Community groups and local residents reach historic accord with New York State and developers of Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards Project
Agreement calls for delivery of 2,250 promised units of affordable housing ten years earlier than previously agreed; imposes penalties for failure to meet deadlines; creates tenant protection fund and special oversight subsidiary
Today, following weeks of intense negotiations, BrooklynSpeaks sponsor organizations and local residents announced they have reached a landmark settlement with Forest City Ratner Corporation (FCRC), the developer of the Atlantic Yards Project in Brooklyn, and the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), with the support of the City of New York.
The accord, which includes a signed agreement with ESDC and another with FCRC, ensures at least 590 units of promised affordable housing are started within the next 12 months and delivers 2,250 promised affordable housing units ten years earlier than previously agreed. It also establishes an Atlantic Yards Tenant Protection Fund and penalties for failure to meet affordable housing milestones. The settlement will also result in the creation of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation, a subsidiary of the ESDC charged with overseeing compliance with all project commitments.
Under the terms of the agreement, construction on the first of the affordable units will begin by the end of the year, and all affordable apartments must be completed by May 2025.
The terms include:
- Completion of all 2,250 affordable apartments by May 2025 (with penalties for non-performance);
- Start of construction of at least 590 affordable apartments within 12 months (with penalties for non-performance); and
- Creation of an ESDC subsidiary, including locally-appointed directors, to monitor compliance with all project commitments.
In addition, through a complementary commitment by FCRC, the developer will make a contribution of $250,000 to establish the Atlantic Yards Tenant Protection Fund to provide eviction prevention services to members of the community vulnerable to displacement.
ESDC's DSEIS preserves Forest City's right to delay Atlantic Yards, ignores critical need for housing now
It is an outrage that ESDC has produced a supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) for the Atlantic Yards project nearly five years after it was required. If properly prepared at the time of the 2009 Modified General Project Plan, it would have led to an informed discussion about the merits of the MGPP among policy makers, elected officials, community members and the board of the ESDC. ESDC waited eighteen months after the New York State Supreme Court ordered it to produce an SEIS before even releasing a draft scope of work for review. After submitting detailed comments on the draft scope a year ago, we were deeply disappointed to find in February of this year that ESDC dismissed our request that it reconcile the 15-year project delay to which it agreed in 2009 with the project’s goals of eliminating blight and providing what the 2006 FEIS accurately described as “much needed affordable housing.” We were even more troubled to discover on March 28 that ESDC would allow only 45 days for public comments on the DSEIS—a period far shorter than it had allotted for comments on either the draft scope of work or the 2006 DEIS. Given the agency’s extended delay in complying with a court order to do what it was otherwise required to do under New York State law, ESDC’s refusal to grant our request for additional time to prepare a response demonstrates again the agency’s contempt for public participation in the Atlantic Yards process, contempt it has consistently displayed since the time it declared itself lead agency in September of 2005.
While not as long as would have been appropriate for a report of this size, our review has nevertheless made clear that ESDC has not taken the opportunity to meaningfully consider strategies that would directly address the 15-year project delay that necessitated this SEIS. Instead, in an effort to cement both Forest City Ratner’s position as sole developer and decision-maker at Atlantic Yards, as well as the firm’s right to wait up to 2035 or longer to make good on its commitments to provide affordable housing, the DSEIS attempts to recast Atlantic Yards as something nearly unrecognizable from the project that was described in previous documents leading up to its prior approvals.
When: Wednesday April 30, 2014 from 5:30 PM. to 9:00 PM
Where: Long Island University, 75 DeKalb Avenue, Room HS107
In 2009, sponsors of BrooklynSpeaks filed suit against the New York State Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) and Forest City Ratner Companies for their decision to allow the completion of the Atlantic Yards project to be delayed from 10 to 25 years. A State Supreme Court ruled in July 2011 that ESDC’s failure to study the effects of the 15-year delay on surrounding communities violated State environmental law.
Now, four and a half years after its illegal approval of the delayed project schedule, ESDC has issued a draft environmental report that claims waiting until 2035 to complete Atlantic Yards won’t be a big deal for our community.
Our neighbors in danger of being displaced through rising rents can’t wait a generation or more for Atlantic Yards to make good on its commitment to provide 2,250 affordable apartments. The community asked that the State consider bringing in other developers to speed up the project. Can’t be done, the State tells us.. In the meantime, Forest City just announced that the first building at the Atlantic Yards site will be delayed for yet another year—until the end of 2015.
Local residents haven’t forgotten the disruptions they suffered during construction of the Barclays Center arena, either—disruptions that were supposed to be relieved through environmental commitments by Forest City that ESDC failed to enforce. ESDC says it’s learned from past mistakes, but we’ve heard that before. Should we have to take a chance on the agency’s utter inability to look out for the community’s interests for another two decades?
Atlantic Yards is the only large State project where decisions are made by a board of political appointees with no local members. It’s time to use this opportunity to tell Governor Cuomo how you feel about giving Forest City Ratner the exclusive right to hold 22 acres of our community hostage for 25 years with no accountability to the public. Join us! Make your voice heard for accountability, transparency and community input and speak up for Brooklyn!