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Showing posts from December, 2018

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

L&L MAG's first project: a 22-story apartment building in Chelsea

After some 11 months of existence, the new firm co-founded by former Forest City New York CEO MaryAnne Gilmartin finally has a deal. L&L MAG’s first development will be a 460-unit resi building in Chelsea, the Real Deal reported 12/10/18, surely fed by the company (which later issued a press release).
Notably, the 22-story building on West 29th Street will be 30% affordable, participating in the city's Affordable New York program, and will be designed by CookFox, the firm that designed 535 Carlton and 550 Vanderbilt. It would not be unreasonable to expect Pacific Park buildings to also be 30% affordable.

The Real Deal quoted Robert Scharf, executive vice president of real estate at Edison Properties, which is leasing the site. “Although we received several higher offers, we chose to ground lease the property to L&L MAG because of the wonderful team that they have put together,” he said. “They have extensive experience developing some of the most outstanding and transforma…

A lacrosse team is coming to the Nassau Coliseum, but it can't be called an anchor tenant

OK, so now the Nassau Coliseum will have an anchor tenant? Not quite.

NLL coming to Long Island with new indoor lacrosse team planned for 2019, Newsday reported 12/11/18, citing the 13th team in the National Lacrosse League, which will start play next December.

Newsday notes that a field lacrosse team already plays at Hofstra University, but the seasons don't overlap. It's only an 18-game season, according to Wikipedia, so that's 9 home games.

So, if average attendance for NLL games last season was just over 11,000 per game, does that mean the Nassau Coliseum will draw similar crowds?

Brett Yormark, CEO of Coliseum operator BSE Global (which also operates Barclays Center), blew some smoke. “We think it’ll do extremely well. The Long Island Nets do very well at the Coliseum, and we’d expect to do it equally as well with the NLL, if not more so."

Problem is, the Long Island Nets draw 2,000 to 2,500 people per game. Yormark should hope lacrosse does much, much better, esp…

With ESD offering barely a month to prepare for public hearings, Belmont arena seems a "done deal"

NY report: Islanders development at Belmont would boost congestion, Newsday reported 12/6/18, indicating that the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (Draft EIS) for the new arena at Belmont Park would cause traffic that could only partly be mitigated but otherwise would not cause untoward impacts. (Here's the Draft EIS.)

The key passage in the article, though, was this:
Board members of the Empire State Development Corporation, the state's economic development agency, adopted the study in a unanimous vote Thursday, starting a public comment period. Public hearings on the environmental impact will be held for three days beginning Jan. 8, and written comments will be accepted through Feb. 11. That deserved a little more context. First, board members of ESD almost never disagree. They work for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who wants the deal done, with the developers aiming for a May construction start. (That's probably why Newsday editorial writer Randi Marshall, in a 2/1/18 tweet, p…

Yes, BerlinRosen's the "most powerful" pr firm

From the New York Observer, 12/14/18, The Most Powerful PR Firms of 2018, which assesses a "holistic" view of the agency's year, not merely revenue or size:
1. BerlinRosen
Last Year’s List: 29
Employees: 144
Leadership: Valerie Berlin and Jonathan Rosen, principals and co-founders
Founded: 2005  Last year, we thought unwelcome publicity surrounding work for Mayor Bill DeBlasio muddled BerlinRosen’s reputation. After a gangbusters 2018, it’s clear the agency’s left that cloud behind—BerlinRosen now feels unstoppable. The firm cemented towering client relationships like Google’s Sidewalk Labs project in Toronto, mega-developers SL Green, Forest City, and Brookfield, tech educator General Assembly, and automaker BMW. Plus, they nabbed the World Trade Center project from Rubenstein. BerlinRosen’s hospitality practice keeps booming—think the Wythe, JFK’s TWA Flight Center Hotels and Marriott’s Autograph Collection. The firm’s been just as potent in its massive cause-related, …

Metaphor? 17-minute blackout before third-period at Barclays hockey game.

Call it a metaphor, perhaps.

Lights go out at Barclays, and Vegas extinguishes Islanders, the New York Post reported, citing a 17-minute blackout before the third period last night, when the New York Islanders lost to the Las Vegas Golden Knights.The power's out at Barclays Center, because of course it is. — Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) December 13, 2018#Isles D Thomas Hickey on lights going out at Barclays Center. “Amateur hour.” But notes both teams had to deal with delay. — Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) December 13, 2018Note that, after mid-February, all the Islanders' home games will be in the Nassau Coliseum, the undersized/downsized arena closer to their fan base, and which sold out the first two games (13,197 attendance), while drawing fewer than 10,000 people to Barclays in the last three games.

The team is supposed to split the next two seasons, during the expected construction of a new arena at Belmont Park, between Barclays and the Coliseum, but …

The bid for Amazon in Brooklyn offered two Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park sites, plus towers over Atlantic Center mall

Sure, the most notable thing in my article yesterday for The Bridge: Amazon in Brooklyn: Why the Bid Didn’t Quite Measure Up, was that dramatic (and fanciful) illustration of the Amazon sign on top of the former Watchtower building, now called Panorama.

And there are other interesting comparisons between the Brooklyn bid and the Long Island City offering, with better logistics and lower costs.

The Atlantic Yards angle

But, yes, Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park was part of it, with two sites offered as potential office towers. One was the B4 site at the arena's northeast flank, now planned as space for 810 apartments. See DT 10 in the graphic below. It says 830,000 square feet.

The other was Site 5, currently home to P.C. Richard and Modell’s parcel, slated for a larger development, assuming the state permits the shift of bulk of the never-built tower approved for the Barclays Center plaza across the street. See DT 13 in the graphic below, with 1.14 million square feet, likely in two to…

From Gotham Gazette: The Fuzzy Fine Print of Amazon’s Queens Real Estate Deal

I have an essay in Gotham Gazette, The Fuzzy Fine Print of Amazon’s Queens Real Estate Deal
The first of several New York City Council public oversight hearings on the deal to bring an Amazon campus to Long Island City will be held Wednesday at City Hall. Titled by the Council as “Exposing the Closed-Door Process,” the questions should concern not just the big-picture issues but also some fine print regarding the company’s acquisition of city-owned real estate.
Of course, the estimated $3 billion in tax breaks and subsidies in the deal made among Amazon, the state, and the city deserve scrutiny, though, except for a state capital grant that could reach $505 million, those questions -- as Gotham Gazette previously reported -- mostly concern revising existing policy.
... But Council members also should look at two maddeningly complicated passages in the non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Amazon signed with Empire State Development (ESD), Gov. Andrew Cuomo's economic devel…

From the latest Construction Update: new infrastructure work at East Portal

The latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update (bottom), covering the two weeks beginning Monday, Dec. 10, 2018 was circulated at 5:13 pm Friday (lead time) by Empire State Development (ESD) after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners.

There are few changes from the previous update, notably the start of some new infrastructure work around the East Portal at Atlantic and Vanderbilt avenues (a vexed intersection for bicyclists and pedestrians), part of preparations for a deck and ultimately vertical construction:

Foundation installations in the East Portal footprint will begin during this reporting period.Pile drilling for Vanderbilt Retaining Wall is expected to begin during this reporting period. Drilling will be conducted during daytime hours and appropriate dust and noise mitigation measures will be followed. This operation may also be performed during Saturday daytime hours.Excavation to Yard Grade elevation in the East Portal area will begin during this reportin…

From Crain's Cleveland Business: "The lights go out for Forest City" (blame debt & messy family control)

A couple of interesting passages in the 12/9/18 corporate obituary for Forest City Enterprises/Forest City Realty Trust (now part of Brookfield Asset Management) in Crain's Cleveland Business, The lights go out for Forest City:
The ability to spot opportunities and spend years making them a reality distinguished the company, especially when its projects took it to new markets. For example, when Forest City began developing MetroTech in Brooklyn, the borough was not seen as a New York office market. With seven buildings there now, it helped set the stage for Brooklyn's rebirth. Over the years, it would do that again and again in new locations, such as in a venture with MIT in Boston, remaking the former Navy Yards on the Potomac in Washington, D.C., an old rail yard in Chicago and the Presidio former Army barracks in San Francisco. I'd point out that those opportunities were usually public-private partnerships, so they had a high barrier to entry. (Also see my March 2018 re…

The end of Forest City: stock delisted, assets now part of Brookfield

First, half of the executive team goes, then the company identity vaporizes, as Forest City has now been absorbed by Brookfield, with the transaction closing yesterday.
At right is the message on Forest City's home page:
For nearly a century, Forest City has owned, developed and managed dynamic commercial, residential and mixed-use real estate in core markets across the United States.
In November 2018, the company announced that its stockholders approved the acquisition of Forest City by a real estate investment fund of Brookfield Asset Management, a global leader in alternative asset management. The transaction closed on December 7, 2018.
Forest City’s property portfolio is now managed by Brookfield Properties, a global, best-in-class real estate operating company. Here's the Brookfield press release yesterday, Brookfield Completes Acquisition of Forest City Realty Trust:
NEW YORK and CLEVELAND, Dec. 07, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Brookfield Asset Management Inc. (“Brookfield”) (…

As Brookfield deal closes, Forest City executives in Cleveland get fired; assets to become Brookfield Properties

The absolute end of Forest City Realty Trust, and thus Forest City New York, is nigh, as the Plan Dealer reported yesterday action from the new owners: Brookfield cuts jobs, including top executives, at Forest City as acquisition looms.

About 75 executives in FCRT's headquarters have been let go, with another 35 on short-term extensions, which will cut management from 350 people to 240 by next summer. The transaction, approved by Forest City shareholders 11/15/18, is expected to be complete today, the newspaper reported.

While workers at various Forest City properties will be retained, it's unclear what will happen to executives at Forest City's major subsidiaries, in places like New York and Washington, DC.

It is clear that the name will gone. The firm will be called Brookfield Properties. That raises a question about the joint venture to build Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, owned only 5% by Forest City going forward, currently called  Greenland Forest City Partners. Will i…

The down escalator at Barclays Center: out of service until Dec. 14

Well, the elevator from the Barclays Center plaza to the subway has been chronically out of whack, and the escalator isn't so great, too. Both are the responsibility of the arena operator, BSE Global.

Two days ago, a resident alerted me that the down escalator at the plaza had been down for two weeks, with barriers but no signage.

I got a response yesterday from arena spokeswoman Mandy Gutmann:
As you said, the down escalator has been having issues for about two weeks. The initial problem was a faulty battery back-up system.
That took a little over a week to source and replace due to the holiday. Following the replacement of that, a drive unit part failed. It is currently on order and expected to arrive within the coming week, at which point it will immediately be installed. Pending no further surprise issues, the escalator should be up and running at that point. There should be signage, but we will ensure it’s more visible. I took the photos yesterday, so a day after my initial q…

Continuing new trend, Chinese companies still selling assets in U.S.; will Greenland sell more?

From the Wall Street Journal yesterday, Chinese Dumped $1 Billion of U.S. Real Estate in Third Quarter, Extending Recent Retreat:
Chinese investors offloaded more than $1 billion in U.S. real estate in the third quarter, extending their recent retreat from hotels, office buildings and other foreign property under pressure from Beijing to reduce debt and curb money sent abroad. This marks a two-quarter trend in which Chinese companies have flipped from being buyers to sellers. Beyond pressure on debt and foreign investment, the WSJ suggests that "trade tension" between the two countries may be a factor.

In Brooklyn

What does that mean for Greenland USA, the majority owner of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park? Well, they've already offloaded three sites (B12, B13, B15) to two local developers, TF Cornerstone and The Brodsky Organization, and announced plans to build another tower, B4.

Those are the remaining towers on terra firma, with the exception of Site 5, currently home to …

The Isles draw just 9,125 fans, but it's not their low

Oh my. Not even on the Coliseum’s worst day did it look like this. Incredible — Robert Brodsky (@BrodskyRobert) December 5, 2018
Official attendance = 9,125, 57% of @barclayscenter capacity
But that does not appear to be gate count#Isles — Norman Oder (@AYReport) December 5, 2018
Do they take face offs during warmups? — Matthew Sexton (@RealMattSexton) December 5, 2018This actually wasn't a low. The Isles drew 9,0728,806, and 8,790 at some earlier games at Barclays. If they can consistently sell out the Coliseum, it may become their full-time interim home.

As Brooklyn Nets bolster superfans, attendance lags, at bottom of NBA

From the New York Times today, New York’s N.B.A. Teams Don’t Have Much to Celebrate. These Fans Cheer Anyway.:
When a team has had eight home arenas in two states over a half-century, it’s tough to build a dedicated fan base. At Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, where the Nets moved in 2012, they are last in the N.B.A. in attendance and most fans tend to make noise only when T-shirts are being shot from cannons.

Then there’s Section 114.

It’s called The Block — a rowdy section purposely set in a corner of the arena where the fans, who rarely sit down, wouldn’t obstruct anyone else’s view. Indeed, according to ESPN, as of today, the Nets rank well last in average attendance per game, at 13,862, which is well behind last year's average of 15,556 (29th in the 30-team league) or the Nets' worst season, which averaged 15,125 (27th).

That said, the percentage capacity, 76.6%, is matched the results for the Minnesota Timberwolves and just a tick below that of the Detroit Pistons.

The New …

Barclays Center December 2018 calendar: lots of basketball

The Barclays Center has released its December 2018 calendar, which has a lot of basketball.

It includes 22 events in 22 days, including nine Brooklyn Nets games, three Islanders games, two Michelle Obama book events, two high school basketball events (Battle in the Apple, Kyrie Irving Invitational), one Harlem Globetrotters game, one boxing night, and four concerts, including New Year's Eve with Post Malone. There are no tickets available for the Invitational, so it may be an invite-only event.

December 2017

The December calendar included a total of 20 ticketed events, including eight Islanders games, six Nets games, two Globetrotters games, one concert, one comedy show, and two film-plus-concert Nightmare Before Christmas events. The arena at the time was not announcing nonticketed events, though it resumed doing so.

As Michelle Obama fills Barclays, the Islanders fill the Nassau Coliseum


Last night, Michelle Obama took her book tour to a sold-out Barclays Center, while the New York Islanders, with terrible attendance in Brooklyn, began the first of 21 games this season at the Nassau Coliseum by selling out the building, with an amped crowd.

That 13,917 in attendance is well above the Islanders' average in Brooklyn, but would still make for the smallest NHL arena.

Keep watch to see consistent high attendance, which might--along with the possibility of more well-attended Brooklyn events--convince BSE Global (which operates both Barclays and the Coliseum) and the team to move all games over the next two years to Nassau, rather than splitting them with Brooklyn.

Still, as many have observed, it'll be tough for a new Belmont arena, assuming it's built, to coexist with the Coliseum nearby, without one suffering in terms of attendance.

A split season

Update: as noted by Newsday 12/3/18:
Their final regular-season game at Barclays Center will be Feb. 16. S…

From The Bridge: In a Buyer’s Market for Condos, a Brooklyn ‘Flash Sale’ Is Telling

From The Bridge yesterday, my article, In a Buyer’s Market for Condos, a Brooklyn ‘Flash Sale’ Is Telling:
Dramatic, desperate, or maybe both? To get the final 32 units sold at the 550 Vanderbilt condominium in Brooklyn, developed by Greenland Forest City Partners, uber-broker Ryan Serhant, of Million Dollar Listing fame, has alerted real estate brokers to a flash sale.
“On this Sunday (December 2nd) we will have a 1-day, 20% OFF SALE from 11am – 4pm,” Serhant wrote in a message to brokers this week, inviting potential buyers in for previews. “Happy Bidding :)” The building, which has 278 units, has faced a roller-coaster ride of sales, strategies, and even a Million Dollar Listing episode in the last three years.
If the flash sale might seem a stunt—would they really decline to offer discounts later?—a citywide slowdown in condo sales reflects a clear buyer’s market. Recent quarterly reports by the real estate brokerages Corcoran and Stribling indicated sales slowing in pricier parts o…

Flatbush Avenue asking retail rents rise, but that may not be the full story

According to a Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) report surveying the summer of 2018, average asking rents for available ground floor retail spaces increased year-over-year in seven of the 16 top Brooklyn retail corridors. REBNY states:
Flatbush Avenue in Prospect Heights, between 5th Avenue and Grand Army Plaza, recorded another average asking rent increase this period compared to last year. The $118 psf average was a nine percent increase when compared to the summer of 2017. This marked the third consecutive year-over-year increase on the corridor. Growing foot traffic in the area—generated by new, high-density residential projects, popular restaurants, and a strong office leasing market—contributed to this upward trend.

Some caveats

As noted in the full report, an increase in asking rent is not necessarily dispositive:
Although this report shows changes—positively and negatively—in average asking rents in most of the corridors analyzed, we must stress that a change between two c…