Skip to main content

The Jay-Z media event: an anticlimax for news (Brooklyn Nets, concert), but a chance for TV coverage; also, Ratner, Markowitz make some curious claims

The media event this morning featuring "cultural icon" Jay-Z was a bit of an anticlimax--there was little response from the generally supportive crowd when Mr. Carter announced that the team would be called the Brooklyn Nets and that he'd open the Barclays Center arena with a concert--actually a couple (though he didn't say eight, as the New York Daily News reported).

After all, in well-planned exclusives accepted by the compliant tabloids, the Daily News placed the Jay-Z opening news on page 4 and the New York Post placed its news--that the team hopes "to steal Knick fans from lower Manhattan"--on page 3.

(In photo, which I took, the sign with Jay-Z inducing ticket buyers was just being put up on the arena facade as the 10 am press conference time approached.)

Aimed at TV

But the event today was aimed at TV, with the Barclays Center rising in the background. There were exclusive interviews first on Fox 5, including with Jay-Z.

(See Battle for Brooklyn director Mike Galinsky's account, Bread and Circuses, that describes his effort to challenge reporters to see behind the media event they were dutifully covering.)

Then, across the street at a tent pitched in front of the Atlantic Terminal Mall, the press conference featured fairly brief words from Nets CEO Brett Yormark, Forest City Ratner CEO Bruce Ratner, and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz before Jay-Z spoke briefly.

(In photo above by Tracy Collins, Markowitz, center, greets Yormark, as Jay-Z looks on. Here's Collins's set, shot from outside the event.)



There were no other elected officials in attendance, but representatives from at least six of the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement signatories were present. A Times hoops writer called the event "brief and anticlimactic."

Some p.r. surprises

Some of the words were fairly surprising: Bruce Ratner, as the video below indicates, claimed the arena was "largely for the children and youth," given how it would present memorable events.

Eschewing precise claims about jobs created by the project, he offered more precise numbers about unrelated projects, the Atlantic Terminal and Atlantic Center malls, as well as the Bank of New York Tower in the Atlantic Terminal mall.

(Crain's picked up on the job numbers, quoting me as calling the figure for construction jobs "unlikely" and permanent jobs "bogus" and "laughable." In the photo, a salute to some of the sponsors, in panels that flanked the stage.)

Also, opening up a new vein in p.r., he recounted the nationwide impact of such a construction project, given that construction materials are produced and finished in numerous states. (Actually, most of the subsidies came from the city and state.)

And Nets/Barclays CEO Brett Yormark, astoundingly, described Ratner as "the man chiefly responsible for the renaissance of Brooklyn." (Um, I think a lot of people contributed to that renaissance, like the people who invested in the neighborhoods around the project site long before Ratner did.)

Markowitz, showing his vintage, declared that the opening of the arena meant Brooklynites would be "disrespected and belittled" no more.

(Photo of Markowitz and Jay-Z walking to the event by Mike Galinsky/Battle for Brooklyn)

What was missing

No one mentioned the local impact, that, at least as calculated by the New York City Independent Budget Office, the arena counts as a loss for the public.

Meanwhile, as documented via Atlantic Yards Watch, trucks serving the project continued this morning to violate site and city rules by blocking traffic and proceeding toward the site despite it not being ready to receive them.

Good Day NY: Bruce Ratner and Brett Yormark

The Good Day NY coverage on Fox 5, spaced out throughout the morning, must have tickled the hearts of arena backers. "They are going to reveal the Nets new time name, live on our show, how cool is that?” declared Rosanna Scotto.

Scotto pointed out to Ratner that the project had been bogged down. "I always had faith, I knew I’d get to this day," Ratner said, contradicting a previous interview when he'd expressed doubts.

"It’s needed, it’s important, there are thousands of jobs created by this project, and we need jobs," he said, using that vague "thousands" term.

Scotto pointed to talk of 24/7 construction.

"We don’t want to take any chances," Ratner responded. "It’s going on all the time, on weekends, and after-hours." And, I'd add, with some collateral damage.

Yormark was asked how well suites were selling.

"Everything is going very, very well," he responded, saying "we're about 50% sold on our suites" and a new, Jay-Z-fueled phase would be beginning.

Good Day NY: Jay-Z

Scott was even more fawning with Jay-Z. "We have decided that the official name will be the Brooklyn Nets," Jay-Z declared anti-climactically.

"Brooklyn Nets," Scotto enthused.

"You see, I'm really giddy right now," Jay-Z responded.

"Because you grew up in the Marcy apartments about seven minutes away from here." Scotto responded. "This is your neighborhood." (Seven minutes maybe by car. Even the G train takes longer, given the walk.)

"Yeah, and I also had a place at 560 State Street, which I could literally walk to" from here, Jay-Z continued.

A place? A stash spot, as he recounted in Empire State of Mind.

"I'm going to open... with a couple of concerts," he added. "One or two--or eight."

He was noncommittal when asked if his wife Beyoncé Knowles would join him. Now was he ready to announce the color of the Brooklyn Nets uniforms.



"Jay-Z, now that we're friends, I want to tell you that I really love your music," Scotto. "And I know I'm no Alicia Keys, maybe you'll let me just sing a little something to you."

Then she began to sing, "Brooklyn, concrete jungle where dreams are made of," from Empire.

That's morning TV.

"What do you think the arena's going to mean to people in this neighborhood?" Scotto asked.

"Well, it's already created so many jobs, especially at a time like this in the world," Jay-Z responded, untethered to precision or a cost-benefit analysis. "And create more jobs--this place has to be run."

Actually, it's caused a lot of problems for "people in this neighborhood."

Brett Yormark and Bruce Ratner

At the media event tent, Barclays Center p.r. guy Barry Baum introduced Yormark as CEO of the Barclays Center. "Today marks the tip-off of the 12-month countdown" to the opening of the arena, Yormark said.

Steel is 75% up and the roof should be enclosed by early next year, he said. "Forest City Ratner and Hunt Construction continue to do an amazing job."

"The Barclays Center will offer something for everyone," he said, including "Brooklyn's hometown NBA team."

"It was Bruce's vision, perserverance, and character that were instrumental in making the Barclays Center a reality," Yormark said of the man who hired him. He also thanked Markowitz, "who has demonstrated unwavering support for this project."

"Finally, it's a privilege to be here with the number one entertainer in the world: Jay-Z," he said, before introducing Ratner as "the man chiefly responsible for the renaissance of Brooklyn."



Ratner, at the podium, declared, waving his arms "You can see it rising, you can see its size, you can see how beautiful it is. You can imagine basketball there, you can imagine boxing... college sports and the thing I like most, extravaganzas. Something for everybody."

"Not only will it bring this borough entertainment," he said. "There are over 1500 permanent retail jobs in these builidngs. There are almost 2000 office workers... And now we'll have an arena and residential buildings and more jobs. Thousands of construction jobs, thousands of permanent jobs."

Notice how he didn't offer specifics.

"And I have to say something... If you think about it, it's not only jobs for Brooklyn, it's jobs for America," Ratner declared, starting on a new tack. "Each piece of steel, mined from ore in the state of Minnesota. It's smelted in a plant in North Carolina, the coal that supplies that plant is from Pennsylvania. The ingots are rolled in another one of our states. It's cut and fabricated in Virginia. And it's shipped here to Brooklyn, where our great construction workers put it up in stands made in Detroit. All America benefits by this."

(Photo by Tracy Collins)

"Mayor Bloomberg has been an unwavering supporter," Ratner said, thanking city agencies. He then thanked "the state government, led by our new governor, who has given us all hope... and our thanks in particular to the ESDC."

He thanked the MTA, the Long Island Rail Road, Borough President Markowitz, and the CBA partners, citing specifically the Rev. Herbert Daughtry and James Caldwell, president of Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development (BUILD).

He saluted Irina Pavlova, president of Onexim Sports and Entertainment, the company for the team's majority owner. "Michael Prokhorov," Ratner added, again showing his unwillingness to pronounce the name Mikhail. "Brooklyn loves you and America loves you."

"As Jay-Z knows, this arena is largely about the children and youth of Brooklyn," Ratner said. "We can give them more moments--each one of us has had a time in our life--that first circus, that first basketball game, that first ice hockey, or whatever it happens to be--we all remember those moments, and we want to give those first warm moments to every child in Brooklyn and have that feeling and inspiration that'll lead them to become more Jay-Z's, more Brett Yormarks, more of the many, many people who are out here."

Marty Markowitz

"Thank you for making my personal dream, and the dreams of Brooklynites a reality," Markowitz said, to Ratner.



"What I can say today, to the residents that are here, thank you for keeping the faith. Thank you for keeping the faith," he said. "I know the taunts that you receive, and that's saying it nicely. I know. You kept the faith and you realized what this would be for the future of Brooklyn and New York. And I congratulate each and every one of you."

He congratulated people for accepting money from Forest City Ratner to represent the community in the Community Benefits Agreement?

"So I can say, today, that Brooklyn is in the house, big time. And for generations, Broklynites were belittled and disrespected"--his voice rose--"disrespected and belittled, no more. That's all I can say. Next year, when we formally open the arena, the ghosts of Ebbets Field will forever be lifted."

(Photo by Tracy Collins)

Jay-Z

From the podium, Jay-Z called for a group of students from his old high school--George Westinghouse--to join him. The actual content of his remarks lasted less than a minute.



"I have so much pride, as a kid who came from Marcy Projects to stand here," he said. "I asked for two things, two things, out of my partners in ownership, is that we name the New Jersey Nets the Brooklyn Nets, and the second one is that I open it with a concert."

He made it sound like it was a radical request. Both were obvious strategies.

"So we're opening this arena here with a concert, maybe, one, maybe two, maybe--I sound like LeBron [James]," he said, to laughter. "Maybe one, maybe two--definitely more than one."

"Without Brooklyn, I wouldn't be standing here right now," he said in conclusion. "I'm humbled, I'm excited, so we're ready for the Brooklyn Nets... let's make some noise."

And then he walked out, to applause, to a waiting limo. The only questions he'd answered were the ones posed by Scotto.

(Photo by Tracy Collins)

Comments

Post a Comment

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…