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Showing posts from September, 2015

From the latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update: Atlantic Avenue crane to be removed; Saturday work at three sites

The latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Brooklyn Construction Update was sent at 5:11 pm yesterday, after the second business day of ten concluded, by Empire State Development after preparation by Greenland Forest City partners, covers the two weeks beginning Sept. 28 and Oct. 5, though the document (see bottom), oddly enough, says October 11.

Among the notable changes are the disassembly of the Atlantic Avenue crane for the arena green roof on Saturday, Oct. 10 (though that will not reopen traffic lanes); foundation work for the B3 site (Dean Street and Sixth Avenue), and the transfer of a mobile crane to the B3 site from the B14 site, at Carlton Avenue and Dean.

Here's the previous alert: note no previous mention of demolition on Block 1120--buildings that jut into railyard from Atlantic Avenue--and no mention of current demolition on Block 1128, site of B15, though there it appears to be ongoing. no mention of continuation of work cleaning out the contents of 666 Pacific Street,…

NY Post on 550 Vanderbilt: "How New York City is building new neighborhoods from nothing" (!)

Remember how original Atlantic Yards architect Frank Gehry got flak for saying--according to the New York Times's erroneous transcription--that the project was "building a neighborhood from scratch"? (He'd said "practically from scratch," which was already a stretch.)

Well, Forest City Ratner CEO MaryAnne Gilmartin likes to say "neighborhood from scratch" today, and she's getting lapdog treatment in some media outlets. Consider the New York Post Real Estate page article today, How New York City is building new neighborhoods from nothing. (Actually, it appears in the luxury supplement, Alexa--see bottom.)

From the lead:
Density ought to be embraced, and vertical living ought to be celebrated,” pronounces MaryAnne Gilmartin, president of NYC real estate giant Forest City Ratner Companies. It’s a bold statement, but she’s talking about a bold project: Pacific Park, the 22-acre, 15-building complex rising over Brooklyn’s Atlantic Rail Yards, near …

After extensions from lender (expire?), Forest City will prematurely pay off $45M loan for troubled modular tower (+$11.6M subordinate loan)

See update below that confirms that Forest City is paying off an additional $11.6 million to NYC HDC.

In an unusual occurrence surely prompted in part by delays and construction problems, developer Forest City Ratner next week will pay off $45 million in tax-exempt financing for the B2 modular tower rather than enjoying the fruits of the low-interest loan until 2046.

Nor does the New York City Housing Development Corporation (NYC HDC) plan to issue the additional $45 million in tax-exempt financing once planned for the tower, also known as 461 Dean Street.

That $90 million total would have gone halfway to paying for a tower initially slated to cost $183 million (including $117 million for construction).
Delays and costs overruns have added perhaps $80 million to the cost of the tower. It should open late next year, after some 3.75 years of construction, nearly twice as long as initially expected, leaving a cloud over Forest City's once-heralded plans to revolutionize construction …

WPIX promotes Premiere Week at Barclays Center

WPIX, which has a studio in the Barclays Center, is still practicing synergy, offering a sweepstakes for Premiere Week, when the New York Islanders season begins.


Here's the PIX11 page for stories tagged Barclays Center. Below is the page in PDF form:

Barclays Center - WPIX-TV_Sept28_2015

News flash: Nets player finally moves to Brooklyn

As the Brooklyn Nets begin their fourth season in Brooklyn, there's some news, as noted by the Brooklyn Game not so grammatically, The Nets finally have a player that lives in Brooklyn.

The post cites ESPN, which quotes forward Thaddeus Young, who said he and his wife wanted stability for their five year-old son:
"It's a good environment," Young said. "We like to come down and walk on the piers and walk on the bridges and stuff like that. Plus, the practice facility is gonna be in Industrial City [in February] so that's gonna be probably 10-15 minutes away from here, and like I said, Barclays Center is right up the street. That suggests the location is in the Downtown Brooklyn area. Update, it's sort-of Brooklyn Heights, actually a large condo building in a former factory.
Because the Nets have practiced in New Jersey, it made logistical sense for many players to live in Manhattan or even New Jersey. Early next year a practice facility will open in Brook…

Synergy! 550 Vanderbilt sales office opens at arena (plus a pricey penthouse)

What a difference (nearly) 12 years makes. When Atlantic Yards was announced in December 2003, the project was to include 4500 rental apartments, half of them below market, and 2 million square feet of office space. Jobs, housing, and hoops.

By 2005, thousands of condos had been swapped for office space, and ultimately 1,930 condos were approved, for a project renamed last year Pacific Park.

Combine that opportunity with the continuing growth of the Brooklyn and Prospect Heights market and the result, as noted by DNAinfo in a report from the launch of a sales office for the first condo building, 550 Vanderbilt, a 2,859-square-foot penthouse condo with a wrap-around terrace, for $6.8 million. (Should we expect more articles when the other two penthouses are unveiled.)

And, featured at the sales office, as noted below, are the cookbook from Franny's (born April 2004) and food from Brooklyn Larder (born June 2009). In other words, the delay in construction certainly fueled increased …

On Monday, Barclays Center seeks CB 6 nod to add additional (58th) liquor point of sale

The Calendar for Brooklyn Community Board 6 notes that, on Monday, Sept. 28, the Environmental Protection Permits & Licenses Committee will review numerous applications, include "a new on-premises liquor license application submitted to the State Liquor Authority" on behalf of the Barclays Center.

According to the application, which CB 6 shared with me, the arena food and beverage operator, Levy Premium Foodservice, aims to add one new point of sale to the current total of 57. The location will be on the main concourse, at entry level, as shown in the graphic below, with be full liquor service.

Given the relatively modest change requested, I wouldn't expect it to provoke much pushback.

The meeting is at 6:30 pm at the auditorium of John Jay Educational Campus, 237 7th Avenue, between 4th & 5th Streets.


Looking at Bisnow's Atlantic Yards roundup: a "place-making juggernaut" (?) and some errors/omissions

There's not much new in the THE BARCLAYS CENTER SHAKEUP: JAY Z’S OUT, CHINA’S IN AND ATLANTIC YARDS LIVES ON, from the real estate publication Bisnow, published 9/24/15.
And there's a good deal ignored, such as the actual affordability of the planned subsidized housing, the continuing temporary certificate of occupancy, and the reasons for the arena's new green roof.

But there are a few interesting observations--and mistakes--as well as some clues to how business-friendly publications may frame the project.

The only person quoted is Forest City Ratner CEO MaryAnne Gilmartin--where's new majority owner Greenland?--who calls Barclays Center "a place-making juggernaut," citing 5.5 million visitors. 
That's an interesting term, because, while the number of visitors is undeniable, the "place" is very much in process--not just the under-construction towers, but also unresolved retail, such as at the long-lingering, prime location building at Flatbush…

From City & State: When Barclays Admitted a Felony, It Should Have Lost the Brooklyn Arena

I have an essay in in the political magazine City & State NY, OPINION: WHEN BARCLAYS ADMITTED A FELONY, IT SHOULD HAVE LOST THE BROOKLYN ARENA
Basically, I argue that, after the parent company Barclays PLC pleaded guilty to a felony regarding rigging the foreign exchange market, its affiliate, Barclays Services Corporation, qualifies as a "Prohibited Person" and thus should not be able to contract with the arena operator.

Here are screenshots from some backing documents for the essay.

Barclays pleads to felony

No contract with a Prohibited Person

Definition of a Person and Prohibited Person



How is Barclays Services Corporation connected to Barclays PLC?

Barclays Services Corporation is wholly owned by Barclays Group US, which is wholly owned by Barclays Bank PLC, which is wholly owned by Barclays PLC.

The New York Nobody Knows doesn't know Atlantic Yards

The New York Nobody Knows: Walking 6000 Miles in the City, by sociologist William Helmreich, has received lots of enthusiastic reviews since it was published in 2013. (The paperback just came out.)

I'll write elsewhere about the book as a whole--it's a great conceit, but mixed in execution--but here want to address the significant sloppiness regarding Atlantic Yards.

The AY mention

Atlantic Yards gets a few mentions, but the main passage is below right, from Chapter Six.

It could have used some fact-checking. Some of these errors may be small, but it shows how easy it is to get wrong, fueling future errors from those relying on this source.

No, the Atlantic Yards development project is not "designed by famed architect Frank Gehry." (He was the original designer, and credited master planner, but he was long gone by the time of this book's completion.)

Nor is it "in downtown Brooklyn." (Try Prospect Heights.)

Nor was it approved by Mayor Mike Bloomberg. (Bl…

Barclays Center releases updated event calendars for October through December

The Barclays recent released updated event calendars for the next few months, which make some tweaks from the previously issued ones, published here.

The October calendar has added the Tapped beer fest on Oct. 25, while canceling the previously scheduled Dr. Who Symphony concerts on Oct. 7. (Here's October 2014.)


The November calendar has added concerts Nov. 18 and Nov. 19 for The Weeknd. (Here's November 2014.)

The December calendar has added pro wrestling for Dec. 28. (Here's December 2014.)


Plans filed for 37 Sixth Avenue (aka B-15); update on school: Forest City says it *would* be 100,000 sf, with 30,000 sf below-grade

As reported first by The Real Deal yesterday, in Greenland Forest City files plans for Pacific Park resi, school building, the joint venture yesterday filed plans with the Department of Buildings for B-15, a market-rate rental building with a school to be known as 37 Sixth Avenue, designed by Marvel Architects. (Across the street is B-3, or  38 Sixth Avenue.)

The masonry concrete building, slated to rise 26 stores and 272 feet, will include 323 units in 273,930 square feet of residential space (that's an average of 848 sf/unit). As noted by The Real Deal, there would be eight apartments on the sixth floor, 16 units on the seventh floor, 17 apartments on each of the eighth through 10th floors, 18 units on each of the 11th through 16th floors and 14 units on each of the 17th through 26th floors.

The lot area is 21,155, with 80% lot coverage and no outside open space.

A smaller school? 

The first through fifth floors would house a 616-seat public school, which, according to the filing

Two ads for 550 Vanderbilt in the New York Times Magazine: "a contextual extension of the surrounding neighborhood" (!)

Not one but two pages in this past Sunday's New York Times Magazine were devoted, at least in part, to the 550 Vanderbilt condo tower at the southeast end of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park. Both show that deceptive rendering that s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-s the three story brick building at left and tilts the substantial 202-foot tower into the distance, diminishing its bulk.

The two ads, actually, contradict each other a bit. Note the full-page ad below, on p. 31:
550 Vanderbilt, designed by the celebrated architect COOKFOX, brings 278 exceptional residents to the heart of Pacific Park, Brooklyn's newest neighborhood.
One, Two, and Three Bedroom Condominium Residents from $830,000 Um, it's not a neighborhood. Note that one-bedroom units are said to start at $830,000. According to the building's page on StreetEasy, one past listing for a one-bedroom was $800,000, but the current least expensive one-bedroom is $815,000.


According to StreetEasy, of 278 units, there are 80 active sales…

As third anniversary approaches, Barclays Center on 16th TCO (Citi Field slower, Yankee Stadium faster)

As its three-year anniversary approaches at the end of September, the Barclays Center remains on a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy (TCO), apparently its 16th, according to Department of Buildings (DOB) records. See document at bottom, which is dated 7/25/15 and lasts 90 days before it must be renewed.

As I wrote in October 2013, an extended TCO is nothing new for sports facilities. Yankee Stadium got its Final Certificate of Occupancy in March 2012, after nearly three years, which is faster than Barclays, but Citi Field, which also opened in the spring of 2009, got its document in July 2013, more than four years later.

What is arena waiting for?

The Barclays Center TCO states, "There are 26 outstanding requirements. Please refer to BISWeb for further detail."

No, it's not easy to figure them out, though in the past unfinished retail space was clearly part of the total. I asked DOB and was sent a link to the page highlighted below, which actually indicates 25 open items…

As vote on REIT conversion approaches next month, Forest City identifies arena/Nets as part of taxable subsidiaries

Forest City Enterprises has filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission a proxy statement sent to shareholders regarding the 10/20/15 vote to reorganize the Ohio-based corporation into a Maryland corporation that will qualify as a real estate investment trust (REIT).

By reorganizing, Forest City Realty Trust will not be subject to federal corporate income taxes on distributions. As a REIT, Forest City must distribute annually at least 90% of its REIT taxable income, which will exclude any taxable real estate investment trust subsidiary (TRS) unless that TRS pays dividends to the REIT. 
Regarding the TRS
The document states: We plan to hold certain of our assets and operations and to receive certain items of income through one or more TRSs. These assets and operations consist principally of Forest City’s (i) military housing business, (ii) land development projects at Stapleton in Denver, Colorado, and Mesa del Sol in Albuquerque, New Mexico, (iii) condominium development projects…

As Islanders unveil "Brooklynified" alternate jerseys, pols offer free publicity

It's the visuals that count.

The large photo below accompanies a New York Times Sports section piece today, Islanders Embrace Their Future in Brooklyn While Staying Connected With the Past.

See Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, WFAN's Craig Carton, Barclays Center developer Bruce Ratner, and arena/Nets CEO Brett Yormark all posing with new alternate, black-and-white jerseys for the New York Islanders. It's would look perfect in a press release.
Hey, where are the Islanders' owners? Do note that New York City Bill de Blasio did model a jersey, too, as pictured above right.
Bettman, once skeptical of the move to Brooklyn, talked up the location. The Times reports:
Bettman cited history as he touted Barclays Center, where the Islanders will host the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks in the season opener on Oct. 9.
“An arena sits where Walter O’Malley wanted to build a domed stadium for the Dodgers,” Bettman said, referring to the …

Crane installation Saturday and Sunday may temporarily close NE sidewalk at Carlton and Pacific

A notice from Pacific Park Brooklyn: Community Notice On Saturday, September 19 & Sunday, September 20 from 6AM to 9PM as part of the construction of the Pacific Park development, a crane is being assembled within the construction site on Pacific Street between Vanderbilt Avenue and Carlton Avenue.

To accommodate this, the North East sidewalk at Carlton Avenue & Pacific Street may be temporarily closed to pedestrians during this time.  As always, please feel free to reach out to our offices with any questions or concerns.  Thank you,
Pacific Park Brooklyn Community Liaison Office
1-866-923-5315
communityliaison@pacificparkbrooklyn.com  Empire State Development
(212) 803-3736
atlanticyards@esd.ny.gov

B12 condo tower emerges, 278 feet, with huge units, dwarfs neighboring buildings, but materials aim for context

At the periodic Community Update meeting Wednesday night, Greenland Forest City Partners unveiled the design for the B-12 tower, 615 Dean Street, one building in from the 550 Vanderbilt tower at the southeast corner of the site, which is Vanderbilt Avenue and Dean Street.

Notably, 615 Dean is the tallest but not the bulkiest building among the four on the southeast block, rising 278 feet (the maximum height is 287 feet, so we'll see if that's met) and encompassing 321,000 gross square feet, including two retail spaces ofr 4,000 and 1,000 sf. (The maximum square footage is 317,185, but some flexibility is allowed as long as total is capped.)

By contrast, the 550 Vanderbilt condo tower maxes at 202 feet and 330,778 square feet, and the 535 Carlton affordable rental tower, at the corner of Carlton Avenue and Dean Street, maxes at 184 feet and 283,971 sf.

Notably, 615 Dean Street, with about 250 units, would have huge apartments, each averaging larger than 1,200 square feet. As a …