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Showing posts from December, 2010

Los Angeles Times architecture critic, aghast at a stadium proposal, thinks New York, by contrast, doesn't embrace developer-driven projects

Los Angeles Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne yesterday offered Critic's Notebook: Los Angeles needs a game plan: AEG's plans for a new football stadium in downtown Los Angeles point to bigger problems: The city follows, not leads, and allows developers to shape Los Angeles one mega-project at a time.

He lamented: One is that City Hall finds itself in the familiar position of reacting to, rather than guiding with any real foresight, a major development proposal that seeks to rewrite the planning rules downtown.New York leads the way?

Dismayingly, Hawthorne suggested New York offers a counterpoint:By contrast, other cities, notably New York under Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Portland, Ore., have breathed new life into the public sphere not by chasing giant developer-driven projects but by tending carefully to transit, bike paths, parks and other human-scaled improvements.I posted a comment:That's ridiculous. Along with appointing an innovative director of the Dep…

Atlantic Yards in some end-of-year reflections: the Brooklyn Paper's slender round-up; awards from Curbed and Streetsblog

A couple of Atlantic Yards mentions in end-of-the-year round-ups.

From the Brooklyn Paper's 2010: What a crazy year that was:March:

...Yards groundbreaking: Developer Bruce Ratner, Gov. Paterson and future Gov. Jay-Z break ground at Atlantic Yards while about 100 counterprotesters mostly break Borough President Markowitz’s chops. By year’s end, the first set of steel pillars were up and Ratner was already making production deals.

April:

...Freddy’s closes: Beloved dive bar Freddy’s is shut to make room for Bruce Ratner’s basketball arena, but not before after an epic final party that left us wondering how the hell we ended up in the Greenpoint Hotel handcuffed to Norman Oder and New Jersey Net forward Brook Lopez.

August:

...Name game: The New Jersey Nets’ new owner, Mikhail Prokhorov, told us that the team would change its name by the time it moves to Brooklyn. We’re still trying to find out the big secret, but we kind of like the Brooklyn Knights (get it?) or The Brooklyn Papers.For t…

Arena pitch in China: ESDC's Davidson shares a laugh with FCR executives; long-departed Net Vince Carter portrayed as part of the attraction

Who are these happy Americans? They're Forest City Ratner executives, in China in October, along with a few others, trying to sell would-be immigrant investors on the questionable Brooklyn Arena and Infrastructure Project, a project of FCR and the New York City Regional Center (NYCRC).

(Photo from web page of Wailian immigration consultancy, which is still promoting events in January. Click on graphics to enlarge.)

From right: FCR's David Berliner, Christopher Clayton [I believe], and MaryAnne Gilmartin; the Empire State Development Corporation's Peter Davidson; the NYCRC's Paul Levinsohn; and Miller Mayer attorney Nicolai Hinrichsen.


Below, from right, FCR's Bruce Ratner and Gilmartin. Near left is Miller Mayer's Hinrichsen.

Selling Vince Carter

Wailian also posted this advertisement for two events in Octobe, as reproduced on this news site, featuring a photo of former Nets star Vince Carter. He was traded in June 2009.

A look back at 2010: definitive progress on arena, Prokhorov emergence, Chinese investors (!), same questions of accountability

In a year less tumultuous than 2009 (retrospective), but not without its own significant drama and surprise, Atlantic Yards moved forward in 2010, with street closings, a much-ballyhooed ceremonial groundbreaking, the demolition of longstanding buildings on the arena block, and the indelible physical signs of an emerging basketball arena.

After final victories in condemnation court, the Empire State Development Corporation, at the behest of Forest City Ratner, was able to remove the remaining occupants of Phase 1 properties without any theatrics.

(Photo copyright Jonathan Barkey of protest at groundbreaking)

However, as I wrote in my 2009 retrospective, questions of accountability lingered, and those questions not only remained--as will a surface parking lot on the southeast block, Block 1129--they have merely grown.

A judge gave project opponents and critics their first, partial victory, ruling that the Empire State Development Corporation, in "what appears to be yet another failur…

The meaningless of time: how the ESDC claims that a buildout of 25 years, rather than ten, would not significantly affect benefits or impacts

Here's the question of the day: Does time have any impact on Atlantic Yards benefits and impacts?
No, says the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), thus perplexing anyone who's considered such mundane, time-related issues as compound interest or prison sentencing.
Being "reasonable"
Covering the latest ESDC board meeting, as I wrote 12/16/10, ESDC attorney Robin Stout (at 5:10 of the video), uttered what sounded like a zen koan: "The agreements require the developer, as I said, to use commercially reasonable efforts to achieve a completion date of 2019, but perhaps more importantly, the agreements set a framework, where the market demand for the project's buildings can be expected to bring the project to completion as soon as it is commercially reasonable to do so. The documents separately set out the outside completion date of 2035."So commercially reasonable means that the developer can get loans and make its profit.
OK, so if the ESDC would acco…

Brodsky, in final report, warns of importance of further public authorities reform, "failure to receive value for investments," doesn't mention AY

Departing Westchester Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, the crusader for public authority reform who focused on the new Yankee Stadium rather than the Atlantic Yards project, has left with a valedictory report warning of the need for further reform, including this common-sense statement, "In an era when government is instructed to behave more like business, the failure to receive value for its investments is a crisis that can no longer be ignored."

Unmentioned in the six-page report (embedded below) is Atlantic Yards, nor the state's failure to receive any value for giving away arena naming rights.
Indeed, "the massive transfer of public property into private hands... not... accompanied by commensurate public benefits" hints at Yankee Stadium ("publicly funded sports facilities by IDA's") and the Columbia University expansion ("university construction using eminent domain powers") but not the equally controversial Atlantic Yards.
But Brodsky, wh…

Ratner: construction is easier than "getting there"; Jay-Z's ad agency tapped to pitch Nets tickets starting in February

The news from the Sports Business Journal article 12/20/10 (embedded below, as reproduced on the Barclays Center web site), is not merely the effort to dispel confusion about whether the project is happening and how sports and family events are already scheduled, as noted in the headline Barclays Center pitch: We're here and have a lot going on.

It's an oblique reflection by the man behind the project:"Construction is the easy part," assured Bruce Ratner, chairman and CEO of Forest City Ratner Cos., developer of the Barclays Center and the associated 16-building Atlantic Yards mixed-use project. "Getting there is hard."It's also a statement from a Barclays rep that the naming rights agreement is "a fantastic opportunity to build our brand," a quote that might give pause to the state officials who simply gave away naming rights.

Enter Translation

And, more importantly, it's the presence of Translation, a new ad agency co-owned by Jay-Z and aim…

Exclusive: New audio of arena project presentation shows NYCRC principals making same deceptive claims they admit their Asian affiliates should avoid

It's stunning how George Olsen, managing principal of the New York City Regional Center (NYCRC), could profess to be shocked, shocked that the firm's affiliates in Asia are deceptively marketing green cards in exchange for investments in Atlantic Yards.

As Reuters reported last week:
At a recent seminar in Seoul, an agent for the Kookmin Migration Consulting Co., working on behalf of the New York City Regional Center, told would-be investors if they invested in the company's latest project their permanent green cards were "guaranteed." He also implied the investors would be financing the construction of the new home for the New Jersey Nets NBA basketball team.In a subsequent interview with Reuters, George Olsen, managing principal of the New York City Regional Center acknowledged the claims were "not accurate" - the investors will finance the rebuilding of a rail yard and some related infrastructure near the new basketball court -- and promised he would…