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Showing posts from March, 2016

Public amenity or business deal? How odd silence about arena's Resorts World Casino NYC Plaza bolsters "Brooklyn Behemoth"

It's pretty hard to miss, the signage over the Barclays Center entrance announcing Resorts World Casino NYC Plaza, as I reported last September.

But the Barclays Center has been curiously reticent about this new sponsor.

Perhaps they're reticent about the taint of gambling.

But I suspect that arena operators, as well as developer Greenland Forest City Partners, seek to avoid attention to the branding of a plaza that GFCP promotes as a public amenity.

And that's part of a strategy to get state permission--after public hearings--to transfer the huge bulk of the unbuilt tower over that plaza at Flatbush and Atlantic avenues across the street to Site 5, which is today home to Modell's and P.C. Richard and already approved for a substantial 250-foot, 439,050-square-foot building.

The combined bulk, including the potential transfer, would be some 1.55 million square feet, the biggest tower in Brooklyn, nearly as bulky as the 1066-foot-New York Times Tower in Midtown, and fa…

The Nassau Coliseum reopening date is now March 2017; Islanders games there not a "done deal"

From Newsday's Robert Brodsky yesterday, Nassau Coliseum reopening expected in March 2017:
Developers who are renovating the Nassau Coliseum have removed the arena’s old seats, gutted the entranceway and removed extensive amounts of asbestos, but say it will take until March 2017 to reopen the arena, three months later than originally planned. Also note:
[Nassau County Executive Ed] Mangano said Wednesday that the six Islanders games would “provide an outlet for our Long Island fans to view their favorite team right here. . . . And who knows what the future holds?”
But NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the games are not a done deal. Indeed, as I've reported, the team renovating the Coliseum has consistently overhyped the certainty of the Islanders' return, which won't be decided until the arena reopens.
Also see this Randi Marshall column, Inside the ruins of Nassau Coliseum:
The ghost of the New York Islanders hung over Nassau Coliseum Tuesday, as representatives from…

Design charrette Saturday for Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park middle school: facilities, common space and street design

From the backers of M.S. OneBrooklyn, Help envision a new middle school in District 13 at the M.S. OneBrooklyn Design Charrette:
When a new public school begins construction in Prospect Heights at the Atlantic Yards site later this year, community members will already have put forward a vision for how the facility can best meet the needs of the middle school students of Brooklyn’s District 13 today and for the future.
At this event hosted by the organizers of the M.S. OneBrooklyn campaign and the Brooklyn Public Library, District 13 community members, designers, planners, and representatives from the New York City Department of Education will come together to imagine a new middle school to be located at the northeast corner of Sixth Avenue and Dean Street. Breakout sessions will allow attendees to explore requirements for facilities, common space and street design to create a 21st century learning environment, as well as to identify and address safety concerns in the environment where…

From the latest Construction Update: passage around B3 (Dean/Sixth) site to be constricted, as sidewalk closes for walkway

According to the latest two-week Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update (bottom), issued yesterday at 4:39 pm (one business day late) for the two weeks beginning March 28, the passage around the B3 construction site at Dean Street and Sixth Avenue is expected to be constricted as the construction fence is extended.

According to the document, the MPT (Maintenance and Protection of Traffic) "may be bumped out according to approved site safety plans during this reporting period. The Dean Street sidewalk in front of the MPT will be closed and a pedestrian walkway will be maintained." No diagrams were provided.

Also, at the Vanderbilt Yard, "Installation of 24” diameter caisson piles for foundations will resume during this reporting period." While not described as such, this could be noisy.

Saturday work may continue at B2 (461 Dean Street, modular), B3, B11 (550 Vanderbilt Avenue), B12 (615 Dean Street). Night and weekend work is expected at the Vanderbilt Yar…

Community Update Meeting shifted to April 13 at 6 pm

A message from Empire State Development:
In consideration of the Presidential Primary Election “Primary Day”, we are rescheduling the April 19th Atlantic Yards aka Pacific Park Brooklyn Community Update Meeting. The meeting will now be held on Wednesday, April 13th.
@ 6:00 PM
Shirley Chisholm State Office Building
55 Hanson Place, 1st Floor Conference Room
Brooklyn NY 11217 Remember, this used to be the Quality of Life Committee. Then it became a Community Update Meeting. Or, perhaps, as shown in the announcement below, the Quality of Life Community Update Meeting.


Catching up: appeal failed in lawsuit challenging DOB's approval of modular construction

This is way late, but worth noting for the record. Remember that appeal last year by two trade organizations challenging the New York City Department of Buildings' approval of modular construction for Forest City Ratner's modular building, B2, or 461 Dean Street?

As I wrote 5/1/15, the Appellate Division, First Department seemed only moderately engaged with the challenge to the DOB's conclusion that modular construction could proceed in a factory using cross-trained workers without the presence of licensed plumbers and fire suppression contractors. Indeed, the lower court's somewhat questionable unwritten ruling was quickly upheld, and no appeal was filed.

That building, with half market-rate rentals and half subsidized rentals, should open later this year, with a lottery for the affordable units expected very soon.

Questions linger regarding the integrity of the building, according to legal papers from Forest City's former partner Skanska, as well as a state monito…

As Long Island Nets unveil plans, concern about Coliseum delays prompts local pushback

So the Brooklyn Nets' new D-League team, the Long Island Nets, this week unveiled their new logo and uniforms for the coming season, which will be played at the Barclays Center--likely twinned with NBA games--before moving to the revamped Nassau Coliseum.

(The read, white, and blue evokes the old Long Island-based New York Nets.)

But the news sneaking out is that the Coliseum will not be ready by the end of 2016, as originally predicted, and will reopen in 2017.

That first came up in a 1/5/16 Newsday article, which reported that Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, who backed the Forest City Ratner-led Nassau Events Center effort to revamp the Coliseum, acknowledged the project would open in the “first quarter of 2017," though luck might bring it sooner.

As Newsday reported, a scheduled 12/10/16 Kentucky basketball game versus Long Island's Hofstra University would have to switch to the Barclays Center if the Coliseum isn't ready. The Nassau Events Center is now o…

A new Atlantic Yards CDC board member (and the departure of a CBA partner)

This is among multiple articles covering issues raised at the March 15 Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC) meeting.

Several board members were absent from the 3/15/16 meeting of the AY CDC, the first meeting in five months, but it was a bit surprising to see a new face on the board.

Without any public announcement or explanation, attorney Daniel Kummer, former chairperson (and current member) of Brooklyn Community Board 6 appeared as a board member. Given the lack of public announcement, I'm assuming the other board members were informed ahead of time. Still, it was confusing to onlookers in the know.

After I inquired, I learned that Kummer was appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to replace board member Sharon Daughtry, who, after attending the first of five board meetings last year, missed the next four.

Two days ago, I followed up by asking why Daughtry left, but haven't heard back yet, but it seems clear it didn't fit her schedule and/or wasn't a pr…

From Brooklyn Magazine: "The Rise and Fall of Smith Street" (and the FU money)

In Brooklyn Magazine's 3/22/16 The Rise and Fall of Smith Street, food writer Sarah Zorn addresses a glaring, if likely temporary, situation: Smith Street, once an inexpensive thoroughfare where chefs and indie businesspeople could stake a claim, has become so trendy and corporate that landlords are warehousing space and waiting for big spenders.

“It was a work site, one that neither the city nor the residents seemed in any hurry to fix,” trailblazing restaurateur Alan Harding recalled. “There was literally a big trench down the middle, hastily covered over by metal plates. There was a lot of scaffolding, and of the few retail businesses, many were fronted by full-on bulletproof glass. Because of a lack of interest, the remainder of the ground floor storefronts had been converted into apartments. Seriously, if you peeked behind the privacy plywood that had been put up on the windows, you could see hot plates and shower stalls.”

But Betty Stoltz of the South Brooklyn Development Co…

The need for real-time response: work at Dean/Sixth poses hazards, and "No accountability looks like this"

This is among multiple articles covering issues raised at the March 15 Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC) meeting.

One knotty issue raised at the 3/15/16 meeting of the Atlantic Yards Development Corporation (AY CDC) was the need for timely reporting about construction impacts, given the six-month lag in producing overall assessments of the recent quarter's incident reports. (There's even less assessment of arena operational impacts.)

But the need for real time assessment/feedback remains. Consider the Instagram posts below, from two days ago, from Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park neighbor Peter Krashes.

They suggest "one of the worst cluster fks on Dean between Flatbush and 6th that I've seen in a long while," he reported, as a closed pedestrian passage, illegal parking, and tree trimming combined to pose hazards to pedestrians. Then contractors installing an electrical system closed the street, with no apparent coordination between projects.

T…

Michael West at AY CDC: "Forest City Ratner cannot act as an exploiter of our communities"

This is among multiple articles covering issues raised at the March 15 Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC) meeting.

It came near the end of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation meeting, and generated only mild follow-up. But in the board's one year existence, the few community members willing to comment at a daytime meeting have mainly addressed community impacts.

This time, Michael West of the fledgling organizationDevotion NYC, came to excoriate Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park developer Forest City Ratner (now part of Greenland Forest City partners) for exploiting Central Brooklyn communities that once supported the project's Community Benefits Agreement (CBA).

It's not the first expression of disillusionment by a former supporter, or even the loudest, but it may be the most sustained (though perhaps tamped down if Forest City responds with more information and funds for CBA implementation, though I wouldn't bet on it, given the fail…

Architect presents B3 tower, another high-rise aiming to blend into local fabric

This is among multiple articles covering issues raised at the March 15 Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC) meeting.

So, what will the B3 tower, aka 38 Sixth Avenue, look like? (Remember, Freddy's Bar & Backroom was once at that corner of Dean Street and Sixth Avenue.)

Though the 23-story, 219-foot, 303-unit building at the southeast corner of the arena block launched months ago, developer Greenland Forest City Partners had not--unlike with all other buildings under construction--shown the public a presentation.

That changed at the 3/15/16 Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC) meeting, where Taek Kim of SHoP Architects (who by the way worked 2006-11 for Gehry Partners) described the building, in a presentation reproduced at bottom (and originally here).

It has 100% affordable housing, though not so affordable, given that 65% of the units are for middle-income households earning six figures. And it also has an oft-promoted (though not so …

The new (bogus) buzzword: revised plan for office towers would "activate" Atlantic Avenue corridor

This is among multiple articles covering issues raised at the March 15 Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC) meeting.

"Activate the Atlantic Avenue corridor."

That's one confounding justification by Greenland Forest City Partners for its brazen, highly questionable plan to shift 1.1 million square feet of bulk from the tower planned for the arena plaza across the street to Site 5, creating what I've dubbed the "Brooklyn Behemoth," with 1.6 million square feet--and then turn B4, the large tower planned at the northeast corner of the arena block, from residential to office uses.


The jargon-y claim--as if somehow office workers from one building would cross broad Flatbush Avenue to commune with the other building--strikes me as a fig leaf to get a plan passed that exceeds previously disclosed ambitions.

The rationale begins

Speaking at the 3/15/16 meeting of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation, Forest City spokeswoman Ashley…

Out of sync: while state's environmental consultant provides reports after six months, residents seek response to daily impacts

This is among multiple articles covering issues raised at the March 15 Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC) meeting.

How mitigate the impacts from construction at the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park site? There was a huge divide evident at the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation meeting 3/15/16 between the formal exercise of oversight and real-time effectiveness, which leads to unresolved, dismaying reports like the one below.

Loud night work in the B3 footprint on Friday, March 18, 2016 at 7:48 pm. Turn up the volume on your phone. The construction alert does not specify extended hours work in B3 unlike the other Tishman building in the project, B14, which specifies extended hours work to address field conditions. Yes of course residents live right across the street. @hdr_inc @empirestatedev @RouxInc #bciza #PacificParkbk @Tishmanconstruction @atlanticyards_pacificpk_report @pacificparkbk @nycdob @nyc311 @nycmayorsoffice A video posted by @pplegacy on Ma…