Key terms agreed upon between BrooklynSpeaks sponsors and ESDC, Forest City Ratner and the City of New York

On June 27, 2014, BrooklynSpeaks sponsors announced they had reached an agreement with the State of New York, the City of New York, and developer Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC). The agreement established interlocking obligations among the parties to ensure that the Atlantic Yards project delivers on its promised affordable housing benefits. The agreement also called for the State to establish a subsidiary of the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) dedicated to overseeing the fulfillment of project commitments, and provides for representation from the local community in that oversight.

The documents that make up the agreement and their terms are as follows:

The ESDC Letter commits ESDC to require the completion of Atlantic Yards 2,250 affordable apartments by 2025, ten years earlier than the 2035 completion date previously agreed in the 2009 Master Development Agreement (MDA). The agency also agrees to require no less than 590 affordable apartments begin construction prior to June 30, 2015, representing both an increase and an acceleration of the developer’s affordable housing obligations under Phase I of the project plan. Failure by the developer either to begin construction of the 590 affordable units when agreed, or to complete all 2,250 apartments by 2025, will result in substantial financial penalties. In a first for an ESDC project, penalties collected will be directed to the New York City Housing Trust Fund. Finally, the ESD Letter commits the agency to create a subsidiary to be known as the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AYCDC), with a fourteen member board of directors that includes five members appointed by local elected officials. AYCDC will be charged with monitoring compliance with the project’s public commitments, including the terms agreed upon with the BrooklynSpeaks sponsors. (The terms were memorialized between ESD and the developer in amendments to the MDA executed in 2014.)

The FCRC Letter commits Forest City Ratner Companies to establishing the Atlantic Yards Tenant Protection Fund (AYTPF) through a contribution of $250,000 to be administered by the Brooklyn Community Foundation. Grants made from AYTPF will fund non-profit organizations that provide tenant protection and anti-displacement services in Brooklyn community districts 2, 3, 6 and 8. The creation of AYTPF reflects all parties’ acknowledgement of the intense displacement pressure due to gentrification in communities surrounding the Atlantic Yards project.

Affordable housing at Atlantic Yards is expected to be awarded by lottery; residents of Brooklyn community districts 2, 3, 6 and 8 are expected to receive preference for 50% of such housing, consistent with federal fair housing law. The NYC Letter expresses the intention of the City of New York to consider former residents of districts 2, 3, 6 and 8 who have been displaced since the time of Atlantic Yards’ 2006 approval as eligible to participate with preference in lotteries for its affordable housing. The letter also states the City’s commitment to use liquidated damages directed to the New York City Housing Trust Fund for the preservation and creation of affordable housing in districts 2, 3, 6 and 8, thereby helping to mitigate the impact of any delay of Atlantic Yards’ affordable apartments should it occur prior to project completion.

In exchange for the above commitments, BrooklynSpeaks sponsor organizations and prospective individual plaintiffs agreed to drop legal claims existing as of June 27, 2014. This agreement is memorialized in the Covenant Not to Sue executed by Michelle de la Uz and Gib Veconi on behalf of the BrooklynSpeaks parties.

The agreement that was reached settled a planned lawsuit by BrooklynSpeaks sponsors charging that the State's delay of Atlantic Yards' affordable housing resulted in a disparate impact on the Black populations of Brooklyn community districts 2, 3, 6 and 8, and therefore violated Federal Fair Housing laws. More information on BrooklynSpeaks' research and legal strategy are available here.