Secrets of the Ratner Plan Revealed! (Not)

Under pressure from Assemblymember Jim Brennan, the Committee on Open Government, and us, the state Empire State Development Corporation has finally released its economic impact study of Bruce Ratner's proposed Atlantic Yards project . . . kinda.

What the ESDC actually made public yesterday was a seven-page memo from staffer Kathy Kazanas, listing about $573 million in new city tax revenues, and $972 million in state tax revenues, that are projected to flow from the project. (Editor's note: These figures were corrected on 10.20.06)


(Ask Mr. Ratner about that $1.4 billion in tax revenues thing.)

As with most economic impact projections for sports facilities, there are some problems with this one: There's no indication whether the state's number-crunchers accounted for leakage (money spent at sporting events is more likely to leave the local economy) or the substitution effect (Brooklynites buying Nets tickets might cut back on their monthly cheesecake tab at Junior's), and the analysis appears to assume that all the Nets players would relocate their homes from New Jersey to New York, for starters.

A bigger problem, though, as Atlantic Yards Report's Norman Oder notes, is that the ESDC memo entirely omits any mention of public costs, whether the $200 million (or is it $1.9 billion?) in direct subsidies for the project, or the increased cost of providing city services to Ratner's projected 6,800 new households.

All of which makes it awfully hard to tell where ESDC got the figure in their General Project Plan that states that building Atlantic Yards would "generate $1.4 billion in net tax revenues in excess of the public contribution to the Project." An ESDC spokesperson wasn't immediately available for comment, but we'll be sure to let Voice readers know if anyone can produce an answer to this enduring mystery.


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