Skip to main content

Round-up: Crain's says environmental review may begin soon; Yormark says arena will be 100% complete (nah); Times touts arena food as hyper-local; Veconi on affordable housing

Crain's New York Business reports, in Many crises later, Barclays Center to open:
Perhaps the most interesting news [sic] to expected to emerge from the event will be the date for breaking ground on the first of the 16 residential towers Forest City plans for the site. Sources said that although the date would be announced Friday, the company has not yet decided whether to use modular or convention construction to build it. Forest City had promised to break ground by the end of the year. It wants to use modular construction to save money, but first needs to reach a deal with the unions to go down that path.
The article recognizes that Forest City and the state lost a lawsuit, and the latter is required to do a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement to evaluate the impacts of a 25-year project buildout:
Opponents are wondering why that study hasn't started, and they're hoping that government officials will put more pressure on Forest City to move at a faster pace to provide the jobs and affordable housing that were promised as a part of the project...
"There has never been enough supervision of this project," said Gib Veconi, treasurer of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council, a preservation group that opposed the project. "We need more transparency."
A spokesman for the Empire State Development Corp. said environmental consultant AKRF will conduct the environment review. He noted that the agency has been working on a draft scope of the review with hopes of beginning the public scoping later this fall.
So get ready for another round of public meetings.

Yormark: arena 100% complete by Sept. 28

Daily News beat reporter Stefan Bondy pens Brett Yormark's moment, with some charming quotes:
“I’ve been telling the story of Brooklyn for eight years. And I convinced myself it was a story that was too good not to be told for real,” Yormark says. “Stories like this ultimately happen. What enabled this project to endure was that it was meant to be. It was too good not to be told.”
..But on Monday, while walking around the Barclays Center at 6.a.m., the 45-year-old Nets CEO finally had his moment.
“I guess it hit me for the first time, ‘We’re here. We almost completed the journey,’” he says, assuring the arena will be 100 percent complete by the Sept. 28 opening Jay Z concert. “You work so hard at things, you work so hard and fast, you almost lose sight of it from time to time.
...“I think the moment’s even bigger than I expected,” says Yormark.” I think this is so big that many of us won’t have a moment like this again.”
Um, the arena won't be 100 percent complete. They couldn't even get a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy last week to include the retail outlets. Punch list work will continue on non-event days, according to a 9/7/12 report from the construction monitor to the bondholders, and the final completion is 4/30/13.

Arena food

In time for the arena ribbon-cutting, the New York Times has early-posted an article from next Wednesday's food section (9/26/12) headlined If Only the Nets Live Up to the Arena Food:
INSTEAD of peanut M&Ms, think Tumbador’s PB&J chocolate bar, handmade in Sunset Park. Instead of Häagen-Dazs, think Blue Marble ice cream. Instead of Tostitos, chips from the Brooklyn Salsa Company. This is the new Barclays Center, home of the Brooklyn Nets with food about as local as stadium fare gets.
...The final selection is a mix of Brooklyn standbys like Nathan’s Famous and L&B Spumoni Gardens and newer artisan entrepreneurs including McClure’s Pickles, Brooklyn Cupcake and Calexico.
Brooklyn Bangers, from the Michelin-starred chef Saul Bolton (of the restaurants Saul and The Vanderbilt), will offer brisket hot dogs ($9.75); Zakary Pelaccio of Fatty ’Cue will sell barbecue brisket and pork sandwiches ($13.75 and $12.75, respectively), and the Red Hook Lobster Pound will supply lobster rolls ($18.50).
The point: while sports facilities often offer local specialties, this is the next level. It didn't work for everyone. The Times quotes Francine Stephens of Franny’s in Prospect Heights,who said:
“We’re not able to mass-produce the food that we do, and we’re not at a place in our lives that we’re willing to compromise.”
Asked for her thoughts on her new neighbor, she said she was resigned to it: “It’s happening. The best thing as a business owner, and as someone who lives in the neighborhood, is to accept it.”
Bruce Ratner is portrayed snacking mostly enthusiastically, taking a $6 black-and-white cookie and a $6.75 Junior’s special Nets cupcake for the road.

Note the the restaurants are not themselves in charge:
The cart, like all stands, is owned by the arena and will ultimately be run by Levy in consultation with each vendor.
Note this mangled sentence about Ratner:
He spent 10 years trying to build the arena in the face of neighborhood opposition, including a lawsuit filed by one group seeking eminent domain to seize the property.
No, they didn't seek eminent domain. That would have been the state.

Affordable housing

Gib Veconi of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council pens a column for Patch,
Atlantic Yards "affordable housing" a net loss for Brooklyn:
Where Atlantic Yards’ affordable housing is concerned, experience has shown it’s better not to rely on public statements made by FCRC, but instead upon written commitments the firm has made to the State and the City. These include the Master Development Agreement (MDA) between Forest City and the State of New York, and filings FCRC has made with the New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC) (as recently reported by Norman Oder in City Limits). Let’s consider some basic questions in light of these documents.
...When will the promised 2,250 units of Atlantic Yards’ affordable housing be delivered?
...Who will get to live in Atlantic Yards' affordable housing?
...Why aren’t there more affordable apartments for Brooklyn families being built?
...What does this say about the future of affordable housing at the project?
...It is true that there are many who will celebrate the opening of Barclays Center this month. It is equally true that Atlantic Yards’ cynical promises of affordable housing are an outrage to the taxpayers of New York and the communities of Brooklyn.
Art at the oculus

The Times's ArtsBeat blog reports:
The Barclays Center, home of the Brooklyn Nets, is now also the site of a few ambitious art projects that include a giant vinyl mural of Brooklyn’s cityscape by Mickalene Thomas ... and a 70-foot-long painting by the local artist José Parlá. A collaboration of three digital artists — Marc Downie, Shelley Eshkar and Paul Kaiser — who call themselves OpenEndedGroup, will also get prime placement on the center’s 3,000-square-foot, 360-degree LED marquee outside the main entrance.

Comments

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…