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Showing posts from July, 2016

All-cash home purchases (via shell companies) greater than $1.5 million in Brooklyn will get scrutiny

Interesting. In U.S. to Expand Tracking of Home Purchases by Shell Companies, the New York Times's Louise Story (who wrote the series that stimulated such tracking) reports:
More than a quarter of the all-cash luxury home purchases made using shell companies in Manhattan and Miami were flagged as suspicious in a new effort to unearth money laundering in real estate, the Treasury Department said Wednesday. As a result, officials said they would expand the program to other areas across the country.
The expansion of the effort to identify and track the people behind shell companies, begun in March, means that there will now be increased scrutiny of luxury real estate purchases made in cash in all five boroughs of New York City, counties north of Miami, Los Angeles County, San Diego County, the three counties around San Francisco and the county that includes San Antonio. ...The areas being added to the order are places where buyers frequently purchase luxury real estate using shell com…

As AEG takes over Nassau Coliseum, Barclays Center GM Rosebrook stretches to oversee both venues

In a press release issued this week, picked up by (among others) the 7/28/16 Amplify, in Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment Selects AEG Facilities to Manage Nassau Coliseum, we learn of some overlap between the Barclays Center and the Nassau Coliseum:
Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment will continue to provide programming, marketing and sales for the facility, while AEG Facilities General Manager Matt Felker handles venue operations at the renovated building. Felker had been the assistant GM at the Barclays Center, and will now transition to Long Island where he currently lives. Felker will report to Barclays Center GM Steve Rosebrook “whose role is expanding to become AEG Facilities Regional General Manager, supervising operations for Barclays Center and Nassau Coliseum,” according to a release from the company. AEG Facilities has provided management services to Barclays Center since it first opened in 2012. So if Rosebrook supervises both the Barclays Center and the Nassau Coliseu…

Instagrammable! A style blogger promotes 550 Vanderbilt, thanks to sponsorship

OK, if p.r. shop/consultant BerlinRosen can't always get "earned media" to promote the 550 Vanderbilt condo building and Pacific Park, why not "partner" (with developer Greenland Forest City Partners' money of course) with a vapid style blogger who has lots of Instagram followers?

(Note: the original credit line at the way way bottom was thanking Berlin Rosen for "partnering," but now it thanks 550 Vanderbilt.)

Hence the rather overgeneralized headline APARTMENT HUNTING IN NYC, in which Kendall Kremer of Styled Snapshots writes: As Matt and I get older, we constantly think about our future, one day starting a family, and when and if we will make the move outside of New York City. We both grew up in the suburbs and know that eventually that is where we want to settle, but with both of our careers it currently makes sense to be close to the the city. We both dread the thought of a long commute! Our lease is up on our current apartment in February, …

Office building coming to parking lot of Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph on Pacific Street just east of Vanderbilt?

This is interesting. If Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park office space won't come online immediately, well, there might be office space nearby.

Rachel Holliday Smith of DNAinfo reported 7/27/16, in Brooklyn Cathedral Plans 4-Story Office Building in Prospect Heights:
A four-story commercial building is set to be constructed next to an iconic Catholic church in the neighborhood, bringing 47,000 square feet of new office space to the church’s Prospect Heights lot, according to permits filed with the city this week.
The Diocese of Brooklyn filed the plans Tuesday to construct the new building on the property of the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph, the Catholic Church’s 1,500-seat Spanish Colonial church located on Pacific Street between Vanderbilt and Underhill avenues.
The plans call for a four-story building with a combination of office space, roof terraces, indoor parking and “production studios” located in the building’s basement, according to permits filed with the Department of Buildings.…

Real Deal: Forest City lost some key execs, downsizing staff; execs say all's well (but that's spin)

The Real Deal's Rich Bockmann reports Forest City Ratner: The sequel, subtitled "Key executives leave and layoffs take hold as company makes transition to REIT."

It's an interesting scoop, but I think the situation is even more unsettled than reported, given that some recently departed key executives aren't talking, and the developer's subordinate position in the Greenland Forest City Partners joint venture goes unmentioned.

The company re-sets

A key passage:
But now, in order to work as a REIT [real estate investment trust], Forest City would have to narrow its scope. As the parent company in Cleveland prepared for the transition, FCR saw significant churn: some of it planned, some that came by surprise.

FCR generated net operating income of about $227 million in 2015, investor documents show, up slightly from $218.8 million in 2014 and representing about 37 percent of Forest City’s total NOI. But over the past year, it also cut about 15 percent of its workfor…

Monetizing Dean Street loading dock: VIP ticket packages to Barclays Center now include below-arena parking (what could go wrong?)

An announcement from Arena Digest headlined Fan Experience Options Added to Barclays Center tells us:
A partnership between Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment (BSE) and QuintEvents will result in some new fan experience options at the Barclays Center. The pairing of the two sides is expected to lead to the implementation of customized event offerings.

Across all of its platforms, BSE will work with QuintEvents to deliver unique experience packages. In addition to sporting events, BSE will leverage its Brooklyn Direct programming division to bring fans closer to exclusive artists at Barclays Center.

Fans can visit BSEexperiences.com to view select BSE Experiences for BROOKLYN BOXING™ events,BROOKLYN HOOPS™college basketball games, Brooklyn Nets games, special events, and concerts, including Barbra Streisand’s return home toBrooklyn onAug. 11 and 13. Experience packages will include a variety of special perks such as walking to the ring with top boxers, such as World Middleweight Champ…

As B3 crane is removed, Sixth Avenue between Dean & Pacific closed to through traffic for much of the weekend

On Saturday and Sunday, Sixth Avenue between Pacific and Dean streets will be temporarily closed to through traffic, so the crane at B3 (aka 38 Sixth Avenue) can be disassembled.

The closing is planned for 9 hours on Saturday (6am-3pm) and for 15 hours on Sunday (6am-9pm).

Traffic will be detoured to Carlton and Vanderbilt Avenues as shown in the graphic below. The east sidewalk of Sixth Avenue will remain open to pedestrians. Traffic Enforcement Agents and flaggers are supposed to be on site to assist with vehicular and pedestrian movements.

At Times Plaza Saturday, pop-up plaza; DOT meeting next Wednesday on Atlantic/Flatbush safety; what about impact from Site 5?

Here are three important things to remember about the fraught intersection of Atlantic, Flatbush, and Fourth avenues.

First, this Saturday 3-7 pm, Transportation Alternatives’ People First on Atlantic Avenue campaign hold a Pop-Up Plaza, aiming to "transform lonely Times Plaza into a fun space with music, art, and food — and make it a safe place to cross!"

Then, next Wednesday, Aug. 3, the New York City Department of Transportation, which is already working on a plan to upgrade the plaza (but was told it had to come with safety improvements) is holding a workshop from 6 to 8 pm at the YWCA, 30 Third Avenue.

Finally, I'm wondering whether that workshop can address the unofficial--but, I'd bet, very much pending--plan (as I reported in City Limits) for a huge two-tower Pacific Park Brooklyn project at Site 5, currently occupied by the big-box stores Modell's and P.C. Richard.

What might be coming to Site 5

The proposed plan, as shown in the slides below, involves 1…

de Blasio takes another affordable housing victory lap; experts skeptical (+ AY disconnect)

A mayoral press release yesterday (after a New York Times exclusive) announced Mayor de Blasio: NYC Sets Affordable Housing Record, Highest Production Since 1989, with the subheading "23,284 affordable homes financed in Fiscal Year 2016 – second highest in history." (This follows up on last year's triumphant press release.)

The lead:
NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced that his administration secured 23,284 affordable apartments and homes during Fiscal Year 2016, the second highest production in New York City history and the most since Ed Koch was mayor.
The Mayor’s Housing New York plan now is ahead of schedule, with 52,936 affordable homes financed so far, enough for 130,000 New Yorkers. Affordable housing for the very poorest New Yorkers – those earning less than $24,000 per year – surged with 3,500 new apartments. More than 4,000 affordable homes for low-income seniors are also underway.
The City is protecting neighborhood affordability on every front. The …

Another mess outside arena: stopped truck idles on Sixth Avenue, blocking traffic

Oh sure, the Democratic National Convention would have just gone fine in Brooklyn.

Actually, I'm not sure developer Forest City Ratner really wanted the convention to come to the Barclays Center (where, at the time the DNC was under consideration, the developer was selling tis 55% share of the operating company). After all, it would have shut down construction of Greenland Forest City Partners' Pacific Park Brooklyn project.

Because they couldn't have had project-related trucks idling outside the arena, blocking traffic on Sixth Avenue, as shown in the Instagram and video below from Wayne Bailey. Note the quote overheard from the driver: he didn't know where to go.

2016-07-26 815am again a @pacificparkbk 18 wheeler tractor trailer stages & blocks traffic on 6th Ave bet Dean & Pacific until finally workers tell him to move (full video YouTube username AYInfoNYC) #empirestatedevelopmentcorp #aycdc #nypd78thprecinct #pacificparkbk I could hear the driver yell "…

Around B3, photos show pedestrians pushed into street with no safeguards, questionable sidewalk closure, easier path for trucks

Imagine if the Democratic National Convention were being held at the Barclays Center? On top of creating a frozen zone that would impact blocks of retail businesses and residences, they surely would have had to shut down Pacific Park construction.

After all, as these Instagram posts showing conditions on 7/18/16 around the 38 Sixth Avenue (B3) site remind us, it's dicey just for locals. That building is flush to the Barclays Center.

Sidewalks on both sides of Dean Street between Flatbush and Sixth avenues were closed, with unhelpful signage--seemingly ad hoc--and no intervention by pedestrian managers, forcing pedestrians into the street, with no protected area.

The sidewalk was closed, workers said, because pedestrians were still in danger from debris falling from the building under construction, but those workers nonetheless took breaks, without helmets, in that area. (Were they just creating a private zone?)

Consider: if there'd been a convention, and construction shut down…

Forest City's fabulist Greene: buildings "very low density," modular provided a 20% discount

Forest City Ratner's Adam Greene is apparently willing say what it takes to create a new reality--the Brett Yormark of real estate. Consider his statement to the Daily News in June:
“The buildings were designed to be of the neighborhood,” Greene said. “They're very low density. There's a lot of sensitivity about scale. It has the scale of a (Robert) Moses plan but with the sensitivity of Jane Jacobs. This is designed to grow out of small stoops.” That doesn't make a shred of sense. With 6,430 apartments over 22 acres, that's 292 apartments per acre. The ratio gets higher if you cut out the arena plaza and arena air space: call it 19 acres, which would mean 338 apartments per acre.

Small stoops? Jane Jacobs? Note that 535 Carlton (B14), pictured at right across the street from row houses with small stops, is the shortest and least bulky of the project's buildings.

The successful modular plan?

Now Bisnow, reporting 7/22/16 on Bisnow’s Residence of the Future panel…

At Queens Museum, "Highest and Best Use" shows growth of Downtown Brooklyn towers

Hey, what's going on here? You really have to click on the photo to enlarge it and, frankly, see the work in person, since it can't fully be captured.

In the Queens International 2016 exhibition (closes July 31!) at the Queens Museum comes Highest and Best Use (388 Bridge St.), From the blurb:
In Highest and Best Use, Lawrence Mesich wryly examines the ongoing effects of the 2004 rezoning of Downtown Brooklyn. The digitally manipulated photographs in this series elongate the facades of each newly-built residential tower that breaks the current building height record for Queens’ neighboring borough. The title, a real estate valuation term, invokes the absurdity of how developers describe the ostensible success of this incremental change in zoning laws. (Emphasis added)

The change in zoning was more than incremental--it was a gold rush. On his web site, Mesich explains that this is an ongoing project:
Highest and Best Use wryly examines the ongoing effects of the 2004 rezoning …

The new Pacific Park Brooklyn "neighborhood" meets the reality of a map

From the web site for 461 Dean (with similar language for 535 Carlton):
A NEIGHBORHOOD EMERGES
461 Dean is the first residential building to open at Pacific Park Brooklyn, a new neighborhood that extends from 4th Avenue to Vanderbilt Avenue. Pacific Park includes everything you need and want from a neighborhood; great transportation, green outdoor space, retail shopping, local restaurants and so much more. Pacific Park Brooklyn, welcome home. Well, let's put aside for the moment the fact that the 22 acres of Pacific Park itself doesn't yet include any green outdoor space or retail or restaurants, beyond what's in the arena.

Consider the incredible claim that the "neighborhood" extends from Fourth to Vanderbilt avenues. If so, then how coherent and cohesive could a neighborhood be that is bisected by wide Flatbush Avenue?

And what about those question marks I added, marking territory between Dean and Pacific streets that are nonetheless between Fourth and Vanderbi…

Are Islanders considering a new arena in Queens? Leverage for Barclays improvements is more likely

So, consider this thinly-sourced Bloomberg News report yesterday, NHL’s Islanders Are Considering a Move to Queens With Mets Help:
The New York Islanders are in talks with the owners of baseball’s New York Mets about building a hockey arena adjacent to Citi Field in Queens, people with knowledge of the discussions said.
Willets Point is emerging as a persuasive alternative to the team’s current home at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center if the Islanders’s owners and arena officials can’t agree on a series of hockey-specific improvements, said the people, who asked for anonymity because the negotiations are private.
...The prospective arena at Willets Point, also the home of the National Tennis Center where the the U.S. Open is played, would put the team closer to its original fan base in Long Island. Well, sure, it would put the team closer to the fan base, at least for people driving.

But there's only one subway, the 7 train, and the Mets-Willets Point station on the Long Island Railroad…

Fence outside 535 Carlton should be lowered beginning Wednesday, July 27

According to a Community Notice circulated Wednesday, the construction fence outside the 535 Carlton site between Dean and streets will be reduced.

The fence, now 16 feet high, will be lowered to 8 feet. Contractors will lower the fence in 20-foot segments. The work should be completed by August 5. This follows the lowering of the 16-foot fence outside the 550 Vanderbilt site, which began earlier in July.



Given skew to middle-income "affordable" units, will future buildings emphasis lower-income ones?

I recently looked back on my 12/16/14 coverage of the groundbreaking for the "100% affordable"
535 Carlton tower, and an answer from Mayor Bill de Blasio that might have been an intriguing hint, or maybe not.

The lingering question: will any future towers with affordable units be skewed to lower-income units? Or will the current imbalance, which diverges from longstanding promises, persist?

The background

The background is that 50% of the approximately 300 units in 535 Carlton and the "100% affordable" 38 Sixth Avenue would go to households earning up to 165% of Area Median Income, or AMI, while another 15% would go to middle-income households earning up to 145% of AMI. AMI as of 2016 is $90,600.


But 65% of the affordable units should not be going to such households; the figure should be 40% (or 20% of the units in a 50% market/50% affordable building), as noted in the Affordable Housing Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that developer Forest City Ratner signed with…

Fantasy graphic portrays cute and charming Pacific Park & 550 Vanderbilt

Hmmm.. check out the graphic below on the Contact page for the 550 Vanderbilt condo tower.

Somehow the tower, some 19 stories (including bulkheads), is portrayed as a modest eight stories, with relatively giant trees nearby. It's as if the only part of the building is the smaller portion fronting Dean Street, as shown in the recent photo I took at right.

It even stretches beyond demapped Pacific Street. A full "Pacific Park, between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues, is portrayed, but without the seven towers planned on that eastern block.

Moving west, the block between Sixth and Carlton avenues and Dean and Pacific streets is portrayed as an extension of the park, though it includes exactly zero open space but rather row houses and small apartment buildings, as well as the significant Newswalk condo. At the far west end is a 100-foot-wide vacant lot, destined for the 664 Pacific (aka B15 building).

North of that block, between Pacific Street and Atlantic Avenue, a current rail…

Ratner gives $42,500 to Cuomo; also, $15K to Thompson; $5K to Golden, $4.4K (+?) to Mosley

If you scroll down Politico New York's article yesterday, Campaign reports show Cuomo continues to rely on big donors, there's a chart listing the top 87 donors.

At #55, though actually tied with others starting at #51, is a listing for "Ratner," the only individual donor listed without a first name.

Did Bruce Ratner in fact give $55,000 since January 2015? I couldn't confirm it. 
Rather, it looks like he should have barely missed the listing of the top 87 donors, who gave a minimum of $45,000, as he gave $42,500.
Bottom line: he gave enough, I'd bet, to get his phone calls returned.
Looking at the reports
Cuomo's July 2016 disclosure form listed contributions from Ratner of $7,500 and $15,000. Cuomo's January 2016 disclosure form listed no Ratner contributions. Cuomo's July 2015 disclosure form listed contributions from Ratner of $5,000 and $15,000. Cuomo's January 2015 disclosure form listed no Ratner contributions.
The $42,500 figure is con…

In Los Angeles, Greenland condo project said to be 30% sold to Chinese investors (model for Brooklyn?)

Who will live in the super luxe Metropolis condos? asked the Real Deal 7/13/16, with the sub-heading "The project developer Greenland USA wants to market some of the units to buyers in New York":
Greenland USA, whose billion-dollar Metropolis project is the biggest development under construction in Los Angeles, has recently filed a request to market 51 Phase II condos to buyers and investors in the Big Apple.
Once both phases are complete in 2018, Metropolis will have three condo towers with 1,500 condo units in total and a 19-story boutique hotel, as well as plenty of retail space.
In New York, out-of-state developers must apply with the Attorney General’s office to solicit buyers. But given high demand for condos in L.A., specifically marketing outside of La La Land is an atypical move among developers. But this is unusual, though not unique, because it's in downtown L.A.

A chunk of Chinese buyers

More interestingly, the Real Deal references (without the link) a 12/15/1…

From the latest Construction Update: more progress on B3, including dismantling of tower crane

According to the latest two-week Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update (bottom), covering the two weeks beginning Monday July 18 and released yesterday (lead time, for the first time in a while) by Empire State Development after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners, some previously predicted work may finally start in this period, and work on the B3 tower is moving ahead.

Notably, the superstructure phase of B3 (38 Sixth Avenue) should be completed with the pouring of the bulkhead, the jumping of the hoist should be completed, curtain wall delivery and installation will begin. Also, the dismantling of the tower crane is projected to occur during the weekend of July 30. A community notice will be distributed.

Some major work promised in previous Construction Updates is again expected in this period. At the B2 modular tower, aka 461 Dean Street, overnight sewer installation at the intersection of Flatbush & Dean Street may occur, prefaced by a community notice.

Demoli…