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Showing posts from June, 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)

Islanders dialing back, just one pre-season game at Barclays; regular-season schedule split now more even

The balance for the New York Islanders between the Barclays Center and the Nassau Coliseum continues to work itself out. The team's 2019 preseason schedule will consist of seven games, including home games at Barclays Center, NYCB LIVE, home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum and Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, CT, according to a NHL announcement . In 2018, the Isles played four home pre-season games, including two at Barclays, one in Nassau, and one in Bridgeport. Same in 2017 . In 2016, while the Coliseum was being downsized/remodeled, and when the 25-year lease in Brooklyn was presumed to be "ironclad," the team played three pre-season home games at Barclays and one in Bridgeport. In 2015, they played three home pre-season games, all at Barclays . In 2014, after the plan to move to Brooklyn had been announced, they played one each in Nassau, Brooklyn, and Bridgeport. In 2013, before the Brooklyn move was inked, they announced plans to play one game at

C'mon, candidate de Blasio, you haven't "*created* 122,000 affordable homes." The mayoral press release said "financed" or "secured"

The devil's in the details. Mayor Bill de Blasio's presidential campaign touts his affordable housing accomplishments, including this one: "Created 122,000 affordable homes for more than 275,000 New Yorkers." But in a 1/16/19 mayoral press release , the city more accurately described the program as both supporting new construction and financing the preservation of existing units. That's why the press shorthand is often "create or preserve." Typically far more units are preserved than created. The city would not have claimed to have "created 122,000 affordable homes" because it would not have been true. And that's not even getting to the issue of whether, in fact, that quantity of created/preserved units is helping significantly. See criticism via Gothamist  and City Limits .

Barclays Center releases July 2019 calendar: four ticketed events

It's a slow July for the Barclays Center, with only four ticketed events, all concerts. The Community Notice circulated yesterday also cites three in-house events--auditions for the Brooklynettes cheerleaders and the Team Hype Dance Team--and two outdoor public events, Summer Sessions at the arena plaza. (Those summer sessions--six free afternoon concerts, every two weeks, starting June 21--were not on June 2019 calendar because they were  announced mid-month .) No private events were announced; last July, there were five. (See below.) The community notice also pointed to an 8/3/19 Premier Boxing Champions event, less to alert neighbors of possible disruption, it seems, than to move tickets. July 2018 calendar In July 2018 , the arena was slightly busier, with seven ticketed events, including three concerts (including the K-Pop group Got 7, Shania Twain, and Chris Brown), two events with televangelist Joel Osteen, and two days of the e-sports competition Overwatch. (Ove

Ten years later, the promises at the MTA meeting: "Imagine what this project will do over ten years to put people back to work, to give union jobs."

Ten years ago, on 6/24/09, the board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) voted 10-2 to approve a last-minute deal allowing Forest City Ratner to stretch payments for the Vanderbilt Yard, and to build a smaller railyard worth $100 million less than originally promised. As described below, one of the most fervent supporters justified the deal because of the purported huge job-creation in ten years. Today we can see the flaws in that prediction. Remember, Forest City did not want to commit $100 million for railyard development rights, as promised in 2006, but instead negotiated just $20 million down for the part of the railyard needed for (part of) the arena parcel. The developer would then pay only $8 million through the end of May 2016, then face 15 annual payments of $11 million, with the final payment in 2030. (That implied 6.5% interest rate was pretty gentle .) That, critics observed, that the project would likely take well more than the promised ten years, an

Flashback: Forest City executive swore the temporary railyard was complete, but LIRR confirmed later completion

The two mantras I stressed to understand Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park were "It's a never-say-never project" and "The devil's in the details." Yesterday I wrote about another important one: "It's a very tight fit." Today let's consider the other two : "The culture of cheating" and "Power defines reality." Those serve as a reminder that Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park has never been honestly and fairly presented. The lack of information we have today--what exactly is the project schedule?--confirms that. A historical question But let's look back at the answer to a seemingly bureaucratic question that I've been trying to pin down: when was the temporary railyard finished? Remember, the functions of the Vanderbilt Yard, used to store and service Long Island Rail Road trains, were moved temporarily to another section of the railyard to enable the construction of the Barclays Center, which overlaps part of the

Bus snag at Dean/Sixth illustrates another Atlantic Yards mantra: "It's a very tight fit"

At a recent forum ( coverage in Bklyner ), the two mantras I stressed to understand Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park were "It's a never-say-never project" and "The devil's in the details." (Yes, I'll write about that forum.) Let's not forget another important mantra, one of five : "It's a very tight fit." That means that the project, which is wedged into a residential neighborhood at the southern and eastern borders, offers little margin for error during construction activities and arena operations. One small change can have ripple effects. Consider the scene I viewed this past Sunday afternoon, 6/23/19, at around 4 pm, at Dean Street and Sixth Avenue. What was going on? Well, the B65 bus that typically travels east along Dean Street had to be diverted because of a block party. But Sixth Avenue was already narrowed--note standard 8-foot scaffolding--because of construction at the B15 site, 664 Pacific Street. In fact, it coul

At 461 Dean, a waitlist opens for not-so-cheap "affordable" units (but the value has improved)

As first noted 6/20/19 by 6sqft,  Waitlist opens for ‘affordable’ units at Pacific Park’s modular tower, from $2,025/month , "not-so-affordable" (their words) $2,025/month studios and $2,541/month one-bedrooms may become available at 461 Dean Street. They're not-so-affordable because there are other units--not necessarily as new, or well-located--that people can find on the open market. But they happen to be somewhat better deals than they were, as I explain before. (The announcement from the New York City Housing Development Corporation, with information on applications, is excerpted at right and below.) There are 181 income-restricted units in the tower flanking the Barclays Center, but only 15 studios and five one-bedrooms at those specific rent levels. (See original announcement at bottom.) Half the building is market-rate units. Rent stays fairly stable The rent hasn't changed much since the housing lottery was advertised in 2016. The rent for a st

461 Dean, with new owners, no longer promotes Pacific Park (but offers astoundingly whimsical Brooklyn map)

What a difference a few years makes: in 2016, when Forest City Ratner was the developer and owner of 461 Dean, the modular tower known as B2, the building was promoted as being part of Pacific Park, said to have "beautiful residences designed by leading architects, a brand new 8-acre park, Barclays Center," and more. See screenshot below. That was a stretch since the "park" didn't exist and, when complete, wouldn't be that close to the building, which flanks the arena at Dean Street and Flatbush Avenue. But Forest City was partnering with Greenland USA on the larger project, so it was all tied together. 461 Dean web site; screenshot, 2016 New owner, new promotion Forest City sold the tower in March 2018 to Principal Global Investors, which has no stake in the larger project. The current version of the 461 Dean web site contains no mention of Pacific Park, which, after all, is neither a neighborhood nor a park but rather a very unfinished--and ir

On Atlantic Avenue west of Fourth Avenue, plans for an 11-story building (to replace site of post office)

533 Pacific, via Google Maps Another mid-rise building, 11 stories of apartments, is coming near the Atlantic Av.-Barclays Center subway hub. That further changes the context--incrementally, if not enormously--for the future tower project at Site 5 of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, currently home to the low-rise Modell's and P.C. Richard. As NY YIMBY reported 6/22/19, Permits Filed For 533 Pacific Street In Boerum Hill, Brooklyn , what looks like a modest site on Pacific Street (right), is actually a through-the block site to broader Atlantic Avenue, the former site of the Times Plaza Post Office at 542 Atlantic Avenue, which is approximately midway between Third and Fourth Avenues. That building, according to the Historic Districts Council, dates from the 1920's. It's "a civic building with elaborate brickwork. Its upper floor once housed the headquarters of the Brooklyn Local 361 of the Bridge, Structural and Ornamental Ironworkers’ Union. 542 Atlantic Av

For Pacific Park Community Liaison, a little note on email tactics

Dear Community Liaison at, I know it's petty to admonish you about email tactics, so I'll be brief. If you're going to send email about something important, please add a custom subject line, replacing the generic "The latest news for you," especially when the news might be jarring and you want people to read it. Also, please eliminate or, better yet, rewrite the boilerplate message at the bottom: It's a fact: people don't mind scrolling to read an email, as long as it's relevant and interesting. Make sure your message follows through on the promise in your subject line, and use several short paragraphs if you have a lot to say. When in doubt, challenge yourself to write less and add links that support your topic. Leaving that in is just misleading. First of two current versions flawed The email at right, from June 6, is the better version of two current scenarios, albeit with generic subject line and confusing boilerplate.

From the latest Construction Update: not much new, but noisy Saturday work continues

The latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update (bottom), covering the two weeks beginning Monday, June 24, was circulated at 5:04 pm yesterday (lead time) by Empire State Development (ESD) after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners. There are few contrasts from the previous update . One change is that the mechanical demolition of the 700 Atlantic Avenue building, which was on the "bump" south of Atlantic Avenue between Sixth and Carlton avenues, is completed. The site clearance will be continue. Noisy excavation and foundation construction work will continue at the B15 (664 Pacific) and B4 (18 Sixth) sites, with Saturday work permit applications submitted each week. (Note: the document doesn't identify the work as noisy; that's just my observation.) At the railyard In the railyard, Saturday daytime electrical utility installations, site restoration, and Track Restoration work that require LIRR track outages are expected to continue. Simi

For B12 and B13, a big boost in unit count (which means smaller units, increased bulk, or?)

Yesterday I quoted a TF Cornerstone executive as saying the two buildings planned (B12, B13) to start next year contain 800 units. While that number has been cited multiple times, it doesn't quite add up. Consider, according to an 8/13/14 map (below) circulated by developer Greenland Forest City Partners, the two towers, then expected to be condominiums, were to contain 265 and 277 units, respectively, for a total of 542 apartments. A total of 800 means 258 more apartments, a 47.6% increase. There's been no indication yet of an increase in square footage; both previous plans used the maximum bulk available. (See chart at bottom.) From condo to rental, smaller units Part of the change might be explained by a switch from the previously planned condos, which are typically larger across the board, to rentals. The previous version of B12, with 265 condos and 317,185 gsf (gross square feet), would've averaged 1,196.9 sf/unit. Similarly, the previous version of B13, w

Why 2022 could be a very big year for Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park: looming 2025 housing deadline, plus Affordable NY renewal

May 31, 2025 is the deadline for the required 2,250 affordable housing units, with potentially onerous $2,000/month fines per missing unit facing developer Greenland Forest City Partners. Two towers starting this year and likely next year should include 25% to 30% affordable apartments, leaving a gap of some 900 units to be built. That remaining count will be tougher to reach. It takes two or three years to build a tower, plus the time to build a platform over the Vanderbilt Yard to allow vertical construction. So they have to start before then. I've reported on tentative, unconfirmed plans for Greenland Forest City Partners to build three towers (B5, B6, B7) over the western railyard block, with B5 starting in the first quarter of 2021 and B6 and B7 starting in the second square of 2022. Here's the project schematic . (Another wild card is the two-tower project floated for Site 5 , which could include apartments, but first needs approval from Empire State Development.

Next Quality of Life meeting rescheduled for Tuesday, July 16

Without explanation, Empire State Development yesterday circulated a message saying that the next Atlantic Yards Project Quality of Life Meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 16, 2019 instead of July 23. The bi-monthly meeting gives residents a chance to hear updates from representatives of ESD, developer Greenland Forest City Partners, and (sometimes) involved agencies, and to question them. The reason for the change was not stated. It could be a simple logistical issue, given the availability of a presenter. Or there could be another reason, such as a planned announcement from the state or developer just a day or two before. Stay tuned. Interested parties can send project-related questions, and suggested agenda items to Future meetings will be September 17 and November 19. The details: Tuesday, July 16, 2019 @ 6 pm Shirley A. Chisholm State Office Building 55 Hanson Place 1st Floor Conference Room Brooklyn, NY 11217

Looking back at Gilmartin's 2015 speech: the real story of the green roof; how loss of modular added burden to neighbors; how Greenland deal had gone "very well"

In September 2015, I  wrote about  a 6/29/15 speech MaryAnne Gilmartin, then CEO of Forest City Ratner, gave to a friendly audience at Terra CRG's Fifth Annual Brooklyn Real Estate Summit. At times, she was candid; at other times, she obscured the truth. After watching it again, I noticed some more things, as detailed below. The bottom line, as I said during my remarks at the "What's Next for Atlantic Yards" forum on Monday, is "the devil's in the details," so developer claims deserve close attention, and follow-up. First, a quick recap: Gilmartin was a "deep believer” in Forest City's modular experiment (which didn't work) problems at the B2 modular tower were "really about the hiccup we had with our partner” Skanska (which was more than that) "So we're bullish on Brooklyn, and super bullish on Pacific Park Brooklyn" (though they'd already sold 70% of the project going forward to Greenland USA, and later so

At real estate summit, talk of "a supertall office tower" at Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park

One audience member at last night's panel on "What's Next for Atlantic Yards" asked, not unreasonably, what the "news" was. (I'll write more on the panel another day.) There was not, as I had previously written , anything dramatic to announce, just an effort, on behalf of several neighborhood groups, to alert the public that changes are in the offing, notably a percolating plan  to supersize the project at Site 5, now home to P.C. Richard and Modell's across from the Barclays Center, from a 250-tower to a two-tower project with one rising nearly 800 feet. That would require state approval to shift the bulk from the unbuilt "Miss Brooklyn" tower once planned for what's now the Barclays Center plaza. Or, perhaps, an even more dramatic plan. At the Only Brooklyn.® Real Estate Conference on May 7, as shown in the video below, Carlo Scissura, CEO of the New York Building Congress, said "we have to... get a supertall office tower