Skip to main content

First impressions from the groundbreaking event: no local elected officials, cheers for Jay-Z, and Brooklyn invocations abounding

I'll offer more coverage of today's groundbreaking event later--yes, I got in--but first a few impressions.

Yes, it was an impressive party in a packed tent, though some of the speeches--even the invocation by the Rev. Herbert Daughtry--went way long. (Here's a blow-by-blow, with photos, from Curbed. Here's coverage in the Brooklyn Paper.)

(First two photos by Kathryn Kirk/Borough President's Office)

No local electeds, but the big guns

There were few Brooklyn elected officials present, and none from anywhere near the site. Those present included State Senators Marty Golden and Carl Kruger; Assemblymen Darryl Towns and Stephen Cymbrowitz; and Council Members Darlene Mealy and Mike Nelson. (State Senator John Sampson, Democratic Majority Conference Leader, sent his regards and former Assemblyman Roger Green got a mention from Daughtry.) Oh, and of course Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, the jovial MC.

For the moment, at least, that didn't make a big difference because not only has Mayor Mike Bloomberg backed the project to the hilt, so did Governor David Paterson, despite any misimpression he might have given. And no local elected officials had a vote.

But that will make a difference very soon.

Bogus numbers

While Forest City Ratner continues to claim $5 billion in new tax revenue and 8000 permanent jobs, someone told Paterson that the numbers were bogus, since he offered more conservative--though still way overoptimistic--figures.

There was a lot of talk about jobs. A lot. But the project isn't about jobs--at least not nearly as many as once promised. The numbers are way fuzzy. As are the figures regarding tax revenue.

Hova in the house

Based on applause, the most popular person in the room was entertainer and entrepreneur Jay-Z. The second most popular was Bruce Ratner, as he spearheaded the project and, not incidentally, had many staffers in the house. Probably the third most popular was the concept of union jobs.

Only a project like this could get union construction workers, the Rev. Al Sharpton and ACORN leader Bertha Lewis, and the business community together.

The arena and an obstacle

The rendering of the Barclays Center--yes, with a glowing roof advertisement--behind the stage was cropped, perhaps just for space, but the "vaportecture" towers were mostly gone.

Click on photo to enlarge; first row: Bloomberg, Paterson, Ratner, Markowitz (speaking), Bob Diamond of Barclays, Jay-Z, Nets Sports & Entertainment CEO Brett Yormark; second row: union leader Gary LaBarbera, Daughtry, Delia Hunley-Adossa, chair of the Community Benefits Agreement coalition.

Behind the podium, visible through the transparent wall of the tent for those at the left, was the condo building where Daniel Goldstein, the spokesman for Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, lives with his family on a now-private street controlled by Forest City Ratner.

Brooklyn, again and again

Goldstein and other protesters, who held an event burying "the soul of Brooklyn," could be heard chanting and whistling on Atlantic Avenue outside the tent. (Markowitz cracked that they were "disgruntled Knicks fans.")

Not only was the dessert table packed with Brooklyn confections, attendees left with a tote back picturing the Barclays Center with the Brooklyn Bridge in the background, a hat emblazoned "bklyn," and news of "Bats, Balls, Nets & Hoops: Stories of Sports in Brooklyn," an educational curriculum created by the Brooklyn Historical Society, with support from Barclays.

A few thousand--or tens of thousand--dollars goes a long way for good publicity, so, when there's so much public support and tax breaks, we should expect a lot more such "giving back."

(Photo and set by Adrian Kinloch)

Comments

  1. where can i see pic of the event ?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Go to the link from Curbed I just added.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

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.