Skip to main content

Expunging Pacific Street from station? It wasn't announced or even in the contract, but the MTA says it was the practical solution; also, new signage wasn't supposed to go up until the subway entrance opened

As former Atlantic Yards point man Jim Stuckey once said, "Projects change, markets change."

Or, perhaps, subway naming plans change. 



There's a certain resentment about the substitution of "Barclays Center" for "Pacific Street" in the renaming of Brooklyn's most diverse transit hub.

That's indicated in the "I'm still calling it "Atlantic Av-Pacific St" t-shirt produced by designer Deb Goldstein (interview), highlighted in a series of articles in MetroFocus about different ways to wear Brooklyn pride, including Nets t-shirts.

The MTA today not implausibly suggests that the use of two rather than three names is more efficient.

What was original plan?

However, it turns out, when the $200,000-a-year deal was approved 6/24/09, the MTA board was told of a different plan.

As the screenshot (right) from the meeting transcript shows, then-CFO Gary Dellaverson stated, "[E]ven though it appears to be a single station, of course it is in essence two different stations and there is two different names, and, it will be Atlantic/Barclays Arena and the Pacific Street Barclays Arena. So that is how it would be named."

Staff summary vague

The staff summary distributed to board members it vague, but left the impression that "Barclays Center" would be added to the name, not used as a substitute.


Forest City Ratner would pay "to have the station at Atlantic Avenue/Pacific Street include the name 'Barclays Center,'" according to the staff summary.

That's not what happened.

Instead, the N and R and D lines that go into the station now go into what is officially called Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr., even though people exit most easily on Pacific Street, and that platform does include permanent vestiges of the name.

Pacific Street on the R line disappears fom MTA website
MTA rationale

Dellaverson has left the MTA, and agency spokesman Adam Lisberg says staff aren't sure why he said it. "Folks here now believe that it was always intended to be Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center," he told me.

The Pacific Street platform still has the name in a "beautiful mosaic [below], and we're certainly not going to go in and chisel it out," Lisberg said. Otherwise, the identifier is vanishing.

While there are now still some black and white MTA signs that say "Atlantic Av.-Pacific St.," and others that say "Pacific" on the columns, more than 75% of signs have been changed over, and they'll all be gone in the near future.

What's the rationale?

"If the sign on the map says Atlantic-Barclays," said Lisberg, the sign at the station should match it. "Three names gets too long. Shorter is better."

"The decision to shorten it to 'Atlantic-Barclays' was made by the MTA purely for reasons of brevity and clarity, not as part of a conscious decision to commodify public space," he added, in response to my suggestion that some people are concerned about such commodification.

"For commuters, people reading the maps, for tourists... taking it to a concert, calling the station by two names instead of three is much simpler," Lisberg added.

Was the board misled? "In 2009. when a multimillion dollar complex transaction between a large company and a public agency was up for approval, the exact wording of the station name was hardly the top subject of their concern," he said.

That's understandable. But it didn't even get discussed--and, it turns out, the naming has an impact.

Given the recent scandal involving Barclays, I wouldn't be surprised if there are a few second thoughts about dropping the name Pacific Street, however awkward it might be.

The contract

According to the naming rights agreement, which was not signed until 3/4/10, just before the arena groundbreaking, there was no requirement for substitution of the name "Barclays Center," just it's inclusion.

As indicated in the screenshot below, the MTA was to "change the name of the Subway Station to include the name 'Barclays Center.'"

The timing for new signs

It looks like the MTA also gave the arena developers a bit of a bonus by allowing the signage to be installed before the new subway entrance, located on the arena plaza, opens in September.

According to the contract, prior to the contractually described Commencement Date, the name "Barclays Center" in new signage should be covered.



Such signage is not covered, so has the Commencement Date been reached? No.

According to the contract, the Commencement Date is the later of either the first $200,000 annual naming rights payment by Forest City Ratner (which bought naming rights on behalf of Barclays) or the "Beneficial Use of the [new] Subway Entrance."


I asked if there was another definition of "Beneficial Use of the Subway Entrance" or if the agreement has been amended.

Lisberg responded, "The answer I got back is that they’re still testing signs and sign placement. What you see up now isn’t necessarily what you’ll see when it’s finalized."

They're not testing a lot of those signs. Most are definitely up.

Perhaps that contract language was impractical, or perhaps it was meant to incentivize work on the subway entrance. But it seems like a clear violation of the terms, not that the MTA--nor anyone else--has any interest in enforcing it.

Comments

  1. Anonymous2:30 AM

    Note that the LIRR's Flatbush Avenue Terminal is now Atlantic Avenue Terminal.

    When the Barclays nonsense goes away, expect the *entire complex* to simply be "Atlantic Avenue".

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous9:00 PM

    What would it cost for the same amount of space given over to the word "Barclays" if they were placed via advertising instead of on the subway station name signs? Would $200k/year buy more or less advertising?

    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…

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.