Skip to main content

Congestion pricing, AY, and Bloomberg's sustainability plan

Mayor Mike Bloomberg is set to announce his PLANYC 2030 sustainability initiatives today and congestion pricing, a policy he until recently had avoided, seems to be on the agenda.

And congestion pricing--which would impose charges for entering the Central Business District at certain times--would deter a significant amount of traffic detouring through Downtown Brooklyn to use the free bridges. It's been recommended by analysts critiquing the Atlantic Yards transportation plan.

[A.M. Peak (6–10 A.M.) congestion graphic from Bruce Schaller's Battling Traffic: What New Yorkers Think about Road Pricing, published by the Manhattan Institute in December. Note significant congestion in Brooklyn around and leading to the planned Atlantic Yards site.]

Bloomberg said on his radio show Friday:
And we have to do a much better job of providing mass transit in parts of the city where the city never invested in the past, and now we’re paying for that. Places way out in Queens, places Staten Island, Brooklyn, there are lots of places in the city that aren’t served by subways. The city lost the courage to keep investing in subways back in World War II…

If you were to charge — and I’ll let you know on Sunday at 12:30 — but if you were to charge, you’d take the money and invest in mass transit.


Coming around

The mayor's taken a while to come around, backing away after a backlash during his first term. Just four months ago, in December, he told John Gambling on his weekly radio address:
Congestion pricing, commuter tax, you probably don’t have a chance of winning. Yeah, it’s a good idea, whether it would work here or not, I’m not a hundred percent convinced. We do have a lot of congestion, but there’s no easy answer.

Congestion pricing has been on the Atlantic Yards agenda since at least December 2005, when Aaron Naparstek cited it as crucial to a traffic solution.

It was given a tiny nod in the Atlantic Yards environmental review, as the Empire State Development Corporation cited a very limited concept of congestion pricing, regarding Nets games rather than an areawide policy:
In addition, congestion pricing has also been incorporated in the proposed mitigation plan in the form of a surcharge that would be imposed for on-site arena parking on game days.

Where's Marty?

Will Borough President Marty Markowitz sign on? He avoided mentioning congestion pricing in his extensive comments on the Atlantic Yards transportation plan.

In the past, Markowitz, playing to supporters in "outer" Brooklyn, has opposed such pricing. In a 2/15/01 press release Markowitz called "tolling the East River Bridges... impractical and discriminatory." Several Brooklyn legislators joined him.

Charles Komanoff's mark-up of an undated (2002?) Markowitz op-ed in the Daily News, headlined Toll East River Bridges? No. Economy, Traffic, Air Would Lose. dissected Markowitz's arguments, arguing that "because politicians like you, Marty, haven't laid out the choices honestly. The choice isn't tolls vs. no tolls, it's tolls vs. devastating cutbacks. Last summer, when a Quinnipiac poll gave New Yorkers the real choice - higher taxes or transit hikes or bridge tolls - every borough chose tolls, resoundingly."

AY and pricing

Interestingly, transportation consultant "Gridlock Sam" Schwartz, who Forest City Ratner hired to design the Atlantic Yards traffic mitigation plan, is a strong proponent of congestion pricing. Apparently that systemic change could not be feasibly recommended for one project.

But it's likely that Forest City Ratner will be a strong supporter of such a change, because it's crucial--though insufficient alone--for any Atlantic Yards transportation plan to have a ghost of a chance.

In Saturday's Times, the congestion pricing plan was described as facing "daunting obstacles." The article stated:
Samuel I. Schwartz, a traffic consultant who favors congestion pricing, said that it would take at least four years before a plan could be approved and put in place. He said that completing an environmental impact study could take at least three years, and fighting the inevitable lawsuits would take another year.


So, four years from now would be the spring of 2011. Does that mean that, in the best-case scenario, the Atlantic Yards arena wouldn't open until 2011? Forest City Ratner must be calling Newark regarding an interim arena for the Nets right now.

Stay tuned to see what other Bloomberg proposals would impact Atlantic Yards and growth in Brooklyn. The Times reported Friday that Bloomberg would propose "using zoning and tax incentives to encourage the construction of 250,000 homes." So, there may be other ways to build beyond state overrides of city zoning, which is what has occurred with the state approval of Atlantic Yards.

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…