Atlantic Yards project inches forward

July 10, 2014 Heather Chin
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The Atlantic Yards housing project is over 18 months behind schedule, but developer Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) is optimistic that it can complete the affordable housing portion of the project by May, 2025—a full decade ahead of schedule.

The pledge comes as part of a formal agreement between FCRC, the state’s Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), and a coalition of civic groups and local residents, that commits FCRC to building 2,250 affordable units—at least 590 of which must be begun within the next year—by the stated deadline or else face a fine of up to $5 million.

The settlement was agreed to following pressure from the city, state and advocates, who have criticized FCRC for stating they would build affordable housing in exchange for the approval to build Barclays Center, but then not moving forward on construction for 11 years.

“We’re pleased [that] we were able to come to an agreement with Forest City and the state to ensure that the community finally gets the affordable housing it was promised 10 years ago,” said Michelle de la Uz, executive director of the Fifth Avenue Committee (FAC). “This agreement represents a big step forward for both timeliness. . . and equally importantly, accountability.”

FAC is one of seven members of a community watchdog coalition. The other parties are the Pratt Area Community Council, the Brown Community Development Corporation, the Boerum Hill Association, Diaspora Community Services, the Park Slope Civic Council and the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council.

Governor Andrew Cuomo also welcomed the agreement, stating that “New York State is delivering a deal that will ensure this vital housing is built quickly and efficiently and that the community is engaged in every step of the project.”

The accelerated timetable is reportedly viable thanks in part to the arrival of co-developer and 70 percent majority stakeholder Greenland Group Co.Shanghai-based Greenland Group’s President Zhang Yuliang said his company’s interest in the project stems from the belief “in a shared sense of community” and that he is “confident we can expedite the construction [of] housing for a diverse group of people.”

The state ESDC will also establish a subsidiary committee of “locally-appointed directors to monitor compliance with the project’s commitments.”

A second agreement was also signed, wherein FCRC agreed to contribute $250,000 to a newly-created Atlantic Yards Tenant Protection Fund. The fund will provide eviction prevention services to residents who are in danger of being priced out of their homes due to FCRC’s developments in the area.

Atlantic Yards is a 22-acre residential and commercial complex planned at the junction of Park Slope, Clinton Hill and Prospect Heights, near Barclays Center.

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