Skip to main content

Brooklyn real estate: a hot market has to be good news for Forest City Ratner (but why 25 years for AY?)

I recently watched the videos from Terra CRG's Brooklyn Real Estate Summit held at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in May, summarized by the 5/10/13 Brooklyn Daily Eagle as Brooklyn Real Estate Summit: Brooklyn is hot, getting hotter, with a quote from a participant: "Demographics is destiny; the borough is changing."

All of this has to be good news for the developers of Atlantic Yards, aiming to market luxury rentals and later condos.

It also could be fuel for critics who, in the pending Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement, argue that the 25-year permit for Forest City Ratner's buildout should be reduced, and that the sites in Phase 2 be bid out to other developers.

Keynote: Deputy Mayor

In the opening keynote (video), Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert Steel cited record population, jobs, housing units, and tourists, including a 16% growth in employment in Brooklyn during Bloomberg's three terms, though he acknowledged that certain areas, such as the South Bronx or East New York, face a jobs deficit.

The four-point economic development strategy includes: quality of life, a pro-business environment, investment in the future, and innovation in economic transformation.

Regarding quality of life, he cited increased public safety--murders going from 2200 in 1990 to 419 last year, better parks, and cultural institutions.

Steel noted that young workers can find a good job and lifestyle in "other, newer, more interesting cities" like Austin or Seattle.

"I'm really comfortable selling the idea to people," he said, that "you can live in Brooklyn and work in DUMBO and enjoy Brooklyn Bridge Park and enjoy all of BAM [Brooklyn Academy of Music], and that's a life on your mountain bike with your dog that's not dissimilar to the outdoor life you can get in some of these other places."

Steel noted that residential real estate is hot, but without a "thumb on the scale," there won't be as much commercial office space and retail

"Brooklyn, we believe, will be one of the lasting legacies of this administration," he said, calling the BAM cultural district "kind of our next Lincoln Center." The city's $100 million investment--which surely doesn't include indirect discounts--has "really changed the nature of how people perceive Brooklyn," he said.

Steel praised Two Trees' New Domino plan, saying "the chance to reformulate the skyline is pretty exciting," acknowledging of the SHoP rendering, "I'm sure this will change a bit."

He mentioned Steeplechase Plaza at Coney Island, and the planned Seaside Amphitheater, and said he could talk about Greenpoint Landing, BAM South, and plans for East New York.

Panel: arts and entertainment

In a panel (video), BAM president Karen Brooks Hopkins, said, “This is Downtown Brooklyn’s moment. This is our moment, and and we've waited for it a long time.” With venues ranging in size from 200 to 19,000 seats, she said, "you really don't see anything like this on the planet."

"Within the next five years, you'll also see 10,000 more people residing in this district," she said. "It's an amazing opportunity for real estate industry as well as culture."

She presented a slight challenge to the developers: "We would like all of you to be partners, not adversaries... We challenge you to build great buildings... we want you do something distinctive... also hope you will partner with cultural institutions."

Broker Chris Havens declared, "This is Lincoln Center, with better food within walking distance."

Panelists talked about growth in Gowanus and Williamsburg and Coney Island, all of which are looking up, though Coney could still use hotels, movie theater.

Panel: retail

Geoff Bailey, VP of Retail Sales at TerraCRG, at a panel on retail (video), described a 180-degree turn when visiting the International Council of Shopping Centers conference.

"People want to be here, they want their brands here," Bailey said. "The retail market in Brooklyn has historically been one of the most underserved retail market... what we've seen in the past year has been tremendous... Armani Xchange... everything is happening on Fulton mall, the first SoulCycle in Williamsburg."

Related is building 600,000 square feet behind its Gateway project in East New York.

Christina Warner of L&M Development, described how Williamsburg had changed. After seeing people with Trader Joe's bags, her firm and partner Goldman Sachs made sure to put a high-end grocery in 11 Broadway.

Sabrina Glazer of Equinox said SoulCycle sold out classes (at $34) in an hour. They're looking to expand, perhaps in Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, and DUMBO.

At the same time, the firm's high-style, low-cost ($15/month) Blink Fitness has 13 locations, with four in the pipeline, in Prospect Park South, Brooklyn College, and Utica Avenue, and future locations in Bushwick, Sunset Park, Bed-Stuy, and Brownsville.

"I would buy anything that I can on Fulton Street," said Ike Chera, Crown Acquisitions, noting that a street where rents were once $150/sf is now approaching $300/sf.

"City Point we think is going to be a transformative project," said Paul Travis, one of the partners in the joint venture that includes retail and housing, noting that in five years Downtown Brooklyn will have 32,000 residents. "We believe that is the best residential site in the entire borough," he said, citing an 1.8 million square foot buildout. "When City Point opens in 2015, it's a new era for Brooklyn retail world."

A Starbucks rep noted that the chain first opened 20 years ago on Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights and had just opened its 20th store, on Flatbush Avenue and Park Place in Park Slope, and is looking to double its Brooklyn presence in the next four to five years. Starbucks would like to be in Williamsburg, but "it is such a sophisticated market, you gotta do it right."

"Demographics is destiny," Travis said, noting that in some brownstone neighborhoods, "income has doubled in the last ten years."

Panel: hotels

In a panel (video) on hotels, Jason Muss of Muss Development, which built the pioneering Marriott in Downtown Brooklyn, observed, "Everyone thought we were crazy to build a hotel. Now they say you're crazy not to build a hotel."

Marc Freud of Troutbrook Development recently opened a Fairfield Inn and Suites recalled that, more than a decade ago, when his firm closed on the deal to renovate 636 Pacific Street in Prospect Heights--the condo building where Atlantic Yards foe Daniel Goldstein lived--"my car got broken into." (That block improved once renovations emerged.)

The Third Avenue site for Fairfield Inn and Suites was purchased in early 2007 with a "belief that the area might change." Franchiser Marriott was cautious, Freud observed, so his firm had to hire a helicopter to take photos to explain how close the location was to transportation hubs.

Toby Moskovits, founder and CEO of Heritage Equity Partners, is building a 150-room hotel in Williamsburg next to the Wythe Hotel. She cited a “tremendous disconnect" demand and supply for hotel rooms in Williamsburg. "They’re coming for the Williamsburg experience.”


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 January 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 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't be so cheap.

As …

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…