Skip to main content


Showing posts from October, 2019

Featured Post

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

OK, fans prefer Nassau Coliseum to Barclays because of tailgating options, but when it comes to Belmont...

Hey, there's a Newsday video published 10/10/19, Islanders fans love tailgating at the Nassau Coliseum, complete with a fans wearing jerseys and even hats advertising the new Belmont arena.
About 55 seconds in, that guy, Alex Klein comments, "So, getting to Brooklyn, we obviously have to take the train, there's no tailgating there. There's a couple of bars that we made our home. It just wasn't the same, though. It wasn't the same feel, the same vibe."
Thing is, no tailgating will be allowed at Belmont.

Next Quality of Life meeting Nov. 19

A message from Empire State Development regarding the next opportunity to ask questions of those behind/overseeing Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park:

The next Atlantic Yards Project Quality of Life Meeting will be held on:
Tuesday, November 19, 2019 @ 6:00 PM
Shirley A. Chisholm State Office Building
55 Hanson Place
1st Floor Conference Room
Brooklyn, NY 11217

Please send Project-related questions and suggested agenda items to

The China protests come to the Barclays Center; Kyrie Irving offers understanding if not support

The issue of the NBA and China--with outrage toward a Hong Kong-supporting tweet from the Rockets' GM, and cancellation of ancillary events and broadcasts connected to NBA games in China--has not died down completely, though the teams are now stateside.

Last night, as the New York Post reported, protesters critical of China made themselves visible during the Brooklyn Nets' pre-season game with the Toronto Raptors at the Barclays Center:
Sitting in Section 1, diagonal from the Nets’ bench, nine fans in the front row donned white shirts with black lettering saying Free Tibet.
A far greater number of fans – some 100 China protesters filling about eight rows of seats – wore black shirts that read Stand With Hong Kong.  ...The protesters, most of whom were Hong Kong natives, were peaceful, and none of them were ejected or banned from Barclays Center. It bears watching whether that remains the case, considering the building’s ownership. That's notable, given that it's certai…

Barclays Center gets new (Tsai-owned) tenant: WNBA's New York Liberty, with at least 17 home games

The Barclays Center, which has been losing the New York Islanders in stages (and should lose the team completely when the new Belmont Park arena opens in 2021, if not sooner), is gaining a new tenant: the WNBA's New York Liberty, which will play at least 17 home games in the season, which runs from May through September, and could extend to October with the playoffs.

The Liberty were recently bought by Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai, who also owns the Barclays Center operating company (not the arena itself, which is owned nominally by New York State, to enable tax-exempt bonds).

Tsai bought the team from Madison Square Garden owner James Dolan, who'd exiled the basketballers from the Manhattan arena to Westchester County Center, which has a capacity of just 2,100, far less than the previous attendance.

“With many of our fans based in the five boroughs, moving to Barclays Center will make the Liberty more centrally located, allowing us to bring back the original fan base and attr…

Revisiting the 2006 Response to Comments: was private property taken for private gain, or public benefit?

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 and the wobbliness of project promises.

Project opponents and those facing displacement criticized a developer-initiated process:
ESDC has never solicited proposals from other developers. The project was initiated by [Forest City] Ratner and Ratner presented the project to ESDC. It was beyond a doubt that Ratner would be the primary beneficiary before the plans for the project were formulated or a substantial commitment of public funds was made. (468; representatives of several potential eminent domain plaintiffs)
This projec…

A sobering look at amNewYork's new Schneps overlords

What Will amNewYork Look Like Under The Schneps Empire?, Gothamist's Jake Offenhartz wrote today, and the answer is: not good. First, as the article notes, amNew York seems to be repurposing articles from other Schneps community papers like The Villager, the Bronx Times, and Brooklyn Paper.

Note: Schneps not only owns Brooklyn Paper, once a feisty weekly, but also owns Brownstoner, once a more independent blog. In both cases, its purchases came after those publications were sold to new owners to to some degree tamed them.

Here's Offenhartz's key finding: According to current and former reporters and editors who spoke to Gothamist, the Schneps playbook involves cozying up to advertisers and local powerbrokers, while muzzling critical coverage of friends and public officials close to the owners...
“It very quickly became clear that they’re less of a news company than a promotions company,” said Vince DiMiceli, the former editor-in-chief of Brooklyn Paper, who was let go two …

Yes, Atlantic Yards was an example of a "new mega-project," given its nod to broader interests

I recently read Old Mega-Projects Newly Packaged? Waterfront Redevelopment in Toronto, published in the December 2008 issue of International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, by Ute Lehrer and Jennefer Laidley of the Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University.

Their article ends with some general observations about mega-projects that have relevance to Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park:
While generalizing from the Toronto case to all new mega-projects is not our intent, our work on Toronto’s waterfront redevelopment suggests not only these apparent shifts from ‘old’ mega-project to ‘new’, but also that the new mega-project contains two key aspects that need closer attention. First, while mega-projects seem to have returned as an urban renewal strategy, this reappearance is accompanied by an institutional and political-economic framework that redirects public attention away from controversy and, therefore, from the inherent tendency within the mega-project to re-inscribe and perp…

Yes, the big law firms in real estate have intersected with Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park

The Real Deal's 10/1/19 article, NYC’s barrister brain trust, by Eddie Small, covers the universe of big law firms and ranks them on several metrics.

And while the article is keyed to recent issues, including changes in rent regulation, it's a useful reminder that some of the firms named have been involved in Atlantic Yards.

The number one firm in dollar volume of sales, Fried, Frank, long served as an outside counsel and lobbyist for Forest City Ratner/Forest City New York on zoning/planning issues. It has the single largest corps of real estate attorneys, ranked on another chart.

The number eight firm, Kramer Levin, represented Forest City in various legal cases, including those involving eminent domain, environmental review, and promises of construction jobs. 
It continues, (as far as I know) representing the Forest City entity within new parent company Brookfield, regarding the condemnation of the P.C. Richard site and the tussle with Skanska over blame for the B2 modular…

As NBA/China controversy subsides somewhat, the general tensions won't go away

The controversy over the tweet by the Houston Rockets' Daryl Morey, followed by an NBA apology and then a statement backing free speech, coupled with a withdrawal by Chinese broadcasters and sponsors and a disturbing history lecture by Brooklyn Nets' owner Joe Tsai, has subsided somewhat, but it won't go away, neither regarding sports nor general business issues.

N.B.A.-China Spat Shows Sports Isn’t (and Shouldn’t Be) Just About Games, the New York Times's John Branch summed up 10/11/19:
“The N.B.A. has always been a league that prides itself on its players and coaches being able to speak out openly about political and societal affairs,” the reporter said. “I just wonder if after the events of this week, and the fallout we’ve seen, whether you both would feel differently about speaking out in that way in the future?”
A team representative chimed in immediately, saying they were accepting “basketball questions only.”
Irony died on the spot. (The league later apologized.)…

From the latest Construction Alert: overnight foundation pours Oct. 18 and Oct. 25, Community Liaison Office moves to 550 Vanderbilt

The latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update (bottom), covering the two weeks beginning tomorrow, Monday, Oct. 14, was circulated Friday at 6:23 pm (lead time) by Empire State Development (ESD) after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners.

As in the previous update, they're announcing disruptive overnight work, albeit this time with at least one week of lead time.

For B15 (664 Pacific) foundation concrete work is scheduled for Friday, October 18 in the evening through Saturday, October 19. For B4 (18 Sixth), foundation concrete work is scheduled for Friday, October 25 in the evening through Saturday, October 26.

For both, work will begin at approximately 10 pm Friday night and will likely run all day until Saturday evening. In both cases, concrete trucks will be staged on Atlantic Avenue before entering the site. Trucks will then move to the Pacific Street queue area for truck washout measures before departure.

Will that "Pacific Street queue area" s…

William Powhida's "Complicities" and Hudson Yards (Is Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park next?)

I noticed the work of artist William Powhida years ago, in a Williamsburg gallery. It's mesmerizingly in the world, not out of it.

Some of his work essentially an infographic, dissecting webs of "Complicities," as his show at the Postmasters Gallery in TriBeCa is called. (It's ending today. Go: 54 Franklin Street, 11 am to 6 pm.)

From the description:
Complicities is a show of painfully obvious, politically didactic, research-based, and precisely rendered works on paper. Produced over the last ten months in the wake of the crisis at the Whitney Museum, the work makes visible generalized and abstract systems -- investment, real estate, museum boards, private family-owned companies, curation, public policy -- illuminating the connections between art and the ruling class. Here are somereviews.

Below is my photo of his Hudson Yards piece--though here's a better version, allowing close-ups--which would be a great resource for urbanists. Heck, the work includes EB-5 f…

Yes, open space at 535 Carlton remains "temporarily closed for construction"

The open space wrapping around the 535 Carlton rental tower, closed (likely) since some time in August, is still closed.

As I wrote 9/23/19, a spokesman for developer Greenland Forest City Partners said:
Regarding the courtyard, there is a small area closer to Pacific Street that needs to be repaired. For safety purposes, the insurance company asked to close the courtyard temporarily while the engineers and contractors investigate the issue. We hope to have it re-opened shortly. That hasn't happened. At least a sign on the wall indicates that it's temporarily closed for construction--and, presumably, repairs.

Residents of the tower who recently attended a North Prospect Heights Association meeting indicated that a sinkhole--"a depression or hole in the ground caused by some form of collapse of the surface layer"--had caused the closure, I reported.

That wasn't confirmed.

But as the close-up photos below suggest, the area of concern--near Pacific Street but a dec…

Barclays ranks #31 worldwide in mid-year (non-sports) ticket sales, per Pollstar; arena last year leaped to top ten in second half, has always been in top ten

The Barclays Center sold slightly more concerts and show tickets in the first half of 2019 compared to the first half of 2018, according to the trade publication Pollstar. Still, it ranks #31 on the worldwide chart, as opposed to #20 after the half-year mark last year.

That said, the arena typically increases ticket sales in the second half of the year. In 2018, Barclays went from #20 (274,866 tickets) to a year-end #8 (816,980 tickets), which was the lowest annual rank since the arena opened. The current mid-year rank is based on 279,579 ticket sales.

The 2017 mid-year figure was 376,230 tickets, #9 in the world, and the arena reached #5 by the end of the year.

The totals exclude sporting events. Given that Barclays will be housing fewer Islanders games than last year, that should open seven more slots for other shows.

An early peak, then a rebound?

Note that the total of 816,980 tickets sold in 2018 was less than 991,752 in 2013, its first full year, when Barclays was ranked #3 world…

Brett Yormark joins twin Michael at Jay-Z's Roc Nation

Well, that didn't take long. Former Barclays Center/Nets/BSE Global CEO Brett Yormark has a new job, reuniting with his identical twin Michael Yormark heading a sports and entertainment agency founded by Jay-Z.

A 10/3/19 press release, Roc Nation Taps Brett Yormark As Co-CEO Of Roc Nation Unified, President of Business Operations & Strategy
NEW YORK, Oct. 3, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Roc Nation has named leading sports and entertainment executive, Brett Yormark, as co-CEO of Roc Nation Unified and President of Business Operations & Strategy. In this role, Brett will work with the Roc Nation COO, CEO and entire board to develop and execute long-term organizational objectives and will bolster the company's operational framework to support its continued growth. Brett's brother, Michael Yormark, will also serve as co-CEO of Roc Nation Unified.
Roc Nation Unified is the newly branded, full-service agency that will support artists, athletes, events, venues, leagues, teams, an…

In NBA firestorm over China, a reminder of the bottom line; Nets owner Tsai backs regime, provokes nostalgia for Prokhorov

Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov, he of spy-villain accent and valuable media coaching, seems to have had a rather uncontroversial stint as an NBA owner, after all, despite his association--however tempered--with the Russian regime.

Comment of the day yesterday on NetsDaily, from "il temuto": "Given the current day’s geopolitical climate, I *cannot believe* that I am sitting here wishing that the *Russian oligarch* who owned this team still owned the team."

A lot of people might not have expected new Brooklyn Nets owner, Joe Tsai, the Taiwanese-Canadian billionaire educated (h.s., college, law school) at elite U.S. institutions, to be pushed into a geopolitical conflict as both business peacemaker (on behalf of the NBA) and provocateur (toward those less disposed toward authoritarian China).

But he made his fortune in China with Alibaba.

A tweet sets off a storm

So when Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey tweeted, “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong," that p…

As big-ticket apartment prices drop, given larger state transfer tax, price cuts for Pacific Park condos

New York City Apartment Prices Hit Four-Year Low, the Wall Street Journal reported 9/30/19:
Manhattan apartment sales tumbled during the third quarter and prices fell to their lowest level in four years, a Wall Street Journal analysis showed.
Much, but not all, of the decline was triggered by a higher state transfer tax on luxury Manhattan real estate that took effect in July, brokers and market analysts said. While the median price of a Manhattan apartment in the second quarter rose 19.3%  to nearly $1.4 million, it dropped to just over $1 million, a reference to the tax-driven sale clusters.

According to StreetEasy:
For fiscal year 2020, the statewide mansion tax will remain at 1 percent for property purchased for $1 million or more. For properties in New York City, however, the new mansion tax will rise incrementally with purchase prices of $2 million or more, capping out at a total of 3.90 percent for properties sold at $25 million or above. That figure includes the 1 percent stat…

AEG and SMG combine to become ASM Global, now run Barclays Center and other venues

The Barclays Center has a new corporate operator (which is contracted by the operating company Brooklyn Events Center, now controlled by Joe Tsai).

A 10/1/19 press release, AEG Facilities and SMG Complete Transaction to Create ASM Global: AEG Facilities, LLC (“AEG Facilities”), the venue management affiliate of Anschutz Entertainment Group, Inc. (“AEG”), and SMG, a portfolio company of Onex (TSX: ONEX) and its affiliated funds, today announced they completed their business combination to create a new, standalone global facility management and venue services company, ASM Global (“ASM”).
ASM is headquartered in Los Angeles, CA, with key operations based in West Conshohocken, PA, a suburb of Philadelphia. The company also has corporate offices in London, England; Manchester, England; Brisbane, Australia; and Sao Paulo, Brazil. ASM operates a diversified portfolio of arenas, stadiums, convention and exhibition centers, performing arts centers, theaters and other venues with more than 300 …

The Schneps-ification of local media continues, as company buys amNewYork, free commuter paper

Schneps Media acquires AM New York from Newsday Media Group, the Brooklyn Paper reported 10/3/19:
Newsday Media Group is selling amNewYork, its free commuter newspaper in New York City, to Schneps Media, effective Oct. 11, officials announced Wednesday.
The price was not disclosed. Schneps executives said they will expand amNewYork through events programming and broadcasting.
...Schneps owns 33 newspapers, 28 magazines and specialty publications and 20 websites, produces numerous podcasts and hosts 50 annual events. Among its publications are Queens Courier, TimesLedger, The Brooklyn Paper, The Villager, Long Island Press and the Spanish-language paper Noticia Long Island.
...Joshua Schneps, the company’s CEO and co-publisher, said, “We look forward to enhancing amNewYork’s brand through our expertise in multiplatform media, including print, digital, events, social media and broadcasti­ng.” Fun fact: the Brooklyn Paper gave the byline to James T. Madore, who wrote the exact same story fo…