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Roundup: Tony Roma's opens, noise shuts a venue (but not the arena), Nets advertising, gentrification in Crown Heights

A round-up of several articles related, in some way, to Atlantic Yards.

Tony Roma's opens

Tony Roma's is opening on Tuesday, 12/10/13, catercorner to the arena:
Romacorp, Inc., parent company for Tony Roma’s restaurants, and Atlantic Yards Plaza, LLC, licensed franchisee of Tony Roma’s, together announce the opening of a new Tony Roma’s location in Brooklyn, NY scheduled for December 10, 2013, the day after what would have been Tony’s 90th birthday.
...The restaurant is approximately 6,500 square feet, seats 265 guests and touts fifteen flat screen televisions placed throughout, a full bar and dining room. The menu will include Tony Roma’s Signature Baby Backs and Tony’s original recipe BBQ sauce along with other steak favorites such as filet medallions with three different hand crafted toppings. Additionally, this location will also offer breakfast options from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
...Surrounded by historical landmarks, Tony Roma’s is conveniently located across from the Barclay’s Center Arena, which will host hundreds of sporting events annually, including: Home games for the Brooklyn Nets basketball team, New York Islanders hockey team as well as numerous high-profile concerts. The address: 673 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217.
A new opportunity for arena retail

Brownstoner reports Drug Rehab Center Plans to Relocate From Flatbush to Atlantic:
Drug treatment and psychotherapy center New Directions lost its lease and plans to relocate to 500 Atlantic Avenue in March. The substance abuse treatment program has been headquartered at 202-206 Flatbush Ave between Bergen and Dean since 1983.

...Neighboring property and business owners at the meeting said that they didn’t want another health service on this stretch of Atlantic, where there are already medical and dental offices, a hip center and transitional housing for the homeless. Business owners, as well as the Atlantic Avenue BID, said the block needs retailers or restaurants that would draw more foot traffic to the area.
If the move does go through, that opens up yet another retail storefront for bar/restaurant/arena retail.

DNAinfo adds:
New Direction's existing lease expires on March 31. The center's landlord on Flatbush Avenue declined to renew it because of the real estate boom near the Barclays Center, a representative for the center said.
A holiday gift

The New York Post requires two reporters to produce Nets’ mascot delivers Christmas tree to Bed-Stuy students:
Santa wore a cape in Brooklyn this year.
The Brooklyn Nets’ superhero mascot the “BrooklyKnight” delivered a freshly-cut six-foot Christmas tree to pre-schoolers in Bedford-Stuyvesant on Friday, thrilling underprivileged tots — some of whom can’t afford decorations at home.
“Look at the them! My students are so excited. You can see the smiles on their faces. It makes me happy and proud,” said Michelle Renna, a 33-year-old teacher at P.S. 23.
Principal Celina Napolitano, who had bought a small fake tree for the school last year, said it was the first time some students had ever seen a real Christmas tree.
“This is [our] Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. I was excited for the little ones because, for those who believes in Santa, this gives them hope,” she while wiping a tear from her eye.
“We are making the school very warm and festive because we are in a poverty stricken area and some of the children may not have this at home during this holiday season,” she said.
She added, “Some are coming from shelters. They do not have this there.”
Roughly 70 four-and-five year olds at the school celebrated the delivery by cheering and yelling, “Thank you, Brooklyn Nets!”
The team is donating trees to six schools in Brooklyn, including PS 282 in Park Slope, with help from the delivery service Tyler’s Trees.
Shouldn't this be considered advertising?

Noise shuts down a music venue

Somehow a new music venue in Williamsburg canceled its shows due to noise complaints, via DNAinfo:
WILLIAMSBURG — Just days after this much-anticipated record store and venue opened its doors, Rough Trade has canceled all its in-store shows — with famed aritsts including Andrew Bird and Pretty Lights — after neighbors couldn't take the noise, staff said.
"We are working quickly to fix an issue we've run into with our venue's noise level and how it effects (sic) the neighborhood," Rough Trade tweeted Thursday afternoon and then listed a number of shows that were either canceled or moved to other venues.
A representative from Rough Trade, which opened on Nov. 25, said they were working to better soundproof the North Ninth Street warehouse so they could resume the concerts, and that he was not sure how long the process would take.
Of course that hasn't happened at the Barclays Center, where complaints about leaking bass are met with "I don't have an update at this time."

Gentrification in the next neighborhood

Broker Chris Havens, in the Observer, describes the The Crown Heights Retail Affair:
Crown Heights has had the fastest retail gentrification that observers have seen in Brooklyn since Williamsburg back in its heyday.
With over 50 storefronts going upscale in the last three years, short term leases and low rents are giving way to $60 per SF stores and what I call ‘brunchification’.
Bars started the roll, Franklin Park on St. John’s Place being the most noted. Tellingly, a former ‘early-stage’ Dumbo entrepreneur Michael De Zayas, who founded the apparel business Neighborhoodies, is now rooted in Crown Heights North. De Zayas used to make customized hoodies and t-shirts emblazoned with your favorite neighborhood name, first at 45 Main Street then at 20 Jay Street in Dumbo. Now, he has one of the first ‘youth with a laptop’ hangouts on Franklin Avenue, Little Zelda’s, a tiny coffee shop, as well as a share in the cheese shop, WEDGE, next door, and not to mention the newly founded Hulabaloo Books just off Franklin Avenue.
While the majority of new stores are bars and restaurants, other services such as ‘organic’ groceries, wine stores and real estate offices have joined the party. Long-time residents tell me they await a first-rate dry cleaner. Generally confined to Franklin Avenue north of Eastern Parkway (where the 2/3 4/5 and S trains join in the best serviced station out of Downtown Brooklyn), there are also bars and restaurants on Nostrand, Rogers, Classon and Bedford Avenues.
New options for tax revenue

Crain's reports The Russians are coming! Not under this proposal
When Bill de Blasio takes office in January, Russian billionaires with New York City pied-à-terres could find themselves on the receiving end of a tax hike, if the mayor-elect embraces proposals released Wednesday by the Independent Budget Office.
The IBO ideas take aim at wealthy non-residents who maintain pricey apartments within the five boroughs.
The IBO said Wednesday that the city could generate savings by ending a much-used property tax break on co-ops and condos that are not being used as primary residences. The IBO also suggested a transfer tax for properties valued at $5 million or more. The two proposals could save $44 million annually.
This would be a way to tilt policy from the Bloomberg years:
The 421-a program was created to promote housing development citywide by offering temporary tax exemptions on newly built apartments. But purchases in new co-op and condo construction–especially in Manhattan–are being increasingly made by non-city residents, and the IBO projects that the number could rise to nearly half of all purchases in the coming years.
Because the tax is based on the value of new construction, a tax abatement saves the priciest properties the most. That's why the IBO argues that the 421-a program disproportionately benefits wealthy foreign condo owners.
"Tax expenditures should not be used to benefit individuals with limited economic commitment to the city," the IBO proposal reads, arguing that the priority of the 421-a program should be on addressing income inequality by "developing housing for city residents who contribute to the city's economy year round."
Another way to raise revenue

Crain's reports De Blasio tells lot owners to put up or pay up: Bill de Blasio's bid to close a tax loophole could force landlords to build new housing on their vacant plots or sell out to those who will.:
Cases like that spurred Public Advocate Bill de Blasio in April to push for tax hikes on vacant land to force owners either to put it to use and build housing or to sell it to those who will. As mayor-elect, Mr. de Blasio is pledging to carry out his idea, which today would affect more than 10,500 lots in the five boroughs, with the largest concentration on Staten Island. The plan, after a five-year phase-in period, would hike yearly rates by an average of $15,300, according to estimates by the Independent Budget Office.
...The plan could also provide a significant jolt of new revenue for the city that could go toward an affordable-housing program similar to Mayor Michael Bloomberg's New Housing Marketplace Plan, which is on track to build or preserve 165,000 units. Mr. de Blasio estimated his plan would eventually generate $162 million annually, which could fund construction of 4,000 new units, part of a broader goal to create or preserve nearly 200,000 units of affordable housing over 10 years.
By increasing the cost of inactivity to prohibitive levels, the hope is that more land can be put back into use and much-needed housing can be built. Many observers think it can work if the costs of holding land idle are driven high enough.
...Advocates of the change insist that altering the way vacant lots are taxed is not a tax hike but the closing of a long-running and counterproductive loophole.
Currently, all vacant lots that are zoned residential—no matter their size or development potential—are lumped into the same category as single-family homes. This means they are assessed at 6% of their market value. Mr. de Blasio's plan would instead put the land in the same category as commercial properties, increasing the assessment value to 45% of the market value of the land over five years.
This will undoubtedly raise the cost of holding land. But some of the most significant increases on long-held properties like the Olnick parcels will come from eliminating year-over-year caps that have kept their residential tax rates below the $10,000 mark, for example, instead of $80,000—the current maximum rate for the property....
Some observers believe, however, that such a move carries big risks. For openers, it could discourage developers from patiently assembling large blocks of property needed for big developments by effectively driving up their property costs....
The measure could also produce another undesirable effect.
"Maybe a guy says, 'I'm not going to pay these taxes, I'm going to build a taxpayer,'" said Eric Anton, a managing partner at investment bank Brookfield Financial, referring to a small development on a piece of property that generates just enough money to cover payments to the government.
Brooklyn a victim of its own success?

Bisnow reports on a recent real estate event:
Is Brooklyn a victim of its own success? While the Barclays Center has been a boon and more people are moving in than out, tenants are finding little space to grow and residents under-retailed as Brooklyn struggles to catch up with its popularity.
One problem with its immense growth: mid-sized businesses are leaving for New Jersey and Long Island, where there's more space, says Brooklyn borough president Marty Markowitz, who keynoted our Future of Brooklynevent last week. "We need to keep the startups here in Brooklyn." Just how popular is the borough? Find out what happened when Marty and his wife visited Vienna a few weeks ago by clicking the video above.
That's Brooklyn branding.


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

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"I will address it with principals for that security firm," Reid said.
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Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park graphic: what's built/what might be coming + FAQ (post-dated pinned post)

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