Greenland Holdings Group to control build out of affordable housing at Atlantic Yards

An internal memorandum by the New York State Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) shows that a proposed sale by Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) of its interest in the Atlantic Yards project to Greenland Holdings Group will result in Greenland’s securing decision-making control on the remainder of the project. The sale would result in the creation of a new joint venture between FCRC and Greenland, and Greenland will be allowed to appoint a majority of directors to the new firm’s board, including its Chairman and CEO.

The Atlantic Yards project has been sharply criticized by local elected officials for failing to deliver thousands of units of affordable housing on the schedule promised at the time of the project’s original 2006 approval. In 2009, the project’s construction schedule was extended from 10 to 25 years—a change that a New York State Supreme Court has ruled was approved illegally. 2,069 of Atlantic Yards’ promised 2,250 affordable apartments would remain to be built following the proposed sale. The ESDC memo states that Greenland’s approval will be required prior to the start of any new building at the Atlantic Yards site.

The revelation that Greenland Holdings, a developer owned by the government of China, will control the joint venture responsible for completing Atlantic Yards contradicts previous statements made by FCRC executives. In August, FCRC CEO MaryAnne Gilmartin told the New York Times in an article announcing a prospective sale, “We’ll retain our position as the managing member.”

“It’s outrageous that a project receiving hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in exchange for badly-needed affordable housing for working people from Brooklyn could soon be controlled by a foreign government.  ESDC has repeatedly abdicated its responsibility to the people of the State of New York with the Atlantic Yards project and is poised to do so again.” said Michelle de la Uz, Executive Director of The Fifth Avenue Committee.

“It’s clear we can’t rely on more promises. The ESDC has an obligation to get ironclad guarantees that Atlantic Yards provides the affordable housing and other public benefits that FCRC promised and originally committed to before the ESDC and MTA approve this deal,” said Jo Anne Simon, Democratic District Leader for Brooklyn’s 52nd A.D. “And the people of New York State need real oversight to hold this project accountable until those benefits are delivered.”