This watchdog blog, by journalist Norman Oder, offers analysis, commentary, and reportage about the $4.9 billion project to build the Barclays Center arena and 16 high-rise buildings at a crucial site in Brooklyn. Dubbed Atlantic Yards by developer Forest City Ratner in 2003, it was rebranded Pacific Park in 2014 after the Chinese government-owned Greenland Group bought a 70% stake in 15 towers. New York State still calls it Atlantic Yards. Note: archive at right.
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Atlantic Avenue crane for arena green roof will block traffic for three times longer than initially projected
The Barclays Center green roof is certainly showing progress, as sedum is being laid on the new metal structure (see photo at left from yesterday, via Atlantic Yards web cam).
But the process is in some ways more delayed than ever.
Notably, the crane flanking the arena on Atlantic Avenue, which was only supposed to block traffic on that boulevard for three months--from August through October 2014--instead is expected to last some ten months.
It was installed in late October last year and, we learned last night, is expected to persist through August of this year.
After Forest City Ratner Chief of Staff Ashley Cotton revealed that timetable at a Community Update meeting last night, I asked why the crane will have taken so long.
"I don't know" was the response.
No one from Empire State Development, the state agency overseeing/shepherding the project, or the subsidiary Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation, aimed to provide some input if not oversight, expressed any concern.
But the Atlantic crane certainly affects traffic, as former ESD CEO Kenneth Adams observed publicly last November, calling traffic near there "a mess."
Flatbush crane delayed too
At the previous Community Update Meeting in February (aka Quality of Life Meeting), Forest City said the Flatbush Avenue crane was expected to be placed "probably towards the end of April."
That would have been five months late. Instead, it's coming this month.
As I've pointed out, the Flatbush crane was supposed to be placed only after the Atlantic Avenue crane was removed.
Note that the Flatbush crane will necessitate the closing of a lane of traffic and likely additional traffic congestion.
Because workers did not take a winter break, as originally planned, Forest City caught up somewhat on the timeline. The installation of sedum began in April as originally planned.
But everything was supposed to be done by July. If the Atlantic Avenue crane remains until August, that's at least a month late.
Benefit to community?
At the meeting, Cotton was asked if the green roof had any benefit to the community.
"It depends on how you define community," Cotton responded. "It's incredibly beautiful, that's number one."
One resident noted that the roof can be seen partially from the street, though clearly construction of the towers around it will block some of the view.
Cotton called it "obviously a great amenity for residents" in the planned three residential towers, who won't have to look at a Barclays logo.
Also, she acknowledged, the addition of steel and sedum should tamp down noise from certain concerts that have leaked bass into the community, "if god forbid we ever have a concert that has that impact again."
The arena has been fined for that and, beyond the green roof, Forest City has taken other internal and operational measures to reduce the likelihood of noise escaping.
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…
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 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 Matzav.com 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.
First mentioned in April, the Atlantic Yards project in Atlanta is moving ahead--and has the potential to nudge Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn further down in Google searches.
According to a 5/30/17 press release, Hines and Invesco Real Estate Announce T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards:
Hines, the international real estate firm, and Invesco Real Estate, a global real estate investment manager, today announced a joint venture on behalf of one of Invesco Real Estate’s institutional clients to develop two progressive office projects in Atlanta totalling 700,000 square feet. T3 West Midtown will be a 200,000-square-foot heavy timber office development and Atlantic Yards will consist of 500,000 square feet of progressive office space in two buildings. Both projects are located on sites within Atlantic Station in the flourishing Midtown submarket.
Hines will work with Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture (HPA) as the design architect for both T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards. DLR Group will be t…
Pacific Park Brooklyn is seriously delayed, Forest City Realty Trust said yesterday in a news release, which further acknowledged that the project has caused a $300 million impairment, or write-down of the asset, as the expected revenues no longer exceed the carrying cost.
The Cleveland-based developer, parent of Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner, which is a 30% investor in Pacific Park along with 70% partner/overseer Greenland USA, blamed the "significant impairment" on an oversupply of market-rate apartments, the uncertain fate of the 421-a tax break, and a continued increase in construction costs.
While the delay essentially confirms the obvious, given that two major buildings have not launched despite plans to do so, it raises significant questions about the future of the project, including: if market-rate construction is delayed, will the affordable h…
The Brooklyn Nets drew an average of only 11,622 fans per home game in their most recent (and lousy) season, more than 23% below the announced official attendance figure, and little more than 65% of the Barclays Center's capacity.
The New York Islanders also drew some 19.4% below announced attendance, or 11,200 fans per home game.
The surprising numbers were disclosed in a consultant's report attached to the Preliminary Official Statement for the refinancing of some $462 million in tax-exempt bonds for the Barclays Center (plus another $20 million in taxable bonds). The refinancing should lower costs to Mikhail Prokhorov, owner of the arena operating company, by and average of $3.4 million a year through 2044 in paying off arena construction.
According to official figures, the Brooklyn Nets attendance averaged 17,187 in the debut season, 2012-13, 17,251 in 2013-14, 17,037 in 2014-15, and 15,125 in the most recent season, 2015-16. For hoops, the arena holds 17,732.
As I've written, Mayor Bill de Blasio sure knows how to steer and spin coverage of his affordable housing initiatives.
Indeed, his latest announcement, claiming significant progress, came with a pre-press release op-ed in the New York Daily News and then a friendly photo-op press conference with an understandably grateful--and very lucky--winner of an affordable housing lottery.
To me, though, the most significant quote came from Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, who, as the Wall Street Journal reported:
said public housing had been “starved” of federal support for years now, leaving the city with fewer ways of creating affordable housing. “Are we relying too heavily on the private sector?” she said. “There is no alternative.”
Though Glen was using what she surely sees as a common-sense phrase, it recalls the slogan of a politician with whom I doubt de Blasio identifies: former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, a Conservative who believed in free markets.