Bruce Ratner’s company has sold a 49% interest in 15 NYC shopping centers, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday. This includes the Atlantic Center and Atlantic Terminal malls, those two monstrosities across Flatbush from the project which has put Ratner into such dire financial straits.
Madison International Realty is paying $172 million for their interest in the Ratner properties, which are valued at $852 million and carry $500 million in debt. As if the implications of the sale—the largest possible non-controlling stake in privately owned, healthy income-generating retail developments—weren’t clear enough, graf 2 of the WSJ article notes, with killing objectivity, “The sale… comes as Forest City has been hobbled by major development projects that were started at the market’s peak, when prices and expectations were far higher than they are today.” (One thing they don’t mention: this isn’t the first time Ratner’s sold off assets to keep Atlantic Yards moving. Remember that time he sold his basketball team to the richest man in Russia?)
Understatedly, the Journal‘s Eliot Brown adds that “the company is having difficulty starting the housing component” of Atlantic Yards—that is, the residential units, including low-income units, dangled to placate the neighborhood for all the sweetheart backroom dealing and eminent domain strong-arming. Last month, the Brooklyn Paper reported Forest City Ratner’s completely unconvincing claim that they “still hope[d] to break ground this year” on the first of Atlantic Yards’s residential towers. (There initially going to be 16 high-rises, designed by the likes of Frank Gehry. That was before the recession.)
Ratner, you may recall, had several blocks of Prospect Heights declared “blighted” so that the state could claim eminent domain to hand them over to him. Ratner and the state’s urban renewal project apparently consists of letting huge swaths of the neighborhood remain vacant and undeveloped indefinitely, or at least until he can find a few million more pennies under the couch.