Thursday, September 06, 2012

Scrambling toward the finish line: TCO for Barclays Center is delayed until next week; "public events and tours" in "first several weeks" of September to introduce community not announced

Scrambling to get the Barclays Center in operating shape--if not final shape--in time for the grand opening on September 28, Forest City Ratner officials today acknowledged that they were behind in what was already a tight schedule.

The "substantial completion date," when the arena would get a temporary certificate of occupancy (TCO) from the city Department of Buildings has been nudged back several times, in April 2011 from Aug. 12 to Aug. 27, and in February 2012 to Sept. 5, yesterday.

And even though the construction monitor for arena bondholders, Merritt & Harris, has dutifully reported that Sept. 5 date, most lately in a report dated 8/7/12, now the goal is sometime next week.

“The schedule for turnover by Hunt [Construction] to Forest City is today," Forest City executive Jane Marshall said this morning at a meeting of the Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet, a bi-monthly meeting of involved agencies. "There is--that's not a deadline for them, they don’t get penalized... they earn something if they do it by certain dates... We think, in general, the arena is on track for getting a TCO probably next week. And at that point it will be turned over to arena operations. And I’m not sure when the permanent C of O would be--it doesn't need to be [there] for opening.”

Indeed, the final completion date is 6/30/13.

"There are going to ongoing FF&E activity, that’s fixtures, furniture, and equipment that continue even after opening," Marshall added. "And there’s a series of soft events that are intended to commission certain portion of the building, so there is, sort of, a staged turnover that isn’t necessarily related to the TCO, but I think the TCO will be gotten around next week.”

Public events and tours?

During more optimistic times, the Nets announced on 4/5/11 that the arena would be unfolded to the community in events preceding that first Jay-Z concert:
Prior to the official Grand Opening on September 28, the Barclays Center plans to use the first several weeks of September 2012 to host public events and tours to welcome and introduce the Brooklyn community to its new building.
No public events and tours have been announced to the public as of yet, and the first several seeks are already upon us.

This morning, Jim Vogel, a staffer for state Senator Velmanette Montgomery, raised the issue: "There was a discussion of pre-opening events--it was some months ago, there would be pre-opening events to familiarize the community and the press... I know it's tight, can you give us an update on what’s going on with that?"

"I don't have a schedule in front of me," responded Ashley Cotton, Forest City's VP for External Affairs, "but I think it’s been reported that we’re going to be doing our ribbon-cutting on September 21st at 9:30 a.m. I believe your boss and many people in this room, have been invited--or got a ‘save the date’--to a government and community event... We're just using ticket holders, suite holders... they get a chance to go in, see where they’re seated, where the food is, things like that. There’s a number of different ones all scheduled for I guess the last week before we open, kicking off with the ribbon cutting.”

It wasn't clear how many--if at all--"public events and tours" will be used to "welcome and introduce the Brooklyn community" to the building. But I'd bet they'll have at least one event during that final week of the month.

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