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Showing posts from August, 2016

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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)

Times: Greenland Forest City seeking record rents for Pacific Park retail (next to construction sites)

I don't completely buy the premise of  Merchants Wait for the Promise of Vanderbilt Avenue. And Wait. , in today's New York Times, which focuses on how delays in the residential buildout of Atlantic Yards have affected merchants who paid high rents on the anticipated influx of many new customers. The essence: Retail rents have been rising in anticipation that the project will change the character of the stretch of Vanderbilt that runs from Atlantic Avenue to Grand Army Plaza. Hair salons and hardware stores have been replaced with artisanal bakeries and farm-to-table restaurants. Some storefronts have remained vacant as landlords wait for higher-paying tenants. Even some newer stores have struggled to survive, according to the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council and Ms. [Ellen] Fishman, president of the Vanderbilt Avenue Merchants District. After all, some businesses, like Ample Hills ice cream, are going gangbusters, as noted in the article. Timing questi

Boymelgreen, Newswalk developer and Forest City ally, settles with AG, barred from condos for 2 years

So the Newswalk developer ( who got it cheap )--and flipper of the Ward Bakery and Forest City Ratner ally --maybe wasn't the most honorable businessman. [Was Boymelgreen merely a counterparty, as he subleased property to Forest City? Evidence suggests more overlap of interests, given that Boymelgreen agreed to the lease without contacting landlord Henry Weinstein.] The New York Times today had a hand-delivered scoop,  New York Attorney General Settles Inquiry Into Once-Successful Developer : The New York attorney general said on Monday that his office had settled a long-running investigation into the business practices of Shaya Boymelgreen, a once-high-flying developer whose collapse during the recession left a trail of irate condominium owners, partners and lenders. Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said the agreement would put “an end to Mr. Boymelgreen’s perpetual fraud and abuse in New York City real estate securities.” Later today, Schneiderman issued a press rel

From the latest Construction Update: Optimum, Verizon, Cablevision work

According to the latest two-week Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update (bottom), covering the two weeks beginning Monday and released today by Empire State Development at 10 am (late) after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners, there's more infrastructure work going on. During this period Optimum and Verizon communications will have crews on Pacific Street between Vanderbilt & Carlton Avenues installing infrastructure for B11 (550 Vanderbilt) and B14 (535 Carlton). Work will involve street excavation within the construction fence perimeter. At the B14 site, 535 Carlton Avenue, new work includes: • Sidewalk demolition along Dean Street for foundation waterproofing will commence within the construction fence perimeter. • Cablevision will install telecom conduits along Vanderbilt Avenue within the construction fence perimeter.  As stated in the past six construction updates , demolition at Block 1120, the railyard block between Sixth and Carlton avenues,

A glut in Brooklyn rentals means... some impact on both market-rate and (more expensive) affordable AY/PP units

Well, we've heard executives from Forest City Ratner parent Forest City Realty Trust acknowledge that the glut of new market-rate units in areas like Brooklyn say that new units "will take time to absorb." Still, CEO David LaRue said earlier this month, mixed-used projects such as Pacific Park Brooklyn offer assets and, given that the peak of delivery will be this year, additional supply will be absorbed, and the balance will "return to the norm." That raises a question, though, about how easy it will be to rent market-rate units in 461 Dean Street, the troubled modular building, as well as higher-end affordable units in both 461 Dean and the "100% affordable" 535 Carlton building, both of which are opening in less than six months. The overview In  ‘The Market Is Saturated’: Brooklyn’s Rental Boom May Turn Into a Glut , the New York Times's Charles Bagli reports today: There are 19 residential towers either under construction or re

Strong hint that developer plans only fractional office space at Site 5 tower project

It was just an aside from Swathi Bonda, Forest City Ratner's Project Manager for the 535 Carlton affordable housing tower, but it struck me as meaningful. Introducing Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park on 8/17/16 at a session for people interested in affordable housing, she described the overall project as including not only 8 acres of open space and 250,000 square feet of retail but also 1 million square feet of office space. If so, that suggests that the two-tower project planned for Site 5, now home to P.C. Richard and Modell's, would likely contain mostly apartments, not office space. That's a big deal. Keep in mind that a major justification for Greenland Forest City Ratner's plan to move the bulk of the unbuilt B1--the tower planned over the arena plaza--to Site 5 is to create an "iconic" office tower. However, as I reported in City Limits , plans presented in January to the Department of City Planning indicated four scenarios. In only one scenario wo

In Greenpoint historic block, echoes of "blighted" Dean Street row houses

Via YIMBY: current view in Greenpoint, house at left A 7/5/16 post by New York YIMBY, Landmarks Approves Restoration Of 218 Guernsey Street, Greenpoint , discusses the 1870-era home in Greenpoint's historic district. It includes some great architecture and some buildings that have been modified but are worth saving, because they convey the neighborhood's fabric (and thus were included in the district when it was designated in 1982). The building at issue is the modest, two-story building at left in the photo at right. About blight Note the rather unbecoming wall covering and modest size of the building, which is apparently 28 feet high . It may be built out to less than 60% of the allowable height--remember, the arbitrary blight designation with Atlantic Yards--given that  R6B zoning , at least for new buildings, requires a base height before set back between 30 and 40 feet, and the maximum height is 50 feet. The Floor Area Ratio, or FAR, allows a lot coverage of

Real blight: "War Zone" South Bronx, at the Museum of the City of New York

100 feet of blight  on Dean (2 of 5 parcels said to be blighted) In the memorable words of academic Lynne Sagalyn,  blight  is "when the fabric of a neighborhood is shot to hell." And that applies not so much to gentrifying blocks in Prospect Heights--remember the "cappuccino test"  at Vanderbilt Avenue and Dean Street? or the strip of houses magically claimed to be blighted on Dean east of Sixth?--but the South Bronx in the 1970s. Consider the following photos I shot after visiting the fascinating Museum of the City of New York exhibit, IN THE SOUTH BRONX OF AMERICA: PHOTOGRAPHS BY MEL ROSENTHAL , which continues through 10/16/16. CAPTION: Deserted, desolated buildings: "War Zone." The description: Scenes from the South Bronx, 1976-82. The 1970s marked the start of a tumultuous period of decline in the South Bronx, brought on by a loss of manufacturing jobs, reductions in municipal services, plummeting property values, a mass exodus of it

Utility work on Pacific between Sixth/Carlton now may close street to vehicles temporarily

Yesterday came an update to a previous notice about a public infrastructure upgrade on Pacific Street between Sixth and Carlton Avenues. It didn't specify what exactly is new, but a comparison between it (below) and the previous notice (further below) shows this text is new: Expanded construction and underground field conditions may require temporary or intermittent closures to vehicles on Pacific Street between 6th and Carlton Avenues. In other words, previously, they weren't going to close Pacific to vehicles, and now they might. It does not, by the way, mention, work on backfilling the Long Island Rail Road retaining wall between Sixth and Carlton, though that was mentioned in the earlier notice and in the two-week Construction Update issued 8/15/16. We'll see next week if it's ongoing. The previous notice From the Construction Update : Backfilling of Pacific Street Retaining Wall is expected to begin during this reporting period. This work will be perf

Islanders looking into buses to bring fans from Long Island

So, the Islanders are looking into charter buses to bring fans from Long Island to the Barclays Center, some some don't like the Long Island Rail Road, or don't find it accessible or reliable. Except the arena is not exactly set up for large-scale bus use. Bus service for Suffolk County Fans? #Isles ownership is looking into it and wants to know what fans think 🚎 — IslesBlog (@IslesBlog) August 25, 2016 Curious to learn where they'd expect to drop-off and pick up outside @barclayscenter — Norman Oder (@AYReport) August 25, 2016 Where do they go? According to the Bus Transportation page on the Barclays Center web site: Proud Charter Bus Sponsor of Barclays Center Offering 10% off for all groups traveling to Brooklyn Nets games and Barclays Center events Visit Best Trails & Travel, call 212-206-6974 or email To better accommodate your bus pick up and drop off for an event, we s

SI: "Brooklyn’s roster is the worst kind of depressing"

Sports Illustrated does not think much of the Brooklyn Nets' off-season, in which they tried to rebuild but couldn't snag some middling restricted free agents: Forget about Jay-Z. Memphis Bleek and Amil wouldn’t be caught dead sitting courtside at a Nets game this year. Brooklyn’s roster is the worst kind of depressing: it’s loaded with veterans but lacking in star power. Simply put, there’s not much to cheer for in the short term and there’s not much to dream about in the long term, either. Unfortunately, that was going to be the case no matter what new GM Sean Marks did this summer, as Brooklyn’s previous regime will be shouldering the bulk of the blame for the state of the Nets roster for at least the next two or three seasons. Brooklyn’s guiding principle this off-season seemed to be: “Avoid making the type of big mistakes that got us in this mess in the first place.” As such, the team failed to acquire any players that generate true excitement or optimism. Jeremy Lin is

AY down the memory hole: 22-acre site "eyed for a transformation since the 1950s"

So, amNY tells us  Pacific Park in Brooklyn is beginning to take shape after years of setbacks , with a verrry potted history: The 22-acre area defined by Vanderbilt Avenue, Atlantic Avenue, Flatbush Avenue and Dean Street, has been eyed for a transformation since the 1950s. The rail yards, weeds, garbage and a couple of unkempt buildings stood out among the homey, brick town houses and apartments that surrounded the section. Everything from a new stadium for the Brooklyn Dodgers, to apartments for low income New Yorkers were proposed. However, a lack of capital and disagreements from the community, state and other parties kept the neighborhood’s upgrade in limbo. Um, no . And  no . And no . And no .

Video: tractor-trailer blocks Sixth Avenue southbound lane outside B3 for 30 minutes

At about 6:30 am today, an 18 wheeler idled outside of the B3 site at Sixth Avenue near Pacific Street, as shown in the two videos below. That blocked the southbound lane--already narrowed by the construction fence for the tower-- and posed hazards for drivers and bicyclists in both directions. As shown in the screenshot at right, northbound traffic was unimpeded, as long as the southbound traffic was paused near Pacific Street. Otherwise, the constriction forced the southbound vehicles to move into the northbound lane. Avoiding truck congestion was one of the justifications for the now-abandoned plan to build the entire project via modular construction, wasn't it? And why shouldn't such incursions generate fines?

In Queens, another developer uses weasel words like "our intention"

One of the lessons from the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park saga is that weasel words like "intend" or "aim" leave those using them a lot of leeway not to fulfill what some hear as promises. Remember how, when asked in July 2009 if Forest City Ratner expected to ask for more subsidies, executive MaryAnne Gilmartin responded, “Forest City does not expect to ask for more subsidy”? The Queens Courier yesterday reported,  Some say 5Pointz developer broke promise to use all union labor for Long Island City project Several hundred union workers joined Building and Construction Trades Council (BCTC) President Gary LaBarbera and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer in Long Island City on Tuesday to rally against developer G&M Realty, which they say broke a promise to use all union labor for an upcoming project. G&M Realty will turn the former 5Pointz graffiti mecca at 45-46 Davis St. into two residential buildings. According to Van Bramer, owner Jerry Wolkoff pledged to us

Forest City selling (its 51% of) Brooklyn malls, other retail properties, to focus on mixed-use projects

After selling a 49% stake in its major Brooklyn malls (and other retail properties) in 2011, and after selling 49% of other malls in 2013, Forest City Realty Trust (formerly Forest City Enterprises) aims to get out of the retail business almost completely. That means a sale of the majority stake in the Atlantic Terminal and Atlantic Center malls opposite the Barclays Center, and a presence in retail limited to mixed-use, "placemaking" projects. That includes retail in places like the MetroTech office park and includes Pacific Park Brooklyn, so, despite no discussion of the paused proposal to build a glitzy mall at Site 5, currently home to Modell's and P.C. Richard, I assume that's still the plan. But Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, it seems, remains something of an anomaly. After all, if Forest City aims "to redeploy the value from our retail portfolio into apartment and office assets that align with our focus on core markets and urban, mixed-use placema

Why were buses idling for hours outside the Barclays Center this morning?

Buses presumably associated with the Barclays Center were idling on Sixth Avenue for hours, according to photos and video. (Note: there's no direct evidence regarding the buses, but it is not unusual for buses associated with the arena to idle nearby, and four days of wrestling events ended last night.) A video posted by resident Wayne Bailey, shot after he returned from a run, indicates that two buses idled for more than 30 minutes on Sixth Avenue just below Pacific Street. But the AY Cam trained on Sixth Avenue shows buses idling on Sixth Avenue above Pacific, starting at about 3:20 am, and lasting through about 4:05 am. It shows (the same?) buses idling again on Sixth below Pacific, starting at 4:20 am, and lasting through about 5:45 am. When I know more, I'll update this. But I have to imagine that, when more people move in nearby, there will be many more complaints.

Yormark: Nets' move delayed by "some nuances in Brooklyn"; team hopes to return to China (EB-5?)

NetsDaily points to an interview in China with Nets/Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark. I'll just point to a couple of things. "The move [to Brooklyn] was somewhat delayed," Yormark says at about 3:28, "because of the economy and some nuances in Brooklyn." Yeah, right. Though Yormark does say, of the 2015-16 season, "It candidly was a disappointing season," at about 4:15 he salutes Brooklyn as a "basketball market," and adds, "because we had six years to start seeding the brand, there was incredible anticipation for the arrival of the Brooklyn Nets, and we've been feeding off it ever since." Except for last year, when gate count fell well under 12,000. Now, the Nets have "ten-plus new players," he says, which is another reminder that fans are rooting for the clothes. Return to China? He talks about using Jeremy Lin to connect with a new fan base--they're branding "BrooklLin," as noted by N

AY down the memory hole: Vanderbilt Yard improvements portrayed with no mention of shrunken railyard, bargain on development rights, and source of funds

Again, Atlantic Yards down the memory hole, with the sunny side of a revised deal gaining notice, while the developer's savings are ignored. Yesterday amNY published  As part of 'West Portal' LIRR project at Vanderbilt Yard in Brooklyn, crews cut through 100-year-old rail tunnel : Construction crews have punched through a 100-year-old rail tunnel in the LIRR’s Vanderbilt Yard as part of ongoing work to modernize the Brooklyn storage facility. Underneath congested Downtown Brooklyn streets, the 4-foot-thick concrete wall of the tunnel was blasted open this summer to build a direct train path between the yard and Atlantic Terminal for the first time. The connection will be known as the “West Portal,” one of several operational enhancements that Greenland Forest City Partners, a joint venture between developers Greenland and Forest City Ratner, are delivering to the yard as part of a real estate deal to build part of its $5 billion Pacific Park project a

About that public plaza? The Barclays Center leveraged "new landmark" to boost revenue "in the casino category"

Let's look carefully at this excerpt (below) from the Preliminary Official Statement for the successful refinancing of the Barclays Center bonds. Regarding the arena's capacity to raise revenue from sponsorships, consultant from consultant Conventions Sport & Leisure (CSL) stated," The Arena leveraged a new landmark (the plaza outside the main entrance) to generate a 51 percent increase in the casino category." Well, then. Amenity or advertising opportunity? As I wrote 3/31/16, one justification from developer Greenland Forest City Partners for moving the bulk of the unbuilt B1 tower across Flatbush Avenue to Site 5, according to Forest City Ratner's Ashley Cotton was, "a key thing we think we can accomplish with this is keeping the plaza permanent open space." Resorts World Casino NYC Plaza @barclayscenter : Public amenity or branding/marketing opportunity? #AtlanticYards — Norman Oder (@AYReport) Augus

In final part of video interview, Gilmartin says she and Ratner "finish each other's sentences"

OK, there's not much new in the third and final part of the BisnowTV interview with Forest City Ratner CEO MaryAnne Gilmartin (here are the first and second ), but it does fill in a few blanks. I've interpolated a few comments ( in italics ). Interviewer Kenneth Weissenberg, partner at EisnerAmper, remains fawning, if not super-prepared. KW: You started in the city, the City Planning Commission, about 30 years ago? ( C'mon, you don't know where she started? ) MAG: I started in economic development, it was close to 30 years ago, I won a fellowship called the Urban Fellows Program,.. I was on my way to law school... I ended up doing public development in the Public Development Corporation, which is now the Economic Development Corporation... and I realized then I had real estate in my veins. Then I realize 'Wow, I could do all this large-scale public private partnership work on the private side,' ( for a lot more compensation, and with more power ) and tha

Former Nets GM Thorn: Kidd thought Ratner "didn't care about winning," NBA ownership has changed

Well, he's not nearly as bitter as former New Jersey Nets forward Kenyon Martin , but longtime General Manager Rod Thorn has a similar verdict on the ownership of Bruce Ratner, as described in a recent interview with Yahoo columnist Adrian Wojnarowski's Vertical Podcast with Woj: Rod Thorn  (h/t NetsDaily ). At about 58 minutes into the podcast, Thorn describes how Kidd claimed a migraine and asked for a trade, as  he "felt that when ownership let Kenyon Martin go... that ownership didn't care about winning." Thorn didn't agree with Kidd's tactics, but agreed that Kidd made "a lot of us, including me" far more successful than they would have been. The new ownership After Mikhail Prokhorov took over ownership in 2010, Thorn could have stayed. He had "no negative thoughts" about Prokhorov or his deputy Dmitry Razumov , with whom he primarily dealt, and the asked for him to stay. But Thorn thought he'd been there long enoug

Brooklyn's boom tempering?

So, when even an industry cheerleader says it, maybe Brooklyn's boom is tailing off. Bisnow reported on a panel, with the headline BROOKLYN DEVELOPERS, FINANCERS ARE GROWING MORE GROUNDED IN THEIR EXPECTATIONS : Sitting in the newly completed William Vale Hotel, the panelists of Bisnow’s Brooklyn New Frontiers event warned that the increasing difficulty of construction financing and a frustrating government could bring the borough back to earth, but insisted there are still opportunities and areas to take advantage of in the time we have left/

Water connection work today at Pacific between Carlton/Sixth; Monday at Flatbush and Dean (lane closure)

A message below, verbatim, from Pacific Park Brooklyn and Empire State Development about water connection work in two locations. Note that the Pacific Street work was supposed to start ten days ago and involve noise. The work at Flatbush and Dean was hinted at in the most recent Construction Update , but there was no mention of a lane closure: "Overnight and daytime water service work at the intersection of Flatbush & Dean Street may occur." --- Pacific Street between Carlton & 6th Avenues Saturday, August 20th, 2016 On Saturday, August 20th as part of the Pacific Park Brooklyn development there will be water connection work on Pacific Street between Carlton & 6th Avenues from 7:00AM - 3:30PM. During this work the sidewalk on the south side of Pacific Street will remain open to pedestrians. This work will not require any disruption of water service to residents. 461 Dean Street Flatbush Avenue at the corner of Dean Street Monday, August 22, 201

Just another wrestling load-in for the Barclays Center yesterday

2 huge trucks delivering to @barclayscenter 4 wrestling idling on Flatbush. No standing @NYPD78Pct @78PctCmtyCncl — Norman Oder (@AYReport) August 19, 2016 walked back. one truck was gone and the other one leaving, making a right on 5th Avenue. Luck? @barclayscenter @NYPD78Pct @78PctCmtyCncl — Norman Oder (@AYReport) August 19, 2016 Outside @barclayscenter loading dock, truck blocks already constricted Street @NYPD78Pct @78PctCmtyCncl — Norman Oder (@AYReport) August 19, 2016 Resorts World Casino NYC Plaza @barclayscenter : Public amenity or branding/marketing opportunity? #AtlanticYards — Norman Oder (@AYReport) August 19, 2016 No standing anytime. Unless you're broadcasting wrestling from @barclayscenter — Norman Oder (@AYReport) August 19, 2016

Curbed's "A decade on, Brooklyn’s Pacific Park megaproject is finally realized" (my responses + the Gehry switch)

Wondering what my response to the Curbed article, A decade on, Brooklyn’s Pacific Park megaproject is finally realized ? Well, see my Tweetstorm here . And read on. First, the headline is just a wee bit conclusory. Getting ready to open a couple of buildings does not mean "finally realized." The non-park won't be finished until 2025, at the earliest. More importantly, the framing of the article is (of course) tilted to the developer, and to a story about architecture, with no effort to ask the neighbors whether they agree the the layout "seems purposeful" or whether buildings fit into the neighborhood. Hint: they don't . Heck, even I didn't notice on first read that Curbed treats Forest City CEO MaryAnne Gilmartin as steering the development, while she's merely the local front for Greenland Forest City Partners, and a Shanghai-based developer is the final authority. Credit Curbed with making at least an effort to reach out--I get quoted a