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Atlantic Yards community deal due Monday

The Brooklyn Paper
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An agreement regarding hiring, job training, community facilities and housing, negotiated between developer Bruce Ratner and select community groups that support his Atlantic Yards development, will be announced Monday, The Brooklyn Papers has learned.

The so-called community benefits agreement, or CBA, promises initiatives for local job training and hiring, minority and women hiring, the creation of community facilities, and new standards for affordable housing tied to the project.

Neighborhood groups critical of the plan were not invited to the CBA negotiations.

The notion of a CBA, a non-governmental agreement between a developer and community members related to a specific project, derives from the 2001 Staples Center CBA in Los Angeles.

Atlantic Yards opponents argue the CBA is merely a ploy by the developer to give the appearance of broad community support for his project. Supporters, meanwhile, say it is the best thing any new development in the city has promised its surrounding community.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the first part of the agreement on May 19 — a commitment of city subsidies to finance an affordable housing scheme setting aside half of the originally proposed 4,500 residential units for low-, moderate- and middle-income renters. The rest would be market-rate and luxury units, largely studios and one-bedrooms.

Since that commitment, Ratner has proposed adding another 2,800 apartments but had not said whether those additional units fall under the “50-50” agreement.

Proponents of the Ratner plan, who have been in negotiations on the agreement for the past 10 months say the CBA goes far beyond housing. Supporters include members of BUILD (Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development), a local hiring advocacy group; tenant leaders from the Atlantic Terminal Houses and Wyckoff Houses public housing developments; ACORN (the Alliance of Community Organizations for Reform Now); a member of the Downtown Brooklyn Advisory and Oversight Committee, which has worked on minority hiring and job training with respect to Downtown Brooklyn development projects over the past decade; and the Rev. Herbert Daughtry, an activist and minister with a church in Boerum Hill.

The negotiations have also included the chairpersons and district managers of community boards 2, 6 and 8, although without the participation of the boards themselves.

Marie Louis, the first vice president of BUILD, explained to a reporter in May that the CBA would give preference to people living in the surrounding housing projects to the affordable units and to jobs created by the development.

In addition, a project labor agreement component is expected to commit unions to a hiring policy that would include a certain ratio of entry-level apprentice hires, and a higher-than-normal female and minority ratio of hiring at the expense of accepting only union members.

Louis also touted the CBA for being the most meaningful input the community would have on the project, which will be reviewed only at the state-level in a process that neither requires nor solicits input or review by any local elected official or community board.

Employment opportunities for project managers, assistant project managers, superintendents and estimators have already been posted on the BUILD Web site, www.buildbrooklyn.org.



Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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