Skip to main content

Brooklyn authenticity, Atlantic Yards, and those "Brownstone" and "Loft" suites now being marketed for the Barclays Center

The term "authenticity" is being bandied about a lot these days, thanks to sociologist Sharon Zukin's new book Naked City: The Death and Life of Authentic Urban Places, subject of a major article in Sunday's New York Times and a forum at CUNY's Gotham Center for New York History. (Also see this interview with Zukin.)

And the concept has been used, rather aggressively, both to justify a new basketball arena in Brooklyn and to market arena suites named Loft and Brownstone, both references to Brooklyn features erased for the project.

What's authenticity?

But what exactly is authenticity? Zukin writes:
Claiming authenticity becomes prevalent at a time when identities are unstable and people are judged by their performance rather than by their history or innate character. Under these conditions authenticity differentiates a person, a product, or a group from its competitors; it confers an aura of moral superiority, a strategic advantage that each can use to its own benefit. In reality, few groups can be authentic in the contradictory ways that we use the term: on the one hand, being primal, historically first or true to a traditional vision, and on the other hand, being unique, historically new, innovative, and creative. In modern times, though it may not be necessary for a group to be authentic; it may be enough to claim to see authenticity in order to control its advantages.

If authenticity has a schizoid quality, it can also be deliberately made up of bits and pieces of cultural references...
At the panel

At a panel Monday night, Hunter College planning professor (and AY critic) Tom Angotti stated, "Every year we're reminded there's a project being proposed that will bring the Brooklyn Dodgers back. This is as if we missed the Brooklyn Dodgers."

"I really don't care if they ever come back," he said. "I would rather see our children have spaces to play baseball... as those parks that are built are increasingly crowded... while the city is being marketed for global athletic events."

Last March I wrote about a new book on the Dodgers called Forever Blue, excerpted in Sports Illustrated:
Was it true? Had O'Malley crushed Brooklyn's spirit? The answer is no. In 1963, after the Dodgers vanquished the Yankees in the World Series, a New York Times editorial titled Joy in Flatbush declared, "At last the wounds have healed." In 1969, when the New York Mets won the World Series, Brooklyn honored them with a rally at Borough Hall. The victory made the Dodgers seem like ancient history.
Back in November, 2005, Scott Turner of Fans for Fair Play savaged the relevance of Dodgers nostalgia in the context of the Atlantic Yards saga, contrasting owners, their devotion to sports, their commitment to local fans, the players, ticket costs, and commitment to local businesses, among other things.

An exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York in 2007 about the “Glory Days” of New York baseball (1947-57) added a gloss:
Why do the Glory Days continue to exert such a hold on the fans who experienced them? In part, is is because baseball was the big game in town, not yet truly challenged by the other league sports such as football or basketball. But while it was the big time, it was not yet the big business it is today.
Enter the suites

According to a 2/23/10 press release regarding suites:
With construction ongoing at the Barclays Center site in Brooklyn, Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment (BSE), an affiliate of Nets Sports and Entertainment, LLC, is introducing Barclays Center suites to prospective buyers as 'Your Home Away from Home.'

BSE will initiate its public suite sale in March when prospective suite buyers can visit the multi-media interactive Barclays Center Showroom, located on the 38th floor of The New York Times Building in Manhattan.

...The Barclays Center, to be located at Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues, will be designed with 104 suites, including 68 Loft Suites... In addition to the Loft Suites, the arena will include 15 Brownstone Suites (16 seats each)
Loft? Brownstone? Both brownstones and lofts have already been demolished--and more would be demolished--for the arena.

Note the phrasing: "construction ongoing at the Barclays Center site." Not "construction of the arena." They haven't had a groundbreaking yet.

"Brooklyn's industrial heritage"?

Last September, two architectural critics interviewed on the Brian Lehrer Show took aim at the quote from Borough President Marty Markowitz, who called the arena "a luminous, iconic structure that celebrates Brooklyn’s industrial heritage."

"Now, I think of Brooklyn's industrial heritage and there are people who want to try to bring back manufacturing to Brooklyn," Lehrer mused. "This is instead building a high-rise complex..., and a sports arena. So... Is there something a little untoward about invoking Brooklyn's industrial heritage here or is there is at least something visually accurate?"

"When I heard that from Marty Markowitz, I honestly didn't know whether to laugh or cry," replied Francis Morrone. "Among other things, Forest City Ratner has been demolishing wonderful Brooklyn industrial buildings as part of this project, including Ward Bakery, which was one of the best industrial buildings ever built in Brooklyn... given that Ward Bakery and other buildings were demolished--to say that this building celebrates Brooklyn's industrial heritage is really actually a pretty disgusting thing to say."

"I agree with Francis," added Paul Goldberger. "I think that line wins the prize for the most disingenuous architectural comment of the year."

How many suites?

According to the latest press release:
The Barclays Center, to be located at Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues, will be designed with 104 suites, including 68 Loft Suites... In addition to the Loft Suites, the arena will include 15 Brownstone Suites (16 seats each) -- 14 of which are sold -- six Studio Suites, and four Party Suites. The arena will also include 11 Backstage Suites, which will offer exclusive access to a Champagne bar.
Though they seem to have added four suites, it looks like they lost one Brownstone Suite and that the Backstage Suites were once called Courtside Suites.

According to a 9/9/09 press release:
There will be 100 luxury suites, including 16 Brownstone Suites (16 seats each), 67 Loft Suites (10 seats each), 11 Courtside Suites, four Club Suites and two Party Suites. The arena will also include 40 loge boxes, six clubs and restaurants, and the Barclays Center Practice Facility on site.

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…