Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from June, 2018

Featured Post

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

Another typically vague agenda for the next Quality of Life meeting, July 10

A message from Empire State Development...

A reminder that the next Atlantic Yards Project Quality of Life Meeting will be held on:
Tuesday, July 10, 2018 @ 6:00 PM
Shirley A. Chisholm State Office Building
55 Hanson Place
1st Floor Conference Room
Brooklyn, NY 11217 Here's the agenda, which again lists only the entities presenting, not any specific issues. Usually, though, some information emerges.


Forest City, Greenland close Pacific Park deal, but no price announced

A Forest City Realty Trust press release yesterday, Forest City, Greenland Close Restructuring of Pacific Park Brooklyn Partnership. indicates, that, as announced in January, Greenland USA would buy all but 5% of Forest City's ownership interest in Pacific Park going forward.

What's missing: any financial numbers, which would allow us to assess whether Forest City is getting decent value or hosting a fire sale.

That excludes 461 Dean, which Forest City developed itself (and sold), and the Barclays Center operating company, owned by Mikhail Prokhorov's companies. And the three buildings jointly developed by Greenland Forest City Partners on a 70/30 basis, with Greenland holding the lead, will remain in that ownership percentage: 38 Sixth Avenue, 535 Carlton and 550 Vanderbilt.

Official opacity

The press release:
Forest City Realty Trust, Inc. (NYSE: FCEA) today announced that it has completed the previously announced restructuring of Greenland Forest City Partners, the compa…

Forest City, with Madison, buys out partner on DKLB BKLN (aka 80 DeKalb)

In a 6/27/18 press release, "Forest City joint venture acquires partner's interest in DKLB BKLN apartment community," Forest City Realty Trust announced it's buying out a partner in 80 DeKalb Avenue, the 365-unit (80/20) building known as DKLB BKLN.

A joint venture between Forest City and Madison International Realty have bought out the 49% owned by National Real Estate Advisors, which is wholly owned by a subsidiary of the National Electrical Benefit Fund, a major U.S. pension fund. The building opened in 2009, so it's been almost ten years.

"Brooklyn continues to be one of the strongest rental apartment markets in the country, and DKLB BKLN has quickly become both a landmark in the Fort Greene neighborhood and a valuable and productive asset for our company," said David J. LaRue, Forest City president and chief executive officer, in a statement. "All of that makes acquiring our partner's interest a compelling opportunity and a low-risk capital…

In North Brooklyn, Julia Salazar challenges incumbent state Senator Martin Dilan (an early Atlantic Yards backer)

Forgive me for looking at political races through the lens of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, but that's often a simple way to decide who represents the establishment and status quo and who doesn't.

So, Rep. Yvette Clarke, a project defender, was challenged--and almost beat--by Adem Bunkeddeko in the Democratic primary. (And he partly made Atlantic Yards an issue.)

In a key state race, when the primary is in September, we have Republican state Senator Marty Golden, whose ethical deficits are legion, serving as a bulwark for Atlantic Yards (and gaining $5,000 in 2016 campaign funds from Bruce Ratner).

He'll be challenged by a Democrat, either Ross Barkan, a journalist/insurgent, or lawyer Andrew Gounardes, who has more mainstream party support.

A challenger in North Brooklyn

And, thanks to Newsday's Mark Chiusano, I learn of another state Senate candidate, Julia Salazar, who deserves attention in the district that includes Bushwick, Cypress Hills, Williamsburg, and Greenpoi…

In Congressional primary, an upset in Queens--and almost in Brooklyn

New York's odd federal primary--not to be confused with the state one in September--turned out a huge surprise--in Queens, at least, when first-time candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez beat entrenched incumbent (and Queens Democratic Party kingpin) Rep. Joe Crowley.
“We meet a machine with a movement. That is what we have done today.” @Ocasio2018 looks up at @NY1 screen and realizes how big her lead is. #NY14pic.twitter.com/SFSLQPqTXP — Pat Kiernan (@patkiernan) June 27, 2018
since APPARENTLY this needs to be clarified, I didn't say the Times never mentioned her. she was included in a couple of political roundup pieces, and there was an editorial criticizing Crowley for not debating her. both are different from an article about the race. — Megan Greenwell (@megreenwell) June 27, 2018
So, in a low-turnout primary, ideas, organization, and shoe leather can turn out a win, especially when the district's demographics change and the incumbent spent big money on mail but not so much …

So, what's that new site entrance ramp at the railyard for, exactly?

The recent ConstructionUpdates make reference to "New site entrance ramp construction will continue in the western portion of Block 1120," which is the railyard block east of Sixth Avenue, between Pacific Street and Atlantic Avenue.

But what exactly is going on? Is this for equipment? Railyard work? Foundation work? That needed deck, or platform? Will the "entrance" at Sixth Avenue, currently barred by a fence, be opened up to vehicles?

It's unclear--the concrete pillars seem a precursor to that platform, but they're not uniform. I asked the developer, Greenland Forest City Partners, and the state authority overseeing/shepherding the project, Empire State Development, but got no response.

Perhaps we'll learn more at the next Quality of Life Meeting, on July 10.

Photos June 14



Photos June 21




That Barclays Center plaza and its public/private space

Oh, remember how “Barclays Center has become one of the most important new public spaces and landmarks in the city"?

I walked by on 6/21/18, the day of the NBA Draft, when there were preparations for a lot more private activity on that public space.



From the latest Construction Update: railyard work continues

The latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update (bottom), covering the two weeks beginning Monday, June 25, was circulated at 3:44 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, especially the foundation work in the railyard, is supposed to position the project for later tower construction.

Barclays Center sidewalk work is nearly complete, with punch list work planned during the day and night time on Flatbush, Atlantic and Sixth Avenues. Work includes saw cutting, calking and minor concrete patching.

This both fixes cracked sidewalks and, as I wrote, obviates the need to clean sidewalks deeply stained by dripping rust. But it doesn't clean up all the rust.

Railyard work at East Portal

Installations of MPT [Maintenance and Protection of Traffic] for the East Portal…

Cuomo, pursuing re-election, announces more Islanders games next season in Nassau

Yes, the governor had an announcement on Thursday 6/21/18, New York Islanders to Play 68 Pre-Season and Regular Home Games Over the Next Three Years at NYCB LIVE, Home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

That's 20 of 44 home games, including pre-season. They're expected to play 24 games a year over the next two seasons, splitting home ice with the Barclays Center. The extra games in Nassau are surely welcomed by BSE Global, which operates both venues, since it frees up the Brooklyn arena for more lucrative events.

As highlighted below, the press release called the project "entirely privately funded," ignoring the lowball lease and open-ended Long Island Rail Road costs, as I wrote. And, yes, more than a few people thought it was weird that the announcement came from the governor.

Also note, as Newsday's Jim Baumbach pointed out, that the arena is now slated to open during the 2021-22 season, not for 2021.

Still, as Newsday's Randi Marshall pointed out, …

BSE Global and LIU begin Paramount Theatre revamp; 2019 reopening is behind previously stated schedule

A press release 6/21/18 from BSE Global, headlined BSE GLOBAL AND LIU BREAK GROUND ON REIMAGINED LIU BROOKLYN PARAMOUNT THEATRE, with the deck "Revival of Legendary Theatre Underway." The press release has been repurposed in BillboardCurbed, the Daily Eagle, and others.
The projected opening is mid-2019.
Note that the deal was announced in January 2015. Renovation plans announced in April 2015 projected a 2018 opening, with no transparency about the rent paid to Long Island University. A lease was signed in May 2016, with renovations said to begin in 2017. A May 2017 announcement that renovations would begin in Fall 2017 noted "an anticipated opening before 2019."
In other words, they're behind schedule. (Also note that BSE Global is the new name for what was Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, Mikhail Prokhorov's ownership vehicle.)
The press release:
BROOKLYN (June 21, 2018) – Executives from BSE Global and Long Island University (LIU) were joined by …

When "affordable housing" nearly reaches $200,000: the 38 Sixth income recalculation

My bad. When I wrote three days ago about middle-income two- and three-bedroom apartments at the "100% affordable" 38 Sixth being marketed beyond the lottery to anyone who met the income qualifications, I failed to account for an increased upper limit, a consequence of a recalculation of Area Median Income (AMI).

Most dramatically, a six-person household can now earn nearly $200,000 and still qualify for a three-bedroom below-market unit.

Income eligibility stretches at the top

Since the original marketing last year, the income eligibility has stretched, not the bottom but rather the top. Below are the 2016/2018 income limits, by household size, for two-bedroom units, which have an upper limit of 165% of AMI.
2 people: $111,909 - $119,625/$137,7753 people: $111,909 - $134,640/$154,9354 people: $111,909 - $149,490/$172,095 Here are the income limits, by household size, for three-bedroom units:
3 people: $129,258 - $134,640/$154,9354 people: $129,258 - $149,490/$172,0955 people: …

Next Quality of Life Meeting to be held July 10, not July 17

Change your calendars. The next Atlantic Yards Project Quality of Life Meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 10, 2018, rather than July 17, as previously planned, according to a message from Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority overseeing/shepherding the project.

Project-related questions, concerns, or suggested agenda items for the meeting can be sent to atlanticyards@esd.ny.gov. The meeting is an opportunity to get an update on construction plans and potential neighborhood impacts.

The details:
Tuesday, July 10, 2018 @ 6 pm
Shirley A. Chisholm State Office Building
55 Hanson Place
1st Floor Conference Room
Brooklyn, NY 11217

Where the Borough President really stands on 80 Flatbush

I have an article in The Bridge headlined How the Borough President Is Essentially Backing 80 Flatbush, with a deck: "While he would chop one tower's height 39%, [Borough President Eric] Adams proposes just a 12% cut in bulk, plus benefits like a new subway entrance."
The relevance to Atlantic Yards is that Adams's basic support for the giant two-tower project suggests a precedent for the percolating--though not yet officially proposed--two-tower project suggested for Site 5 of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, just two blocks away down Flatbush Avenue.

Bloomberg news: Forest City Realty Trust has restarted talks on potential sale to Brookfield

Forest City Realty Trust (FCRT) stock jumped more than 14% yesterday, after Bloomberg reported that Forest City Realty Is Restarting Deal Talks With Brookfield, thus resuming a potential sale of the company to the giant, Toronto-based asset manager.

That suggests a reversal in strategy. FCRT in March, after its board concluded a six-month review of strategic alternatives, announced that it would remain a standalone company, albeit while replacing 9 of 13 board members, with new roles for hedge funds critical of the company, and further diminishing the role of the founding Ratner family.

(My long retrospective on Forest City Ratner/Forest City New York for The Bridge was timed to appear just before the parent company's expected decision.)

Two potential transactions before March

News coverage before that March announcement concerned two rumored transactions, one with Chicago-based Equity Commonwealth, the other with Brookfield Asset Management. A large company (Brookfield, suggested …

Yes, unfilled 38 Sixth middle-income affordable units now marketed outside of housing lottery, including on StreetEasy

Update: the upper income limits have increased, based on 2018 Area Median Income.

It was predictable, wasn't it? As I wrote last November for City & State, in Simplistic math mangles the odds of affordable housing lotteries, it was a "good bet" that, as with the example of the "100% affordable" 535 Carlton that I described in City Limits in April 2017, "many of those not-so-affordable apartments" at the similar Pacific Park building, 38 Sixth, "will be hard to fill."

The building is all below-market, but 152 of the 303 units are for decidedly middle-income households. At least five such middle-income units are now on the open market, as described below, with two-bedroom apartments at $3,206 a month and three-bedroom ones at $3,695. (Studios are $2,121 and one-bedrooms are $2,663 at 38 Sixth.)

While 89,704 households filed applications for 303 apartments, the interest, understandably, skewed strongly toward lower income units. Only 1,876 …

Post: expected next Council chief of staff worked until recently for lobbying powerhouse Kasirer (including on Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park)

Business as usual. The New York Post's Anna Sanders reported yesterday, in Council speaker’s next chief of staff was a top lobbyist:
Speaker Corey Johnson is expected to promote an ex-lobbyist to become the Council’s powerful chief of staff.
Deputy Chief of Staff Jason Goldman, once a top lobbyist with the city’s most profitable firm, is poised to replace his boss Ramon Martinez, several Council members told the Post.
The chief of staff advises lawmakers, keeps Council members in line and whips votes. Martinez was the Council’s highest paid employee, making $235,512 last year, and is headed for a gig at Chase bank.
Before Johnson first hired Goldman this winter, he had no experience in city government. Goldman was a VP at Kasirer, which made $11.48 million last year, and worked for the United Federation of Teachers. His Kasirer clients included real estate interests like Brookfield Properties and Forest City Ratner, plus the Hotel Association of New York. Goldman was hired in Febr…

Forest City wins skirmish in modular case after Court of Appeals decision, but battle continues

The long-running legal battle between Skanska USA Building and Forest City New York (and affiliates) over responsibility of cost overruns in the ill-fated modular project recently saw a partial win for the latter in the New York Court of Appeals.

In a decision dated 4/26/18 (but only recently made public), the court agreed that lower courts properly dismissed part of Skanska's claim, which alleged that Atlantic Yards B2 Owner, the special purpose entity that owned the building now known as 461 Dean, had breached the Construction Management and Fabrication Services Agreement (CM Agreement) by allegedly failing to comply with a state law.

Skanksa noted that Forest City's lease with Empire State Development (ESD), which formally owns the project site, requires that it to "satisfy all requirements of Section 5 of the New York State Lien Law . . . as such requirements and law are interpreted from time to time by [ESD]."

Skanska alleged that B2 Owner breached the CM Agreem…

An architecture critic's thoughts on revisiting buildings, and why that applies to the Barclays Center

What do architecture critics think of the state of architecture criticism today?, asked the Architects Newspaper 5/21/18, assessing a media environment with fewer paid critics, more online opportunities, and evolving challenges in assessment.

Justin Davidson, architecture and classical music critic for New York magazine, offered a thoughtful quote, excerpted below, noting that critics must also be reporters and that criticism usually goes beyond esthetics (an indirect knock, some might say, against previous critics like the New York Times's Herbert Muschamp):
In order to be effective, architecture critics have to look beyond architecture. I got into this business because I loved writing and I loved beautiful buildings. The deeper I dive, the more aware I am of the overlapping areas of expertise that get called into play every time the easy equipment shows up: finance, planning, zoning, activism, preservation, politics, performing arts, engineering, retail, gentrification, transit,…

Some reading: Islanders arena, a project in DUMBO, EB-5

A few links, the first two by me...

CityLab: The Costs Behind Hockey’s Return to Long Island

The Bridge: How a Huge New Project Will Change the Face of Dumbo

The Real Deal: Chinese EB-5 investors in major New York developments want their millions back (no mention of Atlantic Yards; also see this post by attorney Douglas Litowitz, The EB-5 Program Is Legally Defective And Has Become A Scam)

At "Community Conversation," vague discussion about delayed middle school, NYPD parking at garage

A couple of nuggets of Atlantic Yards-related information emerged at the "District 35 Community Conversation" on June 9 held at PS 9 in Prospect Heights, with representatives from several government agencies.

Though purportedly co-sponsored by Assemblymember Walter Mosley, Council Member Laurie Cumbo--er, Majority Leader, as she introduced herself--and her staff got all the introductions.

That delayed middle school

What's the current status of the middle school promised for the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park site? "The SCA [School Construction Authority] is not actually building the school," commented Tamara Smith, an SCA community relations manager. Rather, that's the job of the developer (which she referred to as Forest City Ratner, rather than Greenland Forest City Partners).

"But the developer got into a series of litigations, so the school building has been on hold," she said. "When they are done with legal," the design process will res…

In Hey BK podcast, Regina Myer says: "No one in the early 2000s understood how strong the residential market would be in any place in Brooklyn"

Given that real estate executive Ofer Cohen now chairs the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, as I wrote yesterday, I thought I'd again check out his Hey BK podcast, in which he interviews various people in the real estate world. (Here's coverage of the previous MaryAnne Gilmartin episode.)

Cohen in April interviewed his future partner, Regina Myer, President of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, and formerly head of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation, and previously heading the Department of City Planning's Brooklyn office.

At about 8:18, after talking about development in Williamsburg, Cohen observed, "You guys probably had no idea residential development was going to take off. Nobody had the idea that rents are going to go up and support the residential development that eventually happened in such massive scale."

"No one in the early 2000s," Myer replied, "understood how strong the residential market would be in any place in Brooklyn.&…