Sunday, January 29, 2006


ESDC's Gargano: no inkling of conflict, doesn't know agency rents from Ratner

Charles Gargano, chair of the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), the agency supervising Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, has already endorsed the project without changes, even before an environmental impact statement is issued.

And when several community groups filed a lawsuit against the ESDC and the developer to block the demolition of six buildings, they also charged that the agency was using a lawyer who had until recently worked for the developer. "I don't know whether we are using the same lawyer," Gargano said, according to the Daily News. "I don't know of any conflict."

The Brooklyn Downtown Star, in a 1/26/06 article headlined Lawsuits DDDB Just Fine, added some more details on that, and also pointed out that Gargano was unaware that the agency rents space from Ratner:
When asked about this on the morning when the lawsuit was filed, ESDC Chairman Charles Gargano attempted to laugh the whole issue off. "A conflict between lawyers?" he chuckled rhetorically, but none of the media members present laughed.
"I'm not sure if we have the same lawyer," he then went on to hedge, "but I'm sure the lawyers themselves would know if there's a conflict."
When pressed by the Star about another perceived conflict of interest - namely that the ESDC currently rents office space from FCRC in the Atlantic Center Mall, which sits across the street from the new footprint - Gargano pled ignorance again.
"I know of no such property," he said at first, before other media members confirmed that it was indeed there. "Oh, you mean the community center?" he reacted. "Well, we have a bunch of those, and we've had them for several years. We just try and put them in ideal locations. I don't know if they [FCRC] even owned that property when we moved in."
In fact, FCRC has owned the entire Atlantic Center Mall since they built it in the mid-90s.

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