Last Friday afternoon at four o’clock, the first meeting of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AYCDC) took place in a conference room at the Brooklyn campus of Long Island University.
In the eleven-year history of the Atlantic Yards project, no meeting like this had ever happened before. Fourteen board members appointed by the Governor, the Mayor, the Brooklyn Borough President, the New York State Senate, the New York State Assembly, and the City Council met to formally organize a new State agency charged with ensuring the public benefits for which the Atlantic Yards project was approved would in fact be delivered as promised, and that the project would comply with all commitments and regulation intended to mitigate the impact of its construction on neighboring residents and businesses.
Not only had the members of the AYCDC board each been recommended by a local elected official with a unique perspective on the challenges of accountability at Atlantic Yards, the appointees themselves represented a diverse cross-section of project stakeholders, including affordable housing advocates, signatories of the Community Benefits Agreement, and residents living at the edge of the footprint. At past Atlantic Yards meetings, members of these groups had often sharply disagreed. On Friday, for the first time, their representatives gathered at a single table, and committed to the goal of making the Atlantic Yards project work for Brooklyn.
Rezonings and large-scale redevelopment projects, even those with affordable housing components, tend to accelerate gentrification. That's why it's critical to ensure that affordable housing promised by developers in exchange for overrides and special approvals is delivered on a timely basis to meet the needs of populations now threatened with displacement.
In this video, advocates, attorneys and community members explain how the 25-year build out agreed by the State of New York in 2009 for Atlantic Yards' affordable apartments would have had a disparate impact on African American residents eligible for preference in the lotteries through which those apartments are to be awarded—and why a coalition was ready to fight to hold the project accountable to its original commitments. BrooklynSpeaks organizers talk about what was achieved through the recent settlement with the Empire State Development Corporation and Forest City Ratner, and what to expect next.
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.