Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Forest City Ratner (FCRC) CEO and President Bruce Ratner today announced the first-ever Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) in New York City to accompany a major development project. Forest City Ratner, the developer for the proposed Atlantic Yards project over the Long Island Rail Yards at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues in Brooklyn, has agreed to sign a legally binding document that contains specific project benefits related to housing, jobs, small business programs, community amenities, environmental assurances and arena usage. Joining Mayor Bloomberg and FCRC CEO Ratner at a signing ceremony at Fulton Landing at Old Fulton Street in Brooklyn was New York State Assembly Member Roger Green, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, and officials and executives from the community based organizations that have worked collaboratively to design the components of the Atlantic Yards' Community Benefits Agreement.
"This Community Benefits Agreement is the largest private sector investment in Brooklyn's history," said Mayor Bloomberg. "The $3.5 billion project will create 8,500 permanent new jobs, 4,500 mixed-income apartments, substantial new commercial, retail, open space and host the first major league sports team to play in Brooklyn since the Dodgers. Brooklyn's working men and women and their families will have a stronger local economy and more affordable housing in their future. The development of the Atlantic Yards shows that Brooklyn - from Coney Island to Williamsburg - is bursting with opportunity."
"We turned to these organizations because each has expertise that we believed would benefit the overall project," Bruce Ratner said. "We worked with them to develop the program and agreed to sign the document because we want to proceed as a team and we want the people of Brooklyn to know that we intend to work with them to ensure that this project produces real benefits because there are real needs."
The program, which was developed over the last year during a series of meetings, covers a broad range of benefits, including:
Public housing residents and low and moderate-income individuals in surrounding neighborhoods will get priority in available jobs.
Also, a minimum of 35% of the jobs will be for minority workers and another 10% for women workers, with 35% of each category for journey level workers. FCRC will use existing CLE programs to require contractors to hire part of the workforce from low and moderate-income areas.
FCRC will also develop a pre-apprentice training program to help new workers develop the kinds of skills that they can use beyond this project. Atlantic Yards will use union labor.
Small Business Contracting
At least five percent of pre-construction contract dollars will go to minority owned firms and three percent to women owned firms. During the construction phase, at least 20% of construction contract dollars will go to minority firms and 10% to women owned businesses. 20% of total contract dollars (including Arena concession activities) will go to minority-women owned businesses for purchasing and service contracts (exclusive of FCRC affiliates).
The MWB program will also include a credit facility program and commercial lender and technical assistance component to assist minority and women owned businesses. Finally, FCRC will create a community based developer initiative to work with minority and women developers to provide assistance and resources for small-scale development throughout the City.
As previously announced, 50% of the approximately 4,500 rental units will be for low and middle-income residents, with 10% of these set aside for seniors. FCRC will also work with renters in the project footprint to find temporary housing during construction and then provide them with comparable size units at a comparable rent.
FCRC will build a health care center and inter-generational facility as part of the project. The latter will consist of child care, youth and senior centers in one building with common corridors and an atrium. Overall, the project will have at least six acres of open space. Additionally, the arena will be available to community groups for at least 10 events a-year at a reasonable rent with no profit to FCRC. Net proceeds would be used for non-profit programs. Fifty upper bowl tickets, four lower owl tickets and one suite will be set aside for community use, with priority for young people and seniors. FCRC has already agreed to provide at least 2,000 low-priced screecher seats for all regular and post-season games.
FCRC will adopt the most prudent building practices to ensure a minimal environmental impact on the surrounding communities during all phases of construction. The developer will also cover the costs of an environmental committee to monitor environmental impact. The CBA specifies that residents of public housing will be given priority in "all aspects of this agreement." The developer will also sponsor annual job fairs at the six public housing projects in the area.
"When I proposed a legally binding community benefits agreement, it was not because I doubted Forest City Ratner, said Assembly Member Roger Green. "Rather, it was because I wanted this community benefits agreement to be part of a process that included community needs at the start of the project. This historical and precedent-setting agreement is about results. It's about creating a children's zone where kids can be safe, play and grow. It's about housing and it's about jobs. Equally, it is about how we achieve these goals and a process that includes the community from the start. I applaud Mayor Bloomberg for assisting Forest City Ratner with making this real good faith process a reality."
"There were so many times when the road to this agreement was difficult," said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. "There were many times when the parties could have thrown in the towel and walked away, but they resisted the temptation. Today, because of their tremendous efforts, the nation's eyes are on Brooklyn. Other attempts at community benefits agreements have been made in the past, but this agreement is so comprehensive and far-reaching that it puts Brooklyn in a class by itself, at the forefront of the corporate responsibility movement. Since I convened the very first meeting of the CBA coalition at Borough Hall last August, the members have worked tirelessly together, through every disagreement and tough negotiation, keeping their eyes on the greater good. They have created something truly wonderful for their communities by keeping every member at the table to work out their differences."
The Reverend Dr. Herbert D. Daughtry of the Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance, said, "We have worked long and hard to put together a program with tangible benefits for people in the surrounding neighborhoods and throughout the borough. I'm confident that this Agreement will become a model for development throughout the City and that the benefits of this development will be the true legacy of a historic project."
James Caldwell, the president of Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development (BUILD), said, "Every phase of this project will create real jobs with real benefits for residents. These jobs will benefit individuals and families and neighborhoods. This agreement also shows that a responsible developer can be pro-union and still create innovative programs for job training and local hiring."
Bertha Lewis, Executive Director of New York ACORN, said, "This agreement is about the fundamentals of life: a decent job, a place to live and a neighborhood that is inviting to people of all backgrounds and classes. That's what we have tried to do here and I'm confident that we have succeeded."
The Reverend Walter J. Morris, Co-Chair, of the All-Faith Council of Brooklyn, said, "For those who say that communities have not had a say in this process, we say look not just at the process, which was inclusive, but at the results. They reflect community needs because community groups were involved in their development."
The Reverence Orlando Findlayter, the other All-Faith Council of Brooklyn Co-Chair, added, "When a developer says 'help make this a better project,' we say yes. This process was open and thorough and the results speak volumes about the developer and we believe the end result."
Delia Hunley-Adossa, the Chairperson of the First Atlantic Terminal Housing Committee said, "I was taught in school that it's not just what you do that counts but how you do it. This CBA was a remarkable process with remarkable results and we hope the benefits will go beyond this project to influence how construction is done in this City in the future."
Len Britton, Executive Director of the New York State Association of Minority Contractors, said, "When you bring in minority and women owned businesses and contractors you bring minorities and women into the workforce. We believe that is good for the project, cost effective, and beneficial for surrounding communities. We are pleased with the goals spelled out in this agreement and are excited about the work that will be generated for the people of Brooklyn."
"I'm very impressed with the amount of thought and hard work that has gone into this agreement. The community will be very proud of what came out of this work," said Downtown Brooklyn Education Consortium Freddie Hamilton.
Charlene Nimmons, Chairperson of the Public Housing Communities, said, "I sometimes wonder how public housing can be so visible while public housing residents are so invisible when it comes to policies and projects that will impact their lives. This agreement recognizes the unique needs of public housing residents in the surrounding communities. That in itself is a major accomplishment."
The Community Benefits Agreement, which will be legally binding, also specifies penalties for failing to achieve goals. While the groups mentioned above constituted the formal working group of the CBA, the Brooklyn Borough President's Office played a formative role in the development of the agreement and local Community Boards 2, 6 and 8 provided oversight.