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Showing posts from July, 2018

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

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/F

Did Greenland pay Forest City $547 million for its first round of investment? No. How much should it pay for the next round?

On Thursday, Aug. 2, Forest City Realty Trust will release  its second-quarter financial results, and perhaps reveal the details of the transaction, already closed but without numbers attached, in which Greenland USA nearly all of Forest City's remaining 30% share in the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park project going forward, leaving the original developer with just 5%. That translates to 83.33% of Forest City's remaining share--taking 25% of the project from the remaining 30% share--and means that Greenland will own 95% of the project going forward. That means Greenland has acquired the investment Forest City has already made in the project, with exceptions, and will be responsible for almost all payments going forward. Why didn't Greenland buy out Forest City completely?  The Real Deal  reported  last August that there may be a clause in Atlantic Yards government contracts that require the original developer to keep a stake. That's plausible, but not yet confirmed.

Real estate executive Cotton joins those urging leniency for ex-Cuomo aide Percoco: "it is hard to imagine the crime... being a reality"

Awaiting the sentencing of former gubernatorial aide Joe Percoco, who was convicted in March on three federal charges of conspiracy to commit honest-services fraud, conspiracy to commit honest-services wire fraud, and solicitation of bribes and gratuities, "Family, friends, rabbis and lobbyists urge leniency," as Politico 7/19/18  reported . (The sentencing was scheduled for August 10 but has since been postponed until Sept. 20, which just happens to be after the Democratic primary election, which protects incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo.) Among them was former gubernatorial aide Ashley Cotton, who later went to city government and then Forest City Ratner/Forest City New York, leaving this past January for the new firm L&L MAG but still serving as p.r. spokesperson for Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park. Though Cotton acknowledged that "I know that Joe has been convicted," in her letter (bottom) she called Percoco "the hardest working, most loyal and dedicated

Developer of "100% affordable" 535 Carlton now offers 1.5 free months on 2-BRs as incentive for middle-income units

Starting this past January, as I wrote , the developers of the "100% affordable" 535 Carlton--where some 95 (of 148) middle-income units were not taken in the lottery --began offering one month free on middle-income one- and two-bedroom units, officially renting for $2,680 and $3,223, respectively. Guess what: now they're offering-- as shown on StreetEasy and in the screenshots below--1.5 months free on two-bedroom units, so their "effective rent" is $2,820. The screenshot below shows net rent. The screenshot below, showing a revised version of the listings, shows gross rent, though two-bedroom units each advertise 1.5 months free. The upward-facing arrows indicate an "increase" in rent back to the official rent, though the net rent remains the same. One-bedroom units rent for an effective rent of $2,457, which is just one month free.

Two Barclays Center stories: celebrity justice & an "exclusive" straw ban

As the New York Post put it yesterday, Conor McGregor dodges jail in Barclays Center bus attack . Bleacher Report called it a "slap on the wrist." Yes, after tossing a hand truck at a bus after a Barclays Center promotional event last April, breaking glass and injuring people, Irish MMA fighter McGregor pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct--a violation, not a crime--a significant step down from initial felony counts of assault, criminal mischief, and reckless endangerment. In case you don't remember, there was video. (And he also was accused of hitting a security guard.) yoooooo... first time seeing this one. Conor has legit lost his mind. — caposa (@Grabaka_Hitman) April 5, 2018 “Thank you to the District Attorney’s Office for allowing me to move forward,” McGregor told fans and media, reported the Post. “I want to say thank you to my friends, family and my fans for allowing me to move forward.” His lawyer claimed McGregory didn

38 Sixth: Luxury Living at Affordable Rents (much revised)

For those who've occasionally taken a peek at the web site for the "100% affordable" 38 Sixth , something odd--if explicable--has occurred. From 1/13/17 through at least 3/29/18 , according to the Internet Archive, the home page promised "Luxury Living at Affordable Rents," for households with incomes of $20,126 through $173,415, as shown in the screenshot below. Now the web site  advertises  "Luxury Living at Affordable Rents," for households with incomes of $74,606 through $199,650, as shown in the screenshot below right. Same building, same regulations. What's going on? Well, the low-income households are already living at 38 Sixth, and those units don't need to be marketed. Only the units in the higher of two middle-income "bands," Band 5, are available , as shown in the screenshot below: two-bedroom apartments for $3,206 and three-bedroom units for $3,695. These are surely below-market compared with similar new

Greenland and AECOM join forces on international megaprojects; no clear Brooklyn impact

I missed this in June, but it's significant news for the Greenland Group internationally regarding large projects, though there's no announced plan to involve Greenland USA's project in Brooklyn, Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park. In a 6/7/18 press release (via AECOM) AECOM and Greenland announce strategic cooperation to develop integrated delivery projects in People’s Republic of China and globally : SHANGHAI, CHINA (7 June 2018) – AECOM, a premier, fully integrated global infrastructure firm, announced today it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Shanghai Greenland Construction Group Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of Greenland Group (Greenland), a publicly-listed, Fortune 500 global company and among China’s largest, to explore long-term, joint opportunities for integrated delivery projects in the People’s Republic of China and globally. Under the terms of the MOU, AECOM and the Greenland unit plan to coordinate on large-scale construction projects where integrated

From the latest Construction Update: East Portal work moves ahead

The latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update (bottom), covering the two weeks beginning Monday, July 23, was circulated at 11:25 am yesterday (late) 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. East Portal work Notably, at the East Portal of the Vanderbilt Yard, at Atlantic and Vanderbilt avenue, installations of Stage 2 MPT (Maintenance and Protection of Traffic) for the East Portal Demolition/Reconstruction will begin during this reporting period. (The project was announced at the beginning of the month, as shown in the screenshot at right.) This MPT will create a work zone that encompasses the southernmost travel lane and the south parking lane on Atlantic Avenue between Clermont and Vanderbilt avenues.

Real estate executive: Downtown Brooklyn land prices rising, not much pipeline beyond Pacific Park

A sponsored post in the 7/16/18 Commercial Observer, Ariel Property Advisors’ Sean R. Kelly Gets Real About Real Estate In Brooklyn , has a Q&A relevant to Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park: Are worries about an oversupply of rental units and rental concessions in Downtown Brooklyn warranted?   Concerns over concessions are overhyped. In fact, New York City suffers from a perpetual shortage of housing, especially rental housing. Downtown Brooklyn, in particular, continues to evolve into the 24/7 “Live, Work and Play” neighborhood its stakeholders and the Department of City Planning envisioned with a rezoning that took hold in 2004.  Notable projects in Downtown Brooklyn include Steiner Equities’ “The Hub” and TF Cornerstone’s 33 Bond Street, both purchased by family offices who employ long-term “buy-build-hold” outlooks. Family offices are driven more by occupancy and therefore are willing to offer more competitive leases via better concession packages because they aren’t looking

OK, the Nassau Coliseum really sounds like an Islanders' fallback

OK, beyond his suggestion that the New York Islanders return to the Nassau Coliseum full-time for the second and third years of the expected era of Belmont arena construction, hockey writer Chris Botta, writing in IslandersPointBlank, reported 7/20/18 that the team has an option to play two seasons in Nassau if Belmont is not ready for the start of the 2021-22 season. Citing a source, he also suggested that the deal to split games over the next three seasons between the Barclays Center and the Nassau Coliseum could lead to full-time tenure in Nassau after next season, given that the players "love the Coliseum." He also noted that the seemingly poor marketing of games at Barclays may be a strategy to push the Islanders to Nassau, where the Coliseum lacks an anchor tenant.

Yes, Empire State Development is (still) part of Cuomo patronage hiring push

Authorities’ hiring soars while Cuomo claims public payroll is shrinking , the New York Post reported 7/16/18: Hiring at dozens of state-controlled public authorities soared at the same time Gov. Cuomo was claiming credit for shrinking the public payroll, according to records reviewed by The Post. And a slew of the new authority employees are Cuomo patronage hires who earn big bucks while actually working for governor. Since Cuomo took office, there has been a net increase of 8,226 workers at 42 public authorities through fiscal 2015-2016 — nearly equal to the 9,350 employees the governor says he has trimmed from the state workforce during the same time. Watchdogs from both the right and left have expressed qualms. And while Cuomo has especially boosted the state Housing Trust Fund Corporation , a subsidiary public benefit corporation of the New York State Housing Finance Agency , Empire State Development, the public authority that oversees/shepherds Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, h

After WPIX quietly exits arena retail space, Barclays Center operators offering pop-ups at "Featured on Flatbush"

The Barclays Center, it seems, is trying to make lemonade out of lemons. After WPIX-TV vacated (with no announcement) the Flatbush Avenue retail space that was part of a "multi-year strategic partnership" announced in December 2014, now arena operators are offering pop-up space ("Featured on Flatbush") to local merchants as well as vendors associated with arena events. Tyrel Kirkham, VP of global merchandising for BSE Global , which operates the arena, told The Bridg e that the space was used in April for the UFC championship: "Based on the success of that event, we decided to really build up a platform. That’s where we came up with the idea to extend it well beyond just our programming, to open it up to our sponsors in addition to, and most importantly, the community." He suggested it was a way for small businesses to get their start--of course, that depends on the terms. Applications are available  here . This space is adjacent to the team

Forbes: Brooklyn Nets rank #36 among the world's 50 most valuable sports teams (and #6 in NBA)

From Forbes, a new 7/18/18  article  (and list ) on the world's 50 most valuable sports teams: The biggest gainer among the 50 richest teams is the Rockets, who shot up 14 spots to No. 40 at $2.2 billion after Tilman Fertitta closed on his deal to buy the team in October. Fellow NBA teams, Brooklyn Nets ($2.3 billion) and Golden State Warriors ($3.1 billion), also jumped at least ten places, with the league’s international growth prospects the best of any U.S. sports league and big market franchises valued at record multiples of revenue. It's not just international growth, or even potential gambling revenue, it's that NBA teams are "paintings for billionaires," and one of them, Joe Tsai, was willing to pay (in stages) $2.3 billion for the Nets. What's interesting is the ratio of team value to operating income, which suggests the Nets are overvalued. (Note that I find the Forbes calculations confusing .) Consider that the teams more highly valued than t

Nassau Coliseum in flux: no Nets preseason game; suggestion for Isles returning full-time for two years

As with the Barclays Center, the Nassau Coliseum is a "never-say-never" project. Remember how the arena operators were supposed to bring a minor league hockey team to Long Island? That didn't happen. Or how the Islanders were supposed to play a certain number of games in Nassau or face a fine ? That got papered over by the plan for a part-time home rink while the Belmont arena progresses. Newsday's Jim Baumbach reported 7/7/18, in Brooklyn Nets won’t play preseason game at Nassau Coliseum , that a contractually obligated preseason game won't happen because the NBA has reduce the required number of preseason game, leaving one home game in Brooklyn A spokesman for Nassau County Executive Laura Curran told Newsday, “We’re in conversation with BSE Global about alternative programming.” Nor has BSE Global, the operator of the Barclays Center and the Coliseum, conducted the required annual open Nets practice and a clinic, Baumbach reported; the company is working on fu

Two top executives in arena company among the many contributing to Adams 2021

The New York City Campaign Finance Board yesterday  announced that reports are now live for 2021 New York City candidates, including all financial activity from January 13 to July 12, 2018. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, unopposed in his 2017 re-election and aiming at the 2021 mayoralty, has a lot of money, some $915,339, with Comptroller Scott Stringer, also aiming at the mayoralty, the only one close, raising $818,654. Notably, among Adams's many contributors , Brett Yormark, CEO of BSE Global, which owns the Brooklyn Nets and the Barclays Center operating company, contributed $5,100--the  maximum --on 7/12/18. Yormark previously  contributed  $2500 to Adams in 2015, and $2,475 to Public Advocate candidate Daniel Squadron (who unsuccessfully opposed arena foe Letitia James) in 2013. So this is more than twice as much. Adams also received $5,100 on 7/2/18 from Maureen Hanlon , president of Onexim Sports and Entertainment Holding USA, Inc., the enterprise tha

State Comptroller's latest report on the Brooklyn economy shows significant improvement (yet continued pressures)

At the March 2010 groundbreaking for the Barclays Center, Gov. David Paterson cited an 11.2% unemployment rate in Kings County and declared, "As the buildings rise on Atlantic Yards the joblessness rate will fall right here in Brooklyn." From Comptroller's report He was right--sort of--but correlation is not causation. The unemployment rate has dropped considerably, even as the buildings--an arena and four residential towers--have risen slowly. And while the Barclays Center surely has a direct and indirect role in tourism and hospitality jobs, it's hard to see this project--or any project, frankly--as the main cause. Yes, 64 new hotels have been built in Brooklyn. But most of the job growth in leisure and hospitality--which more than doubled between 2009 and 2017, adding 30,100 jobs--came from  restaurants and bars, presumably serving residents with more disposable income. Rather, as a  June 2018 report  (also at bottom) from State Comptroller Thomas DiNa

Does the Barclays Center symbolize (as per Harper's) "The Death of a Once Great City"?

So, I've been asked: what do you think of the treatment of Barclays Center and Atlantic Yards in author Kevin Baker's jeremiad in the July 2018 issue of Harper's,  The Death of a Once Great City: The fall of New York and the urban crisis of affluence ? My answer: like much of the article, while I'm sympathetic to many of the sentiments and critiques--and the Barclays Center deserves enduring taint--it goes over the top and thus sacrifices credibility. Consider the article's opening, which suggests that New York "is approaching a state where it is no longer a significant cultural entity but the world’s largest gated community, with a few cupcake shops here and there." C'mon. However much we might bemoan the fate of some choice parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn--and the failure of public entities to invest in infrastructure and policies to foster a more equitably growing city--that's just hard to take seriously. (See Ben Adler's 7/12/18 e