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The shift to Shanghai: global capital, "Brooklyn-washing," and Greenland Forest City Partners

At an Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life meeting in January, Prospect Heights resident Robert Puca, a longtime project opponent, commented that the seemingly rigged outcome for the upcoming (but yet unscheduled) Site 5 project "makes a mockery of the process."

Puca wasn’t done. “What else puts a bad taste in my mouth: New York State, New York City put up a combination of $300 million in public subsidies, now it turns out 15 years later, it first went to Russian oligarch [Mikhail Prokhorov] and now it’s going to a company that’s basically owned by the government of Shanghai,” he said. “If people had known 15 years later, that government of Shanghai was going to own basically the building in my backyard, it would be a different taste in everybody’s mouth.”

Indeed, could any imagine that Greenland USA, an arm of Greenland Holding Co., which has as its largest shareholder the government of Shanghai, proposing Atlantic Yards in 2003 and getting it approved in 2006 and th…

Barclays Center gets new GM; BSE Global names new security chief

The Barclays Center has a new General Manager, Matthew Felker, moving from a relatively brief stint at the Nassau Coliseum, known as NYCB LIVE, according to an 8/13/18 press release from BSE Global, below.

Regional General Manager Steve Rosebrook, longtime manager of Barclays for AEG Facilities, is overseeing the transition. His next position has not been announced.

Also, BSE Global has named retired New York Police Department veteran Steve Powers as Vice President of Security, who will oversee security for BSE venues, teams, and employees. He spent nearly 38 years at the NYPD in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens. He began his career on patrol in the 67th Precinct and was promoted seven times to his final position as Commanding Officer of Patrol Borough Brooklyn South, according to the notice.

The press releases, verbatim

BARCLAYS CENTER AND NYCB LIVE NAME NEW GENERAL MANAGERS
BROOKLYN – BSE Global and AEG Facilities have identified new leaders for Barclays Center and NYCB LIVE, home of th…

In first-ever campaign contribution, the Brooklyn Nets boost Tish James in AG race (but real estate most likes Maloney)

The latest campaign finance filings are out in state races; Real estate spending heavily on attorney general race, City & State reported yesterday, noting that the Real Estate Board of New York’s political action committee has given:$15,000 to the campaign of NYC Public Advocate Letitia James$15,000 to Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney’s campaign$5,000 to Verizon lobbyist Leecia Eve’s campaignSpecific real estate businesses, though, have focused on Maloney, who has a corporate background and may be seen as more business-friendly: he got $150,000 from limited liability companies (LLCs) linked to the Durst Organization. James got $10,000 donation from Durst.

Note that "top two contenders" is a little vague, since, while James--endorsed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Democratic Party--is the individual leader in polls (see Siena Poll, below), most voters are undecided. The other candidate, law professor Zephyr Teachout, has refused PAC and LLC money and positioned herself as the most…

Community Service Society analysis: rents rising rapidly in inner-ring Brooklyn; affordable housing rapidly lost

Kind of mind boggling what happened in Brooklyn in 15 years. pic.twitter.com/V3f75sq4jb — Tom Waters (@slowboring) August 10, 2018Some new numbers crunched by Tom Waters of the Community Service Society put Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park in some more poignant context: the call for affordable housing responded to a clear crisis.

In this case affordable housing is defined as renting for less than 30 percent of 200 percent of the 2017 poverty threshold for a family of three; that means affordable housing for lower-income people, not "income-linked," "below-market" housing deemed affordable for middle-class households.

From OUR FAST ANALYSIS OF THE 2017 NEW YORK CITY HOUSING AND VACANCY SURVEY, published 8/10/18:
Between 2002 and 2017, the city lost more than 490,000 units of housing affordable to households with incomes below twice the federal poverty threshold.
...By analyzing apartments that turned over during the five-year periods before the 2002 and 2017 surveys, we…

FAC's de la Uz, in backing 80 Flatbush, claims benefits "created without any public subsidy"

It's been a calculated pattern. Before any key governmental meeting on 80 Flatbush, the developers orchestrate an article or op-ed.

Today's New York Daily News has an op-ed from Michelle de la Uz, executive director of the Fifth Avenue Committee, the project's affordable housing partner--right before Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises meeting tomorrow at 9:30 at City Hall.

Remember, the Community Board nearly unanimously opposed the two-tower project; Borough President Eric Adams called for a decrease in height far more than bulk, and the New York City Planning Commission affirmed the project. The City Council, notably Council Member Steve Levin, will have the final say.

For housing answers, look up: We need to build bigger to create affordable units, including at 80 Flatbush, writes de la Uz, acknowledging that her position on density has evolved:
Of course, we need to be smart about where it goes: in areas near mass transit, where it’s in context with surroundings and …

HPD offers income guide re affordable housing; note yellow segment highlighting middle-income units

The New York City Department of Housing Preservation & Development has issued a handy income guide to let people know what "band" of affordable housing, under 2018 income levels, for which they might be eligible.

The key for Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park watchers is that half the units in the two "100% affordable" buildings, 535 Carlton and 38 Sixth, are in an upper middle-income band that represents part--but not all--of the yellow segment at right. (There's also another middle-income band with a somewhat more modest range of incomes.)

Note that most of the units at 535 Carlton and 38 Sixth have already been filled, under somewhat more modest 2016 and 2017 income guidelines, when 100% of Area Median Income (AMI) for a four-person household was $90,600 and $95,400.

Now AMI is $104,300, as wealthier suburbs raise the median, so 165% of AMI pushes to the far end of the chart.


These numbers don't have any connection to the people who rallied for affordable h…

So, maybe Ratner sorta helped Mangano's defense fund

All campaign contributions are fungible, right?

Newsday reported 7/17/18, in Mangano used $900,000 from campaign fund to pay his defense attorney:
Former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, facing an October retrial on federal corruption charges, paid $900,000 from campaign funds to his criminal defense attorney during the first half of the year, according to campaign finance reports filed Monday with the state board of elections. Actually, the campaign account, Friends of Ed Mangano, has paid the law firm some $1.23 million since May 2015, as the filings show. And Mangano has raised $2.8 million just since 2014.

A curious Ratner contribution

But I want to remind people of what I wrote in May 2014: how Barclays Center developer Bruce Ratner, who the previous August won the nod to revamp the Nassau Coliseum, did not--according to state campaign finance records--contribute directly to the successful re-election campaign of Nassau County Executive Mangano, who favored Ratner's bid…

At 535 Carlton, two months free on a 2BR lease brings rent down to (listed) 1BR level

This is kind of a deal, at least for those renting for a year: a new, rent-stabilized two bedroom apartment at 535 Carlton with an effective rent of $2,686 a month. That's two months free on an apartment with an official rent of $3,223 a month.

Of course you have to earn six figures to qualify for this "affordable" unit. A two-person household could earn a maximum, as of 2017, of $126,060. That means annual rent payments of $32,232 would represent 25.6% of income.

(Half the units in this building, as with 38 Sixth, have rents set at 160% of Area Median Income, or AMI, with household income up to 165% of AMI. That's decidedly middle-income, and a small slice of the city's population.)

Actually, all five two-bedroom apartments available at 535 Carlton now offer two months free, and the two one-bedroom apartments available offer 1.5 months free. That's up from the previous offer, just two weeks ago, of 1.5 months and 1 month, respectively.

However, StreetEasy…

A new web site: PacificParkRental.com (in Prospect Heights)

How about that: if you search on "535 Carlton," a paid ad for PacificParkRental.com comes up, advertising no-fee, rent-stabilized apartments both at that building as well as a similar "100% affordable" tower, 38 Sixth.

Also, they're said to be located in Prospect Heights, not the mythical "neighborhood" or "community" of Pacific Park Brooklyn.


The web site promises "2 BEDROOMS FROM $3,223" at 535 Carlton and "2 & 3 BEDROOMS FROM $3,206" at 38 Sixth. As I've reported, developer Greenland Forest City Partners was offering 1.5 months free at 535 Carlton as an incentive for two-bedroom units.

These middle-income units, as previously explained, were not taken by applicants in the housing lottery.
Pacific Park Rentals Web Page, Aug. 9, 2018 by Norman Oder on Scribd

Conor McGregor: the cynicism mounts, as bus attack now used in promotion

On 8/6/18, USA Today published How Conor McGregor bus attack went from 'disgusting' act to promotional material for UFC, by Ben Fowlkes of the USA Today Sports site MMAjunkie. He wrote:
It’s hard to believe it was only four months ago that UFC President Dana White sat there looking shaken and upset as he described Conor McGregor’s backstage rampage at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn as “the most disgusting thing that has ever happened in the history of the (UFC).”
In hype videos rolled out at a UFC news conference this past Friday, and aired again during the UFC 227 pay-per-view the next night, that “disgusting” act seems to have morphed into a compelling advertisement for the main event of UFC 229. Fowlkes suggested it was hard to take the purported outrage seriously, given that, not only has the UFC not punished McGregor, it's turning a rather ugly incident--which damaged property and people--into promotional material.

Crain's op-ed: an "insult" to justice

A…

80 Flatbush gets approval from City Planning Commission, with no changes; City Council vote is key

The two-tower project 80 Flatbush, in a transitional block between the Central Business District of Downtown Brooklyn and low-rise Boerum Hill, on Monday got unanimous approval, albeit with some concerns expressed, at a City Planning Commission meeting.

“This is an absolutely singular site, located in the heart of my beloved Downtown Brooklyn. It is the very definition of transit-rich, on any list of the top five transit-rich sites, Atlantic Terminal is counted among them,” declared Chairwoman--and mayoral appointee to head the Department of City Planning--Marisa Lago, according to Sam Raskin's PoliticoPro report 8/6/18 (paywalled).

Thus Lago expressed the administration's consistent support for the project, as well as the dubious claim that the location for the project--aimed to include 900 apartments, 200 of them affordable, plus a replacement high school, a new school, office, retail, and cultural space--is "in the heart of Downtown Brooklyn."

The vote contrasts w…

Coming to the largest (?) of the four 535 Carlton retail spaces, BKLYN Clay

The first official retail tenant has been named for 535 Carlton, the residential building at Carlton Avenue and Dean Street, and it's not Mekelburg's, which was once said to be aiming for one of the four retail spots.

As reported yesterday in Metro NY:
If you think ceramics are a now-nostalgic craze of the 1970s, you should think again. Ceramics are back in a big way — and they’re going to get a lot bigger when BKLYN Clay opens up its flagship studio in Brooklyn this fall.
After a first iteration in Sunset Park, BKLYN Clay will open a 5,260-square-foot studio at 535 Carlton in Pacific Park on Oct. 1 to offer members of all skill levels access to state-of-the-art equipment, workshops, drop-in classes and more — 24/7/365. Given stated capacity for 200 members, that seems to be the largest retail space at the building. A Certificate of Occupancy issued 7/26/18 with the Department of Buildings indicates that the four retail spaces have the following capacities: 23, 45, 63, 170.

Gi…

Financial Times on Ratner: supporter says he had a rep for being "one of the good guys"

A Financial Times article yesterday was headlined Bruce Ratner deal signals decline of New York real estate families, with the subheading "Big names giving way to groups backed by institutional investors looking for yield."

Well, the sale and absorption of Forest City Realty Trust into Brookfield Asset Management does suggest the latter, as does a big deal by the Kushner Companies with Brookfield, but 1) New York real estate families like the Dursts and the Walentases are still doing fine, 2) Bruce Ratner was hardly the driving force in a deal decided at FCRT headquarters in Cleveland, 3) Forest City Ratner Companies had already become Forest City New York, and 4) the parent company, in becoming a real estate investment trust (REIT) and responding to pressures to change the share structure and board, had already shown the decline of the founding real estate family. (See my March article in The Bridge.)

Commentary by supporters

The article does contain a few memorable quotes:

From the latest Construction Update: installation of structures at railyard

The latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update (bottom), covering the two weeks beginning Monday, Aug. 6,, was circulated at2:33 pm Friday (lead time) by Empire State Development (ESD) after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners.

No new vertical construction is planned for now, and there's not much change from the previous update. However, the ongoing infrastructure work is supposed to position the project for later tower construction.

One new thing, at the Vanderbilt Yard: pending approval of permits, installation of both the new Yard Signal Hut (CIL) from Atlantic Avenue and the new Generator Attenuator structure from Pacific Street will occur during this reporting period. These installations will be completed on weekends to limit impact on traffic and pedestrians. The precise location of these structures was not specified.

East Portal work

At the East Portal of the Vanderbilt Yard, at Atlantic and Vanderbilt avenue, Stage 2 MPT (Maintenance and Protection of …

CNU: A walk August 15 around Park Slope and Pacific Park

An announcement from the New York Chapter of the Congress for New Urbanism, which is referring to "South Brooklyn" in its old sense, the portion of the original city of Brooklyn within Kings County:
South Brooklyn - The Good, the Bad & the Beautiful
CNU NYC is pleased to invite you to the first in a series of City Walks. We will look at some old and new development in Brooklyn, with a walk through Park Slope and Pacific Park (the former Atlantic Yards). The tour finishes in Fort Greene with drinks in the outdoor garden at Habana Outpost in Fort Greene - on the corner of South Portland Avenue, which the readers of Time Out. called "the most beautiful street in New York."
Brooklyn architect and urbanist Gaither Pratt will lead the tour. Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council Chair and Brooklyn Speaks activist Gib Veconi will say a few words about Pacific Park. As always, the CNU NYC tours follow the New York Rules of Order.* Please spread the word am…

Forest City earnings release: no details on Greenland deal; Forest City to be wholly owned subsidiary

OK, Forest City Realty Trust's second-quarter earnings release came out yesterday, and neither it nor any other document I could find indicated how much Greenland paid Forest City for its second round of investment in Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park.(Here was my ballpark estimate.)

The document did offer some clarification on the announced deal to be absorbed by Brookfield:
On July 30, 2018, we entered into an Agreement and Plan of Merger (the "Merger Agreement") with Antlia Holdings LLC ("Parent"), and Antlia Merger Sub Inc. ("Merger Sub"), pursuant to which, upon the terms and subject to the conditions set forth therein, Merger Sub will merge with and into the Company (the "Merger"), with the Forest City surviving the Merger as a wholly owned subsidiary of Parent. Parent and Merger Sub were formed by a Brookfield Asset Management Inc. ("Brookfield") real estate investment fund. Consummation of the Merger is subject to the satisfac…

Would you believe a luxury maisonette at 550 Vanderbilt is hyped as having "views of Brooklyn's newest park"?

Views of Brooklyn's newest Park? How about 7-10 years of construction @pacificparkbk? https://t.co/7My5ZNDwwd — Norman Oder (@AYReport) August 1, 2018
Giant #421a tax break too: https://t.co/uaEeI67g2P#550Vanderbilt — Norman Oder (@AYReport) August 1, 2018 This is broker and developer hype, amplified by the real estate press.

There's a green wall between the limited open space directly behind--and to the north of--the building, and then two unbuilt development sites to the west. To the north is demapped Pacific Street and a railyard that needs a deck and vertical construction.


Here's another view:

The building (aka B11) is at bottom right in the schematic, which shows the towers bordering the project's open space. Beyond B11, only B14, at the west of the same block, has been built.



End of an era: Forest City Realty Trust to be acquired by Brookfield; deal should close this year (what happens to Greenland Forest City Partners?)

Atlantic Yards is no longer Atlantic Yards, it's Pacific Park, controlled by Greenland USA. The Barclays Center and Brooklyn Nets are controlled by Mikhail Prokhorov and Joseph Tsai.

And Forest City Ratner/Forest City New York, and its parent firm, Forest City Realty Trust (formerly Forest City Enterprises), will soon be no longer, as they will be absorbed by Toronto-based Brookfield Asset Management, a former suitor.

So Brookfield will own marquee assets like the MetroTech office complex, the New York Times Building, and 8 Spruce Street--plus, it seems, the 5% remaining stake in Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park that Forest City, the project's original developer (and buyer of the New Jersey Nets), had not sold to Greenland USA.

So the joint venture--however lopsided--will no longer deserve to be called Greenland Forest City Partners. Will it be Greenland Brookfield Partners? Or will Forest City remain as a division of Brookfield?

And will Brookfield, a public company but very much …

Barclays Center releases August 2018 calendar:13 ticketed events

The Barclays Center yesterday released its August 2018 calendar, which includes 13 ticketed events: a three-day Hillsong (Church) Conference; six wrestling events over five days; and four nights of concerts.

There are also three "private events" and one "special NYU event." One of the private events is the August 9 Samsung Unpacked event to unveil new Galaxy phones.


August 2017

Last year, as I reported, the August 2017 calendar included eleven ticketed events:five nights of concerts and six events over five nights concerning pro wrestling. At that point, the arena was not announcing non-ticketed events, though it had previously done so for years.

City & State's Brooklyn Power 50 has several people linked to Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, but no one from Forest City

City & State New York yesterday published its Brooklyn Power 50, The most influential people in Brooklyn, focusing on those who influence government but who are not within it. (Here's the print issue, which is, of course, full of ads from the institutions/employers behind the winners, which is why the descriptions tend to be sunny.)

Thus they bypassed the obvious candidates, as noted in the lead:
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is identified with Brooklyn. U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, the Senate minority leader and the most powerful Democrat in Washington, D.C, was born and raised there. Other high-profile political power brokers--Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams--also hail from the borough. Unsurprisingly, several on the list have some ties to Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park and, perhaps unsurprisingly by now, the mostly highly-ranked person closely connected to the project, former Forest City Ratner/Forest …