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Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park graphic: what's built/what might be coming + FAQ (post-dated pinned post)

This graphic, posted in February 2018, is post-dated to stay at the top of the blog. It will be updated as announced configurations change and buildings launch. Note the unbuilt B1 and the proposed--but not yet approved--shift in bulk to the unbuilt Site 5.

The August 2014 tentative configurations proposed by developer Greenland Forest City Partners will change. The project is already well behind that tentative timetable.

How many people are expected?

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park has a projected 6,430 apartments housing 2.1 persons per unit (as per Chapter 4 of the 2006 Final Environmental Impact Statement), which would mean 13,503 new residents, with 1,890 among them in low-income affordable rentals, and 2,835 in moderate- and middle-income affordable rentals.

That leaves 8,778 people in market-rate rentals and condos, though let's call it 8,358 after subtracting 420 who may live in 200 promised below-market condos. So that's 5,145 in below-market units, though many of them won…

Overnight work planned for Dean Street and Flatbush Avenue now will start March 28 at 10 pm.

A message yesterday from Pacific Park Brooklyn announces a new timetable for previously scheduled roadwork, for four straight overnights, starting next Wednesday, March 29, at 10 pm.

This will close Dean Street east of Flatbush Avenue in front of 461 Dean, and also close two or three northbound lanes on Flatbush Avenue between Dean Street and Fifth Avenue.

Note that the text in the message below is more comprehensive than the headline, since the text indicates that, starting at 10 pm Wednesday and Thursday, and at 11 pm Friday and Saturday, the work will last until 5 am the next day.

Forest City Realty Trust rejects buyout offer, will reform governance, cutting Ratner family role; tighter leash for New York?

In a bit of a surprise, Forest City Realty Trust (FCRT), the parent of Forest City New York, announced today that its board had concluded its review of strategic alternatives, which could have resulted in a merger, buyout, or partial selloff.

But after considering multiple buyout offers, the most serious one with significant constraints, the board decided to enhance shareholder value--to narrow the gap between the stock price and the perceived asset value--via internal changes, notably a new board.

This means further reducing the role of the extended Ratner family, which in 2016 gave up a dual-class structure that left that founding family in control of both shares and board. Nine of 13 current directors have agreed to resign from the Board, and the Ratner family will have only two board designees, not four, and one of them must be an independent director (not family).

Current Chairman James Ratner, a family member, will be interim Chairman of the Board, but he will resign from the Ch…

A telling affordable housing statistic: upper middle-income units 43% of total so far, rather than 20%

Exactly 782 below-market units (of 1,242 total apartments) have been built in Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park rental buildings. That represents 34.8% of the pledged 2,250 affordable units.

But the distribution hardly confirms to the original pledge. Within the total affordable units, 20% were supposed to go to upper middle-income units in the highest income band, known as Band 5. That would mean 156 apartments within the current total.

Instead, because of a skewing toward middle-income units (which I wrote about for City Limits), the percentage is more than double: 336 of the 782 affordable units, or 43%, are in Band 5.

At 535 Carlton, those households are paying rent at 160% of Area Median Income (AMI): $2,137 for a studio, $2,680 for a 1-bedroom, $3,223 for a two-bedroom, and $3,716 for a three-bedroom. (Rent at 38 Sixth is slightly lower, and rent at 461 Dean another notch lower.)

It's been tough to fill those units. Not only has Greenland Forest City had to look for more tenants b…

Forest City extends deadline for board nomination until March 28; implies extended time for strategic review

For those of us expecting an announcement regarding Forest City Realty Trust's corporate direction this afternoon, as indicated in my article for The Bridge, Forest City in Brooklyn: a Real Estate Pioneer on the Way Out?, well, let's wait a week.

An announcement this afternoon from Forest City, which is parent of Forest City New York, Forest City Further Extends Nomination Window for 2018 Annual Meeting of Stockholders:
"The Board of Directors has extended the window by which the Company must receive proper written advance notice of the nomination of director candidates at its 2018 Annual Meeting of Stockholders. The nomination window, which commenced on December 3, 2017, will now extend to 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on March 28, 2018." (Emphases added)

The new announcement did not mention the term "strategic review," which regards plans to potentially restructure, sell, or merge the company. However, when previously extending the nomination window, Forest City…

A look at apartment building planned for former Church of the Redeemer site

via @newyorkyimby Renderings Revealed for ODA-Designed Boerum Hill Condominiums at 24 4th Avenue catercorner Site 5 of @pacificparkbk
Former site of Church of the Redeemer
Image appears to be Pacific St. facade. What about 4th Ave? — Norman Oder (@AYReport) March 21, 2018 NY YIMBY says: "Designed by ODA Architecture, the 12-story, mixed-use building will contain 72 residences, ground floor retail, a community facility, and an enclosed parking structure with accommodations for 16 vehicles."

At Friday's AY CDC meeting, contract renewal discussion; also, project changes coming? (plus some lingering questions)

The agenda (right) for the hastily-called meeting Friday of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC) includes, most significantly, the advisory group's requested blessing for the parent Empire State Development to extend two consulting contracts: HDR, which monitors environmental mitigation, and STV, which serves as owner's representative.
That likely will happen, since the argument surely will be that no new contract, with a broader ambit, is needed until we know what's happening next with the project.
Also, board member Jaime Stein, who pushed for more transparency regarding mitigation monitoring, as well as a broader scope of work--and thus a revised contract, not an extended one--to protect neighbors, has left the board.
Project changes to be discussed?
Note that the "President's Report - Corporate Update" on the agenda serves as a general update on the project. In January, we learned about the long-brewing restructuring of Greenland …

From The Bridge: "Forest City in Brooklyn: a Real Estate Pioneer on the Way Out?"

I have a long article in The Bridge today, headlined Forest City in Brooklyn: a Real Estate Pioneer on the Way Out?, preceding an expected announcement in the next day or so about the future of Bruce Ratner's parent company, Forest City Realty Trust.

From the article:
Barclays Center, which opened in 2012 and brought major-league sports and large-scale entertainment back to Brooklyn, may be Ratner’s best-known edifice, and a new borough icon. But the huge project around it, dubbed Atlantic Yards when announced in 2003 and renamed Pacific Park in 2014, proved to be an albatross to both Ratner’s MetroTech-based firm and its Cleveland-based, publicly traded parent company. Now, as the larger Forest City Realty Trust faces potential restructuring or sale, with word of its direction possibly coming this week, Ratner is facing a turning point. His cycle of ambition, vision, and civic prominence in New York is winding down, even as other developers take up the Brooklyn baton. Also note t…

A last-minute Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation meeting set for Friday (something's up)

Something is up, I again suspect, regarding Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, given another last-minute meeting announcement, with an RSVP due by Thursday.

In January, when a meeting of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC) was scheduled with just five days notice (and three business days notice), I suspected something was up.
And it was, given the announcement, just before the meeting, of the restructuring of the Greenland Forest City Partners, with Forest City New York/Forest City Realty Trust agreeing to transfer all but 5% of its share going forward in Pacific Park to Greenland USA. 
Now a meeting set for Friday, with only three days notice, also raises questions. There is an agenda, below, which covers issues they needed to cover.

However... do keep in mind that Forest City Realty Trust's "strategic review" process is concluding tomorrow at 5 pm, and that could lead to a corporate merger, absorption, or sell-off. (In other words, even the name Gre…

Executive who went from Chinese firm to Forest City leaves for Greenland to focus (almost surely) on upcoming B4 tower

From Mingtiandi, which covers Asian real estate:
Allen Gong has joined Greenland USA’s Development and Construction team, where he is responsible for managing 800,000 square feet of residential and commercial development within the New York City mega-project Pacific Park Brooklyn. Gong jumps to the subsidiary of the Shanghai-based developer after working for Greenland’s US joint venture partner on the project, Forest City Ratner Companies, focussing on the ground-up development of the 550 Vanderbilt condo building. Gong started his career at China State Construction and Engineering Corp in Beijing before being transferred to California and later earning a master’s at the MIT Center for Real Estate. Here's more on Gong from MIT.
Note that 800,000 square feet almost surely refers to the pending B4 tower at the northeast corner of the arena block, which is the new focus for Greenland. The square footage comes from Gong's LinkedIn profile; the maximum gross square footage is 824,62…

Lessons from "Forest City" project in Malaysia? Chinese buyers, unable to get money out, no longer buying real estate

There's a telling passage in Brook Larmer's New York Times Magazine "On Money" column yesterday, A Malaysian Insta-City Becomes a Flash Point for Chinese Colonialism — and Capital Flight:
And yet the greatest blow to Forest City last year was struck by the Chinese government, through a set of new restrictions that underscore the tension inherent in Beijing’s economic vision, in which it encourages companies to “go global” yet fears the exodus of its citizens’ new wealth. Over the last decade, China has seen an estimated $3.8 trillion in capital leave the country, much of it going into offshore real estate. In an effort to crack down on rampant capital flight, Beijing tightened its capital controls, making it nearly impossible for investors to send large amounts of money out of the country. The limit on foreign transfers remains $50,000 a year per person, but now senders must sign a pledge that no money will be used to buy property — and face investigation if they vio…

As EB-5 reform percolates, no challenge to program's fundamental flaw; also, a rising investment threshold may not help rural/poor areas

Update: The Real Deal reports that Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), an advocate of the reform plan, since it would help his rural state, has said that "moneyed developers" aiming to keep the status quo have blocked the compromise.

It is telling but dismaying that reform of the EB-5 immigrant investor program is brewing, and 1) the main (only?) ones discussing it are those with a stake in the outcome and 2) the discussion seems to mainly concern spreading the wealth, so projects in truly poor or rural locales can get access to below-market funding, rather than ensuring that all projects funded truly need the money.

According to Summary of the Draft EB-5 Reform Act, posted 3/16/18 by attorney Ronald R. Fieldstone of Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr, the EB-5 program would be extended until September 30, 2023 and the previous threshold $500,000 investment level--which, by the way, was never raised in decades--will be honored for applications in the pipeline, with no reassessment of …

As glut continues for new Brooklyn apartment towers, a 535 Carlton footnote (plus demand returning by 2020?)

An Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park reference in the New York Times Real Estate section today, first published online 3/16/18, As Brooklyn Towers Soar, a Sinking Feeling for Developers:
Despite the intense demand for affordable housing, filling the units is not always easy. At 535 Carlton, more than 90,000 applications were filed for the 300-unit below market rate rental building, said Ismene Speliotis, the head of MHANY Management Inc., which handles the lottery. While the building included studios priced at $548 a month for New Yorkers making as little as $20,126 a year, half the units were reserved for those making between 145 and 160 percent of median area income. Those units, including a two-bedroom asking $3,223 a month, have struggled to find renters, she said, because they are competing with similarly priced market-rate apartments in the Pacific Park area that don’t require as thorough or as invasive a vetting process.My comment (yet unpublished):
Regarding 535 Carlton, a "10…