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

The construction pause: speculation and implications (like delayed buildings, school, and timelines)

Now that we know that construction at the B4 (18 Sixth Avenue) and B15 (37 Sixth Avenue or 662/664 Pacific Street) towers is winding down for a pause of unspecified duration due to coronavirus concerns, that invites some speculation.

First, how was this decision arrived at?

It wasn't explained, but there are numerous participants in the construction process, including (and perhaps I'm missing some):
the master developer, Greenland Forest City Partners (GFCP)the partner with GFCP on B4, the Brodsky Organizationthe developer (and site lessee) of B15, also BrodskyTishman Construction, part of AECOM Tishman, which is building both towersvarious subcontractorsvarious suppliersunion workers and union localslendersthe School Construction Authority While there may be business reasons to continue construction, and while some workers (in the city overall) might want to continue, others--and their families--have been vocal about the difficulty to maintain social distancing and cleanliness…

Confirmed: work at B4 and B15 sites shutting down out of caution (despite affordable housing exception); still waiting for two-week Construction Update

Updated 11:30 am 4/1/20: A spokesman for Greenland Forest City Partners confirms that B4 and B15 are shutting down out of caution for workers.

Well, some work on both B4 (18 Sixth Avenue) and B15 (37 Sixth Avenue or 662/664 Pacific Street) was continuing yesterday and today, as the photos show. Indeed, that looks like a concrete truck near the B4 site, in the photo at right.

And such work was permissible, given the state announcement Friday that projects with 20% or more affordable housing could continue, as well as the city's clarification yesterday that projects outside city zoning with 30% or more affordable housing could continue.

(At B15, 94 of 312 units would be affordable; at B4, 258 of 860 units would be affordable.)

But I was told by a source that both sites were actually in the process of shutting down, given a decision by the project managers to stress worker safety, with B15 closing down faster.

If so--and I don't have official confirmation--that makes sense, given…

In City & State's 2020 Real Estate Power 100, Greenland USA's Hu at #64 (last year was a generous #27)

Surely City & State New York has planned The 2020 Real Estate Power 100 well before the coronavirus crisis, but it's worth taking a look. Any such list is by definition arbitrary, but note their criteria:
Unlike other rankings, ours is not based primarily on total square feet or annual profits or the biggest deals. Instead, we identified the industry leaders who build buildings and political relationships, the lawmakers and administration officials who weigh the needs of residents against developers’ needs to make housing projects profitable, and the trade associations, lobbyists, publicists, academics and activists who all shape New York’s vibrant real estate world in so many ways. Notably in first rank is Vicki Been, New York City Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development, former Commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

The Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park mention 64. Hu Gang
President and CEO
Greenland USA
Greenland USA was founded in 2013 a…

At 38 Sixth, home to health clinic, health care supplies seemingly get repurposed

As shown in the photos at right and below, medical supplies, including respiratory equipment, were being moved yesterday morning from the NewYork-Presbyterian Medical Group at 38 Sixth Avenue (aka B3 of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park) in Prospect Heights.

According to the neighbor who sent the photo, the supplies were being moved from a health center where care is less urgent to a facility with greater need.

That hasn't been stated publicly by authorities, but it's certainly a plausible explanation, since health facilities are in crisis mode.

Note: on a typical day, a vehicle parked on Sixth Avenue facing south could cause a traffic bottleneck, given construction across the street at B15 and typical traffic.

But these are not normal times.

Cuomo shuts down construction, but leaves big exceptions, notably buildings with 20% or more affordable housing

Yesterday, it was big news when Gov. Andrew Cuomo banned non-essential construction, excepting health care facilities, infrastructure, and affordable housing, as covered by The City, Curbed, the New York Post, 6sqft, The Real Deal, ENR, and others.

Despite evidence--as workers, and their family members, have warned--that it's difficult, if not impossible to maintain social distancing at worksites, those violating that rule can face $10,000 fines.

Lingering most of the day was the question--as posed by The City's Rosa Goldensohn and me, as well as Council Member Brad Lander, an advocate of the shutdown--of how affordable housing was defined: did it have to be "100% affordable," or not?
Lots of Qs abt definition of "affordable" for essential vs. non-essential construction.

NYS does not appear to have an answer yet.

Pretty clear to me:

100% affordable/supportive housing is essential.

20-30% affordable (i.e. 70-80% market) is not. https://t.co/DT3UMFHFKthttps:…

Times offers vague update on B5: Greenland is working with Dattner Architects, hopes to begin platform this year

A New York Times Sunday Real Estate section (3/29/20) round-up article posted today and headlined Living Near Train Tracks, with the subheading "Thanks to new window technology, there’s no such thing as the wrong side of the tracks," has a little Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park tidbit: In Brooklyn, the 22-acre Pacific Park development in Prospect Heights was first announced in 2003, when it was called Atlantic Yards. Four residential projects are up and running next to the rail yards, and two more are under construction.
The major developer, Greenland Forest City Partners, hopes to begin construction of the five-acre platform over the train yard this year and is working with Dattner Architects on a design for 680 Atlantic Avenue, the first project to be built on it. To be precise, only two of the four residential towers are adjacent to the Vanderbilt Yard: B11 (550 Vanderbilt Avenue) and B14 (535 Carlton Avenue).

B2 (461 Dean Street) is a good distance away--it flanks the Barcl…

Though not identified as such, Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park towers play key cameo in coverage of ongoing construction; Brooklyn modular company focuses on health care

Scroll down to see update regarding officials considering policy change.

Virus Rules Let Construction Workers Keep Building Luxury Towers, the New York Times reported yesterday, making the crucial point that such workers can't practice "social distancing" and often share portable toilets that rarely have soap or hand sanitizer.

The lead photo, as shown in the screenshot, depicts no social distancing at the 18 Sixth Avenue worksite in Brooklyn, at the northeast flank of the Barclays Center.

(The location is not specified in the article, and Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park is not mentioned. But it's fairly clear to anyone who knows the view looking north from Sixth Avenue and Pacific Street.)

Is it essential construction? The 859-unit building is not purely a luxury tower. It will have 258 (30%) affordable units, with the affordability level as of now unclear. It's due in 2022. The article offers some harsh quotes:
“They are exposing themselves in groups to the virus,” s…

If cities must "pandemic-proof" arenas (and other venues), might masks and temperature checks be required, along with empty seats?

How our cities can reopen after the COVID-19 pandemic, Richard Florida and Steven Pedigo wrote yesterday on the centrist Brookings Institution web site, including:Prepare large-scale civic assets: Cities are also home to other forms of large-scale infrastructure: stadiums, arenas, convention centers, performing arts centers, etc. Because they bring together large groups of people, city leaders must pandemic-proof these assets as much as possible, too. Audience sizes may need to be reduced in theaters, with seats left open. Masks may need to be required and made available to patrons as needed, and temperature checks carried out. This will be critical for communities that are dependent on such attractions: A Brookings analysis shows that COVID-19’s economic downturn will hit tourism-driven cities such as Orlando and Las Vegas hardest. The sooner such large-scale civic infrastructure can be safely reopened, the faster our urban economies will be able to rebound in the aftermath of a pand…

Construction continues, despite rumblings from wary workers and subcontractors; such work inevitably involves close quarters

Updated: see bottom.

As I've written, there are multiple factors, including supply-chain constraints, that could hinder construction, but the big issue, for now, is up to localities.

Though a few Council Members and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams have called for suspension of non-essential construction, and workers' attitudes vary (though we have no complete survey), construction continues in New York City.

Indeed, as The City's Rosa Goldensohn reported last night, construction continues, even in interior spaces, at sites where an employee has tested positive for coronavirus, and where subcontractors are wary.

As shown in a photo from her article, at the World Trade Center site, and as shown in the photo at right at the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park B15 site (aka 662 Pacific Street or 664 Pacific Street or 37 Sixth Avenue), work continues with employees close to each other. (The photo was sent by a reader.)

That's not social distancing. Of course, in other workplaces, …

From the latest Construction Update: no changes as of last week, but will March-April targets be met? (yes, I'm late on this)

Oops, I missed this one.

The latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update (bottom), covering the two weeks beginning Monday, March 16, was circulated Friday 3/13/20 at 12:09 pm (lead time) by Empire State Development (ESD) after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners.

It contains no changes from the previous update, but does offer some target dates we should keep in mind, given that coronavirus concerns, which have not suspended construction in New York City, may affect aspects of it.

Notably, regarding work at the revamped Vanderbilt Yard, "Final site demobilization is expected to be accomplished by the end of March-early April 2020."

Also, it states that, at the railyard, "Weekend and night work continue and will include electrical punch-list closeout, train toilet servicing maintenance and repairs, cart-path construction along Track 1, site demobilization, and track restoration work. All weekend and night work are expected to be completed by the end …

"Jobs, housing, and hope": an Atlantic Yards reference in the She's Gotta Have It reboot

New York State on Pause report: I just got around to watching Season Two of the Netflix re-boot of Spike Lee's She's Gotta Have It, first aired last spring.

It's a lush, people-crammed ode (with a great soundtrack) to stoop life, street life, Brooklyn life, black life, black artistic life, made all the more poignant by our current enforced quarantine. If you want to see our city, our borough, it's a wonderful set of tableaus.

I never made it to Lee's annual Prince tribute, but it's a burst of purple joy, as protagonist Nola Darling takes photos of the enthralled participants. (And, as at right, poses with her friend Mars Blackmon.)

Is the show great? Umm... as the reviews suggest, the politics, esthetics, and character development are a mixed bag, and there's no small amount of Spike Lee self-referentiality.

Wouldja believe that the Mars character, played by Lee himself in the original 1986 film and in the series by Anthony Ramos, learns from his mother tha…

Not just workers: macro factors like supply chains could hinder construction (plus an extra one for Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park)

When I wrote a few days ago about macro factors regarding construction--interest rates, the chance of a stall or shift--I clearly missed some other issues, notably the supply chain of materials, as described below.

(Also, as a commenter pointed out, low interest rates do not translate into financing, since other factors, including demand, come into play.)

Plus there's a wild card regarding Greenland USA, a U.S. subsidiary of a Chinese conglomerate, which surely sources some materials from China and faces geopolitical tensions between the countries.

First, the workers
Any difference between perspectives of union workers and non-union workers? — Norman Oder (@AYReport) March 22, 2020
bc of I think self-selected group, I am hearing from people who want out, union or non-u — Rosa Goldensohn (@RosaGoldensohn) March 22, 2020
Why Is Construction Work Still Happening During The COVID-19 Outbreak?, Gothamist wrote 3/20/20, noting that Mayor Bill de Blasio cited San Francisco, which exempts c…

Nassau Coliseum operator Onexim establishes fund to assist hourly workers, Islanders help; details unspecified

Nassau Coliseum operator establishes fund to assist 700 hourly workers, Newsday reported 3/19/20:
The operator of NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum said Thursday it has established a fund “to assist with offsetting some of the lost wages” of its hourly workers.
The Islanders contributed an unspecified amount to the fund, according to Onexim Sports and Entertainment, the Coliseum's operator.
Onexim's decision to create a fund for hourly workers to the roughly 700 affected workers “recognizes the hardships faced by our hourly employees during this shutdown,” the company said in a statement. Onexim, owned by Mikhail Prokhorov, formerly operated the Barclays Center.

What's unclear from this report--and I haven't found any clarification--is how much Onexim, with the New York Islanders (the main tenant), is contributing.

Does it match that of other venues, such as the Barclays Center, which has pledged "the paychecks they would have earned if Brooklyn Nets regular season game…

Coronavirus grift? Pending bill said to halve the minimum for EB-5 investors, though Graham denies it. (An issue not just for "immigration hardliners.")

Senator Dumped Up to $1.7 Million of Stock After Reassuring Public About Coronavirus Preparedness, ProPublica reported yesterday, regarding Richard Burr (R-NC). NPR added to that, reporting that he offered far more dire warnings to well-off constituents than the public at large.

There are also stories about Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), James Imhofe (R-OK), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) selling stock. The situations aren't all the same--Loeffler claims it was a third-party decision; Feinstein's husband was the seller--but it looks bad/shameful/illegal, depending on the circumstances.

The EB-5 grift

But I want to write about another version of grifting. Politico reported on 3/18/20:
The Trump administration is considering a controversial proposal to boost the number of visas offered to wealthy immigrants who invest money in the United States as it tries to boost a faltering economy amid the escalating coronavirus outbreak, according to four people familiar with the situation.
The pr…

Low interest rates might fuel construction, but coronavirus crisis mode might stall all but crucial work. "Unavoidable Delays" at Pacific Park?

There are two big trends, at least, impacting the big picture for projects like Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, given the coronavirus crisis.

First, it should be easier to get financing, given lower interest rates.

However, concerns about worker safety, or shifting construction work to public health facilities, could slow or pause conventional construction. And that, I suspect, would suspend some Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park deadlines.

Interest rates = easier financing?

Interest rates have plummeted. As Bisnow reported 3/15/20:
The Fed said its moves Sunday were aimed at supporting the flow of credit to both households and businesses, which could also benefit commercial real estate companies looking to refinance loans. “The Fed cutting its rate to near zero is a major ‘gift’ to owners of commercial real estate,” O’Connor Capital Partners President Joel Bayer said via email. “This will result in rates on real estate loans being lowered to interest rate levels which we have never seen in our…

Four Nets (including star Durant, asymptomatic) test positive for coronavirus; some backlash at seeming privilege

First came the Utah Jazz's Rudy Gobert, whose positive test for coronavirus short-circuited a game, and then suspended the NBA season. A teammate and a player on another team were also found to have the virus.

Yesterday, the Brooklyn Nets announced that four players had the virus, three of them asymptomatic, and were isolated and under care of physicians. Later, star Kevin Durant identified himself as among them, asymptomatic, to The Athletic.

That's big news, though, statistically, it strikes me as a relatively small portion of the team, given some estimates that half the population will get the virus--and most will have survivable symptoms.

And it's likely the tip of the iceberg. "The organization is currently notifying anyone who has had known contact with the players," the Nets stated.

Keep in mind that the Nets had not played the Jazz, and Durant, though traveling and practicing with the team, has not been on the court. There are multiple vectors of transmiss…

NY Post's Cuozzo: lease signed for Chelsea Piers, call for environmental review "mostly meant simply to obstruct"

New York Post REALTY CHECK columnist Steve Cuozzo, on 3/16/20 published New Chelsea Piers field house, fitness club coming to Pacific Park, which isn't really news, other than the incremental information that developer TF Cornerstone signed a lease with Chelsea Piers.
Cuozzo, typically not-so-informed, wrote:
It’s a done deal for a giant new field house and fitness club run by Chelsea Piers at TF Cornerstone’s 595 Dean St. at Brooklyn’s Pacific Park.
The developer and the Piers signed a lease this week for a combined 103,000- square-foot fitness and health club at the base of the new residential tower to stand 26 floors. That may be the official address of the facilities but, as anyone following the project should know, they will stretch below both 595 Dean and its sibling 615 Dean, as shown in the pink sections of the screenshot below, published 11/22/19.

Snark regarding the switch
Writes Cuozzo:
The plan required approval by the Empire State Development Corp., which oversees Pacif…

From The Real Deal: Why Site 5 project is delayed (P.C. Richard resisting condemnation)

I have an article in The Real Deal today headlined Why nothing ever gets built on this Pacific Park site, with the subhed "Future tower opposite Barclays Center delayed by dispute over P.C. Richard space."

The gist is that the condemnation of Site 5 announced in November has not moved forward not simply because eminent domain takes a while, but because P.C. Richard has resisted, saying it first wants the resolution of its claim that it deserves retailer 30,000 square feet of replacement space in the new building at Site 5.

Another tidbit: in a 2017 deposition, MaryAnne Gilmartin, then CEO of Forest City Ratner, indicated reluctance to build affordable housing as a concession to the plan to move the bulk of the unbuilt B1 tower across Flatbush Avenue to Site 5.

For the (paywalled, it seems) article, click here.

AY CDC meeting Wednesday postponed, even after shift to teleconference plan

As of Friday 3/13/20, the meeting of the advisory Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation scheduled for Wednesday 3/18/20 at Empire State Development (ESD) offices in Manhattan was changed to a meeting "conducted remotely by teleconference."

And yesterday, as the screenshot shows, it was postponed indefinitely.

What might they be talk about?

Given that the AY CDC has not met since last August--and that was essentially an extension of a meeting the previous month--there's surely much basic information to share about current and expected construction.

One new question surely will be: how does the coronavirus, and social distancing, affect ongoing and future construction?

As of now, the B4 and B15 towers are in process, the latter including a middle school (with at least 800 students, a surprise from the 640 once planned) , and B12 and B13 are supposed to start this summer, with underground space approved for a fitness center and fieldhouse, despite an AY CDC deadl…

ESPN: NBA thinking of returning in mid-June, without fans (but that raises questions)

Owners, execs bracing for mid-to-late June as best-case scenario for NBA's return, sources say
reported Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN last night. He noted that the league was projecting three scenarios:
the financial costs of shutting down the season, restarting with no fans in the arena, or playing playoff games with fans. Those losses will be reflected in next season's salary cap and the players' share of basketball-related income. A three-month hiatus is as long as the offseason. (He also said the NBA's G League is expected to be shut down completely.)

Playing at practice facilities?

To meet the rules about large gatherings, the league is considering games without fans, including at team practice facilities. For the Brooklyn Nets, that would mean the HSS Training Center at Industry City in Sunset Park.

Writes Woj:
Through it all, NBA commissioner Adam Silver is encouraging his league to be open to experimental ideas in every area -- scheduling format, venues, television…