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Ratner Calls Rally In Support of...Ratner
Atlantic Yards: The so-called "done deal"
that needs a rally called for and organized by the developer, Forest City Ratner.
Why would a "done deal" need such an extravagant boost? Could the developer
for more public subsidy, perhaps?
Forest City Ratner flier calling for a "rally" in support
of...Forest City Ratner.
[Click to enlarge]
As you can see above, developer Forest City Ratner is holding a "Brooklyn
Day" celebration and rally at Borough Hall on June 5th to "support the Atlantic
Yards project and The Nets moving to Brooklyn."
In other words…the developer is organizing a rally to support itself.
We at Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn would like to provide a realistic picture
of the Atlantic Yards proposal, which is not available on the flier...a look
at the status of their project that removes the rose-colored glasses.
Quite frankly, the project is nothing to celebrate.
Forest City Ratner's rally flier above reads as follows:
Bring your friends to Borough Hall in Brooklyn for a rally, music and lunch
where we will celebrate:
Here are the facts behind the rhetoric in Forest City Ratner's bullet points
- Brooklyn's renaissance
- The progress of Atlantic Yards
- Affordable housing, union jobs and community development
- The return of professional sports to the borough
> Brooklyn's renaissance
Brooklyn's "renaissance" has been in the works for over two decades. The Atlantic
Yards project is not part of that so-called "renaissance." What has come along
with that "renaissance" has been overdevelopment, which has displaced thousands
and thousands of Brooklynites from their homes by gradual gentrification. Atlantic
Yards would create, in the words of City Councilman Charles Barron, "instant gentrification."
Even the state of New York, in its environmental review of Atlantic Yards, said
that the project could lead to indirect
displacement of over 2,900 households. That's not the kind of "renaissance"
that works for Brooklynites.
> The progress of Atlantic Yards
Atlantic Yards has not "progressed," it is stalled. Bruce Ratner, President of
Forest City Ratner, said so himself in an article in the New York Times on March
21st. (see: Slow
Economy Likely to Stall Atlantic Yards). The project—16 skyscrapers
and an arena—was once slated for completion in 2016. Now Mr. Ratner has
an agreement with the State of New York where he has been given 6 years just
to build the arena, and 12 years just to build Phase 1, which is the arena and
4 or 5 towers. Phase 2 of the project, 11 skyscrapers where over 70% of the so-called
"affordable housing" is slated to be built, has no timeline at all.
And the most recent architectural renderings of the project only
show Phase 1.
Additionally, the developer does not have the bond to pay for the most expensive
arena ever proposed (now nearly $1 billion), does not have the housing bonds for
the "affordable housing," and is facing rising construction costs, a crashing
credit and real estate market. This is why Mr. Ratner is unable to discuss the
completion of his project with any credibility.
Meanwhile the developer continues to use scorched earth tactics, demolishing
a section of the Prospect Heights neighborhood and maintaining the threat
of eminent domain to seize private homes and businesses. The Ratner team has
not actually started any construction, but rather has continued demolition
while working on the rail yards and some infrastructure.
The destruction of a community with no ability to rebuild is not progress.
> Affordable housing, union jobs and community development
"Affordable Housing?" Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards Project is not an
"affordable housing project." It is a luxury housing project, with a small
amount of proposed "affordable housing."
As stated above, Forest City Ratner has yet to secure a single dollar of public,
taxpayer subsidy for the proposed housing they choose to call "affordable."
- The project proposes 6,430 units of housing. 4,180 of those units would
be luxury housing units.
- 87% of all the units would be priced for families making over Brooklyn's
- Over 60% of what they are even calling "affordable" (2,250 units) is priced
for families earning over Brooklyn's median income.
And 40% of what they are even calling "affordable" is prices for families
earning between $70,000 and $113,000 per year.
Upsettingly ,the focus of the project appears to be on the arena, which would
house no Brooklyn residents at all. The funding
agreement between New York City and New York State has harsher penalties if
the arena is delayed or not built, than if the "affordable" housing
is delayed or not built.
Those are the wrong priorities.
As for union jobs, we fully support union jobs. But without a project and with
a stalled project no union jobs, or any jobs at all can be created. Also, any
development over the rail yards would utilize union labor…so why choose a project
that is not financially feasible because it puts all of the public's eggs in one
developer's basket leaving us at the mercy of that developer? We want union jobs
for a development that works for the community, rather than a development plan
that is fashioned for the developer rather than the community. We, the community
and unions, can make this happen.
As for community development, the Ratner project violates every principle of community
development espoused by experts in urban planning and community development. There
is no equity at all for the community in the Atlantic Yards project, and there
has been no genuine involvement by the community in the plan itself; the plan
was hatched in Forest City Ratner's board rooms, not community planning meetings.
Atlantic Yards is the anitithesis of community development.
> The return of professional sports to the borough
The return of professional sports to the borough is not Forest City Ratner's
primary goal; the primary goals is to control 22-acres of very valuable land
at the nexus of the neighborhoods of Fort Greene, Prospect Heights, Clinton
Hill, Park Slope and Boerum Hill, and to build luxury housing if possible.
Also, as of today, it is impossible for the developer to build its planned
arena. They do not own the land they need to build it (they can only get that
land by seizing private property by an abusive use of the constitutional powers
of eminent domain) and they do not have the bond they need.
And who is Ratner marketing his pro sports team to? Not your average Brooklynite,
not your average union worker but, rather, your average corporation seeking a
nice tax write-off by entertaining corporate guests in their $300,000
to $540,000 luxury skybox suite in the proposed Barclays Center Arena.
Finally there is this: though the Forest City Ratner team denies it, there
have been reports that there have been discussions with New Jersey investors
to buy the Nets and move them to Newark.
More about that in the New Jersey Star Ledger's article, NJ
group explores bringing Nets to Newark.
So, what does Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn and our thousands of supporters want
to see happen now that it appears that the Atlantic Yards proposal is failing.
We want to see the rail yards developed with:
- truly affordable housing for Brooklynites
- union jobs
- public open space that the public can truly utilize
- a new school
- pubic subsidies utilized in a cost-effective, and transparent manner
- responses to the true needs of the community, rather than the developers
- no abuse of eminent domain to seize our neighbors' homes and businesses
- no removal (or demapping) of streets
- a reasonable density and scale, rather than an unsustainable density and
scale, which the infrastructure can handle
- multiple developers and community input on a broad scale
And we, along with scores of other community organizations, have a plan and
a process to do just that…it is called the UNITY
Plan, a plan developed and initiated by members of the community.
You can learn more about the UNITY Plan at: www.unityplan.org.
(We are curious which "leaders," as mentioned in the flier, will
show up at Forest City Ratner's rally in support of Forest City Ratner. One
other oddity: what's with the American flag on the Forest City Ratner Atlantic
Yards flier? Since when is Atlantic Yards something to feel patriotic about?
Finally, as is clear in this photo of a union site flier (posted at 1 Grand
Army Plaza at Plaza Street East), Forest City Ratner has once
again marshalled a few hours of union job time to have the trade unions come
out in support of....Forest City Ratner (Photo: Tracy Collins):
"Jumpstart project for November start date"? Hmmm, how exactly
does that work?