Atlantic Yards in 2014: snags in B2 modular tower; new timetable (with compromises on affordability); surprises include new Pacific Park name, green roof
In 2014, as I wrote in my annual preview, the first Atlantic Yards tower would open, the cozy relationship with the mayor might pay off, and the Greenland deal and the court-ordered Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement might change the timetable, though it was uphill.
|Open windows at B2|
The B2 tower didn't open--it wasn't yet public how many problems had surfaced with the modular factory and modular plan, which stalled the building at ten of 32 stories.
The problems also led to dueling lawsuits, the announcement that the next towers would be built conventionally, and Curbed's designation of B2 as the "most pathetic building of the year."
The relationship between Forest City Ratner and housing partner Bertha Lewis with Mayor Bill de Blasio sure did pay off: the timetable did get moved up, albeit with a significant--if underplayed--caveat about the actual affordability of the next affordable towers. (I'd predicted that "some government help" would emerge.)
There was a gesture to new oversight, but also with significant caveats, since the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation has merely an advisory role and delayed more than a month.
While public officials, like new Council Member Laurie Cumbo, have fallen in line with the "affordability" mantra, while Public Advocate Letitia James, the most critical official (as Council Member), has mostly focused on other issues.
Acceptance of the project grew among elite circles, as the Municipal Art Society awarded Forest City leaders Bruce Ratner and MaryAnne Gilmartin the organization's highest honor, not without criticism.
Indeed, de Blasio pushed Brooklyn and the Barclays Center for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, and it's a finalist along with two swing state cities, Columbus and Philadelphia.
And the settlement agreement took BrooklynSpeaks and allied groups, some of the most vocal and organized critics of the project, off the table, now claiming victory despite the significant flaws. The main critics now remain the project's nearest neighbors, who bear the brunt of construction.
But there's continuing reason for scrutiny of the project, not least the question of affordability. And the partnership between Forest City and Greenland made not one but two efforts to raise nearly $350 million from immigrant investors, most if not all from China, via the dubious EB-5 program. (This is easily the most under-covered story associated with Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park.)
The next surprise
I asked what the next surprise would be, since Atlantic Yards is full of surprises, and wondered whether the New York Islanders might move early from the Nassau Coliseum. (They're due in fall 2015.)
There was a different surprise: the decision by Greenland Forest City Partners to change the project name to Pacific Park Brooklyn.
|Three cranes over arena.|
That means there are three cranes outside the arena.
The Brooklyn Nets, after retooling for a short-term shot at a championship, were on a rollercoaster with new coach Jason Kidd, I wrote. Kidd left, but the rollercoaster has continued, with the Nets going downhill, then recovering after playing high-priced stars Deron Williams and Brook Lopez from the bench.
Oh, and Forest City, after putting their 20% share of the Nets up for sale, is now selling their 55% of the arena--possibly only in part. The arena has certainly made a splash, but profits are still behind schedule. And it's not a core business.
|Narrowed Carlton Avenue north of Dean Street.|
But the coveted Triangle building at Fifth and Flatbush avenues is still empty and there's been lots of churn among storefronts.
B2 modules weren't delivered for two weeks. Which meant the official launch was a media event.
GQ gets a lot of attention for opening Barclays Center barbershop.
In City and State, Ratner rises to #43 on the Power 100 list; Lewis enters at #42.
De Blasio at REBNY, promises "to use height and density to the maximum feasible extent."
Stunning tales of Downtown Brooklyn real estate boom; is Junior's site worth $50M? Lease for 470 Vanderbilt, across from AY site, sells for nearly $200 million.
State won't look at post-event pedestrian surges, impact of roof revamp.
If season ticket prices are the same, how can they "start at $45 per seat"? Columnist Hamill misremembers Ratner's ticket promises.
Bertha Lewis now opposes waste transfer station.
What would Jackie think? MAS giving Ratner and Gilmartin highest award, the Onassis Medal. But they don't fit most MAS goals.
Work on B2 clearly slows. Times scoop: Greenland plans next three towers this year via conventional construction.
Community Board 8 expresses strong opposition to CB 2's attempt to encompass Atlantic Yards.
It looks like Atlantic Yards school would now go to Building 15, not Building 5, which requires costly deck,
Second paradox: the footprint area doesn't count for "neighborhood character," but it sure did for blight.
Once promoted, project open space has delays/deficits minimized.
Before hearing, Forest City discloses plan to accelerate elements of platform construction, delay permanent railyard.
As Nets' value rises, Ratner to put 20% share up for sale. Investment banker thinks Brooklyn Nets worth $1 billion.
DDDB: state goes through "extreme mental gyrations" to avoid analyzing alternatives.
BrooklynSpeaks on Draft SEIS: "the pretzel logic of a government bureaucracy serving the interests of an influential developer".
Assemblyman Mosley introduces bill to authorize Atlantic Yards Development Trust.
Ratner re-invests in Cuomo, DiNapoli; Forest City gives to Democratic slush fund. Sequence suggests Ratner donation to D'Amato PAC was routed to Nassau County executive.
Orwellian, almost: Student winners of arena tour must write essay, "What's the best thing about the Barclays Center?"
Atlantic Avenue to be constricted 21 months for work on green roof, West Portal.
In exhibit, architect, redistribute bulk from Dean Street, revise open space; a "preposterous amount of square footage"
Though state claims construction oversight successful, promises new monitoring by outside firm, new procedures.
Press release for award buffs Ratner and Gilmartin. Selective memory, glitzy gala, and enduring dismay.
Nets announce training facility on roof of Sunset Park.
Nets coach Kidd leaves for Milwaukee, returns to the tabloid back pages. Team losses larger than previously thought.
Ratner joins de Blasio's Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City (as he did with Bloomberg).
Evercore (not without conflicts) touts Forest City joint venture with Greenland as "certainly a positive" (but murkiness remains).
Fortune dissects EB-5: "The dark, disturbing world of the visa-for-sale program."
|550 Vanderbilt and a distorted neighbor.|
On-site Environmental Monitor finally hired.
Belated notice: for two years, a 16-foot fence plus sidewalk closings at Block 1129 to accommodate construction.
Forest City buys out Skanska's share of troubled modular factory.
As TV deals bolster value of Nets, Prokhorov said to have pressure to sell.
As ESD board meeting, Dean Street residents ask for new conditions to improve construction oversight.
Inside/out, two different views of belatedly open Sugar Factory at Barclays Center (plus departure of Let's Yo!, Kaz An Nou, Marco's).
Extended fencing/barriers for construction on Dean Street cause huge bottleneck, conflict with operating businesses.
Post scoop: AEG offer for Barclays Center below Forest City ask, claimed arena value.
"We are Brooklyn"? Barclays the place for royal meeting, Garner protests, Nets' lost opportunity.
Dirty secret behind Brooklyn's DNC 2016 bid: likely major impacts to area around Barclays Center, as Charlotte example suggests.
News? WPIX moving into street-level studio on Flatbush side of Barclays Center, forming "strategic partnership."
Before 535 Carlton groundbreaking, new web site promotes "Brooklyn's newest neighborhood," avoids specifics on "impeccable" affordability? Unbuilt condos already being marketed to Chinese buyers.
Atlantic Yards construction trumps accountability: new AYCDC delayed until January 30, six weeks after groundbreaking.
Year of the Sheep: at groundbreaking for new tower, de Blasio and supporters hail "100% affordable housing," avoid pesky details about cost. Promotion for the "Chinese Government."
Greenland press release touting "high-end" 550 Vanderbilt condo building gets wide play.
Four-year modular buildout: Forest City says B2 tower would be completed at end of 2016, says "same technology" is fine.
A green-roof related accident stalled the Nets-Heat game with leaks onto the court.