Skip to main content

The Times follows up: another violation issued for Pacific Street demolition

In an article published today headlined Developer of Atlantic Yards Is Cited for Failing to Stop Demolition Work, the New York Times advances the story first broken on this blog, reporting that the Department of Buildings issued a violation yesterday to Forest City Ratner because it failed to stop demolition work at 622 Pacific Street. Contractors for the developers, though they resolved issues that led to earlier violations, did not first get the required reinspection.

Was the backhoe used?

Still at issue is whether the contractors used a backhoe, against regulations and in contradiction of a promise (to use "primarily" hand tools) made by FCR to the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC). The Times article states:
Contractors began tearing down the vacant Pacific Street buildings with hand tools — as required by the Buildings Department — on May 30. A backhoe was brought to the site on June 7 to help clear debris and level the ground, company officials said.

However, as reported, residents Leigh Anderson and David Gochfeld said that the backhoe was used to knock down walls of the buildings. The Times observes that photographic evidence "appeared to show the backhoe pulling down first-story sections of the buildings' exterior walls," but quotes a Buildings Department spokeswoman as saying that department inspectors did not see illegal use of the backhoe. (The Times adds that Anderson is not just involved with Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, she was a plaintiff in the recent lawsuit aimed at blocking demolitions of five properties, including 620 Pacific Street.)

But a lawyer for FCR left the issue open, saying they were "looking into whether contractors had disregarded instructions not to use the backhoe to demolish walls. If that was done, he said, the company would 'take appropriate action.'"

More to report

There's more to the story: the ESDC's delay in informing tenant lawyer George Locker of plans to demolish the building until after the demolition; the alleged starting time of 6:15 a.m. on June 7, 45 minutes before the law allows; the apparent failure of Forest City Ratner to inform its tenants of the planned demolition; and Forest City Ratner's initial combative response to attorney Locker's charges that the contractors said they didn't know that 624 Pacific was occupied.

On the other hand, the Times is the only news outlet to have followed up on the story so far. It's another reminder that Brooklyn offers significant stories that get ignored by the Manhattan-centric media. As Brooklyn College journalism professor (and former New York Newsday Brooklyn Bureau chief) Paul Moses writes in a column about Brooklyn and the media, "Nowhere in the country do so many people get so little local coverage."

The Times article credits me: Norman Oder, the author of a blog devoted to the Atlantic Yards, posted some of the pictures on Tuesday, along with a report on the demolition. The Times article didn't include any of the pictures. (Photo taken June 7, copyright David Gochfeld)

I appreciate the credit, though, as a close reader, I'll point out that the credit could lead to the impression that the pictures were the main element of my article, rather than an extensive report with details yet unreported elsewhere. Still, I've apparently been upgraded by the Times from a blog proprietor to an author, so maybe that's progress.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

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…

Is Barclays Center dumping the Islanders, or are they renegotiating? Evidence varies (bond doc, cash receipts); NHL attendance biggest variable

The Internet has been abuzz since Bloomberg's Scott Soshnick reported 1/30/17, using an overly conclusory headline, that Brooklyn’s Barclays Center Is Dumping the Islanders.

That would end an unusual arrangement in which the arena agrees to pay the team a fixed sum (minus certain expenses), in exchange for keeping tickets, suite, and sponsorship revenue.

The arena would earn more without the hockey team, according to Bloomberg, which cited “a financial projection shared with potential investors showed the Islanders won’t contribute any revenue after the 2018-19 season--a clear signal that the team won’t play there, the people said."

That "signal," however, is hardly definitive, as are the media leaks about a prospective new arena in Queens, as shown in the screenshot below from Newsday. Both sides are surely pushing for advantage, if not bluffing.

Consider: the arena and the Islanders can't even formally begin their opt-out talks until after this season. The disc…

Skanska says it "expected to assemble a properly designed modular building, not engage in an iterative R&D experiment"

On 12/10/16, I noted that FastCo.Design's Prefab's Moment of Reckoning article dialed back the gush on the 461 Dean modular tower compared to the publication's previous coverage.

Still, I noted that the article relied on developer Forest City Ratner and architect SHoP to put the best possible spin on what was clearly a failure. From the article: At the project's outset, it took the factory (managed by Skanska at the time) two to three weeks to build a module. By the end, under FCRC's management, the builders cut that down to six days. "The project took a little longer than expected and cost a little bit more than expected because we started the project with the wrong contractor," [Forest City's Adam] Greene says.Skanska jabs back
Well, Forest City's estranged partner Skanska later weighed in--not sure whether they weren't asked or just missed a deadline--and their article was updated 12/13/16. Here's Skanska's statement, which shows th…

Not just logistics: bypassing Brooklyn for DNC 2016 also saved on optics (role of Russian oligarch, Shanghai government)

Surely the logistical challenges of holding a national presidential nominating convention in Brooklyn were the main (and stated) reasons for the Democratic National Committee's choice of Philadelphia.

And, as I wrote in NY Slant, the huge security cordon in Philadelphia would have been impossible in Brooklyn.

But consider also the optics. As I wrote in my 1/21/15 op-ed in the Times arguing that the choice of Brooklyn was a bad idea:
The arena also raises ethically sticky questions for the Democrats. While the Barclays Center is owned primarily by Forest City Ratner, 45 percent of it is owned by the Russian billionaire Mikhail D. Prokhorov (who also owns 80 percent of the Brooklyn Nets). Mr. Prokhorov has a necessarily cordial relationship with Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin — though he has been critical of Mr. Putin in the past, last year, at the Russian president’s request, he tried to transfer ownership of the Nets to one of his Moscow-based companies. An oligarch-owned a…

Former ESDC CEO Lago returns to NYC to head City Planning Commission

Carl Weisbrod, Mayor Bill de Blasio's City Planning Commission Chairman and Director of the Department of City Planning, is resigning,

And he's being replaced by Marisa Lago, currently a federal official, but who Atlantic Yards-ologists remember as the short-term Empire State Development Corporation CEO who, in an impolitic but candid 2009 statement, acknowledged that the project would take "decades."

Still, Lago not long after that played the good soldier at a May 2009 Senate oversight hearing, justifying changes in the project but claiming the public benefits remained the same.

By returning to City Planning, Lago will join former ESDC General Counsel Anita Laremont, who after retiring from the state (and taking a pension) got the job with the city.

Back at planning

Lago, a lawyer, in 1983 began work as an aide to City Planning Chairman Herb Sturz, and later served as the General Counsel to the president of the NYC Economic Development Corporation, Weisbrod himself.