A top Forest City Ratner official for the first time this week acknowledged
that the development company has been paying large sums of money to organizations
offering what they’ve presented as grassroots neighborhood support
for the proposed Atlantic Yards development.
As reported by The Brooklyn Papers two weeks ago, Brooklyn United for
Innovative Local Development (BUILD) reported on its non-profit tax filings
that it would receive $5 million from developer Bruce Ratner.
Dated Dec. 20, 2004, the 501-c3 filings were completed six months before
a so-called “community benefits agreement” (CBA), a non-governmental
pact between the developer and supportive community groups, was announced.
BUILD President James Caldwell is being paid $125,000 a year and two other
BUILD executives — Marie Louis and Shalawn Langhorne — each
receive $100,000 a year, according to the IRS filing.
Forest City Ratner Executive Vice President James Stuckey, who is the
Atlantic Yards project manager, defended his company’s dealings with
“We created a community benefits agreement and I think we’ve
raised the bar for how to do affordable housing,” he told a reporter
outside Tuesday’s public hearing on the project. “We have a
long tradition as a company in doing that.”
Project opponents have called the BUILD funding a “payoff” for
the group’s support and have decried the CBA as giving the impression
that the “community” supports Ratner’s plan.
Though initially BUILD denied having received the funding, and Forest
City denied paying it, Stuckey on Wednesday released a statement confirming
funding commitments both to BUILD and to the Rev. Herbert Daughtry, another
“Forest City Ratner is 100 percent committed to meeting the targets
in the CBA and that means we will have to partially fund many of these
programs,” Stuckey said in the statement.
He said BUILD had received $100,000 for “project implementation”
and had twice been paid $38,000 by the company to distribute Ratner’s
promotional tabloid, The Brooklyn Standard.
The Rev. Herbert Daughtry, who signed the agreement and whose organization,
Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance, will be commissioned to help
create an intergenerational center as part of the Ratner plan, received
$50,000, the statement read, to “retain staff to begin to develop
a program to create these facilities.”