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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
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
am the god of capitalism, and I give you nonsense.
From the Times:
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?
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.
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.”
...Mr. Ratner must clear a number of important hurdles before starting
construction of the arena and the first four residential towers.
Ratner and ESDC pretend the completion date is 2019 while ESDC and MTA have given
him until 2031.
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.
“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.”
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!
In recent weeks, the developer has sought additional housing subsidies from
city officials, who have so far declined to go beyond the standard incentives
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...