Skip to main content

Some heft for the community: CBN retains consultant to run DEIS review

On Monday, members of Community Board 6 seemed daunted by the challenge of finding the money and expertise to respond to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) being prepared on behalf of the Empire State Development Agency. Expected to be issued in the next weeks or months, the document likely will be thousands of pages long.

But The Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods (CBN) has stepped forward and announced it has retained Phillips Preiss Shapiro Associates (PPSA) to act as the lead consultant for a review of the DEIS. Last December, CBN issued a Request For Proposals to top environmental planning firms to help review the DEIS.

The response to the RFP brought forward dozens of firms and organizations, CBN said in a press release, and PPSA--the city’s largest independent planning firm--will coordinate those efforts. It's not clear whether the Community Boards will participate. While CBN has no official position on the Atlantic Yards project, given the job of responding to the environmental review, many of its member groups oppose the project, and the Community Boards may be wary of the association.

Then again, the CBs don't have the money to hire experts. Nor does the CBN--at least, not yet. "Our budget overall is somewhat in excess of $500,000," CBN's Jim Vogel told me. "We have positive indications for funding from both the City Council and the State Legislature, but we continue to hold our breath. Our consultants are aware of our budget and the somewhat tenuous funding position and are being very cooperative."

What they'll do

John Shapiro of PPSA said: "This job is about making a complex project understood by the people most affected by it, and thus allowing them to be the best advocates for their own interests and concerns -- whether that is in support, opposition or simply expressions of concern. I have worked on a number of large-scale projects, but I can't think of any that has a larger impact on my home borough than this."

The Environmental Simulation Center will provide visual representations, including photomontages, of what building impacts may occur. Last year, for example, responding to the DEIS regarding Brooklyn Bridge Park, the firm commented that it lacked "verifiable visual simulations that illustrate the impact of the action on visual and historic resources." So they produced such simulations, with before and after images of the same location (examples at right).

Several groups affiliated with academic institutions will participate. The Pratt Center for Community Development has a history of working with neighborhood groups; it previously worked on a survey for the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council, a member of CBN, and also issued its own preliminary analysis of the Atlantic Yards project in March 2005.

The recently-created Hunter Center for Urban Studies will involve Urban Studies faculty and students in affiliation with CUNY's Center for Urban Research. Tom Angotti, who has criticized the planning for the Atlantic Yards project, will coordinate the effort.

Also involved will be the Project for Public Spaces, whose head, Fred Kent, recently declared, “There are no great public spaces in Downtown Brooklyn."

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Barclays Center/Levy Restaurants hit with suit charging discrimination on disability, race; supervisors said to use vicious slurs, pursue retaliation

The Daily News has an article today, Barclays Center hit with $5M suit claiming discrimination against disabled, while the New York Post headlined its article Barclays Center sued over taunting disabled employees.

While that's part of the lawsuit, more prominent are claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, with black employees claiming repeated abuse by white supervisors, preferential treatment toward Hispanic colleagues, and retaliation in response to complaints.

Two individual supervisors, for example, are charged with  referring to black employees as “black motherfucker,” “dumb black bitch,” “black monkey,” “piece of shit” and “nigger.”

Two have referred to an employee blind in one eye as “cyclops,” and “the one-eyed guy,” and an employee with a nose disorder as “the nose guy.”

There's been no official response yet though arena spokesman Barry Baum told the Daily News they, but take “allegations of this kind very seriously” and have "a zero tolerance policy for…

Behind the "empty railyards": 40 years of ATURA, Baruch's plan, and the city's diffidence

To supporters of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, it's a long-awaited plan for long-overlooked land. "The Atlantic Yards area has been available for any developer in America for over 100 years,” declared Borough President Marty Markowitz at a 5/26/05 City Council hearing.

Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, mused on 11/15/05 to WNYC's Brian Lehrer, “Isn’t it interesting that these railyards have sat for decades and decades and decades, and no one has done a thing about them.” Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in a 12/19/04 New York Times article ("In a War of Words, One Has the Power to Wound") described the railyards as "an empty scar dividing the community."

But why exactly has the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard never been developed? Do public officials have some responsibility?

At a hearing yesterday of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, Kate Suisma…

Forest City acknowledges unspecified delays in Pacific Park, cites $300 million "impairment" in project value; what about affordable housing pledge?

Updated Monday Nov. 7 am: Note follow-up coverage of stock price drop and investor conference call and pending questions.

Pacific Park Brooklyn is seriously delayed, Forest City Realty Trust said yesterday in a news release, which further acknowledged that the project has caused a $300 million impairment, or write-down of the asset, as the expected revenues no longer exceed the carrying cost.

The Cleveland-based developer, parent of Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner, which is a 30% investor in Pacific Park along with 70% partner/overseer Greenland USA, blamed the "significant impairment" on an oversupply of market-rate apartments, the uncertain fate of the 421-a tax break, and a continued increase in construction costs.

While the delay essentially confirms the obvious, given that two major buildings have not launched despite plans to do so, it raises significant questions about the future of the project, including:
if market-rate construction is delayed, will the affordable h…

Revising official figures, new report reveals Nets averaged just 11,622 home fans last season, Islanders drew 11,200 (and have option to leave in 2018)

The Brooklyn Nets drew an average of only 11,622 fans per home game in their most recent (and lousy) season, more than 23% below the announced official attendance figure, and little more than 65% of the Barclays Center's capacity.

The New York Islanders also drew some 19.4% below announced attendance, or 11,200 fans per home game.

The surprising numbers were disclosed in a consultant's report attached to the Preliminary Official Statement for the refinancing of some $462 million in tax-exempt bonds for the Barclays Center (plus another $20 million in taxable bonds). The refinancing should lower costs to Mikhail Prokhorov, owner of the arena operating company, by and average of $3.4 million a year through 2044 in paying off arena construction.

According to official figures, the Brooklyn Nets attendance averaged 17,187 in the debut season, 2012-13, 17,251 in 2013-14, 17,037 in 2014-15, and 15,125 in the most recent season, 2015-16. For hoops, the arena holds 17,732.

But official…

So, Forest City has some property subject to the future Gowanus rezoning

Writing yesterday, MAP: Who Owns All the Property Along the Gowanus Canal, DNAinfo's Leslie Albrecht lays out the positioning of various real estate players along the Gowanus Canal, a Superfund site:
As the city considers whether to rezone Gowanus and, perhaps, morph the gritty low-rise industrial area into a hot new neighborhood of residential towers (albeit at a fraction of the height of Manhattan's supertall buildings), DNAinfo reviewed property records along the canal to find out who stands to benefit most from the changes.
Investors have poured at least $440 million into buying land on the polluted waterway and more than a third of the properties have changed hands in the past decade, according to an examination of records for the nearly 130 properties along the 1.8-mile canal. While the single largest landowner is developer Property Markets Group, other landowners include Kushner Companies, Alloy Development, Two Trees, and Forest City New York.

Forest City's plans unc…

At 550 Vanderbilt, big chunk of apartments pitched to Chinese buyers as "international units"

One key to sales at the 550 Vanderbilt condo is the connection to China, thanks to Shanghai-based developer Greenland Holdings.

It's the parent of Greenland USA, which as part of Greenland Forest City Partners owns 70% of Pacific Park (except 461 Dean and the arena).

And sales in China may help explain how the developer was able to claim early momentum.
"Since 550 Vanderbilt launched pre-sales in June [2015], more than 80 residences have gone into contract, representing over 30% of the building’s 278 total residences," the developer said in a 9/25/15 press release announcing the opening of a sales gallery in Brooklyn. "The strong response from the marketplace indicates the high level of demand for well-designed new luxury homes in Brooklyn..."

Maybe. Or maybe it just meant a decent initial pipeline to Chinese buyers.

As lawyer Jay Neveloff, who represents Forest City, told the Real Deal in 2015, a project involving a Chinese firm "creates a huge market for…