Skip to main content

A piece of the Ward Bakery yet escapes the wrecking ball

Any attending the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods press conference Monday could have noticed an odd thing: a piece of the Ward Bakery is not, in fact, shrouded for asbestos abatement and demolition but continues to operate as a moving and storage company.

How can part of the building be intact? Why isn't the company gone? A representative of Pack It Away Storage pointed me to attorney Michael Rikon, a well-known representative of condemnees, who answered my questions. (Here's an article co-authored by Rikon on the expansion of the doctrine of "public use.")

Ten-year operation

Pack It Away, Rikon said, has been at that location for more than ten years and the building--while connected to the rest of the bakery--is stable and structurally sound. "The demolition may not interfere with the continuing activities of the business in any way," he said.

(The last bakery operation at the building closed in 1995. The aromas, hardly unpleasant, wafted into Park Slope.)

Meanwhile, he explained, "We are awaiting an offer in writing pursuant to the Eminent Domain Procedure Law. I do not expect any offers to be made by the developer." Rather, the Empire State Development Corporation (aka New York State Urban Development Corporation, or UDC), via its outside counsel, Berger & Webb, will handle the case. "This firm is well respected and will carefully comply with all legal requirements to condemn the properties involved with the project."

Meanwhile, he said, "We await condemnation and will continue to do business even after the taking." Given that lawsuits likely will delay condemnation for months, that may make for an interesting time, since the bakery is scheduled for demolition in less than a month.


Blight Study

(Photo by Adrian Kinloch/Brit in Brooklyn. Look to the far left of the structure for the storage operation.)

The ESDC, in its Blight Study, declared:
Location, Use, Zoning, and Ownership
Lot 39 is located at 802 Pacific Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt Avenues. The lot is occupied by a three story 15,372 gsf industrial building (see Photograph A). Lot 39 is located in an M1-1 zoning district with an FAR of 1.0. M1 districts allow high-performance light manufacturing uses and often serve as buffers to adjacent residential or commercial districts. According to the New York City Department
of Finance, lot 39 is currently owned by PJK Realty Corporation.
Unsanitary and Unsafe Conditions
As shown in Photographs A and B, there is graffiti on the façade of the building and on the building’s metal door. Apart from this graffiti, no unsanitary and unsafe conditions were identified as part of the visual assessment.
Indications of Structural Damage
A structural due diligence survey has not been conducted for this lot. The visual assessment did not indicate that the building structure is substantially compromised.
Building Code Violations
Lot 39 has 4 open building code violations on file with DOB (see Appendix B). The violations date from 1993 to 2002 and all are related to the building’s elevator system.
Vacancy Status
The building on lot 39 is currently occupied by a moving and storage company.


DDDB's response

Said Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn in its response (p. 90) to the ESDC's Blight Study:
The eastern most end of the Ward Bakery is occupied by different owners and houses a moving and storage business. AKRF finds “there is graffiti on the façade of the building and the building’s metal door. Apart from this graffiti, no unsanitary and unsafe conditions were identified.” The neighborhood remains unaware of anyone suffering harm from this unsanitary and unsafe graffiti.

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.