UPDATE: Daily News is now reporting that IRS records show a $5 million contribution from Forest City Ratner to BUILD. See below for a PDF of relevant pages.
Hoo boy… Sorry for the long lead-in, but this one needs some space. And if you’re an accountant or a “follow the money” type, you may be especially interested in bearing with us. We promise to bold the important parts so you can skim ahead.
The apparently non-profit group BUILD (Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development) is clearly the biggest and loudest bunch of cheerleaders for the Forest City Ratner (FCR) Atlantic Yards Project, the multi-billion-dollar stadium/condo-skyscraper development that will bring the New Jersey Nets to Brooklyn, casting a long shadow over Prospect Heights and making developer Bruce Ratner even more obscenely wealthy than he already is.
Here in Prospect Heights, some stadium opponents suspect that BUILD is a mouthpiece front bankrolled by FCR. And it doesn’t help appearances to see somebody flaunt their stuff in front of BUILD’s likely-very-expensive storefront office on Vanderbilt Avenue. Lucas wrote this a while back on Daily Heights:
“let me throw out a point for the debate: The *brand-new* massive silver Cadillac that pulls up in front of BUILD each day… what better instrument to contrast the ‘extreme rates of poverty, unemployment and underclass entrapment’ in the surrounding neighborhood?”
(Previously, we joked that the real source of BUILD’s wealth is 65-cent color copies (see picture).)
Meanwhile, BUILD portrays itself as a scrappy, grass-roots, faith-based community group that champions the interests of the poor and downtrodden. In fact, they flat out deny financial support from Forest City Ratner on the BUILD website:
“Fact: Since its inception BUILD has been supported by its members and community based supporters. BUILD’s faith in God and strong ties to the community has sustained and perpetuates our operations and advancement of our mission. Space, computers, supplies and time has been donated to the organization by its members since its inception this year (1/2004).”
So naturally we were shocked to see this comment here on Daily Heights about a week ago (held and not published until now): “I have a copy of BUILD’s 501(c)(3)tax exemption application. In response to ‘what are or will be the organization’s sources of financial support? List in order of size.’ The response was ‘real estate developers, individual private contributions” in that order.”
Well, interesting… but even if it’s true, that doesn’t prove anything, does it?
The commenter continued: “In addition, on its form 1023 filing, it shows that President Caldwell receives annual compensation of $125,000 while CEO Marie Louis and Chief Administration Officer Shalawn Langhorne each receive annual salaries of $100,000. Not bad for a small not-for-profit. Maybe I’m in the wrong business.”
While we were mulling this over, we got the follow-up comment: “Lo and behold, question 12B on form 1023 lists ‘FOREST CITY RATNER COMPANIES’ as making a $5M contribution. I guess that mystery is solved.”
How could this possibly happen? It all seems so cut-and-dried. We’re talking public records here… if it’s in the public record, why on earth would they turn around and call it a “myth” that “BUILD is financially supported by Forest City Ratner”? Here’s a scan of some relevant pages [click for PDF] so you can judge it for yourself, sent in by Daniel Goldstein of Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn.
So… FCR and BUILD… care to explain yourselves?
READ REACTIONS FROM BUILD and FCR: Source of Build’s Wealth Revealed? [Prospect Heights Message Boards]