Ratner Pays D'Amato $400K for Eminent Domain Lobbying

Also on the horizon is the receipt of tax-exempt bonds for affordable housing, for which Forest City will likely be competing with numerous other developers. The city and state are limited in the amount of housing bonds they can issue, and as the city seeks to add tens of thousands of units of affordable housing in coming years, demand is outstripping supply.

The awarding of the bonds is something of a subjective process; the president of the city’s Housing Development Corporation, Marc Jahr, said there are numerous factors that go into choosing which developers get the tax-free bonds.

“There’s no one single factor that would go into making a decision,” he said. “We’re going to look at a number of factors with project readiness.”

As for Atlantic Yards specifically, Mr. Jahr said he thinks Forest City will ultimately be able to find financing to build the affordable units, calling it an “important project.”

“How the financing will shape up with Atlantic Yards in its totality is yet to be seen,” he said.

Beyond the housing, efforts such as building community support for the project continue, said lobbyist Richard Lipsky, who was brought on by Forest City in 2004.

“The effort to create community support for the project also becomes important when you’re looking to create a fan base and support for the team,” said Mr. Lipsky, who is seeking to enga
ge the community in youth sports programs connected to the project, which will include an arena for the New Jersey Nets.

Forest City’s business outside of Atlantic Yards could also explain the high post-approval lobbying amounts. The firm is engaged in a major development project in Yonkers, and is involved in another downtown Brooklyn project to build a CUNY lab and a residential skyscraper.

More generally, Mr. Ratner tends to be involved in numerous city- and state-administered development projects, including eminent domain for the new New York Times building at 620 Eighth Avenue; and Brooklyn’s MetroTech Center. For such types of projects, government access remains beneficial, and, in many cases, necessary.