Atlantic Yards isn't gonna happen. So can we stop pretending now?
Yeah, Bruce Ratner and his government enablers continue the charade that all
is well in Ratnerville—what with his planned "ground breaking"
in December and all. But that's absurd,
and impossible, unless they plan some nonsense ribbon cutting kabuki of
shovels and fanfare signifying nothing meaningful about actually constructing
their arena and skyscrapers.
C'mon. Get real.
Haven't any of them noticed we are in the biggest financial crisis since World
War 2 or the Great Depression depending upon who you ask? Didn't they just watch
Wall Street's meltdown? Didn't they witness an extremely
skeptical State Court judicial panel on September 17th? Haven't they seen
the credit market? Are they not privy to the real estate crash? Are they unaware
of the office vacancy rate in NYC? Have they not heard the "NO" from
government officials in response to their continual lobbying to suck more money
from the taxpayer? Have they not taken note of escalating construction costs?
Did they not notice that the Barclays Center Arena is the most expensive ever
proposed at $950 million and is sure to rise in cost? Don't they remember saying
that the project was supposed to provide "affordable" housing? Have
their calendars malfunctioned to such an extent that they didn't notice that
the arena that was supposed to open in 2006, at the end of 2008 still languishes
with its required land still in the hands of other owners?
Surely someone with political power has noticed that Ratner
no longer even shows Phase 2 of the project in his model—that's the
phase that purportedly was going to bring the bulk of the "affordable"
housing and the "privately-owned, publicly-accessible open space."
We've gotta believe that nobody envisioned a white
elephant arena surrounded by parking lots. Nobody could have ever predicted
such a thing.
People have heard that the City Comptroller and mayoral candidate Bill Thompson
"doesn't even know what that
project is any longer." He said that, didn't he?
Someone is taking note, we're confident, that Ratner wants federally tax-exempt
bonds for his privately owned arena, which would be a net loss for New
York City, while the federal government is on the verge of spending
something like $700 billion in taxpayer money to bailout Ratner's fellow fat
cats. Tax exemptions for no return, but rather a loss? Are you kidding?
Did someone, maybe, notice that luxury
suites may not be so attractive these days?
Somewhere, someone was reading the Times and read that Barclays
Bank has an out from its $400 million naming rights deal with Ratner come
It can't just be the folks in Washington who have heard that Congressman Kucinich
is taking a very close look at tax-exemption
shenanigans on the part of the Yankees and Nets. Right?
Because it sure seems like the three people in government with the most power
to rein in Atlantic Yards have "the end of Atlantic Yards" just on
the tip of their tongue. They just haven't quite put two and two together yet.
Those three would be:
Governor Paterson did say that when these projects become too
costly then maybe government needs to "change its mind." We noticed
that, and concluded that Atlantic
Yards is indeed too costly and too risky.
Last week New Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) CEO/President
Marisa Lago said, "the need for strategic economic development
is actually keenest in a down economy." We noticed that as well, and concluded
that there is nothing strategic at all about Atlantic Yards.
Mayor Bloomberg told Tom Brokaw, "We may have to stretch
out some construction projects, we may have to ask people to do more with less.
We may not be able to have the frills at the edge." We
noticed that too, and concluded
that "frills at the edge" would include a publicly subsidized, privately-owned
$950 million-and-rising arena (the most expensive ever proposed), which
would pay no property taxes, create very few new jobs and be a net
loss for New York City all while providing a tidy profit for developer Bruce
Now—who is going to connect all the dots?
Who is going to call Ratner's Folly what it is: a game of pretend in
desperate need of some realism by our political leaders.