Skip to main content


Showing posts from February, 2019

Featured Post

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

Looking at blight: panel on March 6 (involving me) should include Atlantic Yards example

Remember blight, an important justification for eminent domain?

As I've written, the colloquial definition of blight—"when the fabric of a community is shot to hell"—offered by academic Lynne Sagalyn sounded more like the 1970s South Bronx than early 2000s Prospect Heights, where cracked sidewalks, weeds, and too-petite properties (like the small house on Dean Street in the photo at right) were seen as indicia of blight.

But the Atlantic Yards site, despite many signs of gentrification within it and nearby, was nonetheless designated as blighted, thanks to New York State's loose definition ("a substandard or insanitary area, or is in danger of becoming” one), a government agency bent on condemnation, and a legal system unwilling to look too closely.

I expect to be talking about some of this at a panel (tickets) next Wednesday, March 6, from 6:30 to 8 pm, sponsored by the Municipal Art Society, Closer LOOK: Blight:
Hosted at our office in the landmark LOOK buildi…

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

This graphic, last updated in March 2019, is aimed to stay at the top of the blog. It will be updated as announced configurations change and buildings launch. The information in the text has been updated through April 3, 2019, though considerable uncertainty remains: note buildings with question marks.

As reported in my City Limits article, developers plan four towers on terra firm in 2019 and 2020--B15, B4, then B12 and B13--but that won't get them far enough to building all the affordable units. So what's coming next--promised in one document, but not confirmed--are three large towers over the railyard, B5, B6, and B7, starting perhaps in 2021 and 2022.

Note the unbuilt B1 tower over the arena plaza (once dubbed "Miss Brooklyn") and the proposed--but not yet approved--shift in bulk to the unbuilt Site 5, at the far west end of the site. As of now, only one 50% market/50% affordable tower has been built.
The August 2014 tentative plans proposed by developer Greenla…

Leasing three sites raises nearly $199 million for Greenland, records suggest; that's nearly what Greenland paid; B12 and B13 to start next year

For leasing development rights to three Pacific Park parcels to two developers, Greenland Forest City Partners--owned 95% by Greenland USA--will get nearly $199 million, records suggest.

That's nearly the same amount that Greenland USA's parent Greenland Group paid in 2014 to enter the project. Forest City Enterprises. Forest City announced 12/20/13, "Under the terms of the definitive agreement, Greenland Group will make a capital contribution at closing of approximately $200 million to acquire a 70 percent equity interest in the project, excluding Barclays Center [operating company] and B2, the first residential building [aka 461 Dean]."

Now that payment also came with significant infrastructure obligations, such as the new railyard, the deck, and the public open space. But the contrast suggests--at least in broad strokes--that Forest City was operating from weakness; indeed, it announced a $242.4 million impairment on the deal.

After building three towers together …

In the new Power 100, James, Jeffries continue rise; lobbyists persists; election tomorrow for Public Advocate

City & State New York has its new New York City Power 100 and its notable how two Central Brooklyn politicians have risen to state and national stature:

Former Council Member
State Attorney General
Nobody has risen as fast in state politics as Letitia James – the state’s first female and African-American elected attorney general. But the distinction is only part of what the former New York City public advocate brings to the position. James promises to be a thorn in the side of President Donald Trump, and while she has yet to file a lawsuit of her own against his administration, she has hit the ground running on issues close to home.Former Assemblymember
House Democratic Caucus Chairman
Joseph Crowley’s shocking loss last summer was Rep. Hakeem Jeffries’ gain this winter. The Brooklyn congressman consolidated support among colle…

BSE Global's Webster Hall is reopening, and renovations cost far more than projected

From a 2/21/19 New York Times article, Webster Hall Is Returning With Its Old Grit (and New Bathrooms):
When the doors open in April at the renovated Webster Hall — the East Village club, once known as the Ritz, that was renowned for its mix of rock shows and raucous dance parties — music fans will find a revamped entryway and lounge, new bathrooms and upgraded acoustics.
But the most important change may simply be the arrival of an elevator. But here's the interesting part of the renovation, which began after the club closed down in August 2017 and after the independent club was bought "by BSE Global, the parent company of Barclays Center, and the Bowery Presents, which is partly owned by the concert giant AEG, for a price estimated at about $35 million."

There are lots of improvements, but they cost far more than the once-projected $10 million, Jay Marciano, the chairman of AEG Presents, told the Times, with a laugh: “I won’t give a specific number, but it was a multip…

Downtown Brooklyn, recognizing open space deficits (and more), looks to "public realm action plan"

A 2/12/19 press release, Downtown Brooklyn Partnership announces WXY and BIG Architects to craft public realm action plan:
Today, Downtown Brooklyn Partnership announced the selection of a joint proposal from design firms WXY Studio (WXY) and Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG Architects) to conduct a comprehensive study and implementation plan for Downtown Brooklyn’s public realm. The plan will help advance Downtown Brooklyn as a competitive, national urban center.
Downtown Brooklyn has faced unprecedented growth over the last fifteen years since the 2004 rezoning. Since then, the neighborhood has transformed into a true 24-hour mixed-use community, and with that have come new demands on streets, sidewalks, transit infrastructure and public spaces.
The Public Realm Action Plan is a response to that growth. The solutions set forth will help put Downtown Brooklyn on a new trajectory, reflecting its growing prominence in New York City and the nation’s economy, and taking into account the varied n…

Post columnist: arena built "over the train yard" has led to "malls, businesses, restaurants and people living more interesting lives"

New York Post columnist John Crudele's 2/18/19 column, Why New York City shouldn’t give up on Amazon just yet, suggests that the company should try again:
Was the Queens headquarters for Amazon a good idea? You are damned right it was.
This situation reminds me of when developers wanted to build a basketball arena in Brooklyn. The builders were proposing that they put a platform over a big open space where commuter trains were parked when they weren’t needed during the day.
They’d build the arena — now called Barclays Center — over the train yard, and the whole neighborhood, they suggested, would come alive. Ah, this is another version of "Atlantic Yards down the memory hole."

The arena was not to be built "over the train yard." No platform had to be built.

Rather, the arena was built partly in the bed of the railyard, below grade, with the other railyard functions moved to the remaining two blocks of the yard. The other half, more or less, of the arena block c…

In Los Angeles, Greenland's on its third condo broker, as buyers from China become scarce

From the Real Deal yesterday, Third time’s a charm? Greenland taps Polaris Pacific to replace the Agency at Metropolis. Yes, Greenland USA is now using its third brokerage--after Douglas Elliman and the Agency--to sell condos at the $1 billion, three tower Metropolis condo project, of which the first two towers are done.

It's not a small lift, given that Tower III has 736 of 1,500 total units and a reported 80% of 308-unit Tower I has been sold and there are no figures public on Tower II.

And today's Los Angeles Times, within an article about another developer's project, Construction at massive Oceanwide Plaza in downtown L.A. remains stalled, mentions global changes as affecting both Oceanwide Plaza (504 condos) and Metropolis:
The developers of both projects expected to sell many of their units to Chinese citizens looking for overseas investments, but the Chinese government’s squeeze on cash leaving the country has affected condo sales in Los Angeles....  It’s unclear wh…

Belmont arena approval (and opening?) nudged back, AKRF contract extended; Newsday argues that Belmont needed to keep Isles

Belmont Park arena project to be delayed, reported Long Island Business News yesterday, and while the Final Environmental Impact Statement and thus construction start have been delayed past the once-projected spring date, that doesn't necessarily mean the arena can't open in 2021. But it does raise question marks.

As noted in the article, the board of Empire State Development voted yesterday to extend the contract of AKRF, the authority's go-to environmental consultant,  for one year, through September 2020. That reflects more extensive comments than typical, with the need to respond to them, as well as other factors, as noted below.

According to ESD Board Materials (p. 325 ff.), the original two-year contract term was extended, and the original contract amount, not to exceed $2 million, was amended with a $950,000 fee and a $300,000 contingency. The developer, which includes the New York Islanders and partners, funds the environmental review.

The Board Materials note that…