Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from August, 2012

Expunging Pacific Street from station? It wasn't announced or even in the contract, but the MTA says it was the practical solution; also, new signage wasn't supposed to go up until the subway entrance opened

As former Atlantic Yards point man Jim Stuckey once said, "Projects change, markets change."

Or, perhaps, subway naming plans change.

There's a certain resentment about the substitution of "Barclays Center" for "Pacific Street" in the renaming of Brooklyn's most diverse transit hub.

That's indicated in the "I'm still calling it "Atlantic Av-Pacific St" t-shirt produced by designer Deb Goldstein (interview), highlighted in a series of articles in MetroFocus about different ways to wear Brooklyn pride, including Nets t-shirts.

The MTA today not implausibly suggests that the use of two rather than three names is more efficient.

What was original plan?

However, it turns out, when the $200,000-a-year deal was approved 6/24/09, the MTA board was told of a different plan.

As the screenshot (right) from the meeting transcript shows, then-CFO Gary Dellaverson stated, "[E]ven though it appears to be a single station, of course it i…

Secondhand coverage of arena liquor license gets much wrong; Times wrongly claims MSG/Yankee Stadium have similar policies, cites "opponents" while Forest City calls them "neighbors"

No other reporters bothered to show up at the State Liquor Authority meeting yesterday that included the Barclays Center liquor license, nor did they apparently watch the webcast, because the coverage is devoid of any quotes from the meeting or any sense why arena operators resisted--though assented to--a final cut-off of liquor sales at 1 am.

Nor did any of the coverage acknowledge the feeling of bad faith generated by the arena operators' failure to disclose the plan for after-hours service or the continuing construction violations.

The Post

The New York Post folded the news into an article, Stones to play B’klyn, about how the Rolling Stones will reportedly play two shows at the Barclays Center in November:
The report came the same day that Barclays alcohol rules were announced — Nets fans will be able to drink alcohol only until the fourth quarter at NBA games, but spectators boozing it up at other Barclays events will get to go into overtime.That's incorrect. Up to 1,800 V…

"Blighted" Modell's store is doing just fine, thanks to arena proximity

Would you believe that a "blighted" property is now doing well, as the Modell's across from the Barclays Center is getting renovated rather than razed?

MetroFocus reports, in NYC’s Oldest Sports Retailer & Newest Team Play Off Each Other:
Since that day, business has boomed for the Park Slope retailer. According to store manager Nick Chang, the store sold out of 80 percent of its Brooklyn Nets stock that day and scrambled to receive more merchandise from its other Brooklyn and Manhattan locations.

Since the Brooklyn Nets sportswear debuted in April 2012, the Modell's Sporting Good Store on Flatbush Ave., across from the Barclays Center, has greatly increased its square footage for licensed goods.
Sales have been good ever since. This summer, the store eliminated 50 percent of its stockroom to dedicate more selling room floor. New York Yankees, Mets, Jets and Giants jerseys are sidelined to a small area, separated by an aisle to the licensed sportwear area now occ…

State Liquor Authority approves Barclays Center liquor license, but nudges back cut-off to 1 am from 2 am; may revisit issue if operators claim hardship; neighbors see small victory

In less than an hour, the State Liquor Authority this morning approved the Barclays Center liquor license--for 53 outlets--as requested, except for one key change arena operators resisted but to which they eventually relented.

They had requested a cut-off of alcohol sales to 1,800 VIP customers to go one hour after an event, or as late as 2 am, an absolute deadline requested by Brooklyn Community Board 6. The SLA imposed a 1 am cut-off, subject to revision should the arena argue hardship (in getting some promoters to commit to shows), and subject to the arena demonstrating a track record of operating compatibly with the community.

Arena operators initially resisted the change, but agreed reluctantly. Arena neighbors saw it as a small victory, a recognition of the unusual placement of the arena in a residential neighborhood.

"It was good to see the board paid attention to the concerns the community raised," Gib Veconi of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council (…

Lawsuit seeking unpaid wages for BUILD trainees could expand, as plaintiffs' lawyers get OK to contact other 29 trainees

The number of potential plaintiffs could grow in the lawsuit against Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development (BUILD) and others for failure to pay trainees for roughly two months of work they did helping build a house on Staten Island.

Seven of the 36 people in a coveted Pre-Apprenticeship Training Program filed suit last November in federal charging not only violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act but also that they were promised union cards and careers.

The suit not only targets BUILD but Forest City Ratner, which supported the organization, a Community Benefits Agreement signatory, as well as individual executives, along with the company that did the training.

The lawsuit, though the charges were narrowed, survived a motion to dismiss. Now the plaintiffs can try to add some of the other 29 people from the program, but only for the claim of unpaid wages, not damages for the promised union cards.

Going forward

As indicated in the document below, the defendants agreed to pr…

Realignment of police precincts means less role for two Community Council Presidents who head Forest City Ratner-supported CBA groups

Though no one's said this publicly, it seems to me that the announcement that the 78th Precinct will oversee the Barclays Center arena and the rest of the Atlantic Yards site suggests that not only will the two precincts previously having a piece of the site (77th, 88th) have less of a role, so two will the presidents of the precinct Community Councils.

And those two presidents have offered Forest City Ratner significant legitimacy over the years, transposing the credibility they gained in neighborhood service to fledgling organizations, known by the acronyms BUILD and BEE, that signed the "historic" Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) and then were financially supported by the developer.

(By contrast, Pauline Blake, president of the 78th Community Council and a member of Community Board 6, has not been an active Atlantic Yards opponent, but she has questioned the impact of the project on the surrounding neighborhood.)

BEE

Delia Hunley-Adossa, president of the 88th Precinc…

Flashback: at a funeral, the intersection of Bruce Ratner and Vito Lopez

A 7/22/12 essay from Paul Berman in Dissent, Regular Politics: Judge Reichbach, contains cameos for both Bruce Ratner and Vito Lopez, both typically in the news for other reasons:
On Saturday, July 14, a New York State Supreme Court judge named Gustin L. Reichbach succumbed to cancer. On Sunday his funeral service took place at a synagogue in Brooklyn Heights. And the first and most eloquent of the speakers to address the mourners was a politician named Vito Lopez, who holds the office of New York State Assemblyman from Bushwick, Brooklyn, and the still more exalted office of chairman of the Democratic Party of Kings County, otherwise known as Brooklyn Democratic boss, whose powers are myriad, vast, and rooted in affairs so profoundly local as to be incomprehensible. The boss is known, for instance, to influence the election of minor officials called District Leaders, who are unpaid yet nonetheless have the power to select the modestly paid workers who supervise the voting on Election…

In Metro, special section "in association with Barclays Center" sure looks like advertorial

I called Metro to ask whether in fact the Barclays Center sponsored the four-page coverage. (Note that the arena will not look like that because 1) the towers haven't been built and 2) the building is way larger than that, unless you're in a hovercraft with special spectacles.)

I haven't gotten a confirmation, but on the fifth page, you see, there's this ad. (Update: the one article published online later added this explanationThis article is part of a sponsored special section Metro ran on Tuesday, Aug. 28 about the Barclays Center.)

(Yes, this is part of the Culture of Cheating.)


Fact-checking jobs

Eagerly regurgitating a press release, Metro reports that "the arena will create about 2,000 in-house jobs."

There's no mention that these are part-time, low-paying jobs.

There's no mention that the total FTE (full-time equivalent) employment is, according to Forest City Ratner, 1,240 jobs.

So of course there's no mention that the 1,240 figure is, s…

From the latest Construction Alert: arena moves toward Temporary Certificate of Occupancy (thanks to three shifts of work)

The key information from the latest two-week Atlantic Yards Construction Alert, dated 8/27/12 and issued yesterday by Empire State Development (after preparation by Forest City Ratner) is the move toward a needed TCO, or Temporary Certificate of Occupancy, which is supposed to be achieved by 9/5/12.

According to the document (embedded below), it looks like they're on schedule:
The NYC DOB [Department of Buildings) performed the first and preliminary TCO walk-though of the facility on 08/20/12. The second is scheduled for 08/27/12, and the final on 09/04/12. The FDNY started the fire alarm and fire protection inspections on 08/21/12 and will continue through the week of 08/21/12, returning three days for the final inspections the week of 08/27/12. A TCO indicates that a building is safe to occupy and can get insurance; the document typically expires in 90 days but can be renewed.

The Construction Alert details progress in various areas, as well as the need for overnight shifts, and …

AY down the memory hole: emergency upgrade on Barclays Center facade treated in Times as "more traditional materials were rejected"

The New York Times reported, in  Constructing a Facade Both Rugged and Rusty:
For the facade of the Barclays Center, more traditional materials were rejected in favor of 12,000 separate pieces of what is called “weathering steel,” and that leathery brown hue, which is the arena’s final finish, is not paint but an intended layer of rust. It was a little more complicated than that. After Forest City Ratner dropped Frank Gehry's design to save money, it essentially plunked the Conseco Fieldhouse from Indianapolis, designed by veteran arena architects Ellerbe Becket, into Brooklyn.

The reclamation job

Reported Engineereing News-Record, in an article published 7/16/12 and headlined Reshaping of Barclays Center Arena Made Possible By Collaboration, Digital Tools:
[Developer Bruce] Ratner wanted SHoP to put a better face on a critically panned redesign for his $825-million Barclays Center arena—the centerpiece of the 22-acre transit-oriented development. And he wanted a sketch from SHoP i…

Barclays Center's rusted steel cladding draws mixed reactions, but that's just a partial way to evaluate arena (what about urbanism, and the project's promises?)

In a Times article published online today, Constructing a Facade Both Rugged and Rusty, some passers-by wonder if the pre-rusted steel cladding on the Barclays Center is supposed to be painted? No.

In comments, there critics of the structure:
Its the bulk and shape of the building that's the problem, the rusting steel only confirms your first impression of a hulking cockroach. And in few years the rust stains on the sidewalks will complete the picture. And some supporters:
Barclays Center's exterior actually looks pretty good. I'm just glad it's not a clone of Conseco Fieldhouse (or whatever it's called nowadays), which was what Forest City Ratner had in mind between Frank Gehry's failed design and what is being realized. The larger issues

Some point out how the arena can't be disentangled from the larger project, and I agree. In fact, I think there are at least four perspectives, the first of which which is too early to judge (though the early word, from a…

No time slot announced for liquor license board meeting Wednesday, but public can speak

Will the State Liquor Authority (SLA) issue any curbs on the Barclays Center liquor license, such as not permitting service for VIPs at three venues for an hour after events, including until 2 am?

(There will be a total of 30 bars with full liquor service and 23 with beer only.)

After an administrative law judge heard public testimony at two meetings in June, the SLA will consider the Barclays Center liquor license at its August 29 board meeting. It will be held at SLA offices in Harlem, beginning at 10 am, and should be webcast.

There's no timetable for the meeting; items are called in the order for which they are signed in. My bet is that the applicants, Levy Premium Food Service and Brooklyn Events Center, will do their best to get there early.
The report compiled by Administrative Law Judge Raymond Di Luglio has not been made public and likely will not be released until the SLA renders its decision.

"Members of the public and elected officials will have the opportunity to…

From City Limits: How the first Atlantic Yards tower got more $2,700/mo. subsidized apartments (but nobody told the public)

I have an in-depth article in City Limits today about the first housing tower planned for Atlantic Yards, headlined Agency, Developer Wrestle Over Atlantic Yards Affordability.

The subtitle: "Documents reveal tense negotiations between city housing officials and Forest City Ratner over the kind of affordable housing the first Atlantic Yards residential tower will provide. Turns out it's different from what the developer promised."
The gist: though it was not made public, the additional subsidized two-bedroom units will mainly rent for more than $2700 a month.
Not much transparency

Though no one said so publicly at the one public hearing regarding the tower, not only does the number of family-sized units fall behind Forest City's promises in the Housing Memorandum of Understanding and Community Benefits Agreement that 50% of the units, in square footage, be two- or three-bedroom apartments.

Also, the only way the total (20% of subsidized units) was achieved was to ske…

Would private-sector version of alleged harasser Vito Lopez get "fired in a heartbeat" (as per Daily News)? Maybe not if it's Forest City and Jim Stuckey

The career of Bushwick Assemblyman and Kings County Democratic Party Chair Vito Lopez is gravely wounded, perhaps mortally so, and not by accusations of political chicanery, steering funds to the social service empire he founded, or ensuring that his girlfriend and a political ally, who run that empire, get paid very well.

Instead, it's an ethics committee finding of sexual harassment, which, though not a full legal proceeding, involves some investigation. Lopez denies the allegations.

The Daily News commented in an editorial:
Most grotesquely, as recounted in a letter to Lopez from Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, “ You put your hand on her leg, she removed your hand and you put your hand on her upper thighs, putting your hand as far up between her legs as you could go.”
Silver also writes that a staffer who was forced to join Lopez on a trip to Atlantic City reported “that you attempted to kiss her, that she struggled to fend you off before you stopped and that on the drive back…

The new Times Public Editor sees role as "smart aggregator" and "forum organizer" (which should mean more attention to public critiques)

The New York Times will soon have a new Public Editor, its fifth. Not only is Margaret M. Sullivan, for 13 years editor of the Buffalo News, the first woman, she's the first to emphasize the importance of being present for digital conversations.

Poynter reported that, in Sullivan's appplication, she emphasized the roles of "smart aggregator” and “forum organizer":
“The criticism and commentary is already going on,” Sullivan said in a telephone interview Monday afternoon. “I want to centralize it in the [public editor’s] blog.” She said she’ll play the role of “forum organizer” by “inviting commentary and letting people use the [public editor’s online] space as a place to come and discuss. And we’ll use multimedia tools to make that happen.”According to Poynter, Sullivan said she had read “and certainly learned from” the application excerpts published by author and teacher Dan Gillmor and Poynter’s Craig Silverman.

Going digital

Gillmor offered an intriguing July 2 Gua…

New York Times Public Editor says goodbye without a word about Atlantic Yards/Forest City, offers dubious praise for corrections desk

New York Times Public Editor Arthur Brisbane says goodbye after two years without a word about Atlantic Yards and Forest City Ratner, despite ample opportunity to weigh in on such basic things as whether and how the Times should disclose its business relationship to Forest City, or even the glaring decision to devote such Sports section real estate to photos of Brooklyn Nets advertising.

From his column in tomorrow's paper, Success and Risk as The Times Transforms:
Two years ago, when I wrote my “why on earth” column, I suggested that the pace of change called for a re-emphasis on “transparency, accountability, humility.” Looking back now, I think The Times could do better with these.

The Times is hardly transparent. A reader still has to work very hard to find any Times policies online (though some are tucked away there), and there is still no place where Times editors speak on the issues. As for humility, well, The Times is Lake Wobegon on steroids (everybody’s way above average)…

Times quietly replaces misleading Atlantic Yards graphic, without correction

See link to other examples.

Departing New York Times Public Editor Arthur Brisbane, who once questioned whether the Times should be a "truth vigilante," says goodbye in a final column, Success and Risk as The Times Transforms, which makes a surprising claim:
The strong suit, though, is the corrections desk, led by Greg Brock, where thousands of errors are somehow adjudicated every year. This is a powerful engine of accountability, unmatched by any other corrections operation I have seen, and a potential foundation element for a portal where The Times could prominently display “transparency, accountability, humility.”Actually, no.

Despite official Times recognition of "an ethical responsibility to correct all its factual errors, large and small," in practice, the newspaper seems to do its best to avoid making corrections. The time it takes for Brock to tell me off could be better spent serving readers.

Just as the New York Police Department has been criticized officer…