Thursday, September 20, 2012

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.

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