Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from February, 2014

No, most affordable Atlantic Yards apartments wouldn't rent for $2,180 to $2,740 a month (that's the 2BR units)

Forest City Ratner is often the beneficiary of lazy and/or sloppy reporting. How many media outlets that covered the ceremonial delivery of the first mods for B2 in December circled back to point out it was mostly a media event?

What about the Daily News article this week that somehow described the development adjacent to the arena as "slated for 2,250 units of affordable housing," ignoring the 4180 not so affordable units? That's why Forest City spends and strategizes on public relations.

But recently Forest City has actually on the wrong side of some sloppy reporting, and people have been misinformed about the exact nature of the affordable housing in the first tower, B2.

Drilling down

As a parenthetical in a long 2/19/14 article on affordable housing, the New York Observer reported:
(Atlantic Yards has drawn flak for devoting a majority of its first “affordable” apartments—projected to rent for $2,180 to $2,740 a month—to tenants making 120 to 150 percent of the AMI.)…

Forest City announces net loss: Greenland deal to cost only $148.4M net of tax; arena underperforms, but Q4 uptick; Nets losses drop

In a press release issued yesterday, Forest City Enterprises acknowledged a net loss and poor performance for the 11 months ended 12/31/13 (the firm switched from a fiscal year that did not match the calendar year), including "underperformance" of the Barclays Center and a paper loss on Atlantic Yards.

But the firm instead stressed a "year of transformation," including reducing total debt by $1.1 billion, property dispositions, new partnerships, and the "definitive agreement" signed with the Chinese government-owned Greenland Group to buy 70% of the remaining Atlantic Yards project. It said it was 90% likely the deal would close.

The Atlantic Yards hit

According to the firm, total FFO (funds from operations) for the 11 months ending December 31, 2013 was $22.3 million, or $0.11 per share, versus $267.4 million, or $1.27 per share, for the previous full fiscal year. The firm said:
Major offsets to these positive factors were pre-tax, non-cash impairments of…

Buses bringing circus attendees block lane of Atlantic Avenue, bus stop; trailer for module delivery partly blocks Sixth Avenue crosswalk

Less than three days after a spokesman for the Barclays Center said that it was not the arena's intention to have trailers for the circus load-in block bus stops and traffic lanes, a similar set of problems cropped up yesterday.

Buses transporting children to the Barclays Center for the circus idled in the Atlantic Avenue traffic lane--not the curb adjacent to the arena--for more than half an hour yesterday, closing that lane.

For more than an hour, buses parked in the B45 bus stop further down Atlantic, according to Atlantic Yards Watch.

On video






Modular delivery encroachment

Also, yesterday, as a resident informed me by sending this photo, the trailer used to deliver one of the "mods" for the B2 modular tower was positioned so a portion stuck out and blocked more than half of the Dean Street crosswalk on the west side of Sixth Avenue.

Somehow my comment to ESD on Atlantic Yards review went to spam; now, no cost-benefit analysis expected, but there will be analysis of modular worker wages

Who would have guessed that the one commenter ignored by the state agency overseeing/shepherding Atlantic Yards would be the journalist who's followed and critiqued the project most closely: me.

When, on 2/7/14, I perused the Response to Comments document issued by Empire State Development, summarizing comments on the Draft Scope of Work for a Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement addressing a potential 25-year Atlantic Yards buildout, I noticed my comment was missing.

To get a better sense of potential outcomes, I'd asked for a cost-benefit analysis that took into account various various development scenarios, and asked the state to compare construction worker wages/tax revenues once assumed with those projected under Forest City Ratner's plans for modular construction.

The response from the state, issued yesterday, was no to the first request and yes (as previously stated) to the second.

Following up

I'd sent my email last March to the listed email address: atl…

Bertha Lewis and the G Project: not so credible (also, she claimed Ratner could build all market housing)

Is former New York ACORN head Bertha Lewis, one of Mayor Bill de Blasio's biggest supporters--and, of course, Forest City Ratner's key partner (and backer) on affordable housing, not credible?

City & State columnist Seth Barron convincingly makes that case in To G Or Not To G, an analysis of the "G Project"--Generation Project--organized by the Black Institute Lewis runs, regarding black immigration.

And that raises questions about a pattern in which Lewis has made not-so-credible statements regarding Atlantic Yards, as shown below in a previously unreleased video.

Pursuing a new agenda

The Black Institutes “action tank” has produced a video spot featuring de Blasio's wife Chirlane McCray, whose grandparent immigrated from Barbados, and children Dante and Chiara. Writes Barron:
Mayors’ wives and children do not typically endorse specific charities or nonprofits. Donna Hanover and Joyce Dinkins, the city’s previous two first ladies, appeared in occasional comme…

Report: Barclays Center traffic impact not as bad as feared, delaying a few intersections but not crippling system; previous study examined full Phase 1, locals say Fifth Avenue not studied, Nets games not worst scenario

The impact of Barclays Center operations on traffic is not nearly as bad as feared, a consultant reported Monday, causing significant delays at only a handful of already congested intersections, slowing traffic on Flatbush and Atlantic avenues but hardly crippling the system.

And the consultant recommended some minor changes in road striping and signal timing to chip away at those problems.

The Post-Opening Traffic Study (below), which a city Department of Transportation (DOT) official introduced with enthusiasm, came with more than a few caveats, however.

The Atlantic Yards traffic nightmare some feared was based on the cumulative impact not just of the arena but the towers around it, which remain yet unbuilt. And the study mostly ignored Fifth Avenue in Park Slope, despite significant congestion there.

An attendee at the Atlantic Yards Quality of Life Committee meeting pointed out that Nets games, which were studied in 2006 as the “reasonable worst case scenario” for traffic, are ac…

After recurring complaints about circus load-in, errant trucks, Forest City, arena operators say they're trying; still no clarity on uses for arena "pad"

Confronted with some untoward neighborhood impacts, the message from Barclays Center operators was again "we're trying," though there are no apparent internal or external sanctions.
Take the example of circus trailers blocking nearby streets, including a bus stop on Atlantic Avenue near the arena, last Thursday, on the day the circus came to the Barclays Center for an 11-day stint.
Speaking at a meeting last night of the Atlantic Yards Quality of Life Committee, which meets about every two months to discuss project-related issues, arena Community Relations Manager Terence Kelly said "bad weather compounded an already large-scale operation" that involved a 40-hour load-in.
"We certainly did our best to remedy the situation," he said. "We take it seriously, and we really do want to operate in good faith and keep those clear and not keep them an ongoing and persistent problem."
Jim Vogel, a Pacific Street resident and staffer for state Sen. Velmane…

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.

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 tourin…

Despite concerns, state won't study impact of post-event pedestrian surges; also unlikely is look at impact of roof revamp

If Forest City Ratner's new Chinese partner, the Greenland Group, will help revamp the Barclays Center roof, what might be the impacts? That question is among those expected to be brought up at the meeting tonight of Atlantic Yards Quality of Life Committee (6:30, Brooklyn Hospital).

But I don't expect it to be examined formally by Empire State Development (ESD), the state agency overseeing/shepherding Atlantic Yards, because it's not part of the court-ordered Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS)--and it was, understandably, not part of any previous review.

 (That doesn't mean there won't be some memo to the "Atlantic Yards file" that declares roof construction workable.)

Post-event surges

Other elements of Barclays Center operations also fall through the cracks. After more than a year of operations at the arena, it's clear that post-event surges of patrons leaving stress the sidewalks and subway entrance(s) more than pre-game conditions…

Huge step: Jason Collins, NBA's first openly gay player, signed by Brooklyn Nets

It's a huge step in the world of sports, the Brooklyn Nets' signing of Jason Collins, a veteran NBA journeyman, who came out last year and left many wondering whether his openly gay status would deter team's from signing him, especially since he was hardly a star.

But the Brooklyn Nets, with a coach and teammates who knew Collins over his seven seasons at the New Jersey Nets and other teams, needed another big body, one who could play defense, and Collins was available, having kept himself in shape, waiting to see how rosters shook out. And, without scoring a point, he helped the Nets to a win.

The Star-Ledger's Dave D'Alessandro wrote:
The first sentence of [GM] Billy King’s announcement at 3:15 PM Sunday read, “The decision to sign Jason was basketball decision,” and hopefully that’s the last time a general manager will ever have to state something so silly – you mean it wasn’t for his yodeling skill? Sure, we see why Billy mentioned it: Cynics call this is a rati…

Barclays Center tops Pollstar vote, but falls behind MSG as busiest arena

Everyone knows the Barclays Center had a very good first year, not in profits, but in selling tickets and generating buzz. 
In 2013, the arena's first full year, subscribers to Pollstar, the international concert database service, voted Barclays Center Arena of the Year, topping BOK Center (Tulsa, OK), Bridgestone Arena (Nashville, TN), Madison Square Garden Arena (New York, NY), SAP Center at San Jose (San Jose, CA), and  Staples Center (Los Angeles, CA).
Barclays executive Sean Saadeh was a finalist for Facility Executive of the Year. In 2012, Barclays Center was Pollstar's Best New Major Concert Venue, while Madison Square Garden was Arena of the Year.

MSG reclaims title
In an exclusive 2/17/14, the New York Post reported Garden greener: MSG reclaims title of No. 1 US facility: The Garden has reclaimed its title as the busiest arena in the country, selling 35 percent more tickets to concerts and family events than its Brooklyn rival from Oct. 24, when MSG reopened, throu…

The circus returns to Brooklyn. Why no elephant walk? Maybe it's fear of protests.

So, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® is back, bringing circus trailers to Brooklyn for 23 shows between Feb. 20 and March 2. As I wrote, there were trailers all over the neighborhood, parked illegally in bus zones and blocking traffic, awaiting load-in to the arena.

What we didn't see, either last year or this week, was an elephant walk, despite developer Bruce Ratner's 2010 claim that “I can’t wait to see circus elephants marching down Flatbush Avenue and into the Barclays Center.”

Maybe that's because the elephant walk would have amplified the protests, last year and this year. The Dodo reported 2/20/14:
The circus, which brings elephants, tigers, kangaroos and other animals in tow, has provoked the ire of animal advocates, who plan to host large protests during each show outside the arena in downtown Brooklyn.
A trove of organizations will be in attendance, including NYCLASS, In Defense of Animals, PETA, Animal Defenders International and others.An activist's…

Stunning tales of Downtown BK real estate boom: Junior's site worth $50M; Catsimatidis site worth $200M

Junior's, the cheesecake restaurant at the corner of Flatbush and DeKalb avenue, will sell its newly valuable property and reoccupy the ground floor of a luxury residential building, and also set up a second location, likely close to the Barclays Center.
The Rosen family, as reported in the 2/18/14 New York Post, Junior’s move a cake walk, bought the property in 1981. City records say 1985, and indicate a mortgage of $575,000.
According to Bob Knakal of Massey Knakal, the site--now 17,000 square-foot restaurant on an 8,548 square-foot site--can be turned into 102,500 square feet of luxury condos, or perhaps 100-130 units. Post sources said the building could get between $45 million and $55 million.
The Brooklyn Paper paraphrased owner Alan Rosen as saying "Junior’s will open a second location Downtown, closer to Barclays Center."
Given that Junior's is already close to the Barclays Center, why would it need to move? Well, they do need a place to operate in the interi…

Bruce Ratner on Morning Joe: "affordable housing" goes up to $100,000 (that's a lowball estimate)

Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner was a guest this morning on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" and, as usual, the hosts were fawning.

"The man who built the Barclays Center has a new blueprint for Brooklyn" was the intro. After some crosstalk with financier Steve Rattner, host Mika Brzezinski exclaimed, "This man is so nice, and we need to go watch a concert at his place."



"It's amazing what's going on out there. you're in the center of what's going on," chimed in host Joe Scarborough, remotely.

"It's a miracle, honestly," Ratner said, citing growth in Brooklyn's apartment market and people claiming Brooklyn identity.

Then, with the onscreen words "Empire in the Making: Ratner's modular buildings," Ratner went through his practiced explanation for his modular plan, aimed to control prices and maintain quality by "basically building most of the building in a factory."

"It's fascinati…

Forest City Ratner's new Chinese partner will help revamp Barclays Center roof. Are architectural/environmental "enhancements" a fix to limit escaping bass?

It's been barely acknowledged, and clearly obscured, but the Shanghai-based Greenland Group, Brooklyn developer Forest City Ratner's new partner on Atlantic Yards, will help fix the Barclays Center roof.

In response to my query, Empire State Development (ESD), the state agency overseeing/shepherding Atlantic Yards, said Forest City "is considering improvements that would enhance the architectural and environmental attributes of the roof."

What could that mean?

Well, right now the roof --once billed as public space, with green elements--now offers a logo'd advertisement for Barclays. Also, it serves as a sieve for noise, allowing bass from particularly loud concerts to penetrate residents' apartments.

So, enhancing the "environmental attributes" could mean prettying up that roof with some vegetation, taking a cue from that green roof over the subway entrance in the arena plaza.

That might boost the value of the apartments overlooking the arena, inclu…