Skip to main content

First Atlantic Yards tower: modular plans still unresolved, but tax-exempt bonds proceeding, with hearing on July 18


Forest City Ratner this week began what its construction chief called “very very minor” work on the foundation and piles for Building 2, the first residential tower.

But it hasn’t decided whether to pursue modular construction, as negotiations with unions--who, expecting higher-paying jobs on site, aggressively supported Atlantic Yards--are unresolved.

Meanwhile, the New York City Housing Development Corporation is proceeding with the issuance of nearly $92 million in tax-exempt bonds to support construction. A hearing July 18, during which public comment will be accepted, will be held at 1 pm in Conference Room 4 A/B at 110 William Street, 4th Floor, in Lower Manhattan.

No further information is available as of now, which kind of retards public comment. The NYC HDC apparently published the notice in the New York Post this weekend, but no community people--including Council Member Letitia James--knew about it until Forest City Ratner executive Jane Marshall volunteered it at the Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meeting this morning.

The hearing

“I just wanted to mention it,” Marshall said, during the meeting at Borough Hall. “The notice went out, and we didn't see any reaction on the blogs.” (I contacted NYC HDC and got the notice below.)

Note that the subsidy is not worth $92 million; rather, it’s the difference between low-cost financing, aimed to support the 50% subsidized units, and higher-cost financing on the open market. Presumably Forest City will also package some market-rate financing with the tax-exempt bonds. Executives have said they can’t get a loan for modular construction until there’s an agreement with the unions.

As the notice indicates, further information is available at the hearing or "upon written request."The building is a 50/30/20 building--50% market-rate, 30% moderate/middle-income, 20% low-income.

Schedule unclear, but work now helps

The current work at the Building 2 site, construction chief Bob Sanna said, “makes very very good sense to do,” because, if not completed before the arena opens, it would “require certain shutdowns” of access from the street.

“The plan is to start construction after the arena opens but before the end of the year,” Marshall said. “That would mean that at some point would have a construction logistics plan that we would coordinate with DOB and DOT.”

She said the construction fence would be at the property line and would not impede sidewalk traffic.

Modular plans?

Will the building be modular?

“Some plans may have been filed, but we have not made the decision, though we are working very hard,” Marshall said. “We are pushing modular... We think it's a great thing, for the industry, for affordable housing, but all the pieces have to fall in place... We expect we will be making that call over the next few months

"Is there an agreement with the trade unions?" James asked.

“We continue to talk to the trade unions," Sanna replied. "They are involved in the process."

More subsidy?

Will there be any direct city subsidy, in addition to the tax-exempt bonds, asked Council Member Steve Levin.

“Not that I'm aware of,” replied Marshall.

Note that Rafael Cestero, then head of the NYC Department Housing Preservation and Development, in March 2011 said the city had denied a request for an additional $10 million subsidy on top of an existing $14 million.

(It’s not clear to me whether there’s a direct $14 million subsidy or whether $14 million is the value of tax-exempt bond savings. I'm checking and will update this.)

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Barclays Center/Levy Restaurants hit with suit charging discrimination on disability, race; supervisors said to use vicious slurs, pursue retaliation

The Daily News has an article today, Barclays Center hit with $5M suit claiming discrimination against disabled, while the New York Post headlined its article Barclays Center sued over taunting disabled employees.

While that's part of the lawsuit, more prominent are claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, with black employees claiming repeated abuse by white supervisors, preferential treatment toward Hispanic colleagues, and retaliation in response to complaints.

Two individual supervisors, for example, are charged with  referring to black employees as “black motherfucker,” “dumb black bitch,” “black monkey,” “piece of shit” and “nigger.”

Two have referred to an employee blind in one eye as “cyclops,” and “the one-eyed guy,” and an employee with a nose disorder as “the nose guy.”

There's been no official response yet though arena spokesman Barry Baum told the Daily News they, but take “allegations of this kind very seriously” and have "a zero tolerance policy for…

Behind the "empty railyards": 40 years of ATURA, Baruch's plan, and the city's diffidence

To supporters of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, it's a long-awaited plan for long-overlooked land. "The Atlantic Yards area has been available for any developer in America for over 100 years,” declared Borough President Marty Markowitz at a 5/26/05 City Council hearing.

Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, mused on 11/15/05 to WNYC's Brian Lehrer, “Isn’t it interesting that these railyards have sat for decades and decades and decades, and no one has done a thing about them.” Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in a 12/19/04 New York Times article ("In a War of Words, One Has the Power to Wound") described the railyards as "an empty scar dividing the community."

But why exactly has the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard never been developed? Do public officials have some responsibility?

At a hearing yesterday of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, Kate Suisma…

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…

So, Forest City has some property subject to the future Gowanus rezoning

Writing yesterday, MAP: Who Owns All the Property Along the Gowanus Canal, DNAinfo's Leslie Albrecht lays out the positioning of various real estate players along the Gowanus Canal, a Superfund site:
As the city considers whether to rezone Gowanus and, perhaps, morph the gritty low-rise industrial area into a hot new neighborhood of residential towers (albeit at a fraction of the height of Manhattan's supertall buildings), DNAinfo reviewed property records along the canal to find out who stands to benefit most from the changes.
Investors have poured at least $440 million into buying land on the polluted waterway and more than a third of the properties have changed hands in the past decade, according to an examination of records for the nearly 130 properties along the 1.8-mile canal. While the single largest landowner is developer Property Markets Group, other landowners include Kushner Companies, Alloy Development, Two Trees, and Forest City New York.

Forest City's plans unc…

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…