Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from October, 2015

A noisy morning at 535 Carlton, and a platform falls

Not such a good morning at 535 Carlton, on top of some serious noise. Note what happens at about 1:02 of this video--a platform falls--and the subsequent yelling of "timber."

Prokhorov to buy 85% stake in Nassau Coliseum operating company; purchase of Nets/Barclays coming soon?

It was inevitable, right? And so is the next step.

Two Long Island publications broke the news that Nets majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov is buying an 85% stake in the company renovating the Nassau Coliseum and building the associated retail and entertainment complex. (The property is owned by Nassau County.) Terms were undisclosed.
Note that Prokhorov already had an unspecified share of Nassau Events Center, led by Forest City Ratner, and parent Forest City Enterprises, about to convert to a real estate investment trust by 2016, is eager to shed "non-core assets."
Surely soon will come Prokhorov's purchase of the remaining 20% share of the Brooklyn Nets controlled by Forest City Enterprises and the latter's 55% share of the Barclays Center operating company.
And that will again raise the question: would public agencies have been so eager to do the various deals if they knew the beneficiary was a Russian billionaire?
The news emerges
The news was first broken by Long …

Gehry's biographer puts on kid gloves regarding Ratner, buffs some of "Frank's" rough edges

It’s no surprise that the New York book party Oct. 21 for Paul Goldberger’s very impressive (but flawed) biography Building Art: The Life and Work of Frank Gehry was held at the architect’s curvy 8 Spruce Street apartment tower in Lower Manhattan, and hosted by the building’s developer, Forest City Ratner.

After all, it’s not just Gehry’s most successful New York commission, boldly branded by Forest City as “New York by Gehry.” Biographer Goldberger, who even admirers call “the voice of the urban elite,” also treats the developer with kid gloves, thus buffing the building’s backstory.

Indeed, this substantial book is flawed not merely because Goldberger, as several reviewers have pointedout, mutes his own critical voice when describing works like the Bilbao Guggenheim or Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.

It's also flawed because the book--despite describing Gehry choose work over family, jettison longtime lieutenants, and hunger for fame--still sandpapers (or misses) rough edge…

"The post-hype Nets begin again," and it's brutal

A brutal account of last night's season debut of the Brooklyn Nets vs. the Chicago Bulls, from Howard Megdal in Politico NY, The post-hype Nets begin again: A crowd seemingly aware of the bleak present and future showed up in Brooklyn Wednesday night. Large patches of empty rows could be seen throughout the lower bowl, and even in the mostly filled upper levels, the crowd energy veered far closer to golf than Garden. No one in the starting lineup was cheered sufficiently to stand out as the most popular Net.
Nets shops around the stadium's lower bowl that once proudly hawked "Williams 8" jerseys and shirseys now stood absent any player, the omnipresent white, black and gray with the logo standing in while the team figures out what that means next. The crowd, too, had largely dispensed with Williams, or Johnson, or virtually any other Net in any kind of bulk. The most popular jersey I saw Wednesday night was Derrick Rose's 1, in the red and black colors of the roa…

Forest City now said to be considering office space at Site 5 and B1 sites (really?)

Remember, Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park is a "never say never" project, and now it looks like more office space--always allowed, but ignored/downplayed for years--may be on the drawing board.

Yesterday, the New York Times's real estate page offered With Workers Living in Brooklyn, Offices May Follow:

Those who work in Manhattan and live in another borough will often talk of a job in “the city.” The slip might be understandable. Most office buildings are in Manhattan, which means many New Yorkers spend the bulk of their waking hours there.
But Brooklyn seems poised to become a serious rival for the 9-to-5 set. About 16 million square feet of office space is under construction or planned, brokers say, in an arc that stretches south from Williamsburg through downtown to Sunset Park. The properties range from single warehouses to multibuilding complexes.
Though the scale of investment, from many of New York’s largest developers, appears unprecedented, it is not risk-free. A la…

Now we know what the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership seeks: permanent incentives for office space

Remember that cryptic New York Daily News piece in August:
Downtown Brooklyn developers have been so preoccupied with building supertall residential towers that they’ve been neglecting the office market.
...“As the Downtown Brooklyn renaissance continues on all fronts, there’s a critical need for office space to meet growing demand,” said Tucker Reed, president of the DBP [Downtown Brooklyn Partnership]. “It’s essential that we focus on all the elements – commercial, residential, retail and cultural – needed to make Downtown Brooklyn a thriving central business district.” Missing from such coverage was any hint of the agenda of the DBP, which is steered significantly by Forest City Ratner, whose CEO, MaryAnne Gilmartin, co-chairs the board. Now we know. (And Forest City, according to Gilmartin, is now considering office space at the Site 5 and B1 sites.)

Incentives sought

In the Commercial Observer, Now That Brooklyn is Hot, Let’s Make it Hotter, Alan Washington, the DBP's director…

The Nets season opens. The promotions already seem heavy. Expectations are low.

Two days ago, the free daily Metro newspaper came with the wraparound cover reproduced below, presaging the Brooklyn Nets season that begins tonight at home against the Chicago Bulls. (TiqIQ says there are a lot of seats available below market price.)

The emphasis on promotional nights (Joe Johnson Bobblead!) and promotions (free 11th game compliments of WPIX 11) suggest a New Jersey-eque recognition that it will be tough to get people into the building.

That's because the consensus is that the Nets will be lousy, and, for the first time in a while, the rival Knicks show more promise. Note the appearance of point guard Jarrett Jack on the inside cover. He had one of the worst plus-minus statistics in the league last year, and the worst of any player on a playoff team.
A rival's glee

Heck, a Boston Celtic fan even founded a blog, Billy Kingmaker, to tweak the Nets for making that Kevin Garnett/Paul Pierce trade and mortgaging their future draft picks to the Celtics:
Simple: on Ju…

After "well-behaved" Barclays beer event, some vomit on sidewalks nearby

From The Daily Meal, Tapped Brings Lots of Beer, Thousands of People to Barclays Center for Its First Beer Event:
On Sunday afternoon, thousands of thirsty beer lovers packed into the Barclays Center, located on the northern end of Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood, for the sports and music venue’s first major beer event, called Tapped. During two epic sessions, nearly 30 different breweries poured more than 100 beers.
The beer stations were primarily set up on the arena’s floor, which became packed shortly after the doors opened, and a handful of stations were set up on either side of the arena’s concourse as well. Even though it was incredibly crowded, with some guests waiting several minutes on line between pours, everyone was well-behaved and seemed to really be enjoying themselves.
...Overall it’s hard not to consider the event an overwhelming success; big crowds means that it sold well. First, "big crowds" can also mean it sold well after discounting. More importantly,…

Barclays swaps Cushman & Wakefield for Tidal as arena "theater" sponsor (but not naming rights buyer)

Not unlike the way The Vault has become the Billboard Lounge, the curtained-off, lower bowl "theater" version of Barclays Center, formerly called the Cushman & Wakefield Theater, is now the TIDAL Theater.
And the music streaming service co-owned by Jay-Z, which last week held a concert at the arena, will be "curating" a minimum of eight events at the "theater."
And despite sloppy journalistic shorthand to the contrary, that doesn't mean that TIDAL is buying naming rights. Given the failure to announce terms, it sounds more like a trade, as (apparently) with the Billboard Lounge "alignment."

The press release
Barclays Center Introduces Tidal as Naming Sponsor of Venues [sic] Theater
BROOKLYN (October 26, 2015) -- TIDAL, a recognized experiential music and entertainment platform, is the new title sponsor of the theater at Barclays Center.
TIDAL Theater will offer a new state of the art curtaining system for an intimate theater configuration, …

From the latest Construction Update: Saturday and late weeknight work continues; Atlantic Avenue roof crane still not down

According to the latest two-week Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Brooklyn Construction Update (bottom), released yesterday by Empire State Development after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners, "Saturday work to address field conditions" will continue at the B2, B3, B11, B14, and B15 tower sites, with weekday work until 9 pm at the B14 (525 Carlton Avenue) site.

Weekend electrical utility work will continue at the railroad tunnel underneath Atlantic Avenue.
Despite an announcement in the previous alert that the Atlantic Avenue crane for the arena green roof would be disassembled on Saturday, October 24 (subject to permits), the latest notice says that the "crane is not expected to come down in this reporting period."

Also, notably, module erection for floor 23 (of 32)  of the B2 modular tower (aka 461 Dean Street) is expected to be completed this period.

The northern Dean Street sidewalk in front of the B3 site just west of Sixth Avenue will be closed between…

Forest City touts new technology to keep B2 from swaying, previous plan (heavier, more expensive) unmentioned

So here's how you announce a switch in technology for an innovative building with a troubled history: you don't.

A 10/23/15 Real Deal article, From NASA to Brooklyn: Here’s why skyscraper living doesn’t make you queasy, is subtitled "Forest City will test-drive the fluid harmonic disruptor at B2," explains that Forest City Ratner, working with structural engineer Thornton Tomasetti, will be the first building to use the above-mentioned NASA-developed technology to keep the building from swaying: Here’s how it works. Six water-filled pipes on the roof of the 32-story building — making up about 0.5 percent of the building’s total mass — will stymie the tower’s vibrations. The NASA-designed disruptor will control the water’s movement and change how the liquid and building would usually react when wind or other vibrations occur.  ...The polyvinyl chloride pipes, each three feet in diameter, will be installed once the building is completed, which is slated to be early nex…

From affordable housing solution to (relative bargain!) $6.86 million penthouse

Oh, remember how Atlantic Yards, according to a promotional flyer produced by Forest City Ratner in 2006 (before the project was trimmed slightly) was to supply "over 6,800 units of badly needed mixed-income housing for Brooklyn"?

Remember how Atlantic Yards was, as the flyer said, "Helping Solve Brooklyn's Housing Crisis"?
Well, consider the New York Post, 10/14/15, The meteoric price rise of the Brooklyn penthouse:
Early this month, a 2,859-square-foot penthouse at 550 Vanderbilt Ave. in Prospect Heights — part of the Pacific Park megaproject near Barclays Center — hit the market for $6.86 million. If it sells for that price, it would handily squash the area’s existing $5.1 million condo record.
...“Brooklyn is a hot spot in general — it’s drawing the attention of a wider demographic looking for all types of housing, including luxury housing that they see in Manhattan,” says Jodi Stasse, the managing director at Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group who’s overs…

Water main work on Flatbush between Atlantic/Fifth this week

There's no evidence of any relationship to Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, but, as the alert from the New York City Department of Design and Construction shows, Flatbush Avenue between Atlantic and Fifth avenues near the Barclays Center will be the site of roadway excavation this week.

The work, Monday through Friday from 7 am to 4 pm, is for the removal of the existing water mains--12" and 16"--and the installation of new 20" water mains. (Thanks to Rob Perris of Community Board 2 for the info.)


At second public discussion for Intersection/Prospect Heights, an opportunity for real talk

Today (3:30 pm, Brooklyn Public Library is the second public discussion associated with the InterSection/Prospect Heights project, which describes its aims:
Exposing change through individual stories, we seek to foster conversations on development, displacement and sustainability in this critical moment for the city. I attended the first public discussion, at the library on October 7, which was heartfelt, candid, and a little frustrating.

The significant value of such events is they provide an opportunity for residents and neighbors--relative strangers, if not complete strangers--to speak candidly, in both small groups and (if they volunteer) publicly before the larger audience.

Such candor represents a refreshing change from the promotional talk--recent examples summarized below--associated with Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park.
At the first discussion
Among the two invited speakers, businessman and radio host Bob Law (whose scope of Prospect Heights was what we'd call Crown Heights No…

At AY CDC, a push for more transparency; are Community Updates "developer meetings"?

Not much new was on the agenda for Tuesday's meeting of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC), the gubernatorially-controlled board set up to monitor and advise on the project.

But near the end of the meeting, some tension emerged, following the community relations report from Empire State Development (ESD), the state agency which oversees/shepherds the project now known as Pacific Park Brooklyn, and the project update from developer Greenland Forest City Partners, and an intriguing statement about plans for the Site 5 tower.

A few AY CDC directors and members of the public pushed back on a pattern of management in which project-related meetings have been poorly promoted and project impacts deserve a more complete response.

They got a pledge for a measure of more transparency, as if restoring basic standards.

But the limits to the state response emerged when AY CDC President Marion Phillips III, an ESD executive, made the surprising--and confounding--statem…

The railyard runaround, updated: MTA says only approval was for work proposed before June 2014

I wrote Monday that I didn't buy Forest City Ratner's explanation for a change in the completion date for railyard work from 2016 to 2017. Information I have since gained from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority bolsters that skepticism.

To recap, in early June 2014, Forest City described railyard work ending with the West Portal finished in February 2016, as shown in the graphic below right.

However, Forest City--er, Greenland Forest City Partners--now says the West Portal work will be finished by July 2017, part of a larger railyard project to be completed at the end of 2017.

That was publicly stated last month, and the timeline below left was revealed last week.

Last June, Forest City executive Ashley Cotton said at the Community Update meeting last week. "We signed [a joint venture agreement] with our dear partners, Greenland, we posted a completion guarantee for the MTA [Metropolitan Transportation Authority], and we got really deep in the railyard.”
“We reali…

Hints at a new plan for Site 5 building, replacing Modell's & P.C. Richard; could there be swap from B1?

An intriguing hint about the future of Site 5--the parcel of land in the new Pacific Park "neighborhood" west of wide Flatbush Avenue--emerged at Tuesday's meeting of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC).

AY CDC President Marion Phillips III, a senior VP at Empire State Development (ESD), told the directors that ESD had begun condemnations of the two Site 5 businesses, the last parcels to be taken by eminent domain.
For Modell's, which is in a building owned by Forest City Ratner, the condemnation covers just the ground lease, while for P.C. Richard, it's the entire property. 
(The adjacent Brooklyn Bear's Garden remains, at the tip of the site where Flatbush and Pacific Street converge.)
"Proceedings will probably commence by the end of this year, early next year," Phillips said, noting that that the building, which can contain either residential or commercial space, has 439,050 square feet. He didn't mention the maxim…

A fence coming on Dean as demolitions planned; 664 Pacific will obliterate memory of Dean Street scale

They've been doomed for a while. Now three houses on Dean Street just east of Sixth Avenue, and an industrial building on Pacific Street behind them, are getting closer to the wrecking ball.

So forget 491, 493, and 495 Dean Street, the addresses of a smaller-scale, older-time Brooklyn. They will be obliterated for 664 Pacific Street, the address of the building known as B15, a 27-story tower filled with market-rate rental apartments, with a public school at the base.

At the Community Update Meeting Oct. 14, Forest City Ratner executive Ashley Cotton said that an 8-foot-high plywood fence--not unlike the one across Sixth Avenue for the B3 site--should go up on Dean Street in front of the homes, where abatement (not demolition) work is ongoing.

Then comes demolition by the contractor, Russo Demolition, after permits are issued. That means a fence (purple in the slide below and at bottom) just three feet from the curb (yellow).

The first building will be the two-story 495 Dean Stree…

For Tidal show, Dean Street closed not only for vehicles but also pedestrians

So the Tidal show last night at the Barclays Center--a charitable event to promote the Jay-Z (and others')-owned streaming musical service, was a real hit for attendees at the Jimmy Kimmel Live show at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, since they were "surprised" with free tickets.

The show itself, according to the Times review, was a "thudding marathon... too big to fail, and so of course it did."

For locals, inevitably, there was mission creep in terms of arena activities taking over local streets. We knew--at least the morning after an arena rep refused to confirm it--that Dean Street outside the arena, between Flatbush and Vanderbilt avenues would be closed to vehicles to allow drop-off of VIPs.

(Note the difference, however, between the first notice below issued Oct. 15, and an updated Oct. 19 notice that adjusted the street closure start from 5 pm to 4 pm and the Red Carpet start from 6:30 pm to 6 pm.)

What annoyed residents, I'm told, was that Dean Stree…

As Dean Street houses await wrecking ball, open windows make deterioration inevitable

The three houses left on Dean Street east of Sixth Avenue--impediments to that "neighborhood from scratch" being marketed--are not just destined for the wrecking ball. Some windows seem to have been deliberately left open to the elements, which would further deterioration and make their vanishing inevitable.

Coming to the larger B15 site that includes those three plots is a 27-story market-rate tower, with a school at the base.




Hey, what's that on the top of 550 Vanderbilt? Model shows what rendering doesn't

The model of 550 Vanderbilt, which appears in the condo sales office on Flatbush Avenue at the Barclays Center, seems to extend the equivalent of at least three floors higher than announced.

That should not be shocking: the building is supposed to be 202 feet and 17 stories, so there's certainly room for additional height within the building envelope. (If for some reason the building is already 202 feet without the extension, that would be meaningful.)

But it does represent a contrast with the main rendering used to pitch the project, which minimizes the building's scale.

The marketing slogan: "If you could build the ideal New York neighborhood from scratch, what would you do?"

Spotted, at bottom, a new message in the window of the marketing office for the 550 Vanderbilt condos on Flatbush Avenue outside the Barclays Center: "If you could build the ideal New York neighborhood from scratch, what would you do?"

(Um, start by getting residents/businesses out, using public money to pay for property, and then levelling the buildings?)

It's astounding effrontery to embrace a line that, when uttered by architect Frank Gehry (and reported inaccurately without his caveat "practically from scratch"), generated outrage.

Then again, the developers are happy to claim, in the project's Twitter profiled that Pacific Park has "a NYC public school and 8 acre park," when the school and the open space--not an actual park--are years away (for the open space, at least a decade, in full).