Nets project to cost $2B in subsidies?

The New York Post has a new estimate for the ever-changing subsidy figure for New Jersey Nets owner Bruce Ratner’s planned Atlantic Yards development, and it’s a doozy: $2.157 billion. (A detailed breakdown is here.) That’s $38 million higher than the $2.119 billion estimate by project opponents Develop Don’t Destroy, and a crazy amount higher than the official $305 million figure (which only includes direct subsidies, not tax breaks). It’s also about half the cost of the entire project, though as Atlantic Yards Report notes, that cost is now more like $4.3 billion than the $4 billion cited by the Post.

How real are these numbers? Hard to say – it’s unclear whether the expert the Post consulted, urban planner Michael D.D. White, used present-value figures (I’m guessing not, especially for the $1 billon-plus he estimates in property tax savings), and some of the subsidies included are what’s known as “as-of-right,” i.e., anybody building a similar project would get them. What does seem clear, though, is that the total subsidies for the project will run into the billions – that is, if it ever gets built, given that Ratner has begun backing away from commitments to build anything other than the arena.

New York state assemblymember Richard Brodsky, who controls oversight of the state authorities that are overseeing the project, warned the Post that “the notion the taxpayers are going to invest money while the developers don’t meet their commitments, if that’s what people expect, there is going to be a fight about it.” Ooh, a fight – Brodsky does those well.

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