Skip to main content

As informational meeting approaches, echoes of November 2004, and some pending questions

More than four-and-a-half-years after their first informational meeting on Atlantic Yards, Community Boards 2, 6, and 8 tomorrow will sponsor another informational meeting, at Long Island University from 6 to 9 pm, under similar conditions, but with a different lineup.

The 11/29/04 meeting, held at the Klitgord Auditorium of New York City Technical College, was essentially The Plucky Jim Show,"to quote the Brooklyn Downtown Star, which reported on the polished answers of Forest City Ratner's now-departed Atlantic Yards point man, Jim Stuckey.

Stuckey at that point maintained the partly line that "We are not trying to divert funds that are in play today... [Any funds] will be based on incremental revenues that will be brought in by the project.” However, the direct subsidies are up to $305 million, and indirect subsidies and tax breaks are worth at least several hundred million dollars more.

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn complained that groups that supported the project got ushered in ahead of ordinary citizens.

The Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) did not send an official representative., saying its presence was premature. This time both the ESDC and Forest City Ratner are expected to send representatives.

The rules

According to the rules of the 2004 session:
  • Audience members must be courteous to all speakers;
  • Signage or other visual obstructions are not permitted in the auditorium
  • Questions will be submitted on index cards (provided at sign-in)
  • The moderator reserves the right to edit questions for clarity
While I haven't seen the rules for Wednesday, CB 6 District Manager Craig Hammerman, who had the unenviable role of moderating in 2004, said that the meeting will run in much the same manner. Project representatives will make a presentation, then attendees will be able to submit questions on index cards.

"The community is going to have an unlmited amount of time at the public hearings," Hammerman said, referencing the two-day public hearing to be held on July 29 and July 30. Rather than an opportunity to make statements, the meeting is an effort to make sure that facts get out about changes in the Modified General Project Plan (GPP) that will be subject of the hearing, so people can be prepared to testify.

Questions should be "closely tethered to the subject," he said, though, I suspect that the subject of the Modified GPP still points to a lot of potential questions.

Some questions

Below are a few questions I hope get asked--I'll be trying to ask a few others.

1) Why won't a site plan be released before the public hearing next week?

2) Why haven't any new renderings of the arena been released? The renderings released last month--example above--are said to be preliminary.

3) Why aren't there any renderings with the massive signage--150 feet wide and 75 feet high--allowed? Will any of the renderings show the street-level perspective on the signage, rather than a helicopter-level perspective (right), as in 2006?

4) I already questioned how, given the downturn in the economy, the depressed office market in the city, and the numerous unsold and stalled condos in places like Williamsburg, can the expected office tower and 1930 condos (along with 4500 rental units, half of them at subsidized rents) be built on the projected ten-year schedule? And, if not, how does that change the projections for tax revenues from Atlantic Yards, which the ESDC said last month would be higher than initially projected?

5) Given that recent reports indicate that new construction as well as other first-class apartments will rent at figures lower than the rates projected (in 2006) for the highest tier of "affordable housing" (141-160% of AMI), how confident are you that the affordable housing would be less costly than market rate? What percentage of the affordable housing would be at or above market rate?

6) The Modified General Project Plan (GPP) says that, on a present value basis, the Project will generate $652.3 million of City tax revenues and $745.3 million of State tax revenues. Thus the project will generate $944.2 million in net tax revenues in excess of the public contribution to the Project. This maintains numbers from 2006.

Why does the number exclude costs for schools, sanitation, and public safety, as have been included in reports by the Independent Budget Office and even Andrew Zimbalist? Why does it not include affordable housing subsidies? Brownfield tax credits? Green building tax credits? Why does it not include the additional $105 million in subsidies from New York City? Why, if one decline in the projected revenues in 2006 was based on a decrease in expected office space, has the number not been adjusted to account for delayed or nonexistent office space? Do outside economists consider the ESDC's methodology legitimate?

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…