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

Ignoring key criticisms, ESD board predictably approves new below-grade space for fitness center and field house

Update: see video, below.


It was both astounding and predictable.

Despite some pointed, public criticism from the best-informed member of the advisory board set up by Empire State Development (ESD), the parent board--after getting reassurances from staff--Thursday morning approved proposed changes in the guiding Atlantic Yards Modified General Project Plan and the associated Design Guidelines.

The issues regarding a proposed below-grade fitness center and field house--raised by Gib Veconi, a member of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation--were ignored.

The ESD argument was essentially that, since the new facilities--96,000 square feet below-ground, plus 9,000 square feet at street level--would generate less traffic than anticipated and studied in the 2006 iteration of the project, which had far more parking, no further environmental review was necessary.

Indeed, there likely would be fewer vehicles approaching the facility, to be operated by Chelsea Piers under two bui…

Before ESD meeting, board materials obfuscate stance of Atlantic Yards advisory group, which did not endorse new below-ground use for fitness center/field housespace

They're not coming clean.

Board Materials for today's meeting of Empire State Development (ESD), which oversees and shepherds Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, obscure the stance of the advisory Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC), which refused to endorse (or oppose) a proposed "clarification" to allow below-ground space to be used for a fitness center and field house, defined as recreational use.

That's neither commercial nor retail space, already for the project at specific limits, but rather a new category, though ESD--the governor's economic development entity--misleadingly pitches it as an exchange for parking.

Obscuring the non-recommendation

Unlike August 2015 Board Materials, when ESD board members were told (right) that AY CDC directors voted to recommend approval of proposed modifications in Open Space Design Guidelines, today Board Materials (below) state merely that AY CDC directors "considered and voted on" proposed modi…

Is proposed below-ground "recreational" space really a swap for parking? No way.

OK, let's get this straight. Empire State Development, which oversees/shepherds (and promotes) the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park development, considers the proposed "clarification" on recreational use at the project, allowing 96,000 below-ground space for a fitness center and field house, just a simple swap.

In a statement, ESD spokesperson Jack Sterne told Bklyner and the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, “In recent years, we have decreased the amount of required underground garage space at Pacific Park, and this action will merely clarify that space planned to be a garage for building residents can instead be used for a gym that anyone in the community can join."

That led Bklnyer's Sam Raskin to tweet that "ESD wants to replace some of the parking spaces in Pacific Park with a gym/ field house":
ESD wants to replace some of the parking spaces in Pacific Park with a gym/ field house without an environmental review beyond what's already been conducted and a pair…

Unusual Atlantic Yards CDC deadlock: after Veconi skepticism, board unwilling to recommend that parent ESD vote for (or against) new underground space (practical impact?)

Hours after a BrooklynSpeaks press conference urging the administration of Gov. Andrew Cuomo not approve new below-ground space for a fitness center and field house, a meeting of the advisory Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC) yesterday experienced an unusual moment of drama: rather than serve as a rubber-stamp, as has mostly been its role since inception in 2015, the board split 4-4, unable to make a recommendation either for or against that new space.

That, in part, was because two directors surely supporting the new space (and thus the interest of the developers and the parent Empire State Development, or ESD) were absent from the meeting. (The 105,000 square feet would include 96,000 square feet below ground, with the rest at street level.)

And it hardly means that ESD board members, who typically vote unanimously in favor of the governor’s interests, won’t green-light the proposed changes to the guiding Modified General Project Plan (MGPP), thus allowing …

At BrooklynSpeaks press conference, elected officials call for denial of new underground space without environmental review, new timetable (Adams now supportive)

In a press conference held this morning on the Carlton Avenue Bridge between Pacific Street and Atlantic Avenue, representative of the BrooklynSpeaks coalition embodied--for the cameras--a previous call for Governor Andrew Cuomo and Empire State Development to deny new underground space for a fitness center and field house until:
a review of the environmental impact of the change has been performed and the public given an opportunity to comment;the proposed change is amended to include offsetting public benefits as proposed by elected officials; andthe project developers provide a road map to complete the required 2,250 units of affordable housing by 2025. As I'll write separately, later in the afternoon, the advisory Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation--steered significantly by skepticism from Gib Veconi, a BrooklynSpeaks member--deadlocked on whether to recommend that new underground space. That was the first deadlocked (or negative) vote in AY CDC history.

That doe…

Like predecessor, Brooklyn BP Adams raises money for nonprofit from donors otherwise limited

First Marty Markowitz did it. Now his successor does, too.

Brooklyn BP Eric Adams uses nonprofit to raise from donors with business before city – skirting campaign finance rules in quest for City Hall, the New York Daily News reported Sunday:
Wannabe mayor and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is skirting campaign rules by raising tens of thousands of dollars from donors with business before the city for his nonprofit, the Daily News has found.
Adams set up the “One Brooklyn Fund” his first year in office in 2014, raising at least $995,000 and as much $2.9 million by March 2018, according to filings with the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board.
The nonprofit — which is officially linked to the borough president’s office — lets wealthy donors curry favor with Adams without running afoul of rules barring city candidates from raising money from corporations, limited liability companies and partnerships.Donors mentioned included those connected to Two Trees Management and Broadway Stage…

New York Times magazine on a failed presidential candidacy: "How Bill de Blasio Went From Progressive Hope to Punching Bag"

Apt observation: "Even admirers remain confounded by how little he seems to participate in the life of the city—at once the perk and the obligation of its chief executive."

Re #affordablehousing policy, I'd add this #AtlanticYards@pacificparkbk anecdote: https://t.co/ZPR4e76UjEhttps://t.co/EbviN2D8Ph — Norman Oder (@AYReport) August 6, 2019 Here's the article's limited summary of de Blasio's housing plan:
The mayor’s plan to create and preserve 300,000 affordable housing units by 2026 will inform how he is measured through the ages. But to induce developers, he has relied on the kind of “upzoning” that critics fear will worsen gentrification and displacement, as new structures often fill with many more market-rate units than inexpensive apartments.

The mayor, acknowledging concerns that lower-income families had been left behind, added nearly $2 billion to the plan in 2017 to subsidize units for those earning far less than the local median income. “There’s m…

So, Greenland USA's parent company has $550 million in unpaid notes. Cash crunch could constrain Pacific Park ambitions (and raise timetable questions).

Circulating in China’s Financial System: More Than $200 Billion in I.O.U.s, the New York Times reported 8/6/19, describing an alarming trend. From the article:
But many of those private businesses are short of cash. Instead, more than $200 billion in i.o.u.s — known in the dry world of finance as commercial acceptance bills — are floating around the Chinese financial system, according to government data.

China is not running out of money. But Chinese banks are reluctant to lend to private businesses because they consider big, state-owned enterprises more reliable in paying off their debts. Alternative sources of money have dried up as regulators have cracked down in recent years on China’s shadowy world of unofficial lending.

So a growing number of companies are issuing i.o.u.s to their suppliers. Some suppliers turn around and use the notes to pay another supplier. And then — in a sign of how desperate some Chinese companies have become for money — they sell the notes for less cash t…

As Belmont arena gets approved, belatedly released appraisal summaries dubiously claim lease is above fair market value; $105M spend for two LIRR stations?

If you read Newsday, which last night published State approves $1.3 billion Belmont arena project, you'd know that Empire State Development, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's economic development authority, unanimously approved the new $955 million arena for the New York Islanders, with nearly all the speakers in support, and jobs and economic activity to come.
"I've been emotional," co-owner Jon Ledecky told Newsday. "It's been a long journey and I think that the fans deserve a new home."

But you wouldn't know that his partner Scott Malkin needs some land for a luxury outlet mall, the first of its kind in the United States, as I wrote 7/24/19 for Gotham Gazette.

What about the appraisal?

Nor would you know that a small but key element of the proposal's finances got a belated, inadequate airing: long-awaited appraisals of the site were released, in summary, just less than four hours before the meeting.

See the last six pages of the Board Materials, a 396-…