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Showing posts from March, 2015

From the latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Alert: dimensions of Plexiglas window announced, module realignment plan omitted (updated with photos)

The latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Brooklyn Construction Update, issued yesterday by Empire State Development after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners, indicates (thanks to a new format recently introduced) that trees will be removed/transplanted near the B11 site, aka 550 Vanderbilt Avenue, and Plexiglas will installed at the corner of Vanderbilt Avenue and Dean Street.

Update: photo at right indicates window at Dean Street, while photo below right indicates both the Vanderbilt window (right) and Dean window.

While the Plexiglas window plan was announced last week, the dimensions--a height of 8 feet stretching 16 feet along both the Vanderbilt and Dean sides of the fence--were not announced.

More close-mouthed on modular plans?

The latest alert states that, as previously indicated, "B2 is targeting 4/01/15 as the commencement date for the activities to prepare for the erection of modules for floors 11, 12, and 13." (Here's the previous alert.)

However, omit…

Yes, Brooklyn Nets celebrate Chinese culture--and a lot more

It's hard to read today's China Daily article, Brooklyn Nets celebrate Chinese culture, without wanting to fill in some blanks.

At the Barclays Center yesterday, the Brooklyn Nets co-hosted "A Celebration of Chinese Culture" with the Sino-American Friendship Association (SAFA). It included a press conference involving Nets CEO Brett Yormark and Zhang Qiyue, the Chinese consul general in New York.

"As a franchise, we aspire to be global, and connecting with China in general is something that is very important for management and ownership," declared Yormark. "It's also very important for the NBA."

That's not just because Chinese-Americans in Brooklyn and Chinese nationals in China might be fans, as the article suggests, but also because Chinese millionaires seeking green cards have been lured to invest in Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park under the misleading suggestion that the investment goes into the Barclays Center.
It's about business
"T…

Who could be the next city economic development chief? Crain's suggests some AY-related figures

In a blog post headlined Who could be the next city economic development chief?, Andy Hawkins of Crain's New York Business runs down the names of potential replacements for Kyle Kimball, the holdover CEO of the New York City Economic Development Corporation.
Among them are three candidates with ties to Atlantic Yards as officials or advocates: former NYC EDC (and current Brooklyn Navy Yard) executive David Ehrenberg, Downtown Brooklyn Partnership President Tucker Reed, and Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President (and former Chief of Staff to the Borough President) Carlo Scissura.
Also mentioned, among others, were Maria Torres-Springer, commissioner of Small Business Services, Hudson River Park Trust President and CEO Madelyn Wils, and former Port Authority New York & New Jersey Executive Director Chris Ward. Read Hawkins for the handicapping.

"Congeniality over conscience": Jewish leaders, including Ratner, wrote letters in support for criminal Rapfogel

In City and State NY's LOVE LETTERS FOR WILLIE RAPFOGEL, subtitled "The 'Prince of the Jews' Is Saluted By The Mighty On His Way To Jail," Wayne Barrett (ex-Village Voice) does the work no one else would do, uncovering the unseemly support from many--including Bruce Ratner--for a brazen, hypocritical criminal:
William Rapfogel, the city’s legendary giant of the Jewish nonprofit world and good friend of indicted ex-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, is in prison for looting $9 million from the organization he ran for two decades, the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty.
A reverse Robin Hood for poor Jews, the 59-year-old Rapfogel, who pocketed $3 million and was caught with $420,000 in cash, appeared unlikely to prompt much support when he pled guilty last year. Exploiting a mine lode of public subsidies funneled mostly through Silver, Rapfogel admitted to financing what court papers called “a lavish lifestyle” by taking up to $30,000-a-month from an insurance c…

Predictable: illegal limos idling on streets for Neil Diamond concert

It was predictable last Thursday. As noted on Atlantic Yards Watch, 11 limos parked illegally in short stretch of 5th Ave for Neil Diamond concert:
In a 5 minute walk, hampered by rain, 11 limos found parked and /or idling at the following addresses:
27, 37, 53, and 66 Fifth Avenue. These are known problem spots. Most are hydrants. Two limos in bus stop. Also 2 cars parked in bus stop at 429 Bergen, and 2 in No Standing zone at 446 C Dean. Worst offenders were two limos parked in travel lane in front of former Triangle Sports building (27 5th Avenue) between Dean and Flatbush. Photo attached. 311 complaint made for these two (other ones not done on 311 due to rain).
Numerous other limos and cars parked and idling on other blocks. (Some typos cleaned up)
The thing is, many people either don't know or don't bother to file incident reports, but that type of Barclays Center concert--with an older, wealthier crowd less likely to use public transport--typically draws idling limos.

F…

As Nets go down and up, ESPN ratings are ominous (but still surpass the Knicks)

The Brooklyn Nets go way up and down--or down and up. Earlier in the week, New York Times columnist Harvey Araton, on 3/24/15, wrote Owner’s Grandstanding Confronts Nets With a Dim Future:
They crossed the river and hit the ground bragging. They came to New York with high-minded intentions of taking ownership of it from the Knicks and walked the low road by placing a “Hear Ye” mural down the side of a building a few dribbles away from Madison Square Garden.
Their owner, Mikhail D. Prokhorov, handed over his checkbook to his general manager, Billy King, who seized the money and the moment to pursue deliverance of Prokhorov’s introductory 2010 promise of an N.B.A. championship “in one year minimum, and maximum in five years.”
The guarantee will expire this spring, with the underachieving Nets possibly excluded from the playoffs. As for city ownership, the Knicks are a joke but the Nets are the butt of it. Catastrophes are compelling. Moribund is monotonous. One enduring question is whethe…

Steel truss installation on Barclays Center green roof planned for Saturday

Empire State Development yesterday circulated an alert that work on the Barclays Center green roof will take place on Saturday from 7 am through 3:30 pm, involving the installation of a truss--part of the framework for supporting the roof turf.
Arena Green Roof:
On Saturday, March 28, 2015, T2 Truss installation will take place. Similar with weekday work, lifts will take place from both the Dean Street and Atlantic Avenue crane locations; there will be no steel deliveries. Work will be taking place during the hours 7 AM to 3:30 PM pursuant to the Department of Buildings weekend work permit.

Nassau County Executive Mangano bizarrely suggests renovated Coliseum will lure Islanders back; Ratner in dispute over retail plan?

There's been muchscornfulcomment about the claim by Nassau County executive Ed Mangano, in his 3/11/15 State of the County address (below), that the renovated, shrunken Nassau Coliseum will lure the New York Islanders back.

After all, National Hockey League officials told Newsday that there was no indication that the team's move to Brooklyn this fall is temporary. And the Brooklyn arena offers far more luxury suites, key to making the economics work. Why would Coliseum redeveloper Forest City Ratner do anything to get back the team they recently lured to the Barclays Center they operate?

In a piece of intrigue, Long Island Business News yesterday reported, Developer dispute could stall Coliseum project. Apparently Forest City and Long Island's Blumenfeld Development Group (BDG) are at odds over the size and scope of the retail and entertainment piece of the Coliseum plan.

According to the article, based in part on anonymous sources, BDG wants to build some "300,000 sq…

Public hearing Monday on tax-exempt bonds for B3 affordable rental tower at Sixth Avenue and Dean Street

According to an announcement from the New York City Housing Development Corporation (NYC HDC), the agency will hold a (typically pro forma) public hearing Monday, May 30, to provide information and take public comment on bonds for numerous affordable housing projects.

Among them will be $75 million for Pacific Park B3, a 23-story affordable housing rental tower planned for the corner of Dean Street and Sixth Avenue.

The hearing will be held Monday, March 30 at 10 am at the NYC HDC Main Conference Room, 110 William Street, 10th Floor.

(The NYC HDC notice refers to the location as 38 Sixth Avenue, which is what it says on the project web site, though it was previously known as 30 Sixth Avenue.)

Waiting for more information

NYC HDC has not provided additional information I requested about the project, so all we have to go on is project web site (noted below) and  the non-binding letter (bottom) from last May, which indicated that B3--like B14, already launched at Carlton Avenue and Dean …

Plexiglas windows being added to 16-foot green wall at Vanderbilt and Dean to improve sightlines

A message circulated yesterday from Pacific Park Brooklyn indicates that plexiglas windows will be added tomorrow to the 16-foot green wall at Vanderbilt Avenue and Dean Street, which aims to protect neighbors from noise and dust during construction but also encroaches significantly into the street.
(This is not the fence at Carlton Avenue and Dean, but is rather a busier, two-way intersection.)
Presumably this allows drivers going east on Dean to turn left or right on Vanderbilt while better assessing any oncoming traffic.

Community Notice
Changes to the Green Construction Fence at the corner of Vanderbilt Avenue & Dean Street Starting on Friday, March 27th Dear Neighbor,
We wanted you to be aware that after consultation with the Fire Department of New York we will be making some minor modifications to the construction fence that surrounds Block 1129 bounded by Carlton Avenue, Vanderbilt Avenue, Dean Street & Pacific Street.
We will be adding Plexiglas windows to the fence at t…

DBNA launches video challenge to highlight Meditation Room; info session today regarding new Atlantic Yards/Nets/DBNA foundation

Well, the Barclays Center Meditation Room may inspire some quizzical responses and snark from sports fans--and others who see it as a little used concession to a key Atlantic Yards supporter.

But the Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance (DBNA), founded by that supporter, the Rev. Herbert Daughtry and funded by developer Forest City Ratner, is doing its part to try highlight the value of the room, offering Moments of Peace: The Meditation Room Video Challenge.

It has invited its Community Partners--the groups that get free tickets to arena events distributed by the DBNA--to go to the Meditation Room, choose one of the words on the walls--LOVE, PEACE, FORGIVE, BELIEVE, REJOICE, FAITH--and make a three-to-four minute video explaining how that word plays a role in their life, as noted in the rules at right.

Five winning videos will be chosen each month, and the makers will get two tickets to an arena event.

As noted in the document at bottom:
The goals of the video challenge are: 1) T…

Atlantic Yards down the memory hole: LIRR improvements being delivered "free of charge," declares Newsday

I'm coming a little late to this Newsday article posted 3/22/15, headlined LIRR to get improvements in Brooklyn, part of Barclays deal.

But it clearly represents the phenomenon I've dubbed "Atlantic Yards down the memory hole," since the indubitable improvements have been part of renegotiation and delay:
The $100 million real estate deal that led to the Barclays Center being built over a century-old rail yard is beginning to pay dividends for the Long Island Rail Road and its Brooklyn commuters, officials said.
Seven years into the construction of a state-of-the-art new storage facility to replace the original Vanderbilt Yards, workers will soon punch through a 171-year-old rail tunnel to provide trains, for the first time, a direct path between the yard and Atlantic Terminal.
It's one of many improvements to the LIRR's Brooklyn operation that are being delivered to the railroad free of charge by Greenland Forest City Partners, a joint venture between Greenla…

From the Atlantic Yards CDC meeting: board materials (including budget), President's report

The Board Materials and President's Report from Monday's meeting of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation have been posted, and are also embedded below.

The President's report outlines how the advisory AY CDC works with the parent Empire State Development (with whom it shares staff, board members, and officers), and how ESD oversees the project, with its own consultants and in collaboration with the developer (now Greenland Forest City Partners) and the developer's on-site environmental monitor.

The Board Materials note a budget of about $250,000, more than 60% of which is projected for legal/accounting and consultant fees. The budget can be augmented, as was discussed at the meeting.

Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation, President's Report, March 23, 2015


Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation, Board Materials, March 23, 2015

Despite WPIX boost, Barclays Center Nash Bash country concert leaves many empty seats

Well, according to Twitter, those attending the Nash Bash country music concert at the Barclays Center last night had a fine time.

And WPIX 11, again fulfilling its partnership with the arena, reported, vaguely, Country music takes over Brooklyn with Barclays Center concert.  But other than the "thousands" of country music fans cited by WPIX, how successful was the event?
First, consider that to fill seats, a good number of comps were apparently given out--otherwise Hill Country BK wouldn't have had a stack, as pictured at right.
(Otherwise, tickets were a seemingly reasonable $30.)
I snagged a ticket for bubkes and visited briefly. (It was my first concert at the arena--the bass was loud--though I've gone to a few Brooklyn Nets and college basketball games, never paying full price.)
I saw a lot of empty seats, even as the arena was cordoned off into a theater configuration, with the upper sections closed off. I'd estimate far fewer than the 7,000 people expected.

At second meeting of Atlantic Yards CDC, questions about monitoring project, what it might look like, managing big arena events, and adjusting green wall

A good portion of the second meeting of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC), held yesterday at BRIC, was devoted to institutional boilerplate. (Here's coverage of first meeting.)

But a few members on the board, set up last year to monitor public commitments regarding the project, asked pressing questions about how Empire State Development (ESD), the AY CDC’s parent, goes about its job.

It was revealed that ESD has closely tracked complaints and incidents only beginning a few months ago, and the state agency acknowledged it has no rendering of what the project would look like in full.

Also, the board heard from several residents about continued irritants, including Barclays Center events that spill out into the neighborhood and the massive 16-foot green fence that aims to block construction noise/dust but also encroaches on Carlton Avenue and Dean Street.

Expect more discussion at the next meeting in two months, including regarding the prospect--as raised …

Dates announced for future Atlantic Yards CDC meetings and Community Update meetings

Yesterday, at the second meeting of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC), two schedules were released.

Future AY CDC meetings are tentatively scheduled for the third Tuesday of the month at 3 pm, with time and location to be confirmed:
Tuesday, May 19Tuesday, August 18Tuesday, November 17 Future Community Update meetings (formerly known as Quality of Life Committee meetings) will be held on Wednesdays at 6 pm at a location to be confirmed:
Wednesday, April 22 (Shirley Chisholm State Office Building, 55 Hanson Place)Wednesday, June 24Wednesday, August 19Wednesday, October 14Wednesday, December 9 (Here's coverage of the meeting itself.)

Memo to the Atlantic Yards CDC: what about last week's bus inundation of Prospect Heights?

The agenda has emerged for today's meeting of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation, the second for this new body.

But if is supposed to monitor public commitments regarding the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park project--and not just leave them for the periodic Quality of Life meetings (the next one is April 22)--the AY CDC must address the situation that emerged last Tuesday.

During the morning, hundreds of buses delivering arenagoers to a huge private event--the memorial for Orthodox Jewish educator Sara Schenirer--inundated neighborhood streets, double-parking on both Flatbush Avenue and residential streets (photos, video), and blocking bus stops and hydrants.

As I wrote, this in no way resembled the Barclays Center announcement that "Buses will be parked and staged downstairs in our loading dock, outside on the arena block and across the street at the Atlantic Terminal Mall on Fort Greene Place."

Nor was there sufficient warning of public impacts. (This eve…

How much are those Atlantic Yards B2 modules misaligned? Check the photo.

At today's meeting of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation, developer Forest City Ratner should be asked about its partial acknowledgment that modules in the long-stalled B2 tower require realignment before the building can be finished.

As I wrote, Forest City disclosed plans to realign (and possibly lift-and-reset) modules only on the tenth and current highest floor, as if setting a new base for the additional 22 floors. However, some lower-floor modules seem slightly but distinctly out of alignment as well.

If you look at the right-side column of modules with red-framed windows, they clearly don't fit precisely. Note the photo below, a close-up of the intersections of modules on the third and fourth floors.

As I wrote, the announcement--which said work could begin April 1--leaves some question marks. Realigning the lower floor modules would be more complicated and likely require modules to be removed. It's unclear when the cumulative effect of out-of-tol…

Is the arena impact "not so bad," as Markowitz predicted? Yes, but... it's complicated (and beyond traffic)

I'm leading a walking tour today of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park/Barclays Center/Prospect Heights (via Municipal Art Society), and have presented 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.

At the end of 2008, in his traditional end-of-the-year interview with the Brooklyn Paper's Gersh Kuntzman, Borough President Marty Markowitz made an observation about the then-stalled Atlantic Yards project:
“I always say to these folks that are viciously anti—when it’s built I hope that you’ll say to me ‘Marty, you know, it’s not so bad,’” Markowitz spritzed. “I don’t expect you to say you know you were right.  Just say to me, ‘You know what, not so bad.’ That would be to me that would be a tremendous celebration.” He's surely gotten that wish. After all, in 2013, the New York Times declared arena-related problems "ev…

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)

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 Flat…

Agenda announced for next meeting of Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation

The agenda has been announced for the meeting March 23 of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC), set up to monitor the project as part of an agreement to move up construction of affordable housing to 2025. The meeting will be at 3 pm at BRIC. (RSVP required today.)

This is the second meeting of the new body, and it includes some boilerplate corporate action, including approval of budget, which has not been circulated, and authorization to amend by-laws, presumably regarding the placement of a non-New York City resident on the board.

Otherwise there's an unspecified "corporate update" and an opportunity for public comments. Presumably some comments will regard the impact of buses using neighborhood streets to double-park this past Tuesday.

The crucial (temporary) Barclays Center plaza and the missing B1; what happens if/when tower arrives (6th Ave. alternate entrance)?

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.

Perhaps the most glaring architectural difference between Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park as planned and as it has emerged is the absence of "Miss Brooklyn," aka B1, the flagship office tower.

Some 511 feet tall and containing 1.1 million square feet, intended to loom over the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues.

(See list of building heights and square footages; note that B1 was reduced from 620 feet to 511 feet to be shorter than the Williamsburgh Savings Bank, though the point is somewhat moot today, with taller buildings in Downtown Brooklyn.)

Miss Brooklyn/B1 would be huge. Consider how even when the rendering above …