Skip to main content

Promoting 550 Vanderbilt condos in "Downtown Brooklyn," that 421-a tax break, and some fawning Times coverage

There are more than a few strange things connected with the promotion of the first Atlantic Yards condos, at 550 Vanderbilt, which have listings on Corcoran and are the subject of a fawning New York Times article on the front page of tomorrow's Sunday Real Estate section, First Condos Soon for Sale at Barclays Center Site (the print headline is "Builders Pledge to Make It Snappy").

(I've annotated the article at Genius, pointing out the acceptance of developer language as calling the 8 acres of open space a "public park," and the failure to mention the 421-a tax break, among other things. More details below.)

First, what's up with that New York Times photo (right) of the "Pacific Park Brooklyn development site"?

While the article does also have a map, there's no indication on the photo, at least, of the 550 Vanderbilt location, which I've indicated with a purple line.

Despite the need for shorthand, it's tough to call that a "Barclays Center site."

Note that it's not exactly "company" for the Barclays Center if a condo opens nearly two blocks away. (See map further below.)



Downtown Brooklyn?

Then, bizarrely, we have Corcoran (see screenshot at left), declaring that 550 Vanderbilt is located in Downtown Brooklyn. (Streeteasy more accurately places it in Prospect Heights.)

That was Forest City Ratner's promotional lingo for years, claiming that the Atlantic Yards site, which is in Prospect Heights, was part of Downtown Brooklyn. That allowed them to suggest that the distinct increase in scale and bulk was in line with the Downtown Brooklyn rezoning.

The reason it's bizarre is that, by Corcoran's own definition of Downtown Brooklyn, this building doesn't qualify at all.

Note, at right, these boundaries: "Runs from the BQE on the north to Atlantic Avenue on the south and Flatbush Avenue on the East to Cadman Plaza on the West."

I've outlined those boundaries in the map below left (click to enlarge).

As you can see, it's easy to find the BQE at the northern border and Cadman Plaza on the west. The box in the center shows the intersection of Atlantic Avenue on the south and Flatbush Avenue on the east.

The red marker shows the location of 550 Vanderbilt. That's not even close to being within the boundaries of Downtown Brooklyn. Even the Barclays Center, on the other side of the intersection, south of Atlantic and east of Flatbush, doesn't qualify.

By contrast, Corcoran's own listings place the Newswalk condo, at 535 Dean Street and opposite the middle of the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park site, in Prospect Heights.

The boundaries are defined as "Runs from Flatbush Avenue to the west, Atlantic Avenue to the north, Eastern Parkway to the south and Bedford Avenue to the east." (That actually extends the border of Crown Heights several blocks to the east. Prospect Heights stops at Washington or Classon Avenues.)

Even more strangely, the text within the Corcoran listing of 550 Vanderbilt identifies it as Prospect Heights:
Also, from Corcoran:
The First Condominium At Pacific Park
Designed inside and out by celebrated architect COOKFOX, 550 Vanderbilt brings 278 exceptional condominium residences to the heart of Brooklyn. The holistic design of the building takes cues from the neighboring brownstones of Prospect Heights, while expansive windows maximize views and ensure light-filled living. From studios to four bedrooms, the carefully planned layouts are distinguished by luxurious finishes and modern details. Gracefully adjoining Pacific Park’s 8-acres of green space, 550 Vanderbilt will enjoy the unprecedented wealth of services, amenities, and conveniences of Brooklyn's newest neighborhood.
(Emphases added)

Note that the listing points to the "neighboring brownstones of Prospect Heights." Also note the time travel implied, since 550 Vanderbilt won't "gracefully adjoin Pacific Park's 8-acres of green space" until that space is finished in 2025 (though it will arrive incrementally).
A very nice tax abatement

From Corcoran:
Designed inside and out by celebrated architect COOKFOX, residents will enjoy an elevated experience in urban living. Not only does a full amenities suite await you, including a lounge that opens to the outdoors, a library, 8th floor roof terrace, as well as resident storage and access to underground parking, but through your own lobby you will be connected to 8-acres of lush green space! 550 Vanderbilt will have a 421a tax abatement, a gym, an attended lobby and a live-in resident manager. In addition, you are surrounded by 5 historic neighborhoods, cultural landmarks, and a transportation hub ready to take you anywhere. 550 Vanderbilt is a condominium like no other, providing its residents with an extraordinary opportunity to connect with community and nature, all in the very heart of Brooklyn, New York City’s most exciting borough.
This makes a big deal, especially for the cheaper units. Shouldn't this selling point make the news coverage, given that 421-a reform is a huge issue in Albany? Remember, Atlantic Yards got a special "carve-out" in 2007 to preserve 421-a benefits in buildings that contain no affordable housing.








From the Times


As I point out in my annotation of the Times article at Genius, which quotes only the developers and an architect, there's no mention of:
  • marketing the condos in China
  • the 421-a tax break
  • the use of EB-5 funds 
  • the distorted renderings
Moreover, the discussion of several things is inadequate:
  • the deal to speed construction
  • the affordability of the subsidized housing
  • the impact of litigation on development progress
  • the problems with the modular building at 461 Dean Street
  • the claimed "public park"
  • the way the condo would "bridge" Prospect Heights and Pacific Park
  • the fact that the announced public school is not approved

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…

"There is no alternative": DM Glen on de Blasio's affordable housing strategy

As I've written, Mayor Bill de Blasio sure knows how to steer and spin coverage of his affordable housing initiatives.

Indeed, his latest announcement, claiming significant progress, came with a pre-press release op-ed in the New York Daily News and then a friendly photo-op press conference with an understandably grateful--and very lucky--winner of an affordable housing lottery.

To me, though, the most significant quote came from Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, who, as the Wall Street Journal reported:
said public housing had been “starved” of federal support for years now, leaving the city with fewer ways of creating affordable housing. “Are we relying too heavily on the private sector?” she said. “There is no alternative.” Though Glen was using what she surely sees as a common-sense phrase, it recalls the slogan of a politician with whom I doubt de Blasio identifies: former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, a Conservative who believed in free markets.

It suggests the limits to …