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Showing posts from July, 2017

A new rendering of dense Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park; missing: some towers + "sprawling lawns"

So, new 550 Vanderbilt broker Ryan Serhant of Nest Seekers International writes on Facebook:
Introducing the first large scale rendering of Pacific Park Brooklyn. Master plan by Frank Gehry. Developed by Greenland Forest City. 22 acres from Barclays Center to my new project, 550 Vanderbilt. 8 acres of park space. Brooklyn's newest neighborhood. Incredible. Awe-inspiring. Email 550V@nestseekers.com for more information on this once-in-a-generation opportunity.
The rendering is pretty impressive, at least for density lovers. (There's no credit on the rendering; multiple architects have been working on various buildings, and no firm oversees the latest iteration of the master plan.) But a good deal is missing.

What about that "park"?

That "park space"--actually, publicly accessible, privately managed open space--isn't so visible. What happened to what Forest City said in June 2015?

As quoted in the Daily News:
“The park will make this pocket of the borough …

Yes, hospital signs deal for health center at 38 Sixth, but who's paying and who's served?

In NY-Presbyterian Brooklyn Inks 26K SF at Greenland, Forest City’s Pacific Park, the Commercial observer reported 7/28/17:
NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital has signed a 26,462-square-foot deal at Greenland Forest City Partners’ 38 Sixth Avenue in the Prospect Heights section of Brooklyn, according to Joseph P. Day Realty Corp.
....It wasn’t immediately clear if the hospital needs the new digs for just office or a mix of medical uses. A spokeswoman for the hospital only emailed, “we have no information on this.” Nor did any of the participants offer details.

Ah, what the Commercial Observer didn't know/remember is that the building has long been slated for a health care center promised in the overall project, occupying--as I wrote in January--a 23,000 sf health clinic in 38 Sixth (aka B3), on four floors, including 2,739 at ground floor.

Pending questions

But many questions remained unanswered, regarding audience and cost.
So, will the state-of-the-art facility be ge…

A job at Berlin Rosen: p.r. strategy for Pacific Park (and other projects)

The next person working on p.r. for Atlantic Yards/Pacific may soon be hired, thanks to this BerlinRosen ad, which I've excerpted below and then posted in full as an impage.

So it's worth taking a look. I've highlighted some sections for emphasis.

The text below is verbatim.

Account Supervisor, Cities & Real Estate- NYC
New York, United States Full-time

BerlinRosen, a leading national strategic communications firm, is seeking an Account Supervisor to help our rapidly growing Real Estate practice meet a wide range of communications and public relations goals for our real estate, economic development, hospitality, architecture and design clients who are shaping the future and landscapes of major cities across the U.S. - like New York, Los Angeles - and beyond.

The position is ideal for dynamic candidates with 4-6 years of relevant experience in strategic communications, journalism, real estate and government. Excellent writing skills and media relations experience are a mu…

From the latest Construction Update: track work this weekend on railyard between Carlton and Vanderbilt

According to the latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update (bottom), covering the two weeks beginning July 31, was circulated yesterday at 3:40 pm by Empire State Development (ESD) after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners.

That was more lead time than most Updates, which come after the work has commenced, but in this case it had to be out early to announce that the Long Island Rail Road will be performing track work on existing yard tracks in Block 1121, which is north of Pacific Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues. In other words, had ESD known about this, it should have been announced in the previous update.

Also, at the same block of the railyard, drilling of foundation piles is expected to resume in the B10 Building area (near Vanderbilt Avenue) during this reporting period. It also had been expected to resume during the previous two weeks.

Also during these two weeks, work on roofs and terraces is expected to be completed at B11, 550 Vanderbilt, …

Some proposals to boost local news: recast government spending; fund public service

In the Spring issue of Columbia Journalism Review, Liena Zagare (Bklynr) and Ben Smith (BuzzFeed) wrote Your tax dollars at work, suggesting a new solution for local digital media:
Part of the explanation for the failure of local digital media is the same litany of woes faced by old media: a struggling display ad business; the complete dominance of Facebook and Google, which have absorbed most of the growth in digital ads; and the inherent difficulties in building the scale that powers many digital media businesses through deep coverage for a niche audience.
But we would suggest there’s another uncomfortable and underreported reason for the struggles of new community news startups, as well as the survival of a kind of zombie community print press that soldiers on increasingly without an audience: the major, quiet subsidy to print community papers, which comes in two basic forms — legislation requiring that legal notices be published in print, and advertising by government agencies. I&…

An incremental change pointing to more affordable housing for the poorest cohort

Mayor Bill de Blasio has made an incremental change to focus affordable housing where the need is greatest, but he can only do so much.

In Mayor revamps housing plan to appeal to more low-income New Yorkers, 7/24/17, Sally Goldenberg explained:
With an extra $1.9 billion in capital funds and a series of new rules for developers receiving city subsidies, the administration has quietly revamped a program central to de Blasio's agenda. The changes come after two years of persistent criticism that the 10-year plan to create and preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing didn't adequately serve the city's poor — a complaint amplified in communities that enthusiastically swept him into office four years ago.
Administration officials argue their reforms were not driven by boisterous activists....
They say the plan evolved after developers showed a willingness to build rentals for the most impoverished renters, and advocates were never consulted. What does that mean? Instead of …

Does 421-a change eliminate community preference for Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park? Unclear.

Crain's NY Business reported yesterday, in Rebooted 421-a program no longer gives locals first crack at affordable housing:
The revived 421-a program dropped a longstanding provision giving local residents first crack at affordable apartments in their neighborhoods, Crain's has learned. Should the de Blasio administration allow the change to stand, it would be a surprising break from past city housing policy, which has long championed the so-called community-preference rule for subsidized units.
In the case of 421-1, a community preference meant that half of the affordable apartments in a project were marketed first to local residents who can apply to the lottery before the rest of the city. Smaller set-asides exist for veterans, New Yorkers with disabilities and government employees. Last fall the city added a new wrinkle that required developers to market half of the community-preference units to families living in nearby homeless shelters. [That's certain low-income uni…

From Triangle Sports to 182 Flatbush (aka The Triangle): a branding opportunity

Brownstoner, in How Shiny Is the Future for Park Slope’s Old Triangle Sports Building?, wrote yesterday: A restaurant, Sephora, an Apple store….so far, none of the rumors have panned out. The prominent but somewhat awkward triangle of land at 182 Flatbush in Park Slope has remained empty since the owners of Triangle Sports shut up shop after 96 years in business and sold the property to RedSky Capital for $4.1 million in 2013.
Now the spot has acquired shiny new concept renderings from AA Studio that show the 19th century building transformed into a transparent wedge.  ...Another option shows the 4,790-square-foot building doubling in size thanks to a three-floor addition (each floor of the current building is about 1,600 square feet).A real tenant, or just a showplace?

While the wedge-shaped building was an awkward, if sufficient store for basic sporting goods, the high price changes the equation.

No small retailer likely could afford it, nor is the layout--it seems--particularly con…

Prokhorov gets preliminary approval to sell part of Nets without selling arena

Forbes's Mike Ozanian reported yesterday, in NBA Committee Approves Prokhorov's Plan To Split Brooklyn Nets From Barclays Center:
The NBA's advisory finance committee has approved Mikhail Prokhorov's lease terms for splitting the Brooklyn Nets from the Barclays Center.
Prokhorov owns both the NBA team and the operating rights to the arena. But his latest plan is to sell the team and keep control of the Barclays Center. This would be a "carve out" similar to what Comcast-Spectacor did when it sold the Philadelphia 76ers to Josh Harris. Most teams plan in arenas they control. In fact, the NBA--which must still approve this deal--had nudged former arena majority owner (and team minority owner) Bruce Ratner to sell his shares (also owned by larger company Forest City Realty Trust, formerly Forest City Enterprises) to Prokhorov rather than on the open market.
Assuming Prokhorov finds a buyer, it'll be interesting to see how much he gets--presumably more than m…

Walking around the project site: buildings at night, new retail, congestion on Dean

On Monday night, July 17, I took a walk around/near the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park site, along Flatbush Avenue and Dean Street, mostly.

Is 535 Carlton, pictured below, filling up? If you go by the number of lights, no. Then again, a good number of apartments in the presumably full public housing tower (back, right) don't have lights on, either. So it's murky.

But if the numbers were great, at this and the other buildings, wouldn't they have told us at the last public meeting? (Expect an update in the next quarterly report of Forest City Realty Trust, coming August 3.)

Below, 461 Dean, somewhat later in the evening. Not so many lights on there.

Below, 550 Vanderbilt. Note that only the lower seven floors have been up for rent (by owners of condo units), though the building has a Certificate of Occupancy covering almost all the building.
Below, four new(ish) food locations on Flatbush Avenue not far from the Barclays Center. Maybe all but one need signage to "pop"…

Greenland stumbles in Fortune Global 500 before rising again; top 100 ranking by 2020 seems doubtful (now #277)

So, what's up with Greenland Holding (or: Holdings) Group, the 70% owner (via its subsidiary Greenland USA) of the joint venture Greenland Forest City Partners? The JV is developing the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park project, with the exception of the arena and the 461 Dean tower.

Bottom line: Greenland's not growing revenues as fast as it had hoped, even as the conglomerate, best known as a domestic property developer, has expanded significantly outside China into major world cities like New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, Sydney, and London.

When I wrote in April 2015 about Greenland, it was clearly on an upswing. It had been ranked at 268 in the 2014 Fortune Global 500, with $60.7 billion in assets, $41 billion in revenue, a 29.2% rise in revenues and a 11.2% increase in profits. (The rank relies on revenue in the past fiscal year.)
That was a significant jump from 359 in 2013 and 483 in 2012. Since then, however, Greenland's rise has slowed, reversed, and then partly recovere…

EB-5 round-up: Trump and Cuomo contributors; the Kushner connect; Staten Island project shaky

EB-5 money is sluicing all around us. And it so often seems sketchy.

USA Today reported, 7/18/17, The developer of a 'China City' in rural New York emerges as a major Trump donor:
WASHINGTON — Sherry Li, a Long Island businesswoman who once proposed a sprawling Chinese Disneyland in the Catskill Mountains, is far from a prominent figure in national politics.
But she and a business associate have just emerged as some of the year’s biggest financial backers of President Trump’s political operation. Late last month, Li and Lianbo Wang, described in federal election filings as her corporate board member, donated a combined $600,000 to Trump Victory, the fundraising committee the president established with the Republican National Committee to attract high-dollar contributors.
Li is now pursuing the development of a higher-education center on the property she controls in rural New York. Her business plans could intersect with the policies of the new Trump administration on everything …

The 2017-18 Nets: "Effort Means Everything" and "We Go Hard"

In 2013, Nets/arena CEO Brett Yormark famously said, "Nothing but a championship is going to be accepted." (That was right about the time Jay-Z was selling his fractional share in the team.)

Yormark soon modulated that to, "We're on a championship journey." They didn't get very far.

Now, as the screenshot below (from the Nets web site) suggests, featuring new Net D'Angelo Russell, "Effort Means Everything," a signal that the Nets are modulating expectations regarding their rebuilding process, which, though finally quite savvy, won't bear fruit for a while.


But "We Go Hard." And that, of course, recalls a lyric from Jay-Z himself, when he claimed, "Now when I bring the Nets, I'm the black Branch Rickey." Oh sure.

Is B12 (condos) ahead of B15 (market-rate rentals, plus school)?

I'm just reading the tea leaves here, but a look at New York State's database of corporations suggests that plans for 615 Dean Street, aka B12, are further ahead than plans for 664 Pacific Street, aka B15, though both buildings have been announced--with renderings--and then delayed.

B12 is supposed to be a condo building, while B15 would contain market-rate rentals, plus a school. Both have 421-a benefits grandfathered in, but the developer could reconfigure the building to use the revised benefits.

The evidence is below. A search on "Pacific Park" turned up four limited liability corporations (LLCs) associated with specific parcels, including the now-constructed 550 Vanderbilt and 535 Carlton, and the under-construction 38 Sixth Avenue.

The only other construction site with an LLC is 615 Dean. (Note that 461 Dean, aka B2, was built not by the joint venture behind Pacific Park, Greenland Forest City Partners, but by Forest City itself.)

Neighbors still confounded by (partly) giant fence used to block (for now) nonexistent noise, dust

The July 18 bi-monthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life meeting, held at 55 Hanson Place, also aired updates about the murky status of future construction.

The giant green fence on Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues, which encroaches significantly on the travel lane, bunching bikes and vehicles together and further constrained by illegal but unticketed parking, was again a topic for criticism.

As Prospect Heights resident Gib Veconi pointed out, the 16-foot-high fence, twice the height of typical fences and moved into the street to accommodate bracing, were required as mitigations for construction impacts, notably dust and noise.

But there's no construction going on, he said, echoing critiques made by the Dean Street Block Association. "It's not a mitigation, and it really ought to be moved," he said. "It was never anticipated that residents of that area would have to live with an arbitrary street impediment like that without constructi…

Greenland Forest City: mum on new construction; full market-rate building now unlikely; three sites no longer being marketed

Last night's bi-monthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life meeting, held at 55 Hanson Place, also aired concerns about the giant green fence and other issues, which I covered separately.

Maybe it's the calm before the construction storm. Surely changes in Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park are percolating.
But ever since Forest City Realty Trust, the junior partner in Pacific Park, last November announced that market conditions put development on hold, there hasn't been much positive news.

Last night, a representative of the joint venture Greenland Forest City Partners (GFCP) had exactly zero information about any upcoming construction starts, despite announced--but paused--plans for two towers, 664 Pacific (B15) and 615 Dean (B12).
Not only that, Forest City New York's Ashley Cotton expressed doubt that any market-rate building could be built, given the current state of the 421-a tax break, and essentially acknowledged that the joint venture had given up on its effo…

Greenland Forest City, facing slow condo sales, replaces broker, says it won't cut prices

The Real Deal, in Greenland Forest City swaps Corcoran for Nest Seekers at 550 Vanderbilt, reported yesterday:
After selling only a handful of apartments over the past few months, Greenland Forest City Partners is switching up the marketing team at 550 Vanderbilt Avenue, the first condominium at the Pacific Park megadevelopment in Brooklyn.
The developers have replaced Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group with Nest Seekers International’s Ryan Serhant, they said Tuesday. The 278-unit building — which launched in 2015 — is 65 percent sold.
“We were interested in making a change and trying something new and fresh,” said Forest City Ratner CEO MaryAnne Gilmartin, who called the split with Corcoran “amicable.”  Note that Corcoran was not quoted regarding that amicability. I hold no brief for Corcoran, but the building is not exactly an easy sell, given the lack of actual open space--despite the hype. 
And Gilmartin said they wouldn't cut prices, because 550 Vanderbilt wasn’t your “standa…

The rats are back in Prospect Heights; the city takes steps to address the rat problem (focusing elsewhere)

The rats are back, in Prospect Heights and in a lot of places around the city, stirred up by construction, attracted by garbage, and resistant to all but the most careful measures.

As the Brooklyn Reader reported 6/22/17, Prospect Heights Residents Complain of Rat Infestation, residents on Dean Street between Sixth and Carlton avenues cited multiple construction projects (including Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park) and inadequate street cleaning.

The city Department of Health said it was "intensifying our efforts in this zone" and observed that property owners--with guidance from the DOH's Rodent Academy--were responsible for their property.

Two blocks away, at St. Marks Avenue between Flatbush and Vanderbilt avenues, longtime resident (and Atlantic Yards foe) Patti Hagan told me "it's just gotten worse and worse every time they dig up the streets and sidewalks for infrastructure." She noted that construction workers leave food trash and that some restaurants…

A softening Brooklyn office market, at least farther from Manhattan

The business cycles continue. In Brooklyn office bust?, subtitled "Eager developers may have gotten ahead of themselves with projects in far-flung nabes," the Real Deal suggests that demand does not meet supply:
Indeed, the numbers show that developers thought demand for hip offices would take off: There are 23 office projects underway in Brooklyn, which will add roughly 6.9 million square feet to the market by 2020, according to Cushman & Wakefield. The amount of new supply accounts for roughly 20 percent of Brooklyn’s 45 million-square-foot market, whereas in Manhattan, new office supply makes up about 7 percent of the market, Colliers International data shows.
And while leasing activity in Brooklyn stood at 430,000 square feet in the first quarter of 2017 — more than double the volume of a year earlier — it couldn’t keep pace with the 900,000 square feet of new space delivered to the market in early 2017, according to CBRE. Especially in neighborhoods like Red Hook, fa…

At tomorrow's Quality of Life meeting, a vague agenda, but some questions

The next periodic Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life Meeting will be held tomorrow, July 18, at 6 pm, at the Shirley Chisholm State Office Building, 55 Hanson Place, 1st Floor Conference Room.

The agenda, at right, is not terribly enlightening, suggesting presentations by Empire State Development and the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation--which are run by the same state staffer--and also by developer Greenland Forest City Partners.

They will answer questions, and perhaps some of these will come up:
how fast are the two rental towers (461 Dean and 535 Carlton) leasing up?how many people are living in (as owners, or renters) in the condo tower 550 Vanderbilt?when will people move into the fourth tower, 38 Sixth (like 535 Carlton, "100% affordable")?what's going on with rats related to this construction site (and others)?if the B6 and B7 sites don't need a platform, how support the adjacent open space?when will 664 Pacific (B15) actually start?wha…