Skip to main content

BrooklynSpeaks, electeds call for Supplemental EIS; DDDB plans rallies, press conferences outside hearing today

So, what should we look for at the public hearing today and tomorrow on the 2009 Atlantic Yards Modified General Project Plan (MGPP)? (The official times are 2-5 pm and 6-8 pm, at the the Klitgord Auditorium of New York City Technical College at 285 Jay Street.)

The cameras, most likely, will focus on the conflict, the signs and chants displayed by project supporters and opponents, both outside the venue--and, perhaps, inside. It would be newsworthy if disruptive people are ejected, as the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) promises.

But the news might more concern which elected officials--and candidates--show up, and what they say. There's not much to say directly about the ostensible purpose of the hearing, which concerns, among other things,the plan to pursue eminent domain in two stages rather than one and Forest City Ratner's revised deal with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for the Vanderbilt Yard.

But there is a lot to say about the project, and the process.

BrooklynSpeaks: new SEIS needed

Yesterday, the BrooklynSpeaks coalition--which has taken a tougher line on AY while steering clear of litigation organized by Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB)--and several elected officials called for a supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) to assess the impact of changes to the phasing and design of the Atlantic Yards project. 

The electeds include Assemblymembers Jim Brennan, Hakeem Jeffries, and Joan Millman; State Senator Velmanette Montgomery; and City Council member Letitia James. Only the latter two have consistently stood with DDDB.

They expressed concern about indefinite interim surface parking, the delay in providing stormwater management measures to reduce runoff, the reduction in railyard track capacity, the possibility that delayed affordable housing would represent only a small net gain (and at a high price), and the possibility the risk that Atlantic Yards will fail to complete the decking of the rail yards.

DDDB efforts

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) promises a press conference at 1:30 pm and a protest at 2pm, then another cycle, with a press conference starting at 5:30 and a protest at 6 pm.

Scheduled for the first press conference are Faye Moore, President of Social Services Employees Union (SSEU) Local 371; City Council Member Letitia James; State Senator Velmanette Montgomery; Assemblyman Jim Brennan; and Public Advocate candidate (and former DDDB lawyer) Norman Siegel.

Scheduled for the second press conference, so far, is City Council Member Tony Avella, a longshot candidate for mayor.

It will be interesting to see how many elected officials both endorse BrooklynSpeaks's call for a Supplemental EIS and go beyond it.

Other electeds

How many pro-AY elected officials will show up, and what will they say beyond "Build It Now"? Will Borough President Marty Markowitz defend approval of a project that lacks a rendering, a site plan, and a fiscal impact analysis--and which has not been the subject of a security review by the New York Police Department?

And will Council Member Bill de Blasio, last year somewhat critical of the project, maintain his strategic silence in his quest to become Public Advocate? 

What about Council Member David Yassky, who's been somewhat critical of AY in his pursuit of the Comptroller position?

ACORN rally at 3:30 pm

Surely project supporters will rally as well. ACORN, I'm told, is recruiting supporters to come to a rally at 3:30 pm, asking them to wear red shirts. Here's the carrot: food and drink will be provided at 4 pm.

I'm sure that other Community Benefits Agreement signatories will bring groups of supporters as well.

The second day

Though the New York Times's blog The Local warned yesterday, "Prepare for two days of sound and fury over Atlantic Yards. Significance to be determined later," I suspect that the second day will be pretty quiet, at least during work hours.

Most cameras likely will be gone. Even in 2006, the community forums that followed up the public hearing were relatively calm.

A sidewalk becomes a street

Meanwhile, DDDB points to (right) something brutally weird--the temporary conversion of a Pacific Street sidewalk into a street to accommodate cars as utility work continues nearby. (Click to enlarge)

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.