NEW YORK CITY—Under pressure from both the city and stategovernments, Forest City Ratner Cos. has agreed to dramaticallyexpedite the timetable for the affordable housing portion of itsAtlantic Yards project.

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As part of a deal with Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office, the new planwill shorten the completion timeframe to build 2,250 affordableapartments by ten years, from 2035 to 2025. Additionally, theagreement calls for the creation of a board—the Atlantic YardsCommunity Development Corp.—to provide input on development,housing, and community impact throughout the completion of theproject.

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The city, through its Housing Development Corp., will providefinancial support to ensure the delivery of two 100% affordablehousing buildings, totaling at least 590 units, and constructionwill begin by December of this year.

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Says MaryAnne Gilmartin, president and CEO ofForest City Ratner, “FCRC is very pleased to commit to anaccelerated schedule for building out Atlantic Yards. We haveworked tirelessly to move the project forward. With our newdevelopment partner Greenland USA on board we anticipate startingan all-affordable residential building by the end of this year andanother in June of 2015. We recognize the critical need to bringaffordable housing to market and are proud to deliver on thispublic good with our state, city and community partners. Today isvery much a new day for the Atlantic Yards project. We are excitedto move forward with a great partner, an aggressive buildingschedule and stronger community alignment.”

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Asserts Cuomo, “New York State is delivering a plan that willensure this vital housing is built quickly and efficiently and thatthe community is engaged in every step of the project. Thisagreement is a win for the state and, most importantly, forBrooklyn residents who will finally begin to see affordablebuildings being constructed in their neighborhoods.”

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Adds Mayor Bill de Blasio, “We are determinedto jumpstart affordable housing at Atlantic Yards. And we are proudto have worked with Governor Cuomo and the coalition that's joinedtogether in this community to get this project moving in real time.And what's remarkable is that compared to the project's firstbuilding, we've secured nearly twice as many affordable units forour City investment.”

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The deal impacts the transportation infrastructure—for thebetter, notes Thomas Prendergast, chairman and CEOof the Metrpolitan Transportation Authority, which is why theagency was involved in pushing this deal forward. “This newagreement between the MTA and Forest City is better for the LongIsland Rail Road, better for the community, and better for everyonewho will benefit from the new development coming to what was longan open sore in the heart of Brooklyn. The MTA is glad to be ableto help make this improvement happen in a way that benefitseveryone involved.”

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In a related move, the MTA this week approved a new plan tospeed up construction of building foundations in the MTA LongIsland Rail Road rail yard on the site, which is an important stepto allow Forest City to begin building a platform above the yardand to allow future phases of the Atlantic Yards development torise.

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According to the New YorkTimes, the FCR deal stemmed from Cuomo's desire to impose atimeline on a long-sputtering project sponsored by New York State,Mayor de Blasio's eagerness to make significant progress on his vowto create 200,000 units of affordable housing and a deep-pocketedChinese company eager to jump into New York's booming real estatemarket.

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Forest City Ratner is completing apartnership agreement this week with the company, Greenland HoldingGroup, that represents the group's first investment in New York andone that will inject tens of millions in fresh capital into theproject, the Times states.

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This year, Greenland executives—who are buying a 70% stake inthe project—said publicly that they wanted to complete AtlanticYards in eight years. The company will pay about $200 million forits stake in the project and cover 70% of future costs.

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On Friday, the state's economic development authority isexpected to approve the new timetable and hefty financial penaltiesif the developer fails to meet the agreed-upon goals.

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Forest City already has committed to building a new permanentrail yard on the site, which will be able to service and storeadditional trains when the LIRR begins expanded service for itsEast Side Access project. The permanent yard constructioncompletion deadline will be extended from June 2016 to December2017 in recognition of the expanded scope of work, as well as thesubstantial excavation and other preparatory work already performedon the site.

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The MTA Board's action Wednesday allows Forest City to build theplatform foundations at the same time as the rail yard, which willmake construction more efficient, reduce disruptions in thesurrounding area, and eliminate conflicts between railroadoperations and platform foundation construction.

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Atlantic Yards is a 22-acre, $4.9 billion project, that consistsof the 18,000-seat Barclays Arena, the development of areconfigured and improved LIRR train yard and subway facilityimprovements; the development of 16 buildings for residential,office and retail uses and potentially a hotel, including up to6,430 apartments—which will include 4,500 rental units of which2,250 units (50%) will be affordable to low, moderate and middleincome households—and the creation of eight acres of publiclyaccessible open space.

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Rayna Katz

Rayna Katz is a seasoned business journalist whose extensive experience includes coverage of the lodging sector, travel and the culinary space. She was most recently content director for a business-to-business publisher, overseeing four publications. While at Meeting News, a travel trade publication, she received a Best Reporting award for a story on meeting cancellations in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.