Skip to main content

At the Atlantic Antic: Nets promos, luxury housing, and some tough principles on AY

The Atlantic Antic is the borough's premier street fair, and yesterday's version was no exception, with the bonus of excellent weather. There was no shortage of Atlantic Yards-tinged moments; as I'll describe below, the Boerum Hill Association distributed some toughminded principles regarding the proposed Atlantic Yards plan, essentially calling for the density to be cut in half.

The Antic had relatively few of the generic vendors and food-sellers that mar so many street fairs, so the stores and restaurants on Atlantic Avenue got to strut their stuff. Stages every few blocks featured blues, country, and soul music--and one of the churches offered its own sidewalk performance. And Robert Puca of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (right) was there to provide another point of view in the vicinity of a Forest City Ratner table.

Forest City Ratner promotions

With Forest City Ratner as a sponsor, there was heavy promotion for the developer's malls and Atlantic Yards project. The company sponsored three tables. Though each table promoted the Nets and the AY project, the first focused on the Atlantic Terminal and Atlantic Center malls; I got a mug, a pencil, a keychain, and a mini-radio, all co-branded, in one fell swoop.

Further east, a table promoted the Nets. A third table featured autographs from Brooklynite and former NBA player Albert King, who rose in the Nets promotional hierarchy after his brother Bernard got arrested for beating his wife. People lined up to shoot hoops to win a free Nets jersey and other swag.

The developer is still handing out the brochure, released in May, that proclaims Atlantic Yards "a new vision for Downtown Brooklyn" but somehow neglects to picture the planned towers. FCR's Jim Stuckey told the New York Observer in July that the brochure wasn't meant to be an architectural brochure, and that images were given to the media not long after the brochure was issued.

Well, if it's a "vision," shouldn't people get a sense of it?

The three FCR tables distributed orange Nets balloons, which many stroller-rolling parents attached with nary a qualm, but probably the most popular Nets promotional effort came when a group from the Brooklyn Steppers marching band, rebranded as the Nets drumline, produced some powerful sounds.

[Clarification: a Brooklyn Steppers contingent has been operating as the drumline for two years.]

DDDB & CBN

Was it a coincidence that the drumline gathered near the table of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB), the coalition opposing the Atlantic Yards plan? Well, the drummers were shepherded down Atlantic Avenue by two p.r. people who work for the developer.

Continuing its effort to marshal opposition to the plan, DDDB reported gathering some 428 names on petitions and 500 postcards sent to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Silver can modify or even stop the project from his position as a member of the Public Authorities Control Board, which must weigh in after the Empire State Development Corporation Acts.

DDDB also handed out posters urging "Stop Atlantic Yards" and listing four web sites, including this one, for people to "Learn More." (Note that my critical coverage of Atlantic Yards is aimed to be a broadly useful resource, not simply for those who want to stop the project.)

At the table for the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods (CBN), visitors could watch a Google Earth-based view flyover of the proposed project, and were shown graphics with the projected shadow sweep. In lieu of attending the second and final Atlantic Yards community forum scheduled at 4:30 p.m. today, people were invited to offer three-minute testimonies about the project.

BHA criticism

The Boerum Hill Association distributed some detailed principles that would lead to significant modification--and possibly a scrapping--of the AY plan.

The principles include:
--the number of apartments should be cut by at least a half, so the density of the residential area would be now bigger than Battery Park City at planned full buildout (152 apartments/acre)
--no use of eminent domain (which means that the developer would have to change the plan to deal with holdouts, or negotiate further)
--traffic changes should be implemented before new development adds excess demands
--no demapping of streets
--creative solutions to parking, including residential parking permits
--no demolishing of existing buildings until replacement design and financing are in place ("Boerum Hill and the surrounding communities have lived with this situation in the past.")
--adequate schools for the children of new residents should be built within the project footprint.

Development looming

Meanwhile, signs of new luxury housing popped up along Atlantic Avenue, including the new project pictured, 75 Smith, from developer Shaya Boymelgreen. Though the project web site doesn't say so, it's right next door to the now-closed Brooklyn House of Detention, which might be said to have had a blighting effect.

At a table run by developer David Walentas's Two Trees Management, known for renovating DUMBO, I picked up a glossy brochure for the converted 110 Livingston, the Downtown Brooklyn building built as an Elks Club that formerly housed the Board of Education.

"As for amenities--110 Livingston will not be outdone," the brochure bragged, promising high-end appliances, a fitness center, and a 24-hour concierge. It's another luxury project subsidized under the 421-a plan, which supports all market-rate outer borough development, including the market-rate units planned for Atlantic Yards.

A city task force is reexamining 421-a, and I'd bet such luxury projects in the future won't get the tax break unless they include affordable housing. But the presence of so many subsidized luxury projects is one reason why the city has rezoned several neighborhoods to offers an inclusionary zoning bonus--more developable space for a builder who promises to include affordable housing.

And it's one reason why housing group ACORN negotiated to get affordable units included in the Atlantic Yards project--even though, unlike with a rezoning, there's no governmentally-negotiated cap on the development's size. And we don't know what the affordable housing would cost the public.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Barclays Center/Levy Restaurants hit with suit charging discrimination on disability, race; supervisors said to use vicious slurs, pursue retaliation

The Daily News has an article today, Barclays Center hit with $5M suit claiming discrimination against disabled, while the New York Post headlined its article Barclays Center sued over taunting disabled employees.

While that's part of the lawsuit, more prominent are claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, with black employees claiming repeated abuse by white supervisors, preferential treatment toward Hispanic colleagues, and retaliation in response to complaints.

Two individual supervisors, for example, are charged with  referring to black employees as “black motherfucker,” “dumb black bitch,” “black monkey,” “piece of shit” and “nigger.”

Two have referred to an employee blind in one eye as “cyclops,” and “the one-eyed guy,” and an employee with a nose disorder as “the nose guy.”

There's been no official response yet though arena spokesman Barry Baum told the Daily News they, but take “allegations of this kind very seriously” and have "a zero tolerance policy for…

Behind the "empty railyards": 40 years of ATURA, Baruch's plan, and the city's diffidence

To supporters of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, it's a long-awaited plan for long-overlooked land. "The Atlantic Yards area has been available for any developer in America for over 100 years,” declared Borough President Marty Markowitz at a 5/26/05 City Council hearing.

Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, mused on 11/15/05 to WNYC's Brian Lehrer, “Isn’t it interesting that these railyards have sat for decades and decades and decades, and no one has done a thing about them.” Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in a 12/19/04 New York Times article ("In a War of Words, One Has the Power to Wound") described the railyards as "an empty scar dividing the community."

But why exactly has the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard never been developed? Do public officials have some responsibility?

At a hearing yesterday of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, Kate Suisma…

Barclays Center event June 11 to protest plans to expand Israeli draft; questions about logistics

At right is a photo of a poster spotted in Hasidic Williamsburg right. Clearly there's an event scheduled at the Barclays Center aimed at the Haredi Jewish community (strict Orthodox Jews who reject secular culture), but the lack of English text makes it cryptic.

The website Matzav.com explains, Protest Against Israeli Draft of Bnei Yeshiva Rescheduled for Barclays Center:
A large asifa to protest the drafting of bnei yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel into the Israeli army that had been set to take place this month will instead be held on Sunday, 17 Sivan/June 11, at the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn, NY. So attendees at a big gathering will protest an apparent change of policy that will make it much more difficult for traditional Orthodox Jewish students--both Hasidic (who follow a rebbe) and non-Hasidic (who don't)--to get deferments from the draft. Comments on the Yeshiva World website explain some of the debate.

The logistical questions

What's unclear is how large the ev…

Atlanta's Atlantic Yards moves ahead

First mentioned in April, the Atlantic Yards project in Atlanta is moving ahead--and has the potential to nudge Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn further down in Google searches.

According to a 5/30/17 press release, Hines and Invesco Real Estate Announce T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards:
Hines, the international real estate firm, and Invesco Real Estate, a global real estate investment manager, today announced a joint venture on behalf of one of Invesco Real Estate’s institutional clients to develop two progressive office projects in Atlanta totalling 700,000 square feet. T3 West Midtown will be a 200,000-square-foot heavy timber office development and Atlantic Yards will consist of 500,000 square feet of progressive office space in two buildings. Both projects are located on sites within Atlantic Station in the flourishing Midtown submarket.
Hines will work with Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture (HPA) as the design architect for both T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards. DLR Group will be t…

Forest City acknowledges unspecified delays in Pacific Park, cites $300 million "impairment" in project value; what about affordable housing pledge?

Updated Monday Nov. 7 am: Note follow-up coverage of stock price drop and investor conference call and pending questions.

Pacific Park Brooklyn is seriously delayed, Forest City Realty Trust said yesterday in a news release, which further acknowledged that the project has caused a $300 million impairment, or write-down of the asset, as the expected revenues no longer exceed the carrying cost.

The Cleveland-based developer, parent of Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner, which is a 30% investor in Pacific Park along with 70% partner/overseer Greenland USA, blamed the "significant impairment" on an oversupply of market-rate apartments, the uncertain fate of the 421-a tax break, and a continued increase in construction costs.

While the delay essentially confirms the obvious, given that two major buildings have not launched despite plans to do so, it raises significant questions about the future of the project, including:
if market-rate construction is delayed, will the affordable h…

Not quite the pattern: Greenland selling development sites, not completed condos

Real Estate Weekly, reporting on trends in Chinese investment in New York City, on 11/18/15 quoted Jim Costello, a senior vice president at research firm Real Capital Analytics:
“They’re typically building high-end condos, build it and sell it. Capital return is in a few years. That’s something that is ingrained in the companies that have been coming here because that’s how they’ve grown in the last 35 years. It’s always been a development game for them. So they’re just repeating their business model here,” he said. When I read that last November, I didn't think it necessarily applied to Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, now 70% owned (outside of the Barclays Center and B2 modular apartment tower), by the Greenland Group, owned significantly by the Shanghai government.
A majority of the buildings will be rentals, some 100% market, some 100% affordable, and several--the last several built--are supposed to be 50% market/50% subsidized. (See tentative timetable below.)

Selling development …

For Atlantic Yards Quality of Life meeting Sept. 19, another bare-bones agenda (green wall?)

A message from Empire State Development (ESD) reminds us that the next Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life Meeting--which aims to update community members on construction and other issues--will be held:
Tuesday, September 19, 2017 @ 6 pm
Shirley Chisholm State Office Building
55 Hanson Place
1st Floor Conference Room
Brooklyn, NY 11217 The typically bare-bones, agenda, below, tells us nothing about the content of the presentation. One thing to look for is any hint of plans to start a new building on the southeast block of the project by the end of the year.

If not, ESD is supposed to re-evaluate a longstanding request from project neighbors to move back a giant wall encroaching on part of Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues. It's said to enclose construction activity, but, in recent months, has significantly served to protect worker parking.

Also, by the way, if you search for Atlantic Yards on Google or the ESD website, it leads to this page for the Atlantic Ya…