Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Greenland moves in: an unreported meeting with Bloomberg, a promotion at Times Square ("Skyscraper Specialist from China")

Mike Bloomberg & Zhang Yuliang
At right is a photo we never saw last October from the office of then New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

Nine days before developer Forest City Ratner and the Chinese-government owned Greenland Group announced a memorandum of understanding to form a joint venture to build the remaining Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn--with a supportive quote from Bloomberg--the mayor met in his office with Greenland Chairman Zhang Yuliang.

The photo and announcement appear on Greenland's own page for news releases. Deputy Mayor Robert Steel and Borough President Marty Markowitz also attended the meeting.

According to a crude Google translation of the 10/11/13 news release, Bloomberg "pointed out that New York City will be their help to solve the various problems encountered in the Green Group in the United States investment process, coordinating parties to provide more convenient conditions and quality service for Greenland Group, strive for the early realization of cooperation expected results."

That seems to be happening.

As noted in coverage of the EB-5 immigrant investor program, Chinese investors like to be reassured by the role of government in a project, however spurious. In this case, the role of government is significant.

Here We Come
A Skyscraper Specialist from China
According to Forest City's press release, Bloomberg said, "This investment would allow us to move forward with one of the most ambitious affordable housing programs in our City's history. I am thrilled that this global company sees in New York an opportunity to invest and contribute to the future of our City, an investment that would create housing for thousands of people of diverse backgrounds and means."

Greenland moves forward

Another news release, dated 12/24/13, describes Greenland's self-promotion in advertising signage at Times Square, apparently keyed to the company's announcement of major projects in New York and Los Angeles, part of a huge worldwide push.

The signage stated "Here We Come," with Greenland being described as "A Skyscraper Specialist from China."

From the crude Google translation:
"America, here we come!" Following the real estate project has landed in New York, Los Angeles, recently, green group image videos and successfully landed New York Times Square (Times Square) giant screen in the world's most valuable advertising "Crossroads of the World" completed officially unveiled.
...The total length of 15 seconds promo, pithily demonstrates green brands to enter the U.S. market confidence and ambition to compelling words and vibrant pictures to show the world "super high-rise building experts from China's" brand value and corporate style.
The promo comes Greenland Group Overseas delivery period of rapid development, will greatly enhance green brand visibility and influence abroad
Some context: Greenland's towers

It should be noted that, for "Skyscraper Specialist" Greenland, Atlantic Yards, at least in terms of height/bulk, is relatively minor.

The tallest Atlantic Yards tower would be 511 feet. The company's list of largest towers starts at 606 meters (1988 feet), with the fifth-largest at 358 meters (1174 feet).

Perhaps Greenland will be a candidate to built the 1000-foot-tall tower apparently possible at the current Downtown Brooklyn site for Junior's Restaurant.

(Boosterish quote from current Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams: “We’re not anybody’s little brother anymore. Don’t mess with the new address: Brooklyn.” )

Some context: China's rush to build

Then again, the Atlantic Yards site is not a decontextualized new city or neighborhood, as is so often the pattern, so the interplay between bulk and neighborhood is more delicate (as shown in the Atlantic Yards Alternatives exhibit).

Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin offered some cautionary context about China's huge building plans (though not specifically about Greenland), writing 2/21/14:
It is a tale of hypersized, hyperfast urbanization that has simultaneously lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and spawned dystopian living conditions: pea-soup skies, sterile new business districts and monotonous housing blocks.
It takes time and vision to build great cities. But the strategies China has pursued mix the megalomania of Soviet-style public squares, the gigantism of American skyscrapers, and a one-dimensional Chinese focus on boosting the economy rather than the quality of life.
In other words, being a "Skyscraper Specialist" may only take you so far.

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