Atlantic Yards in 2013: arena hits stride (but not profits), modular emerges; SEIS slowed; Nets rollercoaster; court win validates community concerns; Chinese investor emerges; Bloomberg/Markowitz valedictories
In my 2013 Atlantic Yards preview, I suggested that the Atlantic Yards saga was by no means over.
Indeed, the first modular building was delayed, the lack of affordability became clear. The start date for the permanent new railyard was delayed again.
The question of the project's timetable remained unresolved, as project critics took on the task of pushing a ten-year timetable, while project supporters, including those who want affordable housing, argued for leaving the situation in Forest City Ratner's control.
And there was, of course, a surprise. The biggest news was the recruitment of a new investor to buy 70% of the project going forward, investor, Chinese government-owned Greenland Group, and the disclosure of financial information: an "impairment" for Forest City Enterprises of $250-$350 million on an investment of more than $500 million, and Greenland's seeming bargain: putting in just $200 million reciprocally.
The Barclays Center posted impressive numbers regarding ticket sales and concerts, and hit its revenue targets. But, curiously enough, it didn't come close to the profits projected, because of high start-up costs involving personnel and deals cut to attract performers.
The Nets made the playoffs, but lost in the first round. With a new coach, and aging stars from Boston, the Nets were seen as having mortgaged the future in order to contend for the title. As a result of widespread injuries and delayed cohesion, they've had a rollercoaster season, terrible by the end of 2013 but much better in 2014.
The developer still hasn't hired an Independent Compliance Monitor to evaluate its own performance, and that of its hand-picked partners, under the "historic" Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement (CBA).
Given that Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development (BUILD) is now defunct, Forest City lacks a CBA partner for the job-training component, and said no new partner will be named. A lawsuit involving that training program lingers.
The Barclays Center has continued to recruit for part-time jobs, which suggests turnover; the arena says the pay rate is "living wage," but is fuzzy about benefits and hours available.
The CBA spawned a community tickets program in which community groups get access to arena events. It has gotten little publicity, which means existing groups--many in the orbit of the House of the Lord Church--have first dibs. There still have been no promised low-cost arena rentals to community groups.
A lawsuit, finally resolved last year, requires New York State to study the community impacts of a potential 25-year construction plan, including one in which the first buildings constructed beyond the arena block are on that parking lot. While a hearing on the scope of the study was held in February, no Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement have been released--likely because the state was, at Forest City's behest, waiting for new investors.
In a decision validating concerns about the process, a state judge awarded attorneys' fees to the winning community coalitions, and ESDC agreed to pay $300,000, using Forest City's money. That may help fund future litigation.
A report by a Forest City consultant proclaimed the Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan was highly effective, with fewer people driving than projected--thanks, in part to smaller attendance, fewer people from New Jersey, more people taking taxis/limos, and more locals walking. It failed to address illegal parking and idling, however.
A report from DOT claimed there was sufficient on-street parking, which did not dampen the call for residential parking permits.
The MTV Video Music Awards helped put the Barclays Center in the world media, but the outdoor pre-show meant a mix of block party and severe impediment.
The arena paid a fine for leaking bass, and still hasn't solved its noise problem.
The retail impact is still emerging, as rents rise, old business leaves, and new ones (Morgan's, Movil, Tony Roma's) emerge, even as Shake Shake still isn't open and the former Triangle Sports building at Fifth and Flatbush avenues doesn't yet have a tenant.
Atlantic Yards was not much of an election issue in 2013. Council Member Letitia James cited it but hardly played it up in her run for Public Advocate. Public Advocate Bill de Blasio pulled off a runaway victory with slight scrutiny of his support for Atlantic Yards.
Borough President Marty Markowitz, enormously satisfied with a new team and arena, left office with no announced plan. But he sure had his told-you-so's.
calculate/estimate land for the project has been vastly undervalued or not even counted, adding up to nearly $80 million, at least, and likely more than $124 million.
The Daily News publishes The drunken hordes that never came: Park Slope was wrong about Barclays Center, which leads writer Louise Crawford to say she was "very frustrated" with the editing.
Next City critiques the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement, finding signatories unwilling to talk with "five of the groups have been mostly silent or reconstituted after without much fanfare.”
Mikhail Prokhorov makes the cover of the latest Forbes World Billionaires issue: Russian Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov: From Oligarch To President?
New York magazine' names the Barclays Center Best Entertainment Venue.
Campaign finance reports suggest significant Forest City support via bundling for mayoral candidates de Blasio and former Comptroller Bill Thompson
Discussing the developer's business decisions to bring in new investors and to divest in non-core markets, CFO Bob O'Brien says, "I often say that everything is ultimately for sale, at a price, and if we can get full value in some of our core markets or products, that's what we would consider."
Borough President Marty Markowitz's final State of the Borough address-cum-talk-show is epically weird. No one from Forest City showed up, but they donated the arena.
Many complaints about pile drilling at the railyard site.
Bloomberg comes to the Barclays Center to promote the new valet bike parking service. Members of The National, the headliners, rode from Ditmas Park. Some 85 people parked their bikes.
Gib Veconi of Brooklyn Speaks suggests Forest City's strategy "was dependent not just on the limited bandwidth of local elected officials to see the end game, or even on the lock-step sponsorship of Mayor Bloomberg and four New York State Governors (a major help), but also upon the developer’s brilliant timing of the Brooklyn real estate market."
In a bold p.r. move, the Nets name former star (and recent Knick) Jason Kidd their new coach. A few wonder whether he's ready.
"These numbers just don't reconcile to what we're living through, every day," one resident says, since many drivers seek free parking, unmentioned in the report.
The arena plans a plaza farmers market on Wednesdays July 10 through November 27
The BID That Wasn’t: Barclays-Area Effort Dissolves, For Now, since organizers couldn’t figure how to spread the burden fairly on property owners.
The Brooklynettes get a big spread in the Daily News. The Brooklyn Paper sent a reporter to try out and, predictably, not make it.
Forest City's Gilmartin judged 16th most powerful woman in NYC.
In push for title, Nets trade for aging Boston stars Garnett, Pierce.
On Bloomberg TV, Bruce Ratner claims 2000 arena jobs (1900 part-time) means "tremendous" impact on local economy.
ESD Atlantic Yards Project Director Arena Hankin leaves for fellowship at Harvard.
At Quality of Life meeting, concerns about impact of vibrations, lights at playground, ongoing problem with Barclays Center noise.
Forest City Ratner team, MSG team finalists to revamp Nassau Coliseum.
“Jay-Z is bulletproof," says a prominent manager.
Lawsuit aims to reverse DOB approval of Forest City's modular plan.
Dean Street building across from arena parking lot sold, may become health club, restaurant. Building at Flatbush and St. Marks sells for $15 million.
Justin Bieber escapes Barclays Center without incident, thanks to new strategy, but hysteria takes a while to abate.
Forest City and pay-to-play: findings suggest, at the least, a coordinated strategy, despite claim that contributions aren't dictated by company.
The surprise firing of power broker William Rapfogel: four Forest City Ratner angles.
The Barclays Center is hiring again (after firing again?), urging "Believe in Barclays. Believe in Brooklyn."
Yes, Forest City would like Dan Squadron, not Tish James, to become Public Advocate.
Ratner on Nassau Coliseum: "We're giving the municipality money... all privately financed." Ratner wins bid to revamp Coliseum. Coliseum press conference features college/pro hoops, Islanders, and boxing, but minor league hockey will be main tenant.
The VMAs come to Brooklyn. Prospect Heights verdict: "block party to end all block parties" or locals "soured to the experience"? MTV anonymously thanks locals for being "exceptionally kind hosts" for VMAs.
Forest City Enterprises' first Corporate Social Responsibility Report gets Atlantic Yards wrong, ignores Ridge Hill, omits data on campaign contributions, displacement, government assistance
Giant sculpture with "gritty vibrancy" arrives at Barclays Center, gets big promotion from Times Arts section (looks like mesa, flames, or gyro?).
WNYC reports on de Blasio: "his handling of Atlantic Yards raises questions about whether he has been able to push developers to keep their promises"
Forest City Enterprises says arena not expected to stabilize financially until 2016.
B2 tower completion date nudged six months back to Q4 2014; "mods" were once due in August, now coming in October. Forest City says delays for "all good reasons."
CEO Yormark says "nothing but a championship" will be accepted; Jay-Z's team share sold to J-Kidd.
hypes arena. Sunny Daily News package on arena's first year allows few discouraging words, less analysis.
Honored at tickets giveaway (right), Ratner claims program could be "as important or more important" than arena.
So, when will Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for Atlantic Yards Phase 2 be issued? ESDC says there's no timetable.
In decision awarding fees to attorneys challenging Atlantic Yards timetable, judge slams ESDC, suggests arena might not have been started/built had agency come clean
NBA awards the 2015 All-Star Game to Madison Square Garden, but the other festivities to the Barclays Center.
Forest City to sell 70% stake in Atlantic Yards to Chinese government-owned developer. Stock jumps 5.45%. Veconi says scrutiny and oversight needed.
One year in, Barclays Center, to DOB, is officially "Temporary," likely due (in part) to delayed retail.
FCR's Gilmartin at Summit for NYC: "To my mind the modern redux of Jane Jacobs" = modular buildings for Atlantic Yards (!), plus tale of "massive blight."
Sensation again booms bass into residences near Barclays Center. But no fine.
Doubly bizarre: Forest City Ratner aims to lower tax assessments on Block 1129 of Atlantic Yards site.
said housing would be done "5/6 years" after arena; Stuckey said project "conservatively" would take 10 years, but "we hope to do better."
Idling trucks/buses at 3:20 a.m. outside arena after Kanye West concert, neighbor reports; leaking bass shakes items inside apartment.
Ex-Carpenters official Zarzana, Atlantic Yards cheerleader, pleads guilty to extortion.
Bloomberg says he always "made decisions based on the merits." But Atlantic Yards was "Get it done no matter what." He calls Brooklyn "the quintessential urban success story," touts Barclays Center as legacy.
narrative of innovation. Forest City changes modular construction plan, will deliver four mods overnight. No study, disclosure of plan. First delivery (right) has traffic snag, cascade of honking. Press event mostly a win. No more deliveries, so it was a media event.
Libertarian watchdog group Cause of Action issues Unfair Enrichment: How Forest City Enterprises Acts Above the Law.