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Showing posts from February, 2018

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Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park infographics: what's built/coming/missing, who's responsible, + project overview/FAQ/timeline (pinned post)

Departing Atlantic Yards CDC member urges more transparency and accountability; new Neighborhood Support Team coming?

In a cordial but pointed resignation letter, Jaime Stein, the mayoral appointee to the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC) and by far the advisory board's most committed member, recently urged the body to pursue greater transparency and accountability. Stein, who teaches at the Pratt Institute and coordinates the master's degree program in Urban Environmental Systems Management, was fighting uphill during her three-year term on the board, with most of the board members gubernatorial appointees uninterested in rocking any boats in advising the parent Empire State Development (ESD), a gubernatorially-controlled authority. However, she pushed for more transparency and sometimes was joined by other more engaged board members, generally appointees of local elected officials. Stein addressed her letter (bottom) to Marion Phillips III, the AY CDC President and also an ESD official. She also sent copies to various elected officials and Community Board Distr

Something's happening at B15 site, but fence down could just be maintenance

A reader sent me the photos below yesterday, which suggest a replacement for the fence outside the B15 site (aka 664 Pacific), just east of Sixth Avenue between Dean and Pacific streets. I queried the developer yesterday, but didn't get a response. Given that no building is planned to launch in the near term, I'm guessing it's site maintenance. But who knows--maybe B15 is a 2018 surprise.

Yes, Nassau Legislature agrees to waive $1M penalty, at BS&E's request, so Islanders can return to Coliseum

Yes, it happened in Nassau. From The Island Now , 2/27/18: ...the Legislature also approved the waiving of a $1 million penalty, clearing the way for the Islanders to return to the Nassau Coliseum. The penalty would have been imposed if the team did not play at least six games per year in Nassau through 2027. In January, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the Islanders would split their home games between the Coliseum and the Barclays Center in Brooklyn while a new area is being built in Belmont. Although legislators held reservations about waiving the penalty instead of deferring it, all agreed that not waiving it would sabotage any plans for the Islanders to play at the Coliseum. In the end, the measure was approved unanimously. That's because the managers of the Coliseum and Barclays, Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, made it a condition of having games at the Coliseum. But what if the Nassau Legislature had played hardball? Doesn't BS&E want the hockey team out of

Local precinct commander says: free parking in Barclays dropoff lane because "they have to park somewhere"

November 2017 photo At the 1/30/18 meeting of the 78th Precinct Community Council, a resident asked the Precinct Commander, Deputy Inspector Frank DiGiacomo, why there seemed to be valet parking services in the dropoff lane outside the Barclays Center on Atlantic Avenue. DiGiacomo insisted there was no paid valet service. "Those are dropoff lanes," he said. "They park there," the resident told him. (The sign says "No Standing Anytime.") "We'll look into it," DiGiacomo said, offering a rather standard police response. He then acknowledged that people associated with the arena do park in the dropoff lane. "They have to park somewhere," he said. "We let them park there instead of taking up people's [neighborhood] parking. I can move them but [then] they can take other parking." Jan. 31, 2018 In other words, in the absence of residential permit parking , which would reserve spots for people in the neighborh

Ratner's still out of City & State's Power 100 (but the lobbyists/consultants remain)

As I  noted  last year, developer Bruce Ratner, who was  ranked #45  in City & State magazine's 2016 annual Power 100 list, left the list, and he hasn't returned to the 2018 list . But two firms that have served as consultants or lobbyists for Forest City and Greenland Forest City Partners retain their clout. From the article: VALERIE BERLIN / JONATHAN ROSEN Principals, BerlinRosen THIS YEAR'S RANK: 26 CHANGE: Down 7 LAST YEAR'S RANK: 19 Being trusted outside advisers to Mayor Bill de Blasio is this public relations team’s best asset and greatest liability. Candidates hiring BerlinRosen for campaigns open themselves to criticism for the firm’s ties to investigations into de Blasio’s fundraising. But since no charges were brought, the co-founders can laugh straight to the bank. They’ve continued selling the mayor’s message to the city while helping guide de Blasio to re-election, and also consulted on Laura Curran’s successful Nassau County executive campaign. 

Yormark blames Islanders for not embracing Brooklyn; "they were like rent-a-team" (but Barclays was the renter)

Update: Yormark tells Newsday: “From the get-go, this was a challenging move,” Yormark said Monday. “Embracing the core fan and trying to grow a new fan base at the same time is fundamentally challenging. That being said, I feel had the Islanders truly embraced the move to Brooklyn in every respect, it might have been different.” That's not copping to equal responsibility, is it? Yormark tells @randimarshall that had the #Isles embraced the move to BK more it would have worked. Same person who refused to let fans watch warmups from the glass unless they paid extra. But yes, the #Isles didn’t embrace hockey in BK. — Arthur Staple (@StapeAthletic) February 26, 2018 ---- Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark, faced with a professional failure, decides to blame someone else. As Newsday reported last night: In an interview with “Sports Xtra” host Tina Cervasio on Fox 5, Yormark was asked about what went wrong with the Islanders’ move to Brooklyn and said,

From the latest Construction Alert: generator installation in railyard means parking lane on Sixth Avenue may be temporarily blocked

The latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Alert (bottom), covering the two weeks beginning tomorrow, Feb. 26, was circulated at 4:50 pm Friday (lead time) by Empire State Development (ESD) after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners. There's not much new compared to the previous update , except for this announcement regarding work at the Vanderbilt Yard between Sixth and Carlton avenues: Generator Installation will take place during this reporting period in Block 1120 near 6th Avenue. Parking lane on 6th Avenue may be temporarily blocked during the operation to protect pedestrians and vehicles in the area. Note that the alert repeats a message from two weeks ago: National Grid is anticipated to start project-related infrastructure relocation work near the intersection of Vanderbilt and Atlantic avenues. Weekend work Weekend electrical utility installations are expected to continue in the rail yard and in the tunnel. No times were cited. The demolition t

Search for "Forest City Realty Trust," find an ad for L&L MAG, firm founded by former CEO of Forest City NY

Guess what: if you Google search for "Forest City Realty Trust" (FCRT)--at least on a mobile device in Brooklyn--you get an ad, not for the company, but for L&L MAG, the new real-estate firm co-founded by MaryAnne Gilmartin, former CEO of Forest City New York, the local arm of Cleveland-based FCRT. The description "NYC-based real estate firm specializing in ground-up development" is surely aimed to contrast with the work of a real estate investment trust, as in FCRT's description, that "owns, manages and develops exceptional places." Note that, despite the competition, Gilmartin's firm does have a service contract with Forest City to help manage its diminished share of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park and, apparently, to represent the project to the public.

Gehry somewhat sanguine about losing Atlantic Yards: says Ratner was "fair and gentlemanly," but can't look at project "because I loved [it] so much"

From a 2/22/18 interview in the Commercial Observer by Alison Statement, Let’s Get Frank: Gehry on New York, LA and the Future of Design , subtitled "As he approaches his 89th birthday, the famed architect has no plans to slow down." Q. You were working on Pacific Park [formerly Atlantic Yards] in Brooklyn originally, but that didn’t go forward. They switched gears.  A. That didn’t go [forward] because it hit the recession. That’s a complication that has nothing to do with architecture. I don’t know what the economics of having a basketball team, basketball stadium are and the difficulty of building over the tracks, but the difficulties of that became exacerbated by the economic drop. They had to punt, as it were, and look for a different way. They were very polite to me. They were fair and gentlemanly about it. They brought in some local guys.  Q. What do you think about the project as it stands?  A. I haven’t seen it. I can’t do it because I loved that project so m

Forest City expects "strategic review process" concluded by March 21. Breakup, merger, absorption coming?

Could Forest City Realty Trust, parent of Forest City New York, be approaching its dissolution? A press release yesterday from Forest City Realty Trust buries the lead: Forest City Further Extends Nomination Window for 2018 Annual Meeting of Stockholders to Conclude the Strategic Review Process CLEVELAND, Feb. 22, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Forest City Realty Trust, Inc. (NYSE: FCEA) ("Forest City" or the "Company") today issued the following statement: As the Board of Directors' previously announced process to review operating, strategic, financial and structural options to enhance stockholder value remains ongoing, the Board has extended the window by which the Company must receive proper written advance notice of the nomination of a director candidate at its 2018 Annual Meeting of Stockholders. The nomination window, which commenced on December 3, 2017, will now extend to 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on March 21, 2018. The Board intends to conclude the strategic rev

Looking at Greenland's giant Metropolis project in Los Angeles: distinct logo, cascading design, finances in flux (which means sales)

Official rendering Visitors to Downtown Los Angeles should next year see the full buildout of Greenland USA's Metropolis project , which includes three luxury residential towers (38, 40, and 56 stories) plus an 18-story hotel, as shown in the rendering at right. Then again, Greenland USA may not be finishing it, and that's something for Brooklynites watching Pacific Park to ponder, since the developer, an arm of Shanghai-based Greenland Holding Co., is now marketing two properties within the project: the finished hotel, as well as the under-construction tallest tower. The site, a former parking lot , is just east of a freeway, and not far north of the entertainment district that contains the Staples Center and L.A. Live. It's far less of a neighborhood than the Pacific Park site in Brooklyn. The hotel and the first tower opened last year, and the full project is huge, some 3.5 million square feet over 6.33 acres. (Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park is 8 million square f

RPA: lift limit on bulk (FAR) in Downtown Brooklyn, other neighborhoods to add affordable housing

Neighborhoods that could fit in more bulk The Regional Plan Association, elaborating on a proposal in its Fourth Regional Plan (my overview ), recently released a report,  Creating more affordable housing in New York City’s high-rise area: The case for lifting the FAR cap . The gist is that a 67-year-old state law capping residential “floor area ratio” (FAR)--the multiple of bulk to floor plate--at 12 is outdated and misguided, and could lead to more affordable housing in Downtown Brooklyn and other areas (Manhattan, Long Island City, Jamaica) that the RPA says have the infrastructure and amenities to support it. It should be noted that this responds in part to poor planning in the past, such as the upzoning of Downtown Brooklyn, ostensibly to enable office space, which instead led to much market-rate housing , with no requirement for affordability to balance the gift to landowners. "This cap is blocking the way to better urban design, more needed homes, and more mixed

Bringing Brooklyn "a soul"? Nets' TV ratings now up to 30,000 households in metro area

Remember how Bruce Ratner in a June 2005 interview suggested that "There's something intangible that a team contributes, something as intangible as a soul"? From NetsDaily, Nets local TV ratings still worst, but growing : In a season marked by small victories, here’s another one: YES ratings for Nets games remain the worst in the NBA, but they’re no longer dropping. In fact, mid-season to mid-season, the ratings up nine percent over last year, according so Sports Business Journal. What does that mean? A .042 average, which translates to about 30,000 households per game, in the metro area, not just Brooklyn. Some teams in smaller markets (Atlantic, Orlando) draw a larger percentage but far fewer households. All in all, basketball can be fun--both in person and on television--but it has hardly taken over the local consciousness.

Next Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life meeting March 6

A message from Empire State Development: The next Quality of Life Meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 6, 2018. Please feel free to send Project-related questions, concerns, or suggested agenda items for the meeting to This is a time, I note, not only to hear concerns from neighbors but to learn about project updates. The details Atlantic Yards / Pacific Park Quality of Life Meeting Tuesday, March 6, 2018 @ 6 pm Shirley A. Chisholm State Office Building 55 Hanson Place 1st Floor Conference Room Brooklyn, NY 11217

Could Atlantic Yards help Adem Bunkeddeko dislodge undistinguished Rep. Yvette Clarke?

Could Atlantic Yards help dislodge undistinguished incumbent Congresswoman Yvette Clarke? Adem Bunkeddeko, via  Twitter Adem Bunkeddeko , a challenger to six-term incumbent Clarke, has gotten a good deal of publicity for speaking the obvious, to the New York Times and other media outlets: that the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park housing is not that affordable. He's got a  broader range of issues  than Atlantic Yards, including bolstering public housing. They are predictably liberal, including criminal justice reform (and legalizing/taxing pot), but more thoughtful than the incumbent. But the difference might not merely be how they'd vote but how they'd represent their constituency, both on the ground and in public statements. (Consider the difference between Rep. Ed Towns and his more dynamic successor Rep. Hakeem Jeffries.) A few debates should be in order before the Democratic primary election, though that's obviously not in Clarke's interest. Former City

On "ill-informed" elected officials, including the mayor's dissing deputy

When a deposition from deputy Mayor Alicia Glen regarding housing policy surfaced recently in Politico, with her calling Council Members “often extremely confused and ill-informed and not that smart” regarding housing policy, she was forced to apologize . in fairness, "ill-informed" (to take the least pejorative) could apply (at various times) to any number of elected officials, including Glen's boss, BDB. Here's example re  #AtlanticYards   @pacificparkbk — Norman Oder (@AYReport)  February 6, 2018 Sure, it *can* be complicated. But also Council & Mayor can be in lockstep for political reasons, *both* failing to be informed. Consider chorus of praise for "100% affordable"  #535Carlton   @pacificparkbk Then reality: empty units — Norman Oder (@AYReport)  February 6, 2018 By the way, Glen herself has participated in that praise, unwisely  call

McKissack CEO on working with Greenland: "It’s an awakening, how we do business here."

There's a rather curious passage in the Commercial Observer's 2/14/18 article, Why Construction Firm McKissack Added Natural Disaster Relief to Its Repertoire , which notes the work of major minority- and woman-owned McKissack & McKissack on the Vanderbilt Yard for the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park project for Forest City Ratner (now Forest City New York): The biggest change has been working more closely with Greenland since Forest City reduced its ownership in the project to just 5 percent in January. Greenland has more foreign executives, which require more translation. “They are being cautious because they are not from here and they are not used to our regulations,” [Cheryl] McKissack Daniel said. “They probably run their crews 24/7 [in China]. You can’t do that here. It’s an awakening, how we do business here. But we don’t have a problem with them.” Well, I'm not sure that Greenland runs its crews 24/7 or how much McKissack Daniel was speaking rhetorically. Howe

At de Blasio's State of the City, affordable housing rhetoric but not details

So, I finally checked out Mayor Bill de Blasio's 2/13/18 State of the City address and, as the New York Times's William Neuman wrote , "The speech was long on oratory and vision, but it had less to offer in the way of details, new ideas or measurable goals." According to a video of the event, a preview video (about 31 minutes in) shown to attendees  at the Kings Theatre touched on "creating affordable housing for New Yorkers." The illustration was not ground-up construction but a rent freeze for seniors. Okay. "So, let me take you to the task at hand, becoming the Fairest Big City in America," de Blasio said, according to the transcript . "The video you saw gave you the flavor of some of the steps we've taken so far what they mean to the people of this city and when you came in this evening, you were handed this booklet, which conveniently is titled, 'The Fairest Big City in America.'" So what did he talk about? His man

That elusive 2025 completion date

So when exactly will Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park be finished? Previous predictions have proven treacherous (remember that ten-year timeline posited upon project approval in 2006?), and the some recent prominent ones, relying on secondhand or stale information, unwisely posit 2025 as the expected completion date. Consider Curbed's 2/9/18  A guide to the major megaprojects transforming New York City , which includes: After well over a decade of planning, the megaproject formerly known as Atlantic Yards has made some progress. Now called Pacific Park, the development has seen the opening of the Barclays Center, the modular rental at 461 Dean Street, an all-affordable building at 535 Carlton Avenue, and the COOKFOX-designed condo at 550 Vanderbilt. More residential buildings are the works—the whole thing is due to have 15 by its anticipated completion date of 2025—and the recent acquisition of much of the development by Greenland USA may add some much-needed energy to the project.

Newsday: Coliseum operator and Nassau County executive want to end penalty for not supplying hockey long-term

The Islanders' deal is not quite done. Newsday's Robert Brodsky and Jim Baumbach had a scoop yesterday, in Laura Curran moves to end Islanders penalty clause . The new Nassau County executive, bowing to a request from Nassau Coliseum operator Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, says she supports killing the annual $1 million (and ultimately growing) penalty for not playing six required games per year at the Coliseum through 2027. BS&E argues that the planned 60 games over the next three seasons at Nassau, during the construction of the new Belmont arena, make up for the promise. And they're playing hardball, saying that the latter plan is contingent on the the deal revision. BS&E has some leverage here: the Islanders need a place to play, and if they can't play some games at Nassau, they'd likely face three more dreary season at the only alternative, the Barclays Center. That said, BS&E would rather get more events set at Nassau and allow alternat

From the latest Construction Alert: National Grid work expected at the intersection of Vanderbilt and Atlantic

The latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update (bottom), covering the two weeks beginning yesterday, Feb. 12, was circulated at 11:27 am yesterday (late) by Empire State Development (ESD) after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners. There's not much new compared to the previous update , but National Grid is anticipated to start project-related infrastructure relocation work near the intersection of Vanderbilt and Atlantic avenues. Also, previously noted SOE (support of excavation) installation   in the northeastern portion of Block 1120 (just west of the Carlton Avenue Bridge) will continue, with the activity of "excavation" added and clarified. Sidewalk on Dean coming Outside the B12 site, west of 550 Vanderbilt along Dean Street, the document states, as it did in the previous update, "The 16 foot fence has been removed. Work related to grading the site will continue. Sidewalk replacement will occur when permits are received." Wee