Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Atlantic Yards, Pacific Park, and the Culture of Cheating

I offer a framework to analyze and evaluate Atlantic Yards (in August 2014 rebranded as Pacific Park Brooklyn) and the Barclays Center: Atlantic Yards, Pacific Park, and the Culture of Cheating.

Note: this post is post-dated to remain at the top of the page. Please send tips to the email address above, rather than posting a comment here.

model shown to potential immigrant investors in China in 2014,
though not shown publicly in Brooklyn.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Yes, Brooklyn Nets celebrate Chinese culture--and a lot more

It's hard to read today's China Daily article, Brooklyn Nets celebrate Chinese culture, without wanting to fill in some blanks.

At the Barclays Center yesterday, the Brooklyn Nets co-hosted "A Celebration of Chinese Culture" with the Sino-American Friendship Association (SAFA). It included a press conference involving Nets CEO Brett Yormark and Zhang Qiyue, the Chinese consul general in New York.

"As a franchise, we aspire to be global, and connecting with China in general is something that is very important for management and ownership," declared Yormark. "It's also very important for the NBA."

That's not just because Chinese-Americans in Brooklyn and Chinese nationals in China might be fans, as the article suggests, but also because Chinese millionaires seeking green cards have been lured to invest in Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park under the misleading suggestion that the investment goes into the Barclays Center.

It's about business

"The United States and China are working very hard to build a major relationship built on cooperation," declared Zhang. "And basketball games, or any sport, bring our people closer together."

And, of course, the Shanghai government-owned Greenland Group has invested in 70% of the Atlantic Yards project (excluding the arena and B2) going forward.

"The great part about this event is the Nets have a mission," said Li Li, SAFA's executive vice-president. "They advocate for an American sports team being introduced to Chinese people in the US, but they also explore opportunities and partnerships with China globally as well."

It's all about business.

Similarly, Yormark said, "Chinese Americans and China in general are very dear to our heart, and we look forward to fostering our relationship and growing it in the years to come."

Remember how Yormark said that Atlantic Yards was "very dear to [Frank Gehry's] heart" even after Gehry--we now know--had been dropped from the project?

Who could be the next city economic development chief? Crain's suggests some AY-related figures

In a blog post headlined Who could be the next city economic development chief?, Andy Hawkins of Crain's New York Business runs down the names of potential replacements for Kyle Kimball, the holdover CEO of the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

Among them are three candidates with ties to Atlantic Yards as officials or advocates: former NYC EDC (and current Brooklyn Navy Yard) executive David Ehrenberg, Downtown Brooklyn Partnership President Tucker Reed, and Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President (and former Chief of Staff to the Borough President) Carlo Scissura.

Also mentioned, among others, were Maria Torres-Springer, commissioner of Small Business Services, Hudson River Park Trust President and CEO Madelyn Wils, and former Port Authority New York & New Jersey Executive Director Chris Ward. Read Hawkins for the handicapping.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

"Congeniality over conscience": Jewish leaders, including Ratner, wrote letters in support for criminal Rapfogel

In City and State NY's LOVE LETTERS FOR WILLIE RAPFOGEL, subtitled "The 'Prince of the Jews' Is Saluted By The Mighty On His Way To Jail," Wayne Barrett (ex-Village Voice) does the work no one else would do, uncovering the unseemly support from many--including Bruce Ratner--for a brazen, hypocritical criminal:
William Rapfogel, the city’s legendary giant of the Jewish nonprofit world and good friend of indicted ex-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, is in prison for looting $9 million from the organization he ran for two decades, the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty.
A reverse Robin Hood for poor Jews, the 59-year-old Rapfogel, who pocketed $3 million and was caught with $420,000 in cash, appeared unlikely to prompt much support when he pled guilty last year. Exploiting a mine lode of public subsidies funneled mostly through Silver, Rapfogel admitted to financing what court papers called “a lavish lifestyle” by taking up to $30,000-a-month from an insurance company his organization deliberately overpaid. Every dollar consumed by this scam was a dollar less for services to the poor.
Nonetheless, 70 Rapfogel backers, including 19 rabbis, several politicians, and some of the city and country’s most prominent leaders of Jewish organizations, petitioned Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to go easy on Rapfogel, who the New York Times said was frequently called the “prince of the Jews.” The letters—sent shortly before his April guilty plea—were obtained by City & State under the Freedom of Information Act. They are a triumph of congeniality over conscience, with the call of the club taking precedence over the betrayal of the mission. The Jewish poor are invisible in this correspondence.

..Developer Bruce Ratner attended Rapfogel’s son’s bar mitzvah, partnered with a Rapfogel housing company, gave a million dollars to Met Council on Jewish Poverty, and hired Rapfogel’s son at the same time that Silver and Rapfogel supported his effort to take over a prize Lower Eastside site.....At least two of the letter-writers were major donors to Schneiderman: Bruce Ratner and his wife gave $37,500...
The rest of the piece is here.

As I've written, some questions regarding the Ratner-Rapfogel relationship were never explored. While William Rapfogel's co-defendent David Cohen asked their co-conspirator at insurer Century Coverage Corporation to make campaign contributions--using straw donors, in some cases--there's no explanation regarding specific acts.

It didn't make sense for College Point, NY resident Deborah Auletta, a Century employee, to give $175 to Delia Hunley-Adossa's longshot 2009 challenge to popular 35th District Council incumbent Letitia James, the leading Atlantic Yards opponent.

Also, the Barclays Center chose to give the Met Council--and a music camp--profits from a 2/28/13 cantorial concert. I thought investigators might look into any ulterior motives, like buffing the developer's relationship with Silver as a prelude to that Seward Park bid, but apparently they didn't go that far.

More on the Rapfogel deal

In a separate article on the settlement, Barrett writes:
Rapfogel, who is in Wallkill medium security prison until at least December 2016 (when he gets his first parole hearing), was not compelled to forfeit from his own pocket the equivalent of the $3 million he stole. He instead raised the bulk of the restitution from supporters who gave to a fund whose donors remain shrouded in secrecy. [Defense attorneys] Shectman and Vinegrad refused to say anything about where these contributions came from, how they were collected or what percent of the total was anonymously donated.
Since Sheldon Silver was still Speaker of the Assembly when the restitution was solicited (he has since been indicted on corruption charges and stepped down) and Rapfogel’s wife Judy was, and still is, Silver’s chief of staff, good-government crusader Schneiderman surely must have understood that contributors to the fund might be seeking favor with two of the most powerful people in Albany. In fact, had Rapfogel been unable to raise much of the millions from supporters, he and his wife might have lost their valuable Grand Street co-op, their modest Monticello cottage or other assets, surely making the effort to collect these undisclosed donations a family imperative.
Schneiderman’s restitution remedy actually opened the door to the kind of insider horsetrading that the Attorney General has long condemned and that still dominates the state capital. The Rapfogel fund is so insulated from oversight that Schneiderman’s office claims it has no documents related to it and did not answer numerous questions about it—such as whether the prosecutor had the power to require disclosure of donors. (A top former state prosecutor says he did).
The office could have attempted to collect the full restitution by seizing Rapfogel's assets or forcing him to sell them. Instead, all it did was secure what [AG spokeswoman] DeBold said was a “significant portion” of the $3 million from Rapfogel’s “personal assets.” At another point, she said it was “substantial,” carefully chosen words that conceal more than clarify.

Predictable: illegal limos idling on streets for Neil Diamond concert

It was predictable last Thursday. As noted on Atlantic Yards Watch, 11 limos parked illegally in short stretch of 5th Ave for Neil Diamond concert:
In a 5 minute walk, hampered by rain, 11 limos found parked and /or idling at the following addresses:
27, 37, 53, and 66 Fifth Avenue. These are known problem spots. Most are hydrants. Two limos in bus stop. Also 2 cars parked in bus stop at 429 Bergen, and 2 in No Standing zone at 446 C Dean. Worst offenders were two limos parked in travel lane in front of former Triangle Sports building (27 5th Avenue) between Dean and Flatbush. Photo attached. 311 complaint made for these two (other ones not done on 311 due to rain).
Numerous other limos and cars parked and idling on other blocks.
(Some typos cleaned up)

The thing is, many people either don't know or don't bother to file incident reports, but that type of Barclays Center concert--with an older, wealthier crowd less likely to use public transport--typically draws idling limos.

From Newsday's review:
Neil Diamond pulled out all the stops at Barclays Center Thursday night for his first public concert in his native Brooklyn.
Reggae version of "Red, Red Wine"? Check.
"Sweet Caroline" sing-along? So good. So good. So good.Heartbreaking version of "Love on the Rocks"? Ain't no big surprise.
But the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer also took time to savor his return to Brooklyn. As he showed off his dance moves during "Red, Red Wine," adding that he learned the box step at the Arthur Murray Dance Studio on Flatbush Avenue. The detail-filled ballad "Brooklyn Roads" provided poignant moments, as home movies from his childhood in Coney Island rolled behind him.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

As Nets go down and up, ESPN ratings are ominous (but still surpass the Knicks)

The Brooklyn Nets go way up and down--or down and up. Earlier in the week, New York Times columnist Harvey Araton, on 3/24/15, wrote Owner’s Grandstanding Confronts Nets With a Dim Future:
They crossed the river and hit the ground bragging. They came to New York with high-minded intentions of taking ownership of it from the Knicks and walked the low road by placing a “Hear Ye” mural down the side of a building a few dribbles away from Madison Square Garden.
Their owner, Mikhail D. Prokhorov, handed over his checkbook to his general manager, Billy King, who seized the money and the moment to pursue deliverance of Prokhorov’s introductory 2010 promise of an N.B.A. championship “in one year minimum, and maximum in five years.”
The guarantee will expire this spring, with the underachieving Nets possibly excluded from the playoffs. As for city ownership, the Knicks are a joke but the Nets are the butt of it. Catastrophes are compelling. Moribund is monotonous.
One enduring question is whether Prokhorov had to sacrifice the future--trading away draft picks--to seize attention, and Araton, unlike some, believes it was "an imperative that Prokhorov created, nothing that the Brooklyn market demanded." (Sports scribes disagree.)

When the Nets lost to the Boston Celtics, a rival for one of the last playoff spots earlier in the week, NetsDaily termed it a big letdown.

But last night, when the Nets beat LeBron James and the powerful Cleveland Cavaliers at home, keeping playoff hopes alive, it was a "stunner", as the Post put it.

Lowly ESPN ratings

The Nets' mediocre performance this year reflects in ESPN's ranking of 29, next to last, in NBA Front Office Rankings 2015, which aim to assess "each team's front-office management on its guidance and leadership in terms of how it affects overall on-court success, both in the short and long term."

As noted by the Brooklyn Game, "The Nets fell the furthest of any team last season despite no major moves or changes in their front office, falling 14 spots from 15th to 29th, making the ranking a bit of a retroactive choice."

But the Nets, at 3.59 in the rankings, were still well ahead of the New York Knicks, ranked at an anemic 2.37.

ESPN also offered three sub-components of the ranking:
  • Nets coach Lionel Hollins ranked 23 of 30 (Knicks coach Derek Fisher was 30)
  • Nets ownership ONEXIM Sports and Entertainment, Mikhail Prokhorov ranked 29 of 30 (Knicks owner MSG/James Dolan was well behind, at 30)
  • Nets General Manager Billy King and Chairman Dmitry Razumov ranked 30 (Knicks President Phil Jackson and VP of basketball Steve Mills were 29)

Friday, March 27, 2015

Steel truss installation on Barclays Center green roof planned for Saturday

Empire State Development yesterday circulated an alert that work on the Barclays Center green roof will take place on Saturday from 7 am through 3:30 pm, involving the installation of a truss--part of the framework for supporting the roof turf.
Arena Green Roof:
On Saturday, March 28, 2015, T2 Truss installation will take place. Similar with weekday work, lifts will take place from both the Dean Street and Atlantic Avenue crane locations; there will be no steel deliveries. Work will be taking place during the hours 7 AM to 3:30 PM pursuant to the Department of Buildings weekend work permit.

Nassau County Executive Mangano bizarrely suggests renovated Coliseum will lure Islanders back; Ratner in dispute over retail plan?

There's been much scornful comment about the claim by Nassau County executive Ed Mangano, in his 3/11/15 State of the County address (below), that the renovated, shrunken Nassau Coliseum will lure the New York Islanders back.

After all, National Hockey League officials told Newsday that there was no indication that the team's move to Brooklyn this fall is temporary. And the Brooklyn arena offers far more luxury suites, key to making the economics work. Why would Coliseum redeveloper Forest City Ratner do anything to get back the team they recently lured to the Barclays Center they operate?

In a piece of intrigue, Long Island Business News yesterday reported, Developer dispute could stall Coliseum project. Apparently Forest City and Long Island's Blumenfeld Development Group (BDG) are at odds over the size and scope of the retail and entertainment piece of the Coliseum plan.

According to the article, based in part on anonymous sources, BDG wants to build some "300,000 square feet of restaurants, retail and entertainment businesses," while Forest City is aiming at less than one-third of that square footage. But they may not be that far apart, since BDG's own web site references 150,000 square feet.

Watching Mangano wink

"I'm certain this world-class destination will get the attention of the NHL," Mangano declared in his address. "While I was disappointed when taxpayers voted no to building an arena to keep our only professional sports team, we have an opportunity to keep their roots here in Nassau County. Tonight I announce that we are very close to finalizing plans... for a new historic public-private partnership with the Islanders to construct a state of the art corporate office and practice facility here in Nassau County."

"This facility will cement the Islanders in Nassau and provide hope that we will witness their full time return when they see the magnificent new Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum," he declared, almost winking. "We will continue to work to make that a reality. Whether they know it or not, we're going to continue to try to keep our sports team here."

Other questionable statements

"Our largest public-private partnership is the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, where... construction will begin later this year to turn the outdated arena into a world-class sports and entertainment destination," Mangano said in the beginning of the excerpt above.

"The new Coliseum will retain its history of honoring our veterans while sharing revenue with County taxpayers," he declared. "It'll employ 2,700 people and provide $10 billion in economic benefit to our county."

What does "employ 2,700 people" mean? The "new Coliseum" phrase leaves the impression there would be 2,700 workers, but the Barclays Center has only 2,000 workers and far fewer full-time equivalent (FTE) workers.

Maybe he was referring to temporary construction jobs, or, perhaps, ultimately the associated buildings now subject to the the discpute.

What does $10 billion in economic benefit mean, and how is that calculated? We know that Zimbalist's numbers for Ratner's project were highly questionable. So we shouldn't trust a politician's projection without some backing data.

The new Coliseum, Mangano said it will host several Islanders games, Nets games, children's shows, "heavyweight boxing championships," minor league hockey and college basketball, "as well as "an exciting array of star studded performers and family-fun entertainment."

What might be very interesting is that Forest City Ratner, by the time its team opens the revamped Coliseum, may be out of the arena business in Brooklyn.

The dispute, and some numbers

According to the Long Island Business News article, Forest City Ratner sent LIBN a statement saying "We have an obligation and responsibility to build out the Coliseum and adjoining retail in a way that sustains long-term economic development without compromising the surrounding area."

While the article said the dispute may end up in court and stall Coliseum development, there's no indication that would affect the work to revamp and reopen the Coliseum itself. 

The dispute may be less than portrayed. The BDG website promises:
The iconic, state-of-the-art arena will be the centerpiece of a vibrant sports and entertainment district, which will replace the current concrete-covered plaza, consisting of approximately 150,000 square feet of new sports, entertainment and retail facilities as well as a variety of restaurants. SHoP Architects... has designed both the new exterior of the arena as well as the surrounding retail to create an integrated and complementary entertainment complex. The sports and entertainment district is anticipated to include a movie theater, bowling alley, indoor sports facility, indoor skydiving facility and/or a fitness center.
I don't see how that adds up to 300,000 square feet, but it's more than 100,000 square feet. According to a 9/20/13 memo from the Nassau County Legislature's Office of Legislative Budget Review:
The lease proposes a 145,000 square foot dining and entertainment complex in the Coliseum plaza. According to Schedule G of the lease agreement, a 10-12 screen movie theater would account for 60,000 square feet of the complex, and another 60,000 square feet of the complex would be devoted to a variety of dining options. The remaining 25,000 square feet in the complex would be dedicated to a recreational anchor (bowling, bocce, dining, etc.). Schedule G notes roughly a 2,500+/- seat theater based on the House Office of Legislative Budget Review 3 of Blues or Fillmore Theater concept to host regional, national, and international musical acts. A space would serve as an ice rink in the winter and a performance lawn for cultural and musical events in the summer. 
Then again, given Forest City Ratner's track record, we shouldn't be surprised if a deal changes.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Public hearing Monday on tax-exempt bonds for B3 affordable rental tower at Sixth Avenue and Dean Street

According to an announcement from the New York City Housing Development Corporation (NYC HDC), the agency will hold a (typically pro forma) public hearing Monday, May 30, to provide information and take public comment on bonds for numerous affordable housing projects.

Among them will be $75 million for Pacific Park B3, a 23-story affordable housing rental tower planned for the corner of Dean Street and Sixth Avenue.

The hearing will be held Monday, March 30 at 10 am at the NYC HDC Main Conference Room, 110 William Street, 10th Floor.

(The NYC HDC notice refers to the location as 38 Sixth Avenue, which is what it says on the project web site, though it was previously known as 30 Sixth Avenue.)

Waiting for more information

NYC HDC has not provided additional information I requested about the project, so all we have to go on is project web site (noted below) and  the non-binding letter (bottom) from last May, which indicated that B3--like B14, already launched at Carlton Avenue and Dean Street--would have affordability skewed toward upper middle-income households paying some $3,000 per month.

That document also indicated an additional subsidy of $11,765,000, which is not indicated in the notice.

The NYC HDC will allot $75 million for the project, the same as with B14, aka 535 Carlton. It is the single largest sum of any allotment in this round.

Note that the savings to the developer, Greenland Forest City Partners, is not $75 million but the difference between tax-exempt and taxable financing, typically a few percentage points and thus perhaps 15-30%.

The promotional description and the non-modular plan

The Pacific Park web site describes the building:
An eye-catching new 23-story residential tower is joining the arena block. Light, pattern, and texture play across the gleaming fa├žade; a traditional covered entrance provides comfortable access to the 300 residences, which will be affordable to low-, moderate-, and middle-income New Yorkers. Designed by SHoP Architects, 38 Sixth Avenue will house Pacific Park Brooklyn’s health care center, as well as retail behind full-height glass storefronts and an underground parking facility.
Note that the building, as of a couple of years ago, was supposed to be built via modular construction, which would save time and money, and reduce trucks, deliveries, and noise.

Given delays in the B2 tower at Flatbush Avenue and Dean Street, the new owner/overseer of the Greenland Forest City Partners joint venture decided that the next towers would be built conventionally. That raises questions about staging areas for construction of this tower.

Plexiglas windows being added to 16-foot green wall at Vanderbilt and Dean to improve sightlines

A message circulated yesterday from Pacific Park Brooklyn indicates that plexiglas windows will be added tomorrow to the 16-foot green wall at Vanderbilt Avenue and Dean Street, which aims to protect neighbors from noise and dust during construction but also encroaches significantly into the street.

(This is not the fence at Carlton Avenue and Dean, but is rather a busier, two-way intersection.)

Presumably this allows drivers going east on Dean to turn left or right on Vanderbilt while better assessing any oncoming traffic.

Community Notice
Changes to the Green Construction Fence at the corner of Vanderbilt Avenue & Dean Street Starting on Friday, March 27th
Dear Neighbor,
We wanted you to be aware that after consultation with the Fire Department of New York we will be making some minor modifications to the construction fence that surrounds Block 1129 bounded by Carlton Avenue, Vanderbilt Avenue, Dean Street & Pacific Street.
We will be adding Plexiglas windows to the fence at the corner of Vanderbilt Avenue and Dean Street to allow for a better sight line. While there have not been any issues to date, the Fire Department feels that this change is important and we are working to quickly implement it.
The height of the fence will remain unchanged and we expect the work to take 2 to 3 days to complete.
As always, please feel free to reach out to our office with any questions or concerns.
Thank you for your time.
Pacific Park Brooklyn Community Liaison Office
Empire State Development
(212) 803-3736

DBNA launches video challenge to highlight Meditation Room; info session today regarding new Atlantic Yards/Nets/DBNA foundation

Well, the Barclays Center Meditation Room may inspire some quizzical responses and snark from sports fans--and others who see it as a little used concession to a key Atlantic Yards supporter.

But the Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance (DBNA), founded by that supporter, the Rev. Herbert Daughtry and funded by developer Forest City Ratner, is doing its part to try highlight the value of the room, offering Moments of Peace: The Meditation Room Video Challenge.

It has invited its Community Partners--the groups that get free tickets to arena events distributed by the DBNA--to go to the Meditation Room, choose one of the words on the walls--LOVE, PEACE, FORGIVE, BELIEVE, REJOICE, FAITH--and make a three-to-four minute video explaining how that word plays a role in their life, as noted in the rules at right.

Five winning videos will be chosen each month, and the makers will get two tickets to an arena event.

As noted in the document at bottom:
The goals of the video challenge are: 1) To help dissipate the overwhelming pessimism that often accompanies living in NYC 2) To acknowledge the impact words have on how we view life and what they inspire us to do 3) To build a sense of camaraderie amongst Brooklyn-based not-for-profit organizations.
I suspect there are a couple of other goals: 1) get more use of and attention for the Meditation Room (despite the contradiction of filming a video in a place of quiet); 2) provide videos for the DBNA to use to promote its work.

The DBNA is probably the most active of all the signatories of the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement (CBA).

Informational session for new foundation

Also note an informational session today for organizations seeking to apply for grants from the Atlantic Yards/Nets/DBNA Community Foundation, which, as I've written, is a little murky about who's in charge, and how long it will operate.

The new foundation will give grants of $5,000 to Brooklyn-based community organizations, which work under the following categories:
  • fostering economic self-sufficiency
  • prisoner re-entry initiatives
  • youth and child programs
  • health programs
  • environmental sustainability
Applications are due by 4/1/15. (A separate capacity-building grant deadline is 4/15/15.)

The session will be held at DBNA offices at 415 Atlantic Avenue, aka the House of the Lord Church.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Atlantic Yards down the memory hole: LIRR improvements being delivered "free of charge," declares Newsday

I'm coming a little late to this Newsday article posted 3/22/15, headlined LIRR to get improvements in Brooklyn, part of Barclays deal.

But it clearly represents the phenomenon I've dubbed "Atlantic Yards down the memory hole," since the indubitable improvements have been part of renegotiation and delay:
The $100 million real estate deal that led to the Barclays Center being built over a century-old rail yard is beginning to pay dividends for the Long Island Rail Road and its Brooklyn commuters, officials said.
Seven years into the construction of a state-of-the-art new storage facility to replace the original Vanderbilt Yards, workers will soon punch through a 171-year-old rail tunnel to provide trains, for the first time, a direct path between the yard and Atlantic Terminal.
It's one of many improvements to the LIRR's Brooklyn operation that are being delivered to the railroad free of charge by Greenland Forest City Partners, a joint venture between Greenland and Forest City Ratner, developer of the Barclays Center and adjacent Pacific Park residential project.
"A project like this has to be a win-win for everybody," said Ratner vice president Thomas Bonacuso, who heads the project. "Brooklyn has become a brand. Brooklyn is hot. We and the railroad capitalized on that and were able to bring improvements to their rail yard that wouldn't have been possible under their own resources."
Well, wait a second. It's not free. The improvements are part of a deal in which the MTA/LIRR sold 3.6 million square feet of development rights to Forest City at a figure well below the appraised value of $75 per buildable square foot. 

That said, the appraiser surely undervalued the cost of the replacement railyard and deck needed to build housing, subtracting $56.7 million to reach an appraised value of $214.5 million.

The deal was renegotiated in 2009 to allow a smaller permanent railyard, an initial payment of $20 million, and a new deadline, giving the developer until 2031 to pay off the additional $80 million, at a gentle 6.5% interest rate. 

Since then, the timetable for the affordable housing has been moved up to 2025, which means the railyard parcels will be purchased faster than allowed in the 2009 renegotiation, but still slower than originally promised.

Since then, the value of the development rights has skyrocketed, to perhaps $350 per square foot. The MTA, despite advice from the mainstream Regional Plan Association, refused to consider any clause in the renegotiated contract to take advantage of any upswing in the market.

According to Newsday, "Ratner officials declined to disclose the project's cost." What we do know is that, in 2009, the MTA said the new railyard would be valued at $147 million, while Dellaverson said the previous iteration could be worth $250 million, after inflation.

So it's tough to measure the cost of the infrastructure against the value of the development rights. But the process was never clean, and the improvements surely aren't free.

From the Atlantic Yards CDC meeting: board materials (including budget), President's report

The Board Materials and President's Report from Monday's meeting of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation have been posted, and are also embedded below.

The President's report outlines how the advisory AY CDC works with the parent Empire State Development (with whom it shares staff, board members, and officers), and how ESD oversees the project, with its own consultants and in collaboration with the developer (now Greenland Forest City Partners) and the developer's on-site environmental monitor.

The Board Materials note a budget of about $250,000, more than 60% of which is projected for legal/accounting and consultant fees. The budget can be augmented, as was discussed at the meeting.

Despite WPIX boost, Barclays Center Nash Bash country concert leaves many empty seats

Well, according to Twitter, those attending the Nash Bash country music concert at the Barclays Center last night had a fine time.

And WPIX 11, again fulfilling its partnership with the arena, reported, vaguely, Country music takes over Brooklyn with Barclays Center concert
But other than the "thousands" of country music fans cited by WPIX, how successful was the event?

First, consider that to fill seats, a good number of comps were apparently given out--otherwise Hill Country BK wouldn't have had a stack, as pictured at right.

(Otherwise, tickets were a seemingly reasonable $30.)

I snagged a ticket for bubkes and visited briefly. (It was my first concert at the arena--the bass was loud--though I've gone to a few Brooklyn Nets and college basketball games, never paying full price.)

I saw a lot of empty seats, even as the arena was cordoned off into a theater configuration, with the upper sections closed off. I'd estimate far fewer than the 7,000 people expected.

Numerous concession stands were closed, and there was a long line at one women's restroom.

There may well be an audience for country music at Barclays. The largest group, when canvassed from the stage by the hosts, appeared to be from Long Island. 

But I don't think arena CEO Brett Yormark should be making the claim that there are "385 country bars" in Brooklyn.