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Showing posts from October, 2014

After "mob" rushes front doors to Barclays Center, arena closes entry to Powerhouse 2014 hip-hop show; police out in force

Something went wrong last night outside the Barclays Center, as a "mob" of people tried to push their way into the arena, forcing arena managers to close the doors at 9:30 pm. Some apparently had tickets to the Powerhouse 2014 hip-hop concert, while others didn't, at least according to secondhand sources.

That led to a tense situation on the arena plaza as well as the Dean Street loading dock entrance, as police were out in force, keeping concertgoers on the sidewalk and away from the street.

The 78the Precinct also shut down Dean Street between Flatbush and Sixth avenus for a stretch; I'm not sure whether it was simply to limit traffic on the street or to allow VIPs to exit. (After all, the street was shut down two weeks ago for another concert--see bottom.)

The scene at Dean and Sixth, which I witnessed at 10:20 pm, some 50 minutes after doors were shut, had an air of tension, with a good number of cops and temporary barriers for the crowd, though the people outsid…

Today, contractor begins work on water main on south side of Atlantic Avenue east of Sixth

Yesterday, Empire State Development issued a Supplemental Report to the previously issued two week look– ahead regarding upcoming construction activities at Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park
LIRR Yard Activities – Atlantic Avenue
New Information:
On October 31, 2014 the contractor will commence work related to the cutting and capping of a 36” New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) trunk water main located on the south side of Atlantic Avenue. Much of this work, which entails excavation utilizing an excavator and dump truck, will take place inside the Atlantic Avenue MPT area located to the east of 6th Avenue. This work will not affect water service in the area. Work overall duration will be 1- 2 weeks, with at least one week happening during this reporting period. It is expected that this work will be performed during day time work hours.

Looking at the agreement for affordable housing and public oversight: what was gained, what's missing, what's coming

The first full public discussion of the deal that led to a new 2025 deadline for Atlantic Yards affordable housing--and other important but contested issues--will be held tonight at 8 pm at the Soapbox Gallery at 636 Dean Street, between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues.

That's across the street from the southeast block of the project, where construction on two towers will begin in December.

The meeting is sponsored by the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council, whose most prominent member, Gib Veconi, was one of the two community signatories of the agreement in June.

"Learn more about the settlement reached between the Empire State Development Corporation [ESD], Forest City Ratner Companies, and community advocates," states the notice (right), citing:
Shorter construction duration New affordable housing commitments Public oversight with local representation  Those issues all involve potential complications, as I wrote last week, some of them pointed out by the …

Community victory? What the New York Times exclusive on Atlantic Yards settlement got wrong: sequence, affordability, city triumph, accountability

Now that there's a public discussion tomorrow, "Accountability and Atlantic Yards," it's worth looking at the settlement between members of the BrooklynSpeaks coalition, individual plaintiffs, and other groups preparing a lawsuit on fair housing issues.

The suit argued that delay in building the subsidized housing would have a disproportionate impact on African-Americans, as displacement trends mean fewer would be in Brooklyn Community Districts 2, 3, 6, and 8 to take advantage of the 50% preference to locals in affordable housing lotteries.

The settlement averted a suit and thus allowed the planned joint venture, in which the Chinese government-owned developer Greenland Holdings, bought 70% of the project going forward, forming Greenland Forest City Partners and thus (seemingly) rescuing Forest City.

The settlement is complicated, as is Atlantic Yards. Unfortunately, the New York Times misled the public through errors and omissions in its exclusive 6/27/14 article P…

In federal lawsuit filed by trainees “promised” Atlantic Yards construction jobs, judge leaves Forest City on potential hook; plaintiffs' lawyer claims victory

The 20 plaintiffs who sued Forest City Ratner, Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) signatory BUILD (Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development) regarding promises of construction jobs and union cards, got a significant—if incomplete—victory from U.S. District Judge John Gleeson, who refused to dismiss key aspects of the case.

Gleeson, in a ruling (bottom) issued yesterday, did agree to remove from the case Forest City Ratner Chairman Bruce Ratner, who had only an indirect connection to the pre-apprenticeship training program (PATP), but would not, as a matter of law, remove executive Jane Marshall and the company.

Thus, if a jury finds for the plaintiffs, Forest City, the deepest-pocketed defendant, could be liable for millions of dollars in projected wages that the plaintiffs didn’t get—though that also depends on a highly-contested calculation of the earning potential of each plaintiff.

Notably, Gleeson would not agree to delink BUILD CEO James Caldwell, who admitted making ext…

Halloween dance music event moved from Barclays Center, averts bass leakage to neighbors

An electronic dance music show (EDM), BOO!, scheduled for the Barclays Center on Halloween night, Friday, has been moved by the promoters to Pier 94 in Manhattan, with less than a week before the debut.

All tickets for the "massively spooktacular night" will be honored at the new venue, where the planned lineup will be combined with other acts,  or can be refunded.
No explanation has been offered, but some commenters on promoter Insomniac' Facebook page concluded the promoter was combining two events because not enough tickets were sold.
Others noted the Barclays Center tickets were far more expensive than the Pier 94 tickets.
Averts bass leakage
Given that Halloween Massive was advertised as "a twisted Halloween party [with] bone-rattling beats," the event, like Sensation and Swedish House Mafia, is of the ilk that has caused the most problems in leaking bass into neighborhood residences.
That was supposed to be addressed first by acoustical baffles and a soun…

From the latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Alert: crane work may close intersection; steel deliveries to be staged on sidewalks

The latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update (botton), for the weeks beginning October 27 and November 3, was released yesterday by Empire State Development, after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners.

Notably, while the Atlantic Avenue crane has been installed, additional electrical wiring is required that may require the temporary closure of the 6th and Atlantic Avenue intersection. The update says that notification will be given to the community.

Arena Green Roof

Installation of the sidewalk bridge along Atlantic Avenue is supposed to commence during this reporting period, but it was supposed to start during the previous reporting period, according to the previous update.

Steel deliveries for the roof construction were supposed to begin yesterday to the cranes at both the B3 and Atlantic Avenue crane locations. The previous alert said the steel deliveries were supposed to begin October 22.

This new alert discloses, for the first time, that deliveries to the B3…

In effort to reopen modular factory, Forest City modular affiliate asks judge to intervene in dispute with Skanska

Two months since the factory producing modules for the stalled B2 tower shut down, FCRC Modular, the affiliate of developer Forest City Ratner, has asked a judge to intervene to allow it to reopen the factory without its former partner Skanska Modular.

The ill-fated partnership, known as FCS Modular, had signed a contract to produce modules for Skanska USA Building, which was hired by the B2 Owner, an affiliate of Forest City, to construct the tower. 
But Skanska has canceled both contracts, while claiming $50 million in damages from cost overruns. Skanska blames Forest City for defective intellectual property, while Forest City says Skanska agreed that the project was buildable without an increase in cost. The two parties filed dueling lawsuits, and B2 owner filed a separate lawsuit aiming to reopen the factory.
At a hearing 9/23/14 on that suit, Forest City unsuccessfully asked state Supreme Court Justice Saliann Scarpulla to order the reopening of the factory. She did not, but did …

In ESPN's Ultimate Standings, Nets nudge back but still lead Knicks by large margin

Among the 30 teams in the National Basketball Association, the Brooklyn Nets are ranked 20th in the Ultimate Standings, the ESPN compilation that ranks such elements as Ownership, Fan relations,
Affordability, and Stadium experience.

That's not great, and it represents a step back from 17 in 2013 (but up from 21 in 2012). But the New York Knicks are last, at 30, sliding from 24 in 2013 and 27 in 2012. (The San Antonio Spurs are tops.) 
In fact, among the 122 teams in the four major leagues, the Nets rank 76, while the Knicks are 121, with both teams falling in the rankings but the Knicks falling further.

That means the Knicks--though they reliably fill Madison Square Garden--leave opportunities to poach their fan base.

For the record, the New York Islanders rank, as antiquated Nassau Coliseum is judged absolutely last in the category of Stadium experience. 
The Barclays Center, ranking 37 in Stadium experience for the Nets, will surely offer a bump up when the Islanders move to Br…

Now there are three cranes: Atlantic Avenue crane for arena's green roof installed, almost three months late

On Saturday, a large crane (right) was installed along Atlantic Avenue outside the Barclays Center to allow for the installation of the planned green roof.

It joins the large crane at the B3 site, at the southeast corner of the arena block, which was installed two weeks earlier, along with the huge crane outside the stall B2 modular tower.

Left unmentioned by the developers of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park is that both cranes for the green roof installation were supposed to be installed in August, as shown in the Project Timeline below, from this presentation.

The Atlantic Avenue crane was supposed to be removed by the end of October, after three months--and, presumably, before the Brooklyn Nets season began.

So it looks like the green roof installation process is three months delayed. We should know more at the next Atlantic Yards Quality of Life meeting, set for November 12.

It's not clear how the delays will affect the planned June 2015 start for the B3 tower.


All three cranes, t…

Ratner's share of Barclays Center expected to sell at profit, and only in part

I wrote this past week that Sports Business Journal suggested that, upon Bruce Ratner's plan to sell his 55% share in the Barclays Center, the arena was worth only $750 million based on revenue flow, lower than the cost to build.

Two days ago, the Wall Street Journal reported that Forest City "is expecting any new investor will pay a price that values the arena substantially above its cost" and noted an expected increase in revenue.

That means they'll be selling the arena portion based on the expected revenue flow, not the current revenue flow. (I should have acknowledged that, as should Sports Business Journal.)
Indeed, arena operators expect $65 million in revenue by 2016, more than double the current $30 million. So that should be factored into the price--but it's an expectation, not a certainty.
Surely the advent of the New York Islanders, coming n 2015, will stabilize revenue flow at a higher figure, as should lower operating costs. But the concert business …

The Brooklyn Rebound: imagination, transportation, and some factors developers don't mention

So, how did Brooklyn bounce back? It's interesting to see how real estate developers explain it.

Brooklyn Rebound, a 10/13/14 article in Urban Land, the publication of the Urban Land Institute, describes the boom in DUMBO and Williamsburg, the former a "hub for more than 400 digital businesses" and the latter "a 21st-century urban village that is a magnet for young musicians, artists, and members of the creative class."

The article states:
But if the resurgence of DUMBO, Williamsburg, and other parts of the new Brooklyn offers a lesson for the rest of the world, it is about the importance of having the imagination to see nascent trends and opportunities and the agility to move quickly to capitalize on them. Indeed, developer David Walentas sought to attract financial firms to DUMBO before converting old manufacturing and warehouse buildings into condos, while practicing a savvy strategy of leasing--often below market--to artists and unique retail.
The arrival of…

Camp Brooklyn, back at the arena's 40/40 Club for a gala, honors Markowitz

Last year, on 3/13/13, the Camp Brooklyn Community Service Award Gala, which raised money for Borough President Marty Markowitz's summer camp program, was held at the Barclays Center's 40/40 Club, honoring, among other people, Bruce Ratner.

This past week, the Camp Brooklyn Fund gala was held again at the arena's 40/40 Club, this time honoring Markowitz, who continues the charity--and corporate sponsorship--while out of office. Of course it was not publicly announced by the arena.

It's impressive, on one level, that Markowitz can still raise money for a worthy cause while out of office. But a lot of people and companies owe him thanks for his help in making them money.

Firm finally hired by Greenland Forest City as On-Site Environmental Monitor, will start six weeks late

Yesterday, Greenland Forest City Partners announced it has finally retained an outside engineering firm, Remedial Engineering, to serve as On-site Environmental Monitor (OEM), starting the first week of November, or six weeks after it was due.

The OEM, which will report to the developer, is supposed to monitor of construction activities to ensure that environmental requirements contained in the Memorandum of Environmental Commitments (MEC) for Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Brooklyn are met.

Note that a 2012 report by an outside consultant concluded that the OEM was understaffed.  Empire State Development (ESD), the state agency overseeing/shepherding Atlantic Yards, in June disclosed that Forest City Ratner has agreed to hire an outside firm--rather than use an employee--to serve as OEM.

That's definitely progress, though the OEM does not report to the public. And we know that construction violations--heck, falsifications--can be covered up.

Remedial hired

According to the notice:
Af…

Crain's: as Nets increase All Access prices, ticket holders get resale insurance, free beer/wine for half-hour before game

Crain's New York Business reports, Nets to cover losses for ticket holders: The team, in a first, will offer All Access ticket holders 'loyalty insurance' to cover losses on tickets resold through Ticketmaster.

That means the 4,400 holders of premium tickets are getting some benefits, even as they pay more renewals in the team's third year:
The prices will range from $135 per seat up to $1,450, and will be on average 14% higher than they were when fans were first offered the deluxe, three-season package before the arena opened. But as the Barclays Center looks to boost profits, and as sports arenas in general face competition from bigger and better HD TV sets, the team is sweetening the package: This time the All Access tickets will come with "loyalty insurance."
Starting with the 2015-2016 season, the Nets will cover up to 15% of the total season-ticket purchase price for those tickets that the holder resells. A fan who spends $5,940 for the $135-per-seat pac…

"Accountability and Atlantic Yards": first public meeting next Thursday on settlement that led to new housing deadline, monitoring body

Also note Quality of Life meeting on November 12.

The settlement reached in June by representatives and allies of the BrooklynSpeaks coalition set a 2025 date for construction of the affordable housing (with firm penalties), and set up a new Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (CDC) in exchange for promises not to sue over discriminatory impacts of delay (and thus jeopardize Forest City Ratner's pending deal with the Greenland Group).

That represented progress--the housing was originally promised in ten years, but then given a 2035 outside date after renegotiation, and affordability becomes even more elusive with time. But it came with some question marks.

Some of the project's closest neighbors, represented by the Dean Street Block Association, warned that the "oversight created is just advisory and insufficiently defined," and that the settlement, negotiated behind closed doors, ran the risk of prioritizing "one category of interest over another.&…