Friday, August 31, 2012

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.

2 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