Thursday, February 23, 2017

From TreeHugger: The World's Tallest Modular Building and the Phantom 20 Percent Savings

From my article in the environmental publication TreeHugger, The World's Tallest Modular Building and the Phantom 20 Percent Savings, "Astoundingly, some recent press accounts claim that the use of modular techniques purportedly allowed Forest City to save 20 percent on the 32-story, 363-unit tower, which contains half market-rate units and half "affordable" ones.Innovation welcomed

A commenter on the article:
L'audace, l'audace, toujours l'audace. I am very grateful for builders who take risk to pioneer new and better ways to do things.
If they did not realize any savings, it is more likely that the successors will learn from their mistakes and eventually achieve savings (and enhancement in quality that comes from factory construction).
Well, OK, innovations can in fact face bumps in the road, and succeeding projects can build on them. But not only was the hype here huge, it continues in the face of reality.

And some say that's not the point

And neighbor Charles Recknagel wrote:
Unfortunately the buildings couldn't be more of an eyesore for this neighborhood.
The glossy red and grey panels will eventually turn a mat hazy finish. I'm all for ingenuity, but the lies and greed are what will be remembered on this project.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Are the Brooklyn Nets really worth $1.8 billion, as per Forbes? Nope. (And why credit arena to team value?)

Sorry, Forbes, I'm not buying it. I can't believe, as published recently, that the Brooklyn Nets are valued at $1.8 billion, the 7th most valuable team in the NBA, up from $1.7 billion in 2016 and $1.5 billion in 2015.


The reason? Well, just a year ago, the team plus the arena were valued at $1.7 billion.

How do I know? Well, when Forest City Realty Trust sold its 20% interest in the Nets and 55% in the Barclays Center operating company to Mikhail Prokhorov's Onexim Sports & Entertainment, the announcement said the team was valued at $875 million and the arena at $825 million, for a total of $1.7 billion, as shown in the screenshot below.



Sure, it's possible that Forest City, constrained by a deadline to become a real estate investment trust and a league that wanted one owner for the team and arena, did not get as much for those assets as it had hoped.

But optimistic estimates--considered a stretch--only reached $1.9 billion.

The team--and the arena


Turns out, Forbes doesn't really think the Nets are worth $1.8 billion now either, since their rather flexible methodology links team and arena--and last year estimated the pair $1.7 at billion. The arena is said to contribute $551 million in value.

(Why the overall increase? Now, among other things, the team has an $8 million a year deal for uniform advertising!)

In a Twitter exchange with Forbes writer Kurt Badenhausen, I expressed my skepticism, pointing to the 2016 valuation set by the dual sale.

He responded that Forbes's value includes the team and the arena.

But it's tough to attribute the arena value to the Nets. When I asked about the Islanders, he responded, "We include the economics of the arena that go back to the NBA team. Isles don't get any non-hockey revs."

(I'm not sure about that. The Nets don't get any non-Nets revenues, but the Nets owners do, at least now, because they're the same. But two years ago, the arena was already supposed to contribute more than $500 million to the Nets value, and it was not controlled by Prokhorov. So Forest City Ratner, a minority owner of the Nets but a majority owner of the arena operating company, was getting benefit that didn't "go back to the NBA team" either.)

"Ok, but then shouldn't you then count % of the arena value attributable to Nets rather than full value?" I responded.

"In cases where owner controls economics to arena/team, we attribute to team value-i.e. Bulls get 50% of United Center," he responded.

Maybe that's why Forbes attributed $551 million in venue value to that overall team valuation, rather than the full $875 million.

But that still doesn't make sense to me, since, if the Nets are worth $1.8 billion for the team plus their share of the arena, what about the value of the rest of the arena? Wouldn't that additional valuation bring the combo of the team plus the various arena beneficiaries well above $1.8 billion? And what if ownership of the team and the arena operating company were split?

Maybe we'll learn more about the team's value if and when Prokhorov brings in minority investors, as is expected.

Previous coverage

Here is the archived Forbes coverage: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016. I've pasted in screenshots below. (The last time I wrote about the Forbes valuations, two years ago, I also had doubts.)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Forest City/ESDC predicted 224-250 events at Barclays Center; first three years averaged 180-200

FCR 2005 bid to MTA: 250 events
How many events were there annually at the Barclays Center, starting in 9/28/12 and until the New York Islanders arrived three years later?

Only 180 to 200 a year, which is fewer than predicted many times by arena developer Forest City Ratner, governmental allies, ratings agencies, and consultants, we now know.

The lesson, yet again, is to take self-serving predictions with a large grain of salt. (Note that, as detailed below, the New York City Economic Development Corporation and the New York City Independent Budget Office more accurately predicted numbers under 200. )

August 2016 to potential bond buyers: 180-200 events in first three years
The new information comes in a consultant's report in the August 2016 Official Statement sent to potential buyers of the refinanced arena bonds. (See screenshot at left.)

The arrival of the New York Islanders hockey team means the Barclays Center did finally host 240 events in the fourth year of operation. (Given the timing of the Official Statement, I'm assuming they counted the fourth year as beginning at the end of September 2015, which was approximately one year earlier,)

The increased event count doesn't necessarily translate into huge profits, so it's possible that if the Islanders leave the arena might earn more profits from fewer events. (I'll write more on this soon.)

FCR 2005 City Council presentation: 235 events
The key is this: official projections, especially from private entities, deserve skepticism. Some public entities and agencies have been more cautious and, thus, credible.

Overly optimistic predictions of events

Repeating and augmenting my September 2013 article on the number of predicted events, it's clear many were optimistic and unrealistic:
  • 224: May 2004. Source: Report by Forest City Consultant Andrew Zimbalist
  • 250, May 2005. Source: Forest City’s bid to the MTA
  • 226: June  2005. Source: Report by Forest City Consultant Andrew Zimbalist
  • 235, May 2005. Source: Forest City presentation to City Council
  • 192, June 2005. Source: NYC Economic Development Corporation analysis
  • 194+, September 2005. Source, New York City IBO Fiscal Brief
  • 225: July 2006 General Project Plan, Empire State Development Corporation
  • 225: June 2009 Modified General Project Plan, Empire State Development Corporation
  • 200+, September 2009. Source: Barclays Center press release
  • 225, December 2009. Source: ratings agency Moody's
  • 220, December 2009. Source: Forest City, according to ratings agency Standard & Poor's, which called estimate “aggressive”
  • 184-214, December 2009. Source: consultant Conventions, Sport & Leisure International, part of Official Statement for bond buyers
  • 220, December 2012. Source: Arena CEO Brett Yormark interview in Gotham magazine.
First year results were presented as triumphant, as the arena was the busiest in the country, but the numbers, imprecisely expressed as "200-plus," were still more modest than predicted:
(Note that, as far as I can tell, the statistics involve ticketed events, so occasional graduations and occasional outside rentals are excluded.)

The fundamental flaw

Zimbalist's hired-gun report, based on Forest City numbers, was likely the basis for Forest City projections and thus ESDC projections.
However, he not only assumed the Brooklyn arena would not host an NHL team, his calculation presumed the eventual closing of Continental Airlines Arena (later Izod Center), and no new arena in Newark.

The problem, as analysts Jung Kim and Gustav Peebles pointed out in 2004, is that that left no place for the New Jersey Devils to play. And, indeed, they moved to Newark, and the Prudential Center continues--and competes with the Barclays Center and Madison Square Garden for certain events.

The recent assessment

Here's the text from the 2016 Official Statement, as shown in the screenshot above:
While the Arena Project was first developed as the home arena of the Nets, it has evolved into a multi-purpose venue hosting many types of entertainment events, such as concerts, college basketball, family entertainment, boxing, civic and cultural events, and, most recently, NHL hockey. The Arena averaged approximately 180 to 200 events each year since its opening in September 2012, which has increased to over 240 events with the addition of Islanders Home Games in 2015.
Actually, the arena was always supposed to be a multi-purpose venue, because 44 home games won't cut it.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Newsday: entertainment complex around Nassau Coliseum stalled

Nassau Coliseum entertainment complex on hold, Newsday's Robert Brodsky reported yesterday:
Construction of an 11-acre retail and entertainment complex next to the Nassau Coliseum is on hold as Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and arena developers consider a new plan for the site that could include housing.
Mangano said Nassau began examining housing after the Empire State Development Corp. approved an $85 million grant in October for construction of two parking garages on the Nassau Hub site. The garages would have 3,400 spots and free up 19 acres of blacktop, originally designated for surface parking, to be used for housing.
So the arena, which opens in April after renovation, will not have any new retail or entertainment for at least a year.

 And Mangano gave Nassau Events Center, which was formed by Forest City Ratner but now controlled by Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov's Onexim Sports & Entertainment, more time to build the planned "188,000-square-foot plaza with restaurants, a 10-screen movie theater, a 2,500-seat indoor theater, outdoor amphitheater, skating rink and retail space."

The lease requires at least $400,000 a year to be paid to the county from those new project, but until then, only $60,000 a year is required. Newsday notes that there was no mandatory start date for the retail plaza

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Crain's: BAM-area retail is hottest corridor (so what about Site 5?)


Crain's New York Business reported 2/16/17 Brooklyn's hottest intersection for retail:
Commercial brokerage firm CPEX Real Estate last month designated six Brooklyn corridors as the borough’s next retail hot spots. No. 1 on the list? The intersection of Lafayette Avenue and Fulton Street, which sits at the crossroads of the growing Brooklyn Cultural District and Fort Greene.
CPEX’s reasoning was simple: The nearby blocks are teeming with new development, including 3,800 residential units, 900 hotel rooms and highly anticipated retail locations such as Apple’s second Brooklyn store and the first city outpost of Whole Foods’ 365, a new chain of lower-priced stores. 
All are interwoven into the booming cultural district, anchored by the Brooklyn Academy of Music, that includes new public plazas and parks.
The interior retail space at One Hanson, the former Williamsburgh Savings Bank building, is facing alteration.

So, the question for the developers of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park is whether that's going to help/boost or detract from the planned luxury retail at the not-yet-approved Site 5 project.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The scalping scene outside the Barclays Center seems unmolested (at least for the Nets)

Gothamist had a very intriguing article 2/10/17, The Hard Life Of An Old School Scalper In The Age Of StubHub, with a cameo played by "Michael," a scalper at Nets home games.

He gets his inventory from brokers or fans with extra tickets. One example: he bought a ticket for five dollars, and sold it for ten. From Carter Maness's article:
Michael periodically huddled up with other scalpers to compare inventory, but mostly worked his turf alone. There were approximately 15 others posted near the arena's entrances, and they were careful not to step on each other's toes. NYPD vans lined the perimeter. Security guards were fanned out among the crowd, but they studiously looked away from any transactions.
"It's a violation, not a crime, most of the time," Michael said. "As long as you're not directly in front of the venue, it's usually not a problem. But you can get a summons. Sometimes, if they have warrants, people go to jail."
Anyone who's walked through the arena plaza, or hung out there, has seen the scalpers and/or been approached.

If arena security officers don't care, it's because they want people in the building and/or have better things to do. (The more counterfeit tickets, though, the more the brand suffers.)

As for the cops, collaring scalpers could be low-hanging fruit, as it could be for finding parking violations on nearby streets. But I suspect it's not a priority, either, unless it affects public safety.

Previous coverage of scalping, and comments

In December 2012, I cited a first look at scalping, and a report from a reader who bought a counterfeit Nets ticket. In October 2013, the New York Police Department reported that, in the first nine months of the year, there had been 45 arrests outside or inside the arena, such as for illegal scalping, unlicensed vendors, and trespassing

A report from a wrestling event

On Reddit, the professional wrestling community Squared Circle, one poster a year ago wrote that "the level of people who got scammed [at a Barclays wrestling event] was unprecedented": 
1) Someone set up a printer and let people print off their digital tickets for $5. This was legit, but actually forced the ticket prices UP instead of down at showtime.
2) People sold fake/doubles of digital tickets over and over again. (Including a group of teenagers that were warned by a crowd that it would be bad, but didn't listen!)
3) BS secondary market sites. This was apparently a big one.
4) Fake HARD COPY tickets. This surprised even the cops, as one told me that the precinct was lined with people who got ripped for $400-$1300 and even more.
Some were straight up pros that were known to security and have been playing people for years.
Events like this is a breeding ground for these scam artists looking at banking off good people looking for an enjoyable experience. They are BLATANT. Especially when people are just trying to take their kids to see their heroes, people are willing to put logic aside to get their kids what they want.
Another poster wrote that he "once got scammed outside Barclays for $15 for a Nets ticket."

Friday, February 17, 2017

Gilmartin: number of affordable applications "reaffirmed urgency" of building 2,250 units (so where are they?)

I missed this 12/28/16 end-of-year wrap-up by Curbed, which had a quote from Forest City Ratner CEO MaryAnne Gilmartin, "[o]n realizing a Brooklyn megaproject in 2016."

Her statement:
“Pacific Park may have had the longest beginning of any project in city history, and no one, including us, could have anticipated how this project would fundamentally transform Brooklyn. 2016 was certainly a banner year for the project. Six Pacific Park properties are now under construction, and our affordable housing lotteries attracted tens of thousands of applicants. Last month, 461 Dean became Pacific Park’s first residential property to open. After a decade of planning and building, it would be hard to overstate the emotions we feel that families now call Pacific Park home.”
“We knew there was an affordable housing crisis in Brooklyn, but we were floored by the number of applicants we received for below market-rate units at Pacific Park. Over 84,000 applicants applied for 181 units at 461 Dean. We knew it was important for us to bring 2,250 affordable units to the borough, but this reaffirmed the urgency of the situation.”
(Emphases added)

First, for two of those six properties there's been exactly zero progress in months--the 615 Dean site (B12)  is looking for a new investor, and the 664 Pacific site (B15) is stalled by litigation involving a neighboring property.

Second, the residential project has not fundamentally transformed Brooklyn, since it's taken so long. It will be interesting to see how Prospect Heights and points north may/will be knit together if/when the railyard is platformed and built on.

The march of towers down Flatbush Avenue, all the way to the Brooklyn Academy of Music, has already gone part of the way to redefining the skyline around Downtown Brooklyn, while Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park will transform part of Brooklyn, transposing downtown scale and extreme density into neighborhood Brooklyn.

If/when a giant project at Site 5 is built, depending on the bulk, that could be more broadly transformational, and likely in a very mixed way.

Has the arena transformed Brooklyn? Well, it's certainly brought a higher profile and catalyzed new retail investment. But until/unless it removes the "blight" of the below-grade railyard, we should be cautious. After all, changes in/around the Brooklyn Academy of Music nearby are also transformational, in terms of retail, according to Crain's.

Affordable housing: demand for lower-income units

So, because there were 84,000 applicants for below-market units--half the units at 461 Dean--this reaffirmed the urgency of the need to build all 2,250 units? If so, then why are so many of the apartments in the next two buildings aimed at households earning six figures, not the people who need it most? 

If so, why aren't they building more affordable units next? The next two projects, currently stalled or delayed, are B12, a condo tower, and B15, an all-market rental tower, with a school at its based.

And how much of a dent can the project make by the 2025 deadline for the affordable units?

Note that Curbed 2/15/17 reported that 87,000 people applied for the affordable units at 325 Kent Avenue, the first rental building in the New Domino project. That's an 80/20 building, so there are fewer units, but all for low-income households:
The question of what’s deemed “affordable” can hang over the apartments that come to market as part of these lotteries. But in the case of 325 Kent, the units were aimed at lower-income New Yorkers making up to 50 percent of the area median income (so, at the high end, about $45,000 for a family of four). None of the affordable units themselves (a mix of studios, and one- and two-bedrooms) will rent for more than about $1,000.
That reflects the fact that the need--and thus demand--is highest for lower-income units. Supplying middle-income affordable units helps get the numbers up, and certainly represents good fortune for those winning the lottery, but is hardly addressing the "urgency of the situation"

City Council Watch: Cumbo had (former/potential) rival Fox fired

Seth Barron of City Council Watch has good sources, but this also doesn't have comment from the principals, so it's not ironclad, but he reports that 35th District Council Member Laurie Cumbo had former rival Ede Fox fired from her Council job, claiming that Fox was doing opposition research.

Fox, according to Kings County Politics, has formed a campaign committee (though her name doesn't yet appear on the city's Campaign Finance Database).

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Gilmartin's goal: "deliver to Brooklyn" (er, investors) an iconic office tower

From GFCP presentation; note that
Site 5 tower would be far taller and
bulkier than Williamsburgh Bank
Yesterday, the Commercial Observer posted a video interview (also below) with Forest City Ratner CEO MaryAnne Gilmartin. And while Max Gross's questions were softball, some news emerged.

Notably, Gilmartin has a clear focus on "an iconic office building" at Site 5 that's an analogue to the Time Warner Center, which will require state approval, after a public process not yet initiated, to move approved bulk from the arena plaza across the street to the site currently occupied by Modell's and P.C. Richard.

That would create a building more than twice the bulk, at some 1 million square feet--and perhaps triple the height, nearing 800 feet--previously permitted, across the street from row houses. (My coverage.)

So stay tuned for arguments about jobs, architecture, and the need to preserve that "public plaza" at the entrance to the Barclays Center, which just happens to be branded by a casino.

Given the history of the project, the gubernatorially-controlled Empire State Development will approve whatever the developer--now Greenland Forest City Partners--wants. But in this case it will have to confront not only questions of why the City Planning Commission in 2006 recommended that the Site 5 tower be reduced (to 250 feet), but also whether an "office tower" with "jobs" is also a condo tower with 188,000 square feet of high-end retail.

The Pacific Park partnership

Earlier in the interview, Gross asks Gilmartin about Pacific Park Brooklyn.

"It's a great question," Gilmartin replies amiable, "because if the project is anything at all, it's a series of partnerships. We have partnerships with the city, we have partnerships with the state. I would say every agency in New York City government has touched this project. We have since sold the team and the arena to the company Onexim, which is run by Mikhail Prokhorov."



"And, as we looked at the timeline for building all the residential, we realized, with all the equity we put into the project, and the need for speed and the desire to build, we would be wise to bring a partner in," she says, not quite pointing out that they needed to reduce risk and were willing to take a loss. "And we set out to find a partner, a well-capitalized partner."

"We're talking about an equity investment that could approach $800 million by the time the project is brought into fruition," she says. "That's not an easy check to write, and to explain the project to an investor is another really complicated matter."

"So we knew we needed to deal with a very sophisticated outfit that really understood our business. And in Greenland, we found that," she continues. "This is a $50 billion Chinese developer... they do it at a scale that could be viewed as small, compared to the things that they undertake. And I have to say that we have had enormous success with Greenland. We have a cultural experiment folding on the 18th floor here. We have over 25 Chinese nationals working side by side."

Success, and delays

For now it's a partnership with "enormous success," but that partnership itself has decided to try to sell stakes in three building sites, B12, B13, and B3, which suggests Greenland doesn't want to write the check any more.

And Forest City does have a track record of conflict with some partners, notably Skanska on the modular building and Blumenfeld Development Group on the Nassau Coliseum.

Shortly after I annotated the map below last October, Forest City's parent company announced unspecified delays in the project.


The arena and the Nets

When asked about the Barclays Center and the Nets, Gilmartin talked about having to sell the team and arena (operating company), acknowledging, "It's a perfect example of how you can't get too emotional about real estate. Because selling the arena was the right thing to do."

The Site 5 tower

"Tell us a little about what you'd like to see change in the borough," Gross asks.

"Brooklyn's arrived in so many ways, residentially speaking. We have a sports arena," Gilmartin replies. "The notion of Brooklyn having a Class A, 21st-century iconic office building--that hasn't quite happened yet. And so you have buildings like Watchtower, you have converted warehouses down in DUMBO,  but you do not have a building that would be Brooklyn's own version of  Time Warner Center."

[Update: as the commenter points out, the 2.8 million square foot Time Warner Center in Manhattan is not purely an office tower. It actually has 1.1 million square feet of office space, as well as residential, hotel, and retail space. Another Forest City executive likened the Site 5 project to the Time Warner Center in terms of retail.]

"And I would say that, on my watch, if you said to me what would make you most proud if you think about life after New York Times Building, New York by Gehry, Barclays Center," she says, "I would say that being able to build an iconic office building, at Site 5, which is where Modell's and P.C. Richard's sit today, it's an unbelievable site, it has view corridors all the way to the Manhattan Bridge, up Flatbush Avenue."

"It has the gravitas to hold a million-square foot building, and the sister building would be the Barclays Center. So my dream for that corner of Brooklyn would be to deliver to Brooklyn a Class A icon in the commercial space."

Deliver to Brooklyn? Gilmartin is conflating location and benefit. Yes, the building would be placed in Brooklyn.

But Greenland Forest City Partners, which does not want the logistical and financial headaches of building the tower as approved at the prow of the arena--and likely agreed with new arena operating company owner Mikhail Prokhorov that no such tower would be built--is not building for Brooklyn. It's building for its investors.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

So, the Vanderbilt Yard was platformed? Not quite.

Is Sunnyside Yards a Beacon of Affordable Housing and New Development? Perhaps, the Commercial Observer reported today. However, the original version had a pretty glaring error, as I pointed out on Twitter.



It's Atlantic Yards down the memory hole.

The railyard most assuredly has not been platformed, though preliminary work is ongoing. It's the Vanderbilt Yard, not Atlantic Yards, since that was a brand name for a development, no Pacific Park.

And it's not really Forest City's Pacific Park development, but Greenland Forest City Partners' project.

Note the updated article, which does not acknowledge a correction.


I get that there was an agreement to build a platform, yet unfulfilled. But inanimate objects like rail yards can't enter into agreements.



City officials hope to reduce uncertainty for those in affordable housing lotteries, predict only partial solutions

As I recently reported, applicants for affordable housing face anxiety and uncertainty as they go through the lottery process, unsure how long it will take, even putting job or relocation decisions on hold as they await word.

And there's no solution just yet. City officials have produced a report, Improving Access to Affordable Housing Opportunities, which focuses on issues like financial preparedness and education about the lottery process, not the uncertainty faced by applicants.

The report does note, as I pointed out, that applicants expressed confusion regarding the wait:
The overall leasing process can be lengthy, in some instances taking more than a year. Updates about the status of one’s application are not always available, and applicants expressed worry that they were somehow forgotten or were missing emails, voicemails, and/or letters.
A separate document, After You Apply for Affordable Housing, focuses on ensuring that applicants prepare the proper information for their files to be evaluated, but leaves a general explanation about timing: "Interviews are usually scheduled from two to ten months after the application deadline."

So people wonder. As one 535 Carlton lottery applicant recently wrote on a forum for applicants, "I'm thinking about writing to our Mayor, about creating a portal with time frames, updates and status for applicants. This process is too nerve racking and should be a little more transparent once given an interview."

A 461 Dean applicant wrote, "The fact that they don't offer status updates is so lame. The should have a website that informs you of your status. Maybe do everything electronically.... I've been waiting for 5mths its been a nightmare. To be honest, I learned more from people on the forums than I did from Mhny [Mutual Housing Association of New York]."

NYC HDC "working to address" many concerns (but not all)

I queried the New York City Housing Development Corporation (NYC HDC) and got a response from Stephanie Mavronicolas, Director, External Affairs:
We are very sympathetic to the anxiety people feel, and are working to address many of the concerns that applicants have expressed in an upgrade of the Housing Connect system. While the changes will provide more information about where applicants are in the process, it is almost impossible to give an accurate status of where someone is in the process because there are so many factors that affect eligibility. We continue to work to standardize and make the process as transparent as possible, and coordinate closely with the marketing agencies to ensure that applicants are notified of their status in as timely a manner as possible.
(Emphasis added)

OK, it may be impossible to give individuals a specific update. But Mavronicolas's message suggests that it might be possible to explain the progress in filling available units in a building.

A complex process, and a developer's pushback

The challenge involves the interplay of city agencies--not just NYC HDC but in certain cases New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development--with developers like Greenland Forest City Partners or nonprofit partners like Mutual Housing Association of New York (MHANY).

MHANY, formerly New York ACORN's housing arm, is processing the 84,000 applications for 461 Dean (181 units), the 95,000 applications for 535 Carlton (298 units), and the applications for 38 Sixth (303 units), for which the lottery is in process. (461 Dean is not being built/leased by the joint venture but by Forest City Ratner alone.)

I doubt nonprofits like MHANY have the funding/staff to adequately keep all informed; shouldn't that be the responsibility of the city?

At the recent bimonthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life meeting, I queried a representative for the developer. Noting that I'd read some forums in which lottery applicants for 461 Dean expressed significant anxiety and uncertainty, I asked, "Do you have a sense of how long that move-in--at least for the affordable units--is expected to take?"

"No. But if you do the math,... very single lease has to be approved by the government," responded Forest City Ratner executive Ashley Cotton, "and then it turns into a lease, and then it turns into a move-in. Move-ins are based on people's schedules... So, of course no, I can't tell you directly. I get that you read a chat room, where people are annoyed with the process, by the way, that's perfectly reasonable. Everyone loves housing, especially--there's a high demand for affordable housing. I feel impatient too. We are working as fast as possible. We currently have 800 units [actually, about 782] of affordable housing, they’re at different levels of move-in, completion, and construction. So, the team on this, I have full confidence in."

That answer might have been more satisfying had reps from MHANY or NYC HDC contributed.

I tried to follow up: "To clarify, what people have reported, and it's all second-hand, obviously, is some people say it's all going to be done in four months, and some people say they've been told eight to ten months. I'm trying to get a little clarity on that. What's the ballpark figure?"

"I don't know who's saying eight months, and who's saying four. I'm not going to guess at what they're hearing," Cotton responded. "But you could imagine, 800 units... we have a great team working on this. And a really great team on the government side, that has to approve every single applicant. So it's just a machine, where like, we put it in and it comes out... "

Comments from the applicants: timing

Keeping watch on the forums, I've noticed general frustration with the process, and both frustration and praise expressed toward representatives of MHANY and NYC HDC.

One wrote, "It took me 5 months to hear back from them to sign HDC paperwork so you guys shouldn't get discouraged yet."

One applicant reported being told "that its normal to be waiting this long because the process takes anywhere between 2-10 months. Its been 4 mths since I interviewed  Im so anxious."

Comments from the applicants: learning more

Another wrote that a phone call to HDC led to a phone call from MHANY saying the application was approved.

One reported that going "incessantly" to the [presumably MHANY] office was more effective than emails or phone calls, which prompted a response that such actions were both difficult for applicants and also insufferable for those working to process all the applications.

Comments from the applicants: what's the process

Another reported filing a complaint with HDC about "MHANY's inability to communicate effectively, calculate income correctly, etc etc."

Another wrote, "I mean I know people whom have moved into affordable housing apartments and their process was nothing like this.

Another described the process:
Your first "interview" is an intake interview. Someone sits with you and goes through a checklist to make sure you have brought all the necessary paperwork. They may inspect some of your paperwork in front of you but usually it's just a preliminary interview to collect your information.
Then, depending on your log #, the management company starts reviewing applicants and all of their paperwork and deems whether or not you qualify for the next step. This step is where many people get weeded out for various reasons, and also when rejection letters get sent out. HDC DOES NOT SEND OUT REJECTION LETTERS - only the management company does.
If you make it through the management company first round, you will then be contacted to come in and either clarify certain aspects of your paperwork and/or sign further paperwork which allows them to submit your paperwork to HDC. This is what happened with me last week.
Once your papers are sent to HDC, the average response time is 1-3 weeks, however that can take much longer. Once your paperwork is at HDC it is out of your hands and all you can do is wait. When HDC decides to review your paperwork they can ask for further clarifications or they can deny or approve you.
If approved from HDC you are basically good to go, as long as there is an apartment available for you. The management company will call or email you to let you know whether or not you've been approved and the next contact will be from the building management in order setup an appointment to come in and view an apartment and sign a lease.
The confusing part for me and which you might also be surprised by was being asked to view an apartment before my paperwork has been approved or denied by HDC. That part is unusual. My only guess is that the building is behind schedule and they are looking to fill the first six floors ASAP in order to start collecting some rent. But like I said previously, the building does not look close to being ready for occupancy and I'm sure the majority of move-ins wont take place until at least a few months from now.
At least, a community of sorts

Given the long odds applicants face, most won't win the lottery.

One summed up the frustration, at least for the large majority who didn't win: "The end of this Summer, we need to have a loser log party for all of us who went through this grueling crap and wound up with nothing."

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

From the latest Construction Alert: drilling at the railyard's eastern end

According to the latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update (bottom), covering the two weeks beginning Feb. 13 and circulated yesterday at 1:24 pm (a bit late) by Empire State Development after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners (GFCP), there's just one new piece of work indicated.

At the Vanderbilt Yard, "Drilling of 24” diameter load test piles for foundations in the B10 Building area will begin during this reporting period." The B10 site is at the eastern end of the railyard and the northeast corner of the project site, adjacent to Vanderbilt Avenue between Pacific Street and Atlantic Avenue.

Also, in comparison with the previous alert, there are some changes (plus a new staffer, Jeremy Cooney).

Regarding B3, 38 Sixth, "Site work along the front & rear of the building will continue." Previously the work was just in the rear.

At the Vanderbilt Yard, repairs to the approach slab at the southern end of the Sixth Avenue Bridge will begin--as stated in the previous alert, which means it didn't happen--pending receipt of permit. This work will occur at the intersection of 6th Avenue and Pacific Street. The work will require traffic lanes to be shifted, but traffic will remain two-way

Regarding B11, 550 Vanderbilt, open space work is ongoing, and includes pouring sidewalk and installing street poles. The Sidewalk Bridge is expected to be taken down--in the last Update, it "may" be taken down.

Weekend work

As in previous weeks, Saturday work could occur at B2 (461 Dean), B3, B12 (615 Dean Street), and B14 (535 Carlton). Then again, pretty much nothing has been happening at B12. No weekend work is predicted at B11.

Weekday foundation pile installation in the area the B5 site--east of Sixth Avenue, between Pacific Street and Atlantic Avenue--may extend work hours up to 5:30 pm and may occur on Saturdays.

The demolition that hasn't happened

As stated in the past 18 construction updates, demolition at Block 1120, the railyard block between Sixth and Carlton avenues, could commence upon receipt of Department of Buildings and Department of Transportation permits. A community notice will be distributed. Maybe it's not actually going to happen.

A transition at Empire State Development: Jordan out, Cooney in

A bit of personnel news snuck into the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Brooklyn Construction Alert distributed yesterday by Empire State Development.

A message from Jeremy Cooney, ESD Atlantic Yards team, said, "If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me as Nicole Jordan has transitioned out of Empire State Development." The more turnover, the more institutional memory is lodged in... the developer (and the community).

Jordan was ESD’s Manager, Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Brooklyn Project Community/Government Relations. Cooney's title is ESD’s Manager, Pacific Park Brooklyn Project Community/Government Relations. So much for hybrid names.

Cooney is the former Chief of Staff to the Mayor of Rochester. The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported 12/1/16 that Cooney was leaving to work for an unspecified branch of government. The article stated:
Cooney, a 35-year-old native of Rochester, has been Warren’s chief of staff since she took office as mayor in January 2014. A graduate of Hobart College and a lawyer by training, he came to the city after working as vice president of development for the YMCA of Greater Rochester.
After all, Cooney began tweeting enthusiastically about Pacific Park earlier this month:


Monday, February 13, 2017

Newsday says Coliseum uncertainties need clarity: despite promises, no minor-league hockey team, no islanders games, no related attractions

A Newsday editorial yesterday, Clear up unknowns around renovation of Nassau Coliseum
Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano is counting on a power-play goal. Big time.
He’s putting aside some terms of a lease that should provide significant revenue to the county in exchange for the unlikely possibility that the New York Islanders will return to Nassau Coliseum.
When Mangano and developer Bruce Ratner first announced their deal to redevelop the arena and the surrounding area in 2013, they highlighted promises of a minor-league hockey team, a few regular and preseason Islanders games, as well as retail shops and restaurants guaranteed to be finished just a few months after the arena was completed.
For now, although the arena is scheduled to reopen in April, none of the other promises will be a reality. The county is choosing not to enforce several clauses in its lease with Nassau Events Center, the group led by Ratner and Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov that’s developing the Coliseum and the area around it. That’s a risky move.
Not only is there no anchor tenant, the attractions on the arena plaza, like a movie theater, aren't on their way.

So why does the lease mean so little. Newsday says Mangano--who's been indicted, I should add--doesn't need legislative approval. But, as Newsday observes, "it would have been appropriate for Mangano to discuss the changes he was considering far earlier."

So will the Islanders return and save the day? Stay tuned.

Skanska says it "expected to assemble a properly designed modular building, not engage in an iterative R&D experiment"


On 12/10/16, I noted that FastCo.Design's Prefab's Moment of Reckoning article dialed back the gush on the 461 Dean modular tower compared to the publication's previous coverage.

Still, I noted that the article relied on developer Forest City Ratner and architect SHoP to put the best possible spin on what was clearly a failure. From the article:
At the project's outset, it took the factory (managed by Skanska at the time) two to three weeks to build a module. By the end, under FCRC's management, the builders cut that down to six days. "The project took a little longer than expected and cost a little bit more than expected because we started the project with the wrong contractor," [Forest City's Adam] Greene says.
Skanska jabs back

Well, Forest City's estranged partner Skanska later weighed in--not sure whether they weren't asked or just missed a deadline--and their article was updated 12/13/16. Here's Skanska's statement, which shows the company jabbing back:
The challenge with a modular building is that all of the building’s major components, whether constructed in the field or the factory, must come together and be assembled at one location much like the frame and components of a car comes together for assembly on the factory floor. Workers on a factory floor should not be improvising or force fitting components. Accordingly, the designer of a modular building, like the designer of car, must not only consider how each component will be designed, but how all of the components will fit together and ultimately be assembled into one, integrated whole. As a result, the modular building designer has a much greater obligation than the designer of a conventional building that simply includes some prefabricated elements.
When Skanska made its agreement with Forest City, Forest City had claimed that it had "Cracked the Code" of modular design and construction. Skanska had no design responsibility for the B2 Project. In fact, Forest City agreed that Skanska was entitled to rely upon the information supplied to it by and on behalf of Forest City. Thus, Skanska expected to assemble a properly designed modular building, not engage in an iterative R&D experiment.
(Emphasis added)

Lawsuits pending

They're still suing each other, by the way. Two of the three legal cases in which Forest City and former partner Skanska are jousting about cost overruns have been adjourned until 6/28/17. The third case has not (yet) been rescheduled for that date.

The two cases are:
ATLANTIC YARDS B2 OWNER, LLC vs. SKANSKA USA BUILDING INC.
SKANSKA USA BUILDING, INC. vs. ATLANTIC YARDS B2 OWNER, LLC
The other case is:
FCRC MODULAR, LLC vs. SKANSKA MODULAR LLC

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Forest City and the diversity issue

When it comes to diversity, Forest City Ratner, led by a woman and now with a majority of women on its development team, likes to portray itself as a leading light.

Indeed, in comparison with peer companies, it's surely ahead on the gender metric. Bruce Ratner and successor MaryAnne Gilmartin have made FCR a notably hospitable place for women to work in the male-dominated world of real estate, Capital New York, in The women of Forest City, reported in March 2015.

Then again, as I pointed out, the company's record employing women, however unusual/admirable in the real estate industry, is not without significant blemish. That includes sexual harassment complaints that were allow to linger.

Differing diversity

Forest City again got positive play in the Real Deal's 1/1/17 article, Real estate's diversity problem, subtitled "An entrenched culture marked by privately held family firms has largely blocked out minorities and made sexism a norm."

There are no black or Hispanic men on the executive committee of the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), which has hired its first black president. On REBNY’s 107-member board of governors, there are two minorities and nine women, TRD concluded.

From the article:
MaryAnne Gilmartin, who was named president and CEO of Forest City Ratner in 2013 after 19 years at the company, is perhaps the industry’s most prominent female development executive.
All told, her company — like Extell, Silverstein and a handful of others — has a relatively high percentage of women.
“Women represent 60 percent of our development team,” Gilmartin said. “Unfortunately, I think, that’s not the typical statistic.”
...Gilmartin recalled a meeting 10 years ago when she accompanied Bruce Ratner — then the firm’s CEO — to negotiate a lease renewal with the head of a finance company that was a tenant in a Forest City building. Gilmartin said the male executive treated her as if she were being interviewed for a job, peppering her with questions about her experience level.
Does that reflect company management in general? We don't know, because they no longer share such information publicly. But as these screenshots--with photos--from 2007 and 2010 show, there were a reasonable number of women but not people of color.

Some change

That's changed, sort of. Asked last September by the Commercial Observer about the talent pool inside the company, Forest City's Susi Yu--who immigrated with her family from South Korea-- responded:
It’s definitely a meritocracy. Bruce’s appreciation for talent is really based on who you are. What’s interesting to me is that it’s not only women; it’s the diversity of race, ethnicity and cultural backgrounds. If you look at my team we have a Persian, Americans, two Chinese, one American-born South Asian, someone from India, and we have a couple of Jewish men sprinkled in there just for a little flavor. [laughs]
As I wrote, that's diverse, but it's not exactly reflective of, say, the diverse precincts of Brooklyn--mostly from black-majority Central Brooklyn--that rallied for the Community Benefits Agreement.

In fact, Forest City's relationship to groups in Central Brooklyn has not always been easy, since, as one executive referred to a purported CBA partner, "They work for us."

But because they're better than most peers, they'll still get a bye.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

In Pacific Park hype, comparing "affordable" units to $2,591 average is not a wise move

There are more than a few things wrong with this CNN Tech article, headlined This Brooklyn apartment building fits together like puzzle pieces and, naturally, tweeted by Pacific Park Brooklyn.

Let's just start with the lead:
In New York City, finding an affordable Brooklyn apartment is notoriously difficult.
On average, a 750-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment rents for $2,591 per month.
But inside Brooklyn's 461 Dean -- the world's tallest modular building -- half of the 363 rental apartments fall well below market rate. One bedrooms, which range from 578- to 735-square-feet, start at $600 a month.
That has a lot less to do with modular than with subsidies.

Note that, while one-bedroom apartments in Brooklyn at large do rent for $2,591, according to the linked report from MNS, a more apt market comparison would have been Downtown Brooklyn ($3,055), which has the most comparable new units, then Fort Greene ($2,808) or Park Slope ($2,550).

But let's follow the logic of purported alternatives to one-bedroom monthly rents of $2,591. How much do affordable one-bedroom units at 461 Dean rent for? As shown in the graphic below, some rent for $2,504. (Again, subsidies.) That's not a major difference.

461 Dean affordable rents,  5 of 70 one-bedrooms at $2,504
The more important comparison

More importantly, let's compare that purported $2,591 monthly rent to the rent levels for the two "100% affordable" buildings opening soon.

Combining both buildings, 127 of 260 total one-bedroom units would rent for more than $2,591. As noted below, at 38 Sixth, 66 of 131 one-bedrooms will rent at $2,663, and, at 535 Carlton, 61 of 129 one-bedrooms will rent at $2,680.

38 Sixth affordable rents,  66 of 131 one-bedrooms at $2,663

535 Carlton affordable rents, 61 of 129 one-bedrooms at $2,680

Friday, February 10, 2017

City Limits delves into new City Planning Chief Lago (but not on Atlantic Yards)

There's a long and interesting article in City Limits on new City Planning Commission Chair Marisa Lago, which provides a small insight into her departure from the Empire State Development Corporation after a brief tenure:
There were press reports of turmoil between Lago and other Paterson administration development officials, but Lago says she left ESDC in late 2009 only because the gig in the Obama administration opened up.
Perhaps because the article covers so much else of Lago's career, especially as compliance officer at Citigroup, there's no mention of two important moments in her stint at the ESDC, as I wrote last month.

First, she made an impolitic but candid April 2009 statement, acknowledging that the project would take "decades." She was right.

Facing legislators at a May 2009 Senate oversight hearing, however, Lago soon played the good soldier: justifying changes in the project but claiming the public benefits remained the same. That turned out to be extremely doubtful.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

The Yormark-ization of the NBA proceeds: Nets sell jersey patch sponsorship


“Jersey sponsorships provide deeper engagement with partners looking to build a unique association with our teams,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said last April. “The additional investment will help grow the game in exciting new ways."

I titled my post The Yormark-ization of the NBA: uniform ads coming (and a line has been crossed). After all, what's next? NASCAR-style sponsorship?

And now it proceeds. Four NBA teams, most recently the Brooklyn Nets, have signed jersey patch sponsorship deals for next season. "While the patch that [software company] Infor places on Nets uniforms is not aesthetically pleasing," wrote Forbes contributor Darren Heitner, "it comes at a premium compared to other NBA team jersey patch deals to date."

He (and others) reported the deal at $8 million a year, more than other teams' previously announced $5 million, though the official announcement had no numbers attached. (We've been down that road before--remember how the arena naming rights deal was supposed to be $20 million a year?)

The deal includes not just jersey patch sponsorship but connections to team business, team performance, and fan experience. Presumably Infor is banking on the bottom-dwelling Nets to improve. 

The firm is privately held, but has a $2 billion-plus (20%+) investment from Koch Industries, which led to the Bloomberg headline, Nets Sell Jersey Sponsorship to Koch-Backed Company Infor. Here's Infor's page on the deal.

The press release from the Nets
BROOKLYN NETS FORM WIDE-RANGING PARTNERSHIP WITH GLOBAL SOFTWARE LEADER INFOR
BROOKLYN (February 8, 2017) – Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment (BSE) and Infor, a global leader in industry-specific cloud software, have formed a fully-integrated partnership that will see cutting edge data science applied to Brooklyn Nets team performance and fan marketing. The wide-ranging partnership covers four major areas: team performance, fan experience, team business operations, and jersey patch sponsorship.
The partnership with BSE is New York-based Infor’s first combining analytics and sports in North America. The company has similar relationships in Europe and Asia-Pacific, with the iconic brand Ferrari and the winningest team in Super Rugby history, the BNZ Crusaders. With Ferrari, Infor supplies software for the automaker’s manufacturing and racing operations and sponsors the Scuderia Ferrari Formula One team. For the Christchurch, New Zealand-based Crusaders, Infor software powers marketing and fan operations, and the team wears the Infor logo on its jersey.
The most unique aspect of the partnership will see Infor develop a one-stop digital hub designed to help Nets General Manager Sean Marks and the team’s Basketball Operations department generate stronger results on the court. This hub, developed by data scientists at Infor’s Dynamic Science Labs and a team from its in-house digital agency, H&L Digital, will provide actionable insights by analyzing the vast array of data captured by the Nets on-court performance as well as the team’s travel information, training activity, and other performance data. The centralized digital platform will aim to enhance data visualization and to further unify all of Basketball Operations, including players, coaches, training and medical staff, and analytics team.
As part of the partnership, Infor will have its logo featured on the front left of the Nets game jerseys starting during the 2017-18 season and a branding presence throughout Barclays Center and HSS Training Center, the team’s practice facility in Brooklyn. HSS Training Center will serve as an incubator for new ideas in which Infor’s technology will help improve communication and collaboration across Barclays Center and the Nets’ business operations, including talent sourcing and acquisition, customer service, and arena experience.
“Our alliance with Infor is a transformative partnership for both business and basketball operations and is indicative of the cutting edge and gritty culture we are building,” said Brett Yormark, CEO of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment. “The patch on the jersey represents our deep engagement with Infor and the software company’s role in taking our performance to the highest level in basketball operations and the business side. We are looking forward to joining some of the world’s most innovative brands, like Ferrari, for the unique opportunity of instilling Infor’s proven business applications into our company.”
“The disruptive impact of digital has been felt across entire industry sectors, from retail to healthcare to government and manufacturing, and now Infor will take the same approach that’s been successful at organizations like Ferrari, Triumph Motorcycles, and Whole Foods Market, and apply it to the Brooklyn Nets,” said Stephan Scholl, president of Infor. “What makes the partnership even more special is the bond we feel with the Nets from a cultural perspective-Infor shares the Nets’ gritty, entrepreneurial spirit, and like the Nets we moved into our New York headquarters in 2012.”
“This collaboration will provide efficient and strategic solutions in real time for Nets Basketball Operations,” said Marks. “The new digital platform that Infor is building will improve the way in which we work, communicate and make decisions across the organization both on and off the court.”

The alliance will also include significant Infor branding at Barclays Center for all Nets and New York Islanders games, as well as other events. Integration at these events will incorporate a variety of elements, including: digital and static signage throughout the venue; features on the scoreboard and during YES Network broadcasts; and branding around the Nets’ team bench, including the scorers’ table becoming Nets Smart Bench powered by Infor. Infor will also be integrated on the Nets digital platforms, including the team’s app and website.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

With expanded TCO, 461 Dean gets closer to opening more floors

The 461 Dean tower is getting closer to opening more floors.

According to a new Temporary Certificate of Occupancy from the Department of Buildings, dated 2/6/17 and lasting 90 days, floors 20 through 32 have been added "less hoist for all floors."

I believe that has to do with an exterior hoist used to fix the facade.

No unit above floor 19 has yet been listed for rent. The building has 34 stories, but only 32 (as far as I know) for residential use.

There are 19 outstanding requirements (see right), such as "final plumbing signoff" and "final elevator signoff" to get the full C of O.

New digital art at the Barclays Center oculus: "Commercial Break"

On view since Monday, and through March 5, the Public Art Fund is offering "Commercial Break," a citywide exhibition, presents 23 artists who have created platform-specific interruptions within the advertising cycles of some of New York City’s most highly visible and technically advanced digital screens."

So the Barclay Center's oculus is included, along with a Times Square billboard and 19 digital screens at Westfield World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan. It's Curated by Public Art Fund Associate Curators Emma Enderby and Daniel S. Palmer

The 30-second videos are being presented the last 30 seconds of each hour from 6 am to midnight daily, and a different artist is shown each day of the week. Here's the lineup.

The videos are viewable here.  None are going to, say, challenge the commercialism of the Barclays Center, but some are pretty creative.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Nassau won't get minor league hockey team, so they're betting on Islanders' return

It's getting interesting.

In Minor league hockey not coming to Nassau Coliseum, officials say, Newsday reports:
Developers of the Nassau Coliseum have shelved plans to have a minor league hockey team play its home games at the renovated arena when it reopens in April, despite agreeing to do so in their contract with Nassau County.
Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano’s 2013 lease with Brooklyn developer Bruce Ratner, approved unanimously by the county legislature, stipulates that an American Hockey League team would play “substantially all of their regular and postseason home games at the Coliseum for a period of at least 15 years.”
However, Nassau officials say they will not enforce the AHL contract clause because it would lock the county into a long-term deal with a minor league franchise, and could complicate a new effort to bring the NHL New York Islanders back to the Coliseum.
As Newsday editorial board member Randi Marshall tweeted, "The AHL team clause was linked to the start of construction - they didn't have it in place then, they don't have one now. Not b/c of #isles."

She further tweeted, "April 2015: Forest City Ratner SVP told me AHL team would sign before construction began.Then Ratner said it'd be a year. Neither true."

What's going on?

That's either a game of chicken, or a squeeze play, or maybe both.

Nassau's playing a game of chicken with the Islanders owners, who, if they get booted by the Barclays Center--as has been reported but by no means confirmed--have nowhere else to go in the New York area, at least in the short term, and likely for the long term.

They'd get an undersized arena with few luxury suites and less opportunity for major sponsorships, but they'd be near their historic fan base. And they might fill it up. (And--see below--it might be expanded.)

If they leave New York for well-appointed arenas in Quebec City, Kansas City, or even (to-be-improved) Hartford, they leave their TV contract.

And its a squeeze play for the Islanders from the Barclays Center operators, Mikhail Prokhorov's Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, who also own the Coliseum. If they eject the Isles, they better be sure that the Islanders move back to Long Island. Because if they don't, they don't have an anchor tenant.

As Marshall tweeted, "No AHL team is all-in bet by Nassau on #isles return They're opening an arena in April with NO anchor tenant. Coli won't survive w/o one."

Promises promises

As Newsday reported, "At a 2013 news conference, Ratner said the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the Islanders’ minor league affiliate, would likely relocate to play 40 games per year at the Coliseum."

Yeah, but as I wrote in a May 2015 Newsday op-ed, Ratner can't always be trusted: "Ratner revised the Brooklyn deal several times. Expect more in Nassau."

More public help for Coliseum?

Remember that privately funded renovation? Newsday reported 2/2/17, in LI Association asks NY to help Islanders return to Coliseum:
The head of Long Island’s largest business organization is asking Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s economic development czar for assistance in helping lure the New York Islanders back to the renovated Nassau Coliseum.
In a letter Thursday to Howard Zemsky, head of the Empire State Development, Kevin Law, president of the Long Island Association, said the state could help make the Coliseum, more “attractive” to Islanders ownership.
For example, the state could fund a bus rapid transit system to connect the Coliseum to the Mineola and Hempstead Long Island Rail Road stations, or provide grants and tax credits to expand the size of the arena. The state is already investing in a parking garage and a bio-tech park around the Coliseum.
An ESPN roundtable

Let's look at the answers to this ESPN roundtable, What's the best arena solution for the New York Islanders and Arizona Coyotes? and then my comments.
Scott Burnside: How many weeks do we have to answer this? Short-term it seems the Islanders need to retreat to Long Island as soon as humanly possible. Like, tomorrow. Who cares if the retrofit Nassau County Memorial Coliseum holds only 12,000 people, that's still more than show up at the Barclays Center on most nights, and the ice won't be mush and the scoreboard will actually be over center ice. 
Except luxury suites and sponsorships won't be the same.
Pierre LeBrun: The Islanders need to build their own rink in the New York area and the Citi Field area makes the most sense, if they can ever figure out all the logistics and hurdles associated with that. The NHL doesn't want that franchise anywhere else than in that market. 
Another participant also endorses Queens, but building an arena isn't cheap.
Corey Pronman: I just got back a week ago from a hockey game in Quebec City's new rink. It's a beautiful, NHL-quality facility. I defer to my ESPN colleagues who are more well-versed on the technical, business and political details of those teams' situations, but Quebec City has the big piece the NHL is looking for.
He's not saying Islanders, though, and others think Quebec City is the best destination for Arizona.

Daily News: "technology to cover the rails" means towers "now rising... at Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards" (Nope)

A sunny editorial from the Daily News today, Sunnyside rising on Mayor de Blasio's dream, hails the potential of building on the Sunnyside Yards in Queens. It states, in part:
Is the mayor’s vision possible? The answer is a resounding sort of.
The technology to cover the rails was barely in doubt — as witnessed by the spectacular towers now rising at Hudson Yards on Manhattan’s far West Side and at Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards.
Fake news!

Actually, the "spectacular towers" for Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park that are rising are all on terra firma--the sites of former streets and buildings--which is much easier to build on. The technology--the platform or deck--is still under construction.

The towers over the working railyard, between Pacific Street and Atlantic Avenue, were scheduled to be among the last to be built. Now they're delayed further.

Oh, and it's the Vanderbilt Yard, not "Atlantic Yards," which was the brand name for a development. Which now has a new name.

Original tentative timetable August 2014. Annotated October 2016. Further delays acknowledged November 2016.

Monday, February 06, 2017

How many suites does the Barclays Center have? "more than 90," after The Vault was converted

So, how many suites does the Barclays Center have? The number is actually a bit fuzzy, but the history is this:
  • 170: a significantly overoptimistic number in December 2006 (before arena was named)
  • 130: a reduction in May 2008, while it was still a Frank Gehry arena
  • 100: a reduction in September 2009, after the arena was redesigned and downsized
  • 105: a slight increase in December 2009, as arena bonds were sold
  • 104: a tweak down in March 2010 upon arena groundbreaking
  • 101: a tweak down in September 2012 for arena ribbon-cutting
  • 90 or 94(?): a decrease after The Vault was converted to the Billboard Lounge
  • 90: number reported in an August 2016 report to potential bond buyers upon refinancing
  • 96: number reported in a separate part of document presented to bond buyers
  • "more than 90": current number presented
So what's the discrepancy? Apparently, the new Billboard Lounge "studios" are also referred to as suites.

Then again, the 11 suites once in The Vault arguably didn't qualify as suites, which are supposed to be private spaces including seats. Associating lower bowl tickets with a "suite," as with both The Vault and the Billboard Lounge "studios" is stretching it. So the arena operators--no surprise--have been a bit slippery.

December 2006, from KPMG report: 170


Was this number realistic?

Note that KPMG suggested that, "[g]iven the competitiveness of the market, both the total number of suites and the average price per suite... appear to be on the high end." Perhaps that was the numbers was cut within two years.

May 2008, from Forest City Ratner press release: 130

The press release did not acknowledge that this was a decrease in number of suites from previous estimates.

But this wasn't the only change: the arena would be downsized in November 2008, with a new architect, Ellerbe Becket, and later a new "skin" designed by SHoP.

September 2009, from Barclays Center press release announcing new architects: 100

December 2009, Official Statement to potential bond buyers: 105

February 2010, Barclays Center press release announcing sale of suites: 104


March 2010, Forest City press release on arena groundbreaking: 104


February 2012, Barclays Center press release announces 11 "exclusive ultra-luxurious suites inspired by cultural icon JAY Z"

September 2012, Forest City press release on arena ribbon-cutting: 101


August 2015, Barclays Center press release on Billboard Lounge

The press release mentions private hospitality studios" but doesn't call them suites. Nor did it say that the Billboard Lounge would replace The Valut, but NetsDaily confirmed that, adding:
There was no mention in the release of what will happen to the 11 suites that surrounded the bar at "The Vault" but a Barclays official said some will remain and be updated to become "private hospitality studios." Others will be incorporated into the "Billboard Lounge" space, which will be larger than "The Vault's" lounge. Billboard in its story on the lounge noted the presence of "private suites nestled in the back" of the lounge.
"The Vault," located next to the Calvin Klein Courtside Club. It had no access to the court, but those who leased the suites received courtside seats as part of their arrangement.
One of "The Vault suites was reserved for use by the arena's two owners, Mikhail Prokhorov and Bruce Ratner, while others went for $550,000 each per year with a three year guarantee. Jay-Z leased one of the 11 but it's been reported that the arena never sold out the suites.
Jay-Z might have "leased" a suite, but it was free.

August 2016, Official Statement to bond buyers: 96


August 2016, consultant's report within Official Statement: 90


August 2016, consultant's report within Official Statement: loss of The Vault

Current Barclays Center page on premium seating: 90+ suites



Current Barclays Center page describes "Billboard Lounge Studios" with 8 tickets 


Current Barclays Center page describes "Billboard Suite" though 8 tickets in Lower Bowl