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Release: June 24, 2006
Phantom Project Pork
State Finalizes $100 Million Appropriation for Highly Speculative
Ratner "Atlantic Yards" Proposal
New York Post reported today that the Governor, Assembly and
Senate have finalized an agreement to appropriate $100 million for Forest
City Ratner's proposed "Atlantic Yards" development in Prospect Heights
and Park Slope, Brooklyn. The 8.7 million square foot development proposalincluding
16 skyscrapers and a 20,000 arena in a low-rise residential communityis
the largest single-source development proposed in the history of New York
The city has already approved $100 million for the proposal but the $200
million city and state total is just the tip of the iceberg. The developer
claims the project would cost the public $1.1 billion while
a study done by project opponents, Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB),
shows that the total public cost could reach $2
billion or more.
The appropriation has come before the public and elected officials even
know what exactly the project is, what its total public cost would be, what
its return would be, what the environmental impact would be and if those
impacts could be mitigated. The appropriation also comes without any public
disclosure by Forest City Ratner of its profit-loss statement, and before
the state mandated environmental review has even begun.
"Appropriating these taxpayer funds to Forest City Ratner at this point
is beyond premature, it’s an irresponsible use of public money. It’s pork
for a phantom project built on a foundation of extreme speculation and non-information,"
said DDDB spokesman Daniel Goldstein. "The Governor claims the project
would bring jobs and ‘affordable housing,’ yet for close to $2 billion
in taxpayer investment the proposed project would bring, at most,
700 new jobs most of which would not go to those in Brooklyn who most desperately
need them. As for ‘affordable housing,’ this is a luxury housing project
with only 12% of the proposed units going to those who make Brooklyn’s median
income or less. If you make minimum wage, you will not be eligible for any
of the housing. This is a terribly cost ineffective project."
In related news Senate Speaker Joseph Bruno has been responding to letters
from "Atlantic Yards" opponents
with a form letter
that pays lip service to genuine government oversight of the proposal
and creates the impression that the project is "done deal." (see:
Goldstein said, "Mr. Bruno’s response to constituents in Brooklyn is
‘thank you for your letter, but this project is coming whether you like
it or notit’s a done deal.’ Well it’s becoming more and more clear
that the Forest City Ratner proposal is a dead
deal suffering a terminal illness."
The governor also said that this project will "…help transform Brooklyn
and bring the New Jersey Nets to Brooklyn."
"He’s sure right, the proposed project would transform Brooklyn into
a skyscraper city, with extreme density, a traffic nightmare, primary and
secondary residential displacement and asthma worsening pollution, creating
an insult to the Brooklyn that its inhabitants hold so dear. As for the
Nets coming to Brooklyn he may be right, but wrong as for the location of
their home; it’s
likely to be in Coney Island, as the developer cannot get the land he
needs to build an arena in Prospect Heights," concluded Goldstein.