Skip to main content

The VMAs come to Brooklyn, with the pre-show at Sixth and Dean; limited access for locals, party atmosphere on Flatbush (plus video)

Photo and set by Tracy Collins
The MTV Video Music Awards came to the Barclays Center last night, with the pre-show red carpet event at the corner of Dean Street and Sixth Avenue shutting down those streets and requiring residents to go through police checkpoints--and, in some cases, to take a very indirect route to reach the subway or stores.

It was a mixed bag for locals, especially those on Dean Street and Sixth Avenue, the two streets that were shut off--Dean from Flatbush to Carlton Avenue, and Sixth from Bergen Street (more or less) to Atlantic Avenue.

The red carpet; photo by Norman Oder
Some enjoyed the pre-show from 8-9 pm, turning their apartments and sidewalks into a party, while others were frustrated by the intrusion of visitors and extras, including the failure of police or security guards to keep people off their stoops.

And here's a mostly enthusiastic take from a couple of reporters living literally across the street from the arena, on Dean Street between Flatbush and Sixth avenues, saying the consensus was "this was the block party to end all block parties," and the hassles were surmountable, even if the celebrities were not all friendly.
A surreal event

But it truly deserved the descriptor surreal.

Photo and set by Tracy Collins
There were Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry and Austin Mahone gamboling on the red carpet--not the red carpet hugging the arena sidewalk, the strip that led through the faux Brooklyn Bridge next to the faux (gray) brick wall, to the stage that near the former location of the beloved (and relocated) Freddy’s Bar and Backroom.

This was the red carpet in the street, which led past the Dubai Mini Mart and Engine Company 219, with the low-rise brownstones and brick buildings indelibly signaling Brooklyn.

From the window of an apartment near that corner, the scene was the same, only louder, much louder. Roaring their approval were hundreds, maybe thousands, of orchestrated extras, mostly teens, plus some fraction of locals and the guests they’d eased past the police barricades.

So, were the extras/visitors screaming their heads off? Sure they were. And no, it was not explained that "red carpet activity" would include that screaming.
From MTV handout to neighbors
Below is the reaction to Miley Cyrus on the red carpet.

Below is the reaction to Austin Mahone on the red carpet.

Other coverage

Here's coverage of the overall show/scene from the Brooklyn Paper.

Here's Jody Rosen's review on NY magazine's Vulture, focusing on Miley Cyrus's "minstrel show."

Um, that's a photo of a TV broadcast reported:
By tapping the Barclays Center to host the awards program, MTV became the latest media giant to recognize and ratify what everybody in the New York metropolitan area knows: Brooklyn is on the rise. The network gave a bear hug to the borough, rounding up locals to dance to the performances and broadcasting clips of Brooklyn-based movies on the monitors between performances. Timberlake made good use of the full arena (including its elevators and concourses) during his mini-set.
Even the award itself was redesigned by a Brooklynite: artist KAWS, whose leaning Moon Man with X-ed out eyes took the place of the previous trophy
Voices from Dean Street

Photo and set by Tracy Collins
Crowds had gathered by the morning, before the cops clearing some people away, but by 6:15 pm everything was set:, the sidewalks were jammed with extras, the house music was pounding, and the crowd roared on cue, getting pumped for the big event.

For a good number of people on Dean Street, it was a party, inviting friends for exclusive views. Others scored free tickets in a last-minute goodwill gesture from the Barclays Center.

But another contingent of residents--as captured by block association president Peter Krashes on video (further below)--were frustrated by the inability to even cross the street, or by people congregating on their stoops. One resident reported she spent the afternoon repeatedly asking people to stay off her steps:

They were drinking and eating, and impeding the path of our tenants entering and leaving our building,
At one point, approximately 3:00, I asked a group of people "please don't sit on the steps." After having to repeat myself at least twice, one of them asked me if it was my house. I said yes, and again firmly said "Please don't sit on the steps". After they finally got up, a man in the group walked up to me and yelled that he didn't like the way I  told his daughter to "get off the steps", he said he didn't care if I lived there and I had no right to talk to them that way. I reminded him  that I had to ask several times for them to not sit on the steps before  they got up.

After ranting in a every aggressive and threatening manner, he insinuated that "maybe tomorrow he would come back and I wouldn't have a house any more, he would take care of that". A neighbor of mine stepped in and asked the man to back off and move away. As my neighbor is a man, and as the police came down the street at the same time, the man  left, gently escorted by the police.

...We were promised that only residents would be allowed on our street.
“The network gave a bear hug to the borough,” according to one report, citing the deployment of Brooklyn imagery and local extras. If so, it was a bear hug with limited outreach to those whose homes would provide such an authentic backdrop.

As Krashes observed, "the information about the number of people let into the block was significantly understated." Also, he said, "we were told they were going to bleachers... they were on people's stoops."

The aftermath

“Money talks,” observed a world-weary resident after the crowds had gone, as we surveyed litter on the sidewalk.

The view this morning (by AYInfoNYC)
MTV provided porta-potties for extras in the holding lot, but I heard several reports of visitors relieving themselves where they could or knocking on doors in desperation.) 

This morning, I'm told, the street clean-up is less than complete, and, though all streets were supposed to be open by midnight, that wasn't so.

After the show, money kept talking. Dean Street was still blocked off, except to admit an armada of limos that had double-parked on nearby streets. Then, after being waved in, those VIP vehicles zipped west down Dean--the wrong way, on this one-way street--past Sixth Avenue to the arena, picking up their precious cargo.

VIP vehicles

There were more idling and double-parked limos/vans on Prospect Heights streets waiting for the show to end than I'd seen for any other event, including Barbra Streisand and the Rolling Stones.

There was a line on Carlton Avenue, as noted in the video below.

In the video below, vehicles are being waved from Carlton onto Dean to go west--wrong way on the one-way street--to the arena.

This Atlantic Yards Watch report points to numerous examples across Flatbush Avenue in Park Slope.

Flatbush as mall

Here's another Atlantic Yards Watch report, regarding the east side of Flatbush Avenue:
On the east side of Flatbush  (by AYInfoNYC)
Versailles clothing store had a promotional party going on, tied in with the MTV awards, with amplified music blasting onto the street and a large, milling crowd partying on the sidewalk. One storefront over, at 198 Flatbush, they erected a photo backdrop and photographers (apparently hired by the store) were working from the middle of the sidewalk. The entire sidewalk was crowded to the point of impeding pedestrian traffic either physically or by intimidation (because of the large crowd, not because of any threats. It was a party atmosphere).
One visitor counted more than 50 vendors or promotional people handing out flyers and other souvenirs on Flatbush Avenue between Bergen and Dean Streets.

Neighbors on video

The resident in the video below was frustrated by the cops: "How many times do I have to show my ID for them to recognize that I live here?"

"Show some respect," said the interviewee below, noting he was frustrated at having to show ID numerous times. Note Krashes' observation:
Note: It was the Mayor's Office and MTV who did not attend any public meetings in advance of this event. Compared to the other entities involved in the planning of the VMAs, the local precinct was relatively accessible to the local Block Association.

NYPD was visible on the ground implementing the security plan for a production given wide latitude in the middle of a residential neighborhoods by Commissioner Oliver and the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment. Because they are on the ground, they end up being the focus of the criticism even though it is the Mayor's Office who approved MTV's plan.

This resident blamed MTV for an event that was "kinda like a shitshow... we accommodated them, and they did not accommodate us."

This resident said the strictures were "not too bad."

"We're giving up our lives for something I do not benefit from, at all," this resident said.

This resident said, "I felt like a prisoner, can't even go to my corner store."


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…