Tuesday, December 21, 2010

When will the arena open? The goalposts are already shifting slightly, thanks to "current schedule disputes"

When is the Barclays Center arena expected to open?

According to an affidavit from Forest City Ratner executive MaryAnne Gilmartin, arguing against any stay in construction, work is carefully timed so the arena can be finished by the summer of 2012 so it then be "commissioned" to open for the basketball season in October 2012.

However, there are apparently some delays in the schedule separate from any potential delays caused by litigation, as consultants report, detailed below.

It's also unclear when an arena not-yet-commissioned for basketball could open before the season to accommodate concerts (such as for Jay-Z) and other events, though presumably such events are planned and basketball is the most complicated to stage.

The statement, and a precursor

On p. 241 of the file at bottom (p. 30 of Gilmartin's affidavit), she states:
All of the various construction-related activities described above are part of a carefully developed and very intricate sequence of work that is now intended to allow the Barclays Center arena to open in time to permit the Nets to play home games at the Barclays Center by the beginning of the 2012-13 N.B.A. season. Furthermore, it takes several months to commission an arena like Barclays Center--i.e., to test and refine the various building systems and the various operations (such as security and food services) that must be performing properly and efficiently before the arena can be opened for the professional basketball season. In other words, it is essential that the arena be completed by the summer of 2012, so that the commissioning process can be completed by the opening of the basketball season in October 2012.
Of course, in April 2007, Gilmartin's predecessor, Jim Stuckey, said something very similar in an affidavit:
The current work is proceeding in accordance with an intricate schedule that is intended to allow the new arena to be completed in time for the Nets to relocate there for the 2009-10 National Basketball Association season.
Schedule changes?

There are independent eyes on the arena buildout, and while the consultants say the arena is ahead of schedule according to one index, they also acknowledge it's fallen back a month on another measure.

For the last six months, the firm Merritt & Harris, "Consultants to the Real Estate Lending and Investment Community since 1937," has filed reports on the project to Forest City Ratner, the Empire State Development Corporation, and The Bank of New York Mellon, as PILOT Bond Trustee.

The Arena Site Observation Report #5 as of 10/01/2010 (3.5 MB) , at p. 24 (or p. 27 of the PDF), states:
According to the Developer, the project began in January 2010, with initial mobilization by the General Contractor. A Notice to Proceed was executed as of March 15, 2010, with a contractual completion date by July 15, 2012, for a 28-month construction term.
(All emphases added)
Pushed back one month

Both the completion date and construction term seem to have been adjusted, or fallen by the wayside, given "current schedule disputes," as noted below.

The latest, Arena Site Observation Report #7 as of 12/02/2010 (3.3 MB) states on p. 27 (or PDF p. 30):
A High Level Arena Summary Construction Schedule, dated July 16, 2010, has been provided for our review. The current schedule, prepared by Hunt, indicates that substantial completion is anticipated to be by August 12, 2012. The Developer is currently reviewing that schedule and there is a meeting anticipated for mid-December to resolve current schedule disputes.
(The November report said the same thing.)

This suggests that no schedule had been provided until after the October report and that the arena is already a month later than previously expected.

Still, the report still suggests some flexibility:
In our opinion, the construction term of 26 months for the Arena is reasonable, provided that adequate manpower is maintained throughout the construction term, and that there are no hold-ups, such as strikes, inclement weather, material shortages, or other unforeseen circumstances.
This is somewhat confusing, given that the earlier report said the construction term was 28 months.

It's ahead, on another index

The Merritt & Harris report also states:
We are enclosing our own Computerized Construction Chart on which we have plotted actual construction progress versus the projected construction progress (see Attachment). This chart, based on cash flow projections, gives you an idea as to how the project is progressing on a month-to-month basis.

Currently, the project is slightly ahead of schedule.
That's also somewhat confusing. Even as the construction is slightly ahead of schedule based on cash flow, the project's completion date has been pushed back a month.

(Click on graphic below to enlarge and make legible. Note that it's still quite early in the construction process.)

The entire history of Atlantic Yards is delays, so, despite the significant financial incentive to get the arena open by the summer of 2012, it's too early to place definitive bets.
Braun Notice of Cross Motion Affirmation &Affidavit

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