DOWNLOAD: IBO Report [pdf]
For Immediate Release: September 6, 2005

Sweet Deal for Ratner, Raw Deal for Taxpayers
In Incomplete Analysis, Independent Budget Office
Projects Meager Return for the Taxpayer on Ratner Arena

NEW YORK, NY—Today the City's Independent Budget Office (IBO) released an analysis of Forest City Ratner's (FCR) proposed 8-million square foot mixed-use development in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. The IBO projects a meager return on taxpayer investment–a return of less than $1 million per year for New York City. The IBO report only analyzes the proposed Nets' arena but fails to analyze the bulk of FCR's proposal—7.2 million square feet of approximately 7,300, mostly luxury, residential units. In their analysis the IBO fails to consider numerous public costs and economic impacts such as traffic, pollution, rezoning, security, police, fire, sanitation, and schools. The report also overestimates some key revenue streams.

FCR's commissioned economic analysis, by Dr. Andrew Zimbalist, wildly exaggerates the projected benefits from the arena to the taxpayer. Zimbalist, who the Mayor, Governor and other elected officials have relied on for the project's economic benefit projections, predicted a surplus for the city and state that is four times that projected by the IBO.

The public also does not know what the estimated profit is for Ratner. FCR's profit estimate, or pro forma, was part of their proposal document submitted to the MTA. But the FCR profit estimate has not been released to the public by the MTA.

"Ratner's projected profits for the city and state are exponentially greater than any independent study has shown, and Ratner has hidden his own projected corporate profits. How sweet a deal is Ratner getting and how raw a deal is the public getting? Very sweet and very raw," said Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn spokesman Daniel Goldstein. "Less than $1 million a year is an unacceptably small return on a huge public investment. It is incumbent upon the MTA to publicly release Ratner's projected profits, as they did for his competitor, Extell. We need to know what kind of profit Ratner will make on his project, because the IBO report shows that the public will barely get a return on its investment."

The MTA reaches its self-imposed 45-day exclusive Atlantic Yards negotiation deadline with FCR this Saturday, September 10th.

Goldstein concluded, "How can the MTA reach an agreement with FCR before they have publicly announced Ratner's profit projections? The IBO report shows that there is nothing unique about the Ratner proposal that would justify what has effectively been a closed bidding process by the MTA."


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