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Showing posts from February, 2020

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Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park infographics: what's built/what's coming/what's missing, who's responsible, + project FAQ/timeline (pinned post)

Barclays Center releases March 2020 calendar: 24 ticketed events (including last Islanders' games?); private events still not listed

The Barclays Center has released its March 2020 calendar, which has 24 ticketed events over 22 days: nine Nets games, seven Atlantic 10 men's basketball games over five days, three New York Islanders games, three concerts, one boxing event, and one wrestling event. This will likely be the last Islanders games at the arena ever, given the  expected announcement  by Gov. Andrew Cuomo today that all games next year, as well as playoff games this year, will be played at the Nassau Coliseum, closer to the fan base, and to the under-construction Belmont Park arena. Note that last year the Atlantic 10 was presented as simply five ticketed basketball events over five days. This year there's separate ticketing. The calendar also notes one non-ticketed event, on March 9 at the Barclays Center plaza from 4-6 pm: Brooklyn Nets Threes for Trees Plaza Activation, which is not explained but apparently involves a tree giveaway . And despite public requests for listing of such non-tic

From the latest Construction Update: early April seen as end of work revamping railyard

The latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update (bottom), covering the two weeks beginning Monday, March 2, was circulated Friday Feb. 28 at 5:52 pm (lead time) by Empire State Development (ESD) after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners. Again, there's no big news, with much similar to the previous update . But there's a new horizon for the end of work revamping the Vanderbilt Yard, used to store and service Long Island Rail Road trains. That presumably would make it easier to start work on the platform over the first block of the railyard. "Site demobilization, including material and equipment removal will continue," the document states. "Final site demobilization is expected to be accomplished by the end of March-early April 2020." Meanwhile, "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 demobilizati

Venue operators (including Barclays) must be wary, as coronavirus concerns could lead to "canceling mass gatherings"

One contingency built into Barclays Center financing is a "strike fund," which approximates about $20 million, on the chance that labor troubles affect the National Basketball Association. There's another, more general fund in reserve for debt service to pay off construction. But there's no specific fund for event interruptions caused by public health issues. (Again, there is a general reserve fund.) Presumably that's because such interruptions were seen as statistically rare. Now they have to be contemplated, at Barclays and other major venues in the city, state, and country. On 2/25/20, as the New York Times reported in  C.D.C. Officials Warn of Coronavirus Outbreaks in the U.S. : “It’s not so much of a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more of a question of exactly when this will happen,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in a news briefing.  She said that cities and towns

Agenda for Tuesday's Quality of Life meeting shows no Department of Transportation appearance

There's a smidgen of news in the typically barebones agenda, circulated yesterday, for the bi-monthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life meeting, which will be held Tuesday, March 3 at 55 Hanson Place at 6 pm. It indicates appearances by representatives of Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority that oversees/shepherds the project; the advisory Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC); the Barclays Center; and master developer Greenland Forest City Partners. But there's no mention of a representative  of the New York City Department of Transportation, who was supposed to attend the previous meeting but couldn't make it. Tobi Jaiyesimi, who represents both ESD and AY CDC, said at that previous meeting that she expected the rep to attend this next meeting. That's not happening, but neighbors do have questions, as I wrote , regarding issues of parking, pedestrian safety, and traffic flow. Project related questions and agenda

From the Real Deal: frustrated Chinese EB-5 investors face backlogs, with no clear solution

Credit the Real Deal, whose Kevin Sun went to Shanghai and delivered “We’re the elite”: What backlogged Chinese EB-5 investors are planning next , published 2/20/20. The seven EB-5 investors had never met in person, only virtually on WeChat, and are described by their handles, not names: The urbane Chinese citizens were all members of a group that called itself EB5 Association of Investors, or EB5AI, which formed last spring to represent the interests of investors lobbying for EB-5 reform... Each had invested $500,000 — with that money going into a wide variety of projects across the United States — and they all faced a common dilemma: a decade-long backlog. Following a few boom years in the mid-2010s, the expected wait time for a Chinese investor who applies for an immigration visa through the EB-5 program today has ballooned to 16 years, according to the latest statistics from the U.S. State Department. Though EB-5 investment started growing as financing grew tight after 2008,

Hudson Yards seeks federal funds for second phase of platform, but that wouldn't work for Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park (which means?)

“At the end of the day, it’s all about the cost of the capital," Forest City Enterprises executive Bob O'Brien said in 2010. But finding money to build infrastructure isn't easy. The initial phase of the platform to deck Hudson Yards in Manhattan's far West Side relied on EB-5 financing, low-cost loans from immigrant investors seeking green cards--as did vertical construction, which analyst Gary Friedland suggested was less justifiable. But EB-5 is far less accessible these days. That's perhaps part of why the platform over the Vanderbilt Yard--to support six towers, ultimately--has been delayed, with developer Greenland USA Partners (dominated by Greenland USA) announcing plans to finally start this year but not yet disclosing details about funding or contractors. Meanwhile, the Hudson Yards developers have a plan. In  Trump ally to seek cheap federal loan to build second half of Hudson Yards , Politico's Dana Rubinstein reports today: [Rela

Beyond "affordable housing": social housing means "permanent affordability, democratic resident control, and social equality" (and where does AY fit?)

Two articles published by the Community Service Society 2/18/20, by Oksana Mironova and Thomas J. Waters, offer a broader perspective on what is too broadly classified as "affordable housing"--a term that proved seductive with Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, but has often been frustrating, given the high cost of some units. In  Social Housing in the U.S. , they write: The term social housing is commonly used to describe a range of housing ownership, subsidy, and regulation models in Europe , South America and elsewhere around the globe. These models often go far beyond what’s known as “affordable housing” in the U.S. to promote permanent affordability, democratic resident control, and social equality . First popularized in the U.S. by the People’s Policy Project , the term is gaining currency thanks to the Homes Guarantee campaign, a grassroots effort aiming to provide every person in the U.S. with safe, accessible, sustainable, and permanently affordable housing. (Empha

From a "diverse neighborhood" with a school and park to "urban oasis in the center of Brooklyn" (and no longer "A Vision for Downtown Brooklyn")

Hey, remember the Twitter description at right? "Pacific Park is Brooklyn's newest neighborhood. Home to Barclays Center, Pacific Park is a diverse neighborhood with a NYC public school and 8 acre park." That was so very 6/9/16 (and possibly earlier).  It also wasn't close to true, because there's no "park" ever, and the privately operated, publicly accessible open space has emerged only fractionally. It almost surely won't be finished  for many years, likely 2035 , which is the project's "outside date" for completion. That new school? Maybe by 2023. Maybe it was the audacious time travel, or the recognition that progress was slower than anticipated, but the Twitter description has changed. A revised description At left is the  current Twitter description , at least  from 9/22/18 (and it may changed earlier): "Neighborhood charm meets modern edge in Pacific Park – an urban oasis in the center o

Giving eminent domain a good name: after nine years, a caption regarding a "strange bedfellows" Atlantic Yards meeting kinda came true

Mike Bloomberg's back in the news, which reminded me I never posted on this, another example--as with Bloomberg's kiss from ACORN's Bertha Lewis--of the "strange bedfellows" that Atlantic Yards could generate. Photo: New York Times Hey, remember that odd breakfast meeting in, May 2010, with Mayor Mike Bloomberg, developer and Brooklyn Nets minority owner Bruce Ratner, incoming Brooklyn Nets majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov, and "resident Brooklyn-credibility totem" (to quote David Roth) Jay-Z? The breakfast was a photo op only, so the New York Times invited readers to contribute captions. As I wrote at the time, most captions capitalized on the incongruity of the mayor meeting the hip-hop mogul--a Times photo including Prokhorov surely would've generated different cultural quips--but a few, including mine, referenced the project at hand. One of the more telling captions came from Daniel Goldstein, long the face of the Atlantic Yards o

Some detail on the Tsai-Levy split: "mismatched expectations" (but still murky)

In  Joe Tsai and David Levy: a case of mismatched expectations , NetsDaily on 2/17/20 summarized the emerging explanation for the curiously brief term of Nets/arena CEO David Levy, who was gone after less than two months. Tsai recently told Bloomberg News it was a case of differing expectations: “He was already looking ahead at how to grow the J Tsai sports portfolio, but we also needed someone to do the nuts and bolts,” Tsai said during the interview. “Maybe he thought that he wanted to do something that’s bigger and he could just bring in other people to do it, and I’m of a view that before you outsource something you should do it yourself.” As NetsDaily noted, Levy talked about such things as mobile betting, esports, and new sports technology: "Still, one team insider told NetsDaily that Levy was surprised to be managing something as small as the Nets after running Turner Media." As previously noted, Levy told the Times, "It wasn’t one thing. It just wasn’

Flashback: when Bloomberg was asked (in 2012) about Barclays Center jobs, he showed his peevishness

In light of former Mayor Mike Bloomberg's unimpressive   performance at last night's Democratic candidates' debate in Las Vegas, here's a flashback to an Atlantic Yards event where the mayor displayed his peevishness upon being questioned. At a press event at the under construction Barclays Center 4/26/12, Mayor Mike Bloomberg and developer Bruce Ratner announced 2,000 arena jobs, saying Brooklynites, including public housing residents, would get priority. But that nice round number was overinflated. From the press scrum, I asked for the full-time equivalent (FTE) job figure. I don’t have any idea what that is,” responded the famously data-driven mayor, as I  wrote for Daily Intel . "Bruce, you want to--?" Then Bloomberg cut himself off, and couldn't resist showing his smarts: "Full-time equivalent jobs, I don't know how you--it's really different, it's hard to calculate. If the average person works 30 hours, and you say a full-t

Does building more housing lower rents or push them up? Studies suggest complicated verdict.

On 2/14/19, the New York Times published (online) A Luxury Apartment Rises in a Poor Neighborhood. What Happens Next? . Writes Emily Badger: It’s even plausible that both stories could be true at the same time — that new housing might help lower rents across a metro area even as it signals the popularity of a particular neighborhood and nudges up rents nearby. ...Taken together, [new studies'] findings suggest that new housing can ease rising rents in other buildings close by. But their verdict is mixed on whether lower-income renters directly benefit from new supply, too. The studies confirm that new buildings drive more amenities, like restaurants, but new supply tamps down rent increases, at least in the higher-end categories. Writes Badger: “These results don’t deny the reality of gentrification,” said Ingrid Gould Ellen, a professor at N.Y.U. and an adviser to Ms. Li. “They don’t deny the reality of crushing rent burdens. They simply suggest that building more housing

Strange bedfellows: Behind that Atlantic Yards alliance of Bertha Lewis (then of NY ACORN) and Mayor Mike Bloomberg

OK, then explain this (not-Photoshopped) 2005 pic of NYCC predecessor ACORN's Executive Director Bertha Lewis and Mike. (Atlantic Yards made strange bedfellows.) — Eric McClure (@EricMcClureBK) February 17, 2020 Explanation: Bertha is no longer on the payroll and she is pissed. — Aaron Naparstek (@Naparstek) February 17, 2020 Yes, Atlantic Yards made strange bedfellows. But it was a little more complicated than a payroll issue. During a time when the Bloomberg administration was unwilling to require affordable housing as part of rezonings (see: Downtown Brooklyn, Long Island City, Park Slope's Fourth Avenue) that delivered enormous benefit to landowners, Lewis, executive director of New York ACORN, and a founder of the Working Families Party, made a strategic alliance with Forest City Ratner. The developer was willing to promise--if not truly commit to--a significant amount of affordable housing, in exchange for a

In Los Angeles, Greenland's Metropolis is done. It's just not well-situated.

I recently visited Los Angeles and almost stayed in the Hotel Indigo, part of the three-tower Metropolis development, which was recently completed (and is not fully captured in the photo I took below). The price was a relative bargain, perhaps because, well, Metropolis isn't well-situated if you want to walk around downtown Los Angeles, especially if you want access to the nearest Metro station. It's a rather forbidding 9-10 minute walk, especially off-hours. It's near a freeway on-ramp, too. The location is close to the Staples Center and L.A. Live, but not so close to downtown Los Angeles eating and shopping. And that's likely part of why it's been tough to sell all the condos. But Greenland USA--see logo at top left in photo below--got the project finished. (Here are my photos from a visit in 2018.) The question in Brooklyn is: will they stay the course, or sell off more parcels, or even abandon the project? The development of Atlantic Yards/Pacific P

In "The Golden Age of White Collar Crime," a reminder of missed priorities (and it makes me think of EB-5)

The Golden Age of White Collar Crime  was, published 2/10/20 by HuffPost's Highline, with the subheading "Elite lawbreaking is out of control. This is the grotesque story of an existential threat to American society," Michael Hobbes lays down some harsh lessons: OVER THE LAST TWO YEARS, nearly every institution of American life has taken on the unmistakable stench of moral rot. Corporate behemoths like Boeing and Wells Fargo have traded blue-chip credibility for white-collar callousness. Elite universities are selling admission spots to the highest Hollywood bidder. Silicon Valley unicorns have revealed themselves as long cons (Theranos), venture-capital cremation devices (Uber, WeWork) or straightforward comic book supervillains (Facebook). Every week unearths a cabinet-level political scandal that would have defined any other presidency. From the blackouts in California to the bloated bonuses on Wall Street to the entire biography of Jeffrey Epstein, it is impossible

From the latest Construction Update: crane at B15 blocks Sixth Avenue traffic this weekend; modifications to Atlantic Avenue median; new railyard lighting

The latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update (bottom), covering the two weeks beginning Monday, Feb. 17, was circulated Friday Feb. 14 at 3:34 pm by Empire State Development (ESD) after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners. Looking north on Sixth Ave. to B4 That was seemingly lead time, but not really. The document announced that, as described in previous reports, a tower crane will be installed at the B15 site (just east of Sixth Avenue, between Dean and Pacific streets). The installation work began late Friday and will continue through to Sunday evening,  February 16. As part of this work, Sixth Avenue between Dean Street and Atlantic Avenue will be closed in both directions. Pedestrians will be able to cross Sixth Avenue at Dean and Pacific streets, and flaggers will be on site during this work to assist with pedestrian and vehicular traffic. A tower crane has already been delivered to the B4 site, 18 Sixth Avenue, as shown in the photo at right, tak

A Woodland footnote: it looks like they (partly) stiffed their lobbyist

Yesterday I wrote in the Daily News about Eric Adams and, among other things, his dubious defense of the  now-closed bar/restaurant/nightclub Woodland . I recently checked the city's lobbying database and, as the letter reproduced below indicates, the relationship between Woodland and its lobbyist , Mercury Public Affairs, went sour. The letter is from Mercury: The initial authorization filed for Prime Six Inc. [Woodland's parent company] was effective 7/1/2019 through the end of the registration period 12/31/20 with an expected compensation of $7500 per month. However, after client non-payment, Mercury and Prime Six have mutually agreed to terminate lobbying services effective 10/16/2019. Mercury will accept a onetime payment in the sum of $20,000 for the period of 7/1-10/16/2019. Given the span of three-and-a-half months, that suggests a not-insignificant discount off the contracted rate, which would be $26,250. (Note that the agreement I saw was for three months, but

My Daily News op-ed: Eric Adams’ gentrification double standard

I have an op-ed in the Daily News online today, headlined  Eric Adams’ gentrification double standard . It begins: Though Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams called his passionate “go back to Iowa!” admonition on Martin Luther King Day a “gaffe,” others suggest he’s strategically aiming for a black and Latino voter base in the 2021 mayoral election. Having closely watched Adams navigate one gentrification-related issue, I found his “kumbaya” open letter in the Daily News equally strategic. Yes, “rapid changes [are] causing a lot of pain among long-time residents and businesses.” But it was disingenuous for Adams to cite “The restaurant owner of a neighborhood institution who received so many noise complaints she’s forced to close down her business.” Why? Because he’s prominently defended relatively new destination nightclubs that featured bottle service . In Brooklyn, it was Woodland, a nightspot on Flatbush Ave. at the edge of Park Slope that generated numerous complaints for

As Forbes ranks Brooklyn Nets #7 in NBA value, team operating income ranks #25 and revenue/fan #29 (but says arena drags down value)

Update 8/2/20: I missed this key piece of small print, in the main article : "Our appraisals are what we think the team would sell for. So while Tsai paid $3.3 billion for the Nets, we think the team is worth more like $2.5 billion because he paid around $1 billion for a money-losing arena business." In  NBA Team Values 2020: Lakers And Warriors Join Knicks In Rarefied $4 Billion Club , Forbes reported 2/11/20, that, despite problems like a lousy Knicks team and geopolitical tensions from China, "NBA franchise values continue to soar, up 14% in the past year to an average of $2.12 billion." That outpaces football and baseball. And the Brooklyn Nets, the league's seventh most valuable team, are going gangbusters. Forbes's Kurt Badenhausen, Michael Ozanian and Christina Settimi cite the recent transaction: Alibaba cofounder Joseph Tsai agreed in 2018 to buy the Brooklyn Nets over three years for $2.35 billion, but he accelerated the purchase in August