Thursday, March 29, 2007

Atlantic Yards: 'House of Cards'?

"In examining the $4 billion mixed-use Atlantic Yards project for approval, New York State's leading development agency never saw a business plan from developer Forest City Ratner," The New York Sun reports. Why does this matter? Recall my last Atlantic Yards posting:
State lawmakers seeking documents from the Empire State Development Corp., the public agency overseeing the project, detailing Forest City Ratner's full financial plan, were forced to litigate. And only then received a few indecipherable pages. Because the project involves more than a billion dollars in taxpayer subsidies, lawmakers understandably felt their constituents deserved knowing more about it. Earlier, the ESDC refused a Freedom of Information Act request.

So, what's the ESDC hiding? If this eminent-domain-dependent development is furthering the "public good," why must the public be kept in the dark?
Apparently, the only thing they were hiding was their own incompetence. Quoth the Sun:

A former city planning commissioner who opposes the project, Ronald Shiffman, said that in not seeing FCR's financial plan, the state did not provide appropriate oversight.

"One would believe they should look at it with a lot of due diligence, particularly with the amount of money they're putting into this," he said. "It's been a done deal from the beginning without anybody really looking at it."

A spokesman for Forest City Ratner declined to comment.

Develop Don't Destroy asks:

Does anyone who approved this project, for which the government intends to use the awesome power of eminent domain, even know if it's financially viable? Does anyone in Albany or in City Hall have any idea how Ratner's potential profit compares to the public's meager return? Does anyone know if Ratner might pull the plug on Phase Two if he makes all his money on Phase One? Apparently not.

In the face of the sub-prime loan default crisis, we think it's high time that someone in Albany get to the bottom of Bruce Ratner's $4 billion, eight-million square foot house of cards.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I for one, am psyched to see basketball in Brooklyn