Skip to main content

Forest City says arena acoustical panels part of three-way effort to limit escaping bass (though locals still hear it); no news on roof revamp

A Forest City Ratner executive last night acknowledged that yes, the company had installed 1,800 ceiling panels in an effort to deter escaping bass, but said the panels--which cost $500,000, as I wrote--were not aimed to block sound but rather to improve arena acoustics so musical acts stopped asking sound engineers to turn up the volume.
Ceiling panels, 2/16/14

Speaking at a meeting of the Atlantic Yards Quality of Life Committee, which meets about every two months to discuss project-related issues, Chief of Staff Ashley Cotton said the acoustical baffles were one of three "corrections" deployed in recent months.

"It turns out the way the arena was built, there was distortion in the upper bowl of the arena, which was causing artists to say It doesn't sound right, turn up the volume," Cotton reported. At the same time, she said, "we were getting complaints from the rafters, people saying it was too loud."

So the arena hired a "sound concierge," aimed to help touring acts figure out how to get the best sound without going too loud. 

Also, Cotton said, "we have built in even more, in our contractual agreements with the artists, compliance with the city’s sound code." She didn't offer specifics.

Also, they've installed the ceiling panels, which, as I wrote, began after an application to the Department of Buildings was filed 8/28/13, with an expiration 12/4/13. “We think this has been incredibly helpful, particularly with musicians with heavy bass," said Cotton.

Is it working?

Asked by an audience member whether arena operators had evaluated the improvements, Cotton noted that the Sensation electronica show in October 2012 generated a violation from the Department of Environmental Protection  (which ultimately wasn't sustained), but the Sensation show in October 2013 did not.

"We're certainly aware of complaints since Sensation," Cotton acknowledged. "The system needs to be fine-tuned going forward."

Actually, according to Atlantic Yards Watch, there was a complaint regarding the more recent Sensation from a resident of St. Marks Avenue in Park Slope, who wrote, "Disturbed by distinctive bass sound thumping at 1AM inside bedroom with closed windows several blocks away."

And while Atlantic Yards Watch has logged fewer noise complaints in recent months than a year earlier, there have been complaints regarding loud noise from both the Jay-Z and Kanye West concerts. (The lesser number may result from some fatigue on the part of those reporting and logging the complaints.)

Dean Street resident Peter Krashes pointed out that bass also seems to be escaping from the lower parts of the arena, given reports from residents in basement or ground-level apartments near the arena.

Why no disclosure?

For months, Forest City reps had said they were working on fixes regarding the escaping bass. Cotton was asked why they didn't report on the baffles sooner. (The last Quality of Life Committee meeting was 12/4/13, well after the most recent Sensation concert.)

"We wanted to make sure that the whole package was put together," Cotton responded. "So today was the first Quality of Life meeting where I could report out.... Over the past few months, we've been working on these improvements." (Or, perhaps, my article forced their hand.)

No agenda was distributed beforehand, and the meeting was scheduled with less than a week's notice, so barely any residents attended the meeting, held at Brooklyn Hospital on DeKalb Avenue. 

(Other issues raised, which I'll address in subsequent posts, include problems with the circus load-in at the arena and a report that indicates that, on Nets game days at least, traffic isn't as bad as once feared.)

What about Greenland's roof revamp?

Cotton was whether the work she reported was part of the roof revamp project that's expected to be part of Forest City's pending joint venture with the Chinese government-owned Greenland Group.

The answer was no.

Cotton briefly acknowledged reports that "we're considering some architectural and environmental changes" to the roof, but said she had no news about it.

She did note that, because Forest City is building the B2 tower adjacent to the arena, "we have as much motivation as residents in the neighborhood" to fix escaping noise, "so we will keep fine tuning."

Comments

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…

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…

Former ESDC CEO Lago returns to NYC to head City Planning Commission

Carl Weisbrod, Mayor Bill de Blasio's City Planning Commission Chairman and Director of the Department of City Planning, is resigning,

And he's being replaced by Marisa Lago, currently a federal official, but who Atlantic Yards-ologists remember as the short-term Empire State Development Corporation CEO who, in an impolitic but candid 2009 statement, acknowledged that the project would take "decades."

Still, Lago not long after that played the good soldier at a May 2009 Senate oversight hearing, justifying changes in the project but claiming the public benefits remained the same.

By returning to City Planning, Lago will join former ESDC General Counsel Anita Laremont, who after retiring from the state (and taking a pension) got the job with the city.

Back at planning

Lago, a lawyer, in 1983 began work as an aide to City Planning Chairman Herb Sturz, and later served as the General Counsel to the president of the NYC Economic Development Corporation, Weisbrod himself.