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don't destroy

BROOKLYN     Press Release Main Page

For Immediate Release: December 4, 2008

Frank Gehry Lays Off Atlantic Yards Staff

Ratner Seeking More Favors from City, MTA and
Private Lenders For Failing Atlantic Yards Plan

BROOKLYN, NY— Forest City Ratner’s Atlantic Yards development plan is contending with pending litigation as well as the global fiscal crisis and credit crunch. After confirming two weeks ago that all work has stopped on the Atlantic Yards project site, and last week that the project is indefinitely on hold, now Ratner can add the absence of architects to design the beleaguered megaproject to its list of woes.

Ratner’s world-renowned Atlantic Yards architect Frank Gehry has laid off all staff working on the Atlantic Yards plan, according to a report in today’s Wall Street Journal. Gehry laid off more than “two dozen staffers” despite the fact the most of the proposed project has not been designed.

Meanwhile, The New York Observer’s Eliot Brown confirms that Ratner’s project is experiencing substantial cash flow problems and breaks the news that Ratner is “…attempting to cobble together extra money; trying to speed up tens of millions of dollars it is owed by public entities; delay tens of millions in payments it owes to both the public and private sectors; and tack on new subsidy programs for the housing piece of the project.”

“Ratner doesn’t have the architect, money or land he needs to build his planned Atlantic Yards project. The project has been miserably managed and is on the edge of failure. So now Ratner wants the budget-slashing State, the budget-slashing City and the fare-raising MTA to grant him yet more favors? Sorry, but that doesn’t fly,” said Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) spokesman Daniel Goldstein. “It really is high time for the Paterson and Bloomberg administrations, and the MTA, to face the facts of Ratner’s failing project and stop funding his money pit while asking everyone else around the City and State to sacrifice during this fiscal crisis.

Ratner’s seemingly desperate attempt to have the City and State further favor and cater to him includes an effort to get the cash-strapped MTA to restructure the $100 million dollar deal for the Vanderbilt Rail Yard (8-acres of the 22-acre project site) so Ratner doesn’t have to pay up front because, The Observer reports, “financing is nearly impossible to find and Forest City is hardly swimming in cash.” This attempt to delay payment is even though the $100 million is already well below the MTA’s $214.5 million appraisal of the rail yard.

Ratner also wants the City to speed “up the payments on the balance” of the $100 million in its direct taxpayer subsidy (which is only part of the City’s $205 million direct subsidy and does not include the City’s blank check for “extraordinary infrastructure”).

And in the private market Ratner is trying to renegotiate and extend a large bridge loan with Gramercy Capital, which comes due in February. The Wall Street Journal reports that the $153 million loan has accrued to $177 million owed.

Ratner does not own the land he needs to build his proposed arena and superblock skyscrapers, and he does not have the financing to build any part of the project. The status of the two pending lawsuits challenging the project’s environmental review, “blight” finding, and use of eminent domain, can be found at: www.dddb.net/php/status.php


The community in Brooklyn has advocated for developing the rail yard in a fiscally responsible manner, which is described in the community developed UNITY Plan, which has been presented to Governor Paterson's economic development officials. The UNITY Plan is based on the principle that the MTA should divide the rail yards into multiple, manageable parcels that can be put out for bid and bring more revenue to the MTA. The smaller parcels reduce the risk inherent in Ratner's massive project by spreading it amongst multiple developers. Then the yard can actually be developed and badly needed affordable housing could be realized.

DEVELOP DON'T DESTROY BROOKLYN leads a broad-based community coalition
fighting for development that will unite our communities instead of dividing and destroying them
DDDB is 501c3 non-profit corporation supported by over 4,000 individual donors from the community.