Skip to main content

A big week for Nets' Joe Johnson, Road to Brooklyn features him with Rosie Perez (and Nelson George cameo); Brooklyn magazine puts him on cover (and who buys back page?)

Brooklyn Nets guard Joe Johnson is not having a great season--some wonder if he's earning his lucrative contract--but he's having a good week. He won last night's game with a buzzer-beater. And he's all over the media.

In the seventh and latest episode of the Road to Brooklyn web series on Jay-Z's Life + Times channel, "Brooklyn Welcomes Joe Johnson." That means actress Rosie Perez--the one-time Atlantic Yards opponent turned arena public address voice of warning--takes Johnson around Fort Greene/Clinton Hill, and to Gleason's Gym.

(Some of this footage did double time on NBA TV's The Association, another series.)

There's a bit of a contradiction. Perez praises her neighborhood by saying a "majority are mom-and-pop businesses," and "you don't see a Starbucks." Unmentioned: there's one at the arena.

"I'm looking forward to the increased pride that's already prevalent in Brooklyn," declares Perez. "We're going to have our own basketball team." That, of course, is a common conflation, but valid really only in a place like Green Bay, WI, where the community owns the team.

Later, Perez says that she tried Manhattan but didn't like it, because "there were so many people on the street, so much traffic, so many loud people." Isn't that one of the concerns about the overall Atlantic Yards project?

A few visitors, including Nelson George

Lower East Side-raised (and Fort Greene/Clinton Hill resident) graffiti artist Lee Quinones and Bronx-born Sadat X of Brand Nubian, now a Brooklynite, join Perez and Johnson at Madiba, the South African restaurant in Fort Greene.

"Since the Brooklyn Dodgers left, people felt like they've been shorthanded here," declares Quinones, channeling a common Markowitzian line.

And there's a cameo by Fort Greene author, filmmaker, and cultural critic Nelson George, who welcomes Johnson.

George, who wrote a seminal book on basketball, Elevating the Game, was also known as an opponent of Atlantic Yards (on the DDDB Advisory Board), and wrote, in an April 2009 Times essay, "I fear that this new Fort Greene of high-rises, planned sports arenas and traffic jams won’t be a very congenial place for a middle-aged black author."

I sent George a query: "Were you just helping out a friend like Rosie? Were you expressing your acceptance of the arena? Or just that you're a big basketball fan?"

George's answer was yes to all three--he was invited to stop by, said "Hello," and left. He said he's been to the arena and enjoyed the games. The sports crowds, he observed, have been well-behaved, though some music crowds have not. And he's still wary of the larger project, given the towers and significant population increase nearby.

In September, George mentioned the arena on Twitter and was asked about his stance:
He's since gone to three games and commented:
A final stop

Perez takes Johnson to Gleason's Gym, where he spars a bit with Sean Malcolm of King Magazine.

Johnson says he's been impressed with the people, how they've embraced him and the Nets.

"You ready for this, this whole big thing?" asks Perez.

"Joe Ready Johnson, I'm ready," he responds.

In Brooklyn magazine

The glossy quarterly lifestyle magazine Brooklyn offers a cover story on Johnson, "Brooklyn Superstar," a term that he hasn't consistently earned.

It explains that, for him, the move from Atlanta to New York City (TriBeCa, in between New Jersey practice facility and Brooklyn arena), was eased by high-priced help:
The Los Angeles-based Etc. Agency helped Johnson find his partially furnished new home, finished furnishing it, and generally comfied the place up to his particular taste. To get a pro athlete fully settled in a new city—to transfer luxury cars, high-end jewelry, and vintage sneaker collections across the country—takes them approximately two weeks.
Though he did get out with Perez, he's otherwise busy:
Barclays’ food vendor lines are consciously filled with hood-specific names like Fatty ‘Cue, Calexico, and Red Hook Lobster Pound, but a pro athlete’s in-season schedule hasn’t allowed Johnson to venture out to their home bases, or even establish any personal favorite restaurants, yet. (He did make a pilgrimage to old-Brooklyn cheesecake kingpins Junior’s, however. Verdict: “pretty nice.”) Really, outside of the arena, Johnson’s only had brief windows to explore his new Brooklyn community, mixing and mingling with newfound Nets fans and local kids at team-sponsored events.
So maybe Johnson's a Brooklynite, maybe he's not. But he's a local celebrity connected to Brooklyn's highest-profile business, a big spender on advertising--take a look at the back cover of the magazine (left) --and surely that helps.


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…

Barclays Center event June 11 to protest plans to expand Israeli draft; questions about logistics

At right is a photo of a poster spotted in Hasidic Williamsburg right. Clearly there's an event scheduled at the Barclays Center aimed at the Haredi Jewish community (strict Orthodox Jews who reject secular culture), but the lack of English text makes it cryptic.

The website explains, Protest Against Israeli Draft of Bnei Yeshiva Rescheduled for Barclays Center:
A large asifa to protest the drafting of bnei yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel into the Israeli army that had been set to take place this month will instead be held on Sunday, 17 Sivan/June 11, at the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn, NY. So attendees at a big gathering will protest an apparent change of policy that will make it much more difficult for traditional Orthodox Jewish students--both Hasidic (who follow a rebbe) and non-Hasidic (who don't)--to get deferments from the draft. Comments on the Yeshiva World website explain some of the debate.

The logistical questions

What's unclear is how large the ev…

Atlanta's Atlantic Yards moves ahead

First mentioned in April, the Atlantic Yards project in Atlanta is moving ahead--and has the potential to nudge Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn further down in Google searches.

According to a 5/30/17 press release, Hines and Invesco Real Estate Announce T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards:
Hines, the international real estate firm, and Invesco Real Estate, a global real estate investment manager, today announced a joint venture on behalf of one of Invesco Real Estate’s institutional clients to develop two progressive office projects in Atlanta totalling 700,000 square feet. T3 West Midtown will be a 200,000-square-foot heavy timber office development and Atlantic Yards will consist of 500,000 square feet of progressive office space in two buildings. Both projects are located on sites within Atlantic Station in the flourishing Midtown submarket.
Hines will work with Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture (HPA) as the design architect for both T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards. DLR Group will be t…

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…