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Showing posts from February, 2019

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

The Amazon aftermath: the Atlantic Yards angle (and comparison)

Sure, there was some chatter yesterday about Atlantic Yards in the wake of Amazon's surprising decision--I and others would have bet on renegotiations--to pull out of plans to build a campus in Long Island City.
I'm surprised too... but Amazon hadn't bought a money-losing basketball team it had to move to Brooklyn or a deal it had to revise post-recession (or purportedly blighted land to be acquired via eminent domain) — Norman Oder (@AYReport) February 14, 2019That was former Forest City Ratner executive Ashley Cotton, who's still working on Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park government relations (I think) as an executive at L&L MAG.

Amazon had invested relatively little in Long Island City. Not only did it not have a team it had to move, it hadn't started buying land, sometimes at inflated prices and with money borrowed at high interest rates. So it had much less pressure to close the deal.

Thing is: had Amazon gone ahead with its campus, it likely could have--as sho…

Next Quality of Life meeting coming March 5, six weeks after previous one; lingering questions about project timetable

Just six weeks after the 1/22/19 Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life meeting--my coverage--the next one is coming on Tuesday, March 5 at 6 pm:
Shirley A. Chisholm State Office Building
55 Hanson Place
1st Floor Conference Room
Brooklyn, NY 11217 Interested parties can send project-related questions, concerns, and suggested agenda items to Perhaps we'll learn some more about plans to start building two towers (B15, B4) in the next months. 
Or maybe even about plans for a giant complex at Site 5 across Flatbush Avenue from the Barclays Center, given a court decision (under appeal) requiring the project developer to provide space to retailer P.C. Richard in a future building.
The lingering irony
The irony for project watchers is that, while the bi-monthly meetings are very much on schedule, the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC), supposed to meet quarterly, has not met for nearly 11 months, and the meeting scheduled for yesterda…

So does Amazon need New York more than vice versa? The talent is here, but...

As consternation rises about whether Amazon is really threatening to pull out from the tentative deal to establish a campus--half a second "headquarters"--in Long Island City, there's debate from all sides.
One thing to remember is an exchange from the December hearing at City Council.

“Did you need the $3 billion [in incentives] in order to come to New York?” asked Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer.

“Talent was the primary driver for our decision,” said Amazon’s Holly Sullivan. “Incentives were certainly a part of that process."

That's inconclusive, but it certainly suggests a lot of wiggle room. After all, tech companies are expanding in Manhattan without the same subsidy package.

(With Atlantic Yards, did the New Jersey Nets need incentives to become the Brooklyn Nets? Well, it did turn out that everything was more expensive, and less remunerative than they projected, but... the team owners were desperate to move to a major media market and a brand-new arena, w…

Forbes: Nets, at $2.35B, still sixth most valuable NBA team; paradox: relatively low income (but revenues in the black)

It's astonishing, still. In 2017, I didn't quite believe Forbes's valuation of the Brooklyn Nets at $1.8 billion, the 7th most valuable team in the NBA, up from $1.7 billion in 2016 and $1.5 billion in 2015, especially since that somehow included the Barclays Center.

But yes, Forbes was right in 2018 to value the Nets at $2.3 billion, sixth in the league, because that was the valuation set in the deal by Mikhail Prokhorov to sell the team--first 49%, the rest, an option to be exercised in 2012--to billionaire Joe Tsai.

For 2019, Forbes (Kurt Badenhausen and Mike Ozanian) values the Nets at $2.35 billion, a tiny uptick. They're still sixth in the league.

Operating income has risen slightly as well, from $52 million to $53 million, which, relatively speaking, is great news, since the Nets for years lost money.

But there's a paradox on Forbes's NBA valuations list: eight teams worth less earn more income, sometimes much more. For example, the Houston Rockets, wort…

China developers issuing more bonds, as regulators help. Situation still volatile.

This past November, I cited a Bloomberg article headlined Short-Dated Bond Spree by China Builders Flashes ‘Systemic Risk’, which mentioned that Greenland Holding Group was aiming to pay 9% on 1.5-year notes--which was actually a lower interest rate than at one rival mentioned.
So Greenland, the main developer of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, is under stress. Now a 1/30/19 article in the South China Morning Post, Buoyed by easing, expected end to Fed rate hikes, China developers issue US$8.6 billion in offshore bonds, suggests a slightly better picture: Top mainland Chinese property developers are flocking to the offshore bond market to capitalise on a recovery in investors’ appetite. About 14 companies, including big guns Country Garden and Evergrande China, have already issued bonds worth US$8.6 billion this year, more than doubling the amount for January 2018, according to Chinese financial data provider Wind Information. The article cited yields from 6.25% to 8.25%, over varying te…

Making use of unsold 550 Vanderbilt townhouse: a Crazy Rich Asians-themed Valentine's Day event

Well, if the developers of 550 Vanderbilt can't yet sell their 3-bed, 3.5-bath maisonette, Townhouse 1, listed for $4.5 million (down from $4.65 million, not to mention the potential 20% flex in the sales price), it can always host a party on Friday, Feb. 15, the day after Valentine's Day.

According to an announcement on EventBrite,
"High Tea Club NYC, New York City’s premier marriage-oriented matchmaking concierge for Asian Americans, is pleased to announce that it will be hosting an exclusive, Crazy Rich Asians-themed Valentine's Day event with Greenland Group."

The High Tea Club calls itself "Dating for the 1%."

Presumably it's not a complete coincidence that Greenland Group is based in Shanghai, with its subsidiary Greenland USA, the majority owner of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park.

It's a pretty spacious place, some 3,200 square feet over two levels. The entrance is on Dean Street west of Vanderbilt Avenue. The common charges are $3,717 per mon…

Brookfield to investors about acquiring Forest City: "we believe we can drive further value" and "create outsized returns"

There's not a ton of detail/insight in public statements by the buyer of Forest City Realty Trust before the 12/7/18 closing of the purchase, but, for the record, here's a recap, from Brookfield, plus last week's post-closing statements, which were even more optimistic.

The key phrase is "we look forward to creating further value in this business by leveraging our unique mixed-use real estate and placemaking expertise with the portfolio." The unspoken addendum may be: "we have deeper pockets and more patience."

Emphases added.

8/1/18, Brookfield Property Partners Q2 Letter to Unitholders:
New Investments
Earlier this week, a Brookfield real estate investment fund entered into an agreement with Forest City Realty Trust (NYSE: FCEA) – an $11.4 billion diversified U.S. REIT – to acquire all of the shares of Forest City for $25.35/share. BPY is a 25% limited partnership investor in this fund. Forest City has created a high-quality portfolio of operating and…

OK, Feb. 13 meeting of Atlantic Yards Community Development Corp. postponed; another lost opportunity for update on project timetable and affordable housing

A message yesterday from the Empire State Development (ESD) Atlantic Yards team:
The February 13 meeting of the Directors of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AYCDC) has been postponed. A new meeting date will be announced. No reason was announced, but it's been nearly 11 months since the last meeting, and the body is supposed to meet quarterly. It could be that they're again having trouble mustering a quorum, which has long been a problem. But they could've told us that, right?

Bottom line: it's hard to see the AY CDC as a priority for the Cuomo administration or, for that matter, some of the local elected officials who've taken so long to appoint members after vacancies have occurred.

Moreover, it's a sign of apathy and/or frustration that so many appointees have resigned or not welcomed re-appointment. And a meeting that's held during work hours in Manhattan--as this one was planned, though some previous ones have been held in Brookl…

Yes, the Barclays Center is still holding private events

The community notice for February 2019 events at the Barclays Center did not include, as has been the practice, any private events. The logic for including them is that some draw large crowds and neighbors should be alerted.

But that doesn't mean there aren't any private events. A 2/7/19 Amsterdam News article, Spreading the gospel of HBCUs, cites an event today/tonight launched by Andres “Dre” Martin, who's now a Brooklyn Nets Account Manager:
HBCU Night, an event touring the nation that celebrates African-American Heritage and the culture of historically Black colleges and universities.
...His latest event is taking place this Friday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. It will consist of a panel discussion with HBCU alums at the top of their game, a college fair, networking event and a career fair for HBCU alums in the city. The event is touring to other cities in the coming weeks. It's not a huge event--such nights have an average attendance of 500--but it involves

Is sports gambling a key to Belmont arena project success?

Note this glancing mention in Long Island Business News column 2/5/19 by Kevin Law, president & CEO of the Long Island Association, Law: Proposed state budget is a good start; Long Island needs more:
In addition, the [governor's proposed] budget impacts local governments by cutting Aid and Incentives to Municipalities. Finally, it restricts sports gambling to the upstate casinos only. Why shouldn’t Long Islanders have the ability to go to Aqueduct, Belmont Park or Jake’s 58 to place a bet on sporting events beyond horse racing? This makes me wonder about the business plan for the Belmont arena, an expensive building with one anchor tenant, the New York Islanders, and a retail and entertainment complex coupled with it. Sports gambling could add key profits.

And, as a New York Times Magazine article recently explained, sports gambling is poised to explode nationally, adding to the experience of a game, bringing in new revenue and likely new customers.

Reasons for doubt

Yes, there…

P.C. Richard, aiming to stay in Pacific Park, wins key court ruling ordering replacement space in Site 5 complex

In a ruling that--if upheld--adds cost and complication to plans for an ambitious two-tower complex at a key Pacific Park site, a state judge has rebuked original project developer Forest City Ratner, saying it reneged on a promise to provide retailer P.C. Richard replacement space in that complex.

That site across Flatbush Avenue from the Barclays Center, as of three years ago, was supposed to include the borough’s largest office tower, “an iconic office building for the new Brooklyn economy,” a spokeswoman for Greenland Forest City Partners told Crain’s New York Business.

“Brooklyn's own version of Time Warner Center,” the CEO of original developer Forest City Ratner called the giant two-tower project at Site 5, currently occupied by P.C. Richard and Modell’s Sporting Goods. The site is bounded by Fourth, Flatbush, and Atlantic avenues, and Pacific Street.

Assuming that the judge's order requiring space to be provided for the appliance and electronics retailer stands, it'…

From the latest Construction Update: surveying work at B15, site of future tower plus school

The latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update (bottom), covering the two weeks beginning Monday, Feb. 4, was circulated at 1:21 pm yesterday (late) by Empire State Development (ESD) after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners.

There are few changes from the previous update, given that vertical construction is not quite ready, and most ongoing work is infrastructure or demolition. Notably, though, surveying work will occur at the B15 site, east of Sixth Avenue between Dean and Pacific streets, slated for a 27-story tower with a middle school at its base. Barriers and other fencing material may be delivered to the site during this reporting period.

Also, while the update no longer predicts pile drilling for a railyard retaining wall at Vanderbilt Avenue--which suggests that it's done--there will be work at the western end of the Vanderbilt Yard.

A contractor will start removing the existing Motor Generator Building, which is located under the Sixth Avenue Bridge…

A group sales deal for Barclays tickets surfaces in a court case

Billy McFarland Bought $100k Worth of Tickets from Barclays Center for Magnises, reported Dave Brooks of Amplify 1/28/19, citing evidence in a bankruptcy case. That means that the now-disgraced founder of the scammy Fyre Fest was looking for ways to market Magnises, his credit card for millennials.

And one of the ways, as Brooks put it, that "McFarland blew through $26 million in investor money" was by paying Brooklyn Events Center $100,000 for tickets in February 2017.

“We're exited to announce Magnises SportsPass, powered by Barclays Center, 48 VIP tickets to enjoy Brooklyn Nets, New York Islanders, #BrooklynBoxing and #BrooklynHoops," a 7/18/16 post stated (right).

Interestingly, that was well before the actual payment to the arena operating company, so presumably there was a deal beforehand.

Barclays Center didn't comment for the article, but it's not unlikely that the arena makes group-sale deals with various potential buyers (see: Craig Carton), and in …

Barclays Center February 2019 calendar: 11 events, mostly hoops and hockey

The Barclays Center has released its February 2019 calendar, which includes 11 events over 10 days: six Brooklyn Nets games, three New York Islanders games, one concert, and one G-League Long Island Nets game. No private events are listed.

While group tickets are apparently available for the 11 am Long Island Nets game on Monday, Feb. 4, individual tickets are not for sale, perhaps because the team and timing are not big draws. (It was apparently previously scheduled for the Nassau Coliseum.)

In the previous two years, there were a significant number of family shows, as well.

February 2018: 25 ticketed events

Beyond the four private events on three days, in February 2018 there were 25 ticketed events on 20 days: seven Nets games, seven Islanders games, one concert, one comedy event, and nine Marvel Universe superhero circus events.

Newsday columnist: Islanders should play playoff games at Nassau Coliseum

In Playoffs at Nassau Coliseum? NHL owes it to Islanders, Newsday sports columnist Mark Herrmann argues that the league, which allowed the move to the Barclays Center--which has more seats and luxury suites--but didn't work, should reward longtime local fans.

Though Barclays might generate more revenue, Herrmann cites the sacrifices made by fans, and argues that "if the Islanders play at the Coliseum, they will have a better shot at winning, and playing more games, thus generating more revenue.

He writes:
The Coliseum’s electricity makes the Islanders an attractive destination now. Who knows how many players the team has missed out on — or lost — because the commute, the ice and the atmosphere at Barclays Center have been less than ideal?

Where a substance abuse treatment program operated on Flatbush, now Brooklyn's first medical marijuana dispensary

Not so long ago, in September 2014, as shown in the screenshot below right from Google Street View, the address 202 Flatbush belonged to New Directions, a substance abuse treatment program that has since moved to 500 Atlantic Avenue, between Nevins Street and Third Avenue.

Now that address--just a block north of the Barclays Center, and another sign of the transformation of Flatbush--is home to Citiva, Brooklyn's first medical marijuana dispensary, in what might seem a karmic twist.

The dispensary opened 12/30/18. The signage is classy, and the look boutique-y, as shown in the handout photo below right. And on Tuesday, 1/22/19, as shown in the photo above left, they were getting their sign up.

Should Gov. Andrew Cuomo, once an opponent of legalizing recreational marijuana, follow through with plans for such legalization--see more on that below--companies like Citiva (sounds like... sativa, a cannabis type) may be well-positioned to expand their role.

Coverage round-up

Check out th…

As AY CDC set to finally meet again, a new member, Prospect Heights' Veconi, who's stressed affordability (and helped establish board in 2014)

This is the eight and final article based on discussion at the 1/22/19 Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life meeting. The first concerned timing for the B15 tower, with school, and the B4 tower. The second concerned questions about the affordability of future income-restricted housing. The third concerned plans to constrict streets around the B15 tower. The fourth concerned plans for the railyard, demolition, and Times Plaza. The fifth concerned an absurdist dialogue about the definition of construction. The sixth concerned NYPD parking; post-event enforcement; ticket distribution, and the Neighborhood Support Team. The seventh concerned the project's health center.

The Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC) is supposed to meet quarterly and offer advice to the parent Empire State Development (ESD). But it hasn't met since last March--its second meeting of 2018.

"We are actively working to schedule a meeting," said AY CDC executive director T…