Norman Oder recently began his sixth year of reporting on the Atlantic Yards saga at his website, Atlantic Yards Report, and his best work may have just begun. This week he’s posted a fascinating series of stories about how developer Bruce Ratner, the city, and the state are dangling green cards in front of Chinese investors in order to lower Ratner’s funding costs and save him an estimated minimum of $191 million. The pieces are long and dense though the sight of former Net Daryl “Chocolate Thunder” Dawkins signing autographs in Guangzho is entertaining but they contain a bunch of intriguing and maddening insights, including how the deadline for building the first phase of the behemoth arena-and-skyscraper project may have been quietly extended to 2029, which could further stall the purported “community benefit” from subsidized housing. The green-card scheme, while apparently legal, is borderline sleazy; it’s supposed to swap immigration help for the creation of American jobs, but the economic worth of the program is highly dubious. But a Brooklyn NBA team owned by a Russian billionaire playing in a tax-break-larded arena surrounded by Chinese-backed buildings hey, only in America, as the great hustler Don King would say.
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