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Showing posts from August, 2015

From City Limits: Documents Reveal Woes at Pioneering Atlantic Yards Building

From City Limits, my article today, Documents Reveal Woes at Pioneering Atlantic Yards Building:
The Atlantic Yards apartment tower known as B2 officially launched in December 2012 with great fanfare and high hopes, and not just because of what developer Forest City Ratner proposed to build: 32 stories housing 363 apartments, half of them affordable. It was that B2, nearly flush to the Barclays Center, would be the world's tallest modular tower, with its flooring, fixtures, appliances, and facades delivered within a metal-framed chassis some 10' high, 15' wide, and 30' long. Forest City said it had "cracked a code" and claimed an "iPhone moment".
Two additional Atlantic Yards towers would start within the next 12 to 18 months, among the 6,430 apartments—2,250 of them below-market—planned for the project, all to be built modular. B2's 930 mods—which Forest City CEO MaryAnne Gilmartin likened to "shrink-wrapped apartments—would be made at a n…

From Atlantic Yards Watch: a truck idling in bus stop, a street closed without notice (and a truck blows through)

As construction proceeds, seeming violations continue, as documented by resident Peter Krashes on Atlantic Yards Watch. Yesterday, Bay Crane delivery truck idles in bus stop on Vanderbilt Avenue:
Bay Crane truck parked in the bus stop on the southwest side of the Vanderbilt/Dean intersection in front of 556 Vanderbilt idles for more than 3 minutes. It was still idling when I arrived and idling when I left. Residences are feet away. Indeed, see the video:



Saturday was a day when the street was closed for construction, but they're still not supposed to idle like that. Even more confusingly, see a report from Friday, Dean Street block closed without notice for one day:
Due to work in the street at the Dean and Vanderbilt intersection, Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt was closed today. According to multiple workers involved with the work, it was closed all day and re-opened around 2:15.
According to the workers, the work being executed was electrical work in the street f…

No, New York Times, there was no effort to "redevelop the Atlantic Yards"

From the front page of the New York Times Styles section today (though published online two days ago), The Battle for the Soul of the Hamptons:
To help make its case publicly, the group has enlisted the powerhouse political firm SKDKnickerbocker, whose officials have factored in the presidential campaigns of John Kerry and Barack Obama and the successful effort to redevelop the Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn over community opposition there. They keep getting it wrong. It's impossible to say "redevelop the Atlantic Yards" because "Atlantic Yards" never existed in the first place: it was a branding name for a proposed, and now partly enacted, development project. (I wrote about this in May 2006 and again in January 2009.)

It would be OK to say "develop the Atlantic Yards project" or "develop Atlantic Yards" but the use of "the" suggests it's a place. "Re-develop" is worse, because it implies an existing defined place was th…

Daily News "learns" that Islanders billboards coming tomorrow; WPIX promotes arena craft beer festival

Lots of news outlets publish items that are variations of press releases, but there does seem to be a pattern in which entities associated with the Barclays Center participate.

Yesterday, the Daily News (sponsor of the arena plaza) reported, in New York Islanders billboards roll out in Brooklyn, their new home:
Billboards touting the borough’s newest sports heroes, the New York Islanders hockey team, are going up Monday across the borough, the Daily News has learned.
The “Tradition’s New Home” campaign by Barclays Center, which will be the Isles’ home ice starting this upcoming season, will featuring 20 billboards spotlighting a storied history that includes four Stanley Cup championships.
Some of the billboards feature the team’s stars, including captain John Tavares and defenseman Johnny Boychuk. Now, how do we think the Daily News "learned" that--through some aggressive application of reporting chops or rather an arena handout?

A 8/25/15 "PIX11 report", TAPPED: …

Ex-Net Darryl Dawkins dies at 58; unmentioned in obits was his EB-5 career, pitching Atlantic Yards in China

The former ex-Philadelphia 76er and New Jersey Net Darryl Dawkins, known for his flamboyant style and backboard-shattering dunks, died this week, with many journalists saluting his career and personality.

All those are deserved, but the sports journalists missed something, because it just wasn't their beat, nor is it nearly anyone else's territory.
Unmentioned was Dawkins's curious sideline role for Barclays Center developer (and Nets majority-then-minority owner) Bruce Ratner. 
Not only did Dawkins do public appearances in Brooklyn, boosting Atlantic Yards, he went to China at least twice on Ratner's behalf, helping promote Atlantic Yards to not-so-well-informed potential investors who were considering investing $500,000 in the project in exchange for green cards for themselves and their families under the EB-5 program.
Under the program, investors forego all or most interest because they most value the green cards. The benefit, however, goes to the developer, as long…

Dean Street between Carlton/Vanderbilt, and west side Vanderbilt between Pacific/Bergen closed Saturday for crane assembly

From 6 am through 9 pm tomorrow, Saturday, Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues--y'know, the street with the murals--and Vanderbilt Avenue southbound (west side) between Pacific and Bergen streets will be closed to accommodate a crane being assembled for Pacifi­c Park construction.

(This was previewed in the most recent Construction Update, with details provided late yesterday afternoon.)

Between Pacific and Bergen Streets, Vanderbilt Avenue will remain open to northbound traffic only. Flagmen and Traffic Enforcement Agents will help with vehicular and pedestrian movement. The sidewalks will be open but subject to temporary closures .

The eastbound B65 bus will be rerouted up to Atlantic Avenue and then Washington Avenue, while the southbound B69 buses will be rerouted to Washington Avenue briefly as well.

Updating the retail picture: Flatbush Avenue and Bergen Street (and the $6 cereal bar!)

Well, Leslie Albrecht of DNAinfo did what I was unable to do, attend the Community Board 6 committee meeting on liquor licenses Monday, so she provided many details on the upcoming restaurant next to Shake Shack, in Michelin-Starred Restaurateur Opening 'Speak-easy Sushi Bar' Near Barclays:
The Japanese hospitality company... Plan Do See, Inc. operates restaurants worldwide and owns Sushi Azabu, the Greenwich Street sushi den tucked below the Japanese restaurant Daruma-Ya. Customers enter through Daruma-Ya and have to ask to be seated downstairs at Azabu, which won a Michelin star in 2007.
A similar concept is in the works for the 3,700-square-foot Flatbush Avenue space, which will have a New American restaurant and bar on the ground floor and roof, and a "speak-easy sushi bar" below ground, the co-owners told Community Board 6 on Monday night. There's no name yet, but the liquor license application got an approval vote, which is advisory but usually presages Stat…

Wrestling, and its amped subculture, comes to the Barclays Center

Y'know, when I stopped by the Barclays Center plaza on Sunday around 6 pm the wrestling fans milling about for SummerSlam, many dressed in wrestling t-shirts, some with wrestling belts, and a few with masks, seemed a little... rowdy.

They were chanting the names of wrestlers at each other: "Rod-dy Pi-per" was one I remembered.

Reports from other nights suggest similar boisterous gatherings--impossible, as I've written, if the original Urban Room were the gathering place, rather than the outdoor, more fluid plaza.

One resident told me that some of fans walking around the neighborhood were similarly amped, a few of them aggressively so. (The masks were disconcerting.) That's the flip side, apparently, of a very engaged fandom, as described below in the Observer piece.

Apparently, the bars on Fifth Avenue got a lot of business.
The Great Park Slope Wrestling Bro Takeover of 2015. #summerslampic.twitter.com/IJZcFkIdpm — Tim Donnelly (@timdonnelly) August 23, 2015 In…

Safety improvements "near" the Barclays Center, and the need for more; enforcement and tolls help, but what about Atlantic Yards?

Officials Unveil Pedestrian Safety Improvements Near Barclays Center, reported CBSNewYork yesterday. Actually, it's not so near the Barclays Center and Streetsblog more precisely reported it as Atlantic and Washington Gets Fixes, Now What About the Rest of Atlantic?

As Streetsblog reported:
The multi-leg intersection of Atlantic Avenue, Washington Avenue, and Underhill Avenue has received its second round of street safety improvements in four years. Adding to a 2011 project that expanded pedestrian space, this latest set of changes includes new turn restrictions, crosswalks, and larger median islands [PDF]. Advocates welcomed the changes, but want DOT to think bigger when it comes to overhauling Atlantic Avenue, one of the city’s most dangerous arterial streets. There are continuing problems, indeed, around the Atlantic Avenue and Flatbush Avenue intersection actually near the Barclays Center.

As DNAinfo reported 7/14/15, there were more than 150 car crashes occurred in the immedi…

Doomed on Dean Street: three houses wait for wrecking ball

These three houses on Dean Street east of Sixth Avenue, condemned by the state via eminent domain and one eviction--compensation in case of one building is finalized, for the other two unresolved, as far as I know--are scheduled to be demolished for a 27-story, market-rate building (plus, likely, a school).

That building, B-15, will encompass a larger site stretching 100 feet wide (west) to the sidewalk at Sixth Avenue, and up to Pacific Street. Meanwhile, the houses stand marked with Xs--utility shutoff? target for wrecking ball?--and windows left open, with no worry about deterioration.

If the designation of blight regarding two of these houses was bogus, well, now blight is being achieved, unnaturally. (I took the photos Sunday. Brownstoner reported 7/28/15 on the approval of demolition permits.)

Remember, documents indicated that this 100-foot wide stretch was designated part of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park (at least in part) for business reasons, not because of an urban planning p…

Coming on Flatbush: restaurant seeks liquor license next to Shake Shack; sneaker shop Kith rebooting with cereal bar

The retail space between Shake Shack and True Religion Jeans on Flatbush Avenue opposite the Barclays Center, most recently a Nike pop-up shop, is set to become a restaurant, which seeks a liquor, wine, and beer license.

At tonight's meeting of the Community Board 6 Environmental Protection/ Permits & Licenses Committee, held at 6:30 at Cobble Hill Community Room, 250 Baltic Street, the agenda includes:
Presentation and review of a new on-premises liquor license application submitted to the State Liquor Authority on behalf of JP Concepts, LLC at 166 Flatbush Avenue (between Pacific Street/5th Avenue). The rather spare license application does not indicate the name of the restaurant, but says there will be recorded music, not live music, and an active rooftop space. The applicant is Pete Levin of JP Concepts, who also runs Professor Thom's in the East Village.
The 3,700-foot building, on the market recently for a stratospheric $250/square foot, was once supposed to be the…

A week later, a look at the Dean Street canyon housing #PacificParkArts mural

Yesterday, just eight days after the "Green Monster" wall on Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues was painted with ten 40-foot murals, I returned for a second look.

First impression: that wall is still huge, creating a canyon for pedestrians, bicyclists, and vehicles.

Second impression: the drivers, of vehicles and bikes, weren't looking at the wall at all. They--especially the bicyclists--were focused on going straight ahead and not getting into any scrapes.

(So much for that chirpy tweet about being excited to bike down Dean Street and seeing the murals.)

That said, I did see a couple of pedestrians with cameras taking photos. So pedestrians--and the press--may have been the real target audience.

The below photos all look west from Dean Street near Vanderbilt Avenue






The WWE SummerSlam (undisclosed) takeover includes Sixth Avenue and broadcast lot

Well, according to information released earlier this week by the Barclays Center regarding this weekend's WWE SummerSlam event, yes, there was supposed to be noise-attenuated generator installed on the west side of Pacific Street and Sixth Avenue outside the Sugar Factory entrance, as shown in the photo below.

A couple of other phenomena, however, were not disclosed.

There was no mention that media trucks would be placed behind the MPT (maintenance and protection of traffic) on Sixth Avenue outside the arena. Isn't the MPT area supposed to be limited to construction?


Now was there hint that the broadcast lot on the east side of Sixth Avenue between Dean and Pacific streets would be used to assist event attendees.

According to the latest Construction Alert, issued this past Tuesday, "Broadcast lot will be shared/ utilized by both the arena and the B3 site for temporary storage of equipment."

Actually, as the brief video below from yesterday shows, it's also being …

The Nets, fandom, and being "too busy" to miss the old Brooklyn (and what about the felonious Barclays?)

The nature and up-down intensity of Brooklyn Nets fandom has been the subject of much discussion, as noted 5/1/14 on NetsDaily:
In a tweet from their own account, the Nets disassociated themselves from Lenn Robbins tweet of Thursday night in which the team's in-house beat writer advised Nets fans to "set your DVD and take notes" on the Raptors home crowd, noting "this is what a playoff crowd sounds like." Robbins later apologized, and Nets fans in a subsequent game were reportedly quite loud.
Fandom in Brooklyn?
Then again, intense fandom has not exactly penetrated Brooklyn, however much Brooklyn Nets gear pops up around (and beyond) the borough. The night of that subsequent 2014 game, I wandered up Fulton Street and Lafayette Avenue just blocks from the arena. The game was on in most bars and restaurants, but only a fraction of people were watching attentively. 
A week earlier, I was in Pittsburgh, the day of a Penguins hockey playoff game. One main strip of ba…

Yes, tickets for Islanders going up: new calculation suggests 46% rise (still less than Nets' leap)

Jesse Lawrence of Forbes, writing in Islanders Move To Barclays Center Already Yielding Much Higher Ticket Prices For 2015-16 Season on 8/18/15 , cites the combination of the new venue and the team's strong record: A year ago, New York Islanders tickets saw a solid $120 average on the season, while the new campaign is now yielding a considerably higher $175 average. The spike is never more evident than when fans look at New York’s upcoming home opener. In 2014, their home opener against the Carolina Hurricanes was just $137 on average, with a get-in price of $60, but this year’s Barclays Center debut is all the way up to $466.67 on average, while the cheap seats start at $165 on Ticketmaster. As the Wall Street Journal previously reported, the average ticket price will be $85--that's $35 (or 70%) more than at the Nassau Coliseum, about the league average, according to arena CEO Brett Yormark. The rise to $175 is actually a 46% increase.
Part of the increase may be the unusual …

Disturbing and dismaying: a truck wrongly parked, unconcerned traffic agents, and a confrontation with a citizen documentarian

A troubling incident was detailed by Atlantic Yards neighbor Peter Krashes in a post on Atlantic Yards Watch Aug. 18.

"A Posillico Tully truck was standing/parked in a no standing zone on South Portland Avenue below Atlantic Terrace waiting to enter the Atlantic Avenue work area this morning," he wrote. 
"Specifically, the truck was located on the northeast corner of the Atlantic Avenue/South Portland intersection pointed in the direction of the traffic. South Portland is not a legal truck route and is not included in the truck protocols as a truck route, so the truck was not only parked illegally it was on an illegal route. It was standing/parked right below a residential condominium complex."
Indeed, it is not a truck route. See Rail Yard Truck Protocols.
Not much help

However, two NYPD traffic agents at the other side of South Portland at the Atlantic Center mall took no action. Indeed, both the truck driver and traffic agents told Krashes the truck was going to…

Barclays Center releases updated event calendars (with hockey); WWE SummerSlam load-in begins today; generator to run outside arena

Well, yesterday Barclays Center Community Affairs Manager Terence Kelly circulated a tentative event calendar for four-plus months, which shows that, by the time both hockey and basketball launch in October, the arena will be busy.

It also gave neighbors one day's notice regarding the load-in for the massive pro wrestling event this weekend, which includes three evening events, notably SummerSlam from 6:30 to 10:30 pm.

Note that the documents, which included the schedule for the rest of August, were issued too late to inform neighbors of the disruptive basketball tournament on the arena plaza last Saturday.

It's interesting that the arena is estimating a full house for hockey (15,800 for home opener)  but not for basketball (15,000 for home opener). In the first season, even when all 17,732 tickets for basketball were distributed, fewer than 17,000 people attended and the average gate count was closer to 15,400.

The impact of SummerSlam

This weekend, Barclays Center will host W…

From City Realty: an analysis of new towers coming in Brooklyn, and a new view of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park

A Brooklyn New Development Report from City Realty, which produces periodic market analyses, portrays "a crush of buildings with 20 or more units under construction, many of them rising 10 or more stories and dramatically changing the built environment." 
The report only covers Greenpoint in the north to Red Hook, Windsor Terrace, and Bushwick part of the way into Brooklyn.

As noted by Crain's, some roughly 5,800 new apartments in larger buildings projected to be built in 2017—more than double this year's estimate of 2,700.  This is far more than the than 3,200 units built in 2008. 
Among the buildings listed, and portrayed in the graphic below, are four that are part of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park: 461 Dean Street (B2, modular, 50/50 rental); 38 Sixth Avenue (B3, affordable rental); 550 Vanderbilt (B11, condo); and 535 Carlton (B14, affordable rental). Note that the B12 condo building was also supposed to start soon.
One question is whether all the new product will …

From the latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update: street closings Aug. 29 for crane installation at B11 site

The latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Brooklyn Construction Update, covering the two weeks beginning Monday August 17 and delivered at 9:29 am by Empire State Development after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners, reveals that on Saturday, August 29, a crane installation for the B11 site will require street closings.

Specifically, Dean Street between Vanderbilt and Carlton avenues and one lane of Vanderbilt Avenue will be closed. A community notice with details regarding the crane assembly will be distributed.
Also note that exterior façade adjustments and paint repairs are expected to begin on the B2 modular tower that was supposed to have units delivered complete.
Saturday work will continue at the B3 site at the southeast corner of the arena block. Saturday work as well as work up until 9 pm during weekdays will continue at the B14 site at 535 Carlton Avenue, at Dean Street.
There's new work going on at the B15 site east of Sixth Avenue between Dean and Pacific stre…

Among de Blasio's "messes," Atlantic Yards affordable housing gets a pass

From the New York Times yesterday, Messes Pile Up for de Blasio in 2nd Year:
The [clash with Gov. Andrew Cuomo] episode, recounted by several people familiar with the discussion, was an extraordinary public moment of discord, laying bare a host of challenges confronting the de Blasio administration in a messy second year: tension among aides; a perilous, often powerless relationship with Mr. Cuomo, a fellow Democrat; and the struggles of Mr. de Blasio, a political operative by training, to control the perception of his stewardship.
When the mayor’s top political aide raised concerns about battling the car-service app Uber, saying it could be a tough fight, Mr. de Blasio pushed forward, prompting a public relations fiasco that ended with City Hall’s abruptly dropping a proposal to limit the company’s growth.
Warned that rising complaints about homelessness could hurt him politically, Mr. de Blasio announced action on the issue this month, appearing reactive to negative headlines.
And w…

Next Community Update meeting rescheduled to Sept. 16

A message yesterday from Empire State Development:
In consideration of summer vacation plans and to ensure the most up to date information is shared with the community we are rescheduling, the August 19th Atlantic Yards aka Pacific Park Brooklyn Community Update Meeting (formerly known as Quality of Life). The meeting is being moved to Wednesday, September 16th.

The September 16th meeting will take place at:
@ 6:00 PM
Shirley Chisholm State Office Building
55 Hanson Place, 1st Floor Conference Room
Brooklyn NY 11217
A tentative meeting agenda has been attached for your review. We look forward to seeing you then. Note that the postponement also means that officials from the developer and state get to avoid pesky questions about the intrusive 5 am noise from the block party Saturday, the time of which was never disclosed, or the noisy basketball tournament on the arena plaza, which was never announced.

Straight-faced flack: "Pacific Park Brooklyn has a strong record of compliance and has been completely transparent"

DNAinfo, in As Murals Go Up, Residents Around Atlantic Yards Call for More Transparency, reported on the call for more construction oversight, and got these responses:
In response, developer Greenland Forest City Partners said Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park is “one of the most highly regulated projects in the city,” and has a history of transparency.
“Pacific Park Brooklyn has a strong record of compliance and has been completely transparent and engaged with the greater Brooklyn community about the project's long-term impacts and steps we are taking to mitigate these conditions,” said developer spokesperson Nicole Kolinsky. Um, weren't claims of transparency belied by the 5 am noise that awakened neighbors on Saturday, as well as the outdoor basketball tournament that was never announced? Or maybe that statement suggests neighbors will just have to suffer through "short-term impacts." (Btw, Kolinsky, a new name to me, works for p.r. firm Berlin Rosen.)

The article contin…

Basketball tournament on arena plaza Saturday never announced; noise intruded on long-planned community garden event

The 5 am start to the mural-painting block party Saturday was only one of the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park-related intrusions that came without appropriate notice to neighbors that day.

To the surprise of many, the plaza outside the Barclays Center was turned over to a 12-hour event (including set-up): Nike's basketball Tournament of Champions, aka #ConquerAllCourts.

It came with a DJ and announcer, both amplified to the point where they could be heard one long block away, at Fourth Avenue.

That meant the sound was blaring on Pacific Street between Fourth and Flatbush avenues, and at the Brooklyn Bear's Garden, which just happened to have scheduled its 30-year anniversary party well before any word of the

"When the [Flatbush Avenue] traffic goes, you're gardening next to a highway," observed garden coordinator Jon Crow, indicating that gardeners were no strangers to noise while still carving out an oasis. "We've never ever had to put up with what happene…