Arena going up — but will the rest of the project?

The Brooklyn Paper
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Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner will not build the $4-billion mega-project unless the economy — and more specifically, the housing market — bounces back.

The developer admitted on Tuesday that all but one of the project’s proposed 16 towers can’t move forward because they are “market dependent.”

“If the [housing] market never comes back, we’re all in trouble,” the developer told reporters after unveiling new designs for the public plaza in front of his Barclays Center arena, a $900-million sports complex under construction near the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues.

That arena, plus one mixed-rent 400-unit tower on the south side of the complex, are insulated from the market conditions that affect the rest of the project — the arena because Ratner has put together the money to build it, and the residential building because it is already being prepped to begin construction early next summer.

Though even that timetable is a few months delayed from a promise made earlier this year by Forest City Ratner executive Jane Marshall.

Ratner’s less-than-rock-solid timeline for the full project contradicted his company’s own press release, which promises “construction of a new residential building beginning every six to nine months” after the start of that first residential tower.

Nonetheless, Ratner said he remains bullish on development in New York and in Brooklyn specifically.

“If there’s no market for the kind of middle-income housing with the amenities and the numbers that we’re doing, then New York City is in serious trouble — but I really don’t think that’s going to happen.”

He declined to speculate when the market for office space will improve, allowing him to move ahead with the project’s design centerpiece, the 50-odd story capstone tower at the Flatbush and Atlantic intersection itself.

“The office market is not good now,” he said. “It could bounce back in a couple of years or many.”

Virtually all of the economic and public benefits of the mega-development — which include more than 2,200 units of below-market-rate housing, thousands of construction jobs, tax revenues for the city, and public space — are dependent on Ratner finishing the project.

Updated 5:20 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Tony V from South Slope says:
What a liar this guy is. That arena was always the Trojan Horse so he could build more crap like Metrotech. Now, this project has albatross written all over it.

Ratner should save his investors and his bank account potential problems by holding off on the entire project. While I have no respect for the man, I also do not want to see him bankrupt himself to follow this vision of the NBA in Brooklyn.
Sept. 28, 2010, 12:10 pm
SteveFtGreene from Fort Greene says:
Thanks to Govs Pataki, Spitzer, and Paterson, Mayor Bloomberg, Brooklyn Borough President Markowitz, Chuck Schumer, Ed Towns, Anthony Weiner, Bill Thompson, the entire Empire State Development Corporation, the list goes on and on..

You, and the rest of the Atlantic Yards supporters, have successfully participated in a huge giveaway of taxpayer money and other resources to support a project that will bust up a developing neighborhood in exchange for acres of parking lots and never provide any public benefit.
Sept. 28, 2010, 12:40 pm
pher from Prospect Heights says:
Ratner is not going bankrupt himself. This is an opening act. Ratner is warming up the room for another renegotiation of the project scope, schedule and public subsidy with the State and the City.

Watch: In another six or nine months, he will be back demanding more direct and indirect government aid, an even slower build out, and deeper cuts to his affordable housing commitment. He will claim unavailability of financing, continued adverse market conditions, yadda yadda yadda. The ESDC will agree to his demands, Chinese visas or no Chinese visas. The Mayor will do a Pontius Pilate, washing his hands of responsibility on the theory that this whole project was concocted by the State. ESDC and FCRC will claim the newly-downsized, more expensive (and longer) project is not as bad as what was disclosed in the FEIS, so no public review of the changes is required. The Governor, the Mayor, the ESDC and FCRC will then lock arms and stonewall local elected officials looking for further answers.

Given the current structure of Atlantic Yards governance, this is the cycle we have to look forward to.
Sept. 28, 2010, 1:22 pm
Norman Oder says:
Actually, in 2008, Bruce Ratner said in a Daily News op-ed, "We anticipate finishing all of Atlantic Yards by 2018."
Sept. 28, 2010, 3:35 pm
Sick and Tired from Clinton Hill says:
If all you NIMBY'S had not delayed the project with fruitless law suits the arena would be built, folks would have jobs and all those robberies that have taken place in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill would be a lot less. So every time you look at the police blotter and see the crimes taking place look in the mirror. You can not live in a community as a have with a majority of havenots and think that you will not be affected.

And before you all start typing to say that I am condoning violence NO I AM NOT it is the people who have been hit the worst in this community trying to survive.

And where are the elected officials who made it their full time job to be in front of the camera's, in print and speaking at somebody's rally? Where are they now when something needs to be put in place to give jobs to those who need them.

What did you all really accomplish?
Sept. 28, 2010, 11:47 pm
Tyrone Wiggins from Fort Greene says:
METROTECH is awesome. It was ghetto blight before Metrotech was built. Now it's beautiful buildings. The Arena is a huge boost for the 'hood. Time for all those Kennedy Fried Chickens, T Mobiles and Wig stores to get a steppin' yo

Tyrone Wiggins
Sept. 29, 2010, 10:03 am
Improved Prospect from Prospect Heights says:
The positive benefits, (jobs, housing, open space, the connecting of neighborhoods), laid out for the public used to justify all the special treatment and hundreds of millions of public dollars Bruce Ratner received were all based on a lie: that the project would be built in ten years. Built over twenty, (or not completed at all which is now the most likely scenario), the project is worth much less to the public.

And the arena, (which the city's own Independent Budget Office says the city will lose 180.5 million dollars on), will submerge surrounding streets with cars and an unnecessary 1100 car surface parking lot that will now be in place not for 8 years, but 20 years or more. TIME TO MAKE THE ARENA TRANSIT ONLY! No surface parking lots. Less traffic on Brooklyn streets. Less hurdles for future development.
Oct. 17, 2010, 8:56 am
Marvin from Fort Greene/Clinton Hill says:
Make the arena transit only? Why dont you make the borough transit only while youre at it. :/ Whether you or the "develop dont destroy brooklyners" like it or not, downtown brooklyn is expanding and advancing. Us Ft Greene/Clinton Hill/Prospect Heights lifers have seen it for the past 15 years and ironically, it began when most of the project protesters first moved into the area. Atlantic yards or not, there's gong to be an influx of cars, trucks and cabs in the area. I know you'll miss your "quaint" little hood where you up to now bought/rented low but for many of us that ship sailed long ago (around the time they opened a Connecticut muffin on myrtle ave). How about we spend more time addressing the current issues that effect us on a daily basis [traffic, PARKING, LOCAL jobs, affordable housing, area safety] and less time trying to hold on to a past that doesnt reflect our current situation. Less traffic on Brooklyn streets? Good luck with that
Nov. 10, 2010, 11 am
poppy from park slope says:
you rat man retire you old prick
Nov. 15, 2010, 8:02 pm

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