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Hold the shovels! Ratner backtracks on residential construction schedule

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Developers of the Atlantic Yards project were caught red-faced last week when one of the development company’s officials said that construction of the project’s first residential building would begin this year — but then had to admit that no financing has been lined up.

Forest City Ratner Vice President MaryAnne Gilmartin told real-estate insiders on Wednesday that construction of the long-delayed, 400-unit residential tower at the western end of the mega-project’s footprint would get underway this year, but the next day, a spokesman for the company admitted that the developer doesn’t have money for the project.

“We hope to release designs in late spring or early summer and still hope to break ground this year,” the spokesman said. “[But] they need to secure financing.”

History — and the economy — is not on Forest City Ratner’s side, at least in the short term. Last year, company executive Jane Marshall also said that a groundbreaking on the half-below-market-rate rental building would take place in 2010.

It’s the same old story for a project plan that once consisted of 16 skyscrapers and an arena near the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues in Prospect Heights. For now, the Barclays Center arena, the future home of the New Jersey Nets, is the project’s only slam dunk. It is expected to be completed in 2012.

That said, Gilmartin did reveal that the rental building has moved forward in one way — Forest City Ratner now has an architect for it, if the company comes up with financing. SHoP Architects — the same Manhattan firm that is credited with saving the arena project after developer Bruce Ratner fired starchitect Frank Gehry in 2009 — will design the rental, too.

Ratner’s inability to break ground on the rental building — the first of what he claims will be a 6,400-unit residential complex — is particularly glaring, given that the developer said last year that the tower was insulated from the depressed housing market because preparations to build it were already underway when the real-estate bubble burst.

At that time, Ratner also promised the start of “construction of a new residential building beginning every six to nine months” after the start of this first tower.

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Reader Feedback

Joey from Clinton Hills says:
Where is my esteemed Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries with regard to this? I am very unhappy with that fencesitter.
Feb. 14, 2011, 2:01 pm
Norman Oder says:
Here's coverage of the meeting Thursday:
http://atlanticyardsreport.blogspot.com/2011/02/fcr-pushes-back-timetable-for-building.html
http://atlanticyardsreport.blogspot.com/2011/02/more-from-ay-cabinet-meeting-few.html
Feb. 14, 2011, 2:36 pm
Jonny Q from P. Slope says:
You can't spell shop w/o Ho!
Feb. 14, 2011, 5:13 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
That doesn't surprise me for one second. Then again, I was sort of expecting that. It just shows that once again, nothing is concrete for this project. It's like the false start done on that illegitimate replacement for the Twin Towers known as the infamous Freedom Tower back in 2004. What would be nicer would be if the arena gets held back and the move stops making the construction for it stop altogether.
Feb. 14, 2011, 9:31 pm
David from Park Slope says:
Yea but that won't happen. To much money has already been poured into the construction of the arena, and I believe once its close to completion over the next year, and the markets start to strengthen more, FCR will go ahead and build the residential towers. If they don't, shame on them!
Feb. 15, 2011, 3:38 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I don't just oppose this because I don't want the Nets moving to Brooklyn, I oppose it because this is a project that involves both the abuse of eminent domain and corporate welfare. Why should we have to pay for this when it should be out of Ratner's own pockets since he will be owning it? The only reason he was able to get this far was mainly because the ESDC kept it on life support. If that wasn't the case, it would never have happened as did other projects that got stopped due to the economy. If the arena doesn't get built, the sit can always be retrofitted for something that actually goes with the community rather than this monstrosity.
Feb. 15, 2011, 5:55 pm
Improved Prospect from Prospect Heights says:
May I suggest a follow up question to the Brooklyn Paper the next time you run into MaryAnn Gilmartin and Bruce Ratner: "What are you going to do to now to improve your project taking into account the timeline and feasibility challenges we all know are true?"

Atlantic Yard's project plan, benefits and mitigations are all based on the ten year time frame to full build-out that Bruce Ratner now says FCR always knew wasn't true. The value of the benefits of the project like the affordable housing will be reduced if delivered late. Numerous mitigations and project elements designed to integrate the project, (especially the arena), into the existing community will not be put in place until the project is complete. So when are they going to start reasonably, fairly and openly addressing this problem?

Feb. 16, 2011, 10:14 am

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