Some good news for Bruce Ratner today, but probably not for the neighborhood or the folks who want to move into the developer’s promised apartment towers at Atlantic Yards. The Islanders will mean more crowds roaming the streets of Prospect Heights and Fort Greene before and after games, and more revenue for the Barclays Center, but this will not help speed up construction of the long-delayed apartments, according to Mr. Ratner.
At a press conference inside the Barclays Center’s trademark Geico Atrium this afternoon, an NPR sports reporter (rather than all the assembled metro hacks like us) was the only one to ask Mr. Ratner about the impact of the deal on the rest of Atlantic Yards, and what Mayor Bloomberg thought of the project’s development, or lack thereof.
“This deal doesn’t affect the housing, and I announced at our last press conference opening this place up that on December 18th we will have the groundbreaking for our first building, which is 50 percent affordable,” is all Mr. Ratner would say.
The mayor then stepped up to the mic and let ‘er rip. “Of course we want to get things done quicker, but given all of the angst that Bruce had to go through, the fact that the housing is a little behind schedule isn’t the least bit surprising,” Mayor Bloomberg said.
He then proceed to place the blame on everyone but Mr. Ratner, most notably with the locals who sued Forest City to prevent the seizure of their homes. “Those people that tried to stop the project or delay the project are the ones that really caused all of that,” Mayor Bloomberg said. “The marketplace also wasn’t terribly helpful.”
A post on Norman Oder’s Atlantic Yards Report reminds us, with this handy graphic, that at the outset of the project not only was the arena due to have opened three years ago but also six of the 13 apartment towers would also be finished. As recently as fall of 2010 Mr. Ratner was promising construction of the residential buildings to have commenced by some time last year. He is finally dead set on this year, but it seems as though he has arrived at that point of his own choosing, no one else’s.
Mayor Bloomberg believes that is just fine. “There’s a lot of good indicators that say that Bruce will be able to build and get it done reasonably expeditiously,” he said. “Would it have been nice if it was done earlier, sure? But the real world is what it is.”
After the press conference, reporters tried to ask Mr. Ratner if he had made a final decision on whether the first apartment building would be built modular or not. “We’re not talking modular today,” he responded curtly. Maybe that is because he still does not have financing for the tower, as Mr. Oder reported.
Welcome to the real world, indeed.