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Showing posts from October, 2019

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

EB-5 in question: deadline for tougher new rules approaches; investment expected to decline; push in Congress for sweeter deal?

As I wrote in August, the Trump Administration, to some surprise, agreed to implement (with revisions) a major Obama Administration-proposed change in the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, which had granted visas to wealthy foreigners in exchange for a minimum $500,000 investment in a purportedly job-creating investment.

The new rules, from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, raise the minimum investment from $500,000 to $900,000 (but not $1.35 million, as originally proposed), as long as the project is in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA), which is a rural area or an area of high unemployment. The non-TEA investment, generally ignored in recent years, will rise from $1 million to $1.8 million. That catches up with inflation.

TEAs have long been gamed--or gerrymandered--by states willing to designate a bizarrely shaped zone to qualify a project for the lower investment level. As the Real Deal reported 10/21/19, EB-5 i…

If B4 tower arrives in 2023, that should trigger damages for delay (perhaps $1.65M). Would the developer have to pay?

The B4 tower (18 Sixth Avenue) flanking the Barclays Center is due April 2023, at least according to the signs (right) on the construction scaffolding.

Such signs can be optimistic, since construction typically takes longer than anticipated.

Still, even an April 2023 completion might pose trouble for developer Greenland Forest City Partners, since that would be nearly one year later than project documents require before penalties kick in regarding a quota of square footage for the arena block.

Whether those fines--which I estimate below at $1.65 million minimum--would be enforced is another question. After all, the guiding project documents have already been changed multiple times.

Could they meet the deadline?

Alternatively, perhaps the sign's in error. In April, the developer told the New York Post's Steve Cuozzo that the $640 million tower would be finished sometime in 2022. The deadline is 5/12/22. Perhaps that could be met with (more) after-hours work, though maybe the ext…

Around the arena, a plaza used for promotion, usual on-sidewalk parking, and crowded Sixth Avenue gets dicey for drivers

Last Wednesday, 10/23/19, I walked around the Barclays Center block during late afternoon, as crowds were gathering for the Brooklyn Nets' home opener

The arena plaza--that public space--was dominated by promotional stuff. As a 10/22/19 press release from the Nets stated:
A special pregame celebration will take place on Barclays Center's Resorts World Casino NYC Plaza beginning at 5:00 p.m. Nets Legends Albert King, Buck Williams, Kerry Kittles and Otis Birdsong will be present to meet fans. The event will feature music provided by DJ Jon Blak, performances by Team Hype, the Brooklyn Nets Beats drumline, a mini basketball court and swag giveaway contests from the Brooklyn Nets Basketball Academy. BMX athlete Matthias Dandois will also be on-site with Red Bull, and there will be product giveaways from KIND Snacks and Starbucks.
Yes, Red Bull was on site.


Along the Dean Street outside the secondary entrance to the arena, a pickup truck was parked in that coveted free parking sp…

After electric games from star Irving, the Nets lord it over the Knicks--but are still sorting things out

The Brooklyn Nets, as we know, won free agency by signing stars Kyrie Irving and (the rehabbing) Kevin Durant.

And though they've lost two (overtime) games out of three--signaling team flaws and some lousy luck--they won the first battle against the New York Knicks in an uneven game Friday night featuring Irving's last-minute heroics.

Thus they won the tabloid's back pages (New York Post right, New York Daily News, below left) if, as the Daily News's Stefan Bondy suggested, The Knicks will still win the popularity contest, citing fan energy in the Barclays Center, at least during the Knicks' run at the end of the game.

That, of course, could change, since the Nets do have better personnel and thus better, crueler chants, such as “we got KD and Kyrie. You got Dolan," a reference to the Knicks' mercurial, interfering, short-term-thinking owner James Dolan.

But it was a big, big game, and the sign of future momentum once Durant comes back.
Two hours before Kni…

A little late, Newsday casts some doubt on (and repeats tired cheerleading for) the coexistence of Belmont arena and Nassau Coliseum

Newsday only today has a long article (update: cover story two days later!) about two competing arenas, some eight miles apart, headlined Can Nassau Coliseum and Islanders' Belmont arena coexist? Though the mealy-mouthed result is semi-positive, the answer, reading carefully, seems to be: experts say no, interested parties say yes.

I could've told you that--before the Belmont arena was approved, as I wrote in a Daily News op-ed, and later in an essay for Gotham Gazette.

Heck, documents from Empire State Development, the state authority that approved the new Belmont arena--new home to the New York Islanders, once the Coliseum's anchor tenant before an ill-fated temporary move to Brooklyn--confirm that, as I've written.

Not that Newsday drills down that far. Let me distill the arguments.

Arguments against coexistence

The lead quote comes from an independent expert:
"It's tough to see how Nassau Coliseum survives in its current form given the number of seats ther…

From the latest Construction Update: a seemingly small expansion of after-hours work

The latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update (bottom), covering the two weeks beginning tomorrow, Monday, Oct. 28, was circulated yesterday at 5:34 pm (lead time) by Empire State Development (ESD) after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners.

There's not much new from the previous update,  but a seemingly small expansion of after-hours work.

Notably, the second shift work at the Vanderbilt Yard has expanded. In the previous update, the second shift, previously lasting from 6 pm to 3 am, was extended to 6 am to excavate and install train servicing equipment; in this update, the work has expanded to install yard lighting structures

Also, the contractor continues to relocate any remaining stored materials from the B12 and B13 site to the former 728 Atlantic Avenue building area, but now some work may occur during the second shift, from 6 pm to 9pm.

After-hours work continues

Excavation work is expected to continue on Saturday at the B15 and B4 sites from 9 am thro…

Charter reform proposals include modest tweak to ULURP, ranked-choice voting; early voting starts today

Hey, there's an election. Not a big one--the only citywide vote is whether incumbent Jumaane Williams gets re-elected as public advocate--but, as City Limits' Jarrett Murphy put it, Charter Reform Proposals: One Big Change and Lots of Modest (But Important) Tweaks.

And people can start early voting now on those proposals. (Find your poll site location here.)
The big change is in Question 1, to allow ranked-choice voting, allowing up to five preferences. If there is no majority winner, the last place candidate would be eliminated and any voter who had that candidate as their top choice would have their vote transferred to their next choice.

This would eliminate the possibility, for example, of a disliked incumbent getting re-elected with 30% of the votes, while a set of challengers split the opposition. In the latter case, presumably those voting for a challenger would limit their secondary choices to other challengers, thus eventually electing a challenger.
This also would eli…

After clearing of clogged pipe at 535 Carlton, open space gets partly reopened

For at least a week, the open space outside 535 Carlton Avenue--closed since late August--has been partly re-opened, with residents and visitors able to enter from Dean Street and to go the rear entrance of the building, but not to continue deeper in the space, approaching the railyard.

I noticed the opening when I walked by on Oct. 17, and it was confirmed by a response that day from Empire State Development's Tobi Jaiyesimi to the North Prospect Heights Association. 
Her note, which NPHA leaders shared at a recent meeting and then shared with me, stated:
The open space at 535 Carlton Avenue has been partially reopened to the public. The area was closed off while contractors evaluated site conditions. There were drainage issues resulting from a clogged pipe. The problem was remedied by clearing the blockage in the pipe. Contractors continue to monitor the closed off area to ensure that there are no remaining drainage problems. Once the evaluation is complete, the rest of the are…

Revisiting the 2006 Response to Comments: were warnings of the likelihood of delay taken seriously?

Over several posts in an occasional series, I'll revisit various Response to Comments documents in separate environmental review or project approval processes, pointing out, with the asset of hindsight, unwise or unfounded assessments by either commenters or the Empire State Development Corporation (now called Empire State Development), the state authority overseeing and shepherding the project.

I previously wrote about the lack of institutionalized oversight, the wobbliness of project promises, and the justification for taking private property.


Several commenters warned that the project might last much longer than ten years, and thus the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) was inadequate:
The dates for analysis are inadequate. Community responses to the Draft Scope proposed looking 20-40 years ahead to assess potential impacts. While such lengthy time horizons may not be feasible for every measure, they are essential to assess major project impacts. The most glaring error …

Permits filed for B12 and B13 towers, with 798 units; total square footage does not add up

Permits Filed For 29-Story Building At 595 Dean Street In Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, YIMBY tells us this morning, but the description--a 298-foot-tall development with 925,851 square feet, including 650,966 square feet designated for residential space and 8,397 square feet for commercial space--does not compute.

That's because, as a closer look at the Department of Buildings (DOB) page shows, one new lot merges two previous lots, incorporating 595 Dean Street (B13) and 645 Dean Street (B12). The lot area is 116,535 square feet, or 2.68 acres, with a lot width of 457 feet. (Note that B12 was once designated 615 Dean Street, with the first filing in October 2015.)

The two towers were said to start in 2020, so it looks like developer TF Cornerstone is getting a jump on the process, even having the site cleared--see videos shot last night--during after-hours work that was not disclosed in the regular two-week Construction Update.

Units, height, square footage

The permit application, b…

Disruptive after-hours work, with no notice, at B12 & B13 sites last night

There was no mention of after-hours work at the B12/B13 sites on Dean Street in the most recent two-week Construction Update, but there was such work last night.

My best guess is that such site clearance was connected with the Department of Buildings permit filing, as of Monday 10/21/19, to construct two towers at those sites. There's no 24-hour hotline or other instant way to contact the builders--the master developer is Greenland Forest City Partners, TF Cornerstone leased development rights--or Empire State Development, the state authority overseeing/shepherding the project.

Yet last night Dean Street resident Peter Krashes posted three videos of such work, which appears to be clearance of the sites--with no noise mitigation. The video below was shot at 7:48 pm. At about 5:50 of the video, the noise increases.



In the video below, shot at about 8:00, the excavator moves from the B13 site to the B12 site.



The above videos were shot looking north. The video below, shot at about 8:…

For Barclays Center Tidal concert, ceding public sidewalks

I was near the Barclays Center last night, just before the Tidal Rock the Vote Concert (TBD on the monthly calendar with no mention of any sidewalk closure). I guess I'd missed the previous versions, since a cop told me this was nothing new, but it was surprising to see the Dean Street sidewalk on the arena block severely constricted.

As shown in the photo below, on the north side of Dean Street just east of Flatbush Avenue, cops and Barclays Center security personnel operated a checkpoint. At left was a narrow corridor for those entering and leaving the 461 Dean apartment tower. A security guy told me the set up was to prevent "terrorism" aimed at the music acts.


Walking east on the south side of Dean Street, it was clear that the mid-block arena entrance was being used for some kind of celebrity photo shoot. In other words, the public street was constricted for the convenience of arena operations.


At the next intersection, the northwest corner of Dean Street and Sixth …

In Bloomberg biography, generous, misleading treatment of Atlantic Yards, arena, and rezoning policies

It's no surprise, as I wrote two years ago surveying books on the mayoralties of Mike Bloomberg and Bill de Blasio, that the history and even key facts regarding a project like Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park get mangled, or analyzed poorly.

That's what happens, I guess, when book-writers take a long look at a complex subject: some aspects just won't get full insight, and reliance on a wobbly clip file can make it worse.

Let's consider The Many Lives of Michael Bloomberg, a mostly admiring biography by Eleanor Randolph, a former member of the New York Times Editorial Board. It's interesting and at times insightful, but also falls short in describing and analyzing Bloomberg's mayoralty, including glancing mentions of Atlantic Yards.

Part of that is by design: Randolph was aiming at a full biography of a man with, indeed, many lives. So she didn't aim at a comprehensive analysis. Moreover, her reliance on the work of Times colleagues didn't help.

But it's…