Skip to main content

An unsigned defense of Yormark (and criticism of me) in Arena Digest

 An unsigned 7/17/11 article in Arena Digest, Debate continues over new Nets arena, is surely written (or influenced) by the pseudonymous NetIncome (aka Bobbo), the dyspeptic and prolific main contributor to NetsDaily.

The article purports to be a summary but bears a project-affectionate slant, with a few digs at me.

A "matter of process"

It begins:
The new Brooklyn arena for the relocating New Jersey Nets (NBA) continues to generate controversy; community activists opposing Atlantic Yards won a court decision but failed to persuade a judge to stop construction on Barclays Center.
...However, she did not halt construction on the first phase of the project, nor did she halt progress on the second phase, which will include surface parking and more.
...really the win in court last week was more a matter of process being reviewed than any decision on the merits of the project.
Winning the court decision is pretty significant without having to stop arena construction, which was unlikely. Surface parking is part of Phase 1.

And the case was never about the merits of the project, it was about whether the environmental review was sufficient. The judge said it wasn't--a highly unusual intervention.

Reviews in the press

After quoting from some Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) statements, the article continues:
Meanwhile, the arena continues to garner good reviews in the press, including this latest one from the New York Daily News, which drew an apoplectic response from arena opponent Norman Oder. (He also took aim at a Crain's New York article here.) 
An editorial from the Daily News, which has always cheerleaded for Atlantic Yards, is hardly a "review." As I told the newspaper in a letter:
Remember Daniel Patrick Moynihan's observation, "You are entitled to your own opinion; you are not entitled to your own facts."
Note that my response gets tagged as "apoplectic," while the editorial doesn't get tagged as "ignorant."

Criticizing me

The article continues:
And it's probably time for Oder and DDDB to back off: to argue that a development today should be guided by a master plan from 2006 -- when the economic climate was dramatically different -- is to be ignorant of the realities of business. Oder, in particular, shows a lack of understanding of the economics of arenas these days versus three years ago.
For instance: when Barclays Center was first planned, traditional arena design was less open and stressed three kinds of seating: suites, club and general. That model has been blown up in recent years, as the trend has been toward many more levels of offers: besides the traditional club and general seating, arena designers have been scaling back on generic suites and implemented suites of different capacities as well as larger party and group areas. Oder takes a shot at Barclays Center for offering 30 fewer suites than originally planned three years ago, but that's just a smart response to the changing marketplace.
Actually, I wrote:
And the "Loft suites" are not simply a way to compete with MSG; they're a recognition that the market for suites has changed.
I didn't take a shot at Barclays for offering 30 fewer suites; I questioned Brett Yormark's triumphant self-reporting that the arena "is having no trouble meeting its preliminary goals," given that the goals have changed.

Note that Yormark won't announce sales of season tickets, nor be precise about suite sales.

Guided by 2006

Look again at this Arena Digest statement:
to argue that a development today should be guided by a master plan from 2006 -- when the economic climate was dramatically different -- is to be ignorant of the realities of business. 
That statement, while aimed at me, actually reflects the recent court case. Forest City Ratner and the Empire State Development, in their legal arguments, continued to insist that Atlantic Yards would be finished in ten years, as initially approved in 2006.

State Supreme Court Justice Marcy Friedman, who looked at other documents, including a belatedly released Development Agreement, said that relying on a ten-year buildout "lacked a rational basis and was arbitrary and capricious."

Ellerbe Becket's new name

The article notes:
And Oder may want to note Ellerbe Becket doesn't exist anymore; it now practices as AECOM.
OK, but the point is that Crain's credited SHoP, the "façade architect", for the arena, a more significant error.

Comments

  1. Bobbo should sign his name as Bob Windrem.

    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…

At 550 Vanderbilt, big chunk of apartments pitched to Chinese buyers as "international units"

One key to sales at the 550 Vanderbilt condo is the connection to China, thanks to Shanghai-based developer Greenland Holdings.

It's the parent of Greenland USA, which as part of Greenland Forest City Partners owns 70% of Pacific Park (except 461 Dean and the arena).

And sales in China may help explain how the developer was able to claim early momentum.
"Since 550 Vanderbilt launched pre-sales in June [2015], more than 80 residences have gone into contract, representing over 30% of the building’s 278 total residences," the developer said in a 9/25/15 press release announcing the opening of a sales gallery in Brooklyn. "The strong response from the marketplace indicates the high level of demand for well-designed new luxury homes in Brooklyn..."

Maybe. Or maybe it just meant a decent initial pipeline to Chinese buyers.

As lawyer Jay Neveloff, who represents Forest City, told the Real Deal in 2015, a project involving a Chinese firm "creates a huge market for…

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…