Saturday, February 02, 2013

Catching up: LIRR on service to arena; Forest City statement on Ratner succession; union leader contrasts City Point with B2

From the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, LIRR Grows in Brooklyn as Barclays Center Proves a Big Draw:Railroad Says Ridership at Atlantic Terminal Up 334% since Arena's Debut
MTA Long Island Rail Road reported today that ridership to and from Brooklyn has jumped 334 percent since the opening earlier this year of the Barclays Center at Atlantic Terminal with the commuter line carrying an average of 3,300 new customers on event nights.

The Barclays Center, basketball home of the Brooklyn Nets, future hockey home of the New York Islanders and showplace for such stars as JAY-Z, Barbra Streisand and Justin Bieber, has been a big hit with Long Islanders who have forsaken their cars to board the LIRR’s enhanced service to and from the new Atlantic Terminal in Downtown Brooklyn.

"Barclays Center has been every bit the draw we had anticipated it would be, creating a whole new customer stream for the LIRR," said LIRR President Helena Williams. "When Barclays Center opened in September, the LIRR was ready with the best possible service, including a special program including extra trains on event days and nights and a marketing campaign promoting travel via the LIRR to the new Atlantic Terminal across the street from the arena."

According to Williams, the biggest handle so far for was the 4,852 arriving customers and 5,377 departing customers served by the LIRR on December 11, the night the Nets hosted the New York Knicks for the first time.

On a typical Thursday evening prior to the Barclays Center opening, the LIRR would have averaged 990 arrivals and 430 departures at Atlantic Terminal. On Thursday, October 11, for the first of two Barbra Streisand concerts, those numbers jumped by 3,135 and 3,835 respectively – meaning that ridership was up 358 percent and for departures an astounding 995 percent for that night alone. The LIRR study shows that more customers are taking the train home to Long Island from Downtown Brooklyn after a game or show, an indication that many fans head to Barclays directly from jobs in Manhattan and elsewhere.
Unmentioned is the issue of cost. If the riders are using existing service, then the revenues represent a bonus for the MTA. On some nights, however, the MTA adds trains; how does that change the numbers?

And while having Long Island fans take transit rather than drive surely saves on externalities (pollution, congestion) from driving, it does not necessarily represent new revenue for the state; arenas and stadiums generally mean a re-orientation of entertainment spending, not net new spending.

Ratner's succession by Gilmartin

From Forest City Enterprises, Statement concerning media reports of leadership succession at Forest City Ratner Companies:
CLEVELAND, Jan. 31, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- In response to recent media reports concerning leadership succession at Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC), parent company Forest City Enterprises, Inc. (NYSE: FCEA and FCEB), issued the following statement:: "At this time, the company has no definitive announcement to make concerning potential leadership succession at FCRC. The company emphasizes that any such announcement and change in leadership, when appropriate, would be the result of ongoing succession planning that the company undertakes continuously and as a matter of course. Moreover, under any potential leadership succession for FCRC, the company expects that Bruce C. Ratner, FCRC chairman and CEO, will remain deeply engaged and involved in the business that he founded and built into one of New York City's preeminent real estate concerns."
In other words, reports were pretty much accurate; it's just they were supposed to emerge so soon.

Union leader makes contrast

From Real Estate Weekly, Gary LaBarbara of Building Trades Thrashes City Point Developers as Community Groups Rally for Changes:
New York City’s building trades unions have made big strides in the last year to move major commercial and residential projects off the post-recession drawing board and into development.

In 2012, we entered into agreements to deliver cost and other efficiencies that were instrumental in advancing more than 50 private projects representing billions of dollars of investment and thousands of jobs.

...We also recently joined Forest City Ratner to break ground at B2 BKLYN, which will bring housing for middle and lower income families to Atlantic Yards following the opening of the already iconic Barclays Center.

An innovative partnership on this project will wed modular housing units that are built in the Brooklyn Navy Yard to traditional on-site construction, with both types of work employing unionized building trades and achieving efficiencies needed to go forward.

Many of these important projects involve public support of some kind. And that is fine, because these projects are contributing to the betterment of our city’s economy by spurring investment and growth, providing office space and facilities to meet the demands of modern business and adding much needed housing that is affordable to working families.

These projects have something else in common that is essential to the betterment of our city: They are being built by workers who are paid good wages with health insurance and pensions.
What LaBarbara does not mention is how much the compensation for workers on B2 differs from the compensation promised during the Atlantic Yards approval process. In other words, the public support was contingent on certain promises--which are no longer being kept.

Nor does he mention how certain skilled trades, like plumbers, have charged that the city Department of Buildings and the developer have collaborated on a way to avoid using such skilled labor.

LaBarbera on City Point

He writes:
Case in point is City Point, the 1.6 million square foot development of one of the most valuable land parcels in downtown Brooklyn.

There, property owned by taxpayers is being leased to a private development team that includes Acadia Realty Trust. In addition to using public property, City Point is receiving vast amounts of public subsidies ranging from tax exempt bond financing to property tax abatements.

But on a score central to responsible economic development for everyday New Yorkers — creating good jobs that strengthen local communities — City Point is failing.
Here's a response from the developer; neither source specifies the gap between union and non-union compensation.

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