Skip to main content

As graduates gather today on residential Dean Street, remember how it morphed from preferred seating entry to "mid-sized" portal

EmblemHealth Dean Entrance
The crowd gathering at 8:30 this morning at the Barclays Center's Dean Street entrance--sorry, the EmblemHealth Dean entrance--for the Long Island University commencement ceremonies was never supposed to be there.

(The graduates will arrive at the Dean Street entrance at the bottom of the arena, which is across the street from a residential cluster, while a larger group--their guests--arrive at the main plaza, at Atlantic and Flatbush avenues.)

That's because, when the Atlantic Yards arena was approved in 2006, there was a minor entrance, only a few doors wide, on Dean Street, only slightly larger than the entrance on Atlantic Avenue just west of Sixth Avenue.

EmblemHealth Atlantic Entrance
See the graphic below from the November 2006 Final Environmental Impact Statement, which shows an arena oriented nearly east-west, as opposed to the current north-south orientation.

The Dean Street entrance, part of a plan designed to "minimize its presence and effect on the residential uses" in the area, was supposed to be for VIPs.

Instead, thanks to a change in plans and some fuzzy and misleading language that I'll address below, it became a much larger secondary entrance--in fact, the secondary entrance, deemed "mid-sized" by an arena official.

So now, as indicated in the photo above right, the Dean entrance has nine double doors. (That's actually more than the seven double doors on the main plaza, though they are spaced more generously and offer far more opportunity for people to gather.)

By contrast, as shown in the photo above left, the EmblemHealth Atlantic Entrance has just two double doors. (There are several other doors on Atlantic, as I'll explain below, but mostly for exits, not entrances. Dean Street also offers another set of doors for workers to enter.)

The arena as approved, 2006

From Figure 1-22 of the Final Environmental Impact Statement, Nov. 2006. Atlantic Ave. at top, Dean St. at bottom.
From the Final EIS

According to the November 2006 Final Environmental Impact Statement issued by the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), Executive Summary:
The New York City Zoning Resolution prohibits arenas within 200 feet of residential districts as some of the operations could be incompatible with districts limited primarily to residential use. (Arenas are permitted in most commercial districts allowing for residential use.) The arena block is adjacent to a residential district to the south, and accordingly, the arena has been designed to minimize its presence and effect on the residential uses on these blocks. Primary entrances and signage would be oriented toward the crossroads of two major commercial thoroughfares and away from these residences. Two primarily residential buildings (Buildings 2 and 3) on the arena block would occupy most of the Dean Street frontage, serving as a buffer between uses. However, the preferred seating entry and entry to the loading area would be located on Dean Street and, while security screening and loading functions would take place entirely within the building, the residences along this street would experience some localized adverse impacts. 
(all emphases added)

Note that there was no statement about where workers would enter, which turned out to be Dean Street.

Also note the misleading notion of "primary entrances" oriented toward the commercial crossroads. There's only one primary entrance.

The term "primary entrances" was again used in Chapter 3, Land Use:
GEICO Main Entrance: seven double doors (+ Starbucks)
As also noted above, the arena has been designed to avoid and minimize operational effects to the extent feasible on adjacent and on-site residential uses by orienting the primary entrances and signage along Atlantic and Flatbush Avenue away from such residences and locating all servicing activities (e.g., deliveries, screening) internally.
But Chapter 8, Urban Design, more accurately described one primary entrance and other secondary entrances:
The arena’s primary entrance would be located at the Flatbush and Atlantic Avenue intersection; secondary entrances would be located on Atlantic Avenue and Dean Street.
Calvin Klein VIP Entrance, Atlantic Ave.
This left the impression, not inaccurate based on the graphic above, that the secondary entrances on Atlantic and Dean would be roughly commensurate in size.

A change in 2009

Then things changed, when the arena was redesigned and shrunken, part of a revised project plan re-approved in 2009. According to the ESDC's June 2009 Technical Memorandum:
The VIP entry to the arena would be relocated to Atlantic Avenue, although an entrance from Dean Street would remain.
According to the Technical Memorandum:
The proposed access and circulation reconfigurations would not create any notable changes to the site’s urban design; while the VIP entry to the arena would be relocated to Atlantic Avenue, a secondary arena entrance on Dean Street would remain.
...Although the arena’s VIP entry would be relocated to Atlantic Avenue from Dean Street, this would affect only a relatively small number of arena pedestrian trips, and a substantial change in pedestrian flow patterns is not anticipated. There would continue to be a secondary entrance for arena patrons located on Dean Street as assumed in the FEIS.
The shift is understated, but it's significant.

Dean Street loading dock, worker entrance at left near
EmblemHealth Dean Entrance
Yes, "a secondary entrance" would remain, though at least some language in the Final EIS left the impression that the only function as of 2006 of the Dean entrance was for preferred seating, leading to the not unreasonable conclusion that the shift in the locations for VIPs would mean no functions for Dean shift.

Note that a "preferred seating entry" is not the same as a "secondary entrance."

Again, there was no mention of where the workers would enter--and, for that matter, go across the street to smoke, hang out.

The oprating arena

As I wrote in June 2012, then-arena General Manager John Sparks estimated that between 70-75% of arena visitors would enter the arena from the arena plaza (with new subway entrance), 5-10% of the crowd, mainly suiteholders, would enter on the VIP entrance on Atlantic Avenue, with another 5-10% going through small entrance on Atlantic near Sixth Avenue.
Atlantic Avenue exit doors

Sparks also said that the “mid-sized” entrance on Dean Street would accommodate arena staff--estimated at 800 people for major events--as well as some 20% of attendees, which could mean 3,600 people.

In other words, Dean Street, though clearly secondary to the plaza entrance, was by far the largest of the secondary entrances.

The photo at left shows two clusters of three double doors on Atlantic Avenue--on in the foreground, another down the block--used only to exit the arena.

Flatbush Avenue near Dean Street exit
That makes nine sets of double doors on Atlantic, counting the two entrances (VIP and EmblemHealth), but, again, only to exit. There's too little room on the sidewalk outside to make it a plausible entrance.

At right is the "secret"--as in unrevealed in documents, as far as I know--exit from the arena at Flatbush Avenue just west of Dean Street.

Going forward

It will be interesting to see what happens when, as noted in the FEIS, "two primarily residential buildings (Buildings 2 and 3) on the arena block would occupy most of the Dean Street frontage, serving as a buffer between uses."

Presumably those residents--adding significantly to the Dean Street population--will have their own concerns about Barclays Center crowds in the morning and evening, and surely even greater concerns if the arena can't solve the problem of bass penetrating nearby residences.


Popular posts from this blog

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…

Is Barclays Center dumping the Islanders, or are they renegotiating? Evidence varies (bond doc, cash receipts); NHL attendance biggest variable

The Internet has been abuzz since Bloomberg's Scott Soshnick reported 1/30/17, using an overly conclusory headline, that Brooklyn’s Barclays Center Is Dumping the Islanders.

That would end an unusual arrangement in which the arena agrees to pay the team a fixed sum (minus certain expenses), in exchange for keeping tickets, suite, and sponsorship revenue.

The arena would earn more without the hockey team, according to Bloomberg, which cited “a financial projection shared with potential investors showed the Islanders won’t contribute any revenue after the 2018-19 season--a clear signal that the team won’t play there, the people said."

That "signal," however, is hardly definitive, as are the media leaks about a prospective new arena in Queens, as shown in the screenshot below from Newsday. Both sides are surely pushing for advantage, if not bluffing.

Consider: the arena and the Islanders can't even formally begin their opt-out talks until after this season. The disc…

Skanska says it "expected to assemble a properly designed modular building, not engage in an iterative R&D experiment"

On 12/10/16, I noted that FastCo.Design's Prefab's Moment of Reckoning article dialed back the gush on the 461 Dean modular tower compared to the publication's previous coverage.

Still, I noted that the article relied on developer Forest City Ratner and architect SHoP to put the best possible spin on what was clearly a failure. From the article: At the project's outset, it took the factory (managed by Skanska at the time) two to three weeks to build a module. By the end, under FCRC's management, the builders cut that down to six days. "The project took a little longer than expected and cost a little bit more than expected because we started the project with the wrong contractor," [Forest City's Adam] Greene says.Skanska jabs back
Well, Forest City's estranged partner Skanska later weighed in--not sure whether they weren't asked or just missed a deadline--and their article was updated 12/13/16. Here's Skanska's statement, which shows th…

Not just logistics: bypassing Brooklyn for DNC 2016 also saved on optics (role of Russian oligarch, Shanghai government)

Surely the logistical challenges of holding a national presidential nominating convention in Brooklyn were the main (and stated) reasons for the Democratic National Committee's choice of Philadelphia.

And, as I wrote in NY Slant, the huge security cordon in Philadelphia would have been impossible in Brooklyn.

But consider also the optics. As I wrote in my 1/21/15 op-ed in the Times arguing that the choice of Brooklyn was a bad idea:
The arena also raises ethically sticky questions for the Democrats. While the Barclays Center is owned primarily by Forest City Ratner, 45 percent of it is owned by the Russian billionaire Mikhail D. Prokhorov (who also owns 80 percent of the Brooklyn Nets). Mr. Prokhorov has a necessarily cordial relationship with Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin — though he has been critical of Mr. Putin in the past, last year, at the Russian president’s request, he tried to transfer ownership of the Nets to one of his Moscow-based companies. An oligarch-owned a…