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Showing posts from July, 2019

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

"How ‘Developer’ Became Such a Dirty Word" (with Forest City cameo)--and some pushback

The New York Times on 7/29/19 published Emily Badger's How ‘Developer’ Became Such a Dirty Word, subtitled "It’s a demonized group, yet there are few solutions for the housing shortage that don’t at least partly involve more development."

That's true, and it's also true that time tends to buff the development examples of the past in our memory--consider the adulation toward Rockefeller Center, which during its time, as author Daniel Okrent described, was the product of political clout and public relations wizardry.

But the latter tactics are part of why developers today provoke significant skepticism, a theme largely absent from the article--though not the comments.
but seriously, the question is not "are all developers bad?" It is "who benefits?" and "who controls the process? — Oksana (@OksanaMironov) July 29, 2019
Most important, developers don't get paid until project is finished & sold/leased. In some metros, that routinely m…

From Bklyner: Coming to 550 Vanderbilt in September: New Cafe Ciao Gloria, from a Founder of Baked

I have an article today in Bklyner, Coming to 550 Vanderbilt in September: New Cafe Ciao Gloria, from a Founder of Baked, regarding the arrival of the new cafe (a fourth tenant_, plans for fellow retail tenant Beer Street to come in October or November, and the fact that the previously-announced Eladia's Kids will not be coming.

The first three tenants were supposed to open last year, so one lesson is that things take longer than planned. Here's the article.

Ratner gave $10,000 to Cuomo's campaign, but it's probably not about real estate any more

Developers and landlords poured cash into Cuomo campaign, Crain's New York Business reported 7/17/19, indicating that a disproportionate share from real estate went to Gov. Andrew Cuomo as the state Legislature pursued rent regulation and closed the LLC loophole.

Several real estate figures gave $25,000 or more, and the article cites "Forest City Ratner's Bruce Ratner" as among those contributing $10,000.

Indeed, that's Ratner's most recent campaign contribution, made in June, and he maintained the same MetroTech address, as shown in the screenshot below.


However, Forest City--whether Forest City Ratner/Forest City New York or Forest City Enterprises/Forest City Realty Trust--doesn't exist anymore, having been absorbed at the end of last year by Brookfield Asset Management.

And while Ratner may own some income-producing real estate (such as500 Sterling) separately from his former company, his main role these days is as chairman of the Museum of Jewish Her…

Greenland rises in Fortune Global 500 to 202, from 252; credit rating still "junk," though analysts more positive; caution re state-owned firms

Even as Greenland USA recedes from some development in the United States, such as selling off (or leasing) parcels in Brooklyn and Los Angeles, parent Greenland Holding Group (aka Greenland Group, or even Greenland Holdings Group) has made significant strides in its annual ranking in the Fortune Global 500, the world's largest companies.

Greenland's ranking, based on revenue in the past fiscal year, rose to 202, from 252 in 2018. (See below, however, for some skepticism about a ranking based merely on revenue rather than broader indices of corporate health.)

Here's the 2019 ranking, in a Fortune screenshot.



Greenland's revenues were $52.72 billion, a 22.7% rise. Its assets were worth $150.98 billion. It had 39,091 employees.

Its $1.72 billion in profit represented a 28.6% increase over 2018. Profit represented 3.3% of revenues and 1.1% of assets, and 16.8% of stockholder equity, which is $10.21 billion.

2018 comparison

In 2018, as in screenshot below, revenues were $42.…

Nets/arena CEO Yormark says new Nets drive ticket sales & interest; recycles rhetoric about "hip, cool building" and admits initial "manufactured" hype

Watch the spin-meister at work.

NetsDaily, in a 7/24/19 post headlined Brett Yormark: ‘We want to capture and leverage the moment’, summarized an article from the paywalled publication The Athletic, headlined ‘When 1,000 calls are starting to come in, you get pretty excited’: KD, Kyrie can make the Nets the hottest ticket in town.

The gist is that new stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, the latter rehabbing from an injury during most if not all the next season, have driven enormous fan interest--1,000 calls on the day the players could sign, 100,000 new Instagram followers, and already more ticket revenue than last year.
Also expected are increases in all-event suite revenue for the arena, operated by Mikhail Prokhorov's BSE Global. Prokhorov owns 51% of the Nets; Joe Tsai, the minority owner, is expected to buy the rest.
Asked if the Nets could replace the New York Knicks as the city's team, Yormark said, “I don’t really get into that conversation... You’ll never hear us — m…

When challenged about the unfulfilled bike parking promise, ESD rep again changes the subject

The state's decision to change the requirements for bike parking for arena events from 400 indoor secured paces to 100 unsecured outdoor spaces--as I previously wrote for this blog, and for Streetsblog--got another airing at the 7/22/19 meeting of the advisory Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC).

So it's worth watching the video, as excerpted below, to see the weak rationale from a representative of Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority that oversees/shepherds the project, when challenged by an AY CDC director--and then the willingness of another AY CDC director to accept the explanation and change the subject.

Leading off

Tobi Jaiyesimi, ESD's Atlantic Yards project director, explained the change: as part of the project's Transportation Demand Management plan, 400 valeted bike spaces were to be made available to eventgoers.

The proposed modification reduces the number of spaces to 100, and removes the requirement that the spaces be i…

Clarifying design changes at B5: now, tower's Atlantic Avenue facade will go straight up, above the base

Thanks to a new graphic distributed at the 7/22/19 meeting of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC), we now have a better sense of the proposed design changes for B5, the first building to be built over the railyard, just east of Sixth Avenue.

Bottom line: because of site constraints caused by work at the Vanderbilt Yard, the building will rise with lesser setbacks, occupying a narrower section of the parcel. Notably, it will have a sheer wall on Atlantic Avenue above the base, rather than a setback between the middle section (aka "shoulder") and upper portion.

The building's approved height, lot coverage, and square footage limits won't change, we were told at the predecessor Quality of Life meeting. (Actually, it looks like the lot coverage would shrink--see the difference between the red dotted outline, in the image below left, and the black border, suggesting a tower with less depth below Atlantic Avenue.)

"This is the only place that…

From Gotham Gazette: Cuomo’s Getting His Belmont Arena, But the Numbers Don’t Add Up

I have an op-ed in Gotham Gazette, headlined Cuomo’s Getting His Belmont Arena, But the Numbers Don’t Add Up. From the opening:
Three lessons from the long battle over Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park and the Barclays Center in Brooklyn are that promises of huge financial benefits deserve skepticism, that independent studies trump promotional ones, and that scenarios should be presented as a range of outcomes, rather than just the best case.
Unfortunately, those lessons have been ignored regarding the new sports-and-entertainment arena complex planned at Belmont Park in western Nassau County, with the New York Islanders as anchor tenant and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, surely anticipating a big ribbon-cutting in 2021, as the chief cheerleader.
The near-final step toward approval of “the transformational $1.26 billion Belmont Park Redevelopment Project” came in a Cuomo press release July 8 announcing that a new Long Island Rail Road station would help serve the project, which also includes a hotel and

Community Board 8 Committee urges state not to approve below-ground space (for fitness center/field house) without further public review

It may not have legal weight, but the Land Use Committee of Brooklyn Community Board 8 has unanimously passed a resolution requesting that a proposal for 95,000 square feet (sf) of new underground space for a fitness center and field house not be approved by the state without further environmental review.

CB 8 represents Crown Heights and Prospect Heights, including the segment of the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park site, on Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues, for which the new square footage is slated.

Let's recap.

Empire State Development (ESD), which shepherds/oversees the project, contends that no such review--which would take time and money--is necessary for developer TF Cornerstone, which has leased sites for B12 and B13 on the southeast block of the project, to proceed with that underground space.


As I've reported, at last week's Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life, residents were surprised to learn about the proposed change to the guiding Modifi…

AY CDC directors ask for more details on ventilation structures; narrowing walkways said to add 3000 square feet (could be used for dog run, etc.)

The big news at Monday's Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC) meeting concerned more details about--and a reclassification of--the 105,000 square feet of square feet of space, mostly below-ground at sites B12 and B13, to be devoted to a field house and fitness center.

But among a suite of proposed changes, many deemed relatively minor, only that below-ground space and a plan for new ventilation structures on the project's southeast block did not get an immediate endorsement from the AY CDC. (I thought that the changes in both vehicular and bike parking deserved more skepticism, as well.)

Rather, members will first examine a Technical Memorandum, not yet made public and likely to remain unavailable to the public before a vote by the parent Empire State Development (ESD) on 8/15/19, regarding those two issues. (The AY CDC is expected to meet again 8/12/19.)

The new ventilation structures

Note that these proposed ventilation structures on the southeast block o…

Re-clarification! Fitness center/field house now said to represent recreational facility (& parking swap), not commercial use; advisory vote partly postponed

A 60,000 square foot field house--with an indoor soccer field, a learn-to-swim pool, and a gymnastics facility--plus a 45,000 square foot fitness center are slated for below-ground space (and 9,000 sf street-level space) at the B12 and B13 towers on Dean Street at the southeast block of the project.

The location is between Carlton Avenue and Vanderbilt Avenue, bookended by the extant 535 Carlton and 550 Vanderbilt towers.

But the justification has evolved. (As have the details, since last week there was no mention of the field house's contents, nor the use of such street-level retail space.)

Last Tuesday, at the bi-monthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life meeting, residents were surprised to learn about the proposed change to the guiding Modified General Project Plan (MGPP), said to allow 100,000 square feet (sf) for a below-ground fitness center and field house.

That, characterized obliquely as "Clarification on Commercial Use on Residential Blocks," drew si…