart of Brooklyn have quietly funneled at least $680,000 to three nonprofit groups set up by Markowitz to run pet projects, a Post investigation found.

The pet projects -- which include promoting tourism and offering free concerts -- have been instrumental in boosting Markowitz's popularity and getting him re-elected, critics charge.

"Affiliated nonprofits should not be used as pseudo campaign accounts," said Dick Dadey, of the government watchdog group Citizens Union. "One could argue that these nonprofits raise the profile of the borough president in a way that certainly aids his possible campaigns."


Posted by eric at 1:06 PM

October 6, 2008

Season preview: New Jersey Nets
by Paul Forrester

Sports Illustrated is not high on the Nets' chances for the 2008-2009 season, listing the following at #2 under "reasons for worry":


Risky plan. The not-so-hidden subtext to the Nets' recent moves -- the trades of Kidd and Jefferson, the acquisition of Simmons, the stockpiling of draft picks -- is an expected push to lure LeBron in 2010. A key element to the effort is the Nets' supposed impending move to Brooklyn, where owner Bruce Ratner has been planning to build a new arena in the borough that LeBron playfully referred to as his favorite in New York. Originally set to open in 2006, the proposed arena has hit a number of legal snags, largely from community residents fighting the project. Now with the economy in a downward spiral, the financing for the $950 million initiative is in jeopardy. That could leave LeBron potentially playing in the swamps of New Jersey, which, as Kidd will attest, is a far cry from the headlines of New York City. We'd assume the front office hasn't placed all his eggs in the LeBron basket, because if the arena falls through, the Nets will need a Plan B.


NoLandGrab: Attention Bruce Ratner — in case of emergency, click here for Plan B.

Posted by eric at 9:51 PM

September 30, 2008

Which New York Buildings Would You Demolish?

City Room {NY Times Blog]
by Sewell Chan

The Times's blog picks up on a weekend article by architecture critic Nicolai Ourousoff pondering whether some New York City buildings are so ugly they should be torn down, and cites an amNY list compiled in June.

The story reprises that amNY list, which included one of Bruce Ratner's lovely Brooklyn malls, but adds an odd parenthetical note:

Atlantic Center (giant mixed-use project), Fort Greene and Prospect Heights, Brooklyn


NoLandGrab: Actually, the Atlantic Center is just a crappy mall. However, we could all save New York City the trouble of having to tear down Bruce Ratner's "giant mixed-use" Atlantic Yards project by stopping the white elephant from ever being built in the first place.

Posted by eric at 3:35 PM

September 29, 2008

Atlantic Yards Faces Another Delay

City Room [NY Times Blog]
by Charles Bagli

The developer of the ambitious Atlantic Yards arena and residential complex in Brooklyn said Monday that the project could be delayed for another six months after a state appellate court failed to dismiss a court challenge brought by opponents of the $4 billion project.

Earlier this month, the developer Bruce C. Ratner vowed that he would break ground in December on the long delayed project, where he plans to build an office tower, 15 apartment buildings and a basketball arena for the Nets.

The developer has fended off a number of lawsuits brought by critics of the project over the past two years. He and state officials had expected that the state Appellate Court would also dismiss the latest suit, which sought to block the state from using eminent domain to seize private property for Mr. Ratner’s project.

Instead, the court denied a motion to dismiss the suit, opening the door for oral arguments in the case next spring.


NoLandGrab: Ratner and the Empire State Development Corporation rolled the dice, and they crapped out. If they hadn't gambled on a dismissal, they could have moved the case along much more quickly. Is it possible that deteriorating conditions in the lending market forced them into making a bad bet?

More coverage..., Barclays deals with Lehman staff, plans to hire 1,500 more

Off the beaten track, Barclays gave a shout-out to Brooklyn, saying it remains committed to a proposed basketball arena at the Atlantic Yards despite an unfavorable court ruling on the $950 million project.

Runnin' Scared [Village Voice blog] Setback for Atlantic Yards: Motion to Dismiss Denied

The Stop Shopping Monitor, Major setback for Atlantic Yards

Newark Star-Ledger, Nets' move to Brooklyn may face further delay

The Knickerblogger, Ratner Suffers Setback, the Conspiracy Theory Version

Posted by eric at 5:48 PM

Barclays committed to Brooklyn arena

Court setback imperils Atlantic Yards ground breaking but bank statement is a boost.

Crain's NY Business
by Matthew Sollars

Barclays Bank says it is committed to the planned basketball arena at the Atlantic Yards project despite a court setback which imperils a planned ground breaking.

A state Appellate Court panel Monday rejected a plea by the state’s Empire State Development Corp. and Forest City Ratner to dismiss a lawsuit alleging the use of eminent domain violates the state constitution. A group of 9 property owners and tenants opposed to the project filed the state suit after a similar lawsuit arguing eminent domain violated the U.S. Constitution was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court in June.

“While the Appellate Division Second Department’s decision to hear the case may delay the project for approximately six months let me be clear that the project will go forward,” Mr. Ratner said, in a statement.

The developer also stressed that the project could boost the city during an economic downturn. "Atlantic Yards will be built and it will create thousands of needed jobs and affordable homes," he said.

Barclays Bank has agreed to pay an estimated $20 million per year for the naming rights to the proposed arena, and is believed to have a clause which allows it to back out the deal if construction on the arena is not started by the end of November.

“We look forward to breaking ground with our partners in Brooklyn,” said a Barclays spokesman.


NoLandGrab: Talk is cheap. Let's see what Barclays does when the end of November comes around — will they be donning hard hats and wielding silver shovels in Prospect Heights, or mailing in their cancellation notice while trying to grapple with the increasingly grave global financial crisis?

Posted by eric at 4:23 PM

August 29, 2008

Forest City in the News, Forest City Enterprises Notice of Second-Quarter 2008 Earnings Conference Call

Forest City Enterprises, Inc., (NYSE: FCEA and FCEB) will release its second-quarter 2008 financial results on Thursday, September 4, 2008 and will hold a conference call on Tuesday, September 9, 2008 at 11:00 a.m. ET to discuss these results. Investors are invited to dial into the conference call hosted by Charles A. Ratner, president and chief executive officer.

The conference call is scheduled for 11:00 A.M. ET, Tuesday, September 9, 2008. To participate, dial 888-713-4205 using access code 93455825, approximately five minutes before the call. Tell the operator you wish to join the Forest City 2nd Quarter Earnings Conference Call. (International callers, please dial 617-213-4862)

Five Towns Jewish Times, Met Council’s Annual Builder’s Luncheon Raises One Million Dollars

The Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty (Met Council) netted more than one million dollars the week after Tishah B’Av, during its annual Builder’s Luncheon honoring Bruce Ratner, chairman and CEO of Forest City Ratner Companies.

The nearly 500 guests spanned the real estate, political, and communal spectrum. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Congressman Anthony Weiner, and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz praised Mr. Ratner for his work in developing New York City. The keynote speaker, Speaker of the Assembly Sheldon Silver, presented Mr. Ratner with a beautifully decorated charity box.

Posted by lumi at 5:06 AM

August 27, 2008

Developers' Hazard: Legal Hardball

The New York Times
by David W. Dunlap

A recent dip into the archives of The New York Times unearthed an article on the effects of litigation on development in New York City, and interestingly, it features quotes from both Atlantic Yards (and then-Atlantic Center) developer Bruce Ratner and new Empire State Development Corporation CEO (and then-Boston development official) Marisa Lago.

Lawsuits are no longer last resorts. They are an integral part of the process. Litigation has altered the 42d Street redevelopment in Manhattan and the building of Atlantic Center in downtown Brooklyn; it has derailed other projects entirely, like Westway and Columbus Center, the previous proposal for the Coliseum site.

''It is almost impossible to finance a project when it's in litigation,'' said Bruce C. Ratner, president of Forest City Ratner Companies, which inherited Atlantic Center after the legal buffeting. ''Even if there's a remote chance that the plaintiffs will win, the banks are not going to lend the quantities of money required.''

NoLandGrab: Keep in mind that Bruce was saying this in 1996, when the economy was robust and the unforeseen global lending crisis was 11 years away.

There are cities, however, where land-use litigation is not commonplace. ''The ethos of suing on every project just hasn't occurred in Boston,'' said Marisa Lago, director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority and former general counsel of the New York Economic Development Corporation.

NLG: "Suing on every project" wouldn't be necessary if developers and economic-development officials would propose better-conceived projects, involve affected communities from the get-go, and eschew the use of eminent domain.


Posted by eric at 3:24 PM

August 24, 2008

Bruce Ratner’s 80 DeKalb Avenue by Costas Kondylis



Designed by Costas Kondylis, Bruce Ratner’s 80 DeKalb Avenue will be the developer’s first residential tower to rise in Brooklyn. The controversial Mr. Ratner will seek LEED certification for the $200 million project, claiming that the 34-story tower will incorporate a variety of low-VOC materials and use low-flow plumbing fixtures. The project broke ground back in July; earlier this week, Mr. Ratner closed on hard-to-obtain $110 million in tax-exempt bond financing from the New York State Housing Finance Agency for the tower, which will feature 73 affordable and 292 market-rate units. (Critics point out that this translates into a cost of $1.5 million in public money for each affordable unit).

NoLandGrab: See Atlantic Yards Report for "The reality behind FCR's 80 DeKalb deal (and the implication for AY)"

Posted by amy at 10:32 AM

August 22, 2008

Best of the Fests

Time Out New York

Reclusive Bruce is scheduled to be sighted at a Brighton Beach party.

Sunday 24
32nd annual Brighton Jubilee

Stuff yourself with borscht, blintzes, kebabs and more at this Little Odessa fest, which festival organizer Pat Singer calls a “real multicultural experience.” Offerings include rock & roll shows, a blood drive, and Atlantic Yards founder Bruce Ratner hanging with a “surprise” Nets player. Bring Carmelo to Brooklyn and we’ll shut up, okay? Brighton Beach Ave between Coney Island Ave and Corbin Pl, Brighton Beach, Brooklyn (718-891-0800). Subway: Q to Brighton Beach. 9am–7pm.


Posted by lumi at 3:55 AM

August 19, 2008

Met Council’s Annual Builder’s Luncheon Raises One Million Dollars

Jewish And Breaking News

The Jewish news blog posts what looks like the press release issued by the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty in the wake of its annual Builders Luncheon, which honored Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner.


Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty (Met Council) netted more than one million dollars this past week, during its annual Builder’s Luncheon honoring Bruce Ratner, Chairman and CEO of Forest City Ratner Companies.

The nearly 500 guests spanned the real estate, political and communal spectrum. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Congressman Anthony Weiner and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz praised Mr. Ratner for his work in developing New York City. The keynote speaker, Speaker of the Assembly Sheldon Silver, presented Mr. Ratner with a beautifully decorated charity box.

Speaker Silver commented in his address, “Bruce is responsible for much of the development and growth that’s gone on in Brooklyn and in Manhattan. He is a major force in New York City for the good.”


NoLandGrab: The "beautifully decorated charity box" presented to Mr. Ratner by Mr. Silver pales beside other gifts bestowed upon the developer by the Assembly Speaker, which include PACB approval in 2006 of the Atlantic Yards project and a special clause in 421-a legislation. But just in case you were thinking this was a one-way street, Ratner greased the Silver-controlled Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee with $58,000 just this past January.

Posted by eric at 2:19 PM

August 16, 2008

Brooklyn Broadside: David Walentas: Pioneer Of the New Brooklyn

Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Dennis Holt

When the last 30 years of Brooklyn history is written, it will dawn on someone to make note that Walentas was in Brooklyn before anyone had ever heard of Bruce Ratner, or Joshua Muss of Downtown fame to come, or Greg O’Connell of Red Hook.

Now, those who are contributing to the creation of the new Brooklyn bear corporate names that don’t have the same ring, and there’s no one answering the phone personally like Ratner and Muss used to do in the old days when almost everyone else thought these guys were nuts.
There aren’t many individuals around who can legitimately claim that they created a whole new neighborhood. Ratner, Muss and O’Connell can, but not quite in the way Walentas did. In effect, Walentas took what was already there, changed the innards, and people flocked there.

NoLandGrab: Ratner took what was already there, destroyed it, built something unpleasant, and the government bailed him out. Are we sure that it was only in the "old days" that everyone thought he was nuts?

Posted by amy at 3:05 PM

August 15, 2008

It came from the Blogosphere...


The Pressure Zone, stories 24 - 28: the whirlwind

NY Sun reporter Abe Reisman, who covers crime and emergencies for the paper and reported yesterday's story on the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty's honoring of Bruce Ratner, posted a run down of his recent bylines:

"Developer Bruce Ratner Is Honored at Gala" (not technically part of crime / emergency beat, but i did it in addition to all that)

NoLandGrab: "not technically part of crime / emergency beat," but damned close.

Nets Daily, Mayoral Candidates Praise Ratner

Mr NYC, War Over Willets Point

Every year or two an epic battle between developers and citizens erupts in New York City. There was the battle over the West Side Stadium in 2005 (which was killed) and then there was fight over the Atlantic Yards development project in Brooklyn (which wasn't killed) in 2006-2007. Now, in 2008, Willets Point in Queens is the new front is this perennial struggle.

NLG: But AY hasn't not been killed yet, either.

QUEENS CRAP, Monserrate Announces Legislation to Restrict Eminent Domain

Queens Crapper posts the press release from Councilman Hiram Monserrate outlining the eminent domain legislation he announced yesterday.

Posted by eric at 10:02 AM

August 14, 2008

Developer Bruce Ratner Is Honored at Gala

The New York Sun
by Abraham Riesman


Bruce Ratner, how do NYC pols love thee? Let us list the names.

Developer Bruce Ratner may be facing challenges to his Atlantic Yards project, but he received nothing but support from top New York politicians at a gala in his honor yesterday.

Rep. Anthony Weiner and the speaker of the City Council, Christine Quinn — both likely 2009 mayoral candidates — as well as Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and the President of Brooklyn, Marty Markowitz, all lauded Mr. Ratner at a luncheon held by the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty.

"Bruce Ratner is someone who reminds us all the time that, even in difficult financial times, we need to be a city that continues to grow," Mr. Weiner told an audience of more than 450 on the Upper West Side.

Mr. Ratner's proposed $4 billion redevelopment of Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards is currently facing delays and reported financial problems.

"How this man looks every day in a positive way at all the hate that's been directed to him, I will never know," Mr. Markowitz said of Mr. Ratner yesterday.


NoLandGrab: Well, if ever there were any doubt, we now know where Anthony Weiner, Chris Quinn and Shelly Silver stand vis-a-vis Bruce Ratner and Atlantic Yards. As for Mr. Markowitz and his "Saint Bruce" routine, he just doesn't get how people might think this project and the rigged process behind it could maybe rub people the wrong way. It ain't personal, Marty — it's a BAD IDEA.

Posted by eric at 9:30 AM

August 13, 2008

Events for Wednesday, August 13, 2008

BruceTheBuilder.jpg The Politicker

Noon. Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty honors Bruce Ratner as builder of the year at Tavern on the Green.


Note: Norman Oder reported today that a "Request for Funding Guidelines" for the Barclays/Nets Community Alliance was "handed out to some 50 community groups last week at a conference hosted by the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty."

Posted by lumi at 4:21 AM

August 11, 2008

Six Seconds with: Ted Allen

TedAllen-NYP.jpg NY Post: Page Six Magazine

According to Ted Allen, "best known for his Emmy-winning turn on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and serving as a regular guest judge on Top Chef," Bruce Ratner is #1:

Now he’s gone solo on the Food Network’s Food Detectives. “It’s like the show MythBusters but with food,” says Ted, 43, who’s been a New Yorker (via Chicago) since 2003 and lives in a landmarked brownstone in Clinton Hill.
Who’s the most annoying New Yorker? You could fill several phone books with that answer. It used to be Rudy Giuliani. Now [developer] Bruce Ratner is up there.


Posted by lumi at 5:05 AM

August 4, 2008

Nets Arena May Not Be Finished Until 2011, Ratner Says

The Real Estate [NY Observer]
by Eliot Brown


The news was first spotted by Norman Oder at his encyclopedic watchdog blog Atlantic Yards Report, where he put up part of a transcript from a Forest City conference in June [corrected]. In the conference, Forest City chairman Bruce Ratner said the company hoped to start construction on the arena by the end of this year, and would take two and a half years to finish.

We put the question over to Forest City this morning, and here's their response, via a statement from vice president Bruce Bender:

"It is not a new schedule. I think Bruce was just stating that the schedule in place is in fact very aggressive. We plan to break ground this fall and are working to open in calendar year 2010. While that's the goal, if it is not met then it would end up being calendar year 2011."


NoLandGrab: How's that? It's not a new schedule? It's just the same schedule with new dates? Right, and the arena actually opened in 2006, the date announced initially by Forest City Ratner when they first presented Atlantic Yards to the public in 2003.

As we pointed out this morning, Bruce Ratner had to hew to truthiness in talking to shareholders about the arena's opening. But since Bruce Bender was only responding to a press inquiry, he could, as is his wont, be a little more creative.

Once again, we extend our challenge to Forest City Ratner to tell it straight to anyone not carrying the big enforcement stick of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Posted by eric at 4:47 PM

It came from the Blogosphere...


The Real Estate [NY Observer], Landowners Bring Atlantic Yards Eminent Domain Battle to State Court

If anything else, the lawsuits thus far seem to have delayed the start of the more than $4 billion planned project, which calls for a new basketball arena for the Nets, and over 6,000 apartments. Now, more than a year and a half since the Atlantic Yards project received state approval, a host of clouds circle over developer Forest City Ratner, which once anticipated building the entire first phase (which includes the arena, an office tower and at least 1,000 units of housing) by 2010. The once-lush climate for financing has turned to an arid desert, tax-free housing bonds are in short supply given soaring demand, and the financing mechanism by which the company was to get tax-free bonds for the arena is under fire by the I.R.S., threatening to drive up costs by more than $100 million.

But if the landowners had an uphill climb challenging eminent domain in federal court, the ascent in New York state court is generally regarded as a particularly daunting one, given the relatively generous treatment to the state by New York's eminent domain law.

We're waiting on a statement from Forest City, but if history is any guide, the company will point out (correctly) that the courts have tossed all the lawsuits challenging the project to date.

The Campaign for Community-Based Planning, Checking in With Atlantic Yards: A Messy Footprint, a New Timetable, and a Lawsuit in State Supreme Court

It’s been a while since we’ve looked in on the Atlantic Yards project. Luckily, Norman Oder of the Atlantic Yards Report has been keeping vigilant watch over the goings-on at the site. Here’s a quick update...

Gowanus Lounge, Atlantic Yards Eminent Domain Case Filed in State Court

Brownstoner, Nets Coming Late to Atlantic Yards and Suit Coming Soon

Two new developments in the Atlantic Yards saga. Atlantic Yards Report reveals that the Nets have three more years at the Meadowlands' Izod Center, not two, meaning the 2010 opening date Bruce Ratner has been promoting may be nothing more than a pipe dream; we might be looking at 2012 for the team's debut. Besides the team's schedule, there's the issue of construction. Ratner tells some outlets that groundbreaking won't begin until January; to others, he says November.

As construction remains stalled at the site, a lawsuit goes forward. Nine property owners and tenants filed a petition against the Empire State Development Corporation in the Appellate Division Second Department of New York State Supreme Court.

Nets Daily, Has Ratner Pushed Barclays Center Opening to 2011?

brooklyn bob says:

And btw, a JULY OF 2011 barclays center opening is a BEST CASE SCENARIO that assumes no further legal delays, no financing/loan delays and no construction delays. Yeah, right. That’ll happen.

3 more 20-win seasons in the swamp, at least. With 4 more being a very real possibility. While at the same time, newark’s brand new state-of-the-art arena awaits an nba franchise with open arms.

What a bleeping disgrace!!! Way to go ratner. Way to go stern. You two sure know how to screw things up. No wonder the nba’s popularity is going to hell in a hand basket.

Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn, Atlantic Yards Eminent Domain Case Filed on Friday

Yonkers Tribune, Nine Property Owners and Tenants File Atlantic Yards Eminent Domain Challenge in New York State Court

RotoWorld, Nets may not move until 2011

Posted by eric at 12:46 PM

July 31, 2008

Who’ll Save New York? Paterson’s Possible Super-Friends

New York Magazine
by Alec Appelbaum

Bruce Ratner makes a cameo appearance in this Daily Intel piece on New York State's woeful fiscal woes (but he doesn't make the cut as a "super-friend").

Governor Paterson sat alone when he confessed the state's miserable financial condition yesterday, but he can't begin to fix the mess that way. Who really thinks the hog-tied State Legislature will solve the problem it created? The speech served as a Bat signal to stir powerful New Yorkers who can put the governor's urgent message into play. We've compiled a short list of possible super-friends.

Douglas Durst is a model developer for public-private partnerships. While Bruce Ratner probably has his calendar full with bended-knee visits to potential lenders and tenants, and other powerful developers are terrified about paying back existing loans, the civic-minded Durst is doing well enough — he can lean on a solid base of busy buildings — to step up.


NoLandGrab: Since Bruce's public-private "partnerships" are usually one-way streets (guess which way the benefits flow), we're glad he's not a super-friend. He remains, however, super in another away.

Posted by eric at 9:52 AM

July 21, 2008

Love, from New York

Biloxi Sun-Herald
by Anita Lee

"Kids rule," says a mural at the Coast's latest KaBOOM! playground, built Saturday.

One of those kids would be Michael Carajohn, a 16-year-old from New York whose mother is a plastic surgeon on Fifth Avenue, stepfather Bruce Ratner owns the New Jersey Nets basketball team, and aunt happens to be Fox News political correspondent and Talk Radio maven Ellen Ratner.

Even in this family, Carajohn is no slacker. He accompanied his aunt to Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina because the images he saw on television broke his heart.

"I've lived in New York all my life," Carajohn said. "I've never seen anything like that. It was inconceivable to me. I was shocked when I saw it on TV, but when I came down here, I was completely floored."

Carajohn has returned 30 times to help the community. What's more, he worked to get a basketball court built for the children of DeLisle.

On Saturday his aunt, mother and stepfather joined 377 volunteers who built the playground on the grounds of what will be the Marsha Barbour Community Resource Center.


NoLandGrab: Kudos to young Michael, his mother, and even stepfather Bruce for pitching in to help build a new playground along the still-ravaged Mississippi coast. Some Prospect Heights residents might be down there pitching in, too, if they weren't preoccupied with trying to stop Bruce from knocking down and rebuilding their own neighborhood.

Posted by eric at 3:10 PM

July 15, 2008

Developer Cuts Back on Plans for Tower to House Baseball’s Cable Network

The New York Times
by Charles Bagli

A 21-story office building planned in East Harlem for Major League Baseball is shrinking.

The tower’s developer, Vornado Realty Trust, had planned to begin construction in April on what would be the home for professional baseball’s newly created cable network, which is scheduled to make its debut in January with 50 million subscribers.

But, according to real estate executives and city officials, Vornado’s inability to finance the $435 million project, known as Harlem Park, has delayed construction and is doing what critics who had complained about the tower’s size could not: reduce its height by about a third. That is in part because the developer seems to have had problems signing up other tenants for the building.

Vornado is now considering a revised plan for a 14-story building at 125th Street and Park Avenue and renegotiating its lease with Major League Baseball, the executives and officials said.

It is the latest example of the difficulty developers have had in trying to borrow money for projects amid the national debt crisis, even projects that only a few months ago seemed to be on the fast track. After completing the excavation for his Beekman Tower project downtown, the developer Bruce Ratner had to stop work for three months while his company went from bank to bank putting together the construction financing.


NoLandGrab: Judging from the most recent developments in the financial and real estate markets, securing financing, especially for mega-projects, is going to get harder before it gets easier.

Posted by eric at 11:09 AM

July 13, 2008

Nets face lean years, Brooklyn or no Brooklyn
by Ian O'Connor

Let us get this straight. Bruce Ratner says it's "100% about basketball" at the same time that he's scuttling Nets' salaries faster than he's knocking down buildings in Prospect Heights. All so the team can position itself to sign Jay-Z protege LeBron James in 2010 (wink-wink, we're not tampering, David Stern). In the meantime, James's Cleveland Cavaliers, a legitimate NBA contender, are nearing the point where they will have enough salary cap room to sign another legit star to help LeBron bring a championship to Cleveland — while the Nets are riding an express elevator to the NBA's cellar.

The Bergen Record's Ian O'Connor lays out the hazards of wishing upon a star in the NBA.

The Nets have been busy clearing salary cap space, office space, locker room space, a parking space, all kinds of space for James. They weren't just getting rid of Richard Jefferson when they made the trade with Milwaukee for Yi and Bobby Simmons; they were getting rid of Richard Jefferson's wage.

But way back when, before he spent a summer acquiring Allan Houston, Chris Childs and Larry Johnson for the Knicks, Ernie Grunfeld told me the most frightening scenario for an NBA executive is clearing out money under the salary cap and then finding nobody worthwhile to take it.

"That happened to Chicago, after Michael Jordan,” Rod Thorn said. "They had significant cap room and they tried to give it to Tracy McGrady, and they tried to give it to (Kevin) Garnett at different times and it didn't work.

"That's the misnomer about having cap space … . If you have a team that's just not very good, to think that you are going to get a top quality free agent is kind of pie in the sky.”

Sure, the Nets have Jay-Z and their pending palace, which probably won't be ready until the start of the 2011-12 season. With Ratner losing an estimated $40 million a year in the Meadowlands, and with the purchase of the team setting him back $300 million, the Nets are expected to have cost their owner nearly $600 million by the time he lands in Brooklyn.

At those prices, Ratner will want to make a splash in the new digs. And nobody splashes quite like LeBron.

But will the Nets be good enough to even make James' Fave Five?


NoLandGrab: You'd think Bruce Ratner would have learned his lesson about coveting things that aren't his when he started eyeing Daniel Goldstein's apartment.

Posted by eric at 1:43 PM

July 10, 2008


NY Post
by Jay Greenberg

Why, if you bought the spin, you'd think that Yi was Yao, and the Nets weren't the also-ran franchise they've become under the stewardship of Bruce C. Ratner.

Rod Thorn brought the Nets out of the wilderness once, so is trusted by Bruce Ratner to do it again. But it's not the owner, actually LeBron James, who will be the ultimate judge of Yi Jianlian, Devin Harris, Sean Williams and whatever other pieces Thorn has in place by 2010.

Whether from Brooklyn, Manhattan or Oklahoma City, the free-agent-to-be James will get his basketball money to the max. Hardly does LeBron need to play two blocks or one borough away from Madison Avenue to be any more the recognizable pitchman he already is.

If James's good buddy Jay-Z is part-owner of a bad team because Yi hasn't amounted to much more than a 7-foot hill of string beans, the Nets will pay big time for not having made a better trade of a valuable commodity like Richard Jefferson.

In the meantime, with groundbreaking at the Atlantic Yards scheduled for November and court challenges being knocked down like Yi does 15-footers, it's mostly Vince Carter vs. the wolf at the door at the Meadowlands. Although the wolf, like the patrons, must first find the door through Xanadu construction.


NoLandGrab: It's all about the basketball. It's all about the basketball. It's all about the basketball. It's all....

Posted by eric at 4:18 PM

Nets going 'international'

Newark Star-Ledger
by Dave D'Alessandro

"It's a landmark day for this franchise," crowed jubilant owner Bruce Ratner, looking out over a full practice gym that included more than 40 Chinese media. "We got two terrific players. This region is very heavily Asian and Chinese. We now become a real international team."

Ratner, whose goal is to move the Nets into a borough that has a dense Chinese community -- there are 250,000 people of Chinese descent in Brooklyn -- says he knows that he must sell substance before cultural appeal.

"Success on the court is our best (method for) tapping into any market. Winning is the most important thing," the owner said. "On top of that, we do have a tremendous Chinese-American market in the tri-state area. If we have success, we will tap into that market in a major kind of way.

"But it's 100 percent about basketball."


NoLandGrab: Repeat after Bruce: "All about the basketball. All about the basketball. All about the basketball. All about...."

Posted by eric at 3:53 PM

Of Bard, and The Bard

Culturist [WNYC blog]
by Claudia La Rocco

This feeling was reinforced by the setting, Frank Gehry’s Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts. Gehry, though Canadian born, has been based in Los Angeles for decades, and his extravagant buildings have always seemed, to me, to represent a particularly American vision of the world - one that, depending on my frame of mind, can come off as wonderfully hopeful and expansive, or terribly wasteful and vulgar:


This was my first trip to Bard, and I was expecting to find the Gehry building utterly out of place on the gorgeous, verdant campus, like a gaudy spaceship that has crumpled to earth in a remote forest. But this one, unlike many Gehry buildings, won me over, prompting the first nice thoughts I’ve had about the architect since he clambered into bed with the Brooklyn developer Bruce Ratner. The photo doesn’t really do justice to the odd delicacy of the building’s shimmery skin, which reflected the changing light as day shifted into night. The image, instead of alien machines, was of an alien itself, pulsing with strange life against a backdrop of plush evergreens.


NoLandGrab: "Verdant campus?" You mean, like this?

Posted by eric at 3:22 PM

With Yi Jianlian, the Nets Hope to Go Global

The New York Times
by Harvey Araton

Thinking expansively, going global, the Nets invited a billion Chinese to stream a news conference Wednesday on and to communicate with the newly acquired forward, Yi Jianlian. Alas, the linking of the Far East to East Rutherford was apparently no instant triumph of digital interaction.


At least Jeff from Hackensack was poised to post a query for Bobby Simmons, another new Net who hails from the less exotic basketball hotbed of Chicago.

New ventures take time, require patience, not unlike the building of an arena in densely populated Brooklyn and the development of a 20-year-old 7-footer, who in a tailored suit looks like a devotee of the Slim-Fast Diet.

Bruce C. Ratner, their principal owner, said that long-range planning was part of the process after the in-season trade of Jason Kidd, but he bristled when asked if the Yi deal was more of a marketing ploy.

“It’s 100 percent about basketball,” he said.


NoLandGrab: Sure, Bruce, like Atlantic Yards is 100% about "Jobs, Housing & Hoops."

Posted by eric at 12:13 PM

July 9, 2008

Nets just watch sales of summer, poised to keep Nenad Krstic

NY Daily News
by Julian Garcia

[Nets' president Rod] Thorn, GM Kiki Vandeweghe and principal owner Bruce Ratner have all admitted in recent weeks that the Nets are looking down the road than the upcoming season, or even the one after that, while still hoping to keep the team "competitive." Ratner has called it a "rebuilding" phase. Thorn called it "retooling."


NoLandGrab: And loyal fans and season-ticket holders of the New Jersey Nets might want to call it quits.

Posted by eric at 9:36 AM

June 26, 2008

Karl Fischer bunker beds



Bruce Ratner rates a (dis)honorable mention in a blog post about ubiquitous NYC architect Karl Fischer, complete with a humorous rendering of a Gehry-less Atlantic Yards (click image to enlarge).

Real estate magnate Bruce Ratner's problem is that he thinks too big. If he had quietly bought a block at a time and hired Karl Fischer, Atlantic Yards would be done by now (right). Instead, it's every other block of Williamsburg that gets an arbitrary eyesore from the napkin doodles of The Master.


NoLandGrab: Thanks, but we think we'll get our Prospect Heights fried chicken at Bob Law's Seafood Café.

Posted by eric at 3:23 PM

June 24, 2008

Al-Qaeda’s Law Firm


A conservative screed against Michael Ratner and the Center for Constitutional Rights* calls the lefty hero Michael a "wealthy communist," brother Bruce an "eminent domain abuser" and, in what is a new low for the blogosphere, sister Ellen is labeled a "journalist."


Name-calling aside, our point is that Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner has earned a national reputation for his repeated abuse of eminent domain.

* That would be the "Constitutional Rights" minus the Fifth Amendment, since Michael Ratner is a part owner of the NJ Nets and stands to benefit from the taking of private property to build the team a new basketball arena.

Posted by lumi at 4:19 AM

June 18, 2008

Randolph Sacrificed, Minaya Death Watch Starts In Earnest

Can't Stop the Bleeding


Congratulations, Bruce Ratner, you rank right up there with the Dolans!

For whatever it’s worth, I don’t believe Fred and Jeff Wilpon are the worst owners in sports. As long as James Dolan and Bruce Ratner own their respective basketball teams, the Wilpons aren’t even close to the most loathed owners in the New York metropolitan area. But for all the credibility the Mets purchased with their acquisitions of Carlos Beltran, Pedro Martinez and Johan Santana, there isn’t enough money in Flushing to erase the sort of ill will their handling of this episode will generate.


NoLandGrab: One has to wonder why our elected "leaders" do everything they possibly can to throw money at people like Fred and Jeff Wilpon, James and Charles Dolan, and Bruce Ratner.

Posted by eric at 10:21 AM

June 14, 2008

Brooklyn Today: Friday, June 13, 2008

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

RATNER AND CO. To Give Prospect Park Sites a Facelift. More than 200 volunteers from Forest City Ratner Companies, including Bruce Ratner himself, will meet at the Tennis House at Prospect Park today to give the building its first major renovation in 15 years. Another team will clean up the east side of the park at Ocean Avenue and Lincoln Road. The effort is part of Forest City’s annual “Community Day” initiative that will run from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The upgrades to the Tennis House will include power-washing the tiled floor, walls and steps; painting the house’s wrought-iron fence; painting the railings around the building and more.

NoLandGrab: Meanwhile, Ratner's community contributions to Prospect Heights this week include power-washing the streets, building fences, and painting an elderly lady into a corner.

Posted by amy at 9:44 AM

June 13, 2008

New IRS Rule May Delay Development Of Atlantic Yards Project



Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner downplayed today’s reports that a proposed Internal Revenue Service rule might stall the vast construction project.

"We don't see really a problem,” said Ratner. “You know if the regulations don't change, do change, whatever the regulations will do, we'll be able to finance this. We've been assured of that. We've been working on it over the last two months, and it will take another three or four months to finish the documentation, but there's not a problem.”

article/video [dialup/broadband]

NoLandGrab: "We've been assured of that?" Assured by whom?

Bruce was apparently tracked down by NY1 while taking part in Forest City Ratner's "Community Day" clean-up of Prospect Park — which is not to be confused with "Brooklyn Day."

Posted by eric at 7:58 PM

June 12, 2008

Brooklyn Paper weekly - 6.7.08


Cristian Fleming Weblog

Satirist/Cartoonist Cristian Fleming offers "Brooklyn Day" congratulations to Bruce Ratner.

This might be brilliant if it weren’t so stupid. Let me see if I can summarize. Nobody really wants Atlantic Yards in it’s currently offered state. Bruce Ratner has really fucked this up good and hard, and its a miracle that he has because he has begged, bribed and stolen his way into such a plum deal. So Atlantic Yards sucks, yea? Ratner decided to have a “rally” in support of it. He cuts a deal to get construction workers (yes, the same construction workers that would, of course, be hired to build the Yards development) busy working on other buildings in the area a few hours off, coincidentally right when the “rally” is happening. Throw in some subtle encouragement by union and current site bosses to attend, and some additional bussed in attendees, and you have this sham rally. Of course, if I were looking at a chance to support a future paycheck I could use to support my family in a shitty economy how dumb would I be to not go? You would think that Ratner & Co. might make even the slightest attempt to make this actually look like less of the cynical ploy it really is. Congratulations Bruce, you’re an ass.


Posted by eric at 3:16 PM

May 19, 2008


This whole Atlantic Yards thing is finally starting to make sense...jayz_boombox_051908_400.jpg

On May 16th, Jay-Z came through to the Barclay's Center showroom opening in Brooklyn, New York to support his big homey Bruce Ratner. The music mogul and Ratner have been in business together ever since the rap star bought a piece of the entrepreneur's New Jersey Nets. The pair's currently working on a deal to transport the basketball team from Newark to Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards near Jay's old stomping grounds.

CORRECTION: The Barclays Center Showroom is located in Manhattan, at the NY Times building, not in Brooklyn. And the Nets would be relocating from East Rutherford, though Z and B-Rat might secretly be working on a plan to move the team to Newark.

They had some laughs and popped some bottles, but it was their oddly-gripped handshake (seen here) that sparked yet another round of Jay-related conspiracy theory.

Hova has long been rumored to be a member of the Freemasons, the fraternal organization known for their deep political ties and use of signs (gestures) and grips (handshakes). Past members allegedly include thirteen signors of the Constitution, fourteen U.S. Presidents and many of the nation's most powerful families such as the Rockefellers (ROC, mane) and Rothschilds.


NoLandGrab: We always thought the "conspiracy" involved secret backroom deals between powerful real estate interests and their enablers in government, not the Freemasons. But now we learn that the ranks of the Masonic Temple include, or have included, David Paterson, Chuck Schumer, Charlie Ebbets and Branch Rickey. Coincidence? Maybe. Or maybe not. The "deep political ties" certainly sound familiar.

We also see that both former Montana Senator Conrad Burns and Scottish poet Robert Burns were Freemasons. No word, however, if C. Montgomery Burns is a Mason, though this video proves his membership in the Stonecutters.

Posted by eric at 8:41 PM

May 16, 2008


ESPN The Magazine
by Otto Strong


The New Jersey Nets took one step closer to Brooklyn Thursday, even if the stopover came in the form of a showroom high above midtown. Team brass rolled out a living, breathing life-size version of what the suite experience will look and feel like in a new sales center on the 38th floor of The New York Times building.

The Celtics may have this season's Big Three, but the the Big Three who served as MCs for Thursday night's event—Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and Nets owners Bruce Ratner and Jay-Z—brought the one liners with them.

Jay-Z was announced to be the first owner of a "bunker suite," one of 12 "event level" spaces that actually has no direct view of the courts, but is tucked between the home and visting teams locker rooms. At 500-square feet, these suites are larger than many Manhattan apartments. And at $540,000, they're just about as expensive, too. Aside from having a sophisticated décor that rivals trendier dwellings in the city, these suites include private bathrooms, multiple flat panel HD-LCD TVs and even a regulation pool table. Also included are eight courtside seats per suite, ya know, just in case you feel like checking out LeBron in person.


NoLandGrab: We're pretty certain that Forest City Ratner misses the irony of selling "bunker suites" in an arena that they swore was completely secure — before they re-designed it to eliminate most of the not-so-safe-looking glass façade.

Posted by eric at 2:09 PM

May 14, 2008

The 100 Most Powerful People in New York Real Estate

Bloomberg, Trump, Ratner, De Niro, the Guy Behind Craigslist! They’re All Among Our 100 Most Powerful People in New York Real Estate

NY Observer

It's noteworthy that the three highest-ranked developers on the Observer's list — #1 Jerry Speyer, #3 Stephen Ross, and #8 Bruce Ratner — are all having a heap of trouble closing their marquee deals: Hudson Yards, Moynihan Station/Madison Square Garden and Atlantic Yards, respectively.

Power. Webster’s Dictionary defines power as … No, no, no, never mind that: Power in New York City real estate means money—its acquisition, spending and creation—especially now, as the market enters a tremulous sunset after several bright, shiny years.

Our list of the 100 Most Powerful People in New York Real Estate was assembled with this finance-centric criterion at the forefront. The list, especially higher up, contains those who animate the deals and the trends. They are the deciders and the money providers. They make the real estate world the rest of us live in; or cover, as the case may be.

#8 Bruce Ratner

Chairman of Forest City Ratner Companies

The leader of what is perhaps New York’s most high-profile development, the controversy magnet Atlantic Yards, Bruce Ratner is one of the most active developers in the city, often pursuing large, publicly administered projects. He’s recently taken a liking to famous architects, ensuring that his developments leave a notable impression on the skyline.


NoLandGrab: Bruce Ratner only #8 while Amanda Burden is #5? Anyone familiar with the phony 8% Atlantic Yards "scaleback" knows that when Bruce Ratner says "scaleback," Amanda Burden asks "how much?"

Posted by eric at 10:40 AM

So, who's #77 on the Observer's 100 most powerful people in NY real estate list?

Atlantic Yards Report

For those of you who think that the all-too-powerful real estate industry pulls most of New York City's levers (is there anyone who doesn't think that?), a ray of light has emerged: it's a man, it's a journalist/blogger, it's Norman Oder!

According to the New York Observer's quite arbitrary list of the 100 Most Powerful People in New York Real Estate, Bruce Ratner is #8, Frank Gehry is #51, and I am number #77.

While the listing is flattering, I can't say they have me convinced. For example, Charles Bagli, the veteran real estate/development reporter for the New York Times--and formerly at the Observer--does not appear on the list and he's way more powerful than I am. (Despite my criticisms of his AY coverage, he's a very able reporter.) And I am not more powerful than Nicolai Ouroussoff, the Times's architecture critic, at #85, nor Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, chair of the Assembly's Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions, at #89; he has the power to grill public officials. And where's Julia Vitullo-Martin of the Manhattan Institute, a savvy and provocative commentator?


NoLandGrab: Like some modern-day Lincoln Steffens (or Fremont Older), Oder has raked the muck caking Atlantic Yards, and in so doing, has exposed the project's seamy underside like no other journalist.

Posted by eric at 9:55 AM

May 4, 2008

Ratner vows to break ground on Atlantic Yards

NY Daily News

NoLandGrab: In case the Bruce Ratner op-ed is too difficult for you to follow, the Daily News has handily provided the Cliff Notes in a separate article:

In an Op-Ed in Sunday's Daily News, Ratner acknowledged the massive 22-acre project is behind schedule due to numerous court challenges and the shaky economic climate. He insisted the obstacles have not derailed the project - and vowed to break ground on the Frank Gehry-designed Nets arena later this year and complete all 16 residential and office towers by 2018.

"In recent weeks, some have rushed to write the obituary of Atlantic Yards," Ratner wrote in his opinion piece. "Rumors of Atlantic Yards' demise, stirred by opponents, have been greatly exaggerated. The project is moving forward in its entirety."


Posted by amy at 10:54 AM

Atlantic Yards dead? Dream on

NY Daily News

NoLandGrab: The Daily News gives Ratner ample space to overcome news of yesterday's rally. In fact, they sealed the deal by not only giving him an op-ed, but then having an additional article regurgitating the op-ed. It's definitely easy to not bother looking behind the curtain, but is it right? Or is this just the latest edition of the Brooklyn Standard?

In recent weeks, some have rushed to write the obituary of Atlantic Yards, the multi-billion dollar, 22-acre development my company is building near downtown Brooklyn.

But rumors of Atlantic Yards' demise, stirred by opponents, have been greatly exaggerated. The project is moving forward in its entirety, and in the coming years it will bring jobs, housing and an improved quality of life to Brooklyn.

We're still building all 6,400 units of housing - including 2,250 affordable units. We're still building the iconic Miss Brooklyn tower and the state-of-the-art Barclays Center, the future home of the Nets.

In fact, today, for the first time, I am offering an updated construction timetable for the project.


Posted by amy at 10:45 AM

April 30, 2008

Bruce Ratner, Mystery Science Theather 2008

More follow up on Bud Mishkin's NY1 interview with Brooklyn's favorite overdeveloper, Bruce Ratner:

RatnerThenNow-Curbed.jpg Curbed, Ratner Praises East River Fish, Disses Architecture

The snarky real estate blog basically lets Bruce Ratner speak for himself in coverage of the Atlantic Yards overdeveloper's NY1 interview (because you can't make this stuff up).

Our favorite of the bunch:

"[Y]ou know, those who focus on the architecture are frankly misguided about what's really important in this world."

...or maybe it's:

"I want to do great architecture, but I have to say something, which is that, if one is going to boil life down to architecture, then you know what? It's not for me."


"The architecture is important, but it's not that important."

NoLandGrab: Ratner might consider reserving his love-hate relationship with "architecture" for the therapist's couch.

The Knickerblogger, Bruce Ratner: the Ed Wood of Developers?

Knickerblogger recommends Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn's commentary on the Ratner NY1 interview:

Its sort of like the old Mystery Science Theater 2000 - except Atlantic Yards is the crappy film, Ratner the washed up actor - its just no fun without the commentary.

NLG: Speaking about actors, who would you choose to play Bruce Ratner in the movie? Email us with your A-list.

Posted by lumi at 5:39 AM

April 29, 2008

Ratner Speaks

Atlantic Yards Report and Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn examine Bruce Ratner's interview on NY1 last night (transcript/video).

Atlantic Yards Report, Ratner lowers our architectural expections; will Gehry ease away?


Yes, the "news" (as hinted by the New York Observer) from the fairly gentle profile NY1 ran last night of Bruce Ratner is that the Atlantic Yards developer is talking populism, not Gehry-ism:

“We need jobs, we need shopping that's appropriate and the right price and quality goods, we need supermarkets that provide food that is of quality and well-priced, we need housing, and you know what? The architecture is important, but it's not that important,” says Ratner.

"I want to do great architecture, but I have to say something, which is that, if one is going to boil life down to architecture, then you know what? It's not for me,” he adds.

Interviewer Budd Mishkin, host of the "One On 1" series, didn't raise the suggestion, but to me it hinted as a potential estrangement from Frank Gehry. (Gehry's not mentioned at all in the piece, though models of his buildings are evident and, of course, such video segments are edited.)

After all, Ratner not so long ago was emphasizing his commitment to architecture:

"I’ve been talking for ten years about trying to use ‘design architects’ instead of ‘developer architects," he told New York magazine's Kurt Andersen in 2005. (Citation below.)

Gehry's never designed an arena, so to him that may be the prime lure of the Atlantic Yards commission. Given that most of the project, including the Miss Brooklyn tower (which Gehry called "my ego trip"), has been delayed and layoffs have occurred in Gehry's office, it's possible that Gehry--who has publicly said that typically he'd bring in other architects to work with him--sees a light at the end of the tunnel.

If so, Ratner is now talking about housing and jobs and big box shopping, not architecture.

(The profile offered a look at Ratner in his earlier days as well as a reasonable survey of his life and career.)

NoLandGrab: If starchitect Frank Gehry only designs the arena, then even Gehry detractors might start missing the old guy. The prospect for interesting architecture will become very dim — think MetroTech in the middle of Brownstone Brooklyn., Breaking: Ratner Eats East River Fish, Says He's "Progressive"

BruceRatner-DiscoEra.jpgDevelop Don't Destroy got a hearty chuckle from last night's interview. The community group ran the disco-era photo of Bruce Ratner and noted that the self-proclaimed "progressive" ate the fish he caught out of the East River.

NY1 did this fluff job on controversial Atlantic Yards demolition man Bruce Ratner. Some might say it was even hagiographic.

Ratner wants to make sure you know that he is a "progressive." He is so "progressive" that he makes sure to tell the interviewer, Budd Mishkin, that he is "progressive," and Budd tells the viewers that Bruce is "progressive." He also understands the opposition to his project because....their concerns "are not inappropriate," and people have the right to their opinions.

NoLandGrab: Ratner boasted of catching a striped bass, which is migratory and doesn't actually live in the East River, so might not be all that bad for eating, if you want to take your chances. Then again, it must have been a quite big striper because, currently, they have to be at least 28" to be a keeper.

Posted by lumi at 5:46 AM

April 28, 2008

Ratner on NY1: A Snapshot

The Real Estate Observer

Oh man, we hope that the rest of Bruce Ratner's interview with Budd Mishkin on NY1 is as good as the quote that The Observer ran as a teaser:

The notoriously press-shy Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner is due to appear on NY1 tonight at 8:30, going one-on-one with reporter Budd Mishkin.

The folks at NY1 have sent us over a brief teaser quote from Mr. Ratner:

We need jobs, we need shopping that's appropriate, and the right price and quality goods, supermarkets that provide food of quality and well priced, we need housing, and the architecture is important but it's not that important.


NoLandGrab: "Shopping that's appropriate," and "architecture is important, but it's not that important?" No wonder the Brucester is press shy.

Which leads us to wonder, what would constitute shopping that's inappropriate?

Posted by lumi at 6:17 PM

April 18, 2008

Ratner and the Brooklyn Museum: Perfect together

The Brooklyn Paper, Letter to the Editor

To the editor,


Of course Bruce Ratner should not have been feted at the Brooklyn Museum (“Protesters call Bruce’s honor a ‘Dung Deal,’” April 12). His Atlantic Yards plan across from our splendid Williamsburgh Savings Bank building is an architectural nightmare (never mind that the city does not need another sports arena).

But the honor for Ratner makes sense, given that Arnold Lehman of the Brooklyn Museum has offered up his own horror —his ill-proportioned, multi-million-dollar glass snout on a Beaux Art building. That new entrance looks as if it’s still a construction site.

More important, entire galleries in the Museum have been cleared of works of art — treasures that rival those of the Metropolitan Museum — to make way for the occasional gaudy show of modern nonsense. Real curators have been fired, and the publicity department seems to be running the galleries.

Oh, dear.

Every time I renew my membership to the Brooklyn Museum (to which my father used to take me from the time I could toddle, over 50 years ago!), I hold my nose in disgust and hope Arnold Lehman will retire soon.

So is it any wonder that Ratner and Lehman have discovered each other?

Barbara Minakakis, Ditmas Park

Posted by lumi at 5:10 AM

April 3, 2008

Atlantic Yards foes rage at Brooklyn Museum over Bruce Ratner honor

NY Daily News
by Rachel Monahan and Jotham Sederstrom

Atlantic Yards critics blasted the city-funded museum, saying it was wrong to honor a developer whose arena and residential project has been criticized for its size, the seizure of private property and its use of taxpayer money.

"A museum should be a good neighbor to its community," said Brooklyn resident Michael White, who spearheaded a petition that has netted nearly 100 signatures from outraged Brooklynites. "You cannot be a good neighbor by promoting the activities of someone who is a bad neighbor."

The glitzy event, expected to feature rapper Kanye West, has prompted a protest tonight outside the museum.


Posted by eric at 10:38 AM

March 13, 2008

Liberal talk radio hires ex-con Ney

The Hill

Good to see Bruce isn't the only Ratner creating jobs, and for an ex-con, no less. Of course, this ex-con just happens to be disgraced former Ohio Congressman Bob Ney, who was sentenced to 30 months on corruption charges back in 2006. Ney, we should point out, is a conservative Republican.

Former Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) has landed his first job since being released from prison last month.

Ney is working in Columbus, Ohio, for the Talk Radio News Service (TRNS), thanks to his longtime friend Ellen Ratner.

Ratner, a self-described “proud liberal” who is the TRNS bureau chief, confirmed that Ney is working for the communications company as the ex-lawmaker stays in a halfway house.


NoLandGrab: God bless those Ratners. They never let ideology get in the way of friendship — or campaign contributions.

Posted by eric at 1:31 PM

At the Brooklyn Museum gala, honors for (and $ from) Bruce Ratner

Atlantic Yards Report

If you have $1000 or more to spend, you can attend the Brooklyn Museum's Brooklyn Ball 2008 on April 3, honoring developer Bruce Ratner and celebrating the opening of an exhibition billed as "the most comprehensive retrospective to date of the work of internationally acclaimed Japanese artist Takashi Murakami."


Controversial development company Forest City Ratner (FCR) and the locally loathed Atlantic Yards project has its fingers all over this gala event:

Three of the eight co-chairs have a connection to Ratner, including rapper and entrepreneur Jay-Z, who owns a piece of the Nets; FCR president Minieri; and Brett Yormark, president of Nets Sports & Entertainment.

Among the vice-chairs are Barclays Capital, which has signed a naming rights deal for the Atlantic Yards arena, Nets Sports and Entertainment, and, of course, Forest City Ratner.


Posted by lumi at 6:14 AM

March 7, 2008

Update: CUNY gives Ratner failing grade


The Brooklyn Paper
By Gersh Kuntzman

Here's some insight into how the project to build Bruce Ratner's skyscraper "Mr. Brooklyn" was cancelled.

The City University of New York scotched a plan to hire Bruce Ratner to build a new lab and residential skyscraper in Downtown Brooklyn because the Atlantic Yards developer would be too expensive, too slow and too controversial, The Brooklyn Paper has learned.

A newly surfaced memo shows that CUNY wanted out of its deal to pay Ratner $307 million — up from $86 million in 2005 — to build a new facility for City Tech on Jay Street because costs had begun to soar.


Posted by steve at 7:14 AM

March 3, 2008

Sunday Real Estate Round-Up 3/02/08

Bruce Ratner's new brownstone scores a line in Luxist's weekly real estate round-up, which got it from The NY Observer:

--Developer Bruce Ratner has paid $6.9 million at 128 East 62nd Street.

Posted by lumi at 5:01 AM

February 28, 2008

MANHATTAN TRANSFERS: It’s His Eminent Domain: Bruce Ratner Scores Upper East Side Townhouse for $6.9 M.

The NY Observer
By Max Abelson

A few more details on the brownstone that Bruce bought:

Mr. Ratner, loathed by Brooklyn brownstone owners who don’t want his Atlantic Yards basketball arena (he co-owns the Nets) or gaggle of skyscrapers, spent $6,965,000 for the Upper East Side brownstone, records show. News of the sale was first reported on The Observer’s Web site on Monday.

While Mr. Ratner fought for eminent domain to get some of the land for Atlantic Yards, the Neustadt Collection spent decades trying to get their neighbors in the building to leave. As Milton Hassol, the president of the Neustadt Collection explained, the brownstone was split into co-op apartments, some that weren’t owned by the doctor. “The process has taken 23 years,” he said. “As other people wanted to sell we bought them out. … And then when we got 67 percent interest, we could sell”—according to co-op rules.

Stuart Saft, a real estate lawyer, confirmed to The Observer that the other owners in the building would have had to sell if they were outvoted by the building’s main owner.

“They had to by law,” Mr. Hassol said, “but people can hold you up and make it difficult—but they cooperated.”

According to records, the Neustadt Collection got over $5 million from Mr. Ratner; he paid an owner named Diane Harris $571,130, and another, Charles Nemetz, $1,309,420. The deal was finished less than three weeks after the U.S. Court of Appeals supported Mr. Ratner’s right to use eminent domain. “Today’s decision is more than another victory for Atlantic Yards,” he said then. “It is a victory for public good.”


Posted by lumi at 4:51 AM

February 27, 2008

Democracy Now? Ratner Plays Hardball When It Counts

Brooklyn Downtown Star
by Norman Oder

Atlantic Yards Report's über blogger, Norman Oder, contributes this update on the brothers Ratner and their political gift-giving to the Brooklyn Downtown Star.

Bruce isn’t even the best-known liberal in his family. His older brother Michael, a distinguished lawyer, leads the Center for Constitutional Rights in its admirable effort to hold our government accountable for its off-the-radar detention center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. He co-wrote the book "Guantánamo: What the World Should Know."

John R. MacArthur, publisher of Harper’s, calls him “America’s most important civil libertarian.”

For Bruce and Michael, however, business in Brooklyn comes first. That’s why Bruce’s company has required gag orders of those selling property for the Atlantic Yards project, thus clamping down on criticism and even requiring sellers to say that Forest City Ratner treated them honorably.

That’s why, even though Bruce and Forest City Ratner (FCR) stopped giving political contributions years ago - apparently to dispel suspicion that the donations helped win projects - Michael and his wife Karen Ranucci, the development director of left-wing radio show “Democracy Now,” stepped in to fill the breach. Though residents of Greenwich Village, they reliably wrote checks to Brooklyn candidates from the county Democratic machine. Some contributions, according to state records, even had the return address of Forest City Ratner headquarters in Brooklyn. Michael, who apparently has an office there, owns a piece of the Nets, the sports team his brother wants to bring to Brooklyn. The extended Ratner family controls FCR’s parent company, Cleveland-based Forest City Enterprises.


Posted by eric at 1:53 PM

February 26, 2008

Bruce Ratner Buys Brownstone, But (Surprise!) It's Not In Brooklyn

BruceBrownstone.jpg The Real Estate Observer
By Max Abelson

What does the Brucester care about Brownstone Brooklyn, when he can remain cloistered in Brownstone Manhattan?

According to city records, Mr. Ratner just bought himself a nice little 20-foot-wide, 6,408-square-foot, five-floor brownstone, exactly the kind that Brooklynites like so much. But it's on the Upper East Side.

The snark would end there, except for the fact that in typical Ratner fashion, Bruce was able to force the sale of two of the units in the building so that he could have the entire thing all to himself.

The building was split into co-op apartments, some that weren't owned by Neustadt, which meant the museum couldn’t sell the townhouse until it owned two-thirds of the house. Once that happened, according to Mr. Hassol, the other two owners in the building (listed as Charles Nemetz and Diane Harris) were forced to sell as well. “They had to by law, but people can hold you up and make it difficult--but they cooperated.”


NoLandGrab: You probably have to be a little person to appreciate the irony, but you can't make this stuff up, which is why we're all still here.

Brownstoner noted:

We think he could’ve gotten a better deal right here in Brooklyn—maybe even in Carroll Gardens, where we hear values are increasing quite a bit.

Definitely, Bruce could have done better in Brooklyn... but then he'd have to deal with encroaching overdevelopment.

Posted by lumi at 5:15 AM

February 11, 2008

DDDB PRESS RELEASE: Forest City Ratner Puts $58,000 Into New York Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee "Housekeeping" Fund

First Contribution By Developer In At Least Nine Years

Campaign Finance Loophole Allows for Huge Contribution After Atlantic Yards Approval, Before Project's Financing Agreements

New York, NY— Forest City Ratner gave $58,420 to the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee’s Housekeeping account on January 7, 2008. The real estate development firm had not made any New York State political contributions for at least nine years, which is as far back as the state's campaign finance database goes. The contribution was made through a New York State election financing loophole known as a "housekeeping" account. It is a loophole condemned by Common Cause.

Norman Oder first reported about it today on his Atlantic Yards Report, noting that it was the third-largest contribution received by the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee (DACC) since at least July, and represents more than ten percent of the DACC’s take for it’s Housekeeping account.

Forest City Ratner CEO Bruce Ratner seems to have decided to change strategy after having "sharply cut back" on campaign contributions--according to a 2004 article in Newsday--now moving beyond lobbying expenses, and back into direct New York State political contributions.

The donation goes to the DACC, which hardly needs such "generous" help, considering that the Democrats have a strong grip on the Assembly's majority. But the $58,000 does go to the body controlled by Sheldon Silver who approved Forest City Ratner’s Atlantic Yards plan in December 2006, and who will have a lot of say over the developer’s housing, bonding and other financing needs over the coming months. Forest City Ratner’s key Atlantic Yards financing has not been finalized, including "affordable" housing subsidies, the arena bond, and the amount of Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT).

Oder reports that Common Cause issued an August 2006 report on New York State’s campaign finance "Housekeeping" loophole. The Common Cause report stated:
The size of these contributions, their origin and the fact that current or hopeful elected officials are involved in soliciting them raise serious concerns about the potential for corruption or its appearance.

The second major problem is that while the theory behind our state’s soft money loophole is that these funds will be used only for party building purposes and not for candidate elections, this legal barrier does not hold up in practice.

Common Cause concluded:
The potential it creates for corruption or its appearance means that New York State leaders must ban soft money.

Oder also reports that Ratner kin in Forest City Enterprises’ hometown of Cleveland and in Washington, DC have contributed to Governor Eliot Spitzer’s 2010 campaign fund.

Just last week Mayor Bloomberg decried the infusion of real estate industry contributions into the 2009 Mayoral campaign. According to the NY Times, the Mayor was saying it appears they [the real estate industry] are trying to buy influence in the 2009 mayoral campaign. He called it a "disgrace" that the three presumed "frontrunners" are receiving equal amounts from the industry.

Posted by eric at 5:44 PM

January 23, 2008

Happy Bruce Day to You

This Day ... In Jewish History

On this day in 1945:

Birthdate of Bruce Ratner. Appointed by Ed Koch to the position of Commissioners of Consumer Affairs for New York City in 1978, he became a real estate developer in 1982. He is now the owner of the New Jersey Nets basketball team, his net worth now several hundred million dollars. Ratner is the developer charged with building the New York Times Tower He is a member of the board of the Jewish Heritage Museum.


NoLandGrab: For the uninitiated, Birthday Bruce (62) is also the developer of the highly controversial eminent-domain-abusing subsidy-sucking historically dense Atlantic Yards arena and 16 high-rise tower project in Downtown Brooklyn Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.

But when you're slated to receive an estimated $2 billion in subsidies, it's like every day is your birthday.

Posted by lumi at 5:10 AM

January 22, 2008


BRPg6-NYP.jpg NY Post, Page Six

THAT Nets chairman Bruce Ratner will marry longtime companion Dr. Pamela Lipkin, a prominent plastic surgeon, on Sunday before a small family gathering at their Manhattan home.


NoLandGrab: Sources say that Bruce Ratner's Manhattan home is NOT under threat of eminent domain.

January must be the month for developers' nuptials — Donald and Melania Knauss Trump are celebrating their third anniversary today.

Posted by lumi at 5:31 AM

December 27, 2007

Introducing the Ivanka

Ivanka-NYT.jpg The NY Times
By Ruth La Ferla

OK, Bruce Ratner can't talk to the press about mundane stuff like security and the full cost of public funding for Atlantic Yards, but he's happy to discuss the daughter of the Donald:

Insistent on proving herself, Ms. Trump first took a job outside the Trump Organization. Bruce Ratner, the Brooklyn developer, put her to work with the project management team for Ridge Hill, his shopping center in Yonkers. “She did everything,” Mr. Ratner recalled, “from running the numbers of a deal to negotiating with tenants and coordinating where they would go in the center, to helping lay out the space.”

“She was down-to-earth,” he said. “She worked like everybody else. There was no special privilege about her.”


NoLandGrab: Luckily, not all real estate developers show as much cleavage as Ivanka.

Posted by lumi at 8:25 PM

December 20, 2007

Beijing’s Olympics: A Marriage Of Corporate And State Abuse

RobberBaron.jpg Bruce Ratner is now officially a "robber baron:"

New York of the 21st century also has its share of robber barons. Bruce Ratner is currently hoping to use eminent domain in the heart of Brooklyn to build a basketball arena and surrounding luxury trimmings at the expense of private homes and business owners. For certain eminent domain has almost always been a weapon against the poor. A study released earlier this year by Dick M. Carpenter II and John K. Ross titled Victimizing the Vulnerable: The Demographics of Eminent Domain Abuse reveals that the areas targeted nation-wide for eminent domain in recent years follow a predictable pattern: 58% of the targeted areas include minority residents, compared with 45% in surrounding communities, 25% live at or below poverty, compared to 16% in surrounding communities.


Posted by lumi at 8:29 PM

December 16, 2007


Puffin/Nation Prize


NoLandGrab: And what award does Michael Ratner get for investing in his brother's venture, the constitutionality of which is being contested as we speak?

Posted by amy at 10:13 AM

December 12, 2007

Ratner, 2003: "I have never, ever seen a project get less protest than this"

Atlantic Yards Report

In another must-read, the time-traveling Norman Oder transports himself back to December, 2003, to "Oderize" Bruce Ratner's spin-o-rama appearance on the Brian Lehrer Show.

Bruce Ratner: If you look at the area, it’s zoned industrial, right in the middle of neighborhoods, and it looks godawful. It’s got train tracks, it’s got industrial buildings, and it’s extremely unattractive, it’s like a scar in the middle of two neighborhoods. I’ve heard it described as a ditch.

Note that Ratner seems to be using the 8.5-acre railyard for the project site as a whole, and leaves out the city streets and city property he needs. Also note that parent Forest City Enterprises, in cities like Richmond, VA, has restored industrial properties.

Lehrer interrupted.

Brian Lehrer: Certainly the residents who were howling yesterday… don’t feel like they live on a scar or ditch, they feel like it’s their home, they feel like it’s a nice... accessible place from Manhattan that’s still a refuge from Manhattan which it wouldn’t be…so do you want to stand by those words, scar and ditch?

BR: Yes, I do, because you know what, the thing is Brian, I don’t know if you were at the press conference there are about 15-20 people, that’s all, in a borough of 2.5 million, the same 15-20 people, who live—I respect it, I really do, they live in an adjoining neighborhood. You have to really—y’know, it’s important for news of course, to listen to all sides, you can’t let 15-20 or people decide something like this. The UN had protesters, Rockefellers Center had protesters. So you have to really look at it I have never, ever--I’ve done a lot of projects, I have never, ever seen a project get less protest than this. Here you have a major project, you have 25 news people at a press conference, and there are about 15 people with homemade signs out in front, in a borough of two and a half million people, at a press conference. (Emphasis added)

Ratner's assessment of community opposition was about as accurate as his prediction of a 2006 debut for the Brooklyn Nets. The same goes for his description of the project footprint:

BL: Does the city have to approve the project, are there hurdles yet?

BR: It’s on state land, being the Long Island Rail Road,, so it’s a state process, and yes, there’s a whole approval process, the state.

No, less than 40 percent of the site is state land, so the state process was not required. After all, the West Side yards project in Manhattan is going through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, or ULURP.

Click on the link below for the rest of Oder's deconstruction of the interview, including Bruce's boast that "our company brought the concept of big boxes to the borough" (a claim conveniently ignored by Ratner henchman Richard Lipsky when he cashes his FCRC paycheck) and his creative defense of MetroTech.


Posted by lumi at 9:13 AM

New York Knicks, Owner Dolan Need Emoticon Help:

Hey, a story in which Bruce Ratner isn't being cited as the posterchild of overdevelopment, eminent domain abuse or big-city bullying.

emoticons.gifToday, sports columnist Scott Soshnick suggests that Knicks owner James Dolan try to act more happy, you know, like the Brucester.

And all the while Dolan wears the same expression. It looks something like this: :(

Just typing that makes me wonder: Does Dolan even know what an emoticon is?
I've walked alongside New Jersey Nets owner Bruce Ratner when, during halftime of a playoff game, he made sure to shake hands with his best customers.


Posted by lumi at 6:21 AM

December 11, 2007



NY Post
By Dareh Gregorian

This bizarre incident seems to be one of the occupational hazards of being the "biggest guy around":

A TriBeCa bar is suing its upstairs neighbor - for being too rowdy.

As punishment, it wants her booted from the building, along with the owner of her spacious digs: trendy restaurateur and former Man Ray partner Carlos Almada.

In papers filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, the owners of the pint-sized pub Smith and Mills say their neighbor Victoria Hillstron has been driving their customers from drink with her over-the-top antics.

The suit says the tiny terror, who lives directly above the Greenwich Street bar, has also been claiming to be developer Bruce Ratner's sister - threatening to use her clout to get cops in trouble with the mayor's office if they don't take her allegations against the restaurant seriously.

A source close to Ratner said she is not related to the Atlantic Yards developer.


NoLandGrab: Who can blame someone for thinking that name dropping "Bruce" would strike the fear of God in most New Yorkers?

For the record, Bruce Ratner's sister is Ellen Ratner, who hasn't been harassing bar patrons as far as anyone knows.

Posted by lumi at 5:13 AM

December 2, 2007

Ratner's Christmas Turn-On



Brit in Brooklyn

Bruce Ratner (left): Love child of Dick Cheney + Al D'Amato? (With a little bit of Norman Tebbit?)

Bruce Ratner and his helpers (including Marty Markowitz, right) were at Metrotech last night for the annual lighting ceremony.


Posted by amy at 11:42 AM

December 1, 2007

News Highlights of the Week: November 24 – November 30, 2007

Architectural Record

Renzo Piano is working on a skyscraper for Brooklyn that could rise as high as 1,000-feet, making it the borough’s tallest. The New York Daily News reported on November 28 that developer Bruce Ratner, who is building Frank Gehry’s massive Atlantic Yards project nearby, has been working with Piano on the project for at least a year. A spokesperson for the developer said that the office and residential tower’s final height has yet to be determined and that early renderings, which were leaked to the Internet, are “not a reflection of what we’re considering today.” But Ratner might face an uphill battle to build the skyscraper as tall as he’d like. At least one local politician, the paper wrote, opposes any new construction higher than Brooklyn’s current tallest, the 512-foot Williamsburg Savings Bank tower.


Posted by amy at 9:30 AM

November 30, 2007

Bruce under oath?

BRRidgeHill.jpgCould this be a photo of Bruce Ratner taking the Fifth? [Maybe, if you're talking about the Fifth Amendment eminent domain clause.]

Seriously, it's just Bruce ceremoniously breaking ground in Yonkers for Forest City's controversial Ridge Hill "regional lifestyle center."

Tuesday was a busy day for the popular Bruce Ratner, who appeared later that evening in Brooklyn for the MetroTech tree lighting.

More ground breaking photos and links at Community First Development Coalition.

Posted by lumi at 6:11 AM

Ratner Claus!


The Brooklyn Paper

On the same day that news broke of his plan to build Brooklyn’s tallest building, Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner kicked off the holiday season on Wednesday at Metrotech in Downtown Brooklyn with the borough’s first major tree-lighting.


Posted by steve at 5:54 AM

November 14, 2007

Urban Architecture: The Absurdly Good, the Bad and the Stupid

The Gamut runs two Ratner projects on the list of noteworthy local architecture and gives the Brucester the "Gamut Scabies Award!"


Absurdly Bad Architecture includes the Regal Cinema on Court Street in Brooklyn Heights. Deidre Carson, a lawyer who had previously represented other movie-theater developers and formerly the president of the Brooklyn Heights Association (a neighborhood organization originally created to protect the area from irresponsible development - ah, the irony!) actually had the gall to describe the building as a product of a "world-class architecture firm." What the hell does "world-class" mean anyway? If this building is any example, it means the biggest bull turd they can lay on you. Which brings us to Regal's bastard grandchild: Frank Gehry's absurdly stupid design for private-developer Bruce Ratner's proposed Atlantic Yards project.


NoLandGrab: This photo was the best one we could find of Ratner's UA Cinema. Check out "Betty Blade's" Court St. photo with the cinema in the background to understand what makes this monolith so special.

Posted by lumi at 5:29 AM

MetroTech Christmas Tree Ushers in Season

Brooklyn Daily Eagle
By Mary Frost

Rat-ner Clause is coming to town!


A 50-foot Colorado Blue Spruce was installed at MetroTech yesterday morning, marking the start of the Christmas season in Downtown Brooklyn. Eric Rosenthal, garden designer from Chelsea Gardens, which procured the tree, said that the spruce is approximately 30 to 40 years old and comes from an area near Saugerties, N.Y. The official MetroTech tree lighting will take place Wednesday, Nov. 28 at 4:15 p.m. The Brooklyn Youth Chorus will sing holiday songs and dignitaries including Santa Claus — and Bruce Ratner — will appear.


Posted by lumi at 5:00 AM

November 9, 2007


NY Post

Bruce Ratner is officially a member of the titan club:

JAWS dropped yesterday in the Four Seasons Grill Room when ousted Citigroup chief Chuck Prince arrived for lunch with Bear Stearns legend Ace Greenberg and Blackstone Group founder Pete Peterson. Seated right in Prince's path was his predecessor at the financial giant, Sandy Weill. All eyes watched Prince make his way around the room, greeting titans Leonard Lauder, Bruce Ratner, David Martinez, Bill Rudin, Richard Holbrooke, Strauss Zelnick, Walter Cronkite and James Wolfensohn. But he avoided Weill, leading to speculation of bad blood.


Posted by lumi at 6:05 AM

November 8, 2007

It came from the Blogosphere...

Here's what they're saying:

Cup Crazy's National Hockey League blog, Future hope for Devils and Newark pinned on Prudential Center's success

Original plans during this decade had the New Jersey Nets seeking the move to Newark when YankeeNets operated that franchise, but roadblocks in ultimately sealing any agreement to build a new arena there killed it. After squabbling among the YankeeNets ownership group investors led to the eventual sale of the Nets in August 2004, new owner Bruce Ratner announced his intentions to relocate that team to the New York City borough of Brooklyn. So far, an arena project has been put together. It has been endorsed by state and city officials as well as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to built it in Brooklyn's Prospect Heights section of the city. Plus, the arena naming rights has already been sold. However, despite all of that, it is not completely 100% certain that the New Jersey Nets will ultimately end up moving there. There are still a few obstacles remaining such as court hearings on eminent domain issues concerning the surrounding areas of the Atlantic Yards, a mixed-use commercial and residential development area where the arena would be built. All of these obstacles have to be cleared before an official groundbreaking can take place and seal the Nets' future.

Tubious, James L. Stuckey

A short bio of the recently terminated President of the Atlantic Yards Development Group.

NolandGrab: We're fairly certain that it's James P. Stuckey — "that's a capital... "P" that stands for pool." (Hey, Stuckey always did remind us of The Music Man.)

Medium Happiness, Seriously You Shouldn’t Have Gone To Columbia
How greedy is Columbia University? Some believe, as greedy as Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner:

I read about a group of students that are (or at this point might have already begun) waging a hunger strike to protest the egregious, indefensible transgressions of Columbia University over the past “decade”. It was not long ago that I myself attended a very wealthy, urban school in another city. On a certain level, I can identify with their plight. Ineffably wealthy schools like Columbia, NYU, or George Washington have a knack for overlooking the little people in pursuit of what they are really after–making more money. But, there is one thing, if anything, that you learn once you’ve walked and breathed the rarified air of these places–they cannot be stopped. Much like Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn or Foggy Bottom in Washington, DC, Columbia will develop and gobble up what it pleases.

Queens Crap, Coming soon to Atlantic Yards...
It's high-artchitecture, but is it waterproof?

Posted by lumi at 4:39 AM

Gridlock at 30,000 Feet

NY Magazine
By Michael Idov

Here's a sign that "Bruce Ratner" has become synonymous with rampant overdeveloper and pariah to the community [apparently there are some things even Ratner couldn't get away with (but not many)]:

The Port Authority has the power to build new runways, but the immutable fact is that the area’s airports may have reached their natural limits. JFK has been expanded over the marshlands seven times. To make it any bigger, says an FAA official who wishes to remain anonymous, “we’d have to condemn a bunch of buildings in the Rockaways.” That, needless to say, is a project even Bruce Ratner couldn’t ram through without causing some kind of uprising. All the agency can offer at our three airports in the near term is more “holding pads”—the idea being that idling planes might as well get serviced while they wait.


Posted by lumi at 4:23 AM

November 1, 2007

Trick or Treat #3: Loch Ness Monster Challenges Floating Tree

Some things are so strange that you can't make 'em up:

It's hard to know what to make of the Loch Ness Monster public art being rolled out in a salt marsh in Marine Park in the far reaches of Brooklyn, except that it launches the same week as the Floating Tree and that it's sponsored by developer Bruce Ratner. The 12 1/2-foot replica of the mythical monster is the work of artist Cameron Gainer and it's being floating out to its new home as we speak via boat, diver and park ranger.


Posted by lumi at 6:30 AM

October 30, 2007

Zombie developer outbreak continues to plague Brooklyn


For info about how to survive a zombie outbreak, click here or here.

Click here for additional photos.

Posted by lumi at 12:04 PM

October 17, 2007



NY Post

Bruce Ratner served on the panel of judges for the Post's sixth annual Liberty Medals. Other local luminaries who served on the "distinguished panel of New Yorkers" that selected the winners were:

Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of the Weinstein Co.; Lloyd Williams, chairman of the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce; Martha Nelson, group editor, Time Inc.; CUNY Chancellor Dr. Matthew Goldstein; City Comptroller William Thompson; Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta.

The winners will be presented their awards tonight and are profiled in today's Post.

NoLandGrab: Liberty Medals should not to be confused with Liberty Bonds, which Ratner secured for his Atlantic Terminal highrise building. According to the NYC Economic Development Corporation, tax-exempt Liberty Bonds were supposed to be used to "support rebuilding effort of lower Manhattan in New York City." Atlantic Terminal is in Brooklyn, next to Ratner's Atlantic Center Mall and across the street from where the developer proposes to build Atlantic Yards.

Posted by lumi at 7:53 AM

October 16, 2007

It came from the Blogosphere...

Blogosphere91.gif The Knickerblogger, Simple Questions the Big Daily Papers Never Asked:
Some reaction to the oral arguments in the appeal of the federal eminent domain case:

Why is the ESDC defending a proposal that knowingly would bring in less money than a competing project, and NOT require disenfranchising other citizens?

Why Is the state taking such a cavalier attitude towards impropriety and corruption? Isn't this a de facto endorsement of government corruption?

New Media Newsroom 2007C, Vibe and Ratner

Did anybody else notice Bruce Ratner in a photo montage in the September issue of Vibe? It was about who parties with Jay-Z. Sure, they work together, but it's hard to imagine the actual party. See the mag for the full effect.

NoLandGrab: Does anyone have a copy?

Extremes of Perception, Astounding
Atlantic Yards joins the eminent domain hall of fame.

The Knickerblogger, You can't construct an arena and put it right against a street in a post 9/11 world....

...Unless you live in the fantasy world of Bruce Ratner/Forest City/ESDC, where demapping city streets is good urban planning and luxury condos are affordable housing.

Posted by lumi at 7:43 AM

October 5, 2007

It came from the Blogosphere...

BruceHomeboy.jpgThe Knickerblogger, Seroiusly Could Dickens Have Come Up With A Better Villian Than Bruce Ratner?
Knickerblogger outlines "super-villian" Bruce Ratner's "ethics problem," but "seroiusly," can someone send this blogger a dictionary?

NoLandGrab: Lumi would lend out hers but she seriously needs it.

Die Hard Fans Anonymous, The Dirty Dozen

One sports fan lists his picks for the 12 worst franchises in pro sports, and is under the impression that Ratner's project in Brooklyn "cannot get off the ground... If only the Brooklyn deal could just get done, then these Nets would rocket up the rankings."

Yeah, if only the arena were finished, then order would be restored to the universe.

Posted by lumi at 1:15 PM

October 3, 2007

Feasts and Fetes

From New York Social Diary:


Two weeks ago Wednesday, Lighthouse International held its Henry A. Grunwald Award for Public Service Luncheon chaired by Louise Grunwald, named in honor of her late husband Henry A. Grunwald, who was the first recipient of the award. The Grunwalds’ longtime friend Liz Smith emceed, and another friend Ted Sorenson was keynote speaker. The honorees included Peter G. Peterson, Ellen Ratner and Jeffrey E. Mittman, a soldier partially blinded in the Iraqi War.

Mr. Peterson is Senior Chairman and Co-founder of The Blackstone Group. Ellen Ratner is Bureau Chief Talk Radio News Service, Political Editor, TALKERS Magazine, and Fox News Contributor; and Jeffrey E. Mittman is a soldier who was partially blinded in the Iraqi War. The Honorable R. James Nicholson, Secretary of Veterans Affairs introduced Sergeant Mittman. The Henry A. Grunwald Award for Public Service recognizes individuals who are committed to advancing public awareness of vision impairment and vision rehabilitation.
Vice Chairmen and guests included more Grunwald friends: Felix and Liz Rohatyn, Henry Kissinger, Holly Peterson, Barbara Walters, Marie-Josee and Henry Kravis, Alice and Tom Tisch, Gayfryd Steinberg, Mike Wallace, Amy Fine Collins, Mike Wallace, Mica Ertegun, Bruce Ratner.

BruceMichaelRatner-NYSD.jpg article


Ellen Ratner is the sister of Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner.

Their brother Michael Ratner is president of the Center for Constitutional Rights and an investor in the New Jersey Nets NBA franchise, for which the State of New York is using eminent domain to seize property for the team's new arena. There is currently a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of taking private property for the benefit of a private enterprise — Michael Ratner and the Center for Constitutional Rights are not plaintiffs.


Bruce Ratner does not personally make campaign contributions, in order to avoid the appearance that he's buying political support for his projects.

Michael Ratner has made significant contributions to local politicians who support Atlantic Yards. Ellen Ratner's $4,500 contribution to Atlantic Yards supporter and NYC Comptroller William Thompson was bundled with contributions from Michael Ratner, his wife Karen Ranucci, Bruce Ratner's girlfriend Pamela Lipkin and Bruce's daughter Rebecca.

Norman Oder of Atlantic Yards Report uncovered these campaign contributions and more, highlighted in his article, "The Ratner campaign money trail leads to... Michael (& his wife)."

Posted by lumi at 12:06 PM

September 20, 2007

Jane’s addiction

JaneJacobs-TONY.gifTime Out NY
By Dustin Goot

In a preview of the Jane Jacobs exhibit, Municipal Art Society (MAS) organizers are hoping that the two-billion-pound (as in $4-billion) gorilla doesn't take center stage:

Though Jacobs is often characterized by her willingness to take on the city and shut down large projects—she famously fought Robert Moses—Klemek stresses that she “was not antidevelopment,” and MAS organizers say they’re looking to foster optimistic dialogue about what’s possible in New York rather than just an anti-Ratner bitch session.


NoLandGrab: Officially, Ratner now equals "the worst developer we could think of off the top of our heads."

Posted by lumi at 8:28 PM

September 14, 2007

Rembrandt: The Met's Embarrassment of Riches

Figure Painting, art blog of Condé Nast
By Callen Blair

A new exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum says as much about the art of philanthropy as the art of Rembrandt — oh, and guess who is on the board:

If potential donors don't get the hint that philanthropy may win them immortality (the Met's board of trustess includes collectors Henry Kravis, Annette de la Renta, Shelby White, and Bruce Ratner), the pitch is unmistakable when the viewer gets to Aristotle Contemplating a Bust of Homer. On the museum's audioguide, the listener is told that Aristotle "is thinking about his career, his fame, his fortune and perhaps saying to himself 'Will I be remembered in 500 years like Homer?'"


Posted by lumi at 5:09 AM

August 18, 2007

Ratner knew! City: Bruce endangered workers at Yards site

The Brooklyn Paper
Ariella Cohen

Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner could have prevented the potentially deadly partial collapse of the Wards Bakery in April that sent bricks raining onto Pacific Street, according to a long-awaited Department of Buildings report.

The seven-page report details years of water damage and neglect that led up to the April 26 collapse of the historic building’s 200-foot parapet, concluding that the owner who inherited the damage — Ratner — should have warned demolition workers about the 100-year-old building’s dangerous condition.

“Forest City Ratner had been apprised of the deterioration … but the extent of the deterioration and the risk of the collapse had apparently not been communicated to the crew,” the report states.


Posted by amy at 9:42 AM

July 21, 2007

Bruce Ratner eyes more Brooklyn sites


Gary Buiso

This proposal for Marine Park has all the hallmarks of a Ratner project: currently occupied space, strip malls, big box stores, dissatisfied Community Boards, street de-mapping, even the rhetoric is the same:

“This will not happen in secret,” Fidler said, alluding to the anticipated public review of the project.

At first glance, he continued, “the feeling is that this is empty city-owned land, and thus would not appear to negatively impact the community.”

Forest City Ratner declined to comment for this story.

City officials last week held an interagency meeting to discuss de-mapping two streets near the site, as well as to get input about aspects of the project.


Posted by amy at 8:40 AM

June 26, 2007

Two years later, flashback to Times Magazine interview with Bruce Ratner

Bruce RatnerAtlantic Yards Report

With the benefit of hindsight, Norman Oder posts a two-year-old NY Times interview with Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner with running commentary.

Bruce Ratner doesn't talk much to the press--and when he does, he's protected--so it's worth another look at excerpts from his 6/26/05 New York Times Magazine interview conducted by Deborah Solomon, headlined Stadium, Anyone?.

Note that then-Public Editor Byron Calame criticized the Times for failing to disclose the parent company's business relationship with Ratner, but the Times never printed a note or a letter about the issue. Also note that the headline refers to a stadium, not an arena. They're not interchangeable.

Q: How do you explain the sudden vogue for stadiums and arenas? So many teams want a new home -- the Mets in Queens, the Yankees in the Bronx, the Jets with their doomed project in Manhattan. And you're building a new arena for the Nets in Brooklyn.

A: It has to do with the economics of sports. The high salaries of athletes drive the whole thing, because it creates a need for revenue. In the case of the Nets, we need an arena that has suites and luxury seating, and where you can put up advertisements all over the place.

Ratner was being reasonably candid here, warning that the issue was maximizing revenue. He also could have said that the price of the team--the tail wagging the much larger Atlantic Yards dog--was a component. And he also could have explained that naming rights to the arena might pay much of its costs.

Click here for more of the wisdom according to Ratner, including this warning, "Like so many things in life, it was just a matter of money."

Posted by lumi at 8:50 AM

June 8, 2007

Get your kicks...

Has the dismissal of the federal eminent domain case left you all hot and bothered? Nothing to do, nowhere to turn?

Before heading over to Freddy's Bar to commiserate with your neighbors, you can get a kick out of Bruce Ratner (link).

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Posted by lumi at 10:17 AM

May 23, 2007

It came from the Blogosphere...

Blogosphere53.jpg Date Hole, Smart Move: Local Documentaries
"Brooklyn Matters" as part of your classic NYC date, dinner and a movie (NLG corrections added):

So normally, a movie would be out of the question. Movies are uninspiring and more generally not a particularly original idea for a date. But when it’s a movie about something that’s happening right now in the city that you live in and you could actually affect change, it can be played as a pretty creative date idea.

This particular documentary is titled “Brooklyn Matters” and is about the pending redevelopment of the Atlantic train yards in downtown Brooklyn Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. If you haven’t been paying attention to this at all, Bruce Ratner (a prominent developer) bought up a lot of space in downtown Brooklyn Prospect Heights (and by a lot of space, we’re talking hundreds of 22 acres) and requested that the city State use eminent domain to appropriate the property (read: residences) that he couldn’t buy.

What: Brooklyn Matters
When: June 3rd, 7pm
How Much: FREE! Donate, you greedy prick.
Where: Union Docs: Take the G or the L to Lorimer/Metropolitan and walk south on Union Street.

So, after you go and get your indignation on, there’s really nothing better than to wash your misery down with the some delicious pulled pork and a delicious glass of beer. And I know that this place is the perinial favorite, but Fette Sau is, in fact, good.

Mitchell Langbert's Blog, Bloomberg--Left Wing Independent
The conservative argument against Bloomberg for President includes a large dose of welfare for sports team owners, eminent domain abuse and boondoggles for rapacious "liberal do-gooders" (Atlantic Yards issues in bold):

Bloomberg has avoided reducing government, avoided reducing taxes, presented plans for a wide range of big government boondoggles like a football stadium that no one wanted and a Robert Moses-style master plan, favored gun control, and has supported his fellow billionaires the Ochs-Sulzbergers in their goal of looting small private landlords through private-use eminent domain. At the same time that he has been supporting the ultra-rich, like Bruce Ratner and the Ochs-Sulzbergers, Bloomberg has viciously and repeatedly harassed small businesses in a dozen different ways, insisting on one regulation after another in synch with his left-wing public health compulsions.

Brownstoner, Ratner: 'Fort Greene, I've Got You Surrounded'

Man, it's getting hard to keep up with all the towers that are sprouting up in Downtown Brooklyn. Yesterday, Curbed ran some renderings of Bruce Ratner's latest project at 80 Dekalb Avenue aka 625 Fulton Street.

I Am A Child Of Television, Be Sure To Watch

Be sure to watch... On The Lot on FOX tonight.

Not because it looks like an interesting variation of the American Idol concept, with aspiring film makers being judged by a group of industry people (Carrie Fisher, Bruce Ratner, Gary Marshall, Jon Avnet) with the prize of a million dollar development deal with Dreamworks.

NoLandGrab: Um, that's supposed to be "Brett" Ratner, but it's nice to know that our community's campaign to make "Bruce" some sort of household name seems to be getting some traction.

So let's get it straight:
BRETT = filmmaker
BRUCE = national figurehead for developers-gone-wild

The Knickerblogger, Lies Have Consequences

What is curious is that is seems to be easier to get a lie known [than] the truth. We, opposition to Atlantic Yards have always felt that 'if the people knew' they would be outraged at the massive public outlays, the eminent domain abuse that Ratner is palming off as a 'civic' project. Likewise, leading up to Iraq war, i was bewildered that people actually believed there were "WMD" and Saddam was another 'Hitler'. Why is it so many people are willing to accept a lie instead of the truth?

Posted by lumi at 7:09 AM

May 18, 2007

Suit: Ratner is one bad liar

The Brooklyn Paper

Bruce Ratner is a money-grubbing liar who tricked a well-connected businessman into investing $6 million of his own money to help Ratner acquire the New Jersey Nets with promises that he “never had any intention of fulfilling,” a bombshell lawsuit charged last week.

Eugene Greene contributed the hefty sum — and rounded up another $25 million from other investors — to help Ratner buy the Nets in 2004, but now claims that the Atlantic Yards developer reneged on his promises to make Greene “the glue that helps run this team.” ...
When Greene confronted Ratner with the alleged breach of contract at the end of 2004, Ratner told him, “I don’t remember what I said. As you know, I have a memory problem,” the court papers said.

Forest City Ratner officials did not respond to several requests from The Brooklyn Paper to address Greene’s serious charges. But the company’s outside press spokesman, Joe DePlasco of Dan Klores Communications, told The Brooklyn Paper that Forest City “disagrees with Mr. Greene’s allegations and will fight them.”


Posted by lumi at 8:44 AM

May 11, 2007

Bruce Ratner: Another day, another lawsuit

BRatnerDunk.gifSteamrolling a neighborhood to steamrolling investors... with so much at stake, "Caring" Bruce Ratner is stacking up the lawsuits.

The latest, from a disgruntled investor, got some play in most of the paid-circulation dailies (the NY Times passed — like that's really news):

NY Daily News, Bizman rips Ratner over Nets worth in lawsuit

A former investor in the New Jersey Nets is suing Bruce Ratner for allegedly stiffing him out of a spot in the ownership of the Brooklyn-bound NBA team.

Eugene Greene alleges that at Ratner's request, he sank $6 million into the Nets in 2003 and also raised more than $30 million from other investors. In exchange, Greene charges, he was promised a "key role in the team's organization."

The Manhattan businessman has filed a $20 million lawsuit against Ratner, charging that senior executives with Ratner's organization told him he had been "f----d" out of the deal.
The lawsuit, which was filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, is the latest legal battle for Ratner. The developer, who bought the Nets in 2004, has been sued repeatedly over his bid to build the Atlantic Yards megaproject, which would include an arena for the team in Prospect Heights.
"We need money, money, money," Ratner said, according to court papers. "And you need to get it for us."

"You will be the glue that helps run this team," Ratner allegedly told Greene.

But Greene wasn't picked for the team's Board of Governors once Ratner's bid to buy the Nets was approved in 2004.


Greene said that when he confronted Ratner about the broken promises, he was told, "I don't remember exactly what I said. As you know, I have a memory problem."

Joe DePlasco, a spokesman for Forest City Ratner, said, "We strongly disagree with [Greene's] assertion and we will defend ourselves vigorously in court."

The NY Sun, Former Nets Investor Sues Bruce Ratner for $30M

Mr. Greene's $6 million personal investment was returned by Mr. Ratner's company, his attorney, Jonathan Sack, said.

A spokesman for Forest City Ratner Companies, Loren Riegelhaupt, said the company is reviewing the suit.

Posted by lumi at 8:19 AM

May 5, 2007


NY Post

NETS owner Bruce Ratner and his architect Frank Gehry noshing on hot dogs and fries at Nathan's Famous on Coney Island


NoLandGrab: Is Ratner scouting out alternatives suggested to him in this week's environmental hearing?

Posted by amy at 9:11 AM

April 20, 2007

Gentile: "I would never try to PULL A RATNER."

The Brooklyn Papers: "Yellow Hooker"
By Matthew Lysiak

Councilman Vince Gentile took exception to our headline two weeks ago linking him to Bruce Ratner. “I am a big fan of the Yellow Hooker,” he said after reading the recent column about his efforts to save the Green Church. “But let me make one thing clear, I would never try to pull a Ratner.” Then he followed up with an e-mail: “I just got a call saying, ‘Bless you for all you’ve done to try to save the Green Church.’ I wonder if Bruce Ratner gets those calls?”


NoLandGrab: Here's some background on "pull a Ratner."

Entry Word: pull a Ratner
Function: verb
1 to double-cross the community presumably in the name of public benefit, frequently with large amounts of public subsidy <an honest politician would never pull a Ratner>
2 to use eminent domain for private profit frequently (and often) <the developer wasn't making enough money with two malls, so he pulled a Ratner to build another>

Posted by lumi at 8:09 AM

Paradise Lost

The Brooklyn Papers
By Christopher Murray

In the Sackett Group’s thoughtful and moving revival of Lanford Wilson’s talky and rather obtuse 1975 drama, “The Mound Builders,” a small, committed group of over-educated white people are struggling to preserve a disempowered community’s hold on a tiny parcel of land against some soulless money-grubbers.

Is it any surprise that the play is being presented within a stone’s throw of the proposed Atlantic Yards mega-development?

But that’s where the similarities end. The play’s preservationists are a cadre of archeologists on a dig in Illinois, and the site is the burial ground of a long-extinct indigenous tribe. The play uses the lost civilization that “vanished without a trace” as a symbol for the frayed connections between the characters, few of whom seem to be able to sustain a relationship without betrayal, cruelty or self-destruction.


NoLandGrab: First Bruce Ratner is recognized as the posterboy for eminent domain abuse, and now he's also associated with "soulless money-grubbers."

Posted by lumi at 8:04 AM

April 9, 2007


Montauk begins to shake off its outer-borough status

NY Magazine
By Julia Chaplin

Being located on the outskirts, keeping it real and a real estate boom aren 't the only things Brooklyn and Montauk have in common:

Like Brooklyn, Montauk has long been defined by an anti-scene. On the surface, it’s a blue-collar holdout, with an abundance of inexpensive roadside motels, dive bars with sharks’ jaws on the walls, and an annual hot-dog-eating contest. Nightlife revolves around the boozy Friday-night karaoke competition at Liar’s Saloon, where the local fishermen always win.

Recently, perhaps inevitably, the town’s low-key charm has been attracting well-heeled folks who could afford to live pretty much anywhere and previously tended toward the Hamptons. In January, J.Crew CEO Mickey Drexler paid a record $27 million for Andy Warhol’s old Moorlands estate, which had sat on the market for years. Now for sale nearby is an oceanfront five-bedroom—asking price, $24.95 million—not far from the cliffside spreads occupied by the likes of Nets owner Bruce Ratner and Montauk pioneer Paul Simon.


NoLandGrab: The only difference is that Ratner doesn't live in Brooklyn, he just prefers to own large portions of it.

Posted by lumi at 7:52 AM

April 6, 2007

New chief at helm of libraries - Dionne Mack-Harvin wants to make system ‘first choice in information’


An article about the official appointment of Dionne Mack-Harvin to the position of executive director Brooklyn Public Libraries last week has a tidbit, intended to dispell rumors relating to Atlantic Yards developer "Bruce" and a new Visual and Performing Arts Library.


Mack-Harvin also dispelled rumors that Forest City Ratner Companies President Bruce Ratner has come forward to fund the new Visual and Performing Arts Library slated for the BAM Cultural District area near Ratner’s planned Atlantic Yards project.

“Bruce has not made a contribution toward the visual and performing arts library, but we do appreciate donations, and private giving has helped us launch many of the programs I mentioned earlier,” she said.


"Bruce?" Funny, on NLG, people on a first-name basis with Bruce Ratner are usually being slightly irreverent.

Posted by lumi at 7:35 AM

April 1, 2007

Sunday Comix (This cartoon is not yet rated)


Posted by lumi at 10:06 AM

March 28, 2007

Forest City Ratner Gives to Coney Island Carousel, Other Bloombergian Public Projects

The donation was for ‘causes close to Mayor’s heart,’ says watchdog

The New York Observer
By Matthew Schuerman

This is a must-read article if you've been wondering how Bruce Ratner does it. How does The Brucester get every top politician on his side, though he's been telling everyone for years that he no longer contributes to political campaigns*?


In December 2005, right as the debate over the Atlantic Yards complex was heating up and before the city made several crucial decisions about the project, Forest City Ratner gave between $450,000 and $1 million to a nonprofit closely associated with Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The donation came six months after a meeting with Mr. Bloomberg and Deputy Mayor Patricia Harris that Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner reported was a lobbying contact—although the parties now dispute that it should have been characterized as such.

What makes the contribution stand out is how unusual it is: Mr. Ratner, Forest City’s chief executive, tends to shun any of the civic glitz that other developers put on in order to “give back” to the communities in which they build. Mr. Ratner, a former city consumer-affairs commissioner, eschews campaign contributions and doesn’t even serve on the Real Estate Board of New York, preferring to allow his senior employees and paid lobbyists to exert influence on his behalf instead.

The best one-liner in the article comes from Ratner PR flack "Joey from Cobble Hill" DePlasco:

“Bruce and Forest City Ratner have indeed supported the rehabilitation of that amusement, and they are guilty of thinking it will be much loved again by kids and their families,” Mr. DePlasco said.

So why isn't this a conflict of interest?

But part of Mr. Bloomberg’s obligation, in order to raise money for these good causes, has been to abide by one stipulation handed down by the city’s Conflict of Interest Board in a May 2003 ruling: officials soliciting on behalf of city-affiliated nonprofits must refrain from asking “a prospective donor who the official knows or should know has a specific matter either currently pending or about to be pending before the City official or his or her agency, where it is within the legal authority or the duties of the soliciting official to make, affect or direct the outcome of the matter.”

By the time that June 2005 meeting happened between Mr. Ratner and the Mayor and the Deputy Mayor, Mr. Bloomberg had already pledged his support and $100 million of city funds for Atlantic Yards, a 22-acre complex that’s supposed to consist of 6,430 apartments and an arena to house the Nets basketball team.


NoLandGrab: So, AFTER the City pledged $100 million towards Atlantic Yards and AFTER the June, 2005 meeting, the City pledged an additional $105 million for "land acquisition." Why this wouldn't be a matter for the Conflict of Interest Board is unclear. Maybe the Public Advocate can look into it.

* Ratner's funding for political campaigns goes through family members, as reported by Norman Oder of Atlantic Yards Report in 2006, on: * September 5 * September 8 * September 13 * November 29

Posted by lumi at 7:54 AM

March 23, 2007

Lost in translation: Top Chinese editors visit Paper office

ChinesePress-BP.jpgThe Brooklyn Paper, Editorial

We’re still scratching our heads about it, but this week, four of China’s top newspaper editors journeyed to our DUMBO offices to talk politics, media and, yes, Bruce Ratner.

The editors, from the 300,000-circulation Shanghai Youth Daily, peppered the hard-working scribes of Brooklyn’s real newspaper with questions about how free papers stay in the black (don’t ask us!), what we think of our competition (what competition?), and how we cover powerful people like Ratner (we ask a lot of questions, and Ratner ignores us).

The trip was part of a cultural exchange set up by the State Department, which naturally sees The Brooklyn Paper as a leading voice in the struggle for Truth, Justice and the American Way.

The Chinese editors were concerned with all three, especially how American local governments can condemn private property and turn it over to another private developer via eminent domain.


NoLandGrab: Bruce Ratner could even become the International Posterboy for Eminent Domain Abuse.

Posted by lumi at 7:13 AM

March 10, 2007

Ratner Improperly Acquired Two ‘Footprint’ Properties, State Court Says


Brooklyn Daily Eagle
By Elizabeth Stull

Based on court papers filed for both sides, Justice Ira Harkavy [pictured right] on Tuesday reversed the developer’s 45-year leases to 752-766 Pacific St. and 535 Carlton Ave., (now a six-story building and a parking lot), both in Prospect Heights.

Owner Henry Weinstein had leased the properties to real estate developer Shaya Boymelgreen, which improperly sold those leases to AY 535 Carlton LLC, a company affiliated with Forest City’s Atlantic Yards Project, without obtaining the owner’s consent — as required by the lease agreements.
“My property is not for sale,” Weinstein said. “There is a much bigger issue at stake: The rule of law has to prevail. The whole reason the United States was formed was to get away from the divine right of kings.”


Posted by amy at 11:26 AM

March 7, 2007



NY Post

Some columnists use facts, some rely upon their tremendous intellect, and others bring you Bruce Ratner!

BruceRatner-NYP0703.jpgColumnist Andrea Peyser might be as shrill as a "freakin'" blogger, but today she has the inside scoop on what it's like to pal around with the Brucester:

Three long and frustrating years have passed since I walked with developer Bruce Ratner along Brooklyn's horrendously blighted Atlantic Yards...

NoLandGrab: Um Andrea, "Atlantic Yards" is currently a blueprint with state approval — you were walking along Vanderbilt Yards and probably didn't even get around to visiting with some of the nice folks who still live in the footprint, whose homes hardly constitute "ruin."

Bruce Ratner is kind of creepy when he loads up the charm:

"I don't get angry much," he said with a sly smile. "But I've done my share of screaming. You get angry, you say things," he said, turning red.

NoLandGrab: We're pretty sure that Ratner's mad at us, furious at Norman Oder and goes ballistic when someone mentions Dan Goldstein.

Don't miss this prevarication (fancy word for "liar, liar, pants on fire"):

"We're going to have parks here!" he enthused.

The "park" is in fact privately owned, publicly accessible open space, which will be closed after 8PM during the basketball season.

"To some people, I'm the devil," he said.

Does being the eminent-domain-abuse poster boy make you "the devil?"

As we walked further, to a spot where ground has yet to be broken, we passed an enormous, dead rat. We saw a bunch of discarded bags sticking out of the snow, frighteningly marked "Biohazard." And, yes, one hypodermic syringe.

Today, Norman Oder asked, "who's responsible?" (link) and linked his article about how the MTA and City of NY have allowed the railyard and the adjacent sidewalk to fill up with garbage only to have the State of NY call it "blight!"

Peyser also offers this incredible story as told by the granddaddy himself:

There were moments over the last three years that it seemed Ratner might throw in the towel.

Like when The New York Times reported that the project would be badly delayed because Ratner had failed to file enough financial data with the state. His executive vice president, Bruce Bender, got the brunt of the boss' fury.

"I called him up at 6 a.m., screaming," said Ratner. "I made him call everyone in Albany to find out if the article was wrong." It was.

This financial data has yet to be released to the public and local politicians. It's not even clear if a full financial disclosure was EVER submitted to the MTA or the Empire State Development Corporation, because both public authorities have only released one and three pages respectively of financial gibberish.

Peyser's closing betrays how little she knows about her new pal Bruce:

Welcome to Brooklyn, Mr. Ratner. And good luck.

Mr. Ratner is already the largest private-property owner in Brooklyn. He owns the two malls across the street from the footprint of the Atlantic Yards plan and is the developer of Metrotech.

What Peyser doesn't know can't hurt her, but it's killing us.


Posted by lumi at 7:48 AM

February 26, 2007

Putting Limits On Pay To Play

Gotham Gazette
By Mike Muller and Joshua Brustein

Whether it's "outright bribery" or "subtle persuasion," "New York's public officials have long accepted money from those with whom their agencies do business, and such donations are often perfectly legal. But quid pro quos... are getting increased attention from public officials."

Caring Bruce is very creative; he turned over the job of payouts to the Brooklyn machine pols to his older brother, Michael:

"When you do business with the city, you get solicited by everyone from U.S. senators down to members of the City Council," said Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner in former Public Advocate Mark Green's 2004 book on campaign finance, Selling Out. Reflecting on his past contributions and fund-raising efforts, Ratner added, "I didn't want to be a person on the outs, nor could my business afford to be a person on the outs given how much business we do with government."

Despite his qualms, Ratner still plays the game. As the Atlantic Yards Report, a blog opposed to his plan for downtown Brooklyn, writes, Ratner no longer makes campaign contributions – directly. But his brother and sister-in-law both contribute large amounts to public officials who may have sway over development projects he hopes to pursue.


NoLandGrab: Norman Oder will tell you until he's blue in the face, or you cry uncle, that just because he's a critic of many aspects of Bruce Ratner's plan and the lack of media coverage, that doesn't mean he's opposed to it.

Posted by lumi at 8:08 AM

February 19, 2007

Michael Ratner endorses DDDB over BrooklynSpeaks (not quite)

Atlantic Yards Report channels Bruce's bro, Nets investor and constitutional rights champion Michael Ratner, to settle the question once and for all: DDDB or Brooklyn Speaks?"

One lingering question in the Atlantic Yards saga is whether the generally hard-line opposition and legally focused battle by Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) is a wiser tactic than the lobbying effort by BrooklynSpeaks to change the project.
An interesting perspective, and an implicit encouragement for a hard-line approach to contested issues, comes from human rights lawyer Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR).

Sez Michael Ratner, to the Columbia U alumni mag:

"What I believe is simple: Social change comes through principled opposition to the worst excesses."


NoLandGrab: Any chance that the hefty "Lefty" has written a fat check to DDDB recently from "his" "office" at Metrotech?

Posted by lumi at 9:08 AM

Celebrity Vegas Overload: Diddy, Jay-Z, Kobe, Shaq and More, More, More Stars Plus Illegal Parties Fallout

By Robin Leach (yes, "The Robin Leach")

Jay-Z, "king of entertainment," and LeBron James, "king of sports," will take over the 42,000 square-foot TAO restaurant and nightclub tonight to co-host a private "power dinner" that will consist of a who's who in the entertainment and sports industries...

Topping the A-list is Jay-Z's partner, our favorite mogul, affectionately known as "king of Kings," and "the biggest guy around," Cleveland's favorite son, Caring Bruce Ratner.


NoLandGrab: Could Ratner be in Vegas during the all-star break to check out the propects of moving the Nets to the city that really never sleeps, just in case Atlantic Yards doesn't work, due to the lawsuit?

Posted by lumi at 7:30 AM

February 11, 2007

Wikipedia War over Michael Ratner


Don't Worry It's Just Reality: Brooklyn Edition on Michael Ratner's Wikipedia entry...

What keeps getting removed? this section:

Investigative reporter Norman Oder uncovered campaign contributions made by Micheal to politicians in Brooklyn - where he does not live - but his brother has been involved in controversial real estate deals. His brother, Bruce Ratner, has been accused of [ corruption and political ruthlessness] including eminent domain abuse. Critics have charged that Michael ignores his brother's subversion of the democratic process and unconstitutional use of eminent domain. (the project in question would force homeowners to sell their property so Forest City can build luxury condos.

Michael Ratner and his wife, Karen Ranucci, both Greenwich Village residents, have recently made campaign contributions using Forest City Ratner's Brooklyn building as a return address. Ranucci has matched many of her husband's contributions. And Bruce Ratner's girlfriend, Pamela Lipkin, as well as other Ratner family members, have made contributions engineered by an FCR lobbying firm. The Ratner campaign money trail leads to... Michael (& his wife)

apparently michael ratner's cheerleaders aren't too proud of his campaign contributions. Why not, doesn't this upstanding crusading civil libertarian support those fighting eminent domain abuse? Not when the abuser is his crooked brother.


Posted by amy at 1:45 PM

February 6, 2007

Who knew there were Nets fans in NJ? Eddie Trunk did

By David Sandora

Bruce Ratner's pick-up line falls flat on a fan:

In the music world, Eddie Trunk is known as the guy who brings hard rock and heavy metal to the radio. But in the sports world, he’s known as Mike Piazza’s buddy and a fanatic for his hometown teams. Trunk, who can be heard on Q104.3 FM, XM and VH1 Classic, talked music and sports with Metro.

EddieTrunk.jpgWhy do you feel so strongly against the Nets moving to Brooklyn?

It just really, really kills me now that all of a sudden, you put all this time into the love of your local team, and you have this guy come in who doesn’t really care about basketball — he’s a real estate developer — and he buys the team and wants to move them to Brooklyn as the centerpiece for his whole renaissance for this real estate deal that they want to do.

I confronted Bruce Ratner, the owner of the Nets. I saw him at a game, I went right up to him and told him how I felt. They’re going to tell you all the right things about, “Well we want to include you guys” — but how? It’s $14 in bridge tolls alone to go from New Jersey to Brooklyn.


[Image from]

Posted by lumi at 7:35 AM

February 2, 2007

Why they lie

The Brooklyn Paper explains why NoLandGrab can't even squeeze in a vacation, much less retire:

Lately, it seems that no matter which development story we cover — Atlantic Yards, the so-called “Brooklyn Bridge Park,” the redevelopment of Coney Island — one common theme emerges.

Developers don’t tell the truth.

And the simple reason is that they don’t want you — the taxpayers who subsidize most development going on today — to know how much of your money they’re taking.

We write about this subject a lot, but it bears repeating because the lies and subterfuge blinds many of our readers to the hidden costs of some of Brooklyn’s biggest projects.

With Atlantic Yards, developer Bruce Ratner once boasted that his project would generate $100 million in tax revenues for the city every year for 30 years. That figure is now down to $15 million. Fifteen million! That’s coffee money for a city with a $57 billion annual budget.

The city once said it would only spend $100 million on “infrastructure improvements” at the Atlantic Yards site. That figure is now $205 million — and the mayor told our reporter this week that the final figure will be higher.

More lies!

Posted by lumi at 8:15 AM

January 23, 2007

Happy Bruce Day to You!

BirthdayBruce.jpgHow old are you now?

From Wikipedia:

Bruce Ratner (born January 23, 1945 in Cleveland, Ohio) is president and CEO of Forest City Ratner, the New York division of Forest City Enterprises, which is based in Cleveland. Ratner was New York City's most active real estate developer during the 1990s. Ratner graduated cum laude from Harvard University in 1967 and graduated from Columbia Law School in 1970.

"The Brucester" started out with a promising career in public service:

After obtaining his J.D. Ratner became the director of a Model Cities program for the Lindsay administration in New York City. Subsequently he served in the capacity of chief of the Consumer Protection Division in the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs under Mayor Ed Koch in 1978.

"Birthday Bruce" is known in some circles as the poster child for eminent domain abuse*, but in Brooklyn he's affectionately known as the "biggest guy around" and "Big Brother Bruce."

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn regrets that Bruce didn't get Prospect Heights for his birthday, but expect that tug of war to continue.

* Projects where Bruce Ratner has benefited or intends to benefit from the use of eminent domain include, Metrotech, The NY Times Tower, Atlantic Yards and a mixed-use redevelopment in Bloomfield, NJ.

Posted by lumi at 11:02 AM

January 19, 2007

Nets' owner Ratner choosing money over loyalty

The Bergen Record
By Ian O'Connor, columnist

OConnor-BergenR.jpgThe Record's veteran sports columnist visits Brooklyn and goes to town on Ratner:

"I'm at the games," Ratner said. "I see them, I meet the people, I love them."

Yes, he loves them. And yes, he's got the funniest way of showing it.

Away from a news conference podium, before he was rushed off by aides who thought they were guarding a head of state, Ratner said through a straight face, "We just think that we have great fans in New Jersey."

So great, in fact, that the owner will offer his own show of fan appreciation during the 2009-10 season when he asks those beloved New Jerseyans to take the kind of four-hour round-trip commute I took to listen to him gloat about the future of the Brooklyn Nets, not to mention all those wonderfully lucrative buildings he'll erect around them.

Ratner is a smart, rich, well-connected businessman. He's also a phony.
Ratner just needs to stop acting like some noble lord of a charitable trust. Like every other gasbag suit in the house Thursday, Ratner went on and on about the "vision" he had for Brooklyn's youth. He sounded as if he wanted to build a new high school at his own expense, rather than a sixth borough to call his own.

O'Connor catches the slap in the face to the African-American fan base:

If Ratner cared to reveal himself as a true philanthropist with Brooklyn's best interests at heart, he would have named this arena after Jackie Robinson and told Barclays to keep its cash. That way, Ratner would've avoided potentially awkward chats with his ballplayers and a diverse Brooklyn fan base -- the people who might wonder why Ratner is in business with a bank once forced out of South Africa by anti-apartheid protests.

However, even a seasoned columnist left the Mayor's myth-making unchallenged:

"It's only fitting that Brooklyn's future include a major sports team coming to play at the site that would've been the home of the Dodgers had they not been stolen away by Los Angeles," Bloomberg said.


Mayor Mike's Mythology: Alas, Bruce Ratner already built the Atlantic Center Mall over the site that Walter O'Malley coveted for a new Dodgers ballpark.

Posted by lumi at 9:40 AM

Barclays and Nets Announce Partnership to Further Brooklyn Renaissance

Barclays Center Agreement Provides Significant Investment in Brooklyn and Advances Local Community Initiatives

Barclays-logo.gifFrom the Barclays & Forest City Ratner joint press release, via PR Newswire (complete release after the jump):

"We are very proud to be a partner with Barclays, a prestigious company that exemplifies and shares our commitment to excellence, leadership and success," said Bruce Ratner, President and CEO of FCRC and Chairman of the Nets.

NoLandGrab: Not to mention that the deal with Barclays constitutes a big slap in the face to the African-American community.

NEW YORK, Jan. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Barclays, a leading global financial services company, and the Nets, of the National Basketball Association, today announced a multi-faceted strategic marketing partnership that includes the 20-year naming rights to the Barclays Center, the planned centerpiece of the Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn. This will be the planned new world-class home of the Nets. The Barclays Center will feature a state-of-the-art sports and entertainment arena, designed by Frank Gehry, which will seat up to 20,000 people.

"Barclays is thrilled to partner with the Nets in this exciting endeavor. We are delighted to put our name to a development that will be a visual and economic landmark in the renaissance of Brooklyn," said Robert E. Diamond, Jr., President, Barclays PLC. "This opportunity brings together economic prosperity for Brooklyn and the chance to participate, in a unique way, in the cultural and sporting life of New York."

In addition to the agreement, Barclays has also agreed to partner with the Nets in the Nets-Barclays Sports Alliance, a non-profit organization whose goal is to promote athletics, education and personal development among young people in Brooklyn. The alliance will, as its first objective, repair and renovate basketball courts and other sports facilities throughout the borough, as well as sponsor amateur athletic tournaments and clinics for Brooklyn's youth.

This initiative mirrors the Barclays Spaces for Sports program in the UK, which helps local communities transform neglected land into the sporting facilities they want -- from skateboard parks to soccer fields or multi-use game areas. So far Barclays has opened more than 100 community sports sites across the UK.

"We are very proud to be a partner with Barclays, a prestigious company that exemplifies and shares our commitment to excellence, leadership and success," said Bruce Ratner, President and CEO of FCRC and Chairman of the Nets. "We believe this partnership marks an important moment in Brooklyn's history and its place on the international stage. With this essential investment in Atlantic Yards and the borough, we are now one step closer to our goal of bringing thousands of jobs, mixed-income housing, and, of course, a world-class arena and franchise to Brooklyn."

"We are excited that one of the most respected global financial services companies has chosen to partner with an NBA team to demonstrate its commitment to the United States market as well as its desire to make a difference in the communities where it operates," said NBA Commissioner David Stern.

"This partnership is a defining moment for the Nets business and brand," said Brett Yormark, President & CEO of Nets Sports and Entertainment. "It truly strengthens our position as a leading sports and entertainment franchise. We could not be more pleased than to have a partner as distinguished and well-respected as Barclays."

Brooklyn is the most populous borough of NYC and the Barclays Center will provide retail establishments and commercial offices in the area. It will also serve as a venue for arts and other athletic events. The Barclays Center is expected to include an 850,000 square foot world-class arena, which is scheduled to open for the 2009-2010 NBA Season. The arena expects to host more than 200 events annually, many of them family-oriented. The new partnership covers 20 years from the Nets' first season in their new arena, slated for 2009.

Barclays has been in the US for more than a century. Barclays Capital is one of the world's fastest-growing investment banks, focused on risk management and financing and has US headquarters in New York City. Barclays Global Investors, the world's largest asset management business, has its global headquarters in San Francisco, and Barclaycard, the credit card business, has its US headquarters in Wilmington, DE.

Sports are a significant part of the Barclays worldwide sponsorship portfolio, which includes The Barclays, the PGA TOUR event at the Westchester Country Club scheduled for August 20-26 this year. In addition, Barclays sponsors The Barclays Scottish Open golf tournament at Loch Lomond, the Barclays Singapore Open golf tournament and the Barclays Premiership, the world's leading soccer league.

About Barclays PLC

Barclays PLC is a major global financial services provider engaged in retail and commercial banking, credit cards, investment banking, wealth management and investment management services. We are one of the largest financial services companies in the world by market capitalisation. With over 300 years of history and expertise in banking, Barclays operates in over 60 countries and employs around 120,000 people. We move, lend, invest and protect money for over 25 million customers and clients worldwide.

About Barclays Capital

Barclays Capital is the investment banking division of Barclays Bank PLC which has an AA long-term credit rating and a balance sheet of over US$1.8 trillion. With a distinctive business model, Barclays Capital provides large corporate, government and institutional clients with solutions to their financing and risk management needs. Barclays Capital has the global reach and distribution power to meet the needs of issuers and investors worldwide. Barclays Capital Inc. is a member of the NASD and SIPC.

About Barclays Global Investors

Barclays Global Investors is one of the world's largest asset managers and a leading global provider of investment management products and services. It has over 2,800 institutional clients and over $1.6 trillion of assets under management. It transformed the investment industry by creating the first index strategy in 1971 and the first quantitative active strategy in 1978. BGI is the global product leader in Exchange Traded Funds (iShares) with over 180 funds for institutions and individuals trading in 13 markets. Globally, it has $222 billion of iShares assets under management.

About Barclaycard

Barclaycard has more than 15 million retail customers world wide including more than 3.2 million in the U.S. through affinity programs. Barclaycard US is one of the fastest growing credit card issuers in the U.S. with more than 40 existing card partnerships with some of the most successful companies in the U.S.

For further information please visit:

Barclays, Barclays Center, Barclays Capital, Barclays Global Investors, iShares and Barclaycard are trademarks of Barclays Bank PLC.

About Forest City Ratner Companies

FCRC is a subsidiary of Forest City Enterprises, Inc., an $8.5 billion NYSE-listed (ticker: FCEA & FCEB) national real estate company. Forest City Enterprises is principally engaged in the ownership, development, management and acquisition of commercial and residential real estate and land throughout the United States.

About the Nets

The Nets are a member of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The team reached the NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003 and has advanced to the playoffs for five consecutive seasons. The Nets currently play at Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, NJ.

Forward-looking statements (Barclays)

This document contains certain forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 21E of the US Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, and Section 27A of the US Securities Act of 1933, as amended, with respect to certain of Barclays plans and its current goals and expectations relating to its future financial condition and performance. These forward-looking statements can be identified by the fact that they do not relate only to historical or current facts. Forward-looking statements sometimes use words such as 'aim', 'anticipate', 'target', 'expect', 'estimate', 'intend', 'plan', 'goal', 'believe', or other words of similar meaning. Examples of forward- looking statements include, among others, statements regarding Barclays future financial position, income growth, impairment charges, business strategy, projected levels of growth in the banking and financial markets, projected costs, estimates of capital expenditures, and plans and objectives for future operations.

By their nature, forward-looking statements involve risk and uncertainty because they relate to future events and circumstances, including, but not limited to, global as well as US economic and business conditions, market related risks such as changes in interest rates and exchange rates, the policies and actions of governmental and regulatory authorities, changes in legislation, and the impact of competition -- a number of which factors are beyond Barclays control. As a result, Barclays actual future results may differ materially from the plans, goals, and expectations set forth in Barclays forward-looking statements. Any forward-looking statements made by or on behalf of Barclays speak only as of the date they are made. Barclays does not undertake to update forward-looking statements to reflect any changes in Barclays expectations with regard thereto or any changes in events, conditions or circumstances on which any such statement is based. The reader should, however, consult any additional disclosures that Barclays has made or may make in documents it has filed or may file with the SEC.

Safe Harbor Language (FCRC)

Statements made in this news release that state the Company or management's intentions, hopes, beliefs, expectations or predictions of the future are forward-looking statements. It is important to note that the Company's actual results could differ materially from those projected in such forward-looking statements. Additional information concerning factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward- looking statements include, but are not limited to, real estate development and investment risks, economic conditions in the Company's core markets, reliance on major tenants, the impact of terrorist acts, the Company's substantial leverage and the ability to service debt, guarantees under the Company's credit facility, changes in interest rates, continued availability of tax-exempt government financing, the sustainability of substantial operations at the subsidiary level, significant geographic concentration, illiquidity of real estate investments, dependence on rental income from real property, conflicts of interest, competition, potential liability from syndicated properties, effects of uninsured loss, environmental liabilities, partnership risks, litigation risks, risks associated with an investment in a professional sports franchise, and other risk factors as disclosed from time to time in the Company's SEC filings, including, but not limited to, the Company's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended January 31, 2006. Website: Website: Website: Website: Website:

Posted by lumi at 7:43 AM

January 17, 2007

The faces, attitudes and ages of NBA owners are changing: old school, new school

Contra Costa Times
By Marcus Thompson II

An article about the newest crop of NBA owners has this tidbit about Bruce Ratner and Atlantic Yards that's news to us (emphasis added):

Bruce Ratner, a 61-year-old real estate developer who had hip-hop icon Jay-Z's help paying $300 million for the Nets, is planning to privately fund a $4 billion, 22-acre complex that includes an 18,000-seat arena, a housing complex, a hotel, a shopping center and skyscrapers for office buildings.


NoLandGrab: Bruce Ratner doesn't privately fund any of his projects, but his PR department is doing a great snow job on the media.

Public spending for Atlantic Yards could reach $2 billion, only we don't know the exact amount because NY State and Ratner consider that top-secret information crucial to their "negotiations."

Posted by lumi at 7:57 AM

January 6, 2007

Bruce Ratner Will Ensure You Have Overpriced Coffee


Daily Intelligencer

Speaking of the inexorable march of franchised coffee, we noticed something interesting while idly gazing at some Atlantic Yards plans today. While much about Bruce Ratner's project is still up in the air — Miss Brooklyn's size, the project's time line, the exact numbers of jobs it will create and people it will push out of their homes, who will win Daniel Goldstein's lawsuits — one thing, however, is set in stone, at least according to sketches provided by Frank Gehry's office. Atlantic Yards will definitely have a Starbucks.

This story might look familiar to some...

Posted by amy at 11:32 AM

December 31, 2006


Views from the Bridge

Bruce Ratner rides the same breed of horse as the Neo-Conservatives though he would no doubt vehemently deny it. It is not so much that the ends justify the means with Forest City Ratner, as it is an article of faith that some people are imbued by providence with the ability to plan, decide, and seal the fate of those they regard as less able beings. It is not that Bruce Ratner believes he rules public finance by Divine Right. It is that for him, like George Bush, the law is a secular impediment to his role as the conduit for the divine will. The law just gets in his way.

To Mr. Ratner, the Atlantic Yards Project is more than the law, the state, the nation, and its people. We mortals here below are not able to grasp that fact, and so when the high trinity of New York State politics gathered in Albany this month, they “sanctified” Mr. Ratner’s mission in spite of the evidence. Apparently they agree that he is gifted with the angelic visionary ability to create for us what we cannot see we ought to do for ourselves. Like the Archangel Michael, Mr. Ratner wrestles with secular law to beat it into cooperating for the higher – though as yet unseen -- good. To him, those of us who see this as a mass mugging of the public treasure simply have feet of clay. We need indoctrination, not honest dispute.


Posted by amy at 11:07 AM

December 8, 2006


NY Newsday
By Laura Mann and Abigail W. Leonard

Bruce Ratner's East End (not East Side) neighbor just reduced the asking price of his compound:

Wildlife and fashion photographer Peter Beard recently lowered the asking price on his cliff-side property in Montauk from $32 million to $20 million. John Hollyer, listing agent for Prudential Douglas Elliman, says Beard has "mixed feelings" about selling the storied estate, where neighbors include singer Paul Simon and New Jersey Nets owner Bruce Ratner.


Posted by lumi at 6:38 AM

December 6, 2006

It came from the Blogosphere...

Blogosphere19.jpgDon't Worry It's Just Reality (Brooklyn Ed.), Why do "nice guys" like Michael Ratner Associate With 'bad guys' like Bruce Ratner?

It's a trick question... he's not a nice guy.

In a subsequent post, Dreadnaught notes that Michael Ratner is an international human rights lawyer, which gets him off the hook for local human rights.

The Gowanus Lounge, Christmas + Atlantic Yards = Atlantic Yards Youtube Christmas Carols
GL gives the Prospect Heights Action Carolers some airplay and has this warning for Marty Markowtiz:

Do you begin to sense what will happen if the BP runs for Mayor and people hold a grudge? The only mayoral candidate with a pre-mixed opposition group.

Gawker, Memo to Bruce Ratner: Where's Your YouTube Video, Hmmmm?

If you really wanna see Bruce Ratner's YouTube video, click here.

[Note: Give it up for targeted advertising. When we viewed Bruce Ratner's YouTube vid, the banner ad for Cingular featured Nets minority owner, Jay-Z.]

I'm Seeing Green, Atlantic Yards Light

Worried about being blown over by the Atlantic Yards project?

The Gowanus Lounge, Atlantic Yards: A Terrorist Attack is Not a "Reasonable Worst-Case Scenario"?

If a major terrorist attack is not "a reasonable worst-case scenario" for an arena atop a train and subway station with a highrise atop it and apartments nearby, what is?

You can overlook all of the impacts of Atlantic Yards that have been ignored: scale, density, pollution, congestion, shadows, etc., etc., etc., but even the most enthusiastic backer of the project should ask that officialdom hit the pause button until proper anti-terrorism and safety planning is done.

Posted by lumi at 6:52 AM

December 1, 2006

Ratner’s bro on the warpath

The Brooklyn Papers
By Gersh Kuntzman

This week's Brooklyn Papers has a little tidbit about Michael Ratner's fight for accountability. We're talking about the War on Terror, not the Battle Against Brooklyn:

Ratner’s group, the Center for Constitutional Rights, filed a criminal complaint in Germany against Rumsfeld, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and former CIA Director George Tenet on behalf of 12 Iraqis and Saudis who had been allegedly abused at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay by their American captors.

“There has to be some accountability for Donald Rumsfeld,” Ratner told Bloomberg News.

Funny, that’s what many Brooklynites are saying about his brother.


NoLandGrab: Actually, many Brooklynites are saying the same thing about Michael Ratner.

Just this week Atlantic Yards Report revealed that City Planning officials met with Forest City Ratner and Frank Gehry's people in Michael Ratner's office. It's also beginning to look like Michael Ratner is the bag man for Forest City Ratner's local political funding operations. Did we forget to mention that he is an investor in the Nets?

Posted by lumi at 4:34 PM

November 6, 2006

"A Magical Evening" — with Lane, Fierstein, Streep and Jersey Boys — Benefits Reeve Foundation Nov. 6

By Ernio Hernandez

Playbill ran the piece again about tonight's black-tie fundraiser for the Christopher Reeve Foundation, along with the bit about, honoring "Visionary" Bruce Ratner.

Nathan Lane, Harvey Fierstein, Donny Osmond, Meryl Streep and stars of The Times They Are A-Changin', The Jersey Boys, Tarzan and more will take part in "A Magical Evening" benefit for the Christopher Reeve Foundation Nov. 6.

The event, which will celebrate the strength and courage of the late Christopher and Dana Reeve, will be held at the Marriott Marquis.
The Christopher Reeve Foundation will present the first-ever Dana Reeve Hope Award to Cristina Carlino, founder and CEO of Philosophy, Inc. The Visionary Leadership Award will also be bestowed upon Forest City Ratner Companies President and CEO Bruce C. Ratner and The Honorable Thomas H. Kean.


NoLandGrab: It's hard to argue with the event organizers: Bruce Ratner is a visionary. It's just too bad he's so shortsighted.

*It is amazing how one man's "visionary" is another man's villain:.

Posted by lumi at 8:29 AM

November 3, 2006

Marked Maverick

Bruce Ratner Yahoo Sports
By Adrian Wojnarowski

An article about Mark Cuban, the passionate owner of the NBA's Mavericks, uses Bruce Ratner to make a point about "caring:"

Listen, Cuban isn't perfect, but his flaws are forever in the spirit of trying, of caring, which is more than you can say for a lot of the mummies owning teams in the league. Bruce Ratner bought the Nets to cut a real estate deal in Brooklyn. He wouldn't know a basketball if Cuban threw it upside his head.


Posted by lumi at 6:37 AM

October 28, 2006

Fodder for "The Onion"

Don't Worry It's Just Reality: Brooklyn Edition

There are some quotes that are ridiculous you stop and check the this a spoof? Sadly it isn't: Mayor Bloomberg:
Bruce Ratner is as good a developer as you can find in terms of building quality projects and including the neighbors,

If the Mayor's idea of 'quality' is Metrotech and Atlantic Mall, then scary times are head..and I don't mean Halloween. Including neighbors? Is the mayor at all aware that Ratner kept our community boards out of the process and all of them have publicly complained about this and have serious objections to the size of this project and the use of eminent domain? That politicians would say things like this, which fly in the face of reality indicates to me either Ratner is extraordinarily charming at Upper East Side cocktail parties (doubtful) or extraordinarily good at backroom deals (likely).


Dreadnaught apparently does not know about Ratner's Visionary Leadership...

Posted by amy at 7:20 PM

October 10, 2006

The Dirty 30

More evidence that Bruce Ratner is becoming the man New Yorkers love to hate, from Slam Online (emphasis added):


Best of times: The rotation gets deeper with Marcus Williams, and the Nets are able to rest Kidd just enough for him to be a force in the playoffs, and Vince attacks the basket when he needs to. Jay-Z’s return from retirement saves New York Hip Hop and the east coast b(i)ased media declares another golden era on its way. Rappers from the other 49 states get day jobs.

Worst of times: Jason Kidd finally runs out of gas, Vince is given the keys to the franchise and he drives it off a cliff. Richard Jefferson has his first pessimistic thought. Jay-Z is too old and boring and his legacy is tainted. Once the Nets move to Brooklyn, Jay’s portion of ownership is forcefully bought out, and he suffers the same indignity that his idol Michael Jordan did with the Wizards. Bruce Ratner reaches Robert Moses and Walter O’Malley levels of hatred from New York City residents.


Posted by lumi at 6:24 AM

September 22, 2006

How did Ratner get to build a downtown Brooklyn tower? The state won't say

Atlantic Yards Report:

So Forest City Ratner will build a $186-million Renzo Piano-designed tower at a site owned by the City University of New York's College of Technology bounded by Jay, Johnston, and Tillary streets. That site now includes the Klitgord Auditorium, where the Atlantic Yards public hearing and community forums were held.

The building would be about 1 million square feet--almost as big as Miss Brooklyn, the largest building in the Atlantic Yards plan--which suggests it could be 50 to 60 stories tall. It will include classrooms, luxury condos, and some affordable housing.

While the size of the development is apparently as of right, given the recent rezoning of Downtown Brooklyn, other questions remain. However, as the Brooklyn Papers reported, the state won't release details about the finances or the bid process.


Posted by amy at 11:18 PM

September 6, 2006

Press Release: City Council Member Letitia James Endorses NY State Assembly Candidate Bill Batson

BatsonJames.jpgFrom the Bill Batson press release on today's endorsement by the stalwart critic of eminent domain abuse and Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal, City Councilmember Letitia James:

"Bill has been described as a 'one-note candidate', but nothing could be further from the truth," James said. "In Albany, Bill will be dedicated to fighting for more affordable housing for this district, for increased subsidies for NYCHA residents, and for the Campaign for Fiscal Equity money so desperately needed by our public schools," continued James, "I am honored to go to Bat for Batson."

[Full release after the jump.]

Brooklyn, NY – Today, Council Member Letitia James endorsed 57th Assembly District Candidate Bill Batson at an 11am press conference, in front of the recently closed Associated Supermarket at 176 Myrtle Avenue.

"Bill has been described as a 'one-note candidate', but nothing could be further from the truth," James said. "In Albany, Bill will be dedicated to fighting for more affordable housing for this district, for increased subsidies for NYCHA residents, and for the Campaign for Fiscal Equity money so desperately needed by our public schools," continued James, "I am honored to go to Bat for Batson."

Sadique Wai, Batson supporter and member of the United African Congress stated, "I have known Bill for many years. He will fight for all of the people of this district—the recent immigrants and the long-time residents of this country. To Bill, we are all people that need to be heard."

The press conference was held in front of the shuttered market—which stands in the shadow of MetroTech—to illustrate the underdevelopment of parts of the district, while other portions are being overdeveloped.

"We cannot stand by any longer, watching developers get public subsidies from our city and state, allowed to run amok in our Borough, building things that do not benefit us. We watch as our hospitals close, our supermarkets close, and our schools suffer," Batson thundered. "I'm going to Albany to help Brooklyn fight back!"

Batson has already received endorsements from Norman Siegel, Major Owens, City Council Member Bill DeBlasio, and City Councilman/Congressional Candidate Charles Barron, Congressional Candidate Chris Owens, CSEA, the Sierra Club, CBID, and DFNYC, among others.

Posted by lumi at 10:35 PM

August 25, 2006

Follow the Leader on AY hearing

NY Press political blog Follow the Leader calls the Atlantic Yards hearing in favor of the Ratner supporters even going as far as saying:

Unions, apparently, are better at getting their people to show up on time.

Incivility ruled on both sides, but was particularly noticeable from the opposition, who were pretty personal towards elected officials when the room was quiet. To Marty Markowitz: "you sold out your borough, scumbag," to Roger Green: "you're a criminal," "you're a crook," to Karim Camara: "go hang out with Clarence." One elderly woman even had to be removed for her outburst during Martin Golden's pro-development statement.

Also, John D. notices that David Yassky's "nice-looking signs were displayed everywhere" and "Charles Barron's congressional campaign were (sic) handing out one of the most unprofessional looking pieces of literature I've ever seen."

ACORN-Bruce.jpgToday's post on the hearing featured this photo of the de-spectacled Bruce Ratner leading the ACORN demonstration beside Executive Director Bertha Lewis, with the jubilant Bruce Bender in his wake.


NoLandGrab: Follow the Leader may not realize that union members are typically paid for time spent at demonstrations supported by the union leadership.

Also, Yassky's campaign war chest of more than a million dollars buys the "nice-looking signs" that Barron's grass-roots campaign can't afford.

More Follow the Leader coverage of the hearing:
Critical Endorsements, Athlete Edition

Taking a page out of the New York Jets' book, in which you have stars of the past and future come out in support of your stadium project, Atlantic Yards picked up the endorsements of the New Jersey Nets' Vince Carter and Jason Kidd today.

[This post also repeats the erroneous report on NY1 that Heath Ledger and Rosie Perez were at the hearing.]

Gentrify Me

During last night's hearing, Assemblyman Roger Green made it crystal clear what he thinks of those who would oppose the Atlantic Yards project: they should go back where they came from, or at least try to navigate the 'hood.

Posted by lumi at 11:31 AM

August 12, 2006

Pol Position: If That’s Being Iconic, We’d Hate to See Normal


Queens Ledger discusses Marty's choice of architect Robert Scarano as the first "Brooklyn Icon":

We couldn’t determine through our sloppy research if there was ever a second Brooklyn Icon named, but if the first one is any indication of the type of candidate that is considered, we really can’t wait for #2. In fact, we even have a few suggestions of our own (come on, you knew that we would). Perhaps the borough president’s office could consider Bruce Ratner as their second Brooklyn Icon? Or what about Joshua Guttman, he seems like a pretty stand-up guy. And there’s always Clarence Norman.


Posted by amy at 1:34 PM

Friday: The Sad $12m NoHo Penthouse, the Happy Midtown Salad, Sickly Brooklyn

The Real Estate:

Ratner recap: The Bruce gets $60.8 million in cash, plus 3.9 million units of stock, from his pals at Forest City Enterprises. Sweet deal, right? Yet in return he hands over his 30% stake in Forest City Ratner to FCE, which means saying goodbye to 30 enormous properties--including Atlantic Yards and the new Renzo Piano Times HQ. Matthew Schuerman explains: it's all about philanthropy.


Posted by amy at 1:29 PM

August 6, 2006

The Score: That chap Bruce is Doing a Ratner

NY Daily News

Sports columnists Michael O'Keefe and Teri Thompson carry an item you won't see on the telly, as they have a wee bit o' fun covering "Doing a Ratner."

According to Wikipedia, "Doing a Ratner" is a British phrase referring to a business executive who disparages his company's products and customers, frequently with disastrous results.
Wikipedia notes, however, that Caring Bruce Ratner has also suffered from foot-in-mouth disease: "On the other side of The Pond, a Forest City Enterprises executive, developer Bruce Ratner, characterized his own Atlantic Center mall as 'not something that we're terribly proud of.' Additionally, in May 2004, Bruce Ratner memorably insulted customers who live near the same mall to a New York Times reporter: 'Here you're in an urban area, you're next to projects, you've got tough kids.'"

We don't know what "Doing a Dolan" means in England, but here in New York, it loosely translates to "running a premier sports franchise into the ground."


NoLandGrab: In Brooklyn, "Doing a Dolan" means shelling out $13 million dollars on a PR campaign to derail new sports-venue competition.

Regrettably, Dolan isn't "Doing a Dolan" on "Caring Bruce."

Posted by lumi at 9:17 AM

August 2, 2006

"Doing a Ratner"

According to Wikipedia:

Doing a Ratner is a British business phrase referring to a chief executive or a senior person of a company who criticises the company's products or disparages the customers, frequently with disastrous results for both the person and the company.

The entry also notes that our own Bruce Ratner has occassionally been caught "doing a Ratner:"

On the other side of The Pond, a Forest City Enterprises executive, developer Bruce Ratner, characterized his own Atlantic Center mall as "not something that we’re terribly proud of" [1]. Additionally, in May, 2004, Bruce Ratner memorably insulted customers who live near the same mall to a NY Times reporter: "here you're in an urban area, you're next to projects, you've got tough kids," [2].

Posted by lumi at 11:21 AM

August 1, 2006

Overdeveloper Bruce Ratner becomes posterboy for stopping at nothing, even evicting the elderly

VillageVoiceCoverBall.jpg Just in case they didn't notice at Forest City headquarters in Cleveland, the Ratner name has become synonymous in NYC (only the world's largest media market), with eminent-domain-addicted Mad Overdeveloper.

This week's Village Voice puts the ball in Ratner's court, telling the tale of several long-time Brooklynites who find themselves in the path of what would be the largest single-source development in NYC's history.

Ratner is a favorite of the city's alternative press, earning the Voice's cover and the New York Press's designation this past March as the "Most Loathsome New Yorker."

Other semi-related Brooklyn stories in this week's Voice cover the BAM Cultural District and the wounded-but-not-dead-yet machine Dems who are hard at work supporting Carl Andrews's bid to succeed Major Owens in the 11th District Congressional race.

BAM goes the neighborhood
While Atlantic Yards grabs the headlines, an art attack quietly transforms downtown Brooklyn

Compared to Ratner's controversial Atlantic Yards project, the BAM LDC plan seems like small potatoes.

...but it's not without its own controversy.

Andrews Amnesia
Why are the media giving the scandal-ridden Norman pal a pass?

Why the mainstream media doesn't drop-kick Carl Andrews is anyone's guess. However, there's a clear Atlantic Yards angle, since the Brooklyn Democratic Machine is currently pulling out all the stops for pro-Ratner candidates -- witness Tracy Boyland's stealth petition drive to get into the 18th State Senate District race against staunch Ratner critic Velmanette Montgomery.

Posted by lumi at 9:20 PM

July 3, 2006

Save Our Land getting wise to Ratner

Save Our Land

"In the Brooklyn Centre Historic District of the beautiful Archwood-Denison neighborhood, in Cleveland, Ohio, Cuyahoga County" folks are learning that their "own Ratner family is doing some really tacky things" and "that these Ratners are not nice people."


NoLandGrab: More empirical evidence that Bruce Ratner's reputation as the poster child of eminent domain abuse, greed and overdevelopment is spreading beyond the shores of the East River.

Posted by lumi at 8:02 AM

June 24, 2006

Bruce Ratner and the Atlantic Yards vs. THE SUN

Gothamist on shadows:

The good news is that the shadows would be pretty minimal during the summer months. The bad news is that Bruce Ratner appears to be following Monty Burns down a path of unspeakable evil: "since the beginning of time man has yearned to destroy the sun. I will do the next best thing...block it out!" (ok, Ratner didn't actually quote Mr. Burns, but still, we're worried!)

Curbed chimes in:

Seems it wasn't long ago we were worrying about blinding heat rays reflected off architect Frank Gehry's titanium panels. So what'll it be, Brooklyn: fire or ice?


Posted by amy at 6:01 AM

June 20, 2006


NY Sun

Lawyers for the Atlantic Yards developer, Bruce Ratner, have dropped a lawsuit against an anonymous e-mailer who sent a spoof message several months ago. The e-mail was sent to a public supporter of Mr. Ratner’s project and appears to be written by Mr. Ratner. The e-mail, addressed to the Brooklyn Brewery president, Steve Hindy, stated that Mr. Ratner would not be purchasing beer from Mr. Hindy in the proposed arena that is part of the project. — Staff Reporter of the Sun


Posted by lumi at 9:05 AM

June 9, 2006

While Dan Zanes goes cock-a-doodle-doo, Ratner goes gobble-gobble

seal02.jpg Here's more evidence that Bruce Ratner is becoming the poster child for heavy-handed development brought to you by *Time Out New York," over the debate of the meaning of the Brooklyn Borough motto "EEN DRAGHT MACKT MAGHT":

Proletariat-minded interpreters translate it as “In unity, there is strength” while others prefer the more foreboding “Might makes right.” Given Bruce Ratner’s gobbling up of the downtown corridor, the axiom’s sinister definition seems particularly appropriate.

NoLandGrab: Interesting, though the "Downtown Corridor" isn't all that Bruce Ratner has gobbled up as of late.

Posted by lumi at 7:51 AM

May 23, 2006

Ratner Bros.

NY Daily News

Elizabeth Hays's profile of Kevin Keating ("Getting rough on Rudy," May 23), director of the newly released documentary, "Giuliani Time," mentions that Michael and Bruce Ratner are brothers, but not the minor fact that Michael Ratner is also an owner of the Nets:

The film began in 1998 as a short segment investigating First Amendment cases brought against Giuliani, with seed money raised by Michael Ratner - brother of Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner - who runs the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Posted by lumi at 7:23 AM

May 9, 2006

The Influentials: Real Estate

The Neighborhood Changers
Building, blocking, brokering, they’re transforming the city piece by piece.

NY Magazine

Bruce Ratner, Forest City Ratner
When he’s finished replacing 22 acres of brownstone Brooklyn with the Atlantic Yards project, the borough will never be the same.


NoLandGrab: In the interest of fairness, the project is over 8 acres of railyards. The rest is a mixed-use commercial/residential neighborhood nestled in Brownstone Brooklyn, which would receive the brunt of the environnmental impacts from the project.

Posted by lumi at 7:48 AM

April 15, 2006

Dayeinu, Bruce Ratner

BruceRatner04.jpg Gutter

Here's one we missed -- even the Guttersnipes got that old time religion at the expense of Bruce Ratner's Brooklyn:

In anticipation of this week's upcoming religion-o-rama, and despite our status as simple observers, never participants, we urge you to consider this latest, A Very Brooklyn Passover Haggadah, for an Atlantic Yardseder.


Posted by lumi at 7:37 AM

April 14, 2006

Ratner sighting

Downtown Express
Under Cover


Beekman St. tower developer Bruce Ratner hosting Cholene Espinoza’s book party for her memoir, “Through the Eye of the Storm: A Book Dedicated to Rebuilding What Katrina Washed Away,” at the Puffin Room in Soho. Ratner’s sister, Ellen, just so happens to be Espinoza’s significant other.


Posted by lumi at 7:10 AM

April 13, 2006

Nets new rap says Ratner’s the man

Brooklyn Papers
By Gersh Kuntzman

A contest to pick a rap theme song for the New Jersey Nets was won by an aspiring rapper who — surprise surprise — mentioned what a great job owner Bruce Ratner is doing with the Atlantic-Division-leading franchise.

“Check the skybox/Blackberry active/Making transactions/It’s Bruce Ratner!!” sings rapper Michael Barnes in “Going Hard.” Ratner’s Nets partner, rapper Jay-Z, created the contest earlier this year in hopes of finding a song that would pump up the volume at the Continental Airlines Arena. Does Barnes’s “song” fill the bill? We invite our readers to judge. Here are the lyrics.

Posted by lumi at 8:11 AM

Most Loathsome Response

NY Press, Letter to the Editor

Brooklynite Paul Sheridan makes the case for Marty:

You ask us our opinions on your Web site—to vote for the Most Loathsome New Yorkers—and then what do you do with the results? Whatever you want! OK, so you designated Bruce Ratner #1, but what happened to our dear Brooklyn leader, Marty Markowitz? The readers voted him in as #2, but you list him as #31?

Hey, you guys got a career ahead in Ohio or Florida doing voter tabulation.

Bruce Ratner Most LoathsomeCleveland Scene, Outsourcing our scum

The top of the Most Loathsome leaderboard gets some play in Cleveland, though they may be too quick to claim their prodigal son:

New Yorkers may think they're cooler than we are, but when they need someone worthy of mockery, they turn to Cleveland.

The New York Press recently gave Forest City's Bruce Ratner top honors in its annual list of the "50 Most Loathsome New Yorkers." It seems Ratner -- or "this comb-over-mini-Donald," as the magazine affectionately describes him -- hasn't made too many friends in the Big Apple with his $3.5 billion project to turn Brooklyn into an outdoor Tower City.

Posted by lumi at 6:36 AM

April 2, 2006

Nice ass Mr. Community Activist


The Life of 2ME:

But this left me pumped about fighting for my community and opposing all the overdevelopment that is being allowed here in Brooklyn. I think everyone is, especially those who live near the proposed Nets arena (which is getting little press--as if it doesn't matter) in downtown Brooklyn. That eyesore will be a disaster for my borough if it goes through. Riding around the next day, I ran across many rats here in Brooklyn. Giant ones, placed my the construction workers union at sites where they use non-union workers (i.e. cheap day laborers). Not only are many not fully skilled but they work in dangerous conditions which have lead to many injuries and a few deaths. Some sites have ambulances idling to whisk the injured and uninsured off to who knows where. Seems the three nastiest developers are Bruce Ratner (Nets arena) and Shaya Boymelgreen and Isaac Katan (they're responsible for many out-of-context buildings in my area). Remember their names if you're buying a condo here in Brooklyn. They're not worth the money (shoddy work).


NoLandGrab: Historically, Ratner has used union labor, but Brooklynites agree that he is nasty for plenty of other reasons.

Posted by amy at 9:10 PM

April 1, 2006


Bruce Ratner and the Brooklyn Papers employ the Media Rule of Three: If you say something three times, people will believe it. Are they trying to convince us, or themselves?

“It’s fair to say when we get to Brooklyn, it’s going to be the moment this franchise has been waiting for probably since it got into NBA,” said Nets CEO Brent Yormack. “Everyone that works for this team realizes that, we believe it and we’re betting on it.” The National Basketball Association takes a very dim view of gambling.


Posted by amy at 9:55 AM

March 31, 2006

NY Press Calls Developers "Loathsome"

The Real Estate Observer
By Michael Calderone

The Observer celebrates the year of the irrepressible developer on the NY Press's "50 Most Loathsome List."

...this year's list is quite different, with an influx of real estate big wigs. Bruce Ratner, Larry Silverstein, David Walentas, Shaya Boymelgreen, and Michael Shvo all make the list. Barbara Corcoran and Steven Roth--who were on last year's-- are spared.


NoLandGrab: Hey, don't forget that Bruce Ratner was #49 in 2004. Sidelined in 2005 due to injury, he spent the off-season working on his jump shot, mounting what could be a record-breaking almost-worst-to-first most-loathsome comeback.

Posted by lumi at 8:45 AM

March 30, 2006


BRUCE RATNER NY PRESS COVER And the coverboy of The NY Press annual "50 MOST LOATHSOME NEW YORKERS," leading the field at #1, is the eminent-domain-addicted Sultan of Subsidy...

Nets Owner & Developer

Where’s Jackie O. when you need her? The Atlantic Yards project and the rest of the properties this comb-over-mini-Donald’s got his greenbacked mitts around aren’t exactly Grand Central Terminal, but bear with us. Think of all the upper-middle-class homeowners who will be displaced after long, hard years of work carving a viable neighborhood out of a once-desolate area of Brooklyn. Then there are the many working-class people living in Prospect Heights, and the small businesspersons in the area. Aren’t their homes and businesses worth saving? The Empire State Development Board, Mayor Bloomberg, Governor Pataki and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz don’t think so. The centerpiece of the proposed development is a 19,000-seat arena that will house the Brooklyn (née New Jersey) Nets, in which Ratner has a major stake. Also on the table are 17 high rises, which will be as high as 55 stories, 628,000 square feet of commercial space and residences. The housing bit is a ruse to assuage the masses. The “affordable” residential buildings will, however, remain out of reach for a single mom of four surviving on a sub-poverty-line paycheck. Ratner’s attempts to evade official processes for major real estate projects and the use of Supreme Court-endorsed eminent domain have been met with challenges from underfunded groups like Develop Don’t Destroy. What really pisses us off is the imminent razing of Freddy’s Bar and Backroom, which is in the 22-acre footprint. With the Freddy’s gone, where will we get our $4 beers when that’s all we have in our wallet? Oh, and don’t look for criticism in the Newspaper of Record: Ratner’s building theTimes’ gleaming new headquarters building west of Times Square.

And don't forget Bruce's Cheerleader-in-Chief, Marty Markowitz, who slipped from #21 a year ago to #31.

31 Marty Markowitz
Brooklyn Borough President

Instead of using what little power he has positively during the transit strike last Christmas (press releases and sound bites don’t count), the genial Marshmallow Man Markowitz turned Borough Hall into a coffee-and-tea joint for those commuters who decided to brave the winds on the Brooklyn Bridge. He stood at the foot of the entrance to the bridge cheering on the frostbitten, grumbling masses, essentially putting on a kissing-babies act. Gee, a bialy and hot coco really warms our toes, Marty. That’s his shtick. Smile, pat some backs, announce his support for the newest cause du jour as long as the press is around. Then there’s the real Marty, the backroom Marty. Case in point: his ebullient support for development czar Bruce Ratner’s proposed Atlantic Railyard, 20,000-seat, Frank Gehry-designed sports arena and the surrounding retail, residential and “public” (ironic quotes) spaces. Last summer, Markowitz held a press conference with Upstate and city politicians and Ratner’s puppet community groups—among them BUILD—to announce the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement. They all agreed Ratner’s vision is in the best interest of Brooklyn. But the beep is really hot about pipe dreams of a supposed sports renaissance, heralded by the construction of a complex for what would be the Brooklyn Nets. The restless ghosts of the Brooklyn Dodgers would at last be laid to rest at Ebbett’s Field. Meanwhile, he oversees a borough in the midst momentous change, with neighborhood after neighborhood falling prey to rapacious developers, and long-established communities uprooted.

Other NoLandGrab regulars who made the list are:

#11 George Pataki -- who gets extra credit for the gaping hole at Ground Zero
#22 Michael Bloomberg -- with his "capo" Dan Doctoroff
#40 Bill Weld -- no mention of eminent domain; apparently, he already comes with plenty of loathsome credentials.

Posted by lumi at 7:02 AM

March 21, 2006

Ratner to investors: AY approval expected by fall, Nets losses downplayed, 15-year buildout?

Atlantic Yards Report tunes into the webcast of the Forest City Ratner special investor event to learn more about the world according to Ratner.

Is the Atlantic Yards project on track? Despite delays from the original plan to open the arena in the fall of 2006, Forest City Ratner president and CEO Bruce Ratner told investors in the parent Forest City Enterprises that he expects goverment approval by mid-fall and construction to commence a few months after that. Ratner, sounding jovial and confident, also deflected concerns about losses suffered by the New Jersey Nets, saying he was confident the team would make money when it moved to Brooklyn. (Photo from Forest City Ratner web site.)

Ratner participated in a special investor event on 3/13/06. His portion goes from 1:22 to 1:54, but keep listening for another two minutes for an eminent domain anecdote. An investor conference call is scheduled for March 31.


Posted by lumi at 5:36 PM

March 20, 2006

Nets investor seeks to impeach Bush

Michael Ratner While we're on the topic of Nets investors, Brooklynites wonder if civil rights crusader Michael Ratner will increase his commitment to eminent domain abuse by ponying up some more bucks to ensure that Brother Bruce retains control over the NJ Nets while the team awaits the move to Brooklyn in time for the 20?? season.

While local activists fight for their right to live in their own homes, Michael Ratner focuses on saving the free world from George Bush.

Posted by lumi at 7:15 AM

March 19, 2006

Also, Bruce Ratner’s Penis Has Not Gotten Any Larger


Of course, Brooklyn Lager will soon be the least of Ratner’s worries. Today he’ll file an additional suit against Mrs. Miriam Abacha, from whom he has not yet received a single cent of her late husband’s fortune, despite her promises. Once she transfers a sum of $900 million (U.S.) to his bank account, he’ll buy you whatever beer you want.


Posted by amy at 10:01 AM

March 7, 2006

Brian Lehrer Plays Dumb with Michael Ratner


Last week, Will from OnNYTurf emailed Brian Lehrer during his interview with Michael Ratner, urging him to ask about Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal.

A few minutes later, much to my surprise, Brian mentioned my email on the air, but this is what was said:

Lehrer: "'Please challenge Ratner on the Atlantic Yards.' That's a different Ratner."

Ratner: "Right"

WRONG! What Brian Lehrer has failed to grasp is that pre-eminent constitutional lawyer Michael Ratner is not only Bruce's brother - he is also an owner of a stake in the NJ Nets, the team for which eminent domain will be used to clear land for a new arena.

NoLandGrab: To be fair to Michael Ratner, he wasn't under oath when Lehrer popped the question.

It's also a free country — so what if Michael Ratner invests in a business venture that relies on the threat of the Fifth Amendment eminent domain clause to force property owners to sell out to Bruce and sign a gag order gutting their First Amendment right to free speech? Ratner knows his rights!


Posted by lumi at 8:56 AM

March 4, 2006

Ratner seeks blacks, women

Brooklyn Papers:

Bruce Ratner is inviting “minority- and women-owned business enterprises” to an informational session to discuss bidding on initial construction at his proposed Atlantic Yards mega-development.
Project opponents were far from excited. “I find it curious that [they] will be able to review plans for the rail yard that officially haven’t been” approved yet, said Jim Vogel, a Pacific Street resident. Registration for Tuesday’s session closes Monday.


Posted by amy at 11:37 AM

February 23, 2006


The NY Press
By Steven McCauley

A short list of alternatives to Mayor Bloomberg's vision for Governor's Island includes this one that's not so nice:

Invite Bruce Ratner and the Dolans to build something there. Then when they arrive for the ground breaking, just sink the whole damn island. Nitro, C4, Acme-brand TNT; whatever it takes.


Posted by lumi at 7:55 AM

February 18, 2006

ESDC appeals decision, says loss of lawyer puts Atlantic Yards project on hold


Until the decision on February 14 disqualifying a lawyer for the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) because he previously worked on the Atlantic Yards project for developer Forest City Ratner, ESDC had planned to issue the Final Scoping Document--a prelude to a Draft Environmental Impact Statement--within 30 days.

Now, with the potential loss of attorney David Paget, "the order of the court below has brought the environmental review process respecting the Atlantic Yards project--and thus the project itself--to a screeching halt, since experienced outside counsel is required for a project of this nature," said ESDC attorney Douglas Kraus in a statement filed with the appeal of Justice Carol Edmead's decision.

What about finding a new lawyer? Well, said Kraus, relatively few such qualified counsel exist, and three are already working for other parties in this case: two for Forest City Ratner and one for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. He asked for an expedited appeal "in the interest of fairness," and called for a schedule that would lead to an oral argument before the state appellate court during the week of March 6.


Posted by amy at 3:22 PM

February 17, 2006

State Appealing for Right to Use Ratner Lawyer


The state economic development authority is appealing a judge's ruling that it had a "crippling" conflict of interest in its review of the proposed Nets arena and high rise complex in Brooklyn.


Posted by amy at 7:29 PM

February 3, 2006

Bruce Ratner Could Get Tax Credit For Going Green


Park Slope Courier

Assemblymember Roger Green is proposing state legislation aimed at giving FCRC Companies’ Atlantic Yards plan a tax credit for the installation of Green Roof Technology.
The proposed legislation would expand the green building tax credit program by making available an additional $25 million tax credit for the Atlantic Yards site.


So let's check this math...Green + Green = $$$Green $25 million tax credit for FCR. FCR will benefit from green building legislation while depriving others of the ability to install green roofs or solar panels on their own buildings due to the looming shadows?

The other exciting math is in the outdated graphic. The number of housing units is currently 7300 (not 4500) and office space is currently at 628,000 square feet (not 2.1 million).

Posted by amy at 10:58 PM

January 14, 2006

Ratner Sponsors Two Tourneys

From the Brooklyn Eagle:

In his continuing effort to bring a major professional sports franchise to Brooklyn, Downtown developer and New Jersey Nets owner Bruce Ratner will be sponsoring two high school basketball tournaments this weekend.


Set speed aka calls it "trying to buy some street cred."

Posted by amy at 11:06 AM

December 4, 2005

Q&A With the Man Who Would Remake Bklyn


From the Park Slope Courier. Ratner uses the word 'respect' in a sentence. Incorrectly.

The challenge for developing in Brooklyn – for developing anywhere, really – is to respect the character of the place while providing for the needs of today and tomorrow, in terms of housing, work and retail space.

Maybe Ratner defines respect as taking people's houses and businesses when they do not wish to sell them, knocking down all of the existing buildings in an entire thriving neighborhood, and plopping down 16 tower buildings ranging from 20 to 58 stories high in a low rise area. Perhaps 'obliterate' was the word he was looking for.


Not to worry, TimesRatnerReport is already on top of the debunking.

Posted by amy at 12:11 PM

December 1, 2005

Ratner Roundup

Dope on the Slope talks turkey about Bruce's Brooklyn boondoggle. Topics covered are: "Pocket Stuffing," "Gehry's Goose Cooked?" and "Chestnuts Goading Me to Open Ire."

Gehry lost me when he failed to hold any public input forums or charettes before he pulled out his popsicle sticks and aluminum foil. Gehry should have insisted on such input as a condition of employment with Ratner. The fact that he didn't makes him unfit for the project in my view. Either he didn't recognize the difference in designing a single building and defining a neighborhood, or he wasn't willing to stand up for what he knew to be the right thing to do.


Posted by lumi at 6:31 AM

November 22, 2005

Why The Nets Could Never Be The Dodgers


Fans for Fair Play

Why the NJ Nets will never replace the Dodgers in the hearts and minds of Brooklynites, no matter how much myth and nostalgia Marty Markowitz and Bruce Ratner conjure.

Specifically, here's why Ratner and Markowitz are way off mark about the Nets doing for Brooklyn what the Dodgers did.

DODGERS: Charles Ebbets
NETS: Bruce Ratner and hundreds of investors, including disgraced Tyco exec Dennis Kozlowski, former progressive activist attorney Michael Ratner and hip-hop star Jay-Z, who owns 7/10 of one percent of the team

DODGERS: baseball team owner; Brooklyn Dodgers Baseball Club
NETS: real-estate mogul; Forest City Ratner Companies

DODGERS: 20 (all spent with the Dodgers as a ticket seller, clerk, bookkeeper, scorecard salesman, business manager, president, field manager, and part owner)


DODGERS: Charles Ebbets put himself into debt and took out loans to keep the Dodgers in Brooklyn when he bought the team.
NETS: Bruce Ratner thinks nothing of New Jersey fans, taking their team away without a second thought.

...and the list goes on.

Posted by lumi at 7:06 AM

November 13, 2005

Stephon not only struggling guard

Mike Lupica proves that the best way to bring sports and politics together is through poetry. And this is beautiful.

If Caring Bruce Ratner is still the owner of the Nets in five years, I'll eat my hat.

A Nets hat, even.

He doesn't want the team.

He never really did.

He wants the land.

Dan Doctoroff thought he didn't have to buy people left and right to push his agenda with the West Side Stadium, he was Deputy Mayor.

Ratner was much smarter about all this, which is why he's got all these "community leaders" on scholarship now.


Posted by amy at 10:57 AM

October 16, 2005

Ratner's money tree grows in Brooklyn


Mike Lupica of the Daily News shoots from the lip once again:

Ratner is just smarter than Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff was with his vision for a new West Side, built around a football stadium. Ratner does not try to hide one of the sweetheart real estate deals in the history of New York City behind the Olympics. Instead, he spreads money all over the borough, trying to buy influence and loyalty, acting as if this is all about jobs when it is mostly about highly profitable luxury housing.


Lupica details all of Ratner's various con tactics and praises Letitia James' loud opposition to the destruction of Brooklyn neighborhoods.

Posted by amy at 12:11 PM

October 10, 2005

Mike Lupica: Shooting from the Lip

When is someone in city government going to have the guts to take a hard look at the way Bruce Ratner is trying to buy himself the entire borough of Brooklyn? (link)

Read Mike Lupica's past observations about Ratner's Brooklyn.

Posted by lumi at 9:22 AM

October 4, 2005

Pay day? That's rich

$4 BILLIONThe Daily News

Borough President Marty Markowitz rakes in $135K a year (plus SUV benefits) and Bruce Ratner net worth is estimated at $4 BILLION!

How does Brooklyn's ruling class rank against the rank and file?


NoLandGrab: At least Marty makes more than Caldwell.

Seriously folks, we don't know where the $4 BILLION figure comes from (probably the market capitalization of the publicly traded Forest City Enterprises). The online version of the article doesn't provide a source.

Ratner's not on the Forbes 400 list, but it's not for the lack of trying.

Posted by lumi at 7:09 AM

September 21, 2005


A benefit to underwrite the cost of Mooney’s trans Atlantic Row for AIDS is announced, which will honor Mayor Mike Bloomberg and the Mayor of Goree Island, Senegal next month in New York.

In the footprints of the Atlantic Yards Development Project, Mr. Bruce Ratner, of Forest City Ratner Companies, recently donated space so AIDS Activist, Victor Mooney can build a ocean rowboat. Mooney is halfway in his first boat building attempt.

When: Thursday, September 22, 2005, 11:00 AM

Where: Atlantic Yards Boat House
814 Pacific Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201

For more on the Goree Challenge – a trans Atlantic Row for AIDS, visit

Posted by lumi at 7:35 AM

September 17, 2005

Ratner seeks to house Katrina exiles

From the Brooklyn Papers:

While none of the remaining condo owners object to the idea — they uniformly praised the plan, even though it was put forth by Ratner — the point that people who lost their homes were replacing their former neighbors was not lost on them, either.

“It’s extraordinarily ironic that these people who have been driven from their homes by natural disaster would be moving into homes that have been vacated by people who have been driven form their homes by threat of eminent domain,” Vince Bruns said with a laugh.

NoLandGrab: It will be even more "ironic" when the people who take the homes that are empty due to eminent domain have their orginal homes taken by eminent domain.


Posted by amy at 11:14 AM

September 14, 2005

Developer Has Mixed Record in Brooklyn

WNYC Radio
by Andrea Bernstein

pcrichards.jpgBernstein reveals an uncomfortable truth, about Forest City Enterprise's largest tenant:

One of the biggest employers [in Metrotech] is the City of New York.-The Fire Department has its headquarters here, and so does the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications. According to city records, the city pays 32 million dollars every year to rent office space in these buildings it helped to build. Documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission show Forest City Enterprises, the parent company of Forest City Ratner has $7.3 billion in assets and does business in 19 states and the district of Columbia. But what is its largest tenant? The City of New York.

Furthermore, the Atlantic Mall, Forest City Ratner [FCR] couldn't hold down an anchor tenant until NY State's economic development agency relocated there. Eventually, FCR receives props for the Atlantic Terminal mall housing the popular Tar-jay.


Posted by lumi at 9:30 PM

September 11, 2005

Mike Lupica: Shooting from the Lip

NY Daily News

Isn't anybody in town supposed to find it interesting that Caring Bruce Ratner's development project in Brooklyn, the one being built around Jason Kidd, is going to cost the public about a billion dollars over the next 30 years?

You know what the most profound difference between Ratner's sweetheart deal and the one the Jets were trying to get off Mayor Money?

Ratner's is in Brooklyn.

And it's the Nets, not the Jets.


NoLandGrab: "Isn't anybody in town supposed to find it interesting that" the only columnist who is asking the hard questions about "Caring Bruce Ratner's development project in Brooklyn" is a DAILY NEWS SPORTS COLUNMIST?

Posted by lumi at 11:14 AM

August 21, 2005

Nets leaving no stone unturned in effort to build ticket sales

Beside a platter of chicken satay, Nets principal owner Bruce Ratner schmoozes with his customers.

"I want to meet you, I want to talk to you, I want to answer your questions," Ratner says later in his welcome speech.

NoLandGrab: Is he talking to us? Does Bruce Ratner want to speak to the citizens of Brooklyn? Oh hell no. He's having another barbecue to sell Nets tickets.

"Please," he tells the group from the head of a 40-foot table, "do whatever (the Nets) ask of you because we really need the money."

NoLandGrab: The bake sale will be held next Saturday at Bruce Ratner's house. And when you donate, please be generous. Just think of the children....


Posted by amy at 10:37 AM

August 3, 2005


ratnercheerleader.jpg NY Press columnist Aaron Naparstek examines last week's MTA Board meeting.

The large show of Ratner supporters has become:

standard practice at big public meetings where the Railyards are being discussed. Ratner buses in his supporters. They ensure that anyone who raises questions, concerns or objections about the project are literally shouted down and painted as racists and enemies of working people. The irony, of course, is that these self-proclaimed proletarians have the backing of a multi-billion-dollar corporation. The supposedly "wealthy, white" opponents have to take time off work to show up at meetings. Needless to say, the Brown Shirt tactics have been incredibly effective.

Though the muckraking Naparstek compares the whole affair to the 19th Century's Boss Tweed and the 20th Century's Robert Moses, he does find something positive to say about the 21st Century MTA:

In a funny way you almost have to appreciate the MTA's brazenness. Once public comments were finished, Kalikow could have gone behind closed doors for a half hour to give the impression that the public's input had some bearing on the board's decision-making process. But this is New York City. There's no time to waste on a semblance of democracy when business needs to get done.


Posted by lumi at 10:37 PM

August 2, 2005

"Bruce Walking" decoded

An astute reader brought to NoLandGrab's attention an interesting fact about the Tammany Hall LED installation sponsored by Forest City Ratner.

The letters of the title, "Bruce Walking" can be rearranged to spell WIN LARGE BUCK.


Posted by lumi at 4:59 PM

August 1, 2005

Mike Lupica: Shooting from the Lip

NY Daily News

Mike Lupica is either a super genius or the only columnist in a local daily paper that has the credentials and guts to make the following point:

And, oh by the way, the deal that Caring Bruce Ratner is getting on that land in Brooklyn is the same kind of sweetheart deal the Jets were trying to get from their friends in city and state politics.


Posted by lumi at 10:16 AM

July 29, 2005

Straight White Jewish Male Desperately Seeking Your Neighborhood

BruceRatner02.jpgBruce Ratner
AKA Bruce C Ratner

Born: 23-Jan-1945
Birthplace: Cleveland, OH

Gender: Male
Religion: Jewish
Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight, Baby!
Occupation: 60's-style overdevelopment

Level of fame: Niche
Executive summary: New York City developer

To contribute to Bruce Ratner's NNDB profile and learn more about our favorite eminent domain addict with a subsidy abuse problem, click here.

Posted by lumi at 6:36 PM

June 26, 2005

Stadium, Anyone?

Bruce Ratner

Questions for Bruce Ratner from New York Times Magazine. Here's our question for the New York Times:


This article is a fluff piece straight out of the clearly deranged Forest City Ratner PR machine.

It has been a bad week for Brooklyn. We can't trust the Supreme Court. We can't trust the New York Times. We already knew we couldn't trust our Borough President and Mayor. But we can still trust our neighbors. It's time to join your neighbors and friends in our fight against injustice. No one will protect Brooklyn but Brooklyn itself.

In Ratner's own words, "Like so many things in life, it was just a matter of money." It's just a matter of money that citizens don't have a say in our own neighborhoods and government? Mr. Ratner needs to realize that everything in life is not about money. Unlike Mr. Ratner, we don't see Brooklyn as a giant piggy bank that needs to be smashed to get at the cash.

Read the article here, if you can stomach it.

Watch DDDB skewer the rat here.

To contact Byron Calame, who represents the readers of The New York Times as the Public Editor, please e-mail

To check out The New York Times Limited Edition Development Partner action figure click here.

Posted by amy at 10:33 AM

June 4, 2005

Ratner lands Giff's backing

From the Daily News:

City Council Speaker Gifford Miller - a vocal foe of the Jets' proposed West Side stadium - is coming out in favor today of developer Bruce Ratner's $3.5 billion Nets arena complex in downtown Brooklyn.


Posted by amy at 10:59 AM

Ratner site expands — into Park Slope

From the Brooklyn Papers:

But at a City Council hearing last Thursday, a presentation by Forest City Ratner said the developer was considering plans to greatly increase the amount of housing on the site, both by scaling back the amount of office and retail space and by expanding the site westward — jumping over Flatbush Avenue to include plots now occupied by Modell’s and PC Richard & Son.


Posted by amy at 10:46 AM

Breakin' Bread with Bruce


Curbed passes along info about how YOU can have dinner with Bruce Ratner!

honoring Bruce Ratner
at Gotham Hall
1356 Broadway at 36th Street
Cocktails 6pm Dinner 7pm
School of Continuing and Professional Studies
Real Estate Institute


Posted by amy at 10:39 AM

May 21, 2005

Housing plan Net gain for Mike

From the Daily News:

The announcement of more than 2,000 affordable-housing units as part of Brooklyn's planned arena complex wasn't just good for billionaire developer Bruce Ratner - it was good for billionaire Mayor Bloomberg, experts said yesterday.

Standing on the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall, both men had won the blessing of Bertha Lewis, executive director of the politically important group ACORN.

"It's a big win for both of them," said political consultant Hank Sheinkopf. "It makes it appear there is no acrimony and that housing, jobs and the community are essentially protected."


Posted by amy at 12:44 PM

May 5, 2005

Ratner Mea Culpa II

Bruce Ratner's latest mea culpa came yesterday when he acknowledged that he "wasn't ready to be an owner" last summer when he took over the team. Brooklynites can take this two ways:
* Ratner once again has screwed up so badly that he has to fess up in public. * Ratner hates to loose so badly that he'll pay any price.

This latest admission will give activists courage, knowing that his revenue-based bird's-eye view is wrong for Brooklyn, but they better get their rears in gear because the man obviously loves a challenge.

NY Daily News, Heat on Ratner this summer
The NY Times, Ratner's Latest Goal Is Keeping Kidd Happy
The Newark Star-Ledger, Nets owner will spend to improve
MSNBC, Nets owner takes blame for lost season
The Bergen Record, Nets owner opens vault for off-season
Asbury Park Press, Ratner ready to own up to ownership duties

Posted by lumi at 7:10 AM

May 2, 2005

45 Cars = 1%, Yonkers Ridge Hill Car Rally

Yonkers Tribune

yonkerstrafficrally.jpgThe folks in Yonkers took to their cars to illustrate how Ratner's plan to build a VILLAGE in Yonkers would have a debilitating affect local automobile traffic. Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn activists added their voice to the struggle to point out that Ratner's proposal to build a MINI CITY in Brooklyn would do the same.


Posted by lumi at 7:07 AM

April 27, 2005

Ratner's generous to a fault

And some wonder: Just buying support?

The Daily News
By Deborah Kolben

As developer Bruce Ratner plows ahead with plans to build a controversial $2.5 billion arena and residential complex in Prospect Heights, he's also doling out checks to local groups.

"That's what we are, a helping hand," Ratner said yesterday as he gave $50,000 to the Brooklyn Perinatal Network, which works to combat baby deaths in Fort Greene, the neighborhood with the highest infant mortality rate in the city.

"I think it's a good thing, but I also note the difference between what they're doing and public relations; they're trying to get public support by any means necessary," said Clinton Miller, pastor of Brown Memorial Baptist Church in Fort Greene.


Posted by lumi at 7:19 AM

Bruce Ratner Donates $50,000 To Combat Infant Morality

After Meeting, Some Questions, Few Answers on Atlantic Yards
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
By Raanan Geberer

perinatal.jpgMore on Ratner's $50,000 donation to the Brooklyn Perinatal Network:

"I'm going to lean all I can about perinatal [before-birth]* health," said Ratner before offering a symbolic check. "People said I didn't know anything about basketball, but I learned," he joked.

The arena was not mentioned during the ceremony, although several of its supporters, such as James Caldwell of the organization BUILD and the Rev. Herbert Daughtry, were in attendance.

* FYI for the Eagle and its reporter, (from Merriam Webster) perinatal: occurring in, concerned with, or being in the period around the time of birth.

BROOKLYN YWCA -- Developer Bruce Ratner yesterday announced a donation of $50,000 to Brooklyn Perinatal Network, to help mobilize community efforts and develop a plan to address the increasing number of infant deaths in Fort Greene.

"I'm going to lean all I can about perinantal [before-birth] health," said Ratner before offering a symbolic check. "People said I didn't know anything about basketball, but I learned," he joked.

The reference was to the basketball arena that Ratner's company, Forest Citgy Ratner, is planning, also in Fort Greene. The arena was not mentioned during the ceremony, although several of its supporters, such as James Caldwell of the organization BUILD and the Rev. Herbert Daughtry, were in attendance.

Some people might be surprised that Fort Greene, where a mini-real estate boom is taking place, has had the highest infant mortality rate in the city for the past two years. However, Dr. Georgianna Close, head of the organization Fort Greene SNAP, told this reporter that Fort Greene still has several poverty areas, including three low-income housing projects.

The recent economic change, strangely, has had a negative effect on health funding for the area, according to the Brooklyn Perinatal Network.

“One reason for the rise [in infant mortality] is that Fort Greene, unlike neighboring Bedford-Stuyvesant, does not qualify for federally funded initiatives like Healthy Start. Because brownstones and co-ops abut existing NYCHA housing, the base income of the neighborhood is skewed, making the district ineligible for many public resources,” says a handout from the group distributed at yesterday’s ceremony.

The 15-year-old organization, headquartered at the YWCA, covers not only Fort Greene, but a wide stretch of Central Brooklyn stretching east to East New York and Brownsville. The $50,000 donation will be spread over two years, as seed money for the group’s efforts.

In her speck, Ngozi Moses, executive director of the Perinatal Network, slammed the city and state for cutting back on their health budgets. When funding does reach the organization, she says, “it takes nine months to get it.”

Even getting money from private foundations like the Robert Wood Johnson Foundations, she said, is getting harder because the aforementioned government agencies are competing for the same grants.

Therefore, she said, organizations like hers must turn to the private sector. She said private business has largely been unresponsive in the past, but praised Ratner, saying that aid from such a high-profile, wealthy individual will get more press and may inspire other firms to donate as well.

Ratner was rather modest, as usual, judging by his rare public appearances. “You’re the experts,” he said. “We’re just the helpers. If you need anything, contact us.”

After the meeting, Forest City Ratner Executive Jim Stuckey answered questions on the arena, and his answers echoed stock replies from the company during the past few months or so.

When asked how much the Atlantic Yards project are Forest City Ratner now owned, he merely said, “A significant amount.” He said he hopes construction can begin next year, and that the arena will be open in time for the 2008-’09 basketball season.

Asked to respond to those critics of the project who want the Atlantic Yards to go through the city’s ULURP land review process, Stuckey responded that Forest City Ratner will go through any process that is required by law.

“However,” he said, “you can look at history, and see that projects on state land and on MTA property usually go through the state review process.” Critics charge that the state process has less public input.

In response to another question, Stuckey mentioned a detail that has been part of the Atlantic Yards plan for a long time but is rarely mentioned: when the Nets arena is build, the MTA’s Long Island Rail Road yards themselves will be moved, to an area between Carlton Street and Vanderbilt Avenue.

This, he said, will improve security for the LIFF, as well as make it safe for trains to maneuver during the layup periods in between rush hours. “We’re doing them [the LIRR] a favor,” he said.

Posted by lumi at 6:27 AM

April 23, 2005

Mall plan makes waves in Coney

The Brooklyn Papers discusses other toys that Ratner played with, broke, and left out in the rain.

Thor Equities is owned by Joseph Sitt, who redeveloped the Gallery at Metrotech, an ailing indoor shopping mall abutting the Fulton Street Mall in Downtown Brooklyn, after it was abandoned by Metrotech’s developer, Bruce Ratner. Sitt renamed his mall the Gallery at Fulton Street.


Posted by amy at 1:39 AM

April 22, 2005

Rupture on Ridge Hill

The Journal News
EDITORIAL is unreasonable to block the sale over disagreement on exactly how much money will go to the city. For one thing, the corporation has to pay off the debt it assumed in the transaction. And the city, not Albany, has a right to guide its own affairs.

Killing Ridge Hill would be a shame. The proposal — which includes residential, retail and office space, a hotel and conference center — would bring employment, sales-tax revenue, consumer benefits and housing, some of which would count toward Yonkers meeting a quota in its federal housing desegregation case.

Killing the project would hurt the developer, Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner, which has invested about $21 million so far since being chosen by the city in 2002 to develop the site. What a negative impact that kind of loss would have on the redevelopment boom Yonkers is finally experiencing.


Posted by lumi at 7:44 AM

April 18, 2005

LOWDOWN by Lloyd Grove

NY Daily News

A BEAUTIFUL FRIENDSHIP? Today's New Yorker gives Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz the star treatment, framing his enthusiastic support for billionaire Nets basketball team owner Bruce Ratner's controversial Atlantic Yards project as either "a thrilling instance of Brooklyn's economic and cultural resurgence or a shocking capitulation to the interests of Ratner's multibillion-dollar development company." The two are glued to their phones and joined at the ear, The New Yorker reports, recounting one call from Ratner to Markowitz about potential problems with the project. "Markowitz, whenever he could get a word in, tried to be both conciliatory and upbeat," writes Rebecca Mead. "Finally he told Ratner to call someone in his office - better yet, he would have that someone call Ratner."


Posted by lumi at 8:33 AM

April 17, 2005

Mike Lupica: Shooting from the lip

NY Daily News

Our elected politicians rolled over for Caring Bruce Ratner in Brooklyn.

Then Mayor Money and his trusty aid, Shifty Doctoroff, did everything in their powers to give away the Hudson Railyards to the extremely needy Woody Johnson of the Jets.


Posted by lumi at 7:56 AM

April 16, 2005


From the Brooklyn Papers:

Borough President Marty Markowitz has hosted another closed-door meeting about developer Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards proposal, continuing his policy of shutting out community members who have prominently voiced opposition to the plan to build a basketball arena as well as 17 residential and office high-rise towers.


Posted by amy at 11:32 AM

April 14, 2005


ratnercarter.jpgNY Post
By John Crudele

Exclusive interview or pr puff piece? This Bruce Ratner interview is certainly not a hard-hitting investigative profile.

Right off the bat, writer John Crudele is surprised that Ratner would not take a stand against the Jets stadium. Then again, the Post can't seem to find a sports venue deal it doesn't like.


Posted by lumi at 6:45 AM

April 8, 2005

$24M arena jackpot

From the Brooklyn Papers:

Shaya Boymelgreen, who had been moving forward recently with plans to develop a hotel that would have potentially thrown a monkey-wrench into Ratner’s plan, abruptly agreed last Thursday to sell his properties at 800 Pacific St. and 546 Vanderbilt Ave. to Ratner for $44 million. Boymelgreen had purchased the property in August for $20 million.
Daniel Goldstein, a spokesman for the anti-Ratner arena group Develop—Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, who lives in a condominium within the footprint of the site, said Boymelgreen’s sale of the property to Ratner would not deter the group’s mission.

“We still intend to show the public that [Ratner’s] got a sweetheart deal from the city and the state,” Goldstein said.

Posted by amy at 10:51 PM

April 4, 2005

The News Interview: Bruce Ratner

NY Daily News

Developer Brucer Ratner, President of Forest City Ratner Companies, is principal owner of the New Jersey Nets, which he plans to relocate to Brooklyn. Ratner met with the Editorial Board.


Posted by lumi at 7:47 AM

April 3, 2005

Leviev, Boymelgreen sell 2 Brooklyn properties for $44m

Details on the Boymelgreen sale from Globes Online.

Posted by amy at 11:43 AM

March 29, 2005

Ratner push polling Brooklynites, focus group testing Manhattanites

Recent news of Ratner using push polls to sway the opinions of Brooklynites who live near the Atlantic Railyards stands in stark contrast to the focus group testing Ratner and Gehry are planning for Manhattanites. got a hold of the email solicitation for workshop participants (commonly known as focus group testers).

Posted by lumi at 9:21 PM

March 28, 2005

Lawyer's belief in civil rights leads him to defend detainees

michaelratner1.jpg The Cleveland Plain Dealer: Read about Michael Ratner, hero of the left, champion of constitutional rights, brother of Bruce, and part owner of the NJ Nets.


NoLandGrab: Normally, scrutiny of family members of well-connected developers would be off limits, but not when this family member, a champion of civil rights, doubles as a shrewd businessman whose investment in the NJ Nets has led to a money-losing arena proposal which seeks to use eminent domain, not for public use, but for a private developer's gain. Read previous entry on Michael Ratner.

Posted by lumi at 8:03 AM

March 21, 2005

Blast from the Past

Familiar issues and faces abound as Ratner's completes his crossing to the darkside. James Stuckey still works for the city and Donna Hennes is not yet being quoted about how "fairly" she was treated by FCR.

Dare we imagine a world where: * DDDb's Dan Goldstein accepts a HUGE buyout and becomes a corporate shill? * Marty smiles for the camera during his "perp walk?" * Community Consulting's Brian Ketcham heads the DOT, fighting off desperately needed change? * Fans For Play's Scott Turner is an executive in the Nets' front office? * PICCED's Brad Lander becomes the new Jim Stuckey? * Fort Greene Association's Lucy Koteen is elected Borough President in a landslide victory over her opponent, Bruce Bender?


Posted by lumi at 10:11 AM

March 11, 2005

I'd Buy That for a Dollar!

The Dope on the Slope blogger and Tennessee expat tells us what he REALLY thinks about Bloomberg's and Pataki's giveaways in the Ratner deal.

I've got news for you Mayor. These inconvenient whiners are your constituents. There's an election coming up you know. Underestimating the size, conviction or resourcefulness of this opposition could be the worse political mistake you've ever made.


Posted by lumi at 6:18 AM

March 5, 2005

Ratner Regresses


From the Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

“You’ll find that you have opposition to anything that you try to do anywhere,” said Ratner, who claimed that getting the rights to the land for his MetroTech project was far more difficult, but less publicized than his play for the Nets’ move.

“But that’s a good thing. It’s always good to have a different point of view. We expect that and know that it’s part of the process.”

A process that may be getting a little bit tougher than Ratner anticipated just a few weeks ago.


Posted by amy at 5:07 PM

March 1, 2005

Ratner to be guest on Mike and the Mad Dog at 5PM

mikedog.jpg WFAN Sports Radio, 660 AM:

The word is that Caring Bruce Ratner will be a guest on Mike and the Mad Dog, WFAN Sports Radio's afternoon sports-talk show at 5:00.

Mike Francesa and Christopher Russo don't take on-air calls during interviews, but you can still call and email the station with your questions and comments if they start pitching softballs and Ratner starts blaming everyone but himself for his mistakes. And above all, defend your neighborhood, because the last time we checked, the neighborhood is not blighted.

Telephone: 718-937-6666

Posted by lumi at 12:31 PM

Bruce Ratner Hopes...

Fans For Fair Play:

Ratner hopes you buy the lie that his project is a done deal, when in fact there are dozens of high hurdles for Ratner to get over.

Sports, politics, finance, unions and broken promises are the weapons of mass distraction Ratner uses to fight the long-term aspirations of a diverse community. Read the litany of hopes and lies that Ratner uses to sustain the belief that the arena is a "done deal."


Posted by lumi at 8:14 AM

February 19, 2005

Forest City Ratner Backs Out Of Ft. Greene Community Forum

From the Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

A large-scale community forum on the proposed development of Downtown’s Atlantic Rail Yards will go on without a key participant, the proposed developer Forest City Ratner (FCR).

One spokesperson for the developer, Randal Toure, told long-time community organizer Ruth Learnard-Goldstein by telephone last week that FCR wouldn’t be participating in the forum because, “He told me that they’re working on the MOU (memo of understanding) and that they’re making changes to the project. I have to tell you that I was struck dumb. I was speechless.”


Posted by amy at 10:52 AM

February 17, 2005

The Whitney Should Move, Not Expand Museums

The NY Sun: Francis Morrone's opines that Ratner could be just the guy to bring the Witney to the BAM neighborhood.

In fact, Bruce Ratner could be the link. This developer has shown a notable interest in that part of Brooklyn. He also knows from Renzo Piano, as Mr. Ratner is the developer of the New York Times Building. Having brought Target to the neighborhood, surely he could bring the Whitney. Maybe Target could even start a new line of Whitney branded merchandise.


Posted by lumi at 6:44 AM

February 12, 2005

Bruce Ratner Holds Court

From the Brooklyn Daily Eagle:


Bruce Ratner doesn't want to hear about the problems he'll have dealing with those opposed to his $3.5 billion plan for Downtown, which will include a sparkling new arena for his soon-to-be-Brooklyn Nets...

Ratner has been unable to secure the parcel of land necessary for his $550 million Downtown Arena, but refuses to let the wait for the M.O.U. (Memorandum of Understanding) or questions regarding the Community Benefits Agreement get in the way of his vision for bringing big-time pro sports back to Brooklyn for the first time since the Dodgers fled to Los Angeles in 1957.


Posted by amy at 11:50 AM

February 11, 2005

Nets' Owner Starts Over


...and speaking about "the campaign to re-image the team" as a metro-area attraction, here's the latest NY Times scoop on the sensitive, caring side of Bruce Ratner. Too bad the story made him out to be such a dork.

Nets' Owner Starts Over By RICHARD SANDOMIR

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., Feb. 9 - The pregame was easy for Bruce C. Ratner.

Ratner, the principal owner of the Nets, chatted with team officials over a turkey dinner Wednesday night at the Winners Club restaurant inside Continental Arena, then greeted Magic Johnson and Richard J. Codey, the acting governor of New Jersey, at courtside.

Fans reached out with their hands and suggestions. Ratner strolled through the new prefabricated Nissan Courtside Club to mingle with elite seat-holders, as well as Jason Kidd's wife, Joumana, as they supped on frankfurters and popcorn.

Then he suffered - quietly. He sat unobtrusively, usually with his arms folded over his chest, as the Lakers erased the Nets' 12-point fourth-quarter lead. He wondered about the identity of these largely nameless Lakers, who were showing perseverance without the injured Kobe Bryant.

"Who are these guys?" he said.

With each missed Nets shot, Ratner uttered a barely audible, "Oh, no." When the Lakers' Chucky Atkins tied the score at 92-92, Ratner shook his head sadly in disbelief.

In overtime, when Caron Butler's 3-pointer put the Lakers ahead for good, 102-101, Ratner emitted a pained, "Unnhhh."

With the score at 104-101 with 36 seconds left, Ratner, a tiny, rueful smile creasing his round face, said: "Anything can happen on any given night in sports. But I still don't like it."

When the game ended in the Nets' 28th loss of the season, Ratner slapped his right thigh, exhaled and said: "I've got a sinking feeling. It's far better to win."

Praying for Vince Carter to hit a buzzer beater is a new feeling for Ratner, who is 60. He was not an especially knowledgeable fan when he bought the Nets last year and was painted by critics as a developer who dipped into basketball only to move the team to a new Brooklyn arena by 2007 or 2008 and make a big real estate score.

It may be a while before he erases that image. There has been community opposition to his plan to build the arena and surrounding residential and commercial buildings, as well as discontent about how he has pursued his goal.

Norman Siegel, a lawyer for Develop Don't Destroy, said that Ratner had not provided enough information to neighborhoods about the project.

"Ideally," Siegel said, "a developer would reach out and meet with people and disclose his plans in detail so the people affected would understand what's happening."

But Bruce Bender, an executive vice president of Ratner's company, Forest City Ratner, said: "We've gone above and beyond to meet with the community. We've met with all the community boards. We've never turned down anyone. We have been very open. To say we haven't is wrong, deceitful and outrageous."

Forest City Ratner is the development partner of The New York Times Company in building a new headquarters in Manhattan on Eighth Avenue between 40th and 41st streets. For Ratner, the opposition to the Brooklyn development was a prelude to the ferocious reaction to the Nets' trading Kenyon Martin to Denver last summer, which Ratner subsequently called a mistake. After the Nets then traded Kerry Kittles, Jason Kidd said he wanted to leave.

The criticism was unlike anything Ratner had encountered as the commissioner of the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs from 1978 to 1982 and as an urban developer. Both jobs, he said, had positive elements to them, but lacked the renown of owning a sports team.

"It was difficult for me the first three months, but it was a good trial by fire," he said. "I was horribly criticized. I got used to thickening my skin."

He said that he had atoned for much of the media and fan savaging when Rod Thorn, the Nets' president, and Ed Stefanski, the general manager, traded for Vince Carter. Ratner said that deal symbolized his belief that a solid organization, like his real estate company, could rebound with smart decisions.

"I didn't expect it to happen so quickly, that I'd be proven right," he said.

The impression that Ratner's intentions were purely real-estate driven was exacerbated by his status as a neophyte basketball fan. His sports memories reflect his upbringing in Cleveland - his love of the football Browns, and his first baseball game, the 1-0 no-hitter pitched by the Yankees' Allie Reynolds against the Indians in 1951.

"My father bought tickets for Game 5 of the 1954 World Series," he said, but the Indians, who won 111 games that season, were swept by the Giants. "When the Indians were last in the World Series, I made sure to buy tickets for Game 5." (The Marlins won the '97 World Series in seven games.)

To elevate his knowledge of basketball, Ratner plays the NBA Live video game on his computer; trolls the Internet for news and statistics; and bought the league's pay-per-view games on the N.B.A.'s League Pass subscription service.

"I watched the San Antonio game the other day to prepare for our game on Friday," he said. "I'm learning. Until 1983, I didn't know a thing about real estate."

Thorn, who has spent 40 years in the National Basketball Association as a player and an executive, said: "He's become a fan. He knows more about the game than he did before."

Ratner's challenges are hardly related to whether he can recite Wilt Chamberlain's free-throw percentage on the night he scored 100 points. It is, however, crucial that he build up the franchise in the years before the move to Brooklyn. Attendance is down this season by nearly 4 percent, to an average of 14,952 a game. Empty seats were noticeable Wednesday night throughout the arena. For most of the first half, there were five empty seats right in front of Ratner's.

"It doesn't break my heart," he said. "It's not whole empty sections. But when I look at N.B.A. games with whole empty sections, that scares me."

To maintain and add revenue, Ratner hired Brett Yormark, a former Nascar executive, as president of the team's parent company; created the Courtside Club from unused space near the basketball court's entrance; added areas for sponsor hospitality; reduced the price of 3,000 upper-tier seats to $15; initiated a postgame concert series; and distributes free tickets to deserving high school students.

During Wednesday's game, about 50 students from Thomas Jefferson High School in the East New York section of Brooklyn left their upper-level seats to meet Ratner, one after another, thanking him for their tickets.

Ratner said he was not concerned that reducing ticket prices or giving away a substantial number of tickets would hurt his bottom line. "Eighty percent of the revenues is in 20 percent of the seats in the lower bowl," he said.

He refused to divulge the state of the team's finances and said that before he sells the future in Brooklyn, he will build revenue in a market that has historically not fully supported the Nets and will, to some extent, be left behind.

"I don't accept that we can't substantially improve our business with the right product," he said.

He added, "With the right product, you can mess up the marketing."

One aspect of improved marketing is the imminent hiring of Marv Albert to call about 50 Nets games for the YES Network next season. Drawing Albert, a Brooklyn native, who is closely identified with the Knicks after calling their games for 35 years before leaving the MSG Network last June, is a public relations coup for the Nets.

Ian Eagle, who has called Nets game for 11 years, is deciding whether to accept a diminished role of about 30 games.

"Ian is very good," Ratner said. "But Marv is the gold-plated standard. It's our philosophy to get the very best people. I think I'm doing the right thing. There'll be some negative reaction about Ian, but it will turn out to be a positive thing."

There was little positive in the Nets' locker room after Wednesday's loss.

Ratner walked slowly from player to player, saying, "Tough loss." Not one looked up at him.

Ratner seemed forlorn when he walked out and decided against going back in to console Coach Lawrence Frank.

"I'm going to replay this game in my head," he said, before driving off in the rainy night in his chauffeured Lexus.

Posted by lumi at 6:12 PM

February 10, 2005


NY Post, Opinion Columnist, Steve Cuozzo:

THE New York Times is evidently unafraid to make an ass of it self if it can add even incrementally to the growing hysteria against the West Side stadium project.

Worse still are the Times' editorials against the stadium deal — which flagrantly ignore striking similarities to the Times' own recent purchase from the state of the land for its new Eighth Avenue headquarters.

Similarities between the Jets and the Times-Ratner deal are: * sweetheart land deal, * a litany of tax-breaks, and * lack of competitive bidding on the site.


NoLandGrab: If you added eminent domain abuse at taxpayers' expense to this list, then you would have the complete real-estate-developer playbook written by Forest City Ratner. Who can blame the Jets for stealing a few pages from the NYC Builder's Bible?

Posted by lumi at 7:53 AM

February 8, 2005


nypressratner.gif NY Press:

"We already know who the big winner of the Jets stadium battle is. It's mega-developer Bruce Ratner of Forest City Ratner. As the city's focus remains riveted on the west side story, a much bigger and less scrutinized deal is underway at the Atlantic Avenue Railyards in Brooklyn."


Posted by lumi at 6:22 PM

January 20, 2005

Political Basketball

New York Daily News:

Don't expect Donald Rumsfeld at a Nets game anytime soon. Nets owner Bruce Ratner this week helped honor his leftie brother Michael, the Center for Constitutional Rights chief who filed a criminal complaint against the defense secretary recently in German courts.

As it happens, Michael, who was arrested in the 1968 Columbia University student protests, received Columbia Law School's medal of honor this week.

"I'm extremely proud of my brother," capitalist Bruce told us.


NoLandGrab: Nice to know that Bruce is proud of Michael. Michael Ratner has been the hero to many disillusioned liberal Brooklynites who want to know if he is proud of Bruce. In case Michael Ratner's group, The Center of Constitutional Rights, has misplaced the Fifth Amendment click here.

Posted by lumi at 8:01 AM

December 28, 2004

Ratner's brother and partner defends detainees' rights, but is silent on eminent domain

During a slow news day, NoLandGrab will cast its net over a wider area to see what comes up. Here's one for our readers' end-of-year contemplation:


Michael Ratner, President of the Center for Constitutional Rights, holds a copy of a report detailing the experiences of former Guantanamo detainees Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal, and Rhuhal Ahmed, while addressing reporters during a news conference in New York, Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2004. The report claims that the men were held in open cages in the sweltering Cuban heat, with scorpions and snakes roaming the cells, and that they were forced through brutal treatment to make false confessions. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)


Brooklynites' beef with Michael Ratner is that while he tirelessly fights for the constitutional rights of detainees in Guantanamo, he continues to condone, with his NJ Nets investment, the threatened abuse of the 5th Amendment (eminent domain) to quell property owner's 1st Amendment rights (free speech). Property owners who have sold to "Brother Bruce" under the threat of eminent domain must sign gag orders that "prohibits them from speaking out against the arena or attending anti-arena rallies and public hearings" (Brooklyn Papers, May 15).

Michael Ratner has been a role model to many conscientious citizens who are fighting Ratner's plan. These activists are still scratching their heads and wondering when their hero will break his silence or divest his intrest in the Nets.

Posted by lumi at 7:34 AM

December 13, 2004

Yo Ratner!

NY Daily News: You know that "Caring" Bruce Ratner's profile is increasing when he lands in Rush & Molloy's celebrity gossip column.

New Jersey Nets owner Bruce Ratner huddled with Jay-Z for an hour at the Forest City Ratner/Nets holiday bash the other night at Jay-Z's 4-0/40 Club. Def Jam's new prez is part owner of the team...

Posted by lumi at 7:17 AM

November 11, 2004

The Ratner Watch

Brooklyn Daily Eagle editorial writer, Henry Krogius, sketches out the battle lines in the controversy over Ratner's arena proposal.

Though he thinks that the Atlantic Railyards is a logical place to put the arena, he has deep concerns about the "outmoded" "superblock" style of urban planning that characterize the rest of the project.

"The Ratner people have yet to publish an update of the sketch plan issued last December. Unless there is considerable revision of what was shown then, the project should be held up."

The Ratner Watch by Henrik Krogius (, published online 11-11-2004

Since the euphoria that marked last December’s announcement that Bruce Ratner would bring the Nets basketball team to a new arena built in conjunction with offices and housing at the Atlantic Yards site — all to be designed by the world-renowned Frank Gehry — a steady drumbeat of opposition to the project has been sounded. Some of those who would be uprooted by it have mobilized an insistent campaign, and a free-circulation newspaper outfit known for a generally contrarian editorial approach has made the issue central to the very identity of its publications. A poll conducted by a group affiliated with Pratt Institute has also come up with the unsurprising finding that most of those who currently live or have businesses in the area in or near the project fear its impact. On the other side, the Ratner people have won support among would-be construction workers and others seeing employment opportunities, and a community benefits agreement has been promised.

The view in this corner has been that, if a major sports venue is to be created in Brooklyn, the unbuilt-upon railroad yard and the under-built adjacent area — all served by a remarkable confluence of public transportation lines — make Atlantic Yards the obvious choice for such development. This is a part of Brooklyn that cannot indefinitely remain in its state of low development.

Even the group that calls itself Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn recognizes that change must come, and it has proposed an alternative plan that has points of merit, the only problem being the group’s hopeless insistence that the arena not be a part of it. In the half century since Walter O’Malley’s frustrated (by Robert Moses) attempt to build a new Dodger stadium at this hub, it has been awaiting use as a public focal point for Brooklyn — and, with a culture district now growing around the nearby BAM, the arena is a logical choice for the site.

What worries us are the signs that Forest City Ratner appears still to be clinging to an outmoded model for urban planning and design, with superblocks that eliminate existing streets and are built upon according to the “skyscraper in a park” principle. The experience of the last several decades has been that the ostensible park segments of such development never become effectively regarded as parks, while the loss of streets and shops result in an urban barrenness. The Ratner people have yet to publish an update of the sketch plan issued last December. Unless there is considerable revision of what was shown then, the project should be held up.

© Brooklyn Daily Eagle 2004

Posted by lumi at 7:52 AM

August 19, 2004

New York's Other Real Estate Mogul

Bruce Ratner, unlike high-profile rival Donald Trump, sees beyond Manhattan. Here's how he plans to revitalize Brooklyn
Business Week bruceratnersidebar.jpg

Bruce C. Ratner, the new owner of the New Jersey Nets basketball team, walks into the darkened control room of a Manhattan recording studio and shakes hands with two young producers. Ratner's day job is in property development; the tie he removed en route to this evening's recording session peeks out from the pocket of his rumpled suit coat. "I'm not cool, you know," he announces as the producers cue the sample Nets jingles they've worked up in a variety of styles. Ratner, 59, perches on the edge of a couch, smiling broadly and bobbing his head as hip-hop follows rock and reggae. "Wow!" he exclaims


Posted by lumi at 9:11 PM