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Walking around the project site: buildings at night, new retail, congestion on Dean

On Monday night, July 17, I took a walk around/near the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park site, along Flatbush Avenue and Dean Street, mostly.

Is 535 Carlton, pictured below, filling up? If you go by the number of lights, no. Then again, a good number of apartments in the presumably full public housing tower (back, right) don't have lights on, either. So it's murky.

But if the numbers were great, at this and the other buildings, wouldn't they have told us at the last public meeting? (Expect an update in the next quarterly report of Forest City Realty Trust, coming August 3.)

Below, 461 Dean, somewhat later in the evening. Not so many lights on there.

Below, 550 Vanderbilt. Note that only the lower seven floors have been up for rent (by owners of condo units), though the building has a Certificate of Occupancy covering almost all the building.
Below, four new(ish) food locations on Flatbush Avenue not far from the Barclays Center. Maybe all but one need signage to "pop"…

Greenland stumbles in Fortune Global 500 before rising again; top 100 ranking by 2020 seems doubtful (now #277)

So, what's up with Greenland Holding (or: Holdings) Group, the 70% owner (via its subsidiary Greenland USA) of the joint venture Greenland Forest City Partners? The JV is developing the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park project, with the exception of the arena and the 461 Dean tower.

Bottom line: Greenland's not growing revenues as fast as it had hoped, even as the conglomerate, best known as a domestic property developer, has expanded significantly outside China into major world cities like New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, Sydney, and London.

When I wrote in April 2015 about Greenland, it was clearly on an upswing. It had been ranked at 268 in the 2014 Fortune Global 500, with $60.7 billion in assets, $41 billion in revenue, a 29.2% rise in revenues and a 11.2% increase in profits. (The rank relies on revenue in the past fiscal year.)
That was a significant jump from 359 in 2013 and 483 in 2012. Since then, however, Greenland's rise has slowed, reversed, and then partly recovere…

EB-5 round-up: Trump and Cuomo contributors; the Kushner connect; Staten Island project shaky

EB-5 money is sluicing all around us. And it so often seems sketchy.

USA Today reported, 7/18/17, The developer of a 'China City' in rural New York emerges as a major Trump donor:
WASHINGTON — Sherry Li, a Long Island businesswoman who once proposed a sprawling Chinese Disneyland in the Catskill Mountains, is far from a prominent figure in national politics.
But she and a business associate have just emerged as some of the year’s biggest financial backers of President Trump’s political operation. Late last month, Li and Lianbo Wang, described in federal election filings as her corporate board member, donated a combined $600,000 to Trump Victory, the fundraising committee the president established with the Republican National Committee to attract high-dollar contributors.
Li is now pursuing the development of a higher-education center on the property she controls in rural New York. Her business plans could intersect with the policies of the new Trump administration on everything …

The 2017-18 Nets: "Effort Means Everything" and "We Go Hard"

In 2013, Nets/arena CEO Brett Yormark famously said, "Nothing but a championship is going to be accepted." (That was right about the time Jay-Z was selling his fractional share in the team.)

Yormark soon modulated that to, "We're on a championship journey." They didn't get very far.

Now, as the screenshot below (from the Nets web site) suggests, featuring new Net D'Angelo Russell, "Effort Means Everything," a signal that the Nets are modulating expectations regarding their rebuilding process, which, though finally quite savvy, won't bear fruit for a while.

But "We Go Hard." And that, of course, recalls a lyric from Jay-Z himself, when he claimed, "Now when I bring the Nets, I'm the black Branch Rickey." Oh sure.

Is B12 (condos) ahead of B15 (market-rate rentals, plus school)?

I'm just reading the tea leaves here, but a look at New York State's database of corporations suggests that plans for 615 Dean Street, aka B12, are further ahead than plans for 664 Pacific Street, aka B15, though both buildings have been announced--with renderings--and then delayed.

B12 is supposed to be a condo building, while B15 would contain market-rate rentals, plus a school. Both have 421-a benefits grandfathered in, but the developer could reconfigure the building to use the revised benefits.

The evidence is below. A search on "Pacific Park" turned up four limited liability corporations (LLCs) associated with specific parcels, including the now-constructed 550 Vanderbilt and 535 Carlton, and the under-construction 38 Sixth Avenue.

The only other construction site with an LLC is 615 Dean. (Note that 461 Dean, aka B2, was built not by the joint venture behind Pacific Park, Greenland Forest City Partners, but by Forest City itself.)

Neighbors still confounded by (partly) giant fence used to block (for now) nonexistent noise, dust

The July 18 bi-monthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life meeting, held at 55 Hanson Place, also aired updates about the murky status of future construction.

The giant green fence on Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues, which encroaches significantly on the travel lane, bunching bikes and vehicles together and further constrained by illegal but unticketed parking, was again a topic for criticism.

As Prospect Heights resident Gib Veconi pointed out, the 16-foot-high fence, twice the height of typical fences and moved into the street to accommodate bracing, were required as mitigations for construction impacts, notably dust and noise.

But there's no construction going on, he said, echoing critiques made by the Dean Street Block Association. "It's not a mitigation, and it really ought to be moved," he said. "It was never anticipated that residents of that area would have to live with an arbitrary street impediment like that without constructi…

Greenland Forest City: mum on new construction; full market-rate building now unlikely; three sites no longer being marketed

Last night's bi-monthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life meeting, held at 55 Hanson Place, also aired concerns about the giant green fence and other issues, which I covered separately.

Maybe it's the calm before the construction storm. Surely changes in Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park are percolating.
But ever since Forest City Realty Trust, the junior partner in Pacific Park, last November announced that market conditions put development on hold, there hasn't been much positive news.

Last night, a representative of the joint venture Greenland Forest City Partners (GFCP) had exactly zero information about any upcoming construction starts, despite announced--but paused--plans for two towers, 664 Pacific (B15) and 615 Dean (B12).
Not only that, Forest City New York's Ashley Cotton expressed doubt that any market-rate building could be built, given the current state of the 421-a tax break, and essentially acknowledged that the joint venture had given up on its effo…

Greenland Forest City, facing slow condo sales, replaces broker, says it won't cut prices

The Real Deal, in Greenland Forest City swaps Corcoran for Nest Seekers at 550 Vanderbilt, reported yesterday:
After selling only a handful of apartments over the past few months, Greenland Forest City Partners is switching up the marketing team at 550 Vanderbilt Avenue, the first condominium at the Pacific Park megadevelopment in Brooklyn.
The developers have replaced Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group with Nest Seekers International’s Ryan Serhant, they said Tuesday. The 278-unit building — which launched in 2015 — is 65 percent sold.
“We were interested in making a change and trying something new and fresh,” said Forest City Ratner CEO MaryAnne Gilmartin, who called the split with Corcoran “amicable.”  Note that Corcoran was not quoted regarding that amicability. I hold no brief for Corcoran, but the building is not exactly an easy sell, given the lack of actual open space--despite the hype. 
And Gilmartin said they wouldn't cut prices, because 550 Vanderbilt wasn’t your “standa…