A group of elected officials representing the Brooklyn areas in and around Atlantic Yards want to stop Forest City Ratner from selling a majority stake in the development to the Shanghai-based Greenland Group Co. until the city receives an agreement that ensures the construction of affordable housing. The development has been hobbled by a series of disputes since it gained state and city approval in 2006.
Initially, developers agreed to build 2,250 units of affordable housing in order to obtain clearance to construct the Barclays Center arena and other commercial spaces. However, housing quickly fell behind schedule. When the housing recession hit in 2010, the project was delayed and rescheduled to complete by 2035.
Assemblyman James Brennan, chair of the Assembly Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions, was among the lawmakers and community leaders present at a press conference held at the Fifth Avenue Committee in Brooklyn last week.
“It is vital to get this project moving quicker than the current schedule says. Only 300 affordable units by 2022—we still have to wait nine years for 300 units.” said Brennan. “The real estate market has revitalized. We believe gentrification is causing the pricing out of tens of thousands of people with low incomes in the vicinity of the development.”
In October, in an effort to speed up construction, Forest City Ratner revealed that it was selling a 70 percent stake in the site, excluding the Barclays Center and the first residential complex, to Greenland.
“It is time for the government to hold the developer accountable for this project. The sale of equity to Greenland is the state’s opportunity to step in and see that this project is done in a timely manner,” said Michelle de la Uz, executive director of the Fifth Avenue Committee, which is involved in creating affordable housing opportunities for those who qualify throughout South Brooklyn. “We have more than 9,000 low- and moderate-income families on our waiting list who need affordable housing.
De la Uz said that the press conference was productive because people who were originally for or against the project have now become one concerned voice.
“Going forward, we need to make sure that the people in this great state, this city and the borough of Brooklyn understand how their money is being reallocated. This is an effort to make sure that no one is unaware of what is going to take place in this project,” stated Assemblyman Walter Mosley.