Atlantic Yards watchdog groups and over two dozen churches will rally Sunday afternoon to demand state and city officials guarantee the .
The coalition has organized a rally on Sunday, June 10 at 3 p.m. at the corner of Atlantic and South Portland avenues to voice their concerns.
“The assembly will demand the promised housing and jobs from the developer, Forest City Ratner Companies, which has received over $200 million in subsidies to date without equal public benefit or investment,” said a press release from Brown Memorial Baptist Church, which organized the rally along with 25 other central Brooklyn churches and Atlantic Yards watchdog groups Brooklyn Speaks and Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn.
“Hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars, zoning overrides, and the power of eminent domain were given to developer Forest City Ratner in exchange for affordable housing, permanent and construction jobs, and public benefits," said a news release from Brooklyn Speaks, a coalition of neighborhood groups.
"More than five years after the project’s approval, New Yorkers still aren’t close to getting what we were promised,” the release continued.
Area politicians, including Councilwoman Letitia James and state Senator Velmanette Montgomery, are slated to speak.
The Atlantic Yards website touts that the project would create “more than 16,000 union construction jobs plus over 8,000 permanent jobs.” But a report by Merritt & Harris said that as of November there were 645 construction workers on the job, and Brooklyn Speaks says there have only been a total of 837 construction jobs created so far and that only 186 of the workers are from Brooklyn. Once the arena opens, there will only be , 90 percent of which are part-time.
Forest City Ratner has responded to the construction jobs issue by saying that while arena-area residents are given preference, they often have to go outside of the borough to find union workers who have the specialized tasks needed. As for the part-time jobs at Barclays, because the arena is only open when there are events, there is little need for full-time workers.
The rally will also demand more affordable housing units large enough for families (right now only eight out of 300 are planned for the first residential tower), according to rally organizers.
Another concern is the lack of state oversight of the project. The Community Benefits Agreement signed by Ratner (available for view here, thanks to Atlantic Yards Report), included a clause for an Independent Compliance Monitor, which has never been hired.
The Empire State Development Corporation and Gov. Cuomo's press office did not respond to a request for comment on the rally. Forest City Ratner issued the following statement:
We understand fully the need for more jobs and more housing in Brooklyn and throughout the City, which is why we’ve been working very hard to make Atlantic Yards a reality. But there’s a certain irony that people who were opposed to the project, and worked hard to stall the project, now criticize it for not delivering fast enough the benefits.
The arena is scheduled to open this September and we have started an extensive outreach initiative to fill the 2000 arena jobs, including visits with community groups, public housing and churches. We hope as well to begin the housing this year. Fifty percent of the first building will consist of affordable units.
We are hopeful that as Atlantic Yards progresses, that we can all work together to achieve the benefits that we believe Brooklyn needs and that this development will provide.