Skip to main content

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park in 2017: watching the residential rollout, Site 5 plans, timetable uncertainty; what's the (inevitable) surprise?

Yesterday, I published my 2016 round-up of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park news. Now, some things to look for and to expect--and some speculation about the inevitable 2017 "surprise."

More towers will open in 2017, that's for sure. On top of the 50/50 rental 461 Dean, which opened (slightly) in 2016 and is slowly taking in tenants, two buildings--the "100% affordable" rental 535 Carlton, and the 550 Vanderbilt condo--are sure to open in 2017, while the other ("100% affordable" rental 38 Sixth) is expected to open. That's still just 4 of 15 (or 16) total towers.

The question, however, is how fast they will lease up and sell, and how fast the Temporary Certificates of Occupancy will turn into final versions.

We've already seen delays in all the buildings, rendering previous tentative schedules even more unreliable. Market-rate leases for 461 Dean have faced price drops, given the current glut of luxury units, which may make it tougher to lease the most expensive units at 535 Carlton.

Will new residents be happy with brand new apartments? Surely, but will others feel frustrated by the absence of the promised "eight-acre park," and by continued construction?

Some retailers and landlords on Flatbush and Vanderbilt avenues will be pleased by new consumers. New places to eat and drink, some yet to open, have made business plans--and paid higher rents--based on such expectations.

What's next?

The full project timetable remains uncertain, given the pause in market-rate development announced in November. Can the affordable housing really be built by 2025, as promised, if the whole project will take much longer? Will the affordability of the housing improve? Those questions linger.

Three sites have been put up for sale by Greenland Forest City Partners (or are seeking investors): the condo sites at B12 and B13, for which the market is likely glutted in the near term, and the site at B4, which Greenland Forest City Partners wants to swap to office space. It seems unlikely that an investment in B4, at least, would be announced before the public process began.

In 2017, likely the process to built B15 (aka 664 Pacific), the market-rate building with a school, will begin, though that middle school is not likely to appear until 2021.

A bit question surrounds Site 5, now how to Modell's and P.C. Richard, where a legal case involving the latter likely will be resolved. That will allow a public process, involving hearings and a pro forma vote, to move a huge amount of bulk once planned for B1--now home to the arena plaza--across the street to a site once thought to support 440,000 square feet, not 1.1 million.

That might bring out some longtime Atlantic Yards combatants, but the battles these days are surely less pitched. GFCP was planning not just office spaces but condos and glitzy retail. If they secure--at least tentatively--an anchor tenant, the project might get some momentum. But the effrontery of building such a massive project at that site also might galvanize opposition.

Sports questions

The Brooklyn Nets are in a rebuilding year, and must figure out how to bring people into the building. So far, it hasn't been stellar. The New York Islanders also have had a disappointing season, though attendance (and performance) last year improved during the season.

I don't think the Islanders can seriously pursue an opt-out of their lease, given the cost of a new arena, but wouldn't be surprised if that opt-out is used to force improvements in the deal between the team and the Barclays Center operators. For example, might the arena be pushed to retrofit its balky ice system, which beat writers say does not meet NHL standards?

Politics and accountability

Will Mayor Bill de Blasio, pursuing re-election, staunchly defend and praise Atlantic Yards affordable housing? He just might, and only challengers who do their homework can plausibly criticize him for it being not so affordable.

But de Blasio likely won't face a serious challenge, unless he's wounded by indictments of his staff, or even himself. Otherwise proven citywide vote-getter like Comptroller Scott Stringer or Public Advocate Tish James, or high-profile officials like Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, will stay away, leaving fringe candidates like Tony Avella.

I don't expect Atlantic Yards will be an issue in the 35th Council District, since no one has yet emerged as a challenger to incumbent Council Member Laurie Cumbo. (Update: there are rumors that 2013 challenger Ede Fox may run again.) In the state legislature, Assemblymember Walter Mosley has raised some concerns and questions, joined by fellow legislators, but has not yet followed up with concrete action like a hearing.

For the project, it's tough to expect much more accountability. The long-promised Independent Compliance Monitor for the Community Benefits Agreement has never arrived. Empire State Development, the state authority that oversees/shepherds the project, is on its fourth Project Director, with diminishing institutional knowledge.

The Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC), the board set up in 2014 (but which first met in 2015) to advise on the project, has sometimes added elements of transparency, but has been mostly toothless.

What's the surprise?

What could be the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park "surprise" in 2017? (There's almost always a surprise.)

One surprise could be the announcement of a new timetable, faster or slower than now assumed. Another could be new investors in three towers. But those are "expected" announcements.

Another might be the reinstatement of 421-a, or a similar tax break, which could re-start residential development. And perhaps there might be federal lobbying for infrastructure (or other) funds from a Trump administration. Maybe there might be another (fourth) round of EB-5 fundraising, assuming the law involving regional centers (the middlemen) is renewed.

More dramatic would be a sale of larger portions of the property, and a new player in the Greenland Forest City equation.

Another surprise might be reconfiguration of city services to better accommodate the emerging project, which spans three Community Districts.

Another surprise could be--just guessing, no evidence--tensions between Forest City and Greenland. Their collaboration, to outside observers, seems productive, but Greenland is no longer as deep-pocketed as it once was, so it may look at spending differently.

After all, Forest City and Skanska were once happy partners in the modular factory, and now they're battling in court over cost overruns on the B2 (aka 461 Dean) building.

Above all, however, the surprise might be something that hasn't yet been floated publicly. Stay tuned.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Barclays Center/Levy Restaurants hit with suit charging discrimination on disability, race; supervisors said to use vicious slurs, pursue retaliation

The Daily News has an article today, Barclays Center hit with $5M suit claiming discrimination against disabled, while the New York Post headlined its article Barclays Center sued over taunting disabled employees.

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…

Behind the "empty railyards": 40 years of ATURA, Baruch's plan, and the city's diffidence

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 a hearing yesterday of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, Kate Suisma…

No, security guards can't ban photos. Questions remain about visibility of ID/sticker system.

The bi-monthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Community Update meeting June 14, held at 55 Hanson Place, addressed multiple issues, including delays in the project, a new detente with project neighbors,concerns about traffic congestion, upcoming sewer work and demolitions, and an explanation of how high winds caused debris to fly off the under-construction 38 Sixth Avenue building. I'll have more coverage.
Security issues came up several times at the meeting.
Wayne Bailey, a resident who regularly takes photos and videos (that I often use) of construction/operations issues that impact residents, asked representatives of Tishman Construction if the security guard at the sites they're building works for them.
After Tishman Senior VP Eric Reid said yes, Bailey asked why a guard told him not to shoot video of the site, even though he was on a public street.

"I will address it with principals for that security firm," Reid said.
Forest City Ratner executive Ashley Cotton, the …

Barclays Center event June 11 to protest plans to expand Israeli draft; questions about logistics

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.

The logistical questions

What's unclear is how large the ev…

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park graphic: what's built/what might be coming (post-dated pinned post)

Click on graphic to enlarge. This is post-dated to stay at the top of the blog. It will be updated as announced configurations change and buildings launch. The August 2014 tentative configurations proposed by developer Greenland Forest City Partners will change, and the project is already well behind that tentative timetable.


Not quite the pattern: Greenland selling development sites, not completed condos

Real Estate Weekly, reporting on trends in Chinese investment in New York City, on 11/18/15 quoted Jim Costello, a senior vice president at research firm Real Capital Analytics:
“They’re typically building high-end condos, build it and sell it. Capital return is in a few years. That’s something that is ingrained in the companies that have been coming here because that’s how they’ve grown in the last 35 years. It’s always been a development game for them. So they’re just repeating their business model here,” he said. When I read that last November, I didn't think it necessarily applied to Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, now 70% owned (outside of the Barclays Center and B2 modular apartment tower), by the Greenland Group, owned significantly by the Shanghai government.
A majority of the buildings will be rentals, some 100% market, some 100% affordable, and several--the last several built--are supposed to be 50% market/50% subsidized. (See tentative timetable below.)

Selling development …

Atlanta's Atlantic Yards moves ahead

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…