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Showing posts from November, 2013

On Dean Street, crane work at B2 site closed street for a week

Dean Street between Flatbush and Sixth avenues was closed from Wednesday, 11/20/13 through Wednesday, 11/27/13 to erect a tower crane and dismantle the crawler crane on the B2 construction site.

Below are some photos taken at different days during the week. 
One impact of the closure--which should be replicated, in part, when modules for the tower start to be delivered in about a month--was that bicyclists were routed onto the sidewalk and some drivers attempting to proceed on Dean were stymied with little notice. Also, no one seemed to be directing traffic at the corner.

Monday, Nov. 25





Tuesday, Nov. 26






Wednesday, Nov. 27



Thursday, Nov. 28





OK, Barclays Center hasn't done much for Brooklyn's unemployment rate; Markowitz wants Samsung; Scissura suggests focus on expanding current base

Remember how then-Gov. David Paterson declared in March 2010, "As the buildings rise on Atlantic Yards, the joblessness rate will fall here in Brooklyn."

Or how columnist Andrea Peyser wrote in July 2012, "The arena will pump 2,000 sorely needed jobs into the economy, putting a dent into Brooklyn’s unemployment."

Maybe not so much. Borough President Marty Markowitz issued a statement this week regarding the latest unemployment figures:
“According to the New York State Department of Labor, unemployment in Kings County last month stood at 9.6 percent, a figure higher than that of New York City, New York State and the nation as a whole. As good as Brooklyn is doing, creating jobs for many in our creative economy, this data shows how far we have to go to meet the employment needs of all our residents, from Cypress Hills to Coney Island.

“Anecdotal evidence tells us that our greatest opportunity for growth continues to be in central and eastern Brooklyn. That is why I a…

Barclays retail round-up from the Brooklyn Eagle: Tony Roma progress, Triangle still needs tenant, Shake Shack coming next spring

The Brooklyn Eagle has followed up on some local real estate stories.

From Tony Roma's the new kid on the block near Barclays Center, 11/27/13 , the Eagle reports that 200 people have been hired for the new Tony Roma's in the Atlantic Terrace building catercorner to the arena block, with more than 90% from Brooklyn:
As a consequence of their hire-local strategy, these Tony Roma's franchisees will be ploughing wages into their new community, which is a good thing.Um, should we know the actual wage level for these five- and six-hour shifts before concluding that wages will be "ploughed"?

They're expecting to open December 10 with about 140 total workers. The 15-year lease was signed before the New York Islanders agreed to move in 2015, and the owners are paying about $60 per square foot in rent, less than one-third the rent  of some spots on Flatbush Avenue on the "busier" side of the arena.

What about the Triangle building? And Bergen Tile?

In Tenant…

Wrongheaded on Brian Lehrer: guest suggests de Blasio might be courageous in supporting Atlantic Yards, host suggests mayor will "pressure" developer

Atlantic Yards came up, in a dismayingly wrongheaded way, during a discussion yesterday about development in the waning days of the Bloomberg administration, on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show, about 12 minutes in.

"We know he supported Atlantic Yards, that was controversial, he's not anti-development," declared host Lehrer. "Do you think he's going to be a development mayor?"



"Yes, on one level, I think he is going to encourage development," responded New York Times reporter Charles Bagli. "For one thing, it's exactly how he's going to get to building perhaps 200,000 units of affordable housing... Now, he may extract more in concessions from developers, and we'll see."

"But I don't think you can portray him as anti-development, not by a long shot," Bagli continued. "Some people could even argue it was a profile in courage for a Park Slope resident to support Atlantic Yards. I can't say he was very loud in…

Ex-Carpenters official Zarzana, Atlantic Yards cheerleader, pleads guilty to extortion

I reported 4/19/12 that Salvester (Sal) Zarzana, former head of a Carpenters Union Local and a prominent cheerleader for Atlantic Yards, was charged with extortion and identified in a federal indictment  as a soldier in the Genovese organized crime family.

The Daily News reported last night,
Three Genovese wiseguys and two associates pleaded guilty Thursday [sic] to shakedowns of construction contractors and a labor union.

Reputed soldier James Bernardone, 45, agreed to step down as secretary treasurer of Local 124 as part of copping to extorting a contractor. Sal Zarzana, an alleged made man, pleaded guilty to the same extortion scheme.Sentencing is 3/14/14, according to the New York Post. The extortion scheme was unrelated to Atlantic Yards. The indictment described an extortion conspiracy charge and an extortion charge relating to a construction site "located at the intersection of Gold Street, Johnson Street and Flatbush Avenue" in Brooklyn--which could be the sites …

Yes, city Code of Conduct was violated during MTV VMAs outside Barclays Center

There was not a lot of discussion of Atlantic Yards at last night's 78th Precinct Community Council meeting.

I asked about the progress of the announced effort to crack down on illegal parking around the Barclays Center, and was told it would be discussed next Wednesday, 12/4/13, at the Atlantic Yards Quality of Life Committee meeting, 6 pm at the 78th Precinct, Bergen Street and Sixth Avenue.

VMAs and the Code of Conduct

Peter Krashes of the Dean Street Block Association also updated attendees on one lingering question about the MTV Video Music Awards, held at the end of August at Dean Street and Sixth Avenue.

The block association, he said, met with the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment and was told that the Code of Conduct applicable to film shoots and community outreach was in effect during the weekend, confirming a lingering question.

"We did find numerous examples of violations," Krashes said.

For example, he said, the Code of Conduct required MTV to nam…

At the Barclays Center, many empty seats for Legends Classic college tourney

The Brooklyn Nets, despite their losses, have come close to filling the Barclays Center this year (and tonight they play the Los Angeles Lakers), but college basketball--not so much.

When I emerged from the subway near the Barclays Center last night at about 7:20 pm, not long after the first game of the Legends Classic college hoops doubleheader began, a scalper offered me tickets.

He started at $20, but quickly agreed to $5.

I asked to see the tickets. They were comps, marked $0.00. Indeed, several people told me the arena was giving out many freebies. So it's understandable some recipients were trying to make a few bucks.

When I returned to the arena plaza at about 9:30, around the time the second game was starting, between Stanford University and the University of Pittsburgh, the below photo shows the view peeking through from the main doors.

Presumably there were more people for the first game, but I'm sure arena operators didn't want the building to be that empty. (F…

ESD to pay $300,000 (of Forest City Ratner's money) to lawyers who won Atlantic Yards timetable case

From my article in the Commercial Observer, State to Pay $300,000 to Lawyers Who Won Atlantic Yards Timetable Case:
Empire State Development, the state agency overseeing the Atlantic Yards megadevelopment in Brooklyn, has agreed to pay $300,000 in fees to lawyers representing two community coalitions that won a lingering lawsuit over the project’s timetable.
The lawyers successfully challenged the agency’s decision, in 2009, to extend the potential build-out of the project to 25 years, while only studying the impact of a five-year delay on a project long billed as taking 10 years.
The fee is actually paid by Atlantic Yards developer Forest City Ratner, which, as is customary, agreed to pay for litigation, as well as an environmental review ordered by the state agency. The $300,000 represents about 83 percent of the sum requested by the attorneys.
However it seems like a loss, the $300,000 may simply be the cost of doing business for Forest City, which, had a Supplemental Environmental Im…

Average "affordable" 2 BR in first Atlantic Yards tower would rent for $1946 (1 BR: $1161), according to 2012 figures, which should rise; market 2 BR: $4403

We know--as I wrote in an August 2012 article for City Limits' Brooklyn Bureau--that the two-bedroom "affordable" units in the first Atlantic Yards tower would be disproportionately geared to middle-class families, not low-income ones, with rents more than $2,700 a month.

But neither developer Forest City Ratner nor Empire State Development, the state agency overseeing Atlantic Yards, has published the full list of expected rents for the 181 affordable units in the B2 tower, scheduled to open late next year at the corner of Flatbush Avenue and Dean Street.

Here it is, at right, via the New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC), pointing to 16 subsidized 2 BR units at $2740 a month.

The chart again reminds us that the devil's in the details, that vaunted 50% market/50% subsidized housing program more precisely includes 20% low-income and 30% moderate- and middle-income. No wonder elected officials trying to speed up the construction of affordable housing wo…

At church meeting, a call for pressure on planned Atlantic Yards sale and new accountability

meeting yesterday at Brown Memorial Baptist Church in Clinton Hill aimed to alert community members to elected officials' efforts to put conditions on the planned sale of 70% of the remaining Atlantic Yards project. (I wasn't able to attend, but I do have some video coverage.)

One key message: Atlantic Yards is a test case for balancing community concerns and a developer's bottom line, and the developer for now is winning.

"We were promised permanent living wage jobs, and housing, and that's not what's happening right now," meeting host Gerald Marcus Harris of the Brown leadership team told the more than 100 attendees.

Michelle de La Uz, executive director of the Fifth Avenue Committee, explained the work of the BrooklynSpeaks initiative and said that if developer Forest City Ratner completes the sale to the Chinese government-owned Greenland Group, that means they'd be "cashing out before any of the major promises" are delivered.

"Br…

Next Atlantic Yards Quality of Life Committee Meeting is Wednesday December 4

Expect discussion of noise, idling, illegal parking, and more at the next Atlantic Yards Quality of Life Committee meeting, which will be held Wednesday, December 4 at 6 pm at the 78th Precinct Court Room, 65 6th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217.

(Some of those issues also should come up tomorrow night at the monthly meeting of the 78th Precinct Community Council, at 7:30 pm, in the same location, especially since the NYPD pledged a month earlier to crack down on illegal parking.)

According to Derek Lynch, Manager, Atlantic Yards Project, Community/Government Relations
for Empire State Development, the state agency overseeing/shepherding Atlantic Yards:
This [Quality of Life Committee] Meeting is a forum for representatives from the community and civic groups to engage Empire State Development, Forest City Ratner Companies and Barclays Center operators regarding issues affecting the quality of life for residents and businesses in close proximity to the arena.
Please remember to designate on…

The Nets lose again, but what does it mean?

With yesterday's 109-97 loss to the Detroit Pistons, the Brooklyn Nets are now 3-10. Some people consider that doom. I'd give them an incomplete and suggest that many people like sports because it gives them narratives that can turn on a dime.

But the Nets' start also should remind people to do a "civic pride" check. Do Brooklynites feel some diminishment because the Nets have injured players, a rookie coach, and an underachieving team? Will we feel more fulfilled if the Nets turn it around? C'mon.

On team website: the Nets risk becoming irrelevant if they lose tonight http://t.co/lTOVbAcYLA
— Stefan Bondy (@NYDNInterNets) November 24, 2013

This is what it has come to: The Nets were booed on Kids Day at the Barclays Center.
— Stefan Bondy (@NYDNInterNets) November 24, 2013

We are all in this together. We will work through it. Brooklyn strong.
— Brett Yormark (@brettyormark) November 24, 2013

Russians support Jason Kidd, reports ESPN. NetsDaily told Moscow &qu…

Today, at Brown Memorial, meeting to "block the sale of land our tax dollars paid for to a foreign company with no stake in producing Affordable Housing for Brooklyn"

So, how might elected officials get leverage for their effort to block the planned sale of 70% of the remaining Atlantic Yards project to the Chinese government-owned Greenland Group unless a new schedule for affordable housing is instituted?

A meeting today at Brown Memorial Baptist Church in Clinton Hill on the "Affordable Housing Crisis," sponsored by the Fifth Avenue Committee and Brown Community Development Corporation CDC, focuses on Atlantic Yards, with a petition to "block the sale of land our tax dollars paid for to a foreign company with no stake in producing Affordable Housing for Brooklyn."

The meeting is at 1:30 pm at the church's Fellowship Hall, 52 Gates Avenue, between Waverly and Washington avenues. (Full poster is at bottom.)

"Join the campaign to force them to build housing sooner rather than a generation later," states the meeting announcement, below, which also notes "Participate in your local Community Boards and Block Assoc…

Blame Kidd? As Nets "hit another rock bottom," some target neophyte coach (but how much is his fault?)

Yes, the Brooklyn Nets did beat the defending champion Miami Heat, suggesting it was a reasonable bet to build a squad to win this year, with owner Mikhail Prokhorov willing to pay a huge luxury tax for some aging stars.

Since then, they've been terrible, beset by injuries to their older (Andrei Kirilenko, Jason Terry, Kevin Garnett) and not-so-old (Brook Lopez, Deron Williams) players, with no time to gel as a squad. Last night's 30-point loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves left them 3-9. Nets hit another rock bottom in Minnesota, ESPN reported.

They have some bright spots, like the play (though not last night) of bench pick-ups Shaun Livingston and Alan Anderson, as well as rookie Mason Plumlee, but the big names are surely disappointments. And it's more than that, as ESPN's Mike Mazzeo wrote: "Missing your best players makes it tough. Getting outplayed makes it nearly impossible."

So there's been enormous speculation about whether it was wise to hire st…

What happens after Barclays Center neighbors file a noise complaint? Not much.

One Barclays Center neighbor said the noise emanating from the Kanye West concerts this week was "[a]part from the Justin Bieber fans... the worst noise in my opinion since the arena opened." Another told me the noise could be heard within the Newswalk building at a point very near Carlton Avenue.

That's a problem.

But what happens when people file 311 complaints? They get blown off by the cops, and it's not really NYPD. It's not like the police have the equipment that the Department of Environmental Protection has--and occasionally brings--to measure noise violations.

(The DEP has levied one fine, which the Barclays Center paid, but has been unable to levy more, despite widespread belief by neighbors that violations continue.)

So expect some noise issues to come up at the 78th Precinct Community Council meeting next Tuesday, Nov. 26, at 7:30 at the precinct, at 6th Avenue and Bergen Street.

But it's likely police and precinct council officials will say Barcl…

Idling trucks/buses at 3:20 a.m. outside arena after Kanye West concert, neighbor reports; leaking bass shakes items inside apartment

The two Kanye West concerts in the last two nights at the Barclays Center produced some severe headaches for nearby residents. As one resident of Sixth Avenue below Dean Street reported, the noise of idling buses and vehicles "has been so bad that it’s been enough for me to actually get up (I’d failed to get back to sleep for a while), make a complaint to 311 and record video."

He went up the block to the arena at 3:20 am last night and recorded five buses and two trucks idling. "The trucks moved after I walked around," he stated. "I spoke to one of the bus drivers and he said they’d been told to wait and idle by the venue."



Leaking bass

"Before the concert even finished, the music was louder than I’ve heard before from the arena with the bass actually shaking items in our apartment," he reported. "I could also hear it outside at the corner of Bergen [Street[ and Flatbush [Avenue] at around 10 pm."

"Apart from the Justin Bieber fan…

Mayor-elect de Blasio names Gilmartin, Lewis to his 60-member transition team; did press give candidate a bye?

As part of his 60-member volunteer transition team, Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio yesterday named MaryAnne Gilmartin, President and CEO, Forest City Ratner Companies and Bertha Lewis, President and Founder, The Black Institute--and, more importantly, Forest City Ratner's partner on the Atlantic Yards affordable housing since she headed New York ACORN.

de Blasio has long had a relationship with Lewis--he owes her and the associated Working Families Party big-time for his entire political career. And it's understandable that he'd have a relationship with Gilmartin, given the importance he's placed in getting Atlantic Yards affordable housing done.

But her prominence confirms just how important that relationship is--one I suspect will pay off with carrots, not sticks, regarding Atlantic Yards.

From the announcement

His transition office issued a news release:
Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio today announced the appointment of 60 experienced leaders and experts to his transition com…

The Barclays Center releases event calendar for December 2013

The Barclays Center December has released its December event calendar, with 27 events, including one double-header and one triple-header college basketball tourneys.

The max attendance is expected for Nets basketball games, with 16,500 expected--presumably accounting for no-shows despite official sellouts. (The arena seats 17,732 for basketball.)  The 14,000 expected for Beyonce is either a lowball figure or based on a concert configuration that puts certain sections out of commission.


Note that in 2012 the arena expected 14,000 for Andrea Bocelli, but now expects 10,000. Tickets are on discount.


Starting this morning, Dean Street between Flatbush/6th closed for a week from 9 am to 6 pm for installation of tower crane for B2 construction; last-minute notice after vague information

A Community Notice sent late yesterday afternoon to some Prospect Heights residents (and sent directly to me and others at 10 pm, right) told them that Dean Street next to the arena block would close this morning for a week:
DEAN STREET BETWEEN FLATBUSH & 6TH AVENUES WILL BE CLOSED for one week, starting Wednesday, November 20th through Wednesday, November 27th to erect a tower crane and dismantle the crawler crane on the B2 construction site located at the corner of Flatbush Avenue and Dean Street. Please note that although the street closure will be from 9 am to 6 pm, this work is expected to start at 7 am. Access to the Barclays Center loading dock is being coordinated via 6th Avenue. Vehicles requiring access to the loading dock will be directed by flagmen, which will be provided by the both the arena operations team and the B2 construction team.  For additional information, please contact the Atlantic Yards Community Liaison Office at 1-866-923-5315 or communityliaison@atlan…

Quarterly disclosure to bondholders: $43.3 million in both ticket sales and suite and sponsor installments

The Brooklyn Events Center, the Barclays Center operating company, yesterday released its latest (and fourth) quarterly disclosure to bondholders, indicating $43.3 million in both ticket sales and suite and sponsor installments. 
That's a small but not necessarily significant dip from previous quarters, mainly because of suite and sponsor installments. Tickets tales are up compared to the previous two quarters, but not the first one.

See screenshots below, moving backward in time.

Third quarter, 2013



Second quarter, 2013




First quarter, 2013




Fourth quarter, 2012

As revamped New Domino plan (from SHoP and Two Trees) proceeds, planner suggests closer look at housing, open space, and jobs

It's time for another look at the New Domino development in Williamsburg, partly because it's the second-largest project in Brooklyn after Atlantic Yards, and partly because the changing plans, promises, and players (and journalistic inattention) in some way follow the AY template.
Consider the 10/17/13 New York Times article At Brooklyn’s Domino Sugar Site, Waning Opposition to Prospect of Luxury Towers, which essentially called for resignation:
It is the consummate landmark for 2013 Williamsburg: a monument of the Brooklyn neighborhood’s industrial past that a developer has decided to transform into luxury high-rise buildings, knowing that people will pay to live in them for the unmatched views, the industrial-chic glamour and the neighborhood, the most up-and-coming of them all.
The Domino Sugar refinery, whose colossal machinery fell silent for good in 2004, is known across the East River in Manhattan for the neon “Domino Sugar” sign that presides over its sooty brick wal…

Absent among elected officials putting pressure on Atlantic Yards: state Senator and BP-elect Eric Adams, who evades question of delays, backs modular plan

Update: a couple of people have told me Adams was out of the country. I still submit that his comments to NY1 indicate he's not ready to join the effort pressuring Forest City and that he could have been part of the press release had he felt it appropriate.

There was one conspicuous absence last Friday when a broad range of elected officials urged that the Atlantic Yards Development Agreement be revised to require the affordable housing to be built on the originally promoted ten-year schedule before the developer is allowed to sell 70% of the remaining project to the Chinese government-owned Greenland Group, and that the ongoing Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement study alternatives to Forest City's plan.

That absence: state Senator and Borough President-elect Eric Adams, who represents a district near the site and, of course, will soon represent the borough.

Those officials present were Assemblymembers James F. Brennan, Joan L. Millman, and Walter T. Mosley; State Se…