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Showing posts from March, 2018

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

Broker Ryan Serhant: honesty always wins (um, sure)

It's, um, interesting to see the Instagram post below (screenshot + embedded) from star real estate broker Ryan Serhant of Nets Seekers International, who, while discussing Pacific Park's 550 Vanderbilt--specifically a conflict he once had with someone associated with the deal--declared that "honesty is the best policy.... Be brutally honest. Authentically honest."

This is the broker, who, along with the developer, spuriously claimed that units at the building had $1 tax bills. He also claimed, after troubles with Bedford-Stuyvesant foreclosures he represented came to light, said "I was just a hired gun."

It's worked out for him, it seems. Serhant, representing author Jonathan Safran Foer's effort to sell his Boerum Hill townhouse (Pacific Street, just west of Bond) for $8.995 million (cost: $5.4 million in 2014, first listed by another broker for $10.495 million), bought it himself for $7.6 million, according to the Real Deal.



Honesty is the best po…

Uneventfully, ESD board approves STV contract extension for Pacific Park, $6 million for Coliseum upgrades

In a completely uneventful meeting yesterday of Empire State Development, the state economic development authority, without discussion or debate, approved the renewal of a one consulting contract related to Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, and also approved $6 million in previously announced subsidies to renovate Nassau Coliseum.

The STV contract

Interestingly enough, though the hastily-scheduled meeting of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC) two days earlier seemed set to ensure AY CDC approval recommendations for two consulting contracts, with environmental monitor HDR and owner's representative STV, only the STV contract came up yesterday. (Perhaps the HDR contract will come up in April.)

During the discussion--go to 1:17:35 of the webcast--AY CDC Executive Director Tobi Jaiyesimi dutifully recounted that the STV contract extension  was brought before the advisory board, and the board of directors voted in favor of it.

She didn't note that four of five …

Forest City sells 461 Dean, troubled modular tower, for $156 million. It cost $195.6 million to build.

Forest City Realty Trust, as it indicated last year, has finally sold 461 Dean Street, the ill-fated modular tower that did not, as promised, get built faster or usher in a new business for high-rise prefab construction.

The 363-unit tower has 50% below-market apartments and as of 2/1/18 was 92% leased. That said, like other operators of market-rate units in the Downtown Brooklyn area, the developer had to offer rent concessions.

Also, the lack of takers in the housing lottery for affordable middle-income units, two-bedrooms renting for $3,012, meant they had to offer some of those 16 those units to anyone who fit the income qualifications.

Buyer and price
The press release, below, said merely that the buyer was "an international real estate manager," but The Real Deal identified the buyer as Principal Global Investors, part of a major investment company based in Des Moines, IA.

The price was $156 million, reflecting a cap rate--the ratio of income to asset value--of approxima…

At Atlantic Yards CDC, a “chilling effect on community input” means the state advises itself on contract renewals

Yesterday’s belatedly-scheduled Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC) was over in an about hour, without any big news. (See my separate article with some updates.) Perhaps the most important thing was that a body set up to add outside voices and accountability to a problematic megaproject seemed to bow to expediency and the status quo

Barely any members of the public attended the 3 pm meeting at Empire State Development (ESD) offices in Manhattan, which had been announced less than a day earlier, after a meeting scheduled for last Friday fell through for lack of a quorum. This meeting drew five six AY CDC board members, three of whom work in ESD offices, and a quorum was apparently possible because the 14-member board has several at least two vacancies.

ESD, the state economic development authority, both oversees and shepherds the project, a potentially contradictory goal. The Executive Director of the AY CDC, Tobi Jaiyesimi, since her hiring also took on the role …

At Atlantic Yards CDC, updates on railyard progress, inter-agency cooperation, arena oculus

There’s not much going on with Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, so the discussion of project action represented a relatively small part of yesterday’s meeting of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation, set up to provide advice and oversight. (See my separate report on the meeting’s belated timing and limited community input.)

Tobi Jaiyesimi, executive directcor of the AY CDC (and Empire State Development’s Project Manager), summarized some recent issues regarding the project, including the removal of the “green wall” construction fence on Block 1129 (the project’s southeast block) and the pending restructuring of the Greenland Forest City Partners joint venture, in which Greenland USA will own all but 5% of the project (instead of 70%) going forward.

Jaiyesimi noted that a meeting last week spearheaded by the Mayor’s office should help ensure inter-agency cooperation regarding construction issues as the project moves forward. The meeting, coming out of a request for a Neighb…

Of pledged $3 million parks investment outside of project by May 2035, $1 million is due by May 2022 (already delivered?)

When Atlantic Yards was approved in December 2006, original developer Forest City Ratner announced--as part of a sweetener--that it would "invest $3 million to improve existing parks in and around the project," beyond the pledged open space.

What did that mean? We don't quite know.

But a look at the late 2009 Development Agreement, excerpted at bottom, provides some guidance. It states, that "prior to the Substantial Completion of Phase  II," which is May 12, 2035, the developer (now Greenland Forest City Partners) "shall collectively invest (or shall cause to be invested)" a total of $3 million in the aggregate, for the improvement of existing parks near and around the project site.

The Outside Phase II Substantial Completion Date is 25 years after the Project Effective Date--which was May 12, 2010--subject to Unavoidable Delays. Thus 5/12/35. The Effective Date was when the state delivered properties taken via eminent domain to the developer.

A 2022 …

Atlantic Yards CDC meeting rescheduled for 3 pm Tuesday (must RSVP)

Here's my report on the meeting.


With less than 24 hours notice, at 4:08 pm today Empire State Development circulated an advisory regarding a rescheduled meeting of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC).

The meeting scheduled for Friday had to be aborted because of the lack of a quorum. The agenda mainly concerned having the advisory board give its blessing to two consulting contracts, but changes at Forest City Realty Trust also might come up.
** MEDIA ADVISORY **
What: Meeting of the Directors of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation, an ESD subsidiary.  When: Tuesday, March 27, 2018 at 3:00 p.m.  Where:Empire State Development
633 Third Avenue - 37th Floor Conference Room
New York, NY 10017

This meeting is open to the public. Web casting of the meeting is available here.  Due to building procedures, those attending should please RSVP by 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 27, 2018. RSVP press line (800) 260-7313; RSVP public line (212) 803-3766. (…

80 Flatbush hearing March 28: affordable partner named; debate about financial value, scale, shadows, and neighborhood perspective

The debate over the two-tower 80 Flatbush project (my coverage for The Bridge, As Brooklyn Towers Reach for the Sky, How Big Is Too Big?) is going to heat up.

As part of the city's Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), Brooklyn Community Board 2 scheduled a required public hearing for Wednesday, March 28, 6-9 pm, at St. Francis College, 180 Remsen Street in Brooklyn Heights.

Just before the meeting, the developer made a savvy move, as reported in Politico's Morning Playbook (summarizing a paywalled article):
A sprawling, mixed-use project that would redefine Downtown Brooklyn's skyline will be partially run by an organization whose executive director sits on the City Planning Commission. Alloy Development has tapped the Fifth Avenue Committee [FAC], a well-known nonprofit residential builder, to oversee the construction of 200 below-market-rate apartments at the site, which abuts the Atlantic Terminal and Barclays Center. Michelle de la Uz, who runs the organization,…

From the latest Construction Alert: rescheduled sidewalk and street repair; after resident's video, new disclosure re LIRR staging

The latest Alantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Alert (bottom), covering the two weeks beginning Monday, March 26, was circulated at 4:16 pm Friday (lead time) by Empire State Development (ESD) after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners.

There are a few new things compared to the previous update, such as National Grid project-related infrastructure relocation work at intersection area of Vanderbilt and Atlantic Avenues.

But there are also rescheduled activities, likely at least in part due to weather. For example, sidewalk repair along Dean Street near the B12 site, between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues, was twice supposed to happen.

Also rescheduled are overnight street paving work outside the B2 site (461 Dean)--scheduled to start March 28 and last four nights--and also sidewalk repairs (day, night, possibly weekends) along the Barclays Center Sidewalk at Dean, Atlantic, and Flatbush avenues.

Coming clean

Note the disclosure (emphasis added):
LIRR is scheduled to perfor…

EB-5 gets six month extension; Bloomberg View says scrap program, auction off visas

Despite discussion of modest reform of the EB-5 immigrant investor program, spreading the wealth to poorer and rural areas (but not addressing the program's fundamental flaws, such as dubious job creation), the program has been extended for six months with no reform, according to the Real Deal.

At about the same time, Bloomberg View came out with a harsh editorial 3/22/18, The Investor Visa Program Should Be Scrapped: The omnibus spending bill currently before Congress includes a small but ill-conceived program that deserves to be noticed, then deleted. The EB-5 Regional Center program that gives visas to investors invites abuse and is failing to do what it's meant to. Why? Because:
Almost all the investment goes to New York City, San Francisco, Houston and other metropolitan areas, where it provides cheap financing for real estate developments that achieve their "high-unemployment" designation through gerrymandered districts. The Department of Homeland Security sa…

The Atlantic Yards CDC meeting that didn't happen

Well, that wasn't the greatest planning, was it?

The meeting scheduled for yesterday of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation, announced Tuesday with little lead time for the public, never happened, as the AY CDC was unable to muster a quorum.

That was surely frustrating for the few civilians, as well as Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon, who trekked to the 633 Third Avenue offices of Empire State Development, the state economic development authority, and waited around for more than half an hour. (I had a conflict and couldn't attend.)

As noted, the agenda included the advisory group's requested blessing for the parent ESD to extend two consulting contracts: HDR, which monitors environmental mitigation, and STV, which serves as owner's representative.

I suspected that the meeting, coming shortly after the announced deadline for Forest City Realty Trust's strategic review, was also scheduled to accommodate discussion of the developer's new path.

In th…

After news of board shake-up, Forest City stock drops 6.44%

Real estate investors reacted not so happily to news Thursday night that Forest City Realty Trust had rejected a buyer's overtures and instead would pursue its own path to enhancing stock value, by revamping its board: yesterday, the company stock dropped 6.44%, from $21.27 to $19.90.

It wasn't a great day for the real-estate industry: the three largest REIT (real estate investment trust) ETFs dropped between 1.58% and 1.82%. But it was a much worse day for Forest City.