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Showing posts from January, 2018

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

Forest City steps back (or wasn't there in the first place)

Forest City New York continues to divest, as part of a corporate re-focusing and, I suspect, profit-taking.

As Crain's New York Business reported 1/29/18, Two Trees buys huge commercial sites in Gowanus:
Two Trees is buying one of the properties, a 70,000-square-foot building formerly anchored by a Pathmark grocery store with an attached 100,000-square-foot parking lot, for around $65 million from Hamilton Plaza Associates. It also purchased from Forest City Ratner a long-term ground lease of a neighboring 9-acre property that houses a Lowe’s Home Improvement store and its expansive parking lot. It wasn’t immediately clear what the company agreed to pay for that site, but several sources with knowledge of both deals put the total transaction above $100 million. Given the location in an Industrial Business Zone, other commercial use, including office or warehouse space, is likely. Forest City has had a 99-year ground lease from the U.S. Postal Service since 2003, a time before Gowa…

Yes, Isles will return part-time to Coliseum. The $6M state subsidy is new.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, headlining another triumphant press event, went to the Nassau Coliseum yesterday to announce that the New York Islanders would return there for at least 60 games over the next three seasons--12 next year, and 24 the next two--while the new Belmont arena is being built.

That splits the two later seasons with the awkward but suite-rich Barclays Center, which would like the Islanders to leave an arrangement that loses money for the arena, and gives Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, which also operates the Coliseum, a tenant for that venue.

Not that the Islanders had great options beyond the downsized Coliseum, which holds just 13,000 for hockey, well below the league minimum (but above current Barclays attendance, last in the league at 12,059).

The key, as Cuomo hinted at somewhat confusingly in his address, is this statement from the official press release, "New York State will invest $6 million in enhancements at the Coliseum to meet NHL requirements, specif…

From the latest Construction Update: track work coming this weekend at railyard

The latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update (bottom), covering the two weeks beginning today, January 29, was circulated at 10:57 am today (late) by Empire State Development (ESD) after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners.

There's not much new compared to the previous update, but there will be weekend track work in the Vanderbilt Yard over the coming weekend, Feb. 3-4. No scope, hours, or noise levels were indicated.

Sidewalk on Dean coming

Outside the B12 site, west of 550 Vanderbilt along Dean Street, the document states, "The 16 foot fence has been removed. Work related to grading the site will continue. Sidewalk replacement will occur when permits are received."

Street paving outside 38 Sixth

Outside 38 Sixth Avenue (B3), street paving work "is expected to commence subject to weather," though it was supposed to commence six weeks ago. (Did they just not update the document?)

Weekend work

Weekend electrical utility installations are exp…

Forest City was "bullish" on Atlantic Yards. Greenland's now "bullish" on New York. Is that just bull?

Let's recall a September 2015 quote from MaryAnne Gilmartin, then CEO of Forest City Ratner.

"There are very few sites in New York City that offer the density, the access, and neighborhoods, that this site offers," she said of Pacific Park. "So we're bullish on Brooklyn, and super bullish on Pacific Park Brooklyn."

If so, as I wrote, that raises the question of why Forest City wasn't willing to hold onto the project in full, but instead sold 70% of the project going forward (minus the Barclays Center and 461 Dean) to Greenland USA. (Obviously, Cleveland--aka parent Forest City Realty Trust, or FCRT--had different priorities.)

And now that Forest City New York has announced plans to sell all but 5% of its remaining stake going forward to Greenland, it's way less bullish. Indeed, the conversion of parent Forest City Enterprises into FCRT, a REIT (real estate investment trust) ,means it no longer wants to pursue risky development. And Gilmartin has lef…

From CBS: Residents Say Rats Are Running Rampant In Prospect Heights, Brooklyn

From CBS yesterday, Residents Say Rats Are Running Rampant In Prospect Heights, Brooklyn: Rats running rampant in a Brooklyn neighborhood have residents on edge.
Now, they’re looking for more help to get rid of the rodents.
“I’m not talking about 10 or 20; I’m talking four or five hundred of them,” resident Jose Barreto told CBS2’s Vanessa Murdock. “I’ve been through a lot in this neighborhood and the rats are the worst.”
“You hear them screaming every night,” he added.
Barreto said rats drill through trash cans and have even chewed through wires in his car. Bottom line: some people blame the developer of Pacific Park for not treating empty lots; the developer says it's stepped up its abatement program; Borough President Eric Adams plans to hold a "rat summit."

OK, now a studio at 550 Vanderbilt rents for $2,200. That's 3% more than "affordable."

Would you believe that there's a studio at the condo building 550 Vanderbilt now renting for $2,200? (Is it because of that photo?)

That's less than 3% above the price for middle-income studios at the "100% affordable" 535 Carlton down the block. (That said, some one- and two-bedroom units there are less costly than their sticker prices because of a free-month incentive.)

Pacific Park by 2028? Former Forest City executive says project will "take probably about a decade" (I'd bet longer)

Susi Yu says Pacific Park will take another decade to build out Pacific Park says at @92Y. She joked earlier that this is her coming out party — Kathryn Brenzel (@katiebrenzel) January 26, 2018"It's going to take probably about a decade to build Pacific Park," said former Forest City New York executive Susi Yu at a panel yesterday at the 92nd Street Y, "but once it's done, it's going to be a real asset to the neighborhood." (She's recently moved to former Forest City CEO MaryAnne Gilmartin's new firm, L&L MAG, which has a service contract with Forest City regarding Pacific Park.)

That's a rare flash of candor, departing from the developer's general party line, which is that they will meet the 2025 affordable deadline but won't comment otherwise.

The developers, in a June 2015 prospectus to 550 Vanderbilt condo buyers, excerpted at right, pointed to a 2025 completion date but noted that the timetable "may be subject to circu…

Why did the Greenland-Forest City deal take a year? "Complicated" likely relates to 421-a revision, at least

Some questions linger regarding the recently announced restructuring of Greenland Forest City Partners, in which Forest City Realty Trust will sell all but 5% of its 30% stake in the joint venture to Greenland USA.

First, why did the deal, if was decided on in late 2016, take a year or so? I posed that question to Greenland USA's Scott Solish, who, unsurprisingly, was vague.
"Things are complicated," he said at the 1/23/18 Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life meeting. "Things take time."

Forest City's former veto
Sure, but let's recap. Forest City Realty Trust, in an 11/3/16 bombshell announcement, said it would delay future development on the site, with no timetable stated. At that point, though Forest City owned a minority stake in the project, it had effective veto power over new building starts.
That veto power related to the board structure of Greenland Forest City Partners. In March 2014, Forest City told the SEC:
... the Brooklyn Atlantic Y…

Uh-oh: MTA Chairman Lhota expresses concern about LIRR upgrade for Belmont; cost still unknown

So, Newsday's Jim Baumbach reports, in MTA chairman ‘concerned’ about expanding LIRR service to Islanders’ arena at Belmont Park:
[MTA Chairman Joe] Lhota, testifying before a state budget hearing in Albany, said two obstacles include the design of the current Belmont spur off the main line and their inability to add more trains during the evening rush hour when most Islanders fans would be traveling to weeknight games.
“We’re at capacity on the main line during rush hour, and so we’re going to have to look at that and weigh that in,” Lhota said under questioning by state Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach). “I’m concerned about how that’s going to all fit in at any one particular point in time.” Also, the current service only works for trains coming from the west, such as Jamaica, which doesn't work for most Long Islanders, situated to the east.

The MTA is doing a study of the cost of upgrades. This adds a huge question mark regarding the public cost of the plan to build a new &…

BS&E reportedly pressuring Islanders to play more games, and sooner, at Nassau Coliseum

With just a few days to go before the January 30 date to decide on the New York Islanders' lease at the Barclays Center, Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, operators of Barclays and the Nassau Coliseum, is reportedly pressuring the team to play more games in Nassau, not just in the fifth season, but next year too (which was previously expected to be solely at Barclays).
That would give the Coliseum, which has no anchor tenant, more guaranteed dates for a couple of years, and closer to the team's historic fan base--even though it's been downsized and has few luxury suites.
Newsday's Jim Baumbach reported 1/23/18 Sources: Islanders close to deal to play some games at Coliseum; The Islanders are expected to play 12 games at the renovated Coliseum next season and — if all goes well with those games — they expect to play about half of their regular season schedules in the other remaining years prior to moving to Belmont, the sources said. That would be two more years afte…

At community meeting, restructuring called win-win; longstanding liaison gone; L&L MAG role questioned; a major irony noted

There wasn’t huge news at last night’s bi-monthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life meeting, but the big-picture highlights, described below, include:
the project restructuring was called a win-winthe longstanding Community Liaison Officer is gone, but the function continuesnew firm L&L MAG's role is confusing (to me, at least)a resident pointed out the irony of a Russian oligarch and Shanghai government-owned company controlling the project (Also see coverage of specific project updates.)

The Greenland Forest City restructuring

As with press releases and previous statements, representatives of the companies that restructured their deal last week called it good news.

The divestment by Forest City Realty Trust—from 30% to 5% going forward—is consistent with their strategic plan to reduce their development portfolio, said longtime Forest City New York spokeswoman Ashley Cotton, who now works for the new firm formed by former Forest City New York CEO MaryAnne Gilmartin, …

At community meeting, open space by February; improved site maintenance; school on hold; landlord won't allow 4 am Mekelburg's

There wasn’t huge news at last night’s bi-monthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life meeting, but here are the specific project updates, described below:
open space outside 550 Vanderbilt should be open by Februarysite maintenance has improvedthere are no plans yet for the tower including a schoolMekelburg's aiming for 535 Carlton, may seek a liquor license allowing service until 4 am but the landlord won't allow itthe Barclays Center has a new hotline if the oculus doesn't shut down on time (Also see coverage of big-picture issues.)
Project update: open space

Ashley Cotton of L&L MAG, which represents Forest City (and says she speaks for the joint venture Greenland Forest City Partners), said that open space planned outside 550 Vanderbilt is finished, but not yet open because of safety issues regarding final work on the building. “I was told February, today,” she said of the new goal. (Previously, the goal was the end of 2017.)

On Dean Street between Carlton an…

State "mitigation matrix" reveals quarterly project monitoring, but could use more transparency; details 215 construction workers, two-year contract for school buildout, misleading number of affordable units

Given the tight fit of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, a 22-acre site nudging into an existing community, the margin for error is small. Neighbors regularly express concern about incursions from construction or arena operations, even as state overseers point out that the project is monitored more than most.

That--and the oversight under questions--should be a topic at tonight's bi-monthly Atlantic Yards Quality of Life meeting, at 6 pm, at 55 Hanson Place. And one issue may be the need to regularly make public a quarterly document that details the project's compliance with environmental commitments.

(The obligations are listed in a 2014 Second Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments, issued by Empire State Development, or ESD, the state authority that oversees and shepherds the project.)

Discussion at the AY CDC: need for transparency

At the 1/17/18 meeting of the advisory Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC), departing board member Jaime Stein, who…

In 2018, keep watch on not just B4 tower plan but also 615 Dean (no longer condos?)

A post 1/16/18 on the pro-development blog New York YIMBY, accompanying a new rendering of the fully built-out Pacific Park project and highlighting the giant tower planned for Site 5, declared that "all of the structures are within the allowable existing scope of the site."

Not so.

Unwitting readers of New York YIMBY might think developer Greenland Forest City Partners--to be owned 95% by Greenland USA going forward--could just build when it's got the money (and, in the case of Site 5, when legal challenges from P.C. Richard that delay condemnation are resolved). But building a giant project at Site 5, potentially two towers and 785 feet, requires Empire State Development to approve a shift in bulk from the unbuilt office tower (B1, aka "Miss Brooklyn") over the arena plaza.

And that process hasn't begun. (Both I and resident Peter Krashes posted comments to that effect, which were published, yet the post wasn't corrected.)
In 2018, beyond as-of-right:…

The next Quality of Life meeting is tomorrow

A message from Empire State Development about the bi-monthly meeting where attendees can learn updates about the project (including, perhaps this time, the new ownership and fuzzy timline):
The next Quality of Life Meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 23. 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, January 23, 2018 @ 6 pm  Shirley A. Chisholm State Office Building
55 Hanson Place
1st Floor Conference Room
Brooklyn, NY 11217

The passing of David Sheets, Dean Street renter, former Freddy's bartender, eminent domain plaintiff, and singular personality

David Sheets, longtime Dean Street renter, Freddy's bartender, eminent domain plaintiff, and singular personality, died 1/17/18 in HCA Greenview Hospital in Bowling Green, KY. He was 56.

There are obituary notices in the Bowling Green Daily News and the Wichita Eagle, which state:
He was born in Wichita, KS where he attended public Schools and Wichita State University. He lived for many years in Brooklyn, NY, and was employed as a legal assistant. David's hobby was cartography and had an avid interest in Mass Transit Systems of the world. David was predeceased by his father, Kenneth E. Sheets. He is survived by his mother, Wilma Smith, step-brother, Billy Ray Smith and his wife, Jane all of Bowling Green; step-sister, Ellen Smith Alexander and her husband, Jerry of Bella Vista, AR; several cousins and step-nieces and step-nephews also survive. Memorial Services will be on Monday, January 22, 2018 at 1:00 pm with visitation from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm Monday at Johnson-Vaughn-Phe…