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Showing posts from October, 2016

Rent gap narrows: market-rate 1BR at 670 Pacific now 4% more than "affordable" 1BR at 535 Carlton

In July, I compared posted rents at the new 670 Pacific Street apartment building adjacent to the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park site, and observed that the posted rents were not far off the announced most expensive affordable units at nearby 461 Dean, a 50% affordable building in the project:
studio: $2,399 vs. $1,996 at 461 Dean1 BR: $2.999, vs. $2,504 at 461 Dean2 BR: $3,999, vs. $3,012 at 461 DeanAnother look: rent gap narrows
Actually, that deserves another look, comparing the current rental prices at 670 Pacific--a net effective rent that includes one month free--with rents at 535 Carlton, a "100% affordable" building with slightly higher rents than 461 Dean:
studio: $2,338 vs. $2,137 at 535 Carlton, an 8.6% discount off market1 BR: $2,784, vs. $2,680 at 535 Carlton, a 3.7% discount off market2 BR: $3,919, vs. $3,223 at 535 Carlton, a 17.8% discount off market That discount won't last, since a lease renewal will eliminate that free month. 
The discount may stay relativ…

Harassment incident outside the arena: construction workers (from project?) harass passers-by, throw beer cans (+ unresolved security discussion)

An ugly harassment incident, with perhaps homophobic overtones, happened recently outside the Barclays Center, though some key details--such as whether the workers involved were connected to Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park--remain uncertain.

A Prospect Heights resident, speaking Tuesday night at the meeting of the 78th Precinct Community Council, reported on a incident that occurred adjacent to the arena Saturday Oct. 8.

The incident, she said, occurred "two weeks ago" at 11 am on a Saturday. "My wife and I were on the Atlantic [Avenue] side of Barclays," she said. They walked by two construction workers, who were drinking, smoking pot, and harassing passers-by.

The resident--who was not comfortable sharing her name publicly--admonished the workers, to no avail. "They basically threw their beer cans at me," she reported. "I felt unsafe."

She didn't specifically identify the workers, but said "they were with the telco people."

The conne…

A transition at Barclays Center: Community Affairs Manager Kelly departs

Perhaps the Barclays Center's new VP for Community Relations is building his own team.

A note circulated last week by Forest City Ratner Executive VP for External Affairs Ashley Cotton stated:
After much thought and consideration Terence Kelly, Community Affairs Manager with Barclays Center has decided to leave to pursue other interests.
Please join us [at a farewell toast on Nov. 15]  as we salute him for all of his hard work and dedication.
...Any questions or concerns regarding Barclays Center community relations should be directed to Roland Guevara, VP of Community Affairs at rguevara@brooklynse.com . Roland and I will work together in the interim and he is actively working on hiring a full replacement. The arena is no longer controlled by Forest City, but Cotton had been assigned to represent the arena in public.

I'm not sure how to read Kelly's departure, though a good number of people leave jobs after four years. Guevara, who introduced himself a meeting of the Pros…

The Barclays Center event calendars: the schedule sure picks up in fall

Well, I haven't seen the monthly calendars from the Barclays Center that estimate the expected crowd for ticketed events (and non-ticketed ones) since May 2016. See bottom for the contrast. Maybe it has to do with the departure of Community Affairs rep Terence Kelly.

If they're not continuing that, it disserves neighbors who should know what's coming.

I went back into the Barclays Center web site to take screenshots of the monthly ticketed events, and it's clear that the schedule picks up in the fall. The November and October calendars look quite full, with two professional sports teams, some basketball tournaments, Disney on Ice, and a few concerts.

The few months before then, however, were pretty slow, at least for publicly ticketed events. These schedules do not count graduations and other private events. Then again, September 2015 was slow, as well.





The May ticketed calendar vs. the full calendar

Note that the map directly below mentions four graduations and a priva…

"Shitshow corner": arena operations, project construction frustrate nearest neighbors

The next Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life Community Meeting, on Nov. 1 at 6 pm, is supposed to "present an overview of the upcoming construction activities surrounding the project."

But it also serves as an opportunity to ask question, and for neighbors to tell representatives of the developer, Greenland Forest City Partners, and the state agency overseeing/shepherding the project, Empire State Development, how it looks from their end. For those closest to the project, it's not pretty.

Though concerns about the operations of the planned middle school at 664 Pacific were a key part of last week's Dean Street Block Association (DSBA) meeting, threaded through was frustration about the overall impact of Barclays Center operations (such as rowdy hockey fans or a blocked Dean Street) and Pacific Park construction, and the attendant lack of accountability.

As one resident put it, the intersection of Carlton Avenue and Pacific Street is "shitshow corner.&quo…

For Nets home opener, another pre-game extravaganza on Resorts World Casino NYC Plaza

A message from the Brooklyn Nets yesterday heralds tonight's season-opening game at home. Note again the importance of the Resorts World Casino NYC Plaza to arena operations (as opposed to public amenity):
Be here from the jump when the Nets open their home schedule at Barclays Center against the Indiana Pacers tomorrow. Tip-off is at 7:30PM, but the fun starts early and continues through the evening. All fans will receive a 2016-17 magnetic schedule.
Pregame activities on the Resorts World Casino NYC PlazaMusic from DJ Dallas Green, performances from the Nets Beats drumline and the Brooklyn BreakersT-shirt giveaways and chances to shoot free throws on the Nets snapcourtFace painters and balloon makers on the main concourse Doors at Barclays Center's GEICO Atrium will open at 6:00PM for early access to Paisano's and the bar by Section 3. Doors open arena-wide at 6:30PM. Fans are encouraged to be in their seats by 7:15PM for a special opening night ceremony, including a new …

Where does Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park stand? Buildings behind schedule; affordable housing unsteady; low-income units lag most

The most important part of the map below, revised Aug. 13, 2014 by developer Greenland Forest City Partners, is the note at the bottom right: "Building start and finish dates are subject to change."

That's a watchword for Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park. I've annotated the map below, pointing out how much remains unresolved. Notably:
all the buildings are behind schedulethe affordable housing is not being delivered steadilythere's a bigger gap in the delivery of low-income affordable housing, as 255 units are under construction, with the remaining 645 units not re-starting until perhaps 2020  The bottom line: a project that was once promised as transformative or to "encourage systemic changes" is hardly that, and the much-saluted new timetable negotiated in 2014--the completion of affordable units by 2025--could have used specific safeguards.
Timetable delays

None of the buildings has met the tentative schedule suggested in that 2014 map: the two towers on th…

On Dean Street outside arena, illegally parked trucks and cars pose hazards; NYPD next door

If you're wondering why the Barclays Center's nearest neighbors feel they get the short end of the stick, well, consider the photo below of the scene around the southern flank of the arena, on Dean Street between Sixth and Flatbush avenues, at 8:15 am yesterday.

As the annotated photo--sent to me by a resident--shows, a truck at right is parked in the travel lane (outside a residence), a truck in the center distance is parked in the bike lane, and one car is parked illegally, another improperly.
Yes, it's possible that the truck on the right is associated with another construction project, at Bergen Tile (a site that would be in the right of the photo). But the rest surely are connected to the Barclays Center and overall Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park project. 

Why no intervention?
Last night, at the monthly meeting of the 78th Precinct Community Council, a neighborhood resident told Deputy Inspector Frank DiGiacomo that people were concerned about safety on Dean Street, inclu…

Modular tower 461 Dean might get first occupant (resident manager) next week

Not only might the construction fence go down around 461 Dean Street (aka B2), the long-gestating modular apartment building flanking the Barclays Center, it might soon have its first occupant.

Peter Walsh, the building's resident manager, said last night at the monthly meeting of the 78th Precinct Community Council, that he might move in as early as Tuesday, Nov. 1. That's nearly four years after the groundbreaking, twice as long as the originally promised timetable (once 20 months, then two years).

That, interestingly enough, is the same date as the Quality of Life Community Update meeting, which means that developer Forest City Ratner--remember, this is the only tower not being developed jointly with Greenland USA--would have some good news to announce.

What will be interesting/challenging for Walsh and the new residents is how arena operations--which often bring vehicles idling and double-parking nearby--impact their lives. Then again, presumably the moving trucks deliveri…

From the latest Construction Update: B2 construction fence might start coming down, excavation on Pacific Street

According to the latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update (bottom), covering the two weeks beginning Oct. 24 and circulated today at 1:43 pm (late) by Empire State Development after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners (GFCP), there may be some minor changes around the exterior of construction sites--and some ongoing disruption.

Portions of the construction fence around 461 Dean Street (aka B2) may be removed this reporting period. Also, the sidewalk bridge at 550 Vanderbilt (B11)  may be taken down by the end of the month, while the high bridge at the corner of Vanderbilt Avenue and Pacific Street will still be utilized.

During this period, Optimum crews will excavate on Pacific Street between and Sixth avenues, to install infrastructure. "This work is NOT by GFCP but will be monitored," the update states.

Also, "noisy at times" water main installation activities will continue on Pacific between Sixth and Carlton avenues. That block of Pacif…

Dean Street neighbors balk at new middle school using Dean Playground, exiting on Dean

The 664 Pacific tower, a 27-story luxury rental building with a school at its base just east of the arena block, is on hold for now as the developers and the owners of an adjacent building argue over the appropriate protections for that building during construction.

Another dispute is simmering, derived from the different interests of school advocates and residents of Dean Street, which is adjacent to the tower's southern flank. (The other borders are Pacific Street at the north, and Sixth Avenue at the west.)

During a design charrette for the school in April, as described on the M.S. OneBrooklyn web site, stakeholders "felt it was desirable to make a connection with the Dean Playground through DOE [Department of Education] and NYC Parks. Can it extend outdoor space for school activities?"

That goal is not surprising, given that, while the school would have small amounts of outdoor space on the fourth floor and at ground level, the tower is the only Pacific Park Brooklyn…

Barclays Center hockey impact: boost for some local business, burden for some neighbors

Reports amNY, New York Islanders at Barclays Center: Local area businesses talk impact going into second season:
Barclays Center has only been home to the previously Long Island-based hockey team for a season, but in the four years since the arena opened its doors residents and businesses alike have grappled with a changing neighborhood dynamic, crowds, fear of rising rents, and what many have categorized as a balancing act between the definite benefits of increased business opportunities and the commercialization of brownstone Brooklyn.
“They’re seeing more Islanders fans using the bars and restaurants as kind of a home base,” said Mark Caserta, the executive director for the Park Slope Fifth Ave. Business Improvement District. “The fans [at Nassau Coliseum] were never used to having bars and restaurants nearby. Now it’s a little bit more like going to Madison Square Garden.”
New York’s “other” hockey team has actually provided more business for the area than concerts or basketball gam…

Why is Barclays Center ice substandard? System doesn't meet NHL standards, say beat writers

So, when the New York Islanders complained about choppy, not-so-safe ice at the Barclays Center, arena management pledged to improve the ice by hiring an "ice technician."
That didn't quite work, as Newsday's Arthur Staple reported:

#Isles were highly critical of Barclays Center ice last night. Clutterbuck called it "unplayable." Boychuk said it was "bouncy." — Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) October 22, 2016

But there's not much else to be done. Arena has dehumidifiers and an in-house ice engineer now. Only one change will make a difference... — Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) October 22, 2016

That's switching from plastic pipes to steel. And that would require shutting down the arena for a summer. Almost zero chance of that. — Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) October 22, 2016Looking back, that should have been done when the Barclays Center developers knew that the Islanders were coming. Which had to have been August 2012, when they installed re…

So, blame Adams for rumor about James replacing Thompson? Or not.

So, did he or didn't he?

First, Stephen Witt's Kings County Politics suggested, with no named sources, that there was a push for Public Advocate Letitia James--who has worked as a public defender but not a prosecutor--to be named as the appointed successor for Kings County District Attorney Kenneth Thompson, who died recently. Then the New York Post picked it up.
In City and State, well sourced Gerson Borrero quoted "numerous insiders" as blaming Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams for the story, since James's departure from her post could leave it open to him and thus gain a citywide profile for his long-professed mayoral ambitions. (Though he didn't query Adams.)


Well, Gov. Andrew Cuomo left Thompson's deputy, Eric Gonzalez, in charge, and City and State soon reported Adams's denial: “Borough President Adams refutes this depiction of him, one that is based in gossip, much less under the cover of nameless and faceless claims that stand in oppositio…

Brooklyn Nets writing off New Jersey history (year founded, banner colors)

"Our history is the borough right now," the then-New Jersey Nets' Fred Mangione said in November 2010, anticipating the Brooklyn move, and that is truer than ever.

NetsDaily's "Net Income" (aka Bob Windrem) yesterday wrote The subtle end of the New Jersey Nets, noting that the Brooklyn Nets' "new warm-up jackets say 'established 2012,' commemorating when the team arrived in Brooklyn," though they previously said “established 1967,” which was when the predecessor New Jersey Americans launched.

Similarly, the New Jersey Nets' championship banners hanging in the Barclays Center have been reissued in black-and-white, the colors of the Brooklyn Nets, not the red-white-and-blue blend of the predecessor team.

Windrem adds that no longers does any New Jersey-based newspaper cover the team, and most New Jersey fans won't have TV coverage, due to a dispute between YES and Comcast.

He notes mutual disappointment between New Jersey fans an…

So, Barclays Center gets a new VP for Community Relations (but where are those schedules?)

Some changes appear to be afoot at the Barclays Center front office, perhaps related to arena management's new responsibilities.

There's a new position, VP, Community Relations, held by Roland Guevara, who, according to his LinkedIn profile, took the job in July after working as Director of Public Affairs at Nickolodeon. His position has not been publicly announced, as far as I can tell.

Nor has he been introduced to community stakeholders at arena-related events like the Quality of Life or Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation meetings.

Guevara oversees three staffers, including Terence Kelly, Senior Manager, Community Affairs, who's served as the sole listed person in the Community Affairs office since the arena opened in 2012, as noted in the April 2006 version of the Barclays Center front office list.

Barclays may have a bigger presence in Community Affairs, but it doesn't seem oriented to the nearest neighbors. For example, a few months ago, the arena a…

GAO report: more evidence that EB-5 immigrant investor program helps wealthy areas (+developers), not public interest

As summarized in the Wall Street Journal, Immigrant Investor Program for Poor Neighborhoods Benefits Rich Ones More, Study Shows. Indeed, the federal Government Accountability Office (GAO) has confirmed--more or less--what seems glaring from more than five years of evidence about gerrymandering zones of "high unemployment" for the EB-5 immigrant investor program.

In reporting by me and the New York Times in 2011, it was clear that EB-5 zones of high unemployment--where the minimum investment is $500,000 rather than the statutory $1 million--were being gerrymandered to ensure that the average unemployment was high enough to qualify.

For example, New York State agreed to add census tracts in Bedford-Stuyvesant to the Atlantic Yards site in Prospect Heights to create a zone of high unemployment, saving the project developers tens of millions of dollars in each of three separate capital raises, totaling some $577 million.

Since then, the Wall Street Journal's Eliot Brown has…