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"Why should people get to see plans? This isn't a public project."
Bruce Ratner in Crain's Nov. 8, 2009

Bruce Ratner Has Been a Busy Beaver Trying to Save His Supposed "Done Deal"

Charles Bagli at the Times tells us what a desperate busy beaver Bruce Ratner has been over the past months, travelling to Moscow for money, city hall and Albany for subsidies, and bond rating agencies (wherever they hang out) in order to get his Atlantic Yards proposal off life support.

We and Bagli and many others have been down this road before: Bruce opens mouth, stuff comes out and then none of it pans out. Why believe him this time? We don't. It is especially funny to read that Bruce hopes to build more "affordable" subsidized housing than required. Why funny? Because subsidized housing is ALL Ratner can build right now and the money wouldn't have to come out of his pocket. Of course he wants to build more of it.

Finally, there is anemic speculation on whether Ratner can float his tax-exempt arena bond prior to the December 31st IRS deadline to do so. Not much light is shed on that in the article, but bond (and more) blogger Gari N. Corp does his own lengthy speculation on the bond and on the bond speculator on his GumbyFresh blog—I am the god of capitalism, and I give you nonsense.

From the Times:

Atlantic Yards’ Developer Races a Court Hearing, a Bond Deadline and Opponents

New York Times. By CHARLES V. BAGLI

As the usual tumult greeted the final public hearings on the Atlantic Yards development last month, it was business as usual for the developer Bruce C. Ratner.

He visited three rating agencies in preparation for selling bonds this fall to finance the first project in the 22-acre development near Downtown Brooklyn: an $800 million, 18,000-seat arena for the New Jersey Nets.

He flew to Moscow to meet with the billionaire Mikhail D. Prokhorov about investing in the money-losing Nets.

He went to and from City Hall and the state’s economic development offices on Third Avenue to complete the paperwork for the Atlantic Yards development and to start work on the arena.

“We are racing to the finish line,” Mr. Ratner said in an interview as the public hearing drew to a close. “Our sense is that while this project was important five years ago, it has become even more important given the economy and the job situation in the city.”

Remember, it was on May 15th that Bruce told the world that his dying project had jumped its "last hurdle." Then why all of this scurrying about?

Bagli continues:
...Mr. Ratner must clear a number of important hurdles before starting construction of the arena and the first four residential towers.

There is an Oct. 14 hearing before the state’s highest court, where opponents hope to scuttle Atlantic Yards by challenging the state’s use of eminent domain. Beyond that, there is a looming deadline: he must get the financing done and start work by Dec. 31 in order to qualify for a much needed tax-exempt bond status and hold on to a $400 million naming-rights deal with Barclays Bank for the arena.

Mr. Ratner acknowledged that he was also seeking additional investors for the Nets, but he said he and his company would retain a substantial stake in the team, which he hopes to move to Brooklyn during the 2011-12 season.

Critics, led by the group Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, contend that Atlantic Yards will overwhelm the neighborhood and unfairly benefit a developer who they say has received too many subsidies, including $305 million from the city and the state, along with tens of millions of dollars in tax breaks.

The Court of Appeals has set an Oct. 14 date for oral arguments: some local property owners are challenging a unanimous lower court decision approving the state’s use of eminent domain. Daniel Goldstein, a spokesman for Develop Don’t Destroy and one of the property owners, said “the project is dead” if their appeal is successful. A decision is expected in November.

Regardless, he added, “We plan on bringing at least two more significant lawsuits against the phantom project,” a reference to the developer’s failure to release new images of his buildings after scrapping the original designs.

Mr. Ratner said he expected to release new images of the arena before Labor Day. “I think the final architecture will be really beautiful,” he said.

The developer disputed critics who claim that he may never build the parks and affordable housing that he once promised, now that the expected completion date has been pushed out to 2019, from 2016. Mr. Ratner said there was a continuing need for affordable housing for the city’s teachers, nurses, firefighters and hotel workers.
Ratner and ESDC pretend the completion date is 2019 while ESDC and MTA have given him until 2031.

Bagli continues:
“There is a stable and steady group of takers for work-force housing in the city,” Mr. Ratner said. “The goal is not just to create the required amount but possibly more than that.”

In recent weeks, the developer has sought additional housing subsidies from city officials, who have so far declined to go beyond the standard incentives for developers.

Continue reading

On his Atlantic Yards Report Norman Oder takes a look at the Times article and notices that what Ratner VP MaryAnne Gilmartin said just a few weeks ago is contradicted in the article. We're shocked!
Business as usual: Times notes Ratner's seeking more housing subsidies, but ignores lack of a cost-benefit analysis (and omits disclosure)

...Third, it reveals that Forest City Ratner has sought additional housing subsidies from the city, despite the careful statement by FCR executive MaryAnne Gilmartin last month that “Forest City does not expect to ask for more subsidy.”

The reason that's news: while Forest City is now framing Atlantic Yards as an affordable housing project, the developer won't build the affordable housing without sufficient city subsidies. And we still don't know--though serious doubts have been raised by experts like Michelle de la Uz of the Fifth Avenue Committee--how the cost-per-unit compares to alternatives...

Full article

Posted: 8.10.09
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Eminent Domain Case
Goldstein et al v. ESDC
[All case files]

November 24, 2009
Court of Appeals

[See ownership map]

EIS Lawsuit

DDDB et al v ESDC et al
Click for a summary of the lawsuit seeking to annul the review and approval the Atlantic Yards project.

Appeal briefs are here.

Appellate Divsion
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What would Atlantic Yards Look like?...
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