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

From the latest Construction Update: excavation and foundation work at B4 site; restoration starts at Atlantic/Vanderbilt intersection

The latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update (bottom), covering the two weeks beginning Monday, April 29, was circulated at 4:52 pm yesterday (late) by Empire State Development (ESD) after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners.

There's not much new from the previous update, but the document does confirm--as previously announced in a press release, not a Construction Update--that excavation and foundation construction work will commence for the B4 tower, aka 18 Sixth Avenue.

Also, at the East Portal of the Vanderbilt Yard, at Atlantic and Vanderbilt avenues, the contractor will begin restoration of the roadway, sidewalk and curb.

A bit confounding

As with some previous documents, the new document is confounding in a few places, such as repeating this line about night/weekend work:
● LIRR may be utilizing portions of the yard lighting near the Atlantic Avenue LIRR Access Ramp and Block 1121 for security reasons. This is expected to continue through March.Hello, M…

After lots of talk about "comprehensive planning," Charter Revision Commission makes cautious proposals; hearings start this week (+Been's turnaround)

This is why I believe NYC should do a comprehensive plan every 10 years, w/citywide goals for housing growth, infrastructure, fair-share targets. No panacea. But a better chance of making progress in negotiations among nbhds abt citywide goals than the yes/no of reactive ULURP. — Brad Lander (@bradlander) April 13, 2019New York is in the middle of a big discussion about whether a comprehensive plan is needed and, if so, what it might look like. For now, a City Council-sponsor Charter Revision Commission has recommended relatively minor changes, but public hearings begin this week--April 30 in Queens, May 2 in Brooklyn--to hear public testimony on those proposals.

Let me recap some of the discussion

Starting last year

From Gotham Gazette, 5/16/18, New York City Doesn’t Have a Comprehensive Plan; Does It Need One?:
City government has no coherent, overarching plan for growth and the challenges that come with it -- housing, transportation, climate resiliency, school seats, garbage collec…

Ex-footprint resident and street photographer Jeff Mermelstein: a commission to photograph "spontaneous sightings" at Barclays

In Brooklyn, a Shrine to Sports and Consumerism, the New York Times published online 4/18/19 and in print (Metropolitan section) three days later. Wrote John Leland:
For nearly four years, the street photographer Jeff Mermelstein had free rein to shoot the congregants at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn — pilgrims to the temporary shrine of Jay-Z or Barbra Streisand or the Nets or professional wrestling.
Mr. Mermelstein earned the assignment the hard way: his loft had to be torn down to make room for the arena. From this fraught start began a longstanding friendship with the arena’s chief developer, Bruce Ratner, who commissioned Mr. Mermelstein to do his stuff, no strings attached. Bruce Ratner, art patron and champion of free expression? Not necessarily; remember those gag orders requiring apartment sellers to play nice?

Well, Mermelstein did apply his signature style; his photos, at least as shown in the Times, were rather unflattering.
"An overall grotesque scene," one re…

Free Jane's Walk regarding Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, Friday May 3, 6 pm

My annual free Jane's Walk of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park will be held on Friday, May 3, at 6 pm, part of the Municipal Art Society-sponsored Jane's Walk weekend, with numerous free walks.

From the blurb:
See what’s been built (the Barclays Center plus 4 of 15 towers) and what’s coming (at least 2 more towers launching this year) within Atlantic Yards (in 2014 renamed Pacific Park Brooklyn), at a crucial crossroads site. Learn the project’s tangled history, uncertain timetable, changing designs (and ownership), and ongoing question marks. Topics include developer promises, affordable housing, arena design, and the changing neighborhood/Brooklyn context We'll meet outside the Barclays Center under the oculus (opening to the sky), next to the giant statue that looks like a rock formation. See photo at right.

The tour should take 1.5 to 2 hours. We'll end near the intersection of Vanderbilt Avenue and Dean Street. Registration is optional but helpful.

More info on tour to…

In Bushwick, Peter Krashes's show of Atlantic Yards-inflected art

From the New York Times yesterday, Spring Gallery Guide Brooklyn, by Jillian Steinhauer, a write-up on an Atlantic Yards-inflected art show, paintings from an artist who took on the role of community organizer (Dean Street Block Association, now North Prospect Heights Association), living across the street from the project site:
5. Theodore:Art, ‘Peter Krashes: Contact!’

Once upon a time, 56 Bogart was the place to see art in Bushwick; today it’s no longer the neighborhood’s artistic nerve center. The galleries that remain are a mix of newcomers and longtime holdouts, of which Theodore:Art, at almost a decade old, is one. Peter Krashes’s current exhibition is a poignant reflection of the changes being felt throughout Brooklyn. The artist is a longtime community organizer, and in his gouache-on-paper paintings he captures street festivals, encounters with the New York Police Department and celebrity sightings near Barclays Center. Krashes paints with smooth, confident strokes but leav…

Tonight, playoffs hockey at Barclays

It took until Wednesday for the New York Islanders to know their second-round playoffs opponent, and thus whether they'd have the home rink (so to speak) advantage, and they do.

According to NHL.com, the Islanders will play the Carolina Hurricanes, with the first game tonight at 7 pm at the Barclays Center, and the second game Sunday April 28 at 3 pm.

Expect crowds--the Long Island-based Isles fans who stayed away from Barclays and preferred the Nassau Coliseum should fill the arena. The schedule:
Friday, April 26, 7 p.m.: Hurricanes @ Islanders | NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVA Sports

Sunday, April 28, 3 p.m.: Hurricanes @ Islanders | NBC, CBC, SN, TVA Sports

Wednesday, May 1, 7 p.m.: Islanders @ Hurricanes | NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVA Sports

Friday, May 3, 7 p.m.: Islanders @ Hurricanes | NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVA Sports

*Sunday, May 5, TBD: Hurricanes @ Islanders | TBD

*Tuesday, May 7, TBD: Islanders @ Hurricanes | TBD

*Wednesday, May 8, TBD: Hurricanes @ Islanders | TBD

After overachieving Nets make the playoffs, a stronger fan base and a lure for free agents. But Brooklyn won't go back to Dodger-land.

The Brooklyn Nets overachieved, this past season, exceeding expectations and making the playoffs. They even won their first playoff game, on the road in Philadelphia, then lost some tight games before being defeated soundly two nights ago by the 76ers, a team with more size and more talent.

Still, the Nets have established an identity and a culture, in contrast with the grotesquely mismanaged New York Knicks, and that could help the Nets land a major free agent (like Kevin Durant) in the offseason. The team, wrote the New York Post's Brian Lewis, "could look completely different next season." Plus: New York.
Dudley re: #Nets edge: "You can live in the city, live in Brooklyn, the practice facility is right here. It’s a Top 3 best practice facility. So yes, the word is out. People know about it. People know how good Kenny & Sean Marks are and what they’ve done to develop this culture." — Brian Lewis (@NYPost_Lewis) April 24, 2019Meanwhile, though the team cam…

Commercial Observer Power 100: Gilmartin goes strong; Greenland's Hu absent; Brookfield (buyer of FCRT) reigns; Madison International pledges mall revamp

In April 2018,  as I wrote 4/26/18, the Commercial Observer's always debatable Power 100 list ranked the three L&L MAG founders, including former Forest City New York CEO MaryAnne Gilmartin, at 26, which I thought premature.

Now that they have a couple of projects going, in Chelsea and Long Island City, plus other milestones for the larger parent company, they've risen to 17. Gilmartin was 43 in City & State's more recent inaugural Real Estate Power 50, while Greenland USA CEO Hu Gang was ranked 27, which I found debatable, given his company's general caution toward development.

Indeed, now that Greenland is selling even more pieces of Pacific Park, it's notable--and understandable--that Hu--who ranked 42 last year on the Commercial Observer list--is not in the publication's latest list.

AY connections

But there are several parties with Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park connections.

Notably, tops on the list are Ric Clark and Brian Kingston, Chairman of Brookf…

Brodsky, already developer of 664 Pacific, now steering giant 18 Sixth tower as it buys (how much?) into joint venture

Update: the press release, at bottom, indicates 258 units of affordable housing--which was announced in March, actually--but otherwise adds no insight.
Brodsky Organization doubles down on Pacific Park complex wrote the New York Post's Steve Cuozzo late last night in another scoop--remember, he was fed the exclusive last September when Brodksy and TF Cornerstone bought development rights at three sites.

The article stated, "The deal will further accelerate progress at Pacific Park, where the pace is finally picking up after a 13-year go-slow."

What precisely that means is unclear. The deal to join Greenland Forest City Partners (95% owned by Greenland USA) to jointly develop 18 Sixth Avenue, the 859-unit tower (aka B4) at the northeast corner of the arena block, does not necessarily "accelerate progress at Pacific Park," since GFCP had already said that's on the way.
But it's not quite a joint venture with that building: Greenland Forest City executive v…

In 2014, immigrant investors in "Atlantic Yards III" were given misleading, outdated map estimating project completion by 2022 (!)

New evidence I've seen suggests that immigrant investors in "Atlantic Yards III," the third round of fundraising under the EB-5 program, were provided misleading information by the U.S. Immigration Fund (USIF), which packaged the $100 million loan, and perhaps by the developer, Greenland Forest City Partners.

It has to do with a misleading and already out-of-date map.

That map of the potential project buildout, dated June 30, 2014 and shared with investors in October of that year, estimated that the final tower would open by February 2022.

That would have been an astonishingly fast pace, with 14 towers rising to completion in less than eight years, including six rising from an expensive, elaborate platform covering the Vanderbilt Yard.

While that was likely aimed to reinforce the reliability of the plan to investors, it wasn't just overly optimistic. An updated and significantly less optimistic map, dated August 13, 2014, had already been prepared to be shared with l…

Brooklyn retail report: increases in *asking* rents along Flatbush Avenue in Prospect Heights

Brooklyn retail rents are “starting to flatten”: REBNY, the Real Deal reported 4/18/19, citing a new report from the Real Estate Board of New York, noting that rent increases were visible along "Flatbush Avenue between Fifth Avenue and Grand Army Plaza in Prospect Heights," which is, of course, near the Barclays Center.

Actually, if you talk to people in the know, or just look at the empty spaces at the Barclays Center perimeter and down the block at 461 Dean and Heritage Dean Street, it seems like a very mixed bag, especially since the report assesses asking rents, not actual rents achieved.

Let's take a closer look.  From the full report:
PROSPECT HEIGHTS On Flatbush Avenue, between Fifth Avenue and Grand Army Plaza, the average asking rent rose six percent year-over-year to $139 psf. This increase is attributed to an increased amount of new retail activity occurring along the corridor throughout 2018. Demand for retail space on Flatbush Avenue remains high despite mos…

Now that Islanders are in second round of playoffs, an unsuccessful call for games to be kept at the Coliseum

Now that the New York Islanders have made it to the second round of the playoffs, the home games will be, as planned, at the Barclays Center rather than the Nassau Coliseum, which. as the team--approved by the NHL--announced in February reflected "that the Nassau Coliseum does not qualify as an NHL major league facility."

So why was it at Nassau in the first place? Because the fans wanted it, the operators of both arenas (BSE Global) wanted it, the players probably wanted, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo wanted it. But the league wants Barclays, which has many more suites, when the games are full.

Yesterday, Newsday reported Hempstead asks NHL to schedule Islanders at Coliseum:
Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen requested the NHL relocate the remaining Islanders playoff games to Long Island, but NHL officials said the games will be played in Brooklyn as scheduled.An understandable effort, but not a successful one. After all, the lease between the team and BSE Global requires playof…

"There is no alternative" to rely on private sector for affordable housing? Restoration of stock transfer tax, says Shiffman, would change the equation

After watching Battle for Brooklyn Monday night, the panelists (including me) got to the inevitable discussion--especially regarding proposed rezonings--regarding the commonly accepted notion that only by building bigger will we get affordability trickling down.

As I wrote in July 2017, then Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, as the Wall Street Journal reported:
said public housing had been “starved” of federal support for years now, leaving the city with fewer ways of creating affordable housing. “Are we relying too heavily on the private sector?” she said. “There is no alternative.” Glen's phrase recalled the slogan of a politician with whom I doubt her boss Bill de Blasio identifies: former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, a Conservative who believed in free markets.

In a rich city, the public can pay

At the panel, Ron Shiffman, the legendary advocacy planner and academic, criticized the market-based philosophy. "One problem we're now facing is that planners and city of…

In CityLab, a return focus on gerrymandering high-unemployment zones to enable EB-5 loans; is NY Times fix for investor visas adequate?

In a major CityLab article, published 4/12/19, Kriston Capps wrote  The Hidden Horror of Hudson Yards Is How It Was Financed. It's not completely new, but it's news.

(Why the focus now? Well, Hudson Yards just had a high-profile opening, so various journalists are looking more closely.)

It explains how developer Related Companies--using a common tactic--took advantage of loose federal rules to draw a zone of high unemployment snaking up to Harlem. That qualifies a project for a $500,000 threshold in the investor visa program, rather than the official $1 million requirement.

The investors accept a lower interest rate because they want green cards for themselves and their families. Each $500,000 investment is supposed to create at least ten jobs--though that's dubious.

This was hardly the first account of such rule-stretching. I wrote about this in 2011 regarding Atlantic Yards and what I dubbed the "Bed-Stuy Boomerang," connecting the prosperous area around the p…