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Showing posts from January, 2015

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

Dean Street and Sixth Avenue around arena closed today/tomorrow for inspection of construction crane

A Community Notice issued late yesterday by Pacific Park Brooklyn (aka Atlantic Yards) alerted residents to temporary changes to the roadway network today 6 am to 4 pm, and tomorrow, as needed, weather permitting. (Note that there was no explanation why there was so little notice, especially given that it's a claimed "routine inspection." Nor did this come from a government entity.) As part of the installation of a green roof on Barclays Center, a construction crane located on Sixth Avenue will be temporarily disassembled for routine inspection, requiring the temporary, and intermittent closure of Dean Street between Flatbush and Sixth Avenues and Sixth Avenue between Pacific and Bergen Streets. Flagmen and/or Traffic Enforcement Agents will be provided to assist with vehicular and pedestrian detours, as will Variable Message Signs. Sidewalks in work zone areas will remain open only to residents and visitors.

Gridlock coming to Barclays Center northern flank? Arena expects 100 buses and 200 for-hire vehicles for NBA All-Star weekend nights

With one week's notice before event prep and two weeks before NBA All-Star Weekend, the Barclays Center today disclosed (bottom) expected traffic impacts around the event, which I think points to significant gridlock along the arena's northern flank. Notably, though Atlantic Avenue is severely constricted by a crane for the arena's green roof, and the parking/dropoff lane outside the arena is severely constricted, the Barclays Center admits some 100 coach buses and 200 for-hire vehicles will service "arena guests and event staff both Friday and Saturday nights." "These vehicles will arrive on the arena block for guest drop-off, stage at an off-site parking lot and return to the arenas part of a highly-controlled/scheduled pick-up program at the end of the event," the arena claimed. Note that the drop-off poses major challenges, and previous promises of controlled and scheduled procedures, notably regarding the loading dock on Dean Street, have pr

Barclays Center signs deal with LIU to revive Brooklyn Paramount; seems to compete with revamped Kings Theatre

Billboard had some news yesterday, Exclusive: Barclays Inks Booking Deal at Brooklyn's Paramount Barclays Center affiliate Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment has formed an alliance with Long Island University, in which BS&E will bring entertainment back to the historic Brooklyn Paramount Theatre. "This collaboration will bring the LIU Brooklyn Paramount Theatre back to life," says LIU president Kimberly R. Cline, "creating endless opportunities for LIU and our neighbors." Adds Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark, "We felt that this would be the next step in the evolution of our partnership with LIU, that we should work collaboratively and start bringing some great content there, not only for the student body, but also for the public." The move will resurrect the 1,500-capacity venue, which opened in 1928, as an active entertainment venue for the first time in more than half a century, with the BS&E team focusing on booking emerging talent in a

Advice for DNC Chair on visit to Brooklyn: take a walk around the Barclays Center, and beyond

Update Feb. 2: see Washington Post editorial writer Jonathan Capeheart's argument that the convention should go to Philadelphia. Among the reasons for rejecting Brooklyn are those in my blog, including logistics and optics. Dear Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, I understand, as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, you're on a whirlwind tour this week of the potential locations for the 2016 Democratic National Convention: Columbus, Philadelphia, and Brooklyn/New York. I doubt you can see too much in Friday's visit, and I'm confident your hosts can show you a good time and give you the hard sell. I'll spare you the optics  (as I mentioned in my Times op-ed)--the role of a Russian oligarch and the Shanghai government reaping the benefits of crony capitalism in and around an arena named for a bank that paid a huge fine for interest-rate manipulation. And I'll just mention as an aside that arena developer Bruce Ratner is selling the 55% of

Atlantic Yards CDC meeting postponed until February 6

Isn't a bit Keystone Kops-like to announce a meeting , with an agenda, then postpone it because some people haven't been appointed yet? A 10:22 pm message: Dear Community, In order to allow for the appointment of a full complement of Directors, the initial meeting of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation is being postponed from Friday, January 30th to Friday, February 6th with the details to be confirmed.  Sincerely, ESD Atlantic Yards Team Is it remotely possible the meeting could be moved to Brooklyn?

Unspecified in the NYT: when it comes to housing lotteries, the demand is most significant for lower-income units

There are a couple of odd things about the New York Times article today, Long Lines, and Odds, for New York’s Subsidized Housing Lotteries . First, it states: The odds of winning the New York Lotto jackpot are, of course, worse (one in 22 million on a $1 play), but the housing lotteries have daunting odds of their own. Last year, a new building in Greenpoint, Brooklyn drew 58,832 lottery applications for 105 affordable units. Not far behind was the Sugar Hill development in Upper Manhattan, which drew more than 48,000 applicants for 98 apartments. Given the frequent use of the term "affordable," the article does not make sufficient distinction between subsidized income-linked housing geared to low-income households and that geared to middle-income ones. Rest assured that the demand is most significant for lower-income units. That's why the middle-income Hunter's Point South Towers in Long Island City need to be advertised . The searching Forest City? The article

Spare agenda emerges for meeting tomorrow of Atlantic Yards CDC; RSVP required today; members/director still a mystery

At bottom is the official announcement for the first meeting , at 2 pm Friday, of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation. Note that RSVPs must be received today, and that the meeting will be webcast . We're still waiting for the names of the members and the AY CDC director, but yesterday the agenda, such as it is, was circulated, as noted below. The first four items (Corporate Action) seem boilerplate.It's unclear whether President's Corporate Update is mere boilerplate too, or whether the yet-to-be-identified President will say something about, for example, complaints regardng the narrowing of Carlton Avenue and Dean Street . Meeting information

Barclays Center/WPIX partnership already paying off, as arena MC hosts visiting reporter

In case you were wondering, that marketing partnership between WPIX 11 and the Barclays Center is paying off. Yesterday the TV station posted this piece of fluff, Ally Love gives tour of Barclays Center hot spots . The text: BARCLAYS CENTER (PIX11)– As NBA All-Star Weekend in February nears, PIX11 will be your home for exclusive coverage of the festivities in heart of Brooklyn. Scott Stanford caught up with Ally Love, the Nets Arena MC, who showed him a couple of hot spots around Barclays. It did acknowledge, at least, that "Barclays Center is a marketing partner of PIX11." What's in the piece? Well, Stanford goes with Love down Flatbush Avenue for a meal at Sugarcane , a Caribbean restaurant that opened up exclusively for them. Then, more strangely, they visited Rocco's Tacos on Adams Street, which is a rather long walk from the arena, and certainly more distant than numerous rival restaurants. Could it be that Rocco's has a marketing arrangement wi

My response to NYT letters in which Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, businesses take issue with my op-ed, support DNC

Wow, not one but three Letters to the Editor published in print in today's New York Times in response to my online-only op-ed last week. They deserve rebuttal. And note that none of the letters responded to the situation--as I mentioned--in which two cranes, used for two towers under construction, flank the arena's secondary entrance and loading dock. From the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership To the Editor: Re “ Holding the Democratic Convention in Brooklyn? Fuhgeddaboudit ” (Op-Ed, , Jan. 21): I take issue with Norman Oder’s views about Downtown Brooklyn’s readiness to host a successful Democratic National Convention in 2016. Downtown Brooklyn is one of the East Coast’s greatest urban economic success stories, with new night life, cultural offerings and accommodations, making it an ideal location for Democrats to discuss the future of their party and our country. Eleven subway lines and 11 different buses stop within blocks of Barclays Center, easing an

Silver on the rocks; prosecutors querying Speaker's staff (Rapfogel?)

After a brief interim period in which his colleagues agreed to let him step aside but not down, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is on the rocks.The Times reports : Moving to exile one of New York’s most powerful and long-serving leaders, Democrats in the State Assembly agreed late on Monday to ask Sheldon Silver to step down as speaker in the wake of his arrest last week on federal corruption charges. The Democrats reached the decision in a closed-door meeting that stretched for hours, rebuffing a bid by Mr. Silver to keep his post by relinquishing some of his responsibilities while he defended himself against the charges. ...Leaving the Capitol just before midnight, Mr. Silver told reporters that he had not told anyone that he was resigning, and that he would meet with his Democratic colleagues on Tuesday. “I am the speaker,” he said, adding, “I’m standing. And I’m going to be standing for a long time.” City and State reported : Multiple Assembly members also said the sugges

First meeting of Atlantic Yards CDC set for Friday, in Manhattan, not Brooklyn; no details yet about board, agenda

With four days to go, Empire State Development issued a Community Advisory Monday re-affirming that the first meeting of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation, originally slated to occur in December, would indeed occur at 2 pm on Friday, January 30, as announced in December. The new board, "responsible for monitoring the delivery of public commitments" but without clear enforcement, was established as part of the compromise announced last June, which set a new 2025 deadline to build the promised affordable housing and, essentially, finish the residential portion of the the project. Details on the AY CDC However, rather than being held somewhere in Brooklyn, as promised in December, the meeting will occur at Empire State Development offices in Manhattan, thus making it more difficult for Brooklynites to attend. All must RSVP by Thursday. Nor has the state released basic information about the new AY CDC, such as the names of the appointees (the gov

FC Modular is hiring (which means the factory isn't quite ready)

The most recent report was that Forest City Ratner had 55 of the 157 workers back at work, so they do need new workers. The message below was circulated by Brooklyn Community Board 2. Also note that the promises in the Community Benefits Agreement about job training leading to project work can't happen if prospective workers are require to have a year of construction trade experience.

As Silver steps aside, future cloudy, Lentol among those stepping up; real estate focus; anecdotes of avarice; reforms suggested; Golden next?

Embattled Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, is stepping aside in the wake of corruption charges, as the knee-jerk support he got from see-no-evil members has begun to erode. After all, the press has (finally) been brutal. The Times reports : In an unusual arrangement, Mr. Silver would not quit his post. Instead, he would temporarily delegate his duties as speaker to a group of senior Assembly members. ...Under the tentative plan developed on Sunday, the Assembly majority leader, Joseph D. Morelle of the Rochester area, and the chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, Herman D. Farrell Jr., Democrat of Manhattan, would assume responsibility for budget negotiations. Three other senior Democratic members — Carl E. Heastie of the Bronx, Catherine T. Nolan of Queens and Joseph R. Lentol of Brooklyn — will round out the leadership team. Yes, that's veteran Joe Lentol of that mysterious cameo in Forest City Ratner's Ridge Hill case . The Buffalo News suggests : The lik

Greenland claims to avoids NIMBY; Dean Street business owner, who supports Atlantic Yards, outraged by street narrowing

From Bloomberg News via the Los Angeles Times, 1/24/15: Community challenges to development drive up project costs in nation's least affordable city : Greenland Holding Group steers clear of Hollywood [Los Angeles] and other communities where the company may face protracted opposition, said Ifei Chang, chief executive officer of the U.S. unit of the Shanghai-based development company. "We want to invest in a city that's more forward-thinking," said Chang, whose projects include the $1 billion Metropolis in downtown Los Angeles and the $5 billion Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn. "Communities that say 'not in my backyard' might not welcome us. Those cities aren't in the picture." From today's New York Daily News, Voice of the People : Give Brooklyn back its street Brooklyn: I feel harassed, betrayed and exhausted trying to live and work in the borough where I grew up. In 1999, I purchased the building that houses my business in Prospect Heights

Atlantic Yards down the memory hole: Pacific Park issues pre-Barclays photo of Flatbush and Atlantic

Um, #AtlanticYards developers had already demolished a lot, right @threecee ? #FBF @pacificparkbk @barclayscenter — Norman Oder (@AYReport) January 23, 2015 The photo circulated by Pacific Park Brooklyn Beyond the link to Tracy Collins's photos, more directly available here  and here , also see Kevin Walsh's survey in Forgotten New York . By Tracy Collins It was not a historic district: there were some empty buildings, some tired buildings, and some better buildings. But the announcement of Atlantic Yards froze all redevelopment plans. And the site certainly was not empty as portrayed in the photo above until Forest City Ratner began significant demolition.

Construction fence squeezes Carlton Avenue between Dean and Pacific, three episodes of tree damage, limited view of stoplight

The construction of 535 Carlton Avenue means a very large construction fence encroaching on Carlton Avenue. That leaves little room for error when large vehicles travel from Dean to Pacific street--and there are already casualties. From an incident report on Atlantic Yards Watch: On Monday morning contractors associated with Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park apparently hit a tree on Carlton Avenue. I was called by a Carlton Avenue resident who forwarded me the following text and the attached photographs. The tree has grown on a lean so the width of the street is narrower at the top of the height of a truck and wider at street level. The tree has been damaged recently in more than one spot suggesting it has been hit more than once. There is what appears to be plastic stuck in one of the damaged areas of the tree. I agree with the person who forwarded me the complaint that Carlton appears to have been narrowed too much. It is an old, beautiful tree and I worry the tree will be da

Weekend Con Ed work on Pacific Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt

A message from Empire State Development: Please be advised that ConEd will be conducting work related to the decommissioning of power lines on the north side of Pacific street, between Carlton & Vanderbilt Avenues. Work is slated to take place during the weekend of January 23rd . Actual work hours are dependent upon the availability of work crews & subject to emergencies

A perilous crossing at Atlantic and Sixth avenues: construction work narrows passage, no clear path for pedestrians

Work at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Sixth Avenue has made it perilous to cross the major artery of Atlantic, as noted in a post on Atlantic Yards Watch. A resident of Atlantic Terrace, the building at the northeast corner of the intersection, filed an incident report, and photos: The crosswalk on this intersection has been unsafe and continuously shared between cars, trucks, bikers , construction trucks and pedestrians. The authorities, DOB, or the developers did not even bother painting a new crosswalk in a more safe location, indicating where pedestrians should cross to stay safe and away from cars. Several times a day there are no workers helping and indicating the way. Pictures from a high floor on the Atlantic Terrace residential building on Atlantic Avenue between South Oxford and South Portland Streets show the exact intersection of 6th Avenue and Atlantic Avenue and the sequence of events of cars and pedestrians sharing the crosswalk. Nicole Jordan, community rel

As Assembly Speaker Silver faces arrest, the question arises: could that connect to Ratner?

The New York Times has a scoop, Sheldon Silver, New York Assembly Speaker, Faces Arrest on Corruption Charges : Federal authorities are expected to arrest Sheldon Silver , the powerful speaker of the New York State Assembly, on corruption charges on Thursday, people with knowledge of the matter said. The case is likely to throw Albany into disarray at the beginning of a new session. The investigation that led to the expected charges against Mr. Silver, a Democrat from the Lower East Side of Manhattan who has served as speaker for more than two decades, began after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in March abruptly shut down an anticorruption commission he had created in 2013. Details of the specific charges to be brought against Mr. Silver were unclear on Wednesday night, but one of the people with knowledge of the matter said they stemmed from payments that Mr. Silver received from a small law firm that specializes in seeking reductions of New York City real estate taxes. Could it reach Ratn

Nets value skyrockets, even as they lose money; "trophy asset" should drive sales figure

It's stunning, again. The value of the Brooklyn Nets nearly doubled in the past year (from $780 million to $1.5 billion), according to Forbes , after a nearly 50% increase in the value a year earlier. And that's from a team that's losing nearly $100 million a year--the only team to lose money last year--thanks to enormous contracts aimed to lure players. Part of that is due simply to the league's well-positioned luck, since the Nets actually went down a notch, from the fifth most-valuable team to the sixth. As Forbes reports : What do you get when you combine a massive new $24 billion television contract, a nearly six-year bull market in equities creating tremendous wealth, and cheap credit? You get a massive rise in sports franchise values, with the NBA serving as ground zero for the current boom. The average NBA team is now worth $1.1 billion, 74% more than last year. It is the biggest one-year gain since Forbes began valuing teams in the four major U.

As predicted, Ratner looks to get government help--state-funded parking--for the Nassau Coliseum revamp

Where's the catch? I asked in August 2013, when Bruce Ratner's Nassau Events Center won the bid to renovate and revamp the antiquated Nassau Coliseum. As I wrote, I have to wonder when Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano announced "a historic public-private partnership... a 100% privately financed Coliseum that will share revenue with the County at zero expense to the taxpayer." We've since learned that Ratner will be able to sell naming rights to the project--a giveaway of sorts--and that he admitted he'd ask "the county’s Industrial Development Agency for some tax exemptions," as the Times reported. But Professor Dennis Coates warned they might "back out of the deal at some point and come back to the county and say we need more money, and the county will be on the hook.” From Cuomo's Opportunity Agenda That's not what has happened (yet), but Newsday reported yesterday that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has proposed spending $150

The life and death of that much-hyped GQ barbershop at the arena.

In January 2014, the news (Barclays Center press release ) that GQ would open a barbershop at the arena generated all sorts of coverage, in the Daily News , the Observer ,  DNAinfo , and  New York magazine , among others. We should've noticed this statement in the press release: "the 400-square-foot barbershop will be a permanent fixture on the venue’s main concourse throughout 2014." Because, as Times beat writer Andrew Keh reported last week on Twitter , "I'm sad to report that the Barclays Center barbershop, presented by GQ, has been unceremoniously replaced with a merchandise kiosk." "barber in arena worst idea ever," replied one Twitter user. Fellow Barber, which ran the shop, said on Instagram, "it was a one year project. We are on to new stuff in 2015!" Let's put it this way: the expiration of the barbershop did not inspire nearly as much coverage as its launch. Because that's the way things work. (That s

My Times op-ed: "Holding the Democratic Convention in Brooklyn? Fuhgeddaboudit." (+ new Impact Zone Alliance, biz backing bid)

I have an online op-ed in the New York Times today,  Holding the Democratic Convention in Brooklyn? Fuhgeddaboudit. , arguing that there are logistical and ethical reasons to oppose bringing the 2016 Democratic National Convention to Brooklyn. Below is an illustration of one major logistical problem: an entire flank of the arena will be a construction zone, given the delay in finishing the B2 modular tower at Flatbush Avenue and Dean Street and the expected start of the B3 tower this year at Sixth Avenue and Dean Street. The two tower sites flank the secondary entrance to the arena, which is where crowds on the arena plaza are typically sent. They also flank the loading dock for trucks and other vehicles entering the building. The residential neighborhood is across the street. The ethical reasons include the notion of an oligarch-owned arena, a project in which a Chinese government profits by marketing U.S. visas , and "affordable housing" that backs off promises