Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Bruce Ratner Comes Out of the Closet (not so much)

You've got to wonder how slimy a deal has to be to get even the Ratner-friendly New York Times to admit in so many words that it is nothing more than some political log-rolling. . . .

Atlantic Yards developer Forest City Ratner is floating the rumor that they might reduce the size of the proposed mega-project, but as the Times concludes:

[When the size reduction is officially announced], there could be a long line of politicians and activists hoping to take credit, including the Bloomberg administration, Mr. Silver, Ms. Millman and Mr. Markowitz.

“Everyone’s going to take credit for something that everyone knew would happen,” said an executive who works with Forest City. “For these guys, it’s very important.”

And as the Forest City executive admits, this scale-back was planned all along, confirming what many opponents have been insisting for months: the original plan was purposely inflated to provide for a phony compromise later. As Daniel Goldstein from Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn said to the Times, FCR has had this proposal “in their closet for a long time.”

And it’s still in the closet. FC Ratner hasn’t actually unveiled these plans, they’ve just leaked that they are going to unveil some sort of revised plan “sometime later this month.”

Why not unveil it now? Well, that might give opponents of the development time to actually analyze the new proposal. And, so, show up for the next public forum (scheduled for, um, later this month) prepped to show this downsizing for what it is: a sham and a scam.

* * * *

A couple of other points:

If you needed to revise a project the size of Atlantic Yards to make it acceptable for various state and local politicians to once again publicly embrace it, how much would you propose to downsize? Ten percent? Fifteen? Twenty percent?

Nope. “The developer Forest City Ratner plans to reduce the size of the complex by 6 to 8 percent.”

That’s all, folks. Single digits.

How greedy do you as a developer have to be to devise a proposal that is supposed to win over your opposition—or at least divide it—and the most you can bear to part with is “6 to 8” percent? And how craven and cynical do you as a politician have to be to think that you are going to look good to your constituents by claiming credit for a paltry six to eight percent rollback?

I suppose noting that there is cynicism among those state and local officials that support the project is not really news, but that there is opposition to the whole development among some other elected officials apparently would be. . . at least to the New York Times.

While the Times, frankly, has trouble making enough space in the article for every government official quoted as a supporter, there is not one—not one—politician mentioned as an AY opponent. Did reporters Charles V. Bagli and Diane Cardwell lose the phone number for Councilmember Letitia James? And though the article does quote DDDB’s Goldstein, wouldn’t it make for a better story if the reporters attempted to gage reaction from a breadth of opposition members?

Or would that just show that the opposition has breadth?


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