Skip to main content

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park in 2015: a DNC decision, team/arena pieces on sale, lawsuits involving Skanska and trainees proceed (?), Islanders arrive, construction ramps up

Yesterday, my 2014 recap.

The first thing to remember, as I've said before, is that Atlantic Yards is a "never say never" project. Heck, it isn't even Atlantic Yards any more. It's Pacific Park Brooklyn.

Expect in 2015 for that new name to sink in a bit more, though not without some smirks and chuckles, as well as references to "formerly known as Atlantic Yards."

Big chunks of the project site will be under construction: two towers on the southeast block are already under way, and the stalled B2 modular tower is supposed to re-start. At some point--maybe not in 2015 but surely by 2016--residents and visitors will get a stronger sense of how massive this project will be.

An all-affordable rental tower (B3), at the southeast corner of the arena, and a condo building (B12), on the southeast block are supposed to start this year. Expect much more fanfare for the former.

Construction on the green roof continues (see photo at left), with two cranes being used at this point, plus a third crane designated for the B2 tower. Will the roof be finished on time? (It doesn't seem that way.)

Construction of the West Portal to the railyard also continues, and all that significantly constricts Atlantic Avenue between Fort Greene Place and South Portland Avenue.

This should make a rather complex situation for the NBA 2015 All-Star Game weekend events, in mid-February, at the arena.

New officials at Forest City Ratner and the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation, a subsidiary for Empire State Development, should emerge as point people for the project.

But officials at the Greenland Group, the Shanghai government-owned majority owner of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park (except the arena and B2 tower) call the shots, and it's unlikely they'll be very public.

In September, the Brooklyn Nets' new training facility should open in Sunset Park. Expect much fanfare.

Also expect at least one and maybe more of the Nets' high-priced players pictured at right to be gone by then. (Kevin Garnett likely will retire, and Deron Williams and/or Brook Lopez have been subject to trade rumors.)

In October, the New York Islanders arrive at the Barclays Center, ensuring that the arena has events for more nights in the winter, though likely nudging out potential concert dates.

More suburban fans should be driving to Brooklyn; it's unclear how many will want to keep doing so after a while.

The announced, but delayed, plan for community groups' discount use of the Barclays Center should finally get off the ground.

Pending questions

Lots of unknowns surround the Barclays Center and Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park.

Will the Democratic National Committee choose the Barclays Center and Brooklyn for the 2016 Democratic National Convention? Or will concerns--about the logistics, the fact of non-swing state, the mayor's dicey relationship with the cops--send it to Philadelphia or Columbus? We should know this month or next.

When will the B2 modular tower actually re-start? Will it proceed steadily, or will some recovery or repair action be required?

What happens to the bitter lawsuits between Forest City and former partner Skanska over cost overruns in the modular project? Will they go to trial--at least $30 million is at stake--or reach a settlement?

With their 20% of the Nets for sale, as well as their 55% of the arena, will Bruce Ratner/Forest City get the prices they expect? Will they sell only part of the arena? Will current management stay? Who will the buyers be? (If Mikhail Prokhorov is the buyer, what are the optics of a 100% oligarch-owned arena?)

Similarly, will the lawsuit involving pre-apprenticeship program trainees who said they were promised construction jobs and union cards by Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development (BUILD) go to trial, with Forest City Ratner potentially on the hook? Or will it be settled?

Will sales efforts, however unofficial, in China continue for the 550 Vanderbilt condos and/or other condos planned at the project?

Will Forest City and Greenland go back to China for EB-5 funds from immigrant investors? (They said the third, and most recent, round was the last one.)

Will the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation, the new advisory body with members appointed in consultation with local officials, start as promised (late) on January 30, and will it have any impact?

How onerous will construction impacts be, and will the changes in oversight have an effect?

Will the project's closest neighbors maintain and/or gain energy to monitor the project, such as through Atlantic Yards Watch, or will attrition take its toll?

What happens to retail around the arena? Expect more churn--such as the departure in photo at left of the Fulani boutique to Prospect-Lefferts Gardens--and some more big names, as Parm has been announced.

No plans have been announced yet for the coveted Triangle building at Fifth and Flatbush avenues.

What's the surprise?

Atlantic Yards has been full of surprises, including new majority owner, a name change, a failure--so far--of the much-promoted modular plan.

What could be the surprise in 2015?

I hesitate to guess, but it could involve some package sale of shares of the arena and team.

Another surprise could involve B2--what if it doesn't get started, and/or must be un-built? (Beyond what Forest City and Skanska and the Department of Buildings say, a key voice has to be the insurance company.)

Will any elected official challenge the project? Unlikely, unless Public Advocate Letitia James think it's worth her while.

Will anyone drop a dime?

Remember, there are elected officials under indictment or investigation--state Sen. John Sampson and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver are the most obvious examples--who have ties, direct and indirect, to Forest City Ratner.

It is unlikely, but not unfathomable, that the developer's activities might face official scrutiny. I have no inkling of an investigation.

But there is a pattern of questionable, if not indictable, behavior in Brooklyn, such as former Forest City executive Bruce Bender's interactions with now-imprisoned former state Sen. Carl Kruger.

And the Forest City/Greenland promotional efforts to raise EB-5 funds in China surely skate to the edge of the law, if not over it.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Barclays Center/Levy Restaurants hit with suit charging discrimination on disability, race; supervisors said to use vicious slurs, pursue retaliation

The Daily News has an article today, Barclays Center hit with $5M suit claiming discrimination against disabled, while the New York Post headlined its article Barclays Center sued over taunting disabled employees.

While that's part of the lawsuit, more prominent are claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, with black employees claiming repeated abuse by white supervisors, preferential treatment toward Hispanic colleagues, and retaliation in response to complaints.

Two individual supervisors, for example, are charged with  referring to black employees as “black motherfucker,” “dumb black bitch,” “black monkey,” “piece of shit” and “nigger.”

Two have referred to an employee blind in one eye as “cyclops,” and “the one-eyed guy,” and an employee with a nose disorder as “the nose guy.”

There's been no official response yet though arena spokesman Barry Baum told the Daily News they, but take “allegations of this kind very seriously” and have "a zero tolerance policy for…

Behind the "empty railyards": 40 years of ATURA, Baruch's plan, and the city's diffidence

To supporters of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, it's a long-awaited plan for long-overlooked land. "The Atlantic Yards area has been available for any developer in America for over 100 years,” declared Borough President Marty Markowitz at a 5/26/05 City Council hearing.

Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, mused on 11/15/05 to WNYC's Brian Lehrer, “Isn’t it interesting that these railyards have sat for decades and decades and decades, and no one has done a thing about them.” Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in a 12/19/04 New York Times article ("In a War of Words, One Has the Power to Wound") described the railyards as "an empty scar dividing the community."

But why exactly has the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard never been developed? Do public officials have some responsibility?

At a hearing yesterday of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, Kate Suisma…

Barclays Center event June 11 to protest plans to expand Israeli draft; questions about logistics

At right is a photo of a poster spotted in Hasidic Williamsburg right. Clearly there's an event scheduled at the Barclays Center aimed at the Haredi Jewish community (strict Orthodox Jews who reject secular culture), but the lack of English text makes it cryptic.

The website Matzav.com explains, Protest Against Israeli Draft of Bnei Yeshiva Rescheduled for Barclays Center:
A large asifa to protest the drafting of bnei yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel into the Israeli army that had been set to take place this month will instead be held on Sunday, 17 Sivan/June 11, at the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn, NY. So attendees at a big gathering will protest an apparent change of policy that will make it much more difficult for traditional Orthodox Jewish students--both Hasidic (who follow a rebbe) and non-Hasidic (who don't)--to get deferments from the draft. Comments on the Yeshiva World website explain some of the debate.

The logistical questions

What's unclear is how large the ev…

Atlanta's Atlantic Yards moves ahead

First mentioned in April, the Atlantic Yards project in Atlanta is moving ahead--and has the potential to nudge Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn further down in Google searches.

According to a 5/30/17 press release, Hines and Invesco Real Estate Announce T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards:
Hines, the international real estate firm, and Invesco Real Estate, a global real estate investment manager, today announced a joint venture on behalf of one of Invesco Real Estate’s institutional clients to develop two progressive office projects in Atlanta totalling 700,000 square feet. T3 West Midtown will be a 200,000-square-foot heavy timber office development and Atlantic Yards will consist of 500,000 square feet of progressive office space in two buildings. Both projects are located on sites within Atlantic Station in the flourishing Midtown submarket.
Hines will work with Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture (HPA) as the design architect for both T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards. DLR Group will be t…

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…

So, Forest City has some property subject to the future Gowanus rezoning

Writing yesterday, MAP: Who Owns All the Property Along the Gowanus Canal, DNAinfo's Leslie Albrecht lays out the positioning of various real estate players along the Gowanus Canal, a Superfund site:
As the city considers whether to rezone Gowanus and, perhaps, morph the gritty low-rise industrial area into a hot new neighborhood of residential towers (albeit at a fraction of the height of Manhattan's supertall buildings), DNAinfo reviewed property records along the canal to find out who stands to benefit most from the changes.
Investors have poured at least $440 million into buying land on the polluted waterway and more than a third of the properties have changed hands in the past decade, according to an examination of records for the nearly 130 properties along the 1.8-mile canal. While the single largest landowner is developer Property Markets Group, other landowners include Kushner Companies, Alloy Development, Two Trees, and Forest City New York.

Forest City's plans unc…