Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from September, 2012

An explanation of that "monopolist" quote in the Times, and a missed opportunity for comments on last Sunday's big Times feature

The Metropolitan section of today's New York Times contains a selection of Reader Comments, relating to Ginia Bellafonte's column last Sunday on economic disparities.

There are no comments on the lead story, In Brooklyn, Bracing for Hurricane Barclays, because comments weren't enabled. Surely there would have been many, given the wide range of issues raised in the article--and, despite significant omissions, no small criticism.

More often than not, based on a look back to June, the Times has not enabled comments for the lead article in the Metropolitan section. So it wouldn't be fair to say they turned off comments regarding this story. But it still seems like a lost opportunity.

The Times's odd substitution

Also, following up on my critique of the Times's dramatic shift in content and tone regarding the Atlantic Yards opposition in the round-up article on the Barclays Center debut, Michael D.D. White adds, in his Noticing New York blog:
Maybe I should be flatte…

Pacific Street becomes a staging area for buses related to arena

Before Barclays Center events, Pacific Street between Carlton and Sixth avenues becomes, as I've described, a staging area for police and fire personnel. (This has infuriated neighbors, as noted in the comment here.)



Around noon today, as described on Atlantic Yards Watch, buses stage and idled for more than an hour on the same block. Drivers said they were told to do so while waiting for a "Barclays sponsored kids event."

Second night of Barclays Center operations: no traffic jams, lots of cops, Atlantic Avenue overrun post-event (with NYPD coordination/dismay), idling vehicles proliferate nearby

On the second night of Barclays Center operations, there were again no major traffic jams, thanks to the use of transit by arena-goers, a massive police presence, again little use of the surface parking lot, and copious pedestrian managers.

Also, it's likely that event-goers recognized that they need not converge on the arena by 8 pm, given that headliner Jay-Z wouldn't start for an hour.

(On opening night, the delay was about 90 minutes.) This was the second of eight sold-out concerts.

As shown in the photo above left, and in videos below, there were still long lines well after the official starting time of 8 pm.

 The lag likely was also caused by the security precautions, including use of metal detectors, but given the pleasant weather, people were generally calm.

Unlike on the first night, there was no major pre-event blockage of  the Atlantic Avenue sidewalk, given no red carpet for celebrities and attendant paparazzi.

A block party and area idling

For the second night, ho…

Post finds outrage over Barclays Center roof laser targeting monument; arena operators say it's for one weekend (but don't apologize); evidence of another hit: Wyckoff Gardens

The New York Post follows up on my coverage yesterday of the Barclays Center roof laser targeting the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument by republishing the photos and finding (it wasn't too tough, I'd bet) Monumental outrage over Barclays beam

“Anything that distracts from that should not be allowed. You wouldn’t want to see a laser on the Vietnam Monument in Washington," Ruth Goldstein, founding chairwoman of the Fort Greene Park Conservancy, told the newspaper. Council Member Letitia James wasn't pleased.

Arena operators, at least to the Post, weren't apologizing, explaining that the two lasers were just for the opening weekend “We received the proper permits from the FAA, and we are delighted to celebrate the opening of Barclays Center,” said spokesman Barry Baum.
Another target: Wyckoff Gardens
According to a Park Slope resident who sent me the photo below, the laser also hit the Wyckoff Gardens housing project in Gowanus: look for the green dots.


A Barclays Center moment and a BUILD connection

On Friday night, as I walked past the Barclays Center arena before it opened, I spotted a young man in a red jacket working one of the arena's doors.

We recognized each other: we'd spoken when I'd covered the graduation ceremony last November for a Customer Service Training class provided by Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development (BUILD). I said hello, congratulated him, and wished him well.

I don't know how much that training class helped him get hired--he's a bright guy who'd stand out anyhow--but it surely didn't hurt; graduates of the classes were supposed to get a boost in hiring. (I don't know how many have been hired.)

I've written critically about BUILD's organizational troubles and also pointed out that the part-time arena jobs don't add up and are not going to provide careers. Put that aside for a moment; I was happy the guy had a job. And he seemed happy too.

An open letter to the New York Times Public Editor: Why not retain both versions of Barclays Center opening coverage? (The changes were dramatic and dismissive)

Dear Ms. Sullivan,

On 9/13/12, in examining fast-moving Times coverage of Mitt Romney, in which the content shifted dramatically, you declared Both Versions of Romney Critique Should Have Remained on Web. You pointed to NewsDiffs, a tool cited by your predecessor Arthur Brisbane, that tracks changes in articles.

I believe you should come to the same judgment regarding the Times's coverage today of the opening of the Barclays Center arena, For Brooklyn’s New Arena, Day 1 Brings Hip-Hop Fans and Protests.

As the NewsDiffs page devoted to the article indicates, the article changed dramatically beginning at 8:53 pm last night.

As initially posted, the article focused on a press conference held by arena critics, later augmented by some "man in the street" counter-testimony in favor of the arena.

Ultimately, much of the press conference was overwritten in favor of description of the arena's debut event. It's understandable that the article would morph to emphasize the…

Barclays Center debut: no traffic nightmare and empty (paid) parking spaces (on a work night), but still reasons for concern: narrow sidewalks mean paparazzi gridlock and later a flood of people blocking Atlantic Avenue

Traffic flowed fairly well outside at the Barclays Center debut with Jay-Z last night, and the event appeared relatively orderly, given the sold-out house, which drew a crowd wearing everything from flashy nightclub duds to Brooklyn Nets gear.

Though he'd been on many stages around the world, Jay-Z told the crowd, "Nothing feels like tonight, Brooklyn."

(While the fans I spoke to all said they enjoyed the show, and people chanted "Hova" as they left--and, of course, inside--I heard multiple secondhand reports, including this tweet, that said that Jay-Z's performance, actually, was subpar.)

"Welcome to the house that Bruce built" was flashed across the arena screen, as reported on Twitter; I countered that developer Bruce Ratner had a "wee bit" of government help.

Perhaps the most prominent disorder, according to reports on Twitter, was lots of pot-smoking inside the arena, as well as a wait, which lasted until about 8:45, just to get pa…

The Times finally figures out how the Barclays Center fills up the arena block

Check out the image at right of the Barclays Center arena and arena block, from this interactive graphic published Sept. 28 in the New York Times.

It was created with the help of the arena architects, and it seems quite accurate, though it doesn't explain that the four plots of land around the arena are supposed to be home to four towers, three of them residential.

What's wrong with the oval?

Then consider image below left, from a 4/17/12 article, which misleadingly suggested that the arena extends barely halfway between Fifth and Sixth avenues, rather than quite close to Sixth.

Similarly, it suggested that the arena extends south from Atlantic Avenue barely past the halfway point, Pacific Street, rather than nearly to Dean Street.

As I reported last month, I took a look back at the article and saw, to my surprise, that a new map had been substituted, which omits the misleading outline of the arena. No correction was posted.

Such a stealth adjustment is called "rowback,&quo…

Activists bring anti-gun violence message to sidewalk outside Barclays Center

An interview with Karim Johnson of ManUp Inc./Don't Shoot NYC, which brought several dozen people Friday night to Atlantic Avenue outside the Barclays Center arena before it opened to call attention to their anti-gun violence campaign in hardscrabble neighborhoods like East New York.

What's their message? "We don't want any more shootings or killings... This is the grand opening... [Jay-Z] and his business partners are here, making people consumers and not putting back in the community. We're not against them making money; we're not against Jay-Z or the developers of the Barclays Center, but we want to bring notice to the plight that's going on with the gun violence in our neighborhood."

He said that in better-off areas, people "make assumptions that gun violence does not affect them."



Does rap music glorify violence?

"I'm from the hip hop generation," he responded. "Rap music does not encourage violence. It does not encou…

The Times embraces (not quite) the Culture of Cheating concept

The New York Times is edging closer to acknowledging the Culture of Cheating, though I don't think they'll ever get there.
From today's New York Times, For Brooklyn’s New Arena, Day 1 Brings Hip-Hop Fans and Protests:
Yet none of the other buildings have risen, and many concerns persist about them and the levers used along the way by Mr. Ratner and his Forest City Ratner Companies. From the Sept. 27 New York Times, Nets Helped Clear Path for Builder in Brooklyn:
His willingness to change plans — abandoning an expensive Frank Gehry design and building a smaller railyard — solidified his reputation for promising anything to get a deal, only to renegotiate relentlessly for more favorable terms.

The Barclays Center lasers, over the arena, and pointed at Fort Greene Park (and the Martyrs Monument)

No one was told about the Barclays Center logo on top of the arena, and we weren't told about the plans for lasers. (The design guidelines never mentioned it, because there was supposed a green roof on the arena.)

Below is video of the arena around midnight last night, after the debut Jay-Z concert had mostly emptied out.



Laser aimed at Martyrs Monument?

In the photos below, sent to me by a Fort Greene resident in a high-rise, the green ray of the laser seems aimed directly at the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument in Fort Greene Park, which honors heroes of the Revolutionary War.

The direct hit surely wasn't the intention, but there can be unintended consequences when there's no disclosure. Not to mention that it won't be so easy to aim those lasers when there are towers around the arena.



Another video

In Times coverage of protests, Ratner's flack gets to blame opponents for delays; newspaper forgets description of Ratner as "renegotiat[ing] relentlessly for more favorable terms"

From today's New York Times, In Brooklyn, Arena’s Opening Is Met With Protests:
There’s a certain irony to the fact that many of the people who sued to stop the project are now saying we haven’t delivered the promises fast enough,” [Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco] said. “We are 100 percent committed to the affordable housing, jobs and other benefits of Atlantic Yards and welcome those who were against them at the start to work with us to achieve them going forward.” Well, there is, and there isn't. Yes, there's an irony that people who opposed the project are the ones who have to point out the unfulfilled promises; that should be the job of the signatories of the Community Benefits Agreement.
And yes, there's a question as to whether the challenges to the project kept some of the benefits from being delivered. But the larger irony, unmentioned, is that Forest City Ratner originally promised the project would be built in ten years, then renegotiated to 25 yea…

New sign at arena plaza: "Welcome to Brooklyn"

Under Barclays Center oculus, groups challenging Atlantic Yards call for reform, joined by Occupy and two who "drank Ratner's Kool-Aid" but changed their minds

Five groups challenging the Atlantic Yards project, bolstered by some Occupy Wall Street participants and two former project supporters, held a press conference this morning on the Barclays Center plaza, moving under the oculus (which dripped somewhat) to get out of the rain.

"Welcome to the tale of two Brooklyns," said Candace Carponter of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, leading off the event and citing the arena as an example of "crony capitalism." The groups' goals include a plan that prioritizes "the creation of housing affordable to working families in Brooklyn" (for which, however, Ratner's modular plan may be billed as a solution) and to reform project oversight.

"Many Brooklynites may attend events here," Carponter declared, but profits will be reaped by the developer Forest City Ratner and the retail chains. She didn't mention Mikhail Prokhorov, majority owner of the Nets and 45% owner of the arena.


(Videos by Jonathan Ba…

As 40/40 Club opens the night before arena debuts, a vigil and march draws 150 people, James, Montgomery

Michael D.D. White, in the photo at right, captures an image from the vigil last night that drew about 150 people to gather outside the Barclays Center and then circle it twice in fairly quiet protest. Inside Jay-Z's 40/40 Club was opening for a private, pre-arena-opening party, as detailed in the New York Post video at bottom.

White's photo captures the "Boondoggle Basics" flyer given out by protesting groups (more events today and tomorrow; rain venue 669 Atlantic Avenue, corner of S. Portland Avenue) framed by the digital advertising in the arena oculus for the 40/40 Club.

The main sponsors are Brown Community Development Corporation, BrooklynSpeaks, Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB), the Fifth Avenue Committee, and Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (FUREE), which took different postures on Atlantic Yards before it passed, with only DDDB going to court to try to block the project.

Since then, for example, DDDB and BrooklynSpeaks were joined …

WNYC on arena opening: ACORN's Lewis claims CBA was legitimate (but where's the compliance monitor?)

As Barclays Opens, Neighbors Still Grumble, reports WNYC. Those grumbling neighbors--could it be that Bruce Ratner doesn't keep his promises (as noted by the Observer).

The most interesting part of the article concerns the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA), which prompts Candace Carponter of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn to call it unenforceable, and Gib Veconi of BrooklynSpeaks to point out the inherent conflicted role of signatories, which rely on Forest City Ratner for support.

Why can't neutral experts on CBAs make this point as well?

Ratner's support

WNYC reports:
As of 2005, Forest City Ratner provided more than $100,000 to BUILD to begin to develop community outreach. The developer also committed at least $50,000 in funding to DBNA. Hold on--these groups have received hundreds of thousands of dollars--surely over $1 million for BUILD, which in the most recent year got $340,000--from Forest City.

ACORN's role

WNYC reports:
One group that signed the CBA defe…

Times: Barclays has undercut Garden's high prices for performers, though doesn't always pass on the savings

In Barclays Arena Rivals the Garden’s Glow, a New York Times Arts piece today reports that the Brooklyn arena has already established itself by booking some major acts and offering dates, and rates, unavailable at the busy, expensive Madison Square Garden:“I consider it a godsend Barclays arena is there,” said Randy Phillips, the chief executive of AEG Live, one of the largest promoters in the country. “Prior to this we were really kind of held hostage on a tour to the availability of Madison Square Garden.”

The new $1 billion arena rises at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues like a modern sculpture, evoking a crashed alien spacecraft with its rusted-steel-and-glass facade and swooping lines. Inside, it is a sleek study in gray and black broken only by bright digital banners, with steeply raked rows of black seats that descend from the street level into the arena’s bowl. With clear sightlines and acoustic panels over hard surfaces to minimize reverb and noise, the space…

Post: many more food and beverage spots moving near arena

Anyone walking around and near the Barclays Center, especially on the Flatbush Avenue side, can see there are empty retail spaces--or non-consumer ones--that are surely to be transformed. The New York Post reports, in Eateries in mad dash to Barclays ’hood: With rap mogul/Nets co-owner Jay-Z christening the venue with an eight-night concert run starting tonight, Danny Meyer burgers-and-fries joint Shake Shack plans to soon move into prime Flatbush Avenue real estate across the street from the 18,200-seat arena, sources said.

Landlord Michael Pintchik refused to comment on the deal but confirmed two other restaurants were coming to nearby Flatbush Avenue property he owns by Dean Street that should also have foodies salivating.

The owners of super-trendy Delicatessen and Macbar in Manhattan are opening an offshoot eatery called Elbow Room a block away on Flatbush Avenue that also specializes in gourmet mac-and-cheese dishes.

Moving in next door will be a Texas-style barbecue joint “feat…

In Wall Street Journal, arena consultant Schwartz spins on prepaid parking, comparison to Madison Square Garden

Arena Parking in Play, the Wall Street Journal reported last night:
Some Brooklyn parking garage owners are jacking up prices and preparing special event rates in preparation for the thousands of people who may defy the warnings of city officials and drive to the Barclays Center when it opens Friday. Ok, but what about the plan to provide nearly 2,000 pre-apaid parking spots "seamlessly," as promised by Sam Schwartz, consultant to the arena.

The Journal reports:
Only about 650 on-site parking spaces—including 150 for VIPs—were set aside, with the purpose of discouraging driving to Nets games, concerts and other events at the 18,000-seat capacity arena. Another 700 will be available through arrangements with private garages. So there's a deficit, as I reported 9/6/12. (Also, there are only 541 on-site spots, by my count, unless they're counting spots at the Atlantic Center mall.)

Is deficit meaningful?

The Journal lets an interested party downplay the issue:
But there…

"Prime Brooklyn Retail" still available on Flatbush Avenue side of Barclays Center

Is the arena finished? Well, on the day the Barclays Center opens, they're still looking for a tenant on Flatbush Avenue, toward Dean Street below the Nets Shop.

The laser lights on the roof of the Barclays Center

Remember how the roof logo was deemed OK because no one could see it from the street?




Gridlock Sam's warning: don't drive to Downtown Brooklyn this weekend (but they're still selling arena-related parking)

Traffic consultant Sam Schwartz, aka Gridlock Sam, warns in his weekend column/press release, Don’t even THINK of driving in Downtown Brooklyn this weekend! Downtown Brooklyn Streets to be Jam Packed with Barclays Center Jay-Z Concerts Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. Atlantic Antic Cuts Off Atlantic Ave. on Sunday.

That may be wise advise, but Schwartz also served as a consultant to the Barclays Center, which offers a link to pre-paid parking in and around Downtown Brooklyn, including along Atlantic Avenue, site of the Atlantic Antic.

And though the city Department of Transportation warns that Atlantic Avenue will be closed from 11 am through 6 pm Sunday, Schwartz warns that Atlantic Avenue "may not reopen fully until 7:30 p.m."

What does that mean for those buying remote parking along Atlantic Avenue, with arrival beginning at 6 pm and a shuttle bus along Atlantic supposed to begin at that hour? Unclear, but it seems likely there will be delays. The Barclays Parking web…