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Showing posts from May, 2019

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

Noisy, disruptive Saturday work at B15 site disclosed at last minute, but after-hours permit had been acquired 11 days earlier

This seems just a little... suspect. At 5:11 pm today, Empire State Development issued a supplement to the t wo-week Construction Update released more than a week ago. It states, regarding the B15 site (aka 37 Sixth, or 664 Pacific) Excavation and foundation construction work are underway at the site. There will be work this Saturday, June 1st, in compliance with an approved DoB permit. Appropriate dust and noise mitigation measures will be taken. So, according to the cover letter, Saturday work is expected tomorrow, June 1, 2019, from 9 am to 5 pm. That work, as I've reported , can be enormously disruptive and disturbing, however much "dust and noise mitigation measures" are taken. Here's a brief video I shot. Reasons for questions The announcement is suspect for two reasons. The recent Construction Update omitted any mention of the possibility of Saturday work, which can be very disruptive to neighbors. The previous Construction Update belatedly disc

Barclays Center June 2019 calendar: eight ticketed events, plus five (unspecified) graduations

The Barclays Center has released its June 2019 Community Calendar. It contains eight publicly ticketed events, including five concerts, the WorldPride Opening Ceremony, NYPD boxing, and the NBA draft, plus five graduation ceremonies. Listing the five graduations without more specifics, such as the institution or the size of the crowd, maintains the arena's strategy of partial opacity : they once estimated crowd size and named the institution, then stopped announcing private events entirely before restoring the current partial information. While the graduations are not specified, a web search turns up Baruch College (June 3, 9:30 am), New York City College of Technology (June 3, 6 pm), Medgar Evers College (June 5, 9 am),  LaGuardia Community College (June 13, 9:30 am), and Brooklyn Technical High School (June 24, 3 pm). June 2018 comparison June is typically a slow month for the arena. Barclays in June 2018 hosted seven publicly ticketed events, including six concer

A truck rips fence outside railyard, creating a Sixth Avenue pedestrian hazard. The fence gets fixed the next morning.

Photo: Tuesday night A flatbed truck carrying concrete pilings to the Vanderbilt Yard by way of the ramp on Sixth Avenue between Pacific Street and Atlantic Avenue did some serious damage to the adjacent fencing Tuesday night, posing a significant hazard to pedestrians, but the hazard was repaired by the next morning. On Wednesday morning, a Prospect Heights resident sent an email informing representatives of the developer and the state that he'd observed that northbound truck, at 7:30 pm the night before, attempt to make a right turn down the ramp into the rail yard.. Because the truck wouldn't fit, the driver kept maneuvering the vehicle, which then got partly intertwined with fencing protecting the sidewalk from the railyard. In backing out, the truck ripped out the crossbar at the top of the fence and bent the vertical support bar next to the down ramp entrance. The fencing, severely bent, was then sticking out into the sidewalk, which is the only one available to

Is Pacific Park now an $8 billion project? Will it have 9 acres (not 8) of open space?

Though statements on LinkedIn profiles aren't definitive (see  previous coverage  of Equinox and the plans to finish the railyard and then build a platform), there are two intriguing factoids in the profile of  Julian Souva , a Development Manager at Greenland USA. First, Souza describes Pacific Park as an "$8 billion" development, including "15 mega high rise buildings and 9 acres of parkland." That clearly includes exaggeration, but perhaps also some not-yet-articulated truth. The towers are not "mega high rise," since they vary in height, as approved , from 184 to 620 feet, though the latter tower, approved as "Miss Brooklyn" (aka B1), won't be built, leaving the tallest tower currently approved at 511 feet (18 Sixth Avenue, aka B4). Still, it's certainly possible that a much taller tower--once floated as 785 feet , but perhaps even taller--could be built at Site 5, pending a state approval process to change to the project

Greenland USA executive: Vanderbilt Yard upgrade exceeds $200 million, as do projected platform costs. Is platform past "documents" phase?

Though statements on LinkedIn profiles aren't definitive (see previous coverage of Equinox),  the profile for  Chengxu Yang , VP, Director of Construction at Greenland USA in New York, offers a few intriguing clues about the progress and plans for Pacific Park Brooklyn. After describing the three towers completed by the joint venture Greenland Forest Partners--the condo 550 Vanderbilt and the rentals 535 Carlton and 38 Sixth--Yang's profile describes current and future work. About the new railyard That work includes "LIRR VD Yard (Infrastructure, construction costs >$200M, near completion)." Translated: the new and relocated Vanderbilt Yard, to store and service Long Island Rail Road trains, will cost more than $200 million, and is nearly finished. Indeed, the yard was described at a meeting earlier this month as nearing completion. As to the cost figure, in 2009, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)  said the new railyard would be valued at

Is a giant Equinox (and outdoor swimming pool) coming to 18 Sixth Avenue (B4)?

We can't take statements on LinkedIn profiles as definitive, but the profile for Jenny (Wenyi) Jin, a former MEP (mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineering) project manager for Greenland USA, offers a very interesting clue. As noted in the screenshot at right, she states that she worked on 18 Sixth Avenue (aka B4), described as "A new, 49 story, 816 units, $700 million luxury rental, which includes a 28,000 s.f. built out for Equinox, additional retail space and outdoor swimming pool," while later in the profile it describes the space for Equinox as even larger, 36,000 square feet. Does that mean the self-described "luxury fitness club" Equinox is coming to the building? I wouldn't bet against it--there's surely a business case for a large exercise facility--but do note that, as former executive Jim Stuckey once observed , "Projects change, markets change." Construction is just beginning for the tower's foundation, so it&#

Gilmartin on Stuckey: not involved in departure but supported Ratner’s handling of personnel matters (hmm)

There's an interesting passage in  Reinvention acts , a 5/1/19 article in the Real Deal about the #metoo issue in the real estate industry: James Stuckey, who in the early 2000s led Forest City Ratner’s development of Atlantic Yards (now Pacific Park), faced sexual harassment allegations at the company and later at New York University, where he was a professor. Stuckey resigned from the firm in 2007, citing “personal reasons.” But when a colleague at NYU filed a lawsuit against him five years later, alleging that he “forcibly placed her hand on his crotch and his erect penis” during a dinner that was arranged to discuss a possible promotion, the complaint noted that he’d been accused of misconduct at Forest City. Note: that NYU allegation was never upheld or adjudicated, as the case was ultimately settled. The accusations at Forest City were never formally filed, but prompted Stuckey's departure. Omitted here is Forest City's corporate role in Stuckey's departure.

"Brooklyn Nets... Open New Playground in Brooklyn" (by redistributing charitable funds)

The Nets are helping, but how much? Brooklyn Nets and The Trust for Public Land Open New Playground in Brooklyn  reported New York Sports Day 5/23/19: Today, The Trust for Public Land hosted the grand opening for a new student-designed community playground at M.S. 354 The School of Integrated Learning, KIPP AMP Academy Middle School, and KIPP AMP Elementary Schools in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. The ceremony included an official ribbon cutting and opening remarks from guests including Brett Yormark, Chief Executive Officer of BSE Global, which manages and controls the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center, New York State Assembly Member, Tremaine Wright, and Leslie Wright from New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, among others. Following the ribbon cutting, there were student dance and band performances, a meet and greet with the Brooklynettes Dance Team, and the Brooklyn Nets Basketball Academy hosted a free clinic for the children in attendance, in addition to leav

In Downtown Brooklyn, a long-delayed park dependent on underground parking instead won't have parking

Never mind! A long-standing, and long-delayed, plan to bring park space to Downtown Brooklyn as part of the 2004 rezoning has been resolved--it seems--with an announcement (below) that the park will not be built on planned underground parking. After planning an $80 million (as per Curbed ) parking garage project with a 1.15-acre park in Downtown Brooklyn on "Willoughby Square," next to the City Point project, the New York City Economic Development Corporation has instead commissioned a $15 million project, since "the original need for parking has lessened given the many new public transit options in the area." (Also see coverage in Crain's , and see that the original developer is suing , claiming the city unfairly stalled the plan.) That said, it seems the money will come from public coffers rather than from the development, and the city will commemorate the abolitionist history it in other ways erased. Note that the rationale regarding a lesser need fo

From the latest Construction Update: more late-night work in the Vanderbilt Yard, until 3 am; no Saturday residential work

The latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update (bottom), covering the two weeks beginning Monday, May 27 (or, perhaps, a day later, given the holiday), was circulated at 6 pm yesterday (lead time) by Empire State Development (ESD) after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners. The document is supposed to mark new work in red, and only one paragraph is in red, a warning of late-night work in the Vanderbilt Yard: Contractor plans to work second shift to excavate and install necessary TMSC (train toilet servicing cleanouts) between 6:00pm and 3:00am pending LIRR support availability. Appropriate noise, light, and dust mitigation practices will be observed. This follows up two separate last-minute announcements of late-night work this past week, covering four nights. It also provokes the supposition that future Long Island Rail Road schedule needs may require more late-night work. No Saturday residential work? Unlike in the previous Construction Update , there&#

Another (and earlier) June 2014 map was more candid about project timetable than the one shared with immigrant investors

Hey, remember that site plan dated June 30, 2014 map that predicted project completion by the bizarrely optimistic year of 2022? It was shared with immigrant investors in "Atlantic Yards III," the third round of fundraising under the EB-5 program, in document dated October 3, 2014 and distributed by the loan packager (aka regional center) U.S. Immigration Fund, as I wrote . That was misleading, I wrote, because an updated and significantly less optimistic map, dated August 13, 2014, had already been prepared to be shared with locals in Brooklyn. (Given that it predicted project completion by 2025, it too was way overoptimistic.) June 30, 2014 site plan predicted 2022 project completion Guess what? There's even more evidence that immigrant investors were misled. An updated site plan had already been prepared, dated June 11, 2014, and shared by the developer with the city ( clarified : and possibly Brooklyn advocates) negotiating the settlement that led to the 20

On de Blasio's "aversion to detail"

Yep. As I wrote in 2007: "when it comes to #AtlanticYards , de Blasio remains ill-informed, relying on the progressive allies he trusts... but failing to keep up with crucial changes in the project or to take a close look at some controversial aspects." — Norman Oder (@AYReport) May 23, 2019 more on Bdb & #AtlanticYards (now @pacificparkbk ) I interviewed him in 2007. He was way uninformed: He played dumb when confronted with #affordablehousing way different from what he championed he never pursued accountability. — Norman Oder (@AYReport) May 16, 2019

Another last-minute notice for night work: three nights in the railyard, 6 pm to 3 am

A second straight (here's the first ) last-minute notice of night work came in a message last night from Empire State Development stated that "Night work is expected tonight, Tuesday, May 21 to Thursday, May 23 in the railyard": LIRR Yard Activities – Night/Weekend Work ● Due to new LIRR Train Service Plan utilizing all 7 tracks in the Yard, Track Extension work must be rescheduled to the night shift and will take place from Tuesday May 21 until Thursday May 23, between 6pm – 3am. Light, Noise, Dust mitigation procedures will be put in place to mitigate impacts of this work. That, at least, offers a rationale. But overnight work for three nights deserves more of a warning, right?

"Tricky": True Hoop's word for enigmatic Nets owner Prokhorov, subject of intriguing series

In February, the TrueHoop media property, known for incisive coverage of NBA basketball, was revived as a newsletter (mostly subscription-only, but here's a link for a free month ) and, wouldn't you know, founder Henry Abbott delivered an eight-part series on Mikhail Prokhorov, principal owner of the Brooklyn Nets and the Barclays Center operating company. And that series concerns only Prokhorov's background, not his post-purchase performance. No smoking gun, but... Abbott doesn't find any smoking guns, but he does synthesize an enormous amount, and leaves us with the lingering sense that much about Prokhorov is "tricky," tough to truly suss out, but shrouded with questions and whiffs of impropriety. And that means that the NBA didn't do a serious job vetting the new owner with the deep pockets. That's a significant achievement for a sports publication. At the very least, the series reminds us how both the sports and mainstream press mostly em

Incoming Nets owner Tsai: team "value's not going to go down," thanks to league's "socialist" economics; also, a Liberty move to Brooklyn?

In an interview recently with a US Lacrosse Magazine podcast, incoming Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai, who owns 49% of the team and is slated to buy the rest--and, perhaps , the Barclays Center operating company--told Paul Carcaterra about his "serendipitous" path to buying the team. (This was first reported by the New York Post , and then NetsDaily .) The Taiwanese-Canadian billionaire , a co-founder of Alibaba, was a high school and college lacrosse player, so the interview mainly focused on lacrosse. In August 2017, he announced he'd establish the San Diego Seals of the National Lacrosse League. He and his family have a house in La Jolla, Ca., though his main residence is in Hong Kong. Presumably they also have a place in New York. He went to the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey and then Yale, and lived in New York City after law school. A "serendipitous way" Unlike Mikhail Prokhorov, it didn't sound like Tsai had been angling for years to get

Night work last night "due to a last minute change" (which explains nothing)

A message last night from Empire State Development: Attached is a supplement to the Atlantic Yards Project construction activity update. Due to a last minute change , night work is expected tonight, Monday, May 20, within the East Portal Maintenance and Protection of Traffic (MPT) barriers on the Atlantic Avenue roadway. (Emphasis added) Thing is, that doesn't explain anything. Come to think about it, "Due to a last minute change" is an essentially meaningless explanation. It *was* a last-minute change, but the reason--convenience? a problem?--was not explained. #AtlanticYards #accountability — Norman Oder (@AYReport) May 21, 2019

Politico scoop: one real estate executive who de Blasio improperly solicited was Bruce Ratner; did it regard Site 5, or affordability? (I'd bet the latter)

Laura Nahmias and Sally Goldenberg of Politico had an interesting scoop yesterday, within an article headlined As some 2020 rivals forgo corporate cash, de Blasio imposes few limits . The second paragraph: De Blasio has run aggressive and occasionally reckless fundraising operations since the start of his political career, when he was censured for exceeding the legal spending limit in a City Council race. And now that he is vying for president and needs to show the country his fundraising prowess, he is going back to donors who want things from his administration — a practice he readily points out is not barred by law, even though it is the exact behavior that landed him in the crosshairs of federal prosecutors in 2016. The article notes that, while de Blasio and colleagues have escaped sanction, there's been some questionable behavior: One of his campaign donors pleaded guilty last year to attempting to bribe the mayor in exchange for government help with his property.

A "yard-naming craze" in Atlanta, home to the "Atlantic Yards" office complex

From Curbed Atlanta, 5/15/19,  Atlanta’s latest ‘Yards’-titled project is expected to rise from the Gulch : Quarry Yards, Pittsburgh Yards, Atlantic Yards , Pullman Yard, Madison Yards , Amour Yards, Artisan Yards , Assembly Yards, Stockyards, The Railyard , Hulsey Yard, Tilford Yard , Switchyards, Saltyard, Kirkyard, Iron Yard (RIP), English Avenue Yards, Scotland Yard, Yard House, unkempt yards of Atlanta ... meet the new yard in town. While certainly not unique to Atlanta, the city’s yard-naming craze has extended down to the Gulch and the most substantial nongovernmental development in the region, which is henceforth to be called “Centennial Yards.” Wow.  In New York, we do have Hudson Yards, but, as readers of this blog know, the name of "Brooklyn Atlantic Yards"--an official name, from which "Brooklyn" was soon dropped--was changed to "Pacific Park Brooklyn"--known most frequently as "Pacific Park"--in 2014, after Greenland USA took

561 Pacific tops out, changing scale at Fourth Avenue near Site 5; "tranquil refuge" to face massive construction project

Photo: May 9 The  announcement  that 561 Pacific Street--the 12-story building replacing Church of the Redeemer on the west side of Fourth Avenue--has topped out suggests the changing scale of Boerum Hill/Gowanus as it nudges up against Downtown Brooklyn and the Pacific Park site. Notably, it changes the scale near Site 5, currently home to Modell's and P.C. Richard, but not nearly as dramatically as either the approved replacement building at that Pacific Park parcel or the potential replacement. As I wrote in May 2017, the already approved Site 5 building, 250 feet tall, would be twice the height of the condo building. The floated but not yet unofficially proposed massive two-tower project at Site 5 , involving a shift of bulk from the arena block and a new state approval plan, could stretch 785 feet, a much more dramatic transition. The new building, developed by Adam America Real Estate, is touted as "a tranquil refuge at the nexus of four of Brooklyn's most

What's next for Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation? A new appointment, no meeting scheduled, no money for consultants (yet)

This is the tenth of ten articles on the 5/7/19 Quality of Life meeting . The first concerned the project schedule. The second concerned The Brodsky Organization's share of the B4 tower. The third concerned noisy weekend construction. The fourth concerned opacity in the Barclays Center calendars. The fifth concerned illegal parking during arena events. The sixth concerned traffic issues. The seventh concerned oversight. The eighth concerned the Community Liaison Office. The ninth concerned the developer's update. At the meeting, Tobi Jaiyesimi, who serves as the Executive Director of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation and also Atlantic Yards Project Director for parent Empire State Development (ESD)--essentially helping advise herself--said the next meeting of the AY CDC has not yet been scheduled. The AY CDC is supposed to meet quarterly but had a hiatus for nearly a year, essentially negating its already limited advisory role. The hiatus has i