Thursday, December 18, 2008

Daily News: layoffs may signal rift between Gehry and Ratner

The New York Daily News, which despite some egregious Atlantic Yards reportage and alleged interference by Forest City Ratner has been leading AY coverage among the dailies lately, advances the story by suggesting a rift between AY architect Frank Gehry and the developer.

While the Wall Street Journal two days ago reported that Gehry had dropped all his staffers working on the project, in an article today headlined Architect drops ax on Yards staff, the Daily News suggests that the layoff of some two dozen workers wasn't quite amicable:
"Almost all the people working on the Brooklyn project got laid off," said a source familiar with the cuts who claimed the developer had refused to pay Gehry additional costs for design revisions. "Basically, he's not willing to pay."

That suggests the effect of limited cash flow, not the all-purpose excuse of litigation, for which Forest City has blamed the work stoppage at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Vanderbilt Yard.

No one's talking

A Forest City Ratner spokesman wouldn't discuss the issue--DDDB has been pointing to the developer's unfulfilled promises of transparency--nor would anyone from Gehry's office, which led the Daily News to conclude:
It was unclear yesterday whether the relationship between Ratner and Gehry was over or merely put on hold because of the economy.

Major selling point

That's a very important question to answer. Gehry's role is a major selling point for the project. Would investors want to back an arena "partially designed by world-renowned Frank Gehry"?

Moreover, parent company Forest City Enterprises insists that Atlantic Yards, virtually alone among the developer's projects, is moving ahead, even though all evidence is to the contrary.

There's obviously an incentive to maintain at least the appearance of forward motion, but the New York Observer, for one, isn't buying it.

Meanwhile, landscape architect Laurie Olin is said to be on sabbatical--which is debatable, but at least there's no more work on Phase 1 for him to do. Gehry's only designed three of five buildings, including the arena, on the arena block, according to the most recent renderings, much less the sixth building at Site 5 or all of Phase 2.

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