Monday, September 19, 2005


Now we know: luxury housing increased, jobs decreased, Mayor misinformed

Atlantic Yards, according to a project description by the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) on 9/16/05 (and yet unreported in the press), would involve the following:
--16 towers + an arena (previously Forest City Ratner's Brooklyn Standard had promised, at least in its text, 17 towers--see p. 3)
--7,300 residential units (covering 7.2 million gross square feet), including 2,800 market-rate condominiums along with the 4,500 rentals
--less than one-third the office space.

That means that Forest City Ratner has chosen a version of its Alternate Plan, which allows it to maximize market-rate units. (Remember, half of the rentals are "affordable," but only 900 units are aimed at people earning less than Brooklyn's $35,000 median income. This is a housing project for the rich.)

So forget the 50/50 affordable housing plan announced in May. This is 31% "affordable housing" and, in actuality, only 12.3% of the units would be affordable to people earning less than Brooklyn's median income.

Curiously, Mayor Bloomberg issued a 9/14/05 press release claiming there would be only 4,500 units. The press release also claimed there would be 8,500 permanent jobs.

Let's do the math. There would only be 628,000 square feet of commercial office space. [An earlier version of this post incorrectly said 975,000 square feet and thus estimated more jobs.] If you use Ratner's formula of one job for every 200 square feet, that means space for 3,140 jobs. If you calculate one job for every 250 square feet--a standard formula according to Ratner's consultant Andrew Zimbalist and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC)--that means space for 2,512 jobs. Of course, given Ratner's track record, there's no assurance the jobs would be new rather than moved from Manhattan, and NYCEDC, unlike Ratner, would subtract some 7% of the jobs in calculating a vacancy rate.

For 2 million square feet of office space, Forest City Ratner promised 10,000 office jobs. For the same amount of space, NYCEDC estimated 7,100 jobs--71% of Ratner's total. Take 71% of the new Ratner total, 3,140 jobs--and you get 2,229 jobs. (This is 2,512 jobs minus the vacancy rate.) Given that NYCEDC estimated that only 30 percent of the jobs would be new, 30 percent of 2,229 jobs would be 669 new office jobs.

Add a few hundred more jobs if you count the arena, retail outlets, and the planned hotel. And add 1,500 construction jobs a year (or 1,200, if you choose the mayor's numbers) for ten years. Still, the "jobs" component of Ratner's "Jobs, Housing, and Hoops" slogan has certainly shrunk.

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