Credit: Pat Arnow

BrooklynSpeaks, an initiative of Brooklyn civic associations and community-based organizations, has launched an online petition asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo to direct the Empire State Development Corporation to stop the sale of a majority interest in Atlantic Yards to Chinese developer Greenland Holdings Group. Elected officials and community leaders representing the Brooklyn areas in and around Atlantic Yards want to stop the sale until the city receives an agreement that ensures construction of affordable housing.The development has been hobbled by a series of disputes since it gained state and city approval in 2006.

Intially, developers agreed to build 2,250 units of affordable housing in order to obtain clearance to construct the Barclays Center arena and other commercial space. However, when the housing recession hit in 2010, housing quickly fell behind schedule. The project was delayed and rescheduled to be completed by 2035.

Elected officials recently spoke out on what BrooklynSpeaks members assert are broken promises from the developer regarding the Atlantic Yards project.  

“ESDC’s obligation to ensure the public’s funds are used appropriately includes its careful review before approval of the proposed sale of an equity interest to a group of Chinese investors.  Even throughout the financial crisis, financing for affordable housing was available, and the market is now healthy,” said Assemblywoman Joan Millman. “What Atlantic Yards needs is not more remote investors; it needs a careful assessment of reasonable alternatives so we can deliver on the benefits that were promised to our communities.

The petition comes at a time when the state has to consider whether to approve Forest City Ratner’s proposed sale of a majority interest in Atlantic Yards. In a letter, BrooklynSpeaks says that the petition gives the community the chance to tell Cuomo “not to let what may be the last opportunity for accountability slip away. That the thousands of families in danger of displacement.” [ED NOTE: Second sentence is incomplete. Missing words?]

City Council Member and Public Advocate-elect Letitia James weighed in on this issue and the impact the delay will have on the community. “Without a fair development plan, affordable housing will come too late to help low-income residents, thousands of whom will likely have already been displaced from the communities that were supposed to benefit from Atlantic Yards,” she said “The time for promises has ended—there will be no new deal without a project agreement with the community that includes a firm timeline.”

At the time the Amsterdam News went to press, no one from Forest Ratner was available for comment.