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Showing posts from October, 2017

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Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park graphic: what's built/what's coming + FAQ (pinned post)

Skyscraper site ready? Site 5 dispute between P.C. Richard and Forest City would go to trial no earlier than February

"Next to Barclays Center, there is a site for a 1 million-square-foot tower," the New York Times recently reported, summarizing bids to lure Amazon's second headquarters. As I pointed out, that site--Site 5 of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, catercorner to the Barclays Center--is by no means ready.

A lawsuit filed in January 2016 by P.C. Richard parent A.J. Richard, claiming it was promised space in the replacement development, soldiers on, with regular delays and extensions of deadlines. According to a document in the case file (below), the parties have a compliance conference scheduled for 1/11/18, with the case expected to be ready for trial by 2/1/18.

Of course, that timetable can again be extended. My bet is that the case does not go to trial, given the costs (and risks) of litigation. The document upon which P.C. Richard asserts its right to future space is not public, and defendant Forest City Ratner (now Forest City New York) disputes P.C. Richard's claim.

But e…

So, did Jay-Z propose the Nets' black-and-white color scheme? In new book, architect claims credit

Rafi Kohan's entertaining, eclectic book The Arena, subtitled "Inside the Tailgating, Ticket-Scalping, Mascot-Racing, Dubiously Funded, and Possibly Haunted Monuments of American Sport," contains a scooplet of sorts regarding the Barclays Center and the Brooklyn Nets.

Kohan writes, "Jay-Z has been widely credited for the team's color scheme, although Gregg Pasquarelli tells me his firm, SHoP Architects, first pushed the idea."

That's certainly plausible, given that Pasquarelli is a design professional and Jay-Z is a tastemaker. Ditto for the team logo. Remember how the Nets credited Jay-Z, but, as NetsDaily discovered, another designer did the real work.

The original claim

“The inaugural event at Barclays Center, the new home of the Brooklyn Nets, was the perfect time to reveal the new Nets jersey and there was no one more fitting than Brooklyn’s own JAY Z to do it,” Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark said in a 9/29/12 press release hea…

Next Quality of Life Meeting Tuesday, Nov. 14

A message from Empire State Development regarding the next bimonthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life Meeting.

It will be held on Tuesday, November 14. Please feel free to send Project-related questions, concerns, or suggested agenda items for the meeting to atlanticyards@esd.ny.gov.

Atlantic Yards / Pacific Park Quality of Life Meeting
Tuesday, November 14, 2017 @ 6:00 PM
Shirley A. Chisholm State Office Building
55 Hanson Place
1st Floor Conference Room
Brooklyn, NY 11217

AY down the memory hole: Forest City "didn’t have to look far for a buyer" for modular factory

From Curbed, 10/25/17, Preparing for our prefab future, subtitled "A burgeoning U.S. prefab market has much to learn from Japan:": Immediately after construction on [modular 461 Dean] was finished, Forest City Ratner sold the factory and all its associated technology.
They didn’t have to look far for a buyer. Roger Krulak was an executive at the company who led the Brooklyn project, and he thought the factory-based building approach could still work. Well, sure. But that doesn't mean there were any other bidders, and the lack of any sale price announced suggests it could have been a fire sale. As I wrote on Twitter: "Alternatively: no one else but Krulak willing 2buy it."

Now 535 Carlton middle-income units surface on StreetEasy

OK, as of Thursday (if not earlier), they were on StreetEasy, affordable middle-income units at 535 Carlton that were not taken in the lottery.

If you click through, the page for Unit 813 says "Various Two Bedrooms Available, come find your perfect home!" The page for Unit 1602 says "Various One Bedrooms Available, come find your perfect home!" The page for Unit 614 says "AMAZING Studios/Alcove Studios available, come find your perfect home!"

In all cases, the pages add, "Answer 3 simple questions to see if you qualify on our website and book your appointment instantly by visiting our homepage at 535 Carlton."

Those questions involve ensuring that household income is within a rather narrow middle-income band, as indicated in the image below.


So, 550 Vanderbilt's a top-selling building? That's if you count closings for contracts signed in 2015.

What are NYC’s top-selling buildings? The Real Deal asked 10/15/17, citing a report from PropertyShark, which "included all sales that closed between July 1 and September 30, 2017, at developments and condo conversions completed since 2012."

So the 550 Vanderbilt condo building at Pacific Park made the list at #7, with 41 units sold.

However, as one commenter wrote:
This article is misleading as to what is really selling... numbers should be based off the contract signed data not closed data... if something was signed 3 years ago and closed 3Q2017... it shouldn't be counted as sold for 3Q2017. I agree. Many of the 550 Vanderbilt units that closed in Q3 2017 had 2015 contract dates. They just surfaced after the building got its Temporary Certificate of Occupancy and units could proceed to closings.

Hint: #550Vanderbilt is one of them. More in @trdny. https://t.co/CbJGuqRM2e — Pacific Park BK (@pacificparkbk) October 25, 2017

Nets' 49% share said to be sold, with overall valuation at record $2.3B

From ESPN today, Joseph Tsai agrees to purchase 49 percent minority stake in Nets, sources say: Joseph Tsai, the executive vice chairman and co-founder of Chinese e-commerce goliath Alibaba, has reached an agreement in principle to purchase a 49 percent minority stake in the Brooklyn Nets that includes the option to acquire controlling interest of the NBA franchise in several years, league sources told ESPN.
The purchase price will be based upon a $2.3 billion valuation of the team, league sources said.
Mikhail Prokhorov will remain principal and operating owner of the Nets for an additional four years, with a presumption that he will sell his majority stake upon the triggering of Tsai's option, league sources said. That $2.3 billion (as per NetsDaily) is a record for sales (not valuations), and well above the $2 billion previously floated, which itself was well above Forbes's estimate earlier the year of the value of the team+arena at $1.8 billion. It's another sign that…

Chaos at Barclays after unticketed fans storm entry, cause cops to use pepper spray

From Patch today, Barclays Center Shuts Doors After Fans Try To Storm Concert:  A group of paying customers were kept out of a Barclays Center concert on Thursday night after a stampede of unticketed fans forced cops to shut the doors to the event for good.
During Power 105.1's Powerhouse 2017, which featured The Weeknd, Migos and Lil Uzi Vert, a crowd of fans without tickets tried to storm the venue by force and get into the sold-out show. (Scroll down to see video.)
Police stopped them from gaining entry, then used pepper spray on the crowd outside, which included some people with tickets who were trying to get in lawfully. But the arena's doors were shut for good for the night and no more people were let in — ticketed or otherwise. See Patch for more. Generally speaking, long shows with multiple fan bases--some of whom don't buy tickets!--have proved challenging for Barclays.

de Blasio's affordable housing re-set and the road not taken (naming Speliotis, emphasizing nonprofits earlier)

At a press conference Tuesday announcing his affordable housing program was two years ahead of schedule and setting more ambitious numerical goals, Mayor Bill de Blasio eagerly entertained that inevitable question: what's affordable? 
"So I want to give you some real life examples from this building you’re in right now," de Blasio said, citing the CAMBA Gardens II project, which includes only low-income units, not moderate- and middle-income ones. "In this building, a one bedroom apartment rents for $900 a month. A two bedroom for $1,066 a month. That is affordable housing, and that’s what we want to produce a lot more of for the people of this city."

At a January 12 press conference, however, after a reporter cited some far more expensive affordable housing, de Blasio danced around the issue. "Affordable is – it’s a question for every family, what their situation is, what they can afford. We’re trying to match it with a whole range of families... But if t…

A revelation from Doctoroff: despite his public enthusiasm, he thought Atlantic Yards was a "crazy risk" (but considers it transformative)

As I write in Gotham Gazette, former Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff, in his Greater Than Ever: New York's Big Comeback, adds some new insights about Atlantic Yards, but his triumphant narrative ignores some countervailing evidence.

While Doctoroff gets wrong the location of the project, the amount of subsidies, and the fact that the city's money paid for land rather than infrastructure, and he looks rosily at the arena without acknowledging problems for neighbors, he makes one interesting revelation, and one shocking one, which I expand on below.

(He also says, dubiously, that Bruce Ratner first wanted to buy the New Jersey Devils, not the New Jersey Nets, while evidence suggests only that it was once a package deal.)

The shocking revelation: Atlantic Yards too risky from the start?

As I write in Gotham Gazette:
A more important revelation from Doctoroff is that, while he and the Bloomberg administration were public cheerleaders for Atlantic Yards--“My role in this was to be as supp…

From Gotham Gazette: In New Books on Bloomberg and de Blasio, Unreliable Atlantic Yards History

I have an essay in Gotham Gazette headlined In New Books on Bloomberg and de Blasio, Unreliable Atlantic Yards History, which begins:
Atlantic Yards down the memory hole" is a phrase I coined to describe how the facts and history of the controversial real estate project -- which was renamed Pacific Park Brooklyn in 2014 -- regularly get mangled by journalists, public officials, and commentators, often buffing away the controversy so that people may eventually wonder why anyone ever cared....  It's doubly dismaying, though, when book authors err, because they presumably have more time for research and because a hardcover presentation adds gravity. Unfortunately, interesting new books on the Bloomberg and de Blasio administrations get the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park history wrong, in both small and significant ways.
It's understandable that the authors give Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park short shrift, as it's but one controversy within a complex set of governing challenges…

Boosting sales at 550 Vanderbilt condos, a stealth price cut (plus bizarre $1 tax claim)

When MaryAnne Gilmartin, CEO of Forest City New York, in July announced a switch in real estate agents marketing 550 Vanderbilt--the first condo building in Pacific Park, formerly Atlantic Yards--she told The Real Deal prices wouldn't be cut, despite slow sales.

Her publicly stated reasoning: 550 Vanderbilt wasn’t your “standard fare development project.” “We’re building an entire neighborhood,” she told The Real Deal.

But would hiring Million Dollar Listing star Ryan Serhant and his Nest Seekers International team really do the trick? At first glance, yes. A recent Nest Seekers press release, repeated by two real estatepublications, says Serhant's team recently "closed 15 new deals."

“My team and I are very aggressive marketers, relentless negotiators, and passionate human beings," Serhant stated. "We love 550 Vanderbilt – that’s what we’re selling – and it’s working."

Perhaps, though it's too soon to tell: most of those units have not yet closed,…

From City Limits: With 421-a Maneuver, Pacific Park Developer Could Save Buyers $50 Million More in Taxes

I have an article today in City Limits, With 421-a Maneuver, Pacific Park Developer Could Save Buyers $50 Million More in Taxes. It begins:
Developers of 550 Vanderbilt, the first condominium building in the long-gestating Pacific Park (formerly Atlantic Yards) project, seem poised to turn a sweet deal into a bonanza, thanks to real-estate alchemy that super-sizes an already large tax break.

When Greenland Forest City Partners in 2015 prepared the Offering Plan for buyers at 550 Vanderbilt, the pending 421-a tax abatement meant an overall yearly tax bill of $1.2 million, a 69 percent discount off the annual property-tax hit that would have occurred without the tax break.

Now, however, owners at the 278-unit luxury building would collectively pay less than $123,000, a 97 percent discount.

But that $1.1 million increase in savings would be just the start. Since the new tax break would last 25 years, not 15 years like the initial one, plus remove an assessed value (AV) cap, owners could …

Islanders owner hoping for 150 events at new arena, plus upgraded LIRR station

Newsday's Jim Baumbach today offers Jonathan Ledecky reveals location of proposed Islanders’ arena at Belmont, including:
The arena would be located next to the existing, part-time LIRR station in what is now a parking lot outside the grandstand area of the racetrack, Ledecky said.
The new arena would host approximately 150 events per year, including Islanders games and entertainment such as concerts, family shows and college basketball games, according to Peter Luukko of Oak View Group, one of the Islanders’ partners in the development. Well, those numbers should be taken with a grain of salt. After all, the Barclays Center was projected to host 225 events, but averaged 180-200 before the Islanders arrived.

We have to wait to see their market study, but presumably that total of 150 events involves cannibalization from the Nassau Coliseum, which wouldn't make Nassau County officials very happy.

Making it work

Ledecky told Newsday there would be 7,000 parking spots to allow for t…

From the latest Construction Update: modest amount of new work (plus relocated CLO)

According to the latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update (bottom), covering the two weeks beginning October 23, was circulated at 10:56 am Friday (appropriate lead time) by Empire State Development (ESD) after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners.

There's a modest amount of new work compared to the previous period, but perhaps more notable was a separate announcement that the Pacific Park Brooklyn Community Liaison Office (CLO) is relocating from the Atlantic Terminal Mall (625 Atlantic Avenue) to the trailer park located at 591 Dean Street on Monday. The CLO will continue to be open Monday-Friday, 9 am - 4 pm. 1-866-923-5315. communityliaison@pacificparkbrooklyn.com

Why the move? Forest City New York no longer owns 51% of the mall, having sold it all to Madison International.

Also, though his name was not on the Update, attendees at the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation were told they should expect correspondence regarding Atlantic Yards fr…

AY CDC board members suggest that the open space signage might be larger (plus a board change)

This is among several articles regarding the 10/17/17 meeting (video) of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC). Also see the timetable for 38 Sixth (and the issue of middle-income units going begging), the project's uncertain scheduledanger on Dean Street, the Times Plaza revamp, and whether former footprint renters are returning.

Board member Barika Williams observed, "I’d like for us to think about the size and location of the signage" announcing the open space. "The advertisement for 550 Vanderbilt spans the entire block," she said, indicating signage along the Vanderbilt Avenue frontage of that condo building.

"These are relatively small signs on huge green walls," she said. "This is part of the community benefit of the project.... We don’t want to set up a way so you have to be right up on it to know that it exists."

The signage indicating rules and regulations is fine, she said, but there should be larger sign…

Yormark claims Barclays' loading dock is "flawless" (nah), says area has enough venues (so no Belmont?)

There are a couple of interesting nuggets in a 10/20/2017 Pollstar Executive Profile: Brett Yormark, Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment:
Q: You have a unique load-in at Barclays Center (with its load-in elevator). We suppose that there is a sensitivity for that to other buildings.
BY: Of all the companies out there right now, there is no one out there right now more focused on the artist experience, and that includes load-in, load-out... Barclays Center has a smaller footprint that has its own challenges. Yes, that one is nontraditional but it's worked flawlessly. When people come through those truck elevators they kind of look at it like we're high tech.  (Emphases added)

Oh, sure, it's worked flawlessly. Trucks stall in the street and block traffic, or they block pedestrians, as I described last week, and shown in the photo above

Just enough venues?

Q: What is the Goldilocks principle for New York? Do you have too few, too many or is it just right?
BY: I think it's…

So, four of 15 former footprint renters are now back on the project site (the rest?)

This is among several articles regarding the 10/17/17 meeting (video) of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC). Also see the timetable for 38 Sixth (and the issue of middle-income units going begging), the project's uncertain scheduledanger on Dean Street, and the Times Plaza revamp.

At the meeting, board member Jaime Stein asked about the status of the 17 households, formerly renters in the project footprint, who agreed to leave on the condition of being relocated back to the project.

As I reported, the households were asked to enter the lottery for affordable units, because the units could not be set aside. It was unclear, as far as I could learn, how many lotteries they'd have to enter.

Ashley Cotton, representing Greenland Forest City Partners, said, "There were a number of households that were relocated off the site and agreements made with them to bring them back… four households have moved back.. that leaves 11 more households to work thro…

Times Plaza open space revamp may come in Q2 of 2018

This is among several articles regarding the 10/17/17 meeting (video) of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC). Also see the timetable for 38 Sixth (and the issue of middle-income units going begging), the project's uncertain schedule, and danger on Dean Street.

A Department of Transportation message circulated in early September on Twitter (right) indicated that some promised safety fixes at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic avenue would happen this fall, including new pedestrian islands, removing dual right turns from Atlantic to Flatbush, and optimizing signal timing to improve traffic flow.

See graphic at right for summary.

That may be so, but the promised improvement of open space at Times Plaza within that intersection, which is a required mitigation under the 2014 Atlantic Yards Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, won't occur until the second quarter of 2018, at best.

Times Plaza plans

Attendees at the AY CDC meeting got an update…

Danger on Dean: a narrow street squeezes vehicles toward bicycle lane; illegal parking adds hazard

This is among several articles regarding the 10/17/17 meeting (video) of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC). Also see the timetable for 38 Sixth (and the issue of middle-income units going begging) and the project's uncertain schedule.

At the meeting, board member Linda Reardon asked the developer if they'd make arrangements to restripe Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues, where bicyclists and vehicles share a narrow street that's been constricted by the giant green wall guarding the project site, and then further constrained by illegal parking.

"This is current striping," responded Ashley Cotton, representing Greenland Forest City Partners. She pointed to a screenshot in her slideshow that showed two cars illegally parked on the right side of Dean, "which is an ongoing problem for all of us."

"I find it confusing," Reardon said, because when "you turn from Carlton, on the left side it looks like …

At AY CDC meeting, no timetable for new buildings; will green wall be pulled back?

This is among several articles regarding the 10/17/17 meeting (video) of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC). Also see the timetable for 38 Sixth, and the issue of middle-income units going begging.

The bottom line from the meeting: there's no timetable for new buildings, no timetable for the project as a whole, and just maybe the giant green wall (right) on Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues might get pulled back.

Marion Phillips III, an executive at Empire State Development and president of the subsidiary AY CDC said that construction at the B15 site (664 Pacific) remains "stalled due to site access negotiations."

The issue is murky: a lawsuit with a neighbor has been resolved regarding construction safety, but either negotiations continue either with that neighbor or another. But despite the desire for a middle school at that site, there may not be a business reason for Greenland Forest City Partners to move forward on a market…

The Barclays Center loading dock: truck sticks out over curb, forcing pedestrian into street

Yesterday mid-afternoon, I was walking around the project footprint, and turned the corner on Dean Street, walking east from Flatbush Avenue.

I saw a truck aiming to enter the Barclays Center loading dock sticking out over the curb. (So much for that "seamless" function, right?)


When I got closer, I realized I couldn't walk around it. With the help of arena personnel, I crossed midblock.


The teenager below walking west on Dean had to step out into the street.


There were no collisions, thankfully, but it didn't feel too safe. The truck within minutes did get into the loading dock. There's just not much margin for error. And that corner near the loading dock will soon get residents moving into 38 Sixth, perhaps by November.