Skip to main content

MTA head "concerned" about $100M owed by FCR; developer says first tower residential

On the New York Observer's Real Estate blog yesterday, Eliot Brown mined a April 9 "webinar" by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, in which executive director Elliot (Lee) Sander expressed concern about the whereabouts of the $100 million in cash that developer Forest City Ratner in 2005 agreed to pay for the agency's Vanderbilt Yard.

The Observer's report also quoted FCR spokesman Loren Riegelhaupt, who stated that the first building to open, along with the arena, would be residential. That means that Building 1, aka Miss Brooklyn, remains on hold until an anchor tenant is found, as the New York Times first reported last month. It also means that, unless certain parts of Building 1 are completed, the arena would open without the Urban Room, the atrium that would serve as a combination building lobby, arena entrance, subway entrance, retail/restaurant space, and public gathering space.

Sander's concern

Sander was asked why, if the agency was about to sell the West Side Yards, was it crying poor. He said the money is assigned to the 2005-09 capital program, and brought up Atlantic Yards without being asked. (The segment appears about three-quarters of the way through the webinar.)

His comment:
There was approximately a billion dollars associated with the sale of MTA real estate assets to support that program. There are some monies there that look like there may be challenges to proceed upon right now. There is money there--100 million dollars associated with the sale of Atlantic Yards, and I think many of you have read in the newspapers some of the difficulty Forest City is having with that development, so hopefully that will proceed, but we want to make sure that that happens—but we’re concerned about that.

Note that he incorrectly used the term "Atlantic Yards" to refer to just the railyard.

FCR says: later this year

Riegelhaupt, a spokesman for the developer, told the Observer that the $100 million would be delivered later this year, once the company closes on the deal.

(Does that mean before lawsuits are cleared, or after? If the latter, it may not be later this year.)

FCR's statement

The Observer offered Riegelhaupt's statement. This first part isn't new:
The reality is the project is moving forward and we are making significant progress on the site each day. Thus far we have contracted out over $42 million worth of work on the site and roughly 50% of the structures on the site have already been taken down. We have begun construction of the temporary rail yard and we expect to break ground on the arena later this year.


Of course, Chuck Ratner of Forest City Enterprises last year said the developer was "committed" to opening the arena by 2009.

Affordable housing by 2011?

Riegelhaupt's statement continued:
We expect to open the first residential tower, which will have a significant amount of affordable housing, at the same time as the opening of Barclays Center. By that time we also expect to have started construction on the second residential tower which will also have a significant amount of affordable housing. The rest of Atlantic Yards, including all of the remaining affordable housing, will be built out from there.

What does "same time" mean? Officially, the developer promises the arena by 2010. A more realistic best-case scenario is 2011. Maybe we'll learn more about the timetable if the state Assembly passes a law proposed by Assemblyman Richard Brodsky that would require the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) to report on the status of major projects, including Atlantic Yards.

How much affordable housing?

How much affordable housing is "significant"? As stated in a Memorandum of Environmental Commitments issued (but little noticed) when the Empire State Development Corporation approved the project 12/8/06:
The Project (including Phase I and Phase II) shall generate at least 2,250 units of affordable housing on site for low-, moderate-, and middle-income persons and families. At least 30% of the units built on the Arena block in Phase I shall be affordable to such households.

This was first announced at a hearing in September 2006 of the City Planning Commission. That might mean 600 of 2000 units, but there's no guarantee how long Phase 1 might take. After all, the developer has 12 years after the close of litigation and the delivery of properties via eminent domain to complete that phase.

The longer the project takes, the easier it might be to compete for scarce affordable housing financing, since the $1.4 billion request would be spread out over many years. But it's notable how Forest City Ratner, in the face of criticism by conditional supporters like City Council Member (and Brooklyn Borough President candidate) Bill de Blasio, is beginning to repeat the "affordable housing" mantra that ultimately became the center of the AY narrative.

Over 12 years, 600 units means 50 units a year.

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…

No, security guards can't ban photos. Questions remain about visibility of ID/sticker system.

The bi-monthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Community Update meeting June 14, held at 55 Hanson Place, addressed multiple issues, including delays in the project, a new detente with project neighbors,concerns about traffic congestion, upcoming sewer work and demolitions, and an explanation of how high winds caused debris to fly off the under-construction 38 Sixth Avenue building. I'll have more coverage.
Security issues came up several times at the meeting.
Wayne Bailey, a resident who regularly takes photos and videos (that I often use) of construction/operations issues that impact residents, asked representatives of Tishman Construction if the security guard at the sites they're building works for them.
After Tishman Senior VP Eric Reid said yes, Bailey asked why a guard told him not to shoot video of the site, even though he was on a public street.

"I will address it with principals for that security firm," Reid said.
Forest City Ratner executive Ashley Cotton, the …

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

This graphic, posted in November 2017, 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 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.

The previous graphic, from August 2017 (without the ghost B1)

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…

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 …