May 29: State Senate Public Hearing on Atlantic Yards
This comes from Develop, Don't Destroy Brooklyn:
Since Atlantic Yards was approved in December 2006, Forest City Ratner, and lead agency Empire State Development Corporation, have not exactly been forthcoming and transparent with the public (not that they were before approval either). And over the past 2.5 years we've seen the project stalled, litigation continue, the economic environment radically altered, and scores of questions raised about the project and its future. None have been answered.
So, it is with great anticipation that we are pleased to announce that State Senators Bill Perkins and Velmanette Montgomery have called a public hearing on May 29th where officials from the ESDC, Forest City, the MTA and other city and state agencies, as well as experts on all sides of the Atlantic Yards issue will testify. Incredibly, it will be the first public hearing held by the state legislature for the project that was unveiled in December 2003.
Testimony is by invitation only, but the public can apply to testify as well as submit written testimony. WE URGE YOU to set aside the afternoon on May 29th and attend this crucial hearing (and to show up early to get in the room).
Here are the details:
“Atlantic Yards: Where are We Now, How Did We Get Here, and Where is this Project Going?”
Senate Standing Committee Corporations, Authorities and Commissions
Senator Bill Perkins, Chair
Date and Time:
May 29, 2009 – 1:00 PM
Higgins Hall, Pratt Institute
61 St. James Place [Map]
Brooklyn, NY 11238
Purpose: This hearing will trace the history of the Atlantic Yards project to determine its current status. The Committee’s intent is to examine the process by which decisions are made, to understand where the project is now, and to envision where this project might lead. Issues involved include but are not limited to whether this is the best possible deal for taxpayers and the local community; whether the use of eminent domain is necessary and is it being exercised responsibly; the meaning and use of the concept of ‘blight’ in condemnations; what is a ‘public benefit’ sufficient to justify massive state action; and what are the financials?
“Atlantic Yards is a mega-project involving many public resources and a great deal of public interest. This Committee is focused on studying the details of this deal and taking action in order to ensure that the maximum degree of transparency, accountability, and civic engagement become the standard for such developments, not the exception.” -Senator Bill Perkins
If you wish to request to offer oral testimony, which will be at the discretion of the chair, you can download a request form at:
And on related news, the Atlantic Yards project that was said to be a done deal back in 2006 seems shakier than ever, complete with a building freeze:
Just last week NBA Commissioner David Stern said Forest City Ratner would break ground this summer on the besieged Barclays Center arena in Brooklyn. Or, at least, that is what he has been told by the developer, who last year said they’d break ground in December 2008, and in 2003 said they’d open their arena in 2006.
Today, announcing the sale of 45.5 million new shares to raise cash to pay off a heavy debt burden, parent company Forest City Enterprises (FCE-A) stated in a press release that:
“…Forest City does not anticipate commencing any new vertical development in the near term…”
Presumably if they were going to start construction on the arena this summer, or even this year, they would have said so as an exception to their overall construction freeze.
Forest City Ratner (FCR) continues to maintain that the Barclays Center Arena would open in 2011. But if construction does not start in 2009 that would be impossible, as would a 2012 opening date given stated build out schedules.
Currently Forest City Ratner doesn’t own the land it needs to build the arena or the rest of Atlantic Yards, and does not have the financing to build the arena. It appears that the numbers no longer compute to build the arena or affordable housing they once envisioned. The project is also being litigated in two major lawsuits. Yet, Forest City Ratner's project is not dead as the developer continues its effort to control 22 valuable acres in Brooklyn to eventually build an arena and 16 skyscrapers
Apparently banks are reluctant to extend more credit to Cleveland-based Forest City Enterprises, so the developer issued 45.5 million new shares priced at $6.60. As of noon the market has responded that $6.60 is overpriced, the stock is trading at $6.36 a share and was as low as $6.06. The stock is down about 80% since September...