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Showing posts from September, 2017

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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)

Brooklyn Nets and retail partner create "Brooklyn Cool" (Oh)

The marketing is unending, with a new "lifestyle apparel program" dubbed (and trademarked) "Brooklyn Cool" from a partnership between Brooklyn Nets owner/arena operator Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment (BSE) and a company called Rank + Rally. “Brand Brooklyn is about more than basketball,” said Brett Yormark, CEO of BSE. “By partnering with local designers with a finger on the pulse of the borough’s style, we can further integrate the Nets into the lives of our fans, from the die-hard loyalist to the casual spectator.” And, er, sell stuff at the "recently re-designed Swag Shop," aka team store. Thing is, Brooklyn had cool unrelated to large companies selling overpriced goods with a name that somehow got trademarked. (Quick, someone should trademark "Brooklyn" accompanied by any commonplace but positive word. Maybe they have.) The 9/28/17 press release from the Brooklyn Nets states, "BROOKLYN COOL exemplifies Rank + Rally’s mission t

On Thursday at 550 Vanderbilt, the Greenland Forest City 2017 Mid-Autumn Festival (to sell condos)

Maybe it'll be a local tradition too? On Thursday, October, 5, Greenland Forest City Partners will hold its Greenland Forest City 2017 Mid-Autumn Festival : In observing the Chinese traditional Mid-Autumn Festival, Greenland Forest City Partners would like to invite you to join us, along with our exclusive sales broker, Ryan Serhant Team, in celebrating the Chinese holiday at our proud condominium at 550 Vanderbilt Avenue, Brooklyn. There will be hors d’oeuvres, raffle prizes and more! Given that they're not holding the festival at, say, the affordable 535 Carlton, and the presence of the "exclusive sales broker," I'd have to guess this has to do with selling condos. It's a traditional harvest festival and a public holiday in China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.

Yes, Islanders bidding for new arena at Belmont. Wait and see.

Yes, the New York Islanders, as expected, have submitted a plan to build a hockey/entertainment arena at the Belmont Park site, competing with a plan from New York City FC to build a soccer stadium, and an unspecified (retail?) plan from Blumenfeld Development Group, Newsday reported yesterday. The Islanders' plan has juice: The Islanders’ group is labeled New York Arena Partners, LLC. It includes Sterling Project Development, which is controlled by the Mets’ Wilpon family and Oak View Group, an arena development company backed by Madison Square Garden. ...A potential Islanders arena that would have ties to Madison Square Garden would present competition for the Barclays Center and the renovated Nassau Coliseum — two nearby arenas run by Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment. No details have been released about the bid or the financial assumptions behind a new arena. Does that mean that the Islanders will be gone at the end of their third or fourth season, ending their once-pro

Forest City New York makes its presence (and logo) known; 550 Vanderbilt now among three highlighted projects

The advertisement at bottom, in the program for the 9/17/17 Brooklyn Book Festival, was the first I'd seen using the new name and logo for Forest City New York, until earlier this year Forest City Ratner. That logo, excerpted at right in two forms, is basically the corporate logo below left, used by parent Forest City Realty Trust , plus a local identifier. It's a lot different from the previous logo, below left further down. This week came another sighting. On Monday, in an announcement indicating that middle-income affordable units were available for those applying outside the lottery at 461 Dean, the logo appeared again, below right. Note: the logo did not appear on the separate announcement indicating that middle-income affordable units were available for those applying outside the lottery at 535 Carlton because that building is being developed by the joint venture Greenland Forest City Partners. Among the towers, only 461 Dean is slated to be solely owned by

With increased 2017 AMI, income ceiling rises for remaining middle-income units

It might be a little easier to find households who meet the income requirements for the  remaining middle-income  units at 461 Dean and 535 Carlton, since the maximum acceptable income has risen, associated with the annual rise of Area Median Income (AMI). The minimum income in each "band" has remained the same from 2016 and the rents remain the same, but the maximum, set at 160% and 165% of AMI, respectively, has followed the rise in AMI from $90,600 (at 100% of AMI, for a family of four) in 2016 to $95,400 in 2017. (The rents in the upper middle-income band are set slightly below the maximum income, at 150% and 160% of AMI, respectively.) Indeed, the AMI rise from 2015's $86,300 to the current $95,400 represents a 10.5% increase in two years, which surely outstrips the stagnated incomes of the city's poor. (That's partly because AMI, due to a quirk of history, involves wealthy suburban counties, according to City Limits .) Column at far right omits ren

From the latest Construction Update: some progress around the railyard

According to the latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update (bottom), covering the two weeks beginning September 25, there's only a little new work in this period, compared to the previous period . The update was circulated yesterday at 10:53 am (late) by Empire State Development (ESD) after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners. At the Long Island Rail Road, "Work for the new project Field Office Trailers will continue in Block 1129 during this reporting period." That's actually the southeast block of the project. Also, at the West Portal off Atlantic Avenue, "painting of the portal steel will continue." Also, there's some late-stage work around two already-open buildings on the southeast block of the project. Around 550 Vanderbilt Avenue (aka B11), portions of privatized Pacific Street from the B12 site to B-12 up to Vanderbilt Avenue will begin. That should connect to the open space in progress. Also, construction trailers ar

Though huge numbers sought low-income housing, middle-income affordable units go empty, now open to new applicants

Guess what--there are affordable units still available at Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, and you don't have to apply through a lottery. You just can't be poor. Yesterday, a message from Forest City New York and Greenland Forest City Partners indicated that an unspecified number middle-income affordable units in both 535 Carlton and 461 Dean (50% affordable) can be rented by anyone who meets income minimums and limits, generally around six figures: 461 Dean, 2 BR: $3,012 ( original total : 16) 535 Carlton Stu: $2,137 ( original total : 36) 535 Carlton, 1BR: $2,680 (original total: 61) 535 Carlton, 2BR: $3,223 (original total: 44) 535 Carlton, 3 BR: $3,716 (original total: 7) Market-rate units at 461 Dean Lottery numbers don't add up Those units are rent-stabilized, which means tenure of occupancy and limited annual increases, and they're below-market, but not by a ton. That $2,680 1BR at 535 Carlton  is just 13% below the least-expensive current market-ra

AY down the memory hole: neither Bloomberg nor de Blasio have examined job creation

In a column yesterday for City Journal headlined De Blasio’s Misrepresentations , Seth Barron's subheading was "The mayor is hardly New York's first chief executive to care about outer-borough job growth." His argument is reasonably well-founded, pointing out, for example, how Mayor Mike Bloomberg also looked at the outer boroughs. But this line struck me as deserving much more analysis: "Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, including the Barclay’s Center, has its detractors, but is nevertheless an important Bloomberg-era development having a major impact on central Brooklyn." As it happens, de Blasio and Bloomberg share something else regarding Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park: a failure to pursue accountability. They might like the fact of the arena, or the (not-so-affordable) housing, but certainly have never assessed it regarding the promises of jobs. My comment, as posted (relying in part on this analysis ) Well, I can't deny "important" or &qu

From Forest City's Gilmartin, a nugget about short-term thinking at publicly traded firms

In a 9/1/17 article headlined NYC’s next wave of dynasties , The Real Deal has an interesting quote about Forest City Realty Trust (formerly Forest City Enterprises) and its New York arm, Forest City New York (formerly Forest City Ratner): The company is now entering a new phase — and with a new name, Forest City New York — focusing less on development and more on investing in market-rate apartments and office properties. ...Still, [Forest City New York CEO MaryAnne] Gilmartin said private companies have the advantage in the development game because they can make “long-game investments” and don’t need to focus as much on quarterly profits. “We are subject less to the issues around investments from companies here and abroad and more beholden to the public market,” she said. On the other hand, private companies are often at the mercy of lenders, who they frequently rely on to provide construction financing. For the last few years, the lending spigot has tightened. This strikes me as

Next Atlantic Yards CDC meeting: maybe early October

One forum where uncertainty about the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park timetable--with no new buildings planned--should get further attention is the next meeting of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC), the advisory body that's a subsidiary of Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority overseeing/shepherding the project. Except we're not sure when the AY CDC, which is supposed to meet quarterly (but last met 6/6/17 ), is going to meet. At Tuesday's bi-monthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life meeting , I asked Tobi Jaiyesimi, who  serves as both as ESD's Atlantic Yards Project Manager and AY CDC Executive Director, about the next AY CDC meeting. "That was actually on my list of things to do," she responded. "It hasn't been confirmed yet, because we are running into the ever problem that we always run into, which is the idea of a quorum, but we are hoping to get something scheduled for the first week of Oct

Same as it ever was (til January): BP Adams raising $ for linked nonprofit from businesses including Forest City

The New York Post's Rich Calder broke the story 9/17/17, Brooklyn president scrambles for donations before rule change , and I don't think anyone's followed up: Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is racing the clock to rack in big-buck donations for a controversial nonprofit he created to advance pet projects — all before a new city law takes effect in January that will dramatically limit such contributions.  Roughly a year after federal and state prosecutors helped shame Mayor de Blasio into shuttering his Campaign for One New York, which aggressively raised funds from people doing business with the city, Adams’ One Brooklyn Fund — which has also been the subject of multiple investigations — is set to host its first major fundraiser.  The deep-pocketed supporters invited to the Sept. 27 “inaugural gala” at the Brooklyn Museum include companies who have received work or have other types of business relationships with the city, according to people on the guest list.

As FCRT explores "alternatives," there should be a market for part/all of the firm

A story yesterday in National Real Estate Investor, Forest City Would Attract Plenty of Bidders in a Potential Sale , notes that yesterday's announced sale of Forest City Realty Trust's New York retail portfolio (including Atlantic Terminal and Atlantic Center malls) was long in the works, but that the rest of the company could be in play, thanks to the company's 9/11/17 announcement  "to explore a broad range of alternatives to enhance stockholder value." Given its location in major urban centers, real estate analyst Paul Adornato tells NERI, Forest City “would be a very attractive target.” It also has unused development rights. But the "additional income potential" of projects in process, including Pacific Park Brooklyn, should be tempered by a recognition that that project at least has been stalled and subject to a glut of market rate units. Beyond selling particular assets, an interviewee suggested that various large entities, such as Blackstone

Madison International buys remaining share of Forest City's NYC malls; considers roof deck and more opposite arena

Well, in January, the Real Deal reported that Madison International, already a 49% owner of Forest City Realty Trust's New York City retail portfolio, was aiming to buy the remainder of the property, and now it's official. The agreement announced today (press releases at bottom) values Forest City's interest at about $1 billion; we'll see if that's deemed a good price or a sale from weakness. Not only is Madison buying Atlantic Terminal and Atlantic Center malls, across from the Barclays Center, it is "considering the potential redevelopment" of both. Crain's adds detail : [Madison's Ronald] Dickerman said his firm plans to invest "ten of millions of dollars" repositioning the two adjacent Downtown Brooklyn properties to bring in new tenants and make the complex a hipper destination. Included in the plans are an increased number of food options and the installation of a roof deck that Dickerman said would lure larger crowds from th

No update on construction timetable; developer admits B15 site "disgusting," cites partial progress

From Dean Street Block Association; left photo Sept. 14,  right photos Sept. 18. OK, the hole in the sidewalk outside the B15 site was fixed recently , but weeds, garbage, and rats persist just east of Sixth Avenue between Dean and Pacific streets, given an indifferently maintained, long-stalled site. After complaints from neighbors last night at the bi-monthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life meeting, even Ashley Cotton, Forest City New York's External Affairs EVP, acknowledged "you’re right, it’s disgusting" and announced partial progress. Because the joint venture Greenland Forest City Partners is still negotiating with a site neighbor about construction protections--the issue in a lawsuit from another neighbor, which was resolved--"we’re in a tricky place," Cotton said, with no construction start imminent. From Dean Street Block Association; photos Sept. 18 The building design was announced in December 2015, but delays surfaced in

The Islanders in Nassau: a "tease" of a return

So, the New York Islanders held a pre-season game Sunday at the renovated/downsized Nassau Coliseum--er, NYCB Live--and it sold out, with 13,917 fans, many tailgating in the parking lot. "Bring them back," chanted fans. Does that mean the team, engaged in renegotiating its Barclays Center lease and likely bidding on a new arena at the Belmont racetrack site, might return to a shrunken Nassau arena, with few luxury boxes? Not so likely. A tease at the Coliseum , wrote Newsday's Randi Marshall, who interviewed Brett Yormark, CEO executive of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, which operates both arenas: Yormark told The Point he sees a two-phase opportunity: first, the Islanders come back for some games, perhaps temporarily; and second, if the team reconsiders making the arena a more permanent home. Both, he noted, would require “doable” improvements to the arena. “I think yesterday was a great first step for us in what will be a multistep process,” Yormark said in

Outside B15 site, sidewalk hazard finally fixed (in time for tonight's meeting)

Hey, remember the photo at right, which I published more than two months ago , of the sidewalk on the south side of Pacific Street east of Sixth Avenue, outside the stalled B15 site ? It was a hazard and, actually, a sign of more blight than was found in 2006 by Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority shepherding/overseeing Atlantic Yards (now Pacific Park). In this case, rather than the state authority using the broken sidewalk (and other sidewalk cracks) as a justification for eminent domain, the city Department of Transportation first tried abatement, ordering the property owner--in this case, ESD, though the site would be taken over by the developer--to fix the hazard or face a fine. And the fix has been accomplished, as shown in the photo below, from late last week. Perhaps the timing of it all will be discussed at tonight's Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life meeting .

NY Post front-page: suits vs. Barclays charge too-dangerous steep seats

Update: also see coverage of this issue on Inside Edition and in the Sacramento Bee . Everyone who's been to the cheap seats at the Barclays Center knows they're pretty steep, thus adding a measure of hazard, and in some cases a very cramped fit trying to get past those already sitting down. Add in a full house, large people, and/or drunkenness, and the hazard compounds. A cover story Sunday, posted Saturday 9/16/17 as  Fans sue Barclays Center over ‘exceedingly dangerous’ cheap seats , states: The steep upper bowl of the Barclays Center has prompted at least four lawsuits from folks claiming they were crushed by fellow patrons who tumbled over the harrowingly sheer, narrow, dark rows or stairs. The story is keyed to the latest of the lawsuits, likely goosed by the plaintiff's attorney, since this case, as far as I can tell, is not yet publicly available in the state court database. (I couldn't find the other three alleged suits, either, which means eith

Nets said to hire Cleveland announcer after "borderline scam" local auditions

Update: yes, it's official . The news isn't official yet, but there's solid evidence, as NetsDaily reports , that the Brooklyn Nets have hired the Cleveland Cavaliers' announcer, Olivier Sedra, to replace the departed David Diamante. And that suggests that the Nets' July announcement of auditions (see press release , DNAinfo coverage ) was another public relations stunt, which generated coverage on News12 and in New York magazine , among other press outlets. Remember, Diamante, already a pro announcer, was chosen after the Nets in 2011 held auditions that generated even more press coverage . And he got gentle treatment . In comments on NetsDaily, one fan observed that "it's hard to believe that they couldn't find new talent right here in Brooklyn" while another remarked on the "number of talented people" in the borough. Responded Net Income (aka Bob Windrem), the main contributor to NetsDaily: and one reason we didn’t do much

An affordable housing estimate: 800,000 units needed by 2050!

On Bisnow, 9/14/17, the article Building Affordable Housing In New York Keeps Getting Harder  contained a hard number: "I do not believe anybody has actually stated how many affordable housing units are needed in New York City," said Jonathan Rose, the CEO and founder of his eponymous firm. "My guess is about 800,000." Most of the numbers surrounding the idea of meeting affordable housing needs in New York are astronomical. The city has added about 50,000 jobs every year since the Great Recession, driving up demand for market-rate units even in the outer boroughs. Construction costs are higher in New York than just about any city in the world, which makes it impossible to build new affordable buildings without heaps of government subsidies. Keep in mind that Mayor Bill de Blasio's much-vaunted Housing New York Plan , announced in 2014, involves 200,000 units over ten years, but 60% of that, or 120,000 units, is preservation. So 80,000 new units is just t

Updating Forest City's latest move: Land and Buildings letter from April slamming continued family control

When earlier this year I wrote about  Forest City Realty Trust (FCRT), parent of Forest City New York, indicated that the real estate investment trust (REIT) was considering a potential sale or merger, I said it was in response to harsh letters from the hedge fund Land and Buildings. However, I only referenced the first two letters but not the third, from 4/25/17, which, as Bloomberg put it, "said Forest City would attract numerous bidders if it put itself up for sale." Ok, here's  the letter  (also at bottom), with emphasis added, headlined "Land and Buildings Calls on Forest City Realty Trust to Form Special Committee to Evaluate Strategic Alternatives": Dear Fellow Forest City Realty Trust Shareholders: It appears to be business as usual at Forest City despite the announcement of two new director additions. Regrettably for shareholders, that means the Ratners are maintaining their grip on Forest City and the composition of our Board of Directors. The a