Skip to main content

Did greenmarkets, holiday fairs, and community programming come to the Barclays Center plaza? So far, promotional activities

The Barclays Center plaza was announced with some big promises.

"Forest City Ratner is very interested in working with the community to find out what the right kind of programming is," arena architect Gregg Pasquarelli said 9/29/10. "We just looked at examples around the city... whether it's something as simple as cafe seating… Wouldn't it be great to have to have a live digital feed of Prospect Park on the inside of the oculus?"

Neither have arrived, other than very limited cafe seating associated with Starbucks.

Also possible, Pasquarelli suggested, were fashion shows "or maybe a movie night, which we think would be fantastic… bring chairs, blankets,... you could actually project the film on the inside of the oculus... what would actually happen be determined in the future in combination with the community."

Nothing of the sort has happened. There is, of course, still time for plaza programming to emerge, and for the emerging BID (business improvement district) to take charge.

Craig Barritt/Getty Images North America
But so far the plaza has been used more for promotional activities such as the AmexUnlocks promotion (above right) last October, in which fans could make videos that could get them into Nets games, or the Advil Relief in Action hype last week (left).

Urban Room promises

There was never supposed to be a plaza in the first place: Atlantic Yards was justified as a net gain in tax revenues because of a giant office tower at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues.

According to the July 2006 General Project Plan released by the Empire State Development Corporation, the ground floor space surrounding the new subway entrance was part of a soaring  atrium, an Urban Room, built into that flagship tower:
An Urban Room connected to the Arena will serve as a significant public amenity by accommodating the major flows of people to and from the transit center during the day and night, serving as a direct subway entrance to the Arena and allowing for a variety of public uses and programmed events throughout the year.
Andy Wiley-Schwartz, then of Project for Public Spaces, in 2006 called the Urban Room "the most important public space in the plan, because it will have the most people in it. And it has a subway entrance. And they have agreed to keep the subway entrance open all the time. You’d hope that there would be public things of interest, like the Christmas market at Grand Central, so it would be programmed in a way that would make it a destination."

Gotham Gazette reported, in an August 2006 article on open space:
It is also not clear whether the 10,000-square-foot "Urban Room" in the arena will function as intended. "It is being marketed as the Grand Central for Brooklyn, but it's configured like it's going to be a lobby to the arena," said [Jasper] Goldman [of the Municipal Art Society]. "Will it function as a public space given that?"
"We do hope people use the Urban Room to access activities at the arena," said [Joe] DePlasco of Forest City Ratner. "But beyond that, we hope that it is a comfortable place to just sit, rest, and watch other people. There will be programming there as well, including music, art displays and other activities."
For now, of course, the urban plaza has been mostly a waiting area for the arena, with event-related vendor sales.

Urban Room revised

The June 2009 Modified General Project Plan maintained the same outcome:
An Urban Room connected to the Arena will serve as a significant public amenity by accommodating the major flows of people to and from the transit center during the day and night, serving as a direct subway entrance to the Arena and allowing for a variety of public uses and programmed events throughout the year.
Key: 7 = retail kiosk + stadium seating; #8 = performance surface
However, the associated Technical Memorandum acknowledged delays, with a "for illustrative purposes only" image (above) that, from today's perspective, seems fanciful, given the very limited greenery and lack of amenities:
Until Building 1 construction commences, the future Urban Room area at the southeast corner of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues would be occupied by an outdoor urban plaza. The urban plaza would follow the basic use and design principles of the Urban Room in order to create a significant public amenity. It is anticipated that the plaza would include the following elements:
• Trees in planters, to provide shade;
• Retail kiosks that incorporate stoop-like bleacher seating into their structure. These kiosks
could provide food and beverages or other retail uses;
• Social seating (benches and fixed tables) as well as loose seating;
• The new transit entrance, which will be provided even if there is a delay in the construction of Building 1;
• A prominent sculptural element, such as a large piece of public art; and
• A generously sized, flexible program space to allow for formal and informal public uses
such as outdoor performances, temporary markets, art installations, and seating.
... As described above, the plaza also would include small kiosks for retail and cafĂ© use... This interim use of the Urban Room area would be designed by the project
sponsor to provide a usable, welcoming amenity for the surrounding neighborhood.
Optimism in 2010 

Forest City Ratner executive MaryAnne Gilmartin, according to the 6/16/10 Real Deal, also predicted much activity:
The area in front of the arena will house 12,000 square feet of open space, she said, and a rebuilt subway entrance (previously in disuse) covered with flowering plants. There will be benches and seating in the plaza, along with retail shops, and the space will house greenmarkets and other outdoor events, she said.
When the plaza design was unveiled in September 2010, the New York Observer accepted some Ratner optimism, in Fashion Week When  to Atlantic Yards?:
Though it will someday be capped by a sizable office tower, a new SHoP-designed public plaza at the entrance to the under-construction Brooklyn Nets arena was unveiled today. The key features of the roughly 39,000-square-foot plaza are a greenroof-capped subway entrance and a large oculus at the prow of the arena with programmable, wrap-around displays. Everything from live game footage to Prospect Park live-cams has been contemplated.
"We're very excited about the programming opportunities for this space," Gilmartin said at a 9/29/10 public meeting. "We're looking at the possibility of a farmer's market, movie nights, and other events and festivities.

When, on 9/28/10, the plaza was unveiled, the press release was headlined PLAZA AT BARCLAYS CENTER TO INCLUDE NEW TRANSIT ENTRANCE WITH GREEN ROOF, LANDSCAPING AND OPEN SPACE FOR COMMUNITY PROGRAMMING:
The Plaza, which will serve as the primary entryway to the arena, integrates a new transit entrance with environmentally conscious landscaping, intimate seating areas and flexible open space that can be used for community programming and arena events. The Plaza will be sponsored by ADT, one of the founding partners of the Barclays Center.
(Emphasis added)

Now, the plaza is sponsored by the New York Daily News, from which many encouraging words are heard.

Like a park?

The press release quoted the developer:
"We of course want the Plaza to function well as a gateway to the Barclays Center," Mr. Ratner said. "But it was also designed much like a park so it can be programmed for community events and diverse activities, such as a greenmarket and holiday fairs."

Comments

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 Matzav.com 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…

So, Forest City has some property subject to the future Gowanus rezoning

Writing yesterday, MAP: Who Owns All the Property Along the Gowanus Canal, DNAinfo's Leslie Albrecht lays out the positioning of various real estate players along the Gowanus Canal, a Superfund site:
As the city considers whether to rezone Gowanus and, perhaps, morph the gritty low-rise industrial area into a hot new neighborhood of residential towers (albeit at a fraction of the height of Manhattan's supertall buildings), DNAinfo reviewed property records along the canal to find out who stands to benefit most from the changes.
Investors have poured at least $440 million into buying land on the polluted waterway and more than a third of the properties have changed hands in the past decade, according to an examination of records for the nearly 130 properties along the 1.8-mile canal. While the single largest landowner is developer Property Markets Group, other landowners include Kushner Companies, Alloy Development, Two Trees, and Forest City New York.

Forest City's plans unc…