Skip to main content


Showing posts from June, 2015

Featured Post

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

At Barclays Center, average price for Islanders' tickets rising 70%; despite Yormark spin, they're selling many obstructed seats

There are a couple of very interesting tidbits in the Wall Street Journal article yesterday,  Islanders Making Their Move to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center . Yes, tickets are selling well: Before the Islanders’ full season schedule was announced last week, Brett Yormark, CEO of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets and of Barclays Center, said more than 8,000 Islanders full-season-ticket plans had been sold: 25% from Long Island, 21% from Manhattan and, somewhat surprisingly, 33% from Brooklyn. The Islanders have a good team, and can build in a new--or at least expanded market. The average ticket price will be $85--that's $35 (or 70%) more than at the Nassau Coliseum but, according to Yormark, about the league average. Still, it's quite a leap. The capacity issue From the article: Yormark has had to address Barclays Center’s shortcomings. The arena was built to hug a 94-foot-long basketball court, so the 200-foot hockey rink had to be nestled into one end of the arena, prompting the remova

Forest City, naming new modular leader, pushing for "new business partners" and "new business opportunities" (even before B2 is done)

A Crain's New York Business article, originally headlined "Forest City Ratner creates a modular-housing division, names unit leader," has been  updated to Forest City Ratner will keep its modular-housing factory in Brooklyn, names construction exec to run it . Both have the subheading "Susan Hayes will lead FC Modular, which operates out of the Brooklyn Navy Yard." The lead: Forest City Ratner Cos. has created a new position to head up the firm’s modular-housing division, the company announced Monday, meaning that it plans to keep its Brooklyn Navy Yard factory running after the completion of a 32-story tower next to Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn. The firm tapped Susan Hayes, formerly an executive at a Manhattan construction firm, to lead the subsidiary, known as FC Modular, which currently runs a production facility in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. “Modular construction is an important part of the future for our industry, and Susan will bring tremendous va

After complaints about hazardous Atlantic Avenue, Forest City admits traffic agents "not doing their job well enough"

At the Community Update (fka Quality of Life)  meeting  last Wednesday, executives from developer Greenland Forest City Ratner partners and state and city agencies heard several complaints about unsafe streets, notably the intersection of Atlantic and Sixth avenues, site of major construction. Two residents north of Atlantic said they were afraid to cross the street, given the poorly marked sidewalks and the poor performance of the Traffic Enforcement Agents (TEAs) paid for by the developer but supervised by the police (though not the local precinct). Such TEAs, residents said, "give preference to large vehicles." Also, added resident Pauline Blake, "they are nowhere to be found at Sixth and Atlantic ... at 7 in the morning when I drive." Forest City Ratner executive Ashley Cotton admitted, of the TEAs, "My team completely agrees, they're not doing their job well enough. They've been spoken to many times." She said several had been replaced,

Forest City: "it is mind-numbingly loud" at 38 Sixth Avenue construction site; also, a complaint about dust

At the Community Update (fka Quality of Life)  meeting last Wednesday, Forest City Ratner executive Ashley Cotton noted that construction work had just started at the  38 Sixth Avenue site at the corner of Dean Street and Sixth Avenue, on the southeast end of the arena block. "The MPT [maintenance and protection of traffic] for that plan is done, so you've seen fences have moved out," Cotton said. "The sound attenuation blankets are going up."  (Such acoustic blankets have been used at Sixth and Atlantic avenues, but were not mentioned in the most recent Construction Update regarding 38 Sixth Avenue, also known as B3.) "We know it’s extremely loud... it is mind-numbingly loud," Cotton continued. "It’s because they’ve been hitting cobble [rock]… The field conditions have been very challenging." She said they hoped to get through this phase "very soon." A question about dust One resident of Atlantic Terrace, on

WSJ: 550 Vanderbilt gets $200M construction loan; penthouse condo will cost $7 million

The Wall Street Journal, in  Pacific Park Condo Gets Construction Loan , reports today that the 550 Vanderbilt condo building got a $200 million construction loan from HSBC Holdings PLC. Such market-rate units cannot depend on tax-exempt financing, as do buildings with "affordable" units. Two tidbits, first the unit price: Most of the units will be in the $565,000 to $1.5 million range, but a few of the penthouses will be priced at as much as $7 million. That's an increase from the initially-indicated price ceiling of $5.5 million , unless they were simply holding such $7 million penthouses in reserve. And the overall cost: Mr. [Jeff] Rosen [executive director of the joint venture, Greenland Forest City Partners] declined to put a price tag on the condo. But generally construction loans are equal to 60% to 65% of project value, say real-estate experts. The venture recently received approval from the New York attorney general’s office to start sales and marketing

Crain's: Forest City's Gilmartin 17th-most powerful women in New York City (but for modular building?)

Crain's New York Business has issued its Most Powerful Women 2015 , with Forest City Ratner Chief Executive MaryAnne Gilmartin ranked 17 , just one step below her ranking two years ago: As head of Forest City Ratner Cos. for more than two years, MaryAnne Gilmartin, 51, has already overseen the construction of some of New York City's most recognizable landmarks: a residential building designed by Frank Gehry at 8 Spruce St., the Renzo Piano-crafted New York Times Building and the eye-catching Barclays Center in Brooklyn. So it's only natural that Forest City would lean on her to push through its most challenging project yet--a modular building rising in fits and starts near downtown Brooklyn that, when completed, will be the world's tallest at 38 stories. Ms. Gilmartin, who leads 650 employees, has also embarked on a number of recent developments including a game-changing tech campus planned for Roosevelt Island. I don't doubt Gilmartin's ranking, but would c

DBP's Reed: land values in Downtown Brooklyn go from $80/sf to $500/sf (so MTA should've driven harder bargain); the perils of BK = "Silicon Valley" prediction

"I think the speed and pace and scale of what's happening in the borough now is why I think everyone's pinching themselves, and find it hard to believe," says Tucker Reed of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership in the video below, produced by the Brooklyn Eagle, part of its coverage of Make It In Brooklyn: Inaugural innovation summit attracts top business leaders . "Land values in Downtown Brooklyn alone, over the last 18 months, have gone from $80 a square foot to 500 [dollars]," he continued. "That pace of change is hard to get your mind around." (I'm not sure those numbers are average, as opposed to the outliers.) Such change is part of why it has become more cost-effective to build Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park using conventional construction, despite developer Bruce Ratner's past claim that it was impossible (though that's what he proposed, and got approved). And it's also why, as I wrote , the expected prices for condos now

Greenland selling Pacific Park condos at Downtown Los Angeles marketing center; pitching new "cities" for young professionals/early retirees

I missed this 4/29/15 press release, Greenland USA Opens National Sales and Marketing Center in Heart of Downtown Los Angeles: Real Estate Giant to Showcase Residences for Metropolis and Future Properties . There's one paragraph about Brooklyn: Pacific Park Brooklyn, Greenland USA’s investment in New York will also be featured in the Sales and Marketing Center. Pacific Park Brooklyn is a $4.9 billion, 22-acre mixed use development that will be a cornerstone of the Brooklyn community, integrating family homes, store fronts for small business owners, schools, shopping, and entertainment. Pacific Park Brooklyn and Metropolis exemplify Greenland USA’s vision for developing properties that integrate seamlessly within a city and catalyze the local economy. I think that the use of the plural "schools" is not accurate, since only one school is planned. Small business owners? We'll see. Also note that Metropolis condos start at $600,000, while the ones in Brooklyn are

A footnote re Ratner's pursuit of passive income: initially, he aimed to leave real estate

From Capital New York , this morning, Pacific Park developer Bruce Ratner got into real estate because he wanted to make $120,000 a year in passive income. “Obviously, it didn’t work out that way,” Ratner said Thursday morning. He made "more." From the Real Deal , May 2011: But in 1982, at 38 years old and with a young family to support, Ratner was making $52,000 and decided he wanted a more secure financial future. He gave himself eight years to earn enough money to produce $125,000 a year in “passive income” (not such a modest goal; in today’s dollars that’s about $500,000), figuring he could then focus on whatever he wanted. In other words, it wasn't merely that he made more money. It's that Ratner--once a reformer--found his place in the world of New York real estate and political influence.

Plumlee, Nets' "PR Slave," traded after two years; four new guys get "Welcome to the neighborhood"

“The NBA is entertainment, too, not sports,” former referee Tim Donaghy recently told New York magazine. And a business. Consider the prominence at p.r. events over the past two years of Nets backup center Mason Plumlee, who was on the trading block. Quote from plumlee at autograph signing today to fans .. " Get all pictures and autographs you want .. don't know if I'll be a net tomorow" — Zac Cullen (@ZCullen8) June 25, 2015 @SBondyNYDN I was honestly thinking about this today, he is honestly the Nets PR Slave — Prash Paparazzo (@Prashr12) June 24, 2015 (That tweet might not have had the same language were Plumlee not a white guy.) Indeed, Plumlee was on the block , and last night he was traded as part of a package deal to Portland. From the press release: The Brooklyn Nets selected forward Chris McCullough with the 29th pick of the first round in the 2015 NBA Draft tonight. McCullough (6’9”, 200) joins the Nets after playing one season at Syracuse. The B

Barclays Center green roof, originally due by July, should (still) be finished in September

I'll have more coverage from the Community Update meeting in subsequent posts. The Barclays Center green roof is still delayed--but still on the delayed timetable acknowledged in February.  As I  reported  in February, developer Forest City Ratner (the public-facing part of Greenland Forest City Partners) admitted indirectly that the green roof--an exoskeleton aimed to beautify the view and also tamp down escaping noise--was several months behind schedule. The Atlantic Avenue cranes "will be gone this summer, that's our expectation," Forest City's Ashley Cotton said in February, and she repeated the prediction last night at the periodic Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Community Update (formerly Quality of Life) meeting. The Atlantic Avenue crane, according to the original timetable (below), was supposed to installed in August 2014 and removed by October 2014. Instead, it was installed in October, and will have lasted more than nine months, not three mont

Open space (not "park") designs released, depict project as complete, portrayed as gift to Brooklyn

Well, we should have guessed. In advance of tonight's Community Update meeting , which includes an "open space presentation," developer Greenland Forest City Partners placed an "exclusive" with a friendly newspaper, the New York Daily News. This morning the Daily News--remember, the sponsor of the arena plaza--published EXCLUSIVE: Forest City Ratner unveils design of 8-acre park at Brooklyn’s Pacific Park mega-development . Why now? Not because the "8-acre park"--which is not a park"--will arrive soon. The first pieces should come next year, but the full open space won't be finished until 2025. Surely it has something to do with marketing those new condos, as well as reinforcing the misconception that the open space is a park. Open space is privately managed, likely by a nonprofit, and has shorter hours than parks. It can also impose greater restrictions on freedom of expression and other activities. As shown in the graphic above

Will court ruling pry open details of claims of sexual misconduct against Stuckey while at Forest City?

Capital New York ( paywall only ) points to a brief but potentially important decision yesterday by an appellate court in the lawsuit by Stephanie Bonadio against New York University and its former Dean Jim Stuckey regarding the potential sharing of information regarding Stuckey's conduct while at developer Forest City Ratner. Bonadio sued NYU and Stuckey in 2012 for sexual harassment, with other counts against NYU for retaliation (she claims her job was eliminated after accusations against Stuckey) and against Stuckey for assault and battery. As stated in the decision issued yesterday, the Appellate Division, First Department, reversed a lower court order that denied Bonadio's "motion to compel discovery of information related to claims of sexual misconduct made against defendant Stuckey when he was employed by Forest City Ratner (FCR), except insofar as such information was provided to or otherwise known by defendant New York University." In other words, info

Real estate boom lifts Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park condos: prices 18% over 2009 projections for 2015 (which were aggressive)

It's stunning, a testament to the roaring New York/Brooklyn/Prospect Heights real estate market, as well as the unpredictability of project timing, the entrance of a deep-pocketed partner, and the opportunity to reach a new segment of buyers. In 2009, Forest City Ratner's projections for future condominium revenues were seen by many (including this writer) as significantly overstated. Now, they seem conservative. ( Update: a reader points out that we should look at the 2006, when the project was first approved, with the unrealistic ten-year buildout. ) For example, in 2009, the developer projected that the B11 tower would open in 2019 and sell for $1,369 per square foot, among the most expensive towers in the project. Now, the building, known as 550 Vanderbilt, is projected to open next year, and the eight announced sales are pending at $1,436/sf, according to StreetEasy . That's more than a 4.9% increase. It's a 4.9% increase three years early . As of 201

From the latest Construction Update: Saturday work at B3 site (Dean Street/Sixth Avenue)

Unlike in the past two two-week periods , the latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update--dated June 22 and covering the next two weeks--was not released on the Friday before the official Monday date, but rather was released after hours yesterday, delivered at 5:17 pm. The most notable element disclosed, as far as I can tell, is coming Saturday work at the B3 tower, 38 Sixth Avenue, that just launched at the northwest corner of Dean Street and Sixth Avenue. The document states: *Saturday work to address field conditions within the site will commence during this reporting period. This work includes excavation work including drilling large cobbles. A "cobble" is defined  as a rock that is smaller than a boulder but larger than a pebble. If so, that suggests significant noise. The document marks "new work" with asterisks and red type, and I have excerpted it below. B2 Modular Residential tower -- 461 Dean Street: *Work related to the erect

The Atlantic Yards CDC, conflict-of-interest, and the not-so-affordable "model" building

Remember how the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC) was set up "to improve oversight and monitoring of the project," with the appointed board "responsible for monitoring the delivery of public commitments related to the project by making recommendations to the ESD [Empire State Development] Board of Directors"? And remember how I (and others ) raised the issue of a blatant conflict-of-interest, given that two appointees, Bertha Lewis and Sharon Daughtry, are connected to groups that signed the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) with developer Forest City Ratner, and have been funded by Forest City? Well, we have an answer, and its not pretty. A  document  released after the AY CDC meeting last month answered--sort of--the question about conflict of interest: a. Conflict of Interest All Board members are required to comply with Section 74 of the Public Officers Law which governs conflicts of interests.  Board member

BP Adams: at (accidental) arena plaza tonight, a vigil "to stand with Charleston and members of the A.M.E. community"

The Barclays Center Plaza--the Daily News Plaza--is the site tonight for a vigil in support of the victims of the massacre in Charleston , which Borough President Eric Adams rightly calls "an act of terror." Arena operators are sacrificing 30 minutes of oculus advertising for a message of solidarity. Will they go so far as to call for South Carolina to take down the Confederate flat? I'd be surprised. Note that, should Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park be built as approved, there would be no plaza but rather an enclosed Urban Room, a tougher (though not impossible) place for public gatherings. That Urban Room was part of the giant B1 tower, some 620 feet (later 511 feet) tall and over 1 million square feet. As I wrote in 2012, The plaza view of the arena was never planned. But not building a tower at the intersection makes Atlantic Yards more modest (though it never would have been approved) . Why wouldn't it have been approved? Because the office tower was supposed t

Community update meeting Wednesday, June 24 focuses on green space (plus emerging strategy to promote "park")

Greenland Forest City Partners and Empire State Development Corporation (ESD) will host the next Community Update (formerly known as Quality of Life) meeting on Wednesday, June 24, from 6 to 8 pm. The location is the first floor conference room of the Shirley Chisholm State Office Building, 55 Hanson Place . The agenda is diverse, but ESD highlighted the fact that there will be "an overview of open space plan for the project and a construction update." AGENDA 1. NYPD Community Update – Captain DiGiacomo (78th Precinct) 2. Department of Transportation (DOT) – Commissioner Keith Bray 3. Empire State Development (ESD) – Samuel Filler 4. Atlantic Yards Community Development Corp. (AYCDC) – Tobi Jaiyesimi 5. Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) – Ashley Cotton a. Open Space Presentation b. Construction Update i. Barclays Center Green Roof ii. West Portal/LIRR iii. 550 Vanderbilt Avenue (B11) iv. 535 Carlton Avenue (B14) v. 38 Sixth Avenue (B3) vi. 461 Dean (B2) c. Arena

Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt closed to traffic Tuesday through Friday for utility work

As noted on  Atlantic Yards Watch , Brooklyn Community Board 8 has received the following notice from Con Edison: Con Edison will be installing new electric service on Dean Street between Carlton Avenue and Vanderbilt Avenue in Brooklyn. Con Edison will have a Full Roadway Closure for this street segment for us to complete this work. We will be starting this work on Tuesday, 6/23/15 instead of Monday, 06/22/2015 and will continue until Friday, 06/26/2015. The hours of the Full Roadway Closure will be 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM each day. Con Edison will be posting signs as per NYCDOT requirements and will adhere to all stipulations imposed by the NYCDOT.  The Con Edison contact person will be Ronald Robins at (917) 709-6280 throughout the duration of the intended work in association with the Full Roadway Closure. Please call if you have any questions. Also, as noted in the photo at right, there are warnings up for drivers. Two towers are under construction on the block directly to the n

City, state, electeds help Forest City spin "100% affordable" building geared mainly to $100K+ households as a "model"

Not modular. Perspective skewed. It's " Orwellian, almost ." City and state officials--who work for the public, remember--have, in service of developer Greenland Forest City Partners, contributed to a deceptive, misleading portrayal of the affordable housing in Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park. They would hardly mention that subsidized units are skewed toward households earning six-figure incomes, as I described in a long article last year for BKLYNR. Yesterday came a press release (also, at bottom) for the 23-story 38 Sixth Avenue, aka B3, located at the southeast corner of the arena block, Work Begins on 38 Sixth Avenue at Pacific Park Brooklyn : CLEVELAND and BROOKLYN, N.Y., June 18, 2015 -- Forest City Enterprises, Inc. (NYSE: FCEA and FCEB), a member of Greenland Forest City Partners, the joint venture developing the Pacific Park Brooklyn project, today announced that the joint venture has closed on financing for the construction of 38 Sixth Avenue, a 303-u