Skip to main content

So much for "structured programs and services": meditation room planned for the arena would be 150 square feet, more the size of a living room

Remember that breathless 4/2/10 Brooklyn Paper article, headlined Finally, the Nets have a prayer! New arena to have ‘meditation’ room?

It somehow became the lead story in the next week's print edition, complete with an artist's imagining (right) of what a meditation room might look like.

It was way off, as was the sports management expert quoted in the article who speculated that the room could be a revenue generator if it could accommodate a large congregation.

It won't.

How big might it be?

Though Forest City Ratner would not reveal the design of the room to the Brooklyn Paper, a March 2009 document describing Atlantic Yards benefits, which I obtained via a Freedom of Information Law request to the Empire State Development Corporation, describes the meditation room as just 150 square feet.

That's the size of a modest living room in a New York apartment, or a roomy one-car garage, or a little more than one-third the size of a subsidized studio apartment planned for Atlantic Yards.

Yes, the design of the room may have changed since the Frank Gehry plan was superseded by the one from Ellerbe Becket. But Forest City Ratner hasn't offered details, so the estimate from last year should stand for now.

From chapel to atrium to meditation room

The Reverend Herbert Daughtry, who runs a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) partner organization supported by Forest City Ratner, originally wanted a chapel.

That wouldn't fly, so instead emerged the meditation room or, as Daughtry declared in his dramatic 8/23/06 testimony at the hearing on the Atlantic Yards Draft Environmental Impact Statement, an atrium: "It will provide a place for our young, a place for the seniors, a place for the youth to come together in an atrium designed by us."

Well, the reference to "us" meant that Daughtry's Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance would offer some input, not that members will be responsible for the design.

How many people can "come together" in a 150 square foot space? Not many.

From the article:
Call it Zen and the art of basketball.

The Brooklyn Paper has learned that the Barclays Center will be the first sports arena to feature a meditation chamber — an intriguing element that is one of the few unreported details of the widely covered home of the future Brooklyn Nets.

The concept was envisioned by the Rev. Herbert Daughtry, the fiery pastor of the House of the Lord Pentecostal Church on Atlantic Avenue, who has played a behind-the-scenes role to acquire various “community benefits” from developer Bruce Ratner.

This meditation room appears to be one of them.

“The idea is to say to people there are values in reflection, contemplation,” explained Daughtry, who gave the convocation at the groundbreaking ceremony for the arena last month.

“Whenever you’re in the arena, you can go to meditate.”
(Emphasis added)

In this article, the Brooklyn Paper seemed to be channeling the spirit of the (now-departed) Stephen Witt in portraying Daughtry, who made a calculated decision to partner with Ratner, as simply acquiring benefits for the community.

Remember, a longtime progressive ally, the Rev. David Dyson of the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church, expressed a different perspective, telling the Brooklyn Rail, “We feel that Reverend Daughtry and ACORN have been brought in by Ratner not as advocates for the community but as private business partners in the deal.”

From the CBA

What does the CBA say about the "Meditation Room"?
(3) Meditation Room. Upon completion of the Project, located inside the Arena will be a meditation room to be used by the Community and patrons. As will be more fully described in the Project Implementation Plan described in Section III, Part G, DBNA will work with the Arena Developer to design this room for structured programs and services under the supervision and guidelines of the DBNA’s committee on Arena Related Programs, described below.
What structured programs and services would fit in 150 square feet? Not too many.

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.