Skip to main content

Flashback, 1999: Developers, said FCR, must be "more creative" in finding sites

An article in the January 1999 issue of the late Brooklyn Bridge magazine, headlined "King of the Deal," suggested that Forest City Ratner was not only not yet imagining Atlantic Yards, it had run out of land in Brooklyn.

Given other evidence that the developer already had its eye on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Vanderbilt Yard, it's safe to consider that a feint for public consumption.

The article begins:
Sandeep Mathrani used to fly over Brooklyn in a helicopter, videotaping traffic patterns and housing concentrations. As director of retail development for Forest City Ratner, he was searching for large spaces within residential neighborhoods on which to build new shopping complexes. "It's hard to drive and get a bird's-eye per­spective," says Mathrani.

The spaces winnow

And, after describing the developer's Atlantic Center mall and the emerging Atlantic Terminal mall, the article ultimately finds Mathrani almost wistful:
Mathrani no longer takes helicopter rides over the borough. In fact, his market research has led him to conclude that Brooklyn has little land suitable for further development. "There aren't any options," he says, sounding almost wistful. "Three or four years ago, it was an emerging market. Today, it is well-defined."

When Mathrani speaks about the number of stores in the suburbs versus Brooklyn, you can almost hear the sound of heartbreak in his voice. "We have 2.6 million people in Brooklyn, and four department stores," he says. "If you look at Nassau County in Long Island, which has the same population as the borough, they have twen­ty-six Staples, where I think we have five or four."

Mathrani expects the pace of retail development in the borough to slow down soon, simply because there will be no places left to build. "Developers are going to have to be a lot more creative."


The railyard beckons

At that point, clearly, the developer was not stating plans--at least not publicly--for building a platform over the MTA's Vanderbilt Yard. But that was before the price of land in Brooklyn skyrocketed and such a platform became financially feasible.

As the Brooklyn Daily Eagle's Dennis Holt wrote last November, hearkening back to the 1993 groundbreaking for Atlantic Center, the developer did have its eye on the railyard, if not for retail than for a larger building:
“For the first time in a public setting, officials from Forest City Ratner Companies and their consultants revealed their plans for the Atlantic Center site.

“Forest City also revealed its desire to expand the project site to include space across Atlantic Avenue from Sixth Avenue west to Flatbush, where they hope to build an office tower over the open Long Island Railroad Tracks. These officials even talked about their vision of a new subway and rail complex.”


Plans change

The office tower became an arena and 16 towers, with retail at the base of several, and the ambitions of the plan required the developer to purchase land on the private market, convince the city government to convey streets and other properties, to win a belated bidding process for the railyard it had seemingly been promised, and, most contentiously, get the state to exercise eminent domain to assemble the 22-acre site. The latter effort is still in court.

Tellingly, the developer succeeded in leading careless journalists into describing the site as an "open railyard" (even though little more than a third of the site would be a railyard) and stating that the project would be built "on the... railyards" (rather than on and around the railyards).

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…

Barclays Center event June 11 to protest plans to expand Israeli draft; questions about logistics

At right is a photo of a poster spotted in Hasidic Williamsburg right. Clearly there's an event scheduled at the Barclays Center aimed at the Haredi Jewish community (strict Orthodox Jews who reject secular culture), but the lack of English text makes it cryptic.

The website Matzav.com explains, Protest Against Israeli Draft of Bnei Yeshiva Rescheduled for Barclays Center:
A large asifa to protest the drafting of bnei yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel into the Israeli army that had been set to take place this month will instead be held on Sunday, 17 Sivan/June 11, at the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn, NY. So attendees at a big gathering will protest an apparent change of policy that will make it much more difficult for traditional Orthodox Jewish students--both Hasidic (who follow a rebbe) and non-Hasidic (who don't)--to get deferments from the draft. Comments on the Yeshiva World website explain some of the debate.

The logistical questions

What's unclear is how large the ev…

Atlanta's Atlantic Yards moves ahead

First mentioned in April, the Atlantic Yards project in Atlanta is moving ahead--and has the potential to nudge Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn further down in Google searches.

According to a 5/30/17 press release, Hines and Invesco Real Estate Announce T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards:
Hines, the international real estate firm, and Invesco Real Estate, a global real estate investment manager, today announced a joint venture on behalf of one of Invesco Real Estate’s institutional clients to develop two progressive office projects in Atlanta totalling 700,000 square feet. T3 West Midtown will be a 200,000-square-foot heavy timber office development and Atlantic Yards will consist of 500,000 square feet of progressive office space in two buildings. Both projects are located on sites within Atlantic Station in the flourishing Midtown submarket.
Hines will work with Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture (HPA) as the design architect for both T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards. DLR Group will be t…

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…

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…