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December 09, 2011

New York gerrymandered arena district for Nets' green-card deal

Atlantic Yards Report today has the latest on the soon-to-be-Brooklyn Nets' green-cards-for-development-cash gambit. The state of New York, AYR's Norman Oder reveals, aided the Nets owners' scheme not only by sending an emissary to China with them to help solicit green-card-hungry funders, but by developing this map to demonstrate to federal officials that the project is in a high-poverty area, thus reducing the required foreign investment from $1 million apiece in interest-free loans to $500,000.

For those unfamiliar with the nuances of Brooklyn geography, the left end of what Oder calls "the Bed-Stuy Boomerang" is mostly old warehouses along the Long Island Rail Road tracks. The right end, meanwhile, loops up into Bedford-Stuyvesant — and not its rapidly gentrifying western edge, but the still-impoverished middle. Neatly omitted, meanwhile, are the largely affluent brownstone blocks of Fort Greene to the project's north, Park Slope to the southwest, and Prospect Heights to the south.

Oder concludes that New York state didn't actually break any laws by doing this, but it did grease the wheels for a funding plan that could ultimately save the Nets owners $140 million over the next five years (assuming a pretty high interest rate spread, admittedly — a more likely figure would be in the eight figures). The only cost is to other projects that could have used the green-card funding program to better ends — and, of course, to the integrity of U.S. immigration policy, that is, if you think such a thing still exists in the first place.

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