Monday, February 29, 2016

Before "Brooklyn Behemoth" plan surfaced, BP Adams suggested transferring development rights from Pacific library across street

Site 5 tower at left
The proposed "Brooklyn Behemoth" office tower (+ condos/retail) at Site 5 of the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park project, currently home to P.C. Richards and Modell's, would be created by moving the bulk planned for the B1 tower over the arena/plaza and adding it to the already substantial building planned there.

In other words, a building some 511 feet and 1.1 million square feet would be added to one 250 feet and 439.050 square feet. That would make a giant building, perhaps the tallest and bulkiest largest tower in Brooklyn.

This dramatic, preposterous building--one I bet would be shaved down, at minimum, as a planned "compromise"--wouldn't be accomplished by a simple "transfer" of rights. Rather, it would require a change in the Atlantic Yards Design Guidelines and General Project Plan, which would require public hearings and then a vote--likely pro forma--by the gubernatorially appointed board of Empire State Development, the state authority overseeing/shepherding the project.

When hints of this building surfaced last November, and I thought that B1 would remain, I mused about the possibility of New York City transferring some development rights from the Brooklyn Public Library Pacific branch, at center in the photo below, to Site 5, which is north (left) in the photo below.

I don't think it's likely, given the effort now to move the full bulk of B1 to Site 5, but Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park is a "never say never" project and it turns out that Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, a few months earlier, actually made that proposal.

Adams's suggestion

The Borough Presidetn's proposal surfaced deep in his 9/8/15 letter to City Planning Commission (excerpt at bottom) recommending that the plan to sell the Brooklyn Heights library site be modified. As far as I know, this has not been publicly discussed.

The library, which is not landmarked, has excess development rights, Adams wrote, but should not be replaced or torn down (the Brooklyn Public Library shelved a plan to sell it):
The only realistic opportunities to use its development rights are through: a zoning lot merger or a mechanism to allow development rights transfer across Pacific Street; through a General Large Scale Plan; landmark development rights transfer; or incorporation into the Atlantic Yards General Project Plan

So he suggested that the city-funded nonprofit Brooklyn Public Library "or its successor City Library agency" explore an air rights transfer to Atlantic Yards or the "adjacent building leased to the City's Human Resources Administration." (That 18,000-square-foot property was sold in June 2014 for $25 million, with up to 108,000 square feet development rights.)

The zoning on the library branch, indicated by the arrow below, is R8A, with a floor area ratio (FAR) of 6.02 and a building height of 120 feet. That means a building of maximum height could occupy half the lot over 12 stories/120 feet.

That's a considerable amount of bulk--and value--that the city wouldn't want to leave on the table. I can't say it would go to Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park. But we shouldn't ignore the possibility.
The zoning map
From the Borough President's letter

Watch how Barclays Center delivery truck unloading in neighborhood snags fire truck on Dean Street

So, what happens when you have Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park construction, Barclays Center operations, and an active fire station in a very tight perimeter? Something has to give, and the larger neighborhood becomes a staging arena. It's not uncommon.

These videos from Thursday 2/25/16 show a food delivery truck that was dislodged from the Barclays Center loading dock, apparently, when a fire department response took precedence.

The food truck then moved down Dean Street just past Sixth Avenue, opposite a site formerly occupied by row houses and set to be a 27-story tower with school, to continue unloading. Except that blocked the fire truck from returning to the station, and the traffic behind it. I'm told the situation persisted for considerably longer than shown in the videos.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

The circus comes to Barclays Center, and creates a trailer park along Atlantic Avenue

Atlantic Avenue on north side of arena
Oh, the circus is back in Brooklyn, and it has to be fun, right?

Last chance to see Ringling Bros. elephants before they retire to Florida, the New York Post reporter tells us, enlisting his kid for a review. A New York Daily News reporter joins Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus pros, talented stunt dogs at Barclays Center--yes, another stunt.

However, as in past years, the moving trailer park that is is the circus comes to rest in Brooklyn, bending the rules

Unlike in past years, when they've used the "pad" outside the loading dock on Dean Street on the south end of the arena, now they're using temporarily closed public streets behind construction fencing (aka MTP, or Maintenance and Protection of Traffic) on Atlantic Avenue, previously the site of construction cranes.

See the videos below, and note that the first shows them using a generator. How is this permitted? And why was it not announced to the public?

More pictures

Below, views from the sidewalk along the north end of arena.

Previous issues

As I wrote in May 2013, state officials said they let the arena use the pad for parking, but not for idling. Residents said circus performers were living there, with generators running.

“I view the generators as an issue,” state official Arana Hankin allowed. An arena official claimed, “Generators are not tolerated.”

As reported in March 2013. evidence suggested that the lengthy term of the circus requires some unusual accommodation for participants, including use of the pad for a trailer and delivery trucks on residential streets.

As reported in February 2014, trailers were parked around the neighborhood during a lengthier-than-announced load-in.

From the latest Construction Update: after-hours sewer connection work on Dean Street starts Monday after-hours (but how late?)

According to the latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Alert (bottom), issued Friday (appropriate lead time) for the two weeks beginning Monday, February 29, after-hours sewer connection work will occur along Dean Street near Sixth Avenue starting Monday.

That's for the B3 (38 Sixth Avenue) site at the southeast corner of the arena block. All work will be done after 6:30 pm, but no end time was specified in the alert, which was distributed by Empire State Development, the state authority overseeing/shepherding the project, after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners.

Nor was there any information about noise or impact on traffic or pedestrians. The process should take about two weeks.

Saturday work may continue at B2 (461 Dean Street), B3, and B14 (535 Carlton). There could be weeknight work at B14 until 9 pm. Also, there will be weekend work in the Long Island Rail Road tunnel and rail yard. Hours were not reported.

Other new work is reported verbatim below.

B3 - 38 Sixth Avenue:
• Superstructure phase of construction will continue with the framing and pouring of the 1st floor.
• Overhead protection will be constructed at the Barclays Center loading dock area pending approvals
and permits.

B-15 (6th Ave and Pacific Street):

• Soil characterization and boring logs will continue during this reporting period.

As secondary market brutalizes Nets tickets, 24% cut planned for next season

From Bloomberg News, NBA's Brooklyn Nets to Cut Ticket Prices 24% Next Season:
With attendance flagging, the NBA team will cut ticket prices by an average of 24 percent for the 2016-17 season, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter.
The discounts will apply to season tickets for some but not all of the best locations at Barclays Center. Front-row seats are not going on sale, nor are the $3,500-per-game Hollywood Seats, between the bench and the scorer’s table. Floor seats on the baseline and seats in rows B through D, which cost as much as $1,450 per game this season, will be reduced a blended 11 percent.
The arena’s more affordable seats will get bigger discounts.
That latter number is not disclosed, but remember, the cheap seats are often much, much cheapter on the secondary market. On the secondary market, tickets for the next two games start at $10 and $9, though the lowest face value (I believe) is $25.

I wrote last March:
Re-setting the prices in January, the Nets lowered the cost for the cheapest season tickets in several sections to $25 per game from $45. Remember, those seats were $15 in the first year and $25 in the second year before the aggressive boost to $45. Now the top price in the cheap sections is now $45, down from $70.
Surely they recognize the declining interest in the team (see the TV ratings), the periodic comps and flash discounts, and the brutal secondary market where tickets often fall below $20. I've seen Nets vans around Brooklyn offering tickets for $20, with no fee.
The Daily News adds:
The Nets (16-42) will miss the playoffs for the first time since moving to Brooklyn in 2012, dropping attendance to an average of 14,931 per game (27th in the NBA), about 82.5 percent of capacity.
That figure is down from a 41-game average of 17,037 last season (94.1 percent capacity).
Keep in mind that reported attendance (aka tickets distributed) is always significantly more than actual gate count.

Not everyone was impressed. Here are a couple of comments from NetsDaily, where fans reported cuts of 8%, 16%, and 19%:
Still too expensive.
I believe this is north of what they were the first year in Brooklyn. I’ll continue to buy single game tickets on the secondary market until the team is good. Not much incentive to go back to season tickets.

the market will dictate prices a little more over time if the team is bad
I’m confident they’ll drop again
After last season, they tried to raise the price of my seats from $99 to $135
Given it was quite clear the team was going down the tubes, I really couldn’t believe it. I had no desire to even get a partial plan with a price hike like that.
Yup, they bumped prices for my half-season too
There’s just no way it was worth it. For the price of 23 games in section 227 I could go on stubhub and buy tickets to every single game, and in a better section to boot.
Still 60 percent off on stub hub
I still feel like a sucker for buying full season for the first two years.
Everyone has to realize there were three reasons for the first season success.
1) New team in Brooklyn
2) Good team
3) And most important: Barclays
I still remember being surrounded by tourists with shopping bags from the merch store, and opposing teams fans. People wanted to see the worlds greatest arena as much or more as this team. People wanted to experience Brooklyn food more than Brooklyn ball. Second year, I bought the hype of Garnett and Pierce and AK and the contender aspect. But I was brutalized on the secondary market. Only a few games, LeBron, Knicks, Christmas, etc could I ever make any money and other games it was a disaster. I didn’t buy them to make money, but when my schedule wouldn’t allow me to go to a lot of games I was murdered. I remember a Bulls game I couldn’t even get $25 and I had first row mid court in the upper bowl. On top of that my ticket agent was arrogant, and I found other season ticket holders getting percs that I didn’t get. I met one girl, who was young and very pretty with season tickets who said "every game there are empty seats in the lower bowl, my sales guy moves me down". I understand that’s life when you’re young and beautiful and that comes from playboy Prokhy on down, but it was very disturbing that all I got was one game in a B Suite when my tix were up for renewal as a perc. And I didn’t go because I didn’t want to be hounded for a renewal. I think the sales team and Yormark turned off a lot of season ticket holders and I would NEVER buy them again. If they’re somehow magically great,next year I’ll still l just go the games I want and at 7PM they will be drastically cheaper on Stub Hub. There is still not enough of a fan base to fill this arena, and most of the season tickets are bought by the wealthy and the corporations, hence all the empty seats this year, and even last year. I relish the time when this team has a real fan base and Marks can deliver this over the coming years, but not one or two, maybe 5 to 10.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Elusive accountability and disturbing noise: jackhammering behind porous "wall" and no monitors (other than citizens)

Well, despite the many monitors said to be at the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park site, it's hardly clear they're present on weekends, and even if they were, they certainly didn't see or stop this jackhammering at 8:30 this morning.

Notably, it's geographically behind the "ginormous" green wall set up to block noise but completely undeterred by the wall, given the unsealed wall (see mesh fence) and the fact that it does not extend to the ground. (Also see video at bottom.)

As noted in the caption, it seems to violate the Second Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments, signed by the developer, as detailed below.

The Second Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments (MEC, see p. 20) signed by the developer, contains the following requirements. There's wiggle room, but not that much:
  • Using equipment that meets the MEC Noise Levels;
  • Scheduling work that would generate high noise levels during weekday daytime hours to extent feasible, rather than during weekday nighttime or weekend hours, unless required as a result of safety or other agency requirements;
  • Where 16-foot barriers are not practicable and feasible adjacent to sensitive receptors, installing the best feasible and practicable additional noise path controls, which may include noise curtains or other barriers within the site between the noise sources and sensitive receptors, angled/cantilevered fences, and/or other practicable pathway controls;
  • Where practicable, utilizing noise curtains and equipment enclosures to provide shielding from significant noise-generating equipment to sensitive receptor locations.
  • FCRC shall assure that construction fencing, where required, meets the requirements of the MEC and the applicable Sound Transmission Class specifications of the Noise Code.

From the City & State Power 100: Berlin/Rosen, Ratner, and Kasirer (and housing runs through DM Glen)

The 2016 City & State Power 100 has more than a few people linked to the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park project, and while I'm not going to detail the obvious (Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio), I wanted to highlight a few, and note how de Blasio's Deputy Mayor Mayor Alicia Glen is said to run his housing plan.

At #16 (last year individually ranked at 17 and 18):
Valerie Berlin / Jonathan Rosen
Principals, BerlinRosen
Don’t take our word for it – just listen to what government watchdogs said last year when NY1 did extensive reporting on the consulting firm’s close relationship with the de Blasio administration. Those watchdogs like to use BerlinRosen as an example of a system they view as flawed, which just adds weight to the argument that the growing firm is having a clear impact on the policy decisions being made in the city.
BerlinRosen offers the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park developers a key link to City Hall.

Ratner and housing

At #45 (last year ranked at 42):
Bruce Ratner
Executive Vice President and Director, Forest City Enterprises
The real estate mogul is often under fire from community groups in Brooklyn alleging that he hasn’t lived up to his agreement to build affordable housing and create jobs for low-income workers at the Atlantic Yards Project, but the negative press hasn’t appeared to hurt Ratner. In fact, he seems to be as strong as ever thanks to his close relationship with the de Blasio administration as one of the real estate industry’s most vocal supporters of the mayor.
Well, he hasn't lived up to his agreement to build affordable housing even as he builds affordable housing. The negative press "hasn't appeared to hurt Ratner" because too few point that out.

I'd note that his close relationship with the de Blasio administration should be seen as a partnership with Forest City Ratner CEO MaryAnne Gilmartin, who was on the mayor's transition team (and probably, by now, should be twinned with Ratner in these rankings).

Last year, Ratner was one notch above Vicki Been, Commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, and one below the Rev. Al Sharpton. This year, neither appear on the list. Instead, at #7 (up from #38), we have:
Alicia Glen
New York City Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development
It’s pretty rare to see any major variation in the ranking of the top 10 most powerful city politicians, but Glen skyrockets up this list because of her increasingly visible and vital role as Mayor de Blasio’s top deputy. Glen’s position also dovetails with one of the mayor’s signature programs – the creation and preservation of 200,000 units of affordable housing – and de Blasio has given her enormous leeway as the primary negotiator (and cheerleader) for that initiative. Insiders say that the city’s entire housing apparatus runs through her office.
Glen’s Goldman Sachs pedigree and brusque manner – her informal tagline for the housing plan, per New York magazine, was “We’re getting shit done” – has certainly not won over housing advocates or community boards who want deeper affordability in the program. But Glen has helped forge an important alliance with real estate developers who could have easily balked at a mandate for affordable housing development. If Glen can help clear the housing program’s next hurdle, City Council approval, her influence in City Hall will be further solidified.
(Emphasis added)

This year Ratner is one notch ahead of real estate developer and New York Daily News owner Mort Zuckerman, who previously was #24. Developer Rob Speyer is at #25 (up from #34) and developer Bill Rudin is at #23 (up from #31).

Another lobbyist, and more

At #53  (last year ranked at 48), is a major Forest City Ratner lobbyist:
Suri Kasirer
Founder and President, Kasirer Consulting
Year after year Kasirer and her firm are among the top consultants in New York City. Kasirer Consulting’s clients include some of the biggest companies in New York City. While they were displaced from the top slot last year, they remain among the elite lobbying and consulting firms in New York City – Kasirer, Omar Alvarellos, Julie Greenberg, Peter Krokondelas and other associates are go-to consultants for companies with business before the city.
"Top consultants"=lots of revenue=get their clients results=not necessarily the public interest.

Also, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams remains at #44, Public Advocate Letitia James bumped up to #50 from #70 (after a previous 34-point drop), and Black Institute head Bertha Lewis, who last year dropped to #99 from #42, is no longer on the list.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Elusive accountability: site access for monitors; incorrect public notice; construction worker IDs; no community hotline

The big news at Wednesday night's Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Community Update meeting concerned developer Greenland Forest City Partners' plans for two huge office towers.

It touched on several other issues, including safety at Times Plaza, a perpetually out-of-service escalator at the arena plaza, a dangerous intersection at Vanderbilt Avenue and Dean Street, and mold issues at the B2 modular site.

But an underlying theme, popping up several times, relates to accountability and the inability to get it from the developer and the state authority overseeing/shepherding the project, Empire State Development (ESD).

Though there are some signs of progress, success remains elusive, as noted for example in this Instagram post after the meeting.

A contract renewal

Early in the meeting, Peter Krashes of the Dean Street Block Association brought up the ESD board's vote last week to renew a contract with its owner's rep on Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, a company called STV. (The owner's rep monitors project progress and safety, among other things.)

The meeting agenda was posted after the 5 pm deadline to RSVP, Krashes pointed out. "I had no idea until after the fact that I could have gone and spoken to the board," he said. "You took an opportunity for me to come and speak to the board away."

He asked moderator Tobi Jaiyesimi--executive director of the ESD's advisory subsidiary, Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC)--if the contract had been brought to the attention of the AY CDC board.

"It was not," Jaiyesimi responded. "I will make note of your comments."

While I considered the issue routine--ESD regularly renews contracts with long-serving consultants, based on the premise that they already have momentum--Krashes pointed out that the AY CDC is charged with evaluating the effectiveness of monitoring.

"I think you should nullify it, and give me the opportunity to address it with the AY CDC board and the ESD board," Krashes said.

"I appreciate your comment," Jaiyesimi said, "and follow up accordingly." She noted that it was the third contract extension for STV.

"It's the first time since the AY CDC board exists," Krashes said.

What about minutes?

Krashes noted discussion at the last AY CDC board meeting about taking minutes at the Community Update meetings to keep a record, so issues that could be addressed the next day. "Many of us feel ESDC is not transparent enough," he said.

"I have heard you," Jaiyesimi said, trying to move the meeting along. She said she and ESD project manager Sam Filler would communicate the information to the AY CDC board, and other staffers at the meeting also would take in the information.

"You're kicking the can down the road," Krashes said, "and before we know it, the project's complete."

"I appreciate your comment," she responded.

Who's on the project site?

Filler, responding to a question lingering from the previous Community Update meeting, said that STV has two full-time staff members at the site, while HDR, which reviews environmental impacts, has four full-time staffers at the site. (He called STV "our on-site construction manager.")

ESD staffer Greg Lynch is at the site full-time, while Community Relations official Nicole Jordan is there two days a week, he said. That's "more than any other project in the state," Filler said. "We feel it's very well monitored." 

If construction ramps up, he said, more staff could be added.

What about the app?

Filler also disclosed that a long-planned app to track community impacts in one place--due last year--remains delayed. "We're still working on that," he said, adding that it would be tied into an ongoing revamp of the ESD web site, for which there's no specific timetable.

"We're going to have a complete relaunch... later this year, and the app is tied into that," he said.

"That's disappointing, because I think having that record of incidents would go a long way" toward relieving community concern, said Gib Veconi, who's said the Atlantic Yards Watch site he manages can't be integrate all reports (including 911) or mobile ones. "Is there any way that can be revived and integrated with the ESDC website later"

"We can take a look at it," Filler said.

Where can STV go?

Krashes pressed Filler on whether STV employees could enter into construction sites managed by contractors like Plaza Construction or Tishman.

"They are able to see all aspects," Filler responded. "They are allowed to see all aspects."

"Are they allowed into the site?"

Filler said the STV rep "goes down" into the railyard.

Krashes pressed him on whether they could go into sites for towers, like B11, aka 550 Vanderbilt.

"They request permission and they are given access," responded Filler. That implies some level of control from the construction end.

What's been fixed?

Resident Steve Ettlinger asked Lynch for examples of things found problematic. Filler interjected to note that Lynch, who does not have access to the project site, is responsible for monitoring things outside the walls.

"Everything's reported back to Nicole [Jordan]," responded Lynch, speaking for the first time in the year he's had the job. He cited things like smoke, trucks coming in without flaggers, and trucks idling. "They're sent to Nicole, and Nicole takes it from there."

He said, in response to a follow up question, that issues can be handled in real time.
Krashes was skeptical, given that Jordan has multiple projects to work on. "How does her schedule work?"

"She gets back to me, as soon as I send it to her," Lynch said. 

Filler ended the colloquy. Krashes asked for a meeting on the issue. 

"We'll take it into consideration," Filler said.

No lights on cranes?

Wayne Bailey, president of the 78th Precinct Community Council, cited concerns brought up at Community Council meetings about cranes for the project not having blinking lights, and not being lowered during times of high winds.

"My strong hunch and hope is that these are abiding by all regulations," responded Forest City Ratner External Affairs Senior VP Ashley Cotton, who said she'd been informed of the issue after the previous night's Community Council meeting. "We'll double check that and report back to you."

Incorrect notices

Krashes noted that community notices regarding closing Sixth Avenue was incorrect.

"We know what you're talking about," Cotton responded, saying there were times when the sidewalk was closed, and then was open. "We'll word it better next time."

"The sidewalk looked like it had been closed all day, in terms of equipment," Krashes responded.

"In terms of Vanderbilt Avenue, it described a closure that was a block longer than what you sent out," Krashes said, noting that the developer only announced it by email rather than flyering the neighborhood.

Cotton said she hoped he'd share her contact info with concerned businesses."If the wording was not quite right, we will do better next time," she said, noting, "You're right, we do usually flyer."

Stickers for construction workers

"Last time we got together, we heard shocking and horrible examples of harassment related to construction workers," Cotton said, regarding complaints by a resident likening the neighborhood to a "shark tank" and citing a specific incident of groping by arenagoers.

She said that the 1,700 construction workers on site would get color-coded identification stickers that would associate them with a specific construction site. (It wasn't clear if the stickers would have their names.)

Regarding complaints about workers eating lunch and smoking on neighborhood stoops, she said, "If every stoop issue was solved, I would announce it... we need to fix that." She said they were "trying to create space on our site where people can eat lunch" and the ID stickers would help.

She did not have a date for the program, however, though she said it was soon.

She said Captain Frank DiGiacomo, commanding officer of the 78th Precinct, "called the entire construction team into the precinct, to hear how much disruption can be caused by workers just smoking on the corners."

"Obviously, drug use, public urination are illegal," she said. "Call 911, call me, call my team... we take it very seriously.... We are trying our best... I can't arrest people, but we can fire people." A little later she said, without elaboration, "Frankly, we had a staffing change at one building."

What's the hotline?

Is there a hotline?

Cotton cited the Community Liaison Office, staffed by Forest City's Roberta Fearon: 866-923-5315

"How often is it staffed?"

"It rings at my desk," Fearon said.

What about at night?

"We don't have overnight workers," Cotton said, recommending 911 if illegal actions are spotted.

Krashes, who praised the idea of an identification badge, cited the ongoing issue of accountability: "With all deference to the Community Liaison... the Community Liaison is not responsible for maintaining the site, understanding the site, being the point person responsible. for maintaining the security."

He said residents have that security personnel come to public meetings. "It is one issue, ultimately, he said. "There should be somebody the community knows."

"You guys know what I'm going to say: me," responded Cotton, whose job is to manage external affairs, including liaison with various stakeholders, not to manage the site. "I am so entrenched." She offered but did not announce her cell phone number.

And that's where it ended.

The next day Krashes posted this:

Looking back at the fundamental flaws in the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement

From 2006 brochure
More than a few citizens and journalists are asking about the 2005 Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement (CBA), so let's recall some history about the document long touted as a model but now seen as a "borderline calamity."

First note my update, which describes how four of the extant seven groups (one the eight already closed, as noted below) are essentially inactive, with some initiatives accomplished, others pursued but with question marks, and others vague or ignored.

But it was flawed from the start.

Facade of process

Bettina Damiani, then at Good Jobs New York, submitted this testimony at a May 2005 City Council hearing:
[W]e feel it is important to draw the Council’s attention to several major differences between CBAs as they have been used in other parts of the country and the series of negotiations that FCRC is calling a CBA. Perhaps the most striking is that elsewhere CBAs are negotiated by one broad coalition of groups that would otherwise oppose a project, a coalition that includes labor and community organizations representing a variety of interests.... In the BAY [Brooklyn Atlantic Yards] case, several groups, all of which have publicly supported the project already, have each engaged in what seem to be separate negotiations on particular issues... However, to use the “CBA” model set forth by the landmark STAPLES Center agreement in Los Angeles for a series of non-binding side agreements between already supportive community groups and a developer can only set a low bar for future attempts to negotiate for broad-based benefits from major development projects. Without broad, crosscutting organizing, such “CBAs” can become a mechanism for dividing the community rather than uniting it, and devolve into a mere publicity tool for developers of controversial projects.
Dividing the community

Indeed, the CBA was indeed a publicity tool and did become a mechanism for dividing the community. Prospect Heights activist Gib Veconi wrote in November 2012 on Patch, upon the closure of job-training group BUILD (Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development):
Forest City was going to use a CBA as a wedge to separate civic leaders residing mostly in outlying neighborhoods from the more affluent residents of the community immediately surrounding Atlantic Yards... Any firm that would be so brazen in manufacturing support as to stage a “community” strategy session in its conference room would certainly have no qualms about disposing of such support as soon as its usefulness had ended.
...Although the CBA may have been in theory “legally binding,” enforceability would only have been possible if BUILD was not dependent upon Forest City for funding. Forest City never even bothered to hire the independent compliance monitor the CBA required. BUILD failed to convert promises of a pre-apprenticeship training program into union jobs for local residents.
Here's my coverage of the BUILD lawsuit and its resolution.

Questions of legitimacy 

Vicki Been, then an NYU Law School professor and now the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, wrote in a 2010 paper for the New York City Bar Association about the questionable legitimacy of the CBA:
Only eight community organizations signed the Atlantic Yards CBA... Many interested observers have expressed concern that the signatory groups are not representative of the impacted constituencies. Lance Freeman, an Associate Professor of Urban Planning at Columbia University, for example, criticized the Atlantic Yards CBA on the grounds that “there is no mechanism to insure that the ‘community’ in a CBA is representative of the community.”
...The problem of representativeness is compounded by the potential for conflicts of interest. The cooperation of at least one community group that signed the Atlantic Yards CBA, BUILD, followed closely behind Forest City Ratner’s financial contribution to the organization. 
As I wrote in June 2014, a document in the the BUILD lawsuit discussed how Forest City hired a consultant specializing in nonprofit management, Ritchie Tye Consulting, to evaluate the eight groups that signed the CBA.

The consultant essentially validated the widespread critique of the CBA: that most groups had no track record in the community (I'd note that individuals associated with groups did have a record) and were set up to support the project.

The report even said that an effort to find a grant-writer to raise money for the signatories--otherwise funded by Forest City Ratner--was unsuccessful partly because people thought the groups were "fronts" for Forest City.

Questions of oversight

As I've written before, Forest City promised an Independent Compliance Monitor, but never hired one.

"We doing something here that is historic," the developer's then-point man, Jim Stuckey, said at a November 2004 meeting, as shown in the video below. "Never been done in New York City before. And what we’re doing is that we’ve agreed to enter into a legally-binding Community Benefits Agreement that will be monitored by an independent monitoring group not associated with anybody who actually negotiates that agreement."

Video by producers of Battle for Brooklyn

"And we’re doing that because not only do we believe that we should do the things that we say we will do, just as we have in the past"--note Stuckey's somewhat defensive tone--"but we also believe that we should set the bar."

Conflicts of interest

Who could enforce it? Only signatories--unlike in some other cities, where government bodies were also signatories.

And those signatories--even the few with significant records of work in Brooklyn outside Atlantic Yards--are deeply entangled with the developer, which likely tamps down public criticism.

Consider that Bertha Lewis of New York ACORN raised significant money from Forest City Ratner to rescue (briefly) national ACORN, and earlier signed a document requiring her to publicly support the project. While she has called the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park affordable housing a "model," she has not publicly commented on how the affordability on the next two towers skews away from the agreement New York ACORN signed with Forest City but instead assists, most significantly, households earning six figures.

As to perhaps the most active current CBA signatory, the Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance (DBNA)--involved in regular ticket giveaways and a new community foundation--its founder, the Rev. Herbert Daughtry, expressed no concern about whether Forest City didn't follow its overall package of promises. Then again, the DBNA is not only funded by Forest City, it employs two members of the Daughtry family, and assigned project work to another.

As I wrote nearly ten years ago (!), in model CBAs, signatories agree to support the project but don't themselves benefit. “As a matter of principle, groups in our network don’t take money from developers. We want to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest,” said John Goldstein, National Program Director of The Partnership for Working Families. “We have advocated in CBAs that developers give to the communities they’re developing in."

Lack of disclosure

At a public meeting in July 2009, Forest City executive MaryAnne Gilmartin was asked how much money it had given to its CBA partners.

“I don’t have those numbers,” she responded.

She was asked for an estimate.

“Forest City has funding obligations and commitments to each of the organizations, and they’re reviewed on an annual basis,” Gilmartin said. “We’re happy to provide an accounting, generally, of that, but I don’t have that information with me."

They never provided that accounting (which surely would show that the commitments for several of the groups were short-term).

Thursday, February 25, 2016

B4 tower also would have office space; no new info about Site 5, but project is moving (condos at top? tallest building in Brooklyn?)

The bulk from B1 would move across the street
No, there were no renderings of the "Brooklyn Behemoth"--the potential 1.5-million square foot tower-at last night's Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Community Update meeting, which generated both muttered ("terrible") and muted criticism about its preposterous scale.

Nor was there a timetable, concrete information, or chagrin at the notion of moving the entire 1.1 million square footage approved for the 511-foot B1 tower over the arena--thus preserving the plaza crucial to arena activities and appreciated by neighbors compared to the alternative--and adding it to the already substantial 439,050 square feet approved for Site 5.

Mock-up of potential 1.5M square foot tower, approx. 900 ft,
though tapered building could be much taller
That's currently home to P.C. Richard and Modell's--a site the New York City Planning Commission called for reduced height to 250 feet, given its adjacency to low-rise neighborhood.

And while the CEO of Forest City Realty Trust claimed yesterday it's "very early" in the process, its Brooklyn subsidiary Forest City Ratner, part of Greenland Forest City Partners, wants to move quickly, having already set up meetings with elected officials (who are, so far, notably silent) and hoping that the environmental review begins this spring.

Forest City Ratner spokeswoman Ashley Cotton last night revealed another twist: the B4 tower at the northeast corner of the arena block, which at 511 feet and 824,629 square feet was to be the second-largest tower in the project, would be switched from residential to exclusively office space.

"We think we accomplish three important things," she said. "Deliver on [office] jobs... Keep the [arena] plaza permanently open space... Activate the Atlantic Avenue corridor."

The latter sounds like a stretch, because the Atlantic Avenue sidewalk outside the arena is pretty narrow for workers. And while they might redistribute the affordable housing planned for that building to other towers, it's likely they'd move the condos to Site 5 and/or find a way to retain some condos.

About 60 people attended the meeting, held at 55 Hanson Place.

The strategy

Here We Come:
A Skyscraper Specialist from China
The "preserve the plaza" and "add jobs" mantra--space for many thousands of jobs (6000? 10,000?)--is surely meant to inoculate this gambit from criticism.

Still, the move of square footage to Site 5 surely saves Greenland Forest City from construction headaches next to an active arena, likely fulfills a pledge to Mikhail Prokhorov not to disturb arena operations, and (I'd bet) aims to be a signature building for Greenland USA, subsidiary of a Shanghai state-owned enterprise, as well as contain spectacularly expensive condos at the top.

Consider: my rough estimate is that, without significant setbacks, the Site 5 building might be a bulky 900 feet tall--some 80% taller than any building previously approved for the project. With setbacks, it could be much taller; after all, it's nearly three times the bulk of the new 1,066-foot "supertall" planned next to the Dime Savings Bank.

And while Forest City is talking up office jobs, CEO MaryAnne Gilmartin has said office buildings may work only with condos at the top, and--of course--the higher up, the more lucrative. It's also supposed to contain high-end retail, likened to the Time Warner Center.

In other words, though "jobs" would be the justification for this building to be perhaps Brooklyn's tallest, bulkiest tower, the scale would also be driven by condos and retail space.

It also would be a signature building for Greenland, which in December 2013, not long after it announced major projects in New York and Los Angeles, part of a huge worldwide push, put up a billboard in Times Square stating, "Here We Come! A Skyscraper Specialist from China" (see above). Greenland owns 70% of the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park project, excepting the Barclays Center and the B2 modular tower.

Perhaps there's already a plan for an anchor tenant, or naming rights.
Mock-up of potential 1.5 million square-foot bulk; a tapered building would be much taller, likely well over 1000 feet
The process

"Today I can confirm we are requesting the ability to transfer development rights from B1 to Site 5," Cotton said last night.

They won't ask for extra square footage or change the affordable housing plan, she said, and any proposal will go through a public review by Empire State Development (ESD), including a new Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement and new Design Guidelines. (The process of eminent domain to acquire the site continues, as well as a lawsuit.)

It will require public hearings, and input from the City Planning Commission, though no vote from the CPC, because this is a state project.

Though ESD in the 2009 Modified General Project Plan described Site 5 as "a transition in scale from the neighborhoods to the west and south of the Project Site," surely this gubernatorially-approved body will do the governor's bidding.

Cotton noted that B2, now being built as residential, was once permitted as commercial space. Now they would shift B4 to residential, so that  B4 and Site 5 "will act as bookends." That's questionable, given that the book within them is an active arena on a large plot.

Brooklyn's biggest building?

Cotton was asked about the pledge, made at the last minute when Atlantic Yards was first approved in 2006, to reduce the B1 tower from 620 feet to 511 feet (without a cut in bulk), thus preserving the Williamsburgh Savings Bank tower as the tallest building in Brooklyn, though it would still--contra Borough President Marty Markowitz's request--block the bank's clock.

"I think Brooklyn's changed so much since then," Cotton said with a knowing expression. "Hate it or love it... a lot of things have passed the Williamsburg Savings Bank [in size]."

She's right, though the Atlantic Yards site, even the buildings closest to the transit hub, remains a tight fit adjacent to residential neighborhoods.

Really a transfer of rights?

Peter Krashes of the Dean Street Block Association, a persistent questioner at these meetings, called "time out" on some of the rhetoric regarding the project. The developer should not say it would “transfer” development rights, he said, because the project plan was developed "based on planning principles," and the decision not to build on B1 could have other business reasons.

"So my question is: who is the planner?" he asked. "Site 5 was supposed to step down the project into the community.... My concern is this may be generated by nonplanning decisions."

(Well, duh. Forest City and Greenland aim to maximize returns to shareholders. That's their job.)

Cotton said they had planners on staff. And surely planners at AKRF, the ubiquitous consultant used by the state to massage environmental reviews, will weigh in. But Krashes's statement suggested that community critics of the plan will have to produce their own experts to explain why this makes little sense.

He also asked why the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC), the advisory body set up last year, hasn't been brought into the loop. Presumably they'll be informed at the meeting March 15.

Of course, Greenland Forest City likely has a "compromise"--still huge, just not as huge--in its back pocket. Perhaps it's moving "just" 650,000 square feet, which would still make a building over 1 million square feet.

Moving the housing

The B4 tower was supposed to contain 213 condos and 551 rentals, with half of the latter affordable. Where, asked Gib Veconi of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council and BrooklynSpeaks (which in 2014 negotiated a new, 10-year timetable for the affordable housing, as well as the advisory AY CDC), would the affordable housing units go?

"We think those units can be accommodated in the project," Cotton said. So 275 or so units would have to be spread among other buildings.

Would it have any impact on unit sizes, Veconi asked.

(The first tower with affordable units, B2, has only 20% two-bedroom units, and no three-bedroom apartments, despite Forest City’s promise, in the Affordable Housing Memorandum of Understanding, that 50 percent of the affordable units, in floor area, would be family-sized units. The next two "100% affordable" towers will have 35% two- and three-bedroom units, which may meet the goal.)

No, said Cotton, though that sounds fuzzy. After all, every building, as Gilmartin has said, is "a conversation with the city," and unit size also depends on subsidies.

She wasn't asked about the condos, but I have to bet many would move to Site 5.

Asked about the long promoted Urban Room, the atrium in the entrance to B1, Cotton said it was a project requirement and would have to be eliminated in the revised project plan.

What's next

"You're presenting this as something that's being explored," Veconi asked. He asked if there was ongoing work, or a contract, regarding the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), and was told no.

Still, Cotton said they wanted to move quickly. She couldn't offer any timetable.

Pacific Street resident Mae Taliaferrow was skeptical. "My house is right there [next to the building]," she said. "That massive building is going to appear without a plan." She said she couldn't believe that Forest City had no plan.

"That's our rough plan," Cotton said, summarizing what's been described. She said she'd be speaking to local organizations and there also would be formal meetings.

She shrugged off a question about moving air rights to the Atlantic Center mall, though I wouldn't be surprised if that comes up as a compromise.

The Brooklyn Bear's Garden, adjacent to Site 5 and never part of the Atlantic Yards plan, would remain, she said. [Though, I'd observe, surely it would be severely impacted by construction and operation of the building and, who knows, might get offered money to move.]

Noting that the developers would potentially save money, Krashes asked "is there any thought of any extra giveback" to the public?

"What do you have in mind?" Cotton asked.

"I think everybody would have different ideas," Krashes said, and the audience cracked a few jokes.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

After crashes, DOT still studying intersection of Vanderbilt and Dean; fence won't be moved

So, is the intersection of Vanderbilt Avenue and Dean Street--where extended construction fencing causes southbound traffic to veer somewhat and is believed by some to have contributed to several crashes--too dangerous?

At tonight's Atlantic Yards Community Update meeting, Abigail Ikner of the Department of Transportation reported that DOT's Office of Construction Mitigation and Coordination reviewed the location as well as the traffic control devices.

The visibility allowed, she said, goes beyond the required standard, and the crashes were blamed on factors other than construction. They won't move the fence, she said, "we are continuing to look at that location."

Greenland Forest City Partners is expected to pull back the fence somewhat around that construction site, 550 Vanderbilt, toward the end of spring, but residents remained dismayed.

"It may be that there are mitigating factors [regarding the crashes]," said resident Peter Krashes, "but every accident is caused by multiple factors. Somebody drove straight into the bollard... Drivers aren't used to that kind of a lane change. You have to curve around--"

"You have a taper--" Ikner allowed.

"It's a sharp angle to the right," Krashes continued. "It's compounded by a lot of traffic." Moreover, he said, while a plexiglas window was added for both eastbound traffic on Dean and southbound traffic on Vanderbilt, when construction trucks are placed inside the fence, they block the fiew.

"There really ought to be an examination of this fence," he added. "You have four or five documented incidents since November."

"We're continuing to study" it, Ikner said. (She also said the bollard, which seems to be made of hard rubber, would be replaced.)

"It's s simple as not having a truck parked there so the window is blocked," added resident Mae Taliaferrow. "Can that be a 'No Parking' zone?"

"I'll take down your statement," Ikner said.

In other words, stay tuned.

DOT: new street encroachments/protections coming to site; safety issue recognized as key to Times Plaza upgrade

As more construction emerges at the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park site, there will be additional encroachments on the street and sidewalks, and new MPT (maintenance and protection of traffic) will be needed.

At tonight's Atlantic Yards Community Update meeting, Leroy Branch of the New York City Department of Transportation said the new MPT will be unveiled either at the next Community Update meeting, in April, or at a special meeting before then.

He added that community concerns regarding a planned public space upgrade at Times Plaza--residents said safety first--"resonated with us... We're going to come back to the community with a safety plan in and around the area, as well as Times Plaza... It's not just going to look at the plaza... we definitely heard you."

So, when will the Down escalator at Barclays Center plaza be fixed? No firm date.

At tonight's Atlantic Yards Community Update meeting, Wayne Bailey, president of the 78th Precinct Community Council, noted that many people have complained about the Down escalator not working on the Barclays Center plaza.

"The Down escalator has been out of service on and off for a few months now," responded arena spokesman Terence Kelly. "After  repeated Band-Aid fixes, turning it on and off, the malfunction required a mechanical fix.... The quote on the [needed] part is being discussed and being negotiated right now.. I don't have an update on what the time will be. I know it's very frustrating. We'll make a better effort to keep you informed." 

He said he hoped to have better news in two months at the next Community Update meeting.

The nonfunctioning escalator doesn't just frustrate community residents, Kelly added. "On a business operations end, it's not something that appeals to the guest experience."

Indeed, a functioning escalator--though it's been turned off during certain flows of fans--surely helps the arena operate. But a working subway entrance was part of the deal to build the project, part of the public benefit in exchange for the tax breaks, subsidies, and other public assistance. 

It's little more than three years old. Shouldn't it work?

Forest City executive: no mold problem in B2, "water happens in construction sites all the time" (but floors were gutted)

At tonight's Atlantic Yards Community Update meeting, Forest City Ratner spokeswoman Ashley Cotton was asked if there was a mold issue in the in-construction modular apartment building, 461 Dean Street, known as B2.

"No," responded Cotton. "Water happens in construction sites all the time. I know people keep pointing to it again and again. We have insurance for these sorts of things. Any mold that would pop up on this building or any other building, whether it’s modular or not, gets ripped out and remediated and taken care of. Any incidences of mold that that have popped up at B2, 461 Dean, have been taken care of."

Well, maybe, though evidence has not been made public about how lingering questions about mold were addressed, as noted below.

And B2 had a significant water problem--far more than "water happens in construction sites all the time"--as I reported 8/31/15 in a long City Limits article about problems at the building:
Half of the first 39 apartments suffered significant water damage. The first four floors were "largely gutted," according to reports from consultant STV, which serves as owner's representative for Empire State Development (ESD), the state agency overseeing/shepherding the entire Atlantic Yards project, which has been renamed Pacific Park Brooklyn.
The builders got so skittish that, on the 9th and 10th floors, drywall sections of the ceilings and walls closest to the windows were omitted from mods, to be installed later, undermining the concept of completing as much as possible in the factory....
Mold was found at various places in the building and, at least according to the 2013-2014 documents acquired via FOIL, queries from STV about more mold—and the possibility of air monitoring—went unanswered by Forest City and Skanska for months. In response to City Limits' inquiry, an ESD spokesperson said: "It is not uncommon for construction sites and building materials to be exposed to moisture while work is ongoing. When the ESD project team notified FCR that our owner's representative had observed evidence of possible mold, FCR took appropriate actions to remedy the situation."
From an 8/15/14 report by consultant STV, with lingering questions about mold

A working mock-up of the bulk of the "Brooklyn Behemoth" office tower

The rendering has been created by taking the bulk of 511-foot, 824,629-square foot B4, inflating it by about 30%, and plopping it on top of the 250-foot, 439,050-square foot Site 5, to approximate 1.5 million square feet. So the building would likely be at least 900 feet tall.

This is adapted from an image in the 2006 Final Environmental Impact Statement, which is why there's titanium on the arena. Needless to say, this is very unofficial. See more on the proposed building here.

Forest City CEO: bulk to be moved to Site 5 office tower just 650K square feet (fallback?), "very early" in discussion (dubious)

In a discussion today, the CEO of Forest City Realty Trust (formerly Forest City Enterprises), parent of Forest City Ratner, seemed curiously underinformed about the plans floated for a massive office tower--which I've dubbed the "Brooklyn Behemoth"--for the one-acre plot, known as Site 5, currently occupied by Modell's and P.C. Richard.

But he may have made an admission about the somewhat reduced bulk that could constitute Forest City's fallback position.

Unofficial mockup of potential bulk; see explanation here
Remember, Site 5 has been approved for a 250-foot, 439,050-square foot tower, while B1 has been slated to be 511-foot (reduced from the approved 620 feet), 1,106,009-square foot tower.

Moving the bulk and preserving the plaza would not only save Greenland Forest City Partners, the joint venture developing Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, significant construction costs, it would keep a crucial amenity needed for smooth functioning of the Barclays Center. I'd bet that Forest City's pledge not to build on the plaza was part of the company's deal to sell its majority share in the arena operating currently.

The plan would move the bulk of B1 across to Site 5
Of course, it would be a preposterous amount of square footage, given that a building with 1.5 million square feet would be nearly three times the bulk of the 1,066-foot "supertall" tower recently announced next to the Dime Savings Bank and Junior's in Downtown Brooklyn. It would expand a building that the City Planning Commission said should shrink, given its adjacency to a residential district.

The CEO speaks

During a conference call this morning with investment analysts, Forest City CEO David LaRue was asked if he could say anything "about reports you might be looking to develop" that large  office tower.

"We have entitled, currently, as part of Pacific Park, with our partner, the Greenland Group, on Site 1, which is the plaza, up to 650,000 square feet I believe that can be developed there." LaRue responded.

Actually, they have more than 1 million square feet. So either he was uninformed or casually acknowledging the fallback position--perhaps they'd be happy to move "only" 650,000 square feet in order to plan a more "buildable" 1 million square foot building. (And they'd move the rest of the bulk elsewhere?)

"We have those as of right; they're entitled right now," continued LaRue. That's not quite true. They're not "as of right" to move around as they see fit. It would require Empire State Development, the state authority overseeing/shepherding the project, to amend the General Project Plan and hold public hearings.

"And I think the discussion that occurred in the paper was whether or not those rights would be moved from that open space, that plaza, which has become very much a community asset I would say, something the community embraced, to a site right across, to what's called Site 5, where there's a Modell's, etc.," he continued. "It's really very early in the discussion about building it, but it's really an opportunity to evaluate the right placement of that office square footage, that office entitlement. That's where it stands."

Well, the "discussion that occurred in the paper" was surely goosed by subsidiary Forest City Ratner's friendly placement of the news in Crain's New York Business.

If they're talking publicly, it's not "very early in the discussion" but rather a good way through the discussion.

And his term "right placement" recalls similar euphemisms like Bruce Ratner's use of the term "very appropriate" regarding wages in the modular factory.

Other issues: sale of arena/team

LaRue was asked why Forest City wound up with partial payment in cash and partial payment in notes receivable for its shares of the Barclays Center operating company and the Brooklyn Nets to Mikhail Prokhorov's Onexim.

He agreed with his questioner that "it would've been much more preferable to have the proceeds all come in cash... but that just was not in the cards during our negotiation." That suggests that Prokhorov had a stronger hand.

Because the arena has ongoing cash flow, it was agreed that the notes would be paid off semi-annually, LaRue said, but because the team has operated at a loss, "we agreed to accrue that interest," which means it will be paid at maturity, in 5.5 years.

Other issues: the Brooklyn housing market

LaRue said the company was still bullish on the housing market in Brooklyn. "There is a huge supply, but again, based upon strength that we continue to see in leasing of our 80 DeKalb building, and in market feedback we get from sources in the marketplace, strength in demand continues to meet and absorb that new product," he said. "At some point, that supply may slow down that rent growth. The way we're structured, we will appropriately evaluate the opportunities to start an additional building based on current information and make that adjustment at that time."

That's not quite true. They still have to deliver 2,250 affordable units by 2025, though they do have some wiggle room, because there will be more market-rate-only buildings than previously planned.

Other issues: the Brooklyn office market

One questioner pointed out that, as recently as a year ago, "most folks weren't too excited" about the office market in Brooklyn.

LaRue said he saw the current demand as natural, since "people want to live in the market." He said that the company had already gotten more than 50% of its leases nationally signed for the 1 million square feet of office space that will be rolling over. "Those market dynamics," he said of Brooklyn and other markets, "currently are very strong."

What might be on the agenda for tonight's Community Update meeting (and why no agenda?)

Update: a rather opaque agenda was released at 3:36 pm.

There's an Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Community Update meeting tonight at 6 pm at 55 Hanson Place, where, according to a message from Empire State Development (the state authority overseeing/shepherding the project) on behalf of itself and developer Greenland Forest City Partners "We will present an overview of the upcoming construction activities surrounding the project."

That's opaque, and it's insufficient on a number of grounds.

First, the meeting, which a state official has called a "developer meeting," was formerly a "Quality of Life Committee" meeting, in which community members and groups helped shape the agenda.

More recently it has been used as part of a developer public relations strategy to unveil information--first placed with friendly media outlets--about the open space and the B15 tower and school.

Yes, members of the public do get to ask questions during the meeting, but time is limited by the developer's agenda. So the first step would be to solicit public input regarding the agenda.

Another would simply be to set up procedures--meeting minutes, a project hotline--to both memorialize issues raised and to respond in real time to community concerns regarding "construction activities," such as the closure of a sidewalk when it wasn't supposed to be closed.

For the agenda

Numerous issues have surfaced in the past few months. Perhaps the most jarring issue is the plan, floated last week but with little detail (much less renderings), to shift the entire bulk of the B1 tower from the arena block to Site 5.

What about the progress on the arena's green roof and B2 tower? We're still waiting for information about and renderings of the B3 tower under construction at the southeast corner of the arena block.

Another issue--which I would expect to see first released via a friendly media outlet--is Forest City's compilation of statistics regarding the Community Benefits Agreement, despite the lack of an Independent Compliance Monitor.

Residents last night at the 78th Precinct Council meeting raised some longstanding and new issues:
  • continued illegal parking at hydrants and elsewhere during Barclays Center events
  • the use of Atlantic Avenue flanking the arena for Lyft pickups and free parking
  • the apparent lack of lights on construction cranes
  • dangers at the Vanderbilt and Dean intersection
Issues on Instagram

A few project neighbors have been using Instagram to document continued impacts on the community, including a generator near the property line, construction trucks on residential streets, the unannounced closure of Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues, the impact of demolition on a street tree guard, construction workers on neighborhood property, and the failure to take down signs regarding temporary closures.