Atlantic Yards goes public! Ratner puts a major chunk of the project on the chopping block, but vows to keep control

The Brooklyn Paper
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Developer Forest City Ratner is shopping around a major chunk of the controversial Atlantic Yards development, but the company says that the project will continue as planned no matter what.

The developer is seeking an investor to buy a stake in half to four fifths of the un-built portion of the $4.9 billion development, but the company claims that it will remain in full control, sale or no sale.

“Nothing would change,” said Ashley Cotton, Forest City Ratner’s vice president for external affairs. “Our commitment to Atlantic Yards is a top priority.”

The sale could net Forest City Ratner up to $800 million, according to published reports. The transaction might make the investor majority owner of the project, but real estate experts say that such financing arrangements are common, though it is not every day that they happen at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues.

“What [potential investors] get out of it is that they get to own a piece of an enormous rental development in Brooklyn,” said legendary real estate broker Chris Havens. “Is there anything else like this in Brooklyn where you could invest that money in one shot?”

The complex that is planned to include 14 high-rise apartment buildings with 6,430 units is running a decade and a half behind schedule, something the developer says will stay the same whether or not an investor steps up to the plate.

The top-dollar deal is for a stake in the13 un-built buildings, not the almost one-year-old Barclays Center — a key part of the Atlantic Yards project — or the 32-story modular tower called B2 that is currently under construction at the corner of Dean Street and Flatbush Avenue. The big purchase is likely to appeal to managers of pension funds and sovereign wealth funds, according to industry newsletter Real Estate Alert, which first reported the possible sale. The plan for a towering, six-square-block development has faced resistance from the jump, sparking indignation from people whose homes were to be demolished, neighbors with quality-of-life concerns, and housing advocates who said that company executive chairman Bruce Ratner’s promises of 2,250 affordable apartments were a ruse to enjoy huge tax breaks.

Project foes and supporters alike have pressed Forest City Ratner to finish the second phase of the project — 11 residential towers between Sixth and Vanderbilt avenues — in 10 years. Construction has only started on the B2 tower.

Ratner’s company blames the snail-like pace of construction on litigious protesters.

“The delays were caused primarily by the multiple lawsuits that were brought against the project,” said company spokesman Joe DePlasco.

The company said it does not have a date for when it might next break ground.

News of the possible sale comes shortly after Forest City Ratner announced it won a bid to redevelop the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Long Island. The company will invest $229 million to renovate the arena, casting uncertainty on the future of the Islanders the hockey team that is scheduled to move from the Coliseum to the Barclays Center next season.

Reach reporter Natalie Musumeci at or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her at
Updated 10:14 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Gib Veconi from Prospect Heights says:
It's time journalists press FCRC to explain just exactly how litigation is delaying construction. While it may be true that a lawsuit over the use of eminent domain pushed back the groundbreaking on Barclays Center, delays in delivering promised affordable housing are a function of the 2009 agreement FCRC renegotiated with the State of New York giving it 25 years to complete the project. In 2011, a State Supreme Court ruled that the new project schedule was approved illegally, but FCRC and ESDC have yet to comply with the court's order to revisit the project plan.
Aug. 27, 2013, 9:12 am
Norman Oder says:
I'm trying a second time to post a comment critiquing this unskeptical article.

The text is here:

Norman Oder
Atlantic Yards Report
Aug. 27, 2013, 11:45 am
Mike from Maspeth says:
Uh...isn't this a project of New York State, and he's only the developer? So doesn't this "sale" have to be approved by the State? And I would hope the State would negotiate a nice chunk payment back of all those subsidies out of that $800 million he's banking on. He pays back $300 million and still makes $500 million, everybody's happy. But he first pays back that $300 million. AND finishes the train yards, and the track coverage.

So when does the public comment period start?

Speak up, people!
Aug. 27, 2013, 11:54 am
John Wasserman from Windsor Terrace says:
If I can, I would like to say that I'm all for it, just as long certain things happen first. Then, and only then, can I truly say that I'm behind this.
Aug. 27, 2013, 12:09 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
First of all, I never believed that Ratner was ever going to build it all, and I knew this from the start. So much for the promise of affordable housing and jobs so many of you suckers were spoon fed into believing. As for the delays, it wasn't the lawsuits or other litigation that caused them, it was by either FCR or the ESDC themselves that made them. Meanwhile, I know some will stay that the opposition wanted nothing on the rail yards when they did support an alternative plan known as the UNITY Plan, which would only be built on the rail yards themselves, plus they even got a rival developer to back it such as Extell Development, who outbid FCR by giving triple the amount but still still being denied thanks to him having friends in high places. Overall, if they rail yards will remain undeveloped, it will really be because of the MTA, not the opposition, and that has been proven countless times.
Aug. 27, 2013, 5:50 pm
JAY from nyc says:
why are they getting to develop another property Before they finish this one?
Aug. 27, 2013, 7:10 pm
Prospect Heights Resident from Prospect Heights says:
And, still, I say thank the Lord for Bruce Ratner and FCR for this project. As a Prospect Heights resident who knew what the neighborhood was like (and what AY was like) before FCR took an interest, I can say that me and my family are eternally grateful. Yes, the project is behind schedule. But I would much rather have a project behind schedule (and a fantastic arena that is helping to revitalize the area) than have a lot that nobody else was going to develop in the way that FCR is going to do.
Aug. 27, 2013, 10:08 pm
InTheSlope from Park Slope says:
@Prospect Heights
Really??? This MIT study picked PH 2 years ‘has 'richest' look’ before ‘your beloved Ratner’ grand plan was in place….. read below….

Brooklyn nabe of Prospect Heights has 'richest' look -
Aug. 28, 2013, 6:13 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Prospect Heights Residents, you sure sound like someone who has been living under a rock on this. If you bothered to read my comment from yesterday, I mentioned that the opposition did have an alternative plan known as the UNITY Plan and even got a rival developer such as Extell Development to work with them on that. Seriously, calling FCR a hero be it the Atlantic Yards or anything else hardly makes him a hero. Just because he built One Pierrpoint Plaza doesn't mean anything, because anyone could have built that or something else at that time, and the same goes with that failed complex known as Metro Tech Center or even the Atlantic Center Mall. In reality, none of his previous projects helped Brooklyn but really hurt it, and I don't see how this arena with the rest of it will help either. He actually destroyed a neighborhood rather than helped it. BTW, the Independent Budget Office still says that the arena will be a net money loser, so I really don't see how it would help anyway. Overall, you have been had by Ratner. In the words of PT Barnum, "A sucker is born every minute."
Aug. 28, 2013, 3:30 pm
Prospect Heights Resident from Prospect Heights says:

Are you slow? The Ratner plan was a work in progress (still is) for many, many years. My family moved into Prospect Heights in 1999 when it was nothing. Nothing. Once the Atlantic Yards development plan broke news, the neighborhood underwent a fairly rapid change for the better. Yes, I give the AY plan the credit.

Tal, cut the crap. The "UNITY Plan" was only a plan put out there to compete with the Ratner/RCR plan and I question whether the plan would've actually been accomplished. That said, where was this "UNITY Plan" BEFORE FCR put forth its plan? That is the question! Before FCR came forward to put up a viable plan for the blighted area, NO ONE had a serious plan to develop the area.

And FCR's contributions to the borough go beyond One Pierrpoint Plaza, but the entire Metrotech project in general, Atlantic Center, and Atlantic Terminal. Ratner took an interest in Brooklyn when few others did. Yes, I thank Ratner and FCR.

Note to Tal: Unlike you, I actually live in the Prospect Heights.
Aug. 28, 2013, 11:08 pm
Prospect Heights Activist from Prospect Heights says:
Note to "Prospect Heights Resident" - I live here too. Tal does a great job defending our neighborhood.

But thanks for your posts with dripping irony! I love when people like you destroy FCR rhetoric by mimicking it. HAHAHA! "I give the AY plan the credit." What a hoot! WHO could believe that?!?!?!
Aug. 28, 2013, 11:14 pm
Prospect Heights Resident from Prospect Heights says:
Note to Prospect Heights Activist: You are delusional. But, then again, you're probably Tal posting under a different name.

Tal continues to be proven wrong with his assertions (this goes back several years now). I don't see how inaccuracy can be seen as "defending our neighborhood." Nice try, Tal. Nice try.
Aug. 28, 2013, 11:34 pm
Jane Glover from Crown Heights says:
Wait, wait-- black folks used to be 3/5ths of person... now "Prospect Park Resident"-- since 1999, holy mf'in near-eternity!!!-- says they are NOTHING.

Hmmmmm... tell me about the Nigerian restaurant at Pacific and Vanderbilt that was "nothing" for starters, ok?
Aug. 29, 2013, 12:13 am
Prospect Heights Resident from Prospect Heights says:
Jane Glover,

The neighborhood was not the same that it is today before news of the AY project broke. Note, while I've lived in Prospect Heights since 1999 (which is a fairly long time, and certainly enough to speak about the impact of the AY project on the neighborhood), I've lived in Brooklyn for all of my life. Before living in Prospect Heights, I lived only one neighborhood away. But that's neither here nor there, as it does nothing to take away from the reality of the positive impact that AY has had on the project.

Apart from the new restaurants, new buildings being built where abandoned lots and blighted property existed before, the Barclays Center, etc., that came about as a result of the AY project, the neighborhood change brought about by AY has made the neighborhood noticeably safer. I am thankful to the project and FCR for all of that. True, not all of the area was blighted or in need of "help" before AY. Particularly, Vanderbilt Avenue was simply fine. However, the impact of AY on Washington Avenue and other streets in the neighborhood (not to mention on the AY, which was an eyesore) and on the general improvement of the neighborhood, has been tremendous.

But, of course, you, like any other neo-racist, brings race/racism into a conversation where it wasn't an issue. You an am embarrassment to all humankind.
Aug. 29, 2013, 12:23 am
Prospect Heights Resident from Prospect Heights says:
I ask if you know what existed at Washington Avenue and Dean Street before the massive apartment complex that stands there now was built?

I ask if you know what stood along many of the previously blighted parts of the neighborhood before news of the AY project broke and developers started to take the neighborhood seriously?

Apparently not, as you try to romanticize the neighborhood pre-news of AY project in a way that is both intellectually dishonest and dangerous.
Aug. 29, 2013, 12:28 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Prospect Heights Resident, please tell me this blight you speak of. Unlike you, I have actually met many of those residents, and they didn't find anything to be blighted. Just because there weren't a lot of chains and corporations there didn't mean that it was blighted, it just had a more local flavor to it. As a matter of fact, many of those former industry buildings were turned into apartments just like what was done in SoHo. If you truly think that it was nothing, then try saying that to those that lived there are at least still around in the surrounding areas. Also, I actually met Daniel Goldstien himself in person compared to someone who is just attacking him behind his computer screen. Again, none of Ratner's previous projects made him special, because anyone could have built those, but they were hardly with the area, but more against it. Some Ft Greene residents have been known for calling both of his malls turning his back on them, because there is literally no entrance on Hanson Place. As for the UNITY Plan, at least they were planing to have it on the rail yards only, to be privately funded, and be more inclusive compared to what is being planned. Overall, you are just continuing to drink the kool-aide on this. BTW, that neighborhood was very diverse in race, and Ratner has a history for playing the race card according to Bruce Levine, who writes on Counterpunch.
Aug. 29, 2013, 3:54 pm
Prospect Heights Resident from Prospect Heights says:

Over the years I (and others) have provided you with examples of blight. We've also disproved your claims regarding the number of people evicted from their homes due to the AY project's use of eminent domain. I'm not going to rehash everything for you now. This information is well noted in the history of the conversations regarding AY on this site.
Aug. 30, 2013, 1:30 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Prospect Heights Resident, the only thing that the ESDC and FCR considered blighted about that area was the claim that it was under-zoned. In other words, their claim was that much of the property was built less than what it should have been as well as using other bogus claims such as citing why there is a gas station or even some cracked sidewalks, which are actually irrelevant to the claims. Unfortunately, there are government agencies that use the term very loosely as just a way to get rid of something even if it didn't looks so bad. Still, you act as if you have never actually been there and only hearing what FCR and the ESDC have been telling you.
Aug. 30, 2013, 3:28 pm
Prospect Heights Resident from Prospect Heights says:

The only things ESDC and FCR considered blighted were properties/land WITHIN the AY project blueprint. They WERE NOT commenting on the condition of Prospect Heights as a whole. But, again, people who lived in the neighborhood, particularly closer to the north eastern end/north western end (and all along Washington Avenue) knew what the neighborhood was like. We know how the neighborhood was changed (for the better) once other developers started to take an interest in the area after news of the AY project hit.
Aug. 30, 2013, 10:41 pm
Prospect Heights Resident from Prospect Heights says:
I'm not merely talking about blight, but the overall improvement the project's impact has had on the neighborhood's vibe, look, and, more importantly, safety. In the past, children on my street feared walking down Underhill Avenue to the public library as the "street gangs" that patrolled the area often robbed and harassed them. Gang members often tried to recruit young boys, particularly closer to the Crown Heights border and generally made life in certain parts of the neighborhood worse off for many. Empty lots and underdeveloped property were abundant.

Before the building on Washington and Dean was built, a beaten down and exposed 18 wheeler cargo dumping ground stood at that location. Many of the properties on Washington Avenue were an eyesore, and there were countless empty lots along the avenue and surrounding streets. Once news of the project broke and developers started to take an interest in the neighborhood, that all changed. Thugs and gangbangers were priced out, empty lots and other properties were bought and developed, etc. Yes, I strongly support the AY project and FCR. All of your complaining wasn't going to make the neighborhood safer for my families and others. All of your complaining wasn't going to develop the neighborhood. Rather, it took a Ratner and FCR to help improve the quality of life for many in the area. I understand that some good people were also priced out of the neighborhood and that the bad people who were priced off are likely off terrorizing another neighborhood(s) now, and, that is unfortunate. Still, those facts won't stop me from recognizing the improvement in the neighborhood for those who remain.
Aug. 30, 2013, 10:53 pm
Sally from Prospect Hts says:
Prospect Heights "Resident", who may or may not be working for Ratner, or at least drinking every drop of his kool-aid:

You credit this project with progress. There has certainly been change, but has it been progress? And for who? What types of businesses have been attracted? CB8 & CB2 have been swamped by liquor applications, and are now working against them because they think it's hurting the neighborhood.

The promised jobs haven't happened, unless you think serving popcorn with no benefits is a career. Broken promises that you call progress.

The neighborhood was improving at a natural pace before Ratner poisoned the economic well with his landgrab, abetted by crooked upstate politicians, including 3 governors, Bloomberg, Markowitz, Carl Kruger, et al. This is progress for you?

If you don't care what happens to your neighbors, if your attitude is "I've got mine, and it all looks good to me, don't bother me with details," watch out. They come for you next, and you'll deserve everything you get.

But that will be a different story, won't it?
Sept. 5, 2013, 11:36 am
Prospect Heights Resident from Prospect Heights says:

I've already explained the progress the neighborhood has seen as a result of AY.

Your assertion that the neighborhood was improving at a "natural pace before Ratner" might not be inaccurate. The problem is that a "natural" pace in that neighborhood before AY project announced = a slow pace. A slow pace meant higher rates of blight and crime and general lower quality of living. You complain about some of the jobs at Barclays, but I ask what was the alternative? Without Ratner putting forward that plan, NOTHING would be at that intersection right now. Zero jobs would be there. Rather is providing much needed jobs in security, sales, etc. to communities devastated by unemployment (do you know what the black unemployment rate is?).

You are sad and distorting my remarks. I never claimed that I didn't care what happened to my neighbors. I explicitly expressed sadness that good people have been priced out of the neighborhood. That said, I'd be a fool not to applaud the positive change, particularly in neighborhood safety, that came about as a result of the development after AY project was announced. You're probably one of the Prospect Heights residents who live in the "historic district" part of the neighborhood, and who wouldn't have ventured into the rougher areas before change really started to happen. It's easy to sit on your solid brownstone steps and claim neighborhood safety and progress before AY project spurred neighborhood development. Yes, it's easy to do so when you didn't live in the rougher parts of the area with more crime and gang activity. Cut the crap, please.
Sept. 5, 2013, 10:10 pm

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