Skip to main content

Did greenmarkets, holiday fairs, and community programming come to the Barclays Center plaza? So far, promotional activities

The Barclays Center plaza was announced with some big promises.

"Forest City Ratner is very interested in working with the community to find out what the right kind of programming is," arena architect Gregg Pasquarelli said 9/29/10. "We just looked at examples around the city... whether it's something as simple as cafe seating… Wouldn't it be great to have to have a live digital feed of Prospect Park on the inside of the oculus?"

Neither have arrived, other than very limited cafe seating associated with Starbucks.

Also possible, Pasquarelli suggested, were fashion shows "or maybe a movie night, which we think would be fantastic… bring chairs, blankets,... you could actually project the film on the inside of the oculus... what would actually happen be determined in the future in combination with the community."

Nothing of the sort has happened. There is, of course, still time for plaza programming to emerge, and for the emerging BID (business improvement district) to take charge.

Craig Barritt/Getty Images North America
But so far the plaza has been used more for promotional activities such as the AmexUnlocks promotion (above right) last October, in which fans could make videos that could get them into Nets games, or the Advil Relief in Action hype last week (left).

Urban Room promises

There was never supposed to be a plaza in the first place: Atlantic Yards was justified as a net gain in tax revenues because of a giant office tower at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues.

According to the July 2006 General Project Plan released by the Empire State Development Corporation, the ground floor space surrounding the new subway entrance was part of a soaring  atrium, an Urban Room, built into that flagship tower:
An Urban Room connected to the Arena will serve as a significant public amenity by accommodating the major flows of people to and from the transit center during the day and night, serving as a direct subway entrance to the Arena and allowing for a variety of public uses and programmed events throughout the year.
Andy Wiley-Schwartz, then of Project for Public Spaces, in 2006 called the Urban Room "the most important public space in the plan, because it will have the most people in it. And it has a subway entrance. And they have agreed to keep the subway entrance open all the time. You’d hope that there would be public things of interest, like the Christmas market at Grand Central, so it would be programmed in a way that would make it a destination."

Gotham Gazette reported, in an August 2006 article on open space:
It is also not clear whether the 10,000-square-foot "Urban Room" in the arena will function as intended. "It is being marketed as the Grand Central for Brooklyn, but it's configured like it's going to be a lobby to the arena," said [Jasper] Goldman [of the Municipal Art Society]. "Will it function as a public space given that?"
"We do hope people use the Urban Room to access activities at the arena," said [Joe] DePlasco of Forest City Ratner. "But beyond that, we hope that it is a comfortable place to just sit, rest, and watch other people. There will be programming there as well, including music, art displays and other activities."
For now, of course, the urban plaza has been mostly a waiting area for the arena, with event-related vendor sales.

Urban Room revised

The June 2009 Modified General Project Plan maintained the same outcome:
An Urban Room connected to the Arena will serve as a significant public amenity by accommodating the major flows of people to and from the transit center during the day and night, serving as a direct subway entrance to the Arena and allowing for a variety of public uses and programmed events throughout the year.
Key: 7 = retail kiosk + stadium seating; #8 = performance surface
However, the associated Technical Memorandum acknowledged delays, with a "for illustrative purposes only" image (above) that, from today's perspective, seems fanciful, given the very limited greenery and lack of amenities:
Until Building 1 construction commences, the future Urban Room area at the southeast corner of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues would be occupied by an outdoor urban plaza. The urban plaza would follow the basic use and design principles of the Urban Room in order to create a significant public amenity. It is anticipated that the plaza would include the following elements:
• Trees in planters, to provide shade;
• Retail kiosks that incorporate stoop-like bleacher seating into their structure. These kiosks
could provide food and beverages or other retail uses;
• Social seating (benches and fixed tables) as well as loose seating;
• The new transit entrance, which will be provided even if there is a delay in the construction of Building 1;
• A prominent sculptural element, such as a large piece of public art; and
• A generously sized, flexible program space to allow for formal and informal public uses
such as outdoor performances, temporary markets, art installations, and seating.
... As described above, the plaza also would include small kiosks for retail and cafĂ© use... This interim use of the Urban Room area would be designed by the project
sponsor to provide a usable, welcoming amenity for the surrounding neighborhood.
Optimism in 2010 

Forest City Ratner executive MaryAnne Gilmartin, according to the 6/16/10 Real Deal, also predicted much activity:
The area in front of the arena will house 12,000 square feet of open space, she said, and a rebuilt subway entrance (previously in disuse) covered with flowering plants. There will be benches and seating in the plaza, along with retail shops, and the space will house greenmarkets and other outdoor events, she said.
When the plaza design was unveiled in September 2010, the New York Observer accepted some Ratner optimism, in Fashion Week When  to Atlantic Yards?:
Though it will someday be capped by a sizable office tower, a new SHoP-designed public plaza at the entrance to the under-construction Brooklyn Nets arena was unveiled today. The key features of the roughly 39,000-square-foot plaza are a greenroof-capped subway entrance and a large oculus at the prow of the arena with programmable, wrap-around displays. Everything from live game footage to Prospect Park live-cams has been contemplated.
"We're very excited about the programming opportunities for this space," Gilmartin said at a 9/29/10 public meeting. "We're looking at the possibility of a farmer's market, movie nights, and other events and festivities.

The Plaza, which will serve as the primary entryway to the arena, integrates a new transit entrance with environmentally conscious landscaping, intimate seating areas and flexible open space that can be used for community programming and arena events. The Plaza will be sponsored by ADT, one of the founding partners of the Barclays Center.
(Emphasis added)

Now, the plaza is sponsored by the New York Daily News, from which many encouraging words are heard.

Like a park?

The press release quoted the developer:
"We of course want the Plaza to function well as a gateway to the Barclays Center," Mr. Ratner said. "But it was also designed much like a park so it can be programmed for community events and diverse activities, such as a greenmarket and holiday fairs."


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 + 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…

The passing of David Sheets, Dean Street renter, former Freddy's bartender, eminent domain plaintiff, and singular personality

David Sheets, longtime Dean Street renter, Freddy's bartender, eminent domain plaintiff, and singular personality, died 1/17/18 in HCA Greenview Hospital in Bowling Green, KY. He was 56.

There are obituary notices in the Bowling Green Daily News and the Wichita Eagle, which state:
He was born in Wichita, KS where he attended public Schools and Wichita State University. He lived for many years in Brooklyn, NY, and was employed as a legal assistant. David's hobby was cartography and had an avid interest in Mass Transit Systems of the world. David was predeceased by his father, Kenneth E. Sheets. He is survived by his mother, Wilma Smith, step-brother, Billy Ray Smith and his wife, Jane all of Bowling Green; step-sister, Ellen Smith Alexander and her husband, Jerry of Bella Vista, AR; several cousins and step-nieces and step-nephews also survive. Memorial Services will be on Monday, January 22, 2018 at 1:00 pm with visitation from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm Monday at Johnson-Vaughn-Phe…

Some skepticism on Belmont hockey deal: lease value seems far below Aqueduct racino; unclear (but large?) cost for LIRR service

As I wrote for The Bridge 12/20/1, The Islanders Say Bye to Brooklyn, But Where Next?, the press conference announcing a new arena at Belmont Park for the New York Islanders was "long on pomp... but short on specifics."

Notably, a lease valued at $40 million "upfront to lease up to 43 acres over 49 years... seems like a good deal on rent for the state-controlled property." Also, the Long Island Rail Road will expand service to Belmont.

That indicates public support for an arena widely described as "privately financed," but how much? We don't know yet, but some more details--or at least questions--have emerged.

An Aqueduct comparable?

Well, we don't know what the other bid was, and there aren't exactly parcels that large offering direct comparables.

But consider: Genting New York LLC in September 2010 was granted a franchise to operate a video lottery terminal under a 30 year lease on 67 acres at Aqueduct Park (as noted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo).


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 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…