Skip to main content

Cranes around Barclays Center (including for unplanned green roof) linger; potential tension between arena operations and larger project

I'm leading a walking tour Sunday of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park/Barclays Center/Prospect Heights (via Municipal Art Society), and present several posts in preparation. One thing to remember: the project remains very much in process. Some impacts feared, expected, or welcomed have not emerged because they were calculated on a larger/full buildout. Others were never anticipated. 

(Updated with comment at bottom)
The B2 crane; the B3 crane is in background

One lesson from Atlantic Yards, as I've said, is that it's a "never say never" project. For example, today, the arena is ringed with three cranes, and they're lingering longer than projected.

No one expected cranes on the arena block for long, because four towers were supposed to be built along with the arena.

That didn't happen. The arena was shrunken to save money, decoupled from the towers to allow a slower buildout, and constructed first.

Beyond that, no one expected the crane for B2, the modular tower at the intersection of Dean Street and Flatbush Avenue, to linger so long.

It arrived in August 2013 and was supposed to be gone by the end of 2014, when the building was supposed to be done. Instead, it's still here, through the third quarter of 2016, when the troubled, delayed building is now expected to be finished.

And no one expected two--and ultimately three--cranes to be used to install a green roof on the Barclays Center because, well, there was no plan for that green roof. (There was an earlier plan for green roof to be built with the arena. That was scrapped, and this one's not the same.)

The new green roof construction--a new exoskeleton--was driven by the desire to make the roof look more attractive to potential residents in adjacent towers and the need to tamp down bass escaping during certain concerts.

The cranes come late, so the roof is late

From Atlantic Yards Watch's AY Cam
So now there are three cranes around the Barclays Center, and there may be four.

The B2 crane, as noted above, arrived in August 2013.

The green roof crane on Atlantic Avenue, which blocks traffic, arrived in October 2014. So did the crane placed on the site for the B3 tower at the corner of Dean Street and Sixth Avenue. (This doesn't block traffic.)

Actually, both were due in August, as the chart below indicates. So they're behind.

As I wrote in February, the green roof is several months behind schedule, not that representatives of the arena developer have fully explained.  (Yes, it has been a cold winter, but they got a late start. Was it to keep the site clear for the DNC visitors?)

Note that, according to the project timeline released last June, all cranes were supposed to be gone by the end of January, with the Flatbush Avenue crane placed only that month.



Instead, as disclosed in February at the periodic Atlantic Yards Quality of Life meeting, Forest City Ratner external affairs executive Ashley Cotton said  structural work on the arena should be completed in May, Cotton said, after a crane is placed on Flatbush Avenue, "probably towards the end of April."

That's about five months late, though faster work at the final end of installation may make the overall project only two months late.

Note that the Flatbush crane will necessitate the closing of a lane of traffic and likely additional traffic congestion. It was not originally supposed to be erected while the Atlantic Avenue crane was still up. Now that seems likely.

And the Atlantic Avenue crane has already snagged traffic, as even Empire State Development CEO Kenneth Adams observed.

The installation of sedum--the plants serving as green roof materials, as with the top of the subway entrance on the arena plaza-- will be done in September, Cotton said.

If so, that means they'd be catching up on a good part of the delay, since the sedum was supposed to be installed by July, two months before September.

The view from Dean Street and Sixth Avenue, looking northwest
Inevitable tensions?

There surely are tensions between those operating the arena--who presumably would prefer no cranes or construction interrupting the path of eventgoers--and those building the towers and infrastructure around the arena.

Looking east along Atlantic Avenue
Then again, those tensions should be ameliorated by the fact that those two parties share ownership: Forest City, which is building B2 on its own and everything else in partnership with the Greenland Group, owns 55% of the arena operating company.

But the arena is for sale.

If Forest City sells its share of the arena (likely along with its 20% share of the Brooklyn Nets), its focus--and that of Greenland--will be getting the residential buildings done, plus infrastructure.

If that interferes with arena operations, I suspect plowing forward will take precedence. If so, that means the new operators of the arena might feel frustration at the unfinished situation around them.

On the other hand, they should know what they're getting into.

The long view

And in a few years, most likely, the cranes--not just for the roof but also tower construction--will be gone.

By then, when the towers are finished, most people won't remember the cranes. They'll be looking at an arena block that looks *something like* the below image, which clearly diminishes the actual scale (see above to see how much the arena looms from a pedestrian's view).

Then again, if and when they build B1, that would expunge the arena plaza and open up another can of worms.

Update: a comment from resident Peter Krashes:

I would add that it is not just construction that produces a potential tension between the arena and a developer of residential buildings in the area. Arena operations -- when they spill out on public sidewalks and streets -- are also a potential source of tension. After all, the developer has to market homes, and not every potential tenant or property owner will embrace the sidewalk or street outside their home being co-opted by a private, for profit entity on a regular basis.
This is not just an issue for those events for which the City permits street or sidewalk closures. In some cases pre and post event, it is difficult to walk in the opposite direction from crowds associated with the arena. This is because the sidewalk widths on the arena block were not designed with the idea that crowds would arrive or leave in a short time frame.


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…

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…