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Showing posts from 2013

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Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park infographics: what's built/coming/missing, who's responsible, + project overview/FAQ/timeline (pinned post)

Finally! After numerous complaints, Barclays Center installs "No Idling" signs on pad ajdacent to loading dock

Just in time for tonight's New Year's Eve Billy Joel Concert, and some 15 months after the Barclays Center opened, the arena (as noted on Atlantic Yards Watch ) has finally installed "No Idling Vehicles" signs on the pad--an accessory parking area just east of the loading dock. Large vehicles, including buses and trucks, have regularly been idling on the pad, which was not disclosed in planning for the arena. They've apparently used internal power for heat and light, but now the arena has instructed them that they can access power from the building open request. The pad has been subject to numerous complaints, documented at public meetings and on Atlantic Yards Watch--though curiously absent in a New York Times article  last February about arena impacts. After complaints were raised at the 5/7/13 Atlantic Yards Quality of Life Committee meeting , state official Arana Hankin (since departed ) said that the pad could be used for parking, but “Idling is not

Reduced local impact? With no environmental study of Atlantic Yards modular plan, overnight deliveries weren't disclosed, analyzed

According to the 12/12/13 press release accompanying the media event  in which Forest City Ratner hoisted three "mods" for the cameras, modular construction for the first Atlantic Yards tower, B2, would result in both "Reduced On-Site Construction Traffic" and "Reduced Neighborhood Impact." Those claims may well be correct, but they were never vetted by any oversight agency, as modular construction was not addressed in  the 2006 environmental review nor the 2009 and 2010 memoranda  issued by Empire State Development, the state agency overseeing and shepherding the project. That means some distinct impacts never  disclosed until 12/4/13 , namely four overnight deliveries that may prove to be quite noisy for neighbors, at least as shown  with the first delivery . (The plan announced a year earlier was for one overnight delivery, though that wasn't studied, either.) Deliveries resume next week . The claim From the  press release : The on-sit

Vintage BdB: endorsing meaningless 2006 Atlantic Yards cut, de Blasio said "anything we can do to decrease the size of the project will help lessen the negative impact on quality of life"

Take a look at the video attached to this 9/26/06 report on NY1, City Planners Look To Shrink Atlantic Yards Project , and scroll forward to 1:05 of the report. Listen to Council Member (and now Mayor-elect) Bill de Blasio: "You still can make this a somewhat smaller project. You can still achieve those social goals, and you can certainly make it fit better with the surrounding community and anything we can do to decrease the size of the project will help lessen the negative impact on quality of life." At that moment, de Blasio was not, in fact, endorsing any significant changes. He was backing an orchestrated , meaningless 8% cut in the size of the project "recommended" by the Department of City Planning, which would reduce the projected size of Atlantic Yards, in square feet, to the amount announced three years earlier. More recently, of course, he's similarly sounded reasonable while staying supportive of the project, despite ample opportunity f

de Blasio campaign paid Forest City Ratner nearly $17,000 for campaign office (but paid more for main office)

I  wrote  in October how Democratic mayoral nominee de Blasio was paying developer Forest City Ratner--whose executives have raised  campaign funds for him  and  co-hosted a fundraiser --$5,000 to rent a campaign office in Brooklyn. Well, a look at the most recent campaign finance filings show that de Blasio's campaign paid nearly $17,000 over three months for the space at 345 Jay Street in MetroTech, formerly  occupied by Sid's Hardware .  It was referred to informally as "campaign headquarters." But it surely was an expansion on, and subordinate to, the longer-term main campaign office, for which the  campaign was paying approximately $5,000 a month, at  32 Court Street in Downtown Brooklyn. As I wrote, I suspect there's a plausible explanation for the MetroTech lease, that it was better-priced, better-located space than the alternatives, though I never got any explanation. And if you're going to rent space in New York, it's not unlik

Another Markowitz exit interview: "Well, the arena was built first because the Nets were purchased."

So, another exit interview with 12-year Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, this one Friday night on NY1 (click at the end of the first segment for the second). What is your secret, asked host Josh Robin. "I knew the product, so to speak, that I was representing," Markowitz responded. "I knew Brooklyn as well as anyone could... from the time I was 16, I went a field trip to Brooklyn Borough Hall and meet Abe Stark, I knew I wanted to be Brooklyn Borough President." That's always been his shtick, but remember how, when he was contemplating a run for mayor, he erased that pledge from his official Borough Hall biography? "I'm proud of where Brooklyn" is, Markowitz said, acknowledging that a 1989 Supreme Court decision took many of the significant powers away from the Borough President "but I really believe that the person makes the job.: Robin, showing an excerpt from a new Beyonce video shot at the not-so-hip Coney Isla

The long lead time for a monthly magazine was not helpful for Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov

From the January/February 2014 issue of The Atlantic, several people answered the question  Q: What party would you most like to have attended? One answer might have been filed with just a little too much lead time: Mikhail Prokhorov, Russian politician and owner, Brooklyn Nets : The Brooklyn Nets’ NBA championship party. Put it on your calendar. The Nets had high ambitions with their new roster, but, as of today, the Nets are 10-20 , which is three games behind the Boston Celtics in the race for the last Eastern Conference playoff spot. They are one game ahead of the lousy Knicks, but, for purposes of comparison, consider that coach Avery Johnson was fired at the end of December last year when the team was 14-14, though on a 3-10 losing streak.

Bloomberg releases stats on ambitious affordable housing plan: far more preservation (107,119 units) than new construction (50,111)

Remember that bizarre dispute I got into with the New York Times editor in charge of corrections, who had defended a 5/20/12 profile of City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden, which stated : On her watch, the administration has undertaken financing 165,000 units of affordable housing by 2014, of which more than 130,000 have been built , and has created projects like Via Verde, the handsome, eco-friendly subsidized development in the South Bronx. (Emphasis added) After all, the city liked to use the term "build and preserve," as the Times reported in February 2010: In 2005, the city said it would build 92,000 units and preserve 73,000 by 2014. Now, it expects to build 60,000 and preserve 105,000." Now we have some numbers from the mayor's office: 50,111 units constructed, 107,119 units preserved. The mayoral announcement The numbers come from a 12/21/13 press release,  Mayor Bloomberg Announces City Will Reach 160,000 Units of Affordable Housing Financ

Conservative think tank says state environmental review should be speeded, since it discourages development; I'd call law an Atlantic Yards enabler

A conservative think tank recently took aim at the oft-criticized State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA, or SEQR), arguing that the process--used by state agencies, including the Empire State Development Corporation for the Atlantic Yards project--takes way too long and discourages development. The irony, from my perspective, is that in the case of Atlantic Yards the process helped enable the project compared to the alternative, and it's still being used at the developer's behest. The case for speed As Capital NY reported, in  Empire Center proposes 300-day environmental review , The Empire Center for New York State Policy included the recommendation in a report on Monday detailing ways the New York’s State Environmental Quality Review can be streamlined to reduce delays on development projects. Center president E.J. McMahon said the process creates delays and uncertainty for businesses. “SEQR adds an unnecessary layer of red tape to environmental regulations

Another self-serving, defensive Markowitz valedictory; also, a barely reported boost from the arena: the Camp Brooklyn gala

In another valedictory this week, this time in the New York Observer, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz "seems to be trying hard to defend his brand": He seemed to take issue, for instance, with his recent New York Times exit interview , although he never said so explicitly. “I believe too many reporters no longer present the news in a balanced way … For instance, you should never say, in my opinion: ‘Marty Markowitz, rotund; Marty Markowitz, jokester; Marty Markowitz–whatever words they use,’” he argued, among other criticisms. Ah, Marty doth protest too much. How many umpteen times has he made self-deprecating jokes about his fondness for eating, his limited willpower, his inability to lose weight? It's part of his shtick, and now he's disavowing it?" And, as shown in the screenshot from a News 12 interview , he's undeniably jowly. "The greatest reward," he says , is when regular Brooklynites come up to him and say, "'Th

Ad banners on streets near Barclays Center appear, then get taken away after complaints (just as in September 2012)

On Pacific Street In an odd repeat of a September 2012 episode in which advertising banners appeared on residential streets near the Barclays Center only to be removed days later , another set of banners appeared late last week on those streets, only to be removed Monday. The banners, placed apparently at the behest of NYC & Company, the city's tourism arm, appeared on Dean Street between Flatbush and Carlton avenues, Pacific Street between Sixth and Carlton avenues, and on Sixth near the arena. The banners, which advertised the Super Bowl Host Committee and included the name of a different sponsor, seemed aimed at arena patrons going to the surface parking lot and/or walking around the neighborhood. The placement suggested the tension between the arena's very commercial nature and the residential nature of immediately adjacent blocks, some of which are almost exclusively residential. Complaints lodged, and responded to On Dean Street As one resident  po

From the latest Atlantic Yards Construction Alert: no module deliveries this week or next (but work on B2 foundation and utilities)

Updated 12/27/13 with Brooklyn Paper mention. Further evidence that the initial delivery and stacking of modules for the B2 tower was mostly a media event, as I contended , appears in the latest two-week Atlantic Yards Construction Alert (bottom), prepared by developer Forest City Ratner and distributed yesterday by Empire State Development. The document, dated 12/23/13, states, "Deliveries commenced on Wednesday, night, December 11th. No deliveries are scheduled to take place during this reporting period." In a November news report, Forest City said deliveries would start in January. Sure, this week and next are holiday weeks, sort of, but if they really wanted to get the building done on a tight schedule, they'd be building, right? I had some Twitter back-and-forth with Jason O'Keefe, a construction professional with knowledge of the project, who--as shown in the screenshot--speculated that the companies involved weren't working this week and next.

After Nets loss, "Kidd rips players" and backlash continues

The Brooklyn Nets lost big at home last night to the league-leading Indiana Pacers, showing the limits of a team without injured center Brooklyn Lopez. Had the team won, or came close, the narrative would have concerned the team's resilience, and depth, as well as the powers of General Manager Billy King and Coach Jason Kidd. Instead, the Daily News offered the back page headlined "Nets Losin' It," with the subhead, "Kidd rips players after Pacers loss, butts heads with Deron." That would be star point guard Deron Williams. Below, as shown in the Twitter screenshot, Daily News beat writer Stefan Bondy and Times columnist Harvey Araton took turns blasting the Nets, after, as Bondy wrote in his article : According to their coach, the Nets are something worse than losers — they’re quitters. More than 30 minutes after his team was embarrassed by the Pacers, 103-86, Monday night in Brooklyn, Jason Kidd arrived late to his postgame press conference with h

If Atlantic Yards has just "14 residential buildings," what's missing: Miss Brooklyn? Site 5? Building 15? (unless there are office buildings)

Forest City Ratner construction chief Bob Sanna, in a 9/13/13 affidavit in the case  challenging the Department of Buildings' approval of the Atlantic Yards modular plan, identified the project as containing 14 residential buildings with over 6000 housing units, "in addition to retail space, offices and publicly accessible open space." That leaves wiggle room in a couple of ways. As of now, Atlantic Yards is supposed to feature  16 towers,   Either a few towers would not be built--I'll give my bets below--or a few towers would be mostly or exclusively office space. The residential mixed-use variation There would be 6,430 apartments, at least in the by far most commonly described iteration: the residential mixed-use variation, as described in the Final Environmental Impact Statement. There would be office space in the flagship B1 tower (aka Miss Brooklyn), if built over what is now the temporary plaza. Unlike apartment buildings, which can get construct

With Lopez injury compounding bad start, some second-guessing on the Brooklyn Nets' win-now strategy

Now that Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez, the team's only All-Star last season, is out of the season with a broken foot, the 9-17 team--plagued by injuries and unforeseen weaknesses--is not close to the contender it was expected to be, even if the lousy Eastern Conference should give them a playoff spot. But some are rethinking thier cheers for the win-now strategy. Writes New York Times sports columnist Harvey Araton, in  Nets, Built to Win Now, May Need to Cut Losses : [E]verything the Nets have done, all the No. 1 picks they have traded for a 9-17 team, can be traced to [majority owner Mikhail] Prokhorov’s introductory promise to produce a championship in relatively short order, or at least to arrive in Brooklyn with a team to be reckoned with. The alternative path would have been to recognize that the novelty of Barclays Center would have given the Nets a two- to three-year window to build from the ground up. They might have let the Knicks continue to overspend, mortgage

Ratner on Bloomberg TV: first Atlantic Yards tower = "one- and two-bedroom apartments, primarily" (or, actually, studios)

Interviewed on Bloomberg TV 12/12/13, Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner expressed confidence that the new modular apartment units in B2, the first Atlantic Yards building, would rent quickly, saying the quality is great, as is location: "I am not worried about them renting at all." "There are a lot more people living with their parents and grandparents than there used to be in the past," one not-so-prepared host stated, asking, "The changing demographics -- how flexible are these prefabricated homes for these multi-generational families?" "Well, there's two aspects--50% of the first building is affordable, middle-income and affordable," Ratner replied. "They're one- and two-bedroom apartments, primarily. The rest of the market really in New York City for new residential buildings are basically people between the age 25 and 35, single or just married." Older homes, he said, accommodate multi-generational families. Even

In discussions of the Bloomberg legacy, the Barclays Center comes up (erroneously) big

A Reuters retrospective, variously titled Michael Bloomberg Leaves Outsized New York Legacy (The Forward) or From crime to cigarettes, Bloomberg leaves his mark on New York (Yahoo), contains this paragraph: The former Wall Street executive and founder of a media company that bears his name leaves a city with lower crime rates, more parks, and new urban landmarks such as the Barclays Center, an indoor arena built over a Brooklyn train yard. Of course the arena was not "built over a Brooklyn train yard." About half of it was built below grade at the site of perhaps one-quarter of a train yard, the functions of which were moved to the east. And a deck for vertical development to cure the "blight" of the below-grade yard--while allowing the storage and cleaning of rail cars to continue--has yet to be built. But that's way too complicated, right? In the Daily News A Daily News editorial today, headlined Prince of N.Y.: Bloomberg's legacy is a city that re

Nets said to plan practice court, training facility in Sunset Park industrial district; a new DUMBO? (nah)

The Brooklyn Nets are planning to build a new practice court, and training facility in Sunset Park, at 148 39th Street, just west of Second Avenue (and near Costco) along the waterfront in Industry City, reports the New York Times in  Nets Look to Get Both Feet in Brooklyn . The article builds on a 10/30/13  report  in NetsDaily, which estimated the investment at $50 million. Assuming the deal goes through, the Nets by fall 2015 also will move their front offices to Brooklyn, thus changing their off-court center of gravity from New Jersey to Brooklyn, and leading to the probability some players, seeking convenience, would finally move to Brooklyn rather than live in Manhattan or New Jersey. The location is a straight shot down Fourth Avenue from the Barclays Center, a little more than three miles. The impact on Sunset Park The Times, I think, goes a little far in predicting the impact on the area: The neighborhood is in an intriguing state of transition. Sunset Park is home