Skip to main content

From Inside City Hall: Brooklyn Chamber President says 2016 convention would be "a cakewalk"

From NY1's Inside City Hall last night, Brooklyn Leaders Make Case for Barclays DNC:
City Council Member Laurie Cumbo, Tucker Reed, President of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and Carlo Scissura, President and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce joined Inside City Hall to help make the pitch for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s push to hold the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Brooklyn.
Most notably, Scissura optimistically suggested the logistics would be a "cakewalk."

Leading off, host Errol Louis asked how it came about.

"The city came to us and said, What do you think. We loved it from Day One," reported Scissura. "We made sure the delegates got a little bag of Brooklyn goodies... Errol, we are... the hottest place in America.

Louis suggested a lot of business would benefit but others would not, suggesting the Tech Triangle would be bypassed.

Reed revved up, suggesting the convention would benefit many of the companies in the Downtown Brooklyn area, especially the hotels, and  the 500 tech and innovation firms would be "perfect venues for holding meet-ups" and other events.

Louis asked Cumbo about neighbors' concerns such as "what about my parking space, what about my ability to get around, what's this I hear about shutting down the Manhattan Bridge?"

"[DOT] Commissioner [Polly] Trottenberg was very instrumental in the planning," reported Cumbo, who noted similar concerns were raised about the arena, which relies on public transit.

(A convention likely would be similar not to Nets games, where attendees have gotten used to taking public transit, but rather to one-off events like a Barbra Streisand concert, which drew lots of limits or, for closest neighbors, like the MTV Video Music Awards, which closed off streets was confounding to some.)

"We have the world's largest transit system in the country," she said not so clearly. (It's the largest in the country, not in the world.)

She noted that details were being worked out. "Our focus was making the delegates feel the Brooklyn vibe, or the Brooklyn swag, or the Brooklyn je ne sais quoi, the it factor, the cool factor."

Louis asked about new hotel rooms.

"Brooklyn will have 2500-2600 hotel rooms," said Scissura. "I have to stress, this is Brooklyn's convention, we want delegates to go to Coney Island, Sunset Park, they'll see Borough Park, they'll see Sheepshead Bay... Brooklyn is the home to everybody in the world. If you're in Brooklyn, you're not going to be in Downtwon Brooklyn and Fort Greene, you're going to be out and about. The traffic--we'll get through it. New York City knows how to put events together... We have the United Nations here, we have everything happen here. This is a cakewalk. People will enjoy the borough, 2.5 million hosts all across the borough will welcome these delegates."

Louis asked about a new hotel at Tillary and Flatbush.

The hotel industry "has invested over $300 million in Downtown Brooklyn in past few years," Reed responded, noting the ten-year anniversary of rezoning of Brooklyn. "The city invested about $400 million in public infrastructure, and private sector responded with $4 billion in investments... this isn't something that the city just came up with."

He left out the part about how the rezoning raised values enormously for landowners.

"My former boss, Marty Markowitz, we went through that whole Barclays arena struggle, and by the way, it is the best arena in America," Scissura added."He always said we will host a Democratic national convention."

Louis said some Brooklynites would leave the city, others might rent out homes via AirBnB. "What's your sense of how this is going to work out?"

"I think this is going to be an incredible opportunity for entrepreneurship," responded Cumbo. "We want to make sure we allow the opportunity for residents to have gainful employment... Similar to how hiring happened at the Barclays arena... we want to make sure that we hire locally... this is a win for Brooklyn. .. this is something that's going to be epic, something that people are going to remember for generations."


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…