Skip to main content

NYT: Jay-Z & Nets have "written a new playbook for... strategic celebrity investor" (and generating unskeptical publicity)

"Jay-Z’s contributions have dwarfed the $1 million he invested nine years ago," the New York Times observes in a none-too-tough profile just posted, adding that "he and the Nets have effectively written a new playbook for how to deploy a strategic celebrity investor."

That's true, but the article, headlined With Arena, Rapper Rewrites Celebrity Investors’ Playbook, reinforces the mythmaking:
He helped design the team logos and choose the team’s stark black-and-white color scheme, and personally appealed to National Basketball Association officials to drop their objections to it... He counseled arena executives on what kind of music to play during games... He even coached them on how to screen patrons for weapons without appearing too heavy-handed. (“Be mindful,” he advised oracularly, “and be sensitive.”)
Except arena promoters didn't say Jay-Z "helped" design the logos, they gave him all the credit. And they used him at the groundbreaking to distract people from the fact that a Russian billionaire was getting the benefit of public subsidies.

Some mythmaking

In June, the NYPost reported that Jay-Z bought the first of 11 Vault Suites:
Five of the suites have already been snapped up, [Brett] Yormark told The Post.
Rap mogul Jay-Z, who is a Nets part owner and director of the arena, designed the suites and bought the first one — a glass-enclosed hive that stands to the right of imposing 15-foot-tall wooden doors to be emblazoned with a massive “V.”
The Times, however, says it was a gift:
Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, is benefiting handsomely, too, beginning with free use of one of 11 exclusive “Vault” suites, for which paying customers are charged $550,000 a year.
Street cred and publicity value

The Times reports:
Mr. Carter’s involvement frustrated opponents of Mr. Ratner’s development plans in Brooklyn who saw the arena and proposed residential and office towers as a subsidized land grab that could ruin the neighborhood....

“Bringing in someone who grew up in public housing, with a rags-to-riches story, who could identify with Brooklyn and African-Americans, that was slick,” said City Councilwoman Letitia James, a critic of the project. Mr. Ratner played down Mr. Carter’s importance in overcoming opposition. “Had Jay-Z not come along,” he said, “we’d still have an arena.”
Ratner's right. Jay-Z wasn't important in overcoming opposition; actual full-time Brooklynites like the leaders of BUILD and ACORN, signatories of the not-so-credible Community Benefits Agreement, were far more important, given that they brought people to rallies and public hearings.

Jay-Z was important in generating publicity, and in getting journalists/tv hosts like Rosanna Scotto to turn into simpering fans. And he's still generating publicity, as with this article.

Creating jobs?

There's a terribly backhanded piece of reporting here, quoting opponents as having "complained that residents who might have been wary of Mr. Ratner’s promises to create jobs, nonetheless trusted Jay-Z, who invoked his roots and insisted he could never support 'anything that’s against the people.'"

Well, were those complaints valid? Is Jay-Z for "the people"?

Has Mr. Ratner created jobs like he promised? No. (And he's still not doing so.) I kinda wrote about that for Salon last year, but that didn't get mentioned in this article.

As Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah wrote in the New York Observer in December 2010:
Jay-Z has become a frontman in the Atlantic Yards-Barclays Center project, which has been hotly contested by local neighborhood activists all along. Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, a 7,000-person-strong coalition that "is formally aligned in opposition" to the project, has described Jay-Z as being little more than Mr. Ratner's "marketing device." This seems loaded, but there is some truth to it. At the groundbreaking in March, Jay-Z brought the crooked-arm language of the left to bear, saying the project is "so overwhelmingly in favor of the people: the job creation, the housing that's being built." It was time again for shout-outs, and this time he dedicated them to "Brooklyn—we did it again," and to Biggie Smalls. Jay-Z is a natural orator; he can say much or nothing, and it not only sounds good, it also sounds heartfelt.
The world he lived in

The Times quotes Ratner:
And Mr. Carter, he said, appeared nervous about having to meet with David Stern, the N.B.A. commissioner, who asked him to discuss his guilty plea to stabbing a record producer in 1999. (Mr. Carter described the incident, for which he received three years’ probation, as a symptom of “the world I lived in once,” Mr. Ratner recalled.)
Lived in "once"? Well, it was four years before Jay-Z signed on with Ratner.

Rocawear store coming

Here's some news: not only will the arena will contain Jay-Z's 40/40 Club, there "will be a Rocawear store, selling his clothing line, on the arena’s exterior."

That missing disclosure

I don't know what the Times's policy is any more: do they no longer feel obligated to disclose the parent company's business relationship with Mr. Ratner? Wouldn't that prompt readers to be a wee bit skeptical?

Update: The Times has typically, though not consistently, offered this disclosure:
The company, which was the development partner for the Midtown headquarters for The New York Times Company....

Comments

  1. Anonymous8:18 AM

    Can you clarify the New York Times' business relationship with Ratner? Thank you.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

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…

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…