Skip to main content

In promotional "Brooklyn Tomorrow," architect Pasquarelli hailed as Barclays Center savior; he says arena's in a "residential neighborhood"

After taking an Atlantic Yards hiatus in 2009, the infamous Brooklyn Tomorrow advertorial promotional magazine published by the Community Newspaper Group, publisher of the Brooklyn Paper and the Courier-Life chain, again puts Atlantic Yards on the cover, as it had in the 2007 and 2008 issues.

Brooklyn Tomorrow appears as an insert in both weeklies, promoted on the cover, but is not yet online.

The headline promises "Barclays Bounce: How the arena got back in the game."

Intriguing.

[Update: Editor Gersh Kuntzman protests that it's not an advertorial. Given that previous editions featured content clearly tied to advertising, such as from Forest City Ratner, I'd call them advertorials. This issue does not, but the upbeat tone of the articles seems geared to a "positive" promotional publication.]

The savior of Barclays?

The Table of Contents pulls no promotional punches regarding p. 14: "Barclays Center: Architect Gregg Pasquarelli will be remembered as the man who saved basketball in Brooklyn."

The letter from the editors, Vince DiMiceli and Gersh Kuntzman, further assists developer Forest City Ratner (who just happens to be the two newspapers' landlord) citing "our exclusive interview with the man who saved the Barclays Arena (the focal point of what we're sure is to become America's Downtown)."

The focal point of America's Downtown? Even for a promotional real estate publication, that's a double stretch. The arena would extend Downtown Brooklyn to the southeast.

And no one's going to mistake the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues, even with the new temporary plaza Pasquarelli's designing, as America's Downtown. Not even New York's. Does America's Downtown feature Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Center and Atlantic Terminal malls?

Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Paper hasn't touched the story about Forest City Ratner's effort to raise $249 million by hawking green cards to Chinese investors.

Adjusting to the real estate downturn

Given the economic downturn in real estate, the issue, by the way, takes a much broader view than previous issues of the supplement.

There's an interview with an environmental designer and mini-profiles of five "future leaders" (who, in this most diverse of boroughs, are three white males and two white females).

None of the three biggest advertising opportunities--back cover and inside covers--attracted real estate advertising.

The exclusive

The interview/profile (at bottom) is headlined "The man who saved the Barclays Center: A new design jump-starts the Nets' new home." It's quite brief, and in many ways offers less than what the architect said in his September 29 presentation at Borough Hall.

But consider the logic of Brooklyn Tomorrow:
Meet Gregg Pasquarelli, the architect who saved basketball in Brooklyn.

No development will change the face of our borough more than the Barclays Center--the future home of Brooklyn's first major league sports team in 55 years.

And without Pasquarelli, the entire 19,000-seat arena that will host the Brooklyn Nets would have been in doubt.
What's the logic? The article states:
Ratner had fired starchitect Frank Gehry Frank Gehry in 2008, and brought in the budget-conscious Kansas City firm Ellerbe Becket, which promptly released a hanger-style" [sic] design for the arena that was met with near-unanimous disgust.

Then came Pasquarelli, who unveiled the current design, which is so good that it attracted the eye--and, more important, the money--of Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, who bought the Nets franchise from Ratner and invested in the significantly more attractive arena.

His cash saved the arena project.

Would Prokhorov have made his investment if the arena had looked like a hanger? One can't say for certain, but there are plenty of hangars selling for a much cheaper price in Siberia.
That's called a non sequitur. Prokhorov's gaining fame--like a cover story in today's New York Times Magazine--not because he's a 45% investor in Forest City Ratner's arena but because he's the majority owner of a professional basketball team.

The plaza and the neighborhood

Most of the rest of the article consists of Pasquarelli's description of the plaza plan, and his insistence that it will "become a meeting place, and the focus of the neighborhood."

Maybe, maybe not. I think it's a stretch to compare the plaza to Gansevoort Plaza and Union Square in Manhattan.

But the last paragraph shows the architect veering slightly off message and confirming that he recognizes the very tight fit that an arena has in Prospect Heights:
It's a big building in a residential neighborhood, and it's an incredible challenge," said Pasquarelli. "But it's been a blast designing it."
He and his firm haven't designed the building.

Missing from the article is this important distinction. The arena is the same hangar Ellerbe Becket designed, with a new facade. The architect of record is Ellerbe Becket. SHoP is the facade architect.

The article (click on images 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.