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Showing posts from May, 2020

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

With drive-in movies at Nassau Coliseum, an arena surrounded by parking lots gains an advantage

The coronavirus pandemic has upended all kinds of processes and assumptions, including the notion that an arena surrounded by an ocean of parking lots is a liability. For the moment, it may be an advantage. The Nassau Coliseum this weekend has sold out five drive-in showings of the movie Trolls, with all 200 tickets sold ($30/car in advance, $35 at gate). And there will be more next week. Due to popular demand, we're extending our drive-in movie series! Join us next weekend for the screening of “How to Train Your Dragon.” Tickets are on sale now ⬇️ 🎥 🚘| — NYCB LIVE (@NYCBLive) May 29, 2020 That said, it's a small advanage: $6,000-plus in gross ticket revenue, not counting ancillary income sponsorships, will not rescue a venue otherwise mothballed. The description: All ages are welcome to join our drive-in movie screening. Please note, this event is rain or shine and will broadcast on our large exteri

As Barclays Center becomes locus for angry protests and harsh response, arena's boosterish bluster has new valance

Last night, the centrally-located Barclays Center, with its privately managed, publicly accessible plaza, became the locus of protests against police brutality and the painful-to-watch, seemingly white officer-caused death of black arrestee George Floyd in Minneapolis. (The officer has been charged with third-degree murder.) A massive crowd is gathering for justice for George Floyd and an end to police violence. We are at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn NYC. The crowd has their hands up and is chanting, “No justice, no peace.” I’ll be posting photos and videos throughout the protest. [thread] — Andy Ratto (@andyratto) May 29, 2020 Some people climbed on top of the transit entrance. Some protestors climbed onto that sloped park at the Barclays Center #GeorgeFloydProtest — Andrew Solender (@AndrewSolender) May 29, 2020 I wrote about last night's protests at Brooklyn's Barclays Center. In August, it will be five years since

With NBA plans seemingly on track, is basketball coming back too soon? Well, teams are "sports entertainment corporations."

It looks like the NBA is on its way to a partial restart at Disney World in Orlando, despite reasons for doubt, given that lack of major progress--like a treatment or cure-on the coronavirus. Majority of NBA GMs vote to restart season by going straight to playoffs , ESPN's Tim Bontemps wrote yesterday, but that was just 16 out of 30 general managers. Five backed a different version of the playoffs, while nine voted to finish the season. No one agreed on when the season could end--as early as Labor Day and as late as November 1., with a small plurality--nine votes--for October 1. Sources: NBA board of governors expected to approve [Commissioner] Adam Silver's restart plan Thursday , ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne reported later yesterday, describing a plan for 22 of 30 teams to return, with regular-season games included. More games, of course, means more revenues. If the bottom eight teams are eliminated, the Brooklyn Nets are in, the New York Knic

Variety: MTV considering staging VMAs--circumstances unclear--on Aug. 30 at Barclays Center

Variety yesterday published an exclusive, MTV Video Music Awards Exploring August Live Show From Brooklyn’s Barclays Center “We’re exploring with government officials, the medical community and key stakeholders on how to safely hold the 2020 VMAs at Barclays Center on August 30th,” an MTV spokesperson tells Variety. “The health of everyone involved is our number one priority. Additionally, we are working on several contingency plans to bring music’s biggest night to audiences everywhere.” Note that VMAs typically move around among venues , and were notably held once before at the Barclays Center, in 2013, gaining buzz while impinging seriously on the neighborhood. From Variety: While a traditional physical production is the goal, according to one source familiar with the plans, the network is keeping safety top of mind and exploring virtual performances and an audience-free show, among other contingency plans. Ya think? New York City is the nation's coronavirus epicenter,

Killing the city? New federal office guidelines suggest very limited mass transit, elevator use

Effectively, the CDC recommends that midtown Manhattan remain a ghost town indefinitely. — Justin Davidson (@JDavidsonNYC) May 29, 2020 in essence: the CDC is recommending the end of offices, the end of mass transit, the end of carpooling... and basically the end of cities — Edward-Isaac Dovere (@IsaacDovere) May 29, 2020 New guidelines from the federal Centers for Disease Control have been summarized ominously, such as in the New York Times article headlined  C.D.C. Recommends Sweeping Changes to American Offices , with the subheading "Temperature checks, desk shields and no public transit: The guidelines would remake office life. Some may decide it’s easier to keep employees at home." Any wiggle room? Actually, the guidelines,  COVID-19 Employer Information for Office Buildings , seem to leave some wiggle room: For employees who commute to work using public transportation or ride sharing, consider offering the following s

New poll shows wariness not just toward reopening Broadway, but also concerts in large venues and professional sports

In yesterday's (print) New York Times,  Poll Shows One Hurdle to Reopening Broadway: Fear of Jerks  described a New York Times/Siena College Research Institute poll, administered to New York State voters between May 17 and May 21, which "showed a wariness of attending live theater performances, and pop and classical music concerts if they were to resume around Sept. 1." The article's focus was on the increasing doubts that fans and presenters have about Broadway shows coming back, given concerns about health risks, safety protocols, and awkward social distancing. However, as noted below, the poll also showed wariness toward sports and concerts in large venues, which has to worry the operators of Barclays Center, Madison Square Garden, and more. Sports fans somewhat more optimistic The article only touched on other types of events: Fall was not as daunting a prospect for the sports fans who said that they went to at least one or two games last year. Some 48 p

NHL to resume play, commissioner insists, because fans want it. Is that the real reason?

Hockey's back, or is it? N.H.L. Announces Plan to Return Straight Into the Playoffs , the New York Times reported yesterday, noting it was the largest league to announce such a plan. It involves jumping right to the playoffs, in two pending hub cities (none in New York, of course), with the end of the tournament in the fall, suggesting a later start for the next season. Each Conference will be assigned a "hub" city with secure hotels, arena, practice facilities and in-market transportation. "Let me assure you that the reason we are doing this is because our fans are telling us, in overwhelming numbers, that they want us to complete the season if at all possible," Bettman said in a video . See screenshot above. That's not so clear. What the fans think From FiveThirtyEight/Ipsos Yes, a Seton Hall poll (my coverage ), said 76 percent of sports fans said they'd would watch broadcasts of the games with the same interest as before. 

The coming "bubble"? As limited workouts resume at Nets' practice facility, NBA mulling season restart in Orlando

Basketball's coming back, right? Well, probably, but consider: I don’t think anyone can predict what’s going to happen from now on. So many vagaries: the format; health and conditioning of players; mental emotional burden spending months in the bubble; injuries; quarantines for those found infected. And the unknown. — NetsDaily (@NetsDaily) May 25, 2020 From NetsDaily, Following Cuomo announcement, Nets to begin workouts at HSS Tuesday 29 , a statement from the Nets: "Working in conjunction with state government officials and local health authorities, the Brooklyn Nets will open HSS Training Center for voluntary player workouts on Tuesday, May 26. The organization will strictly follow the protocols outlined by the NBA and infectious disease experts to ensure that all precautions are taken in order to maintain a safe and healthy environment for players and staff." But it won't exactly be a team workout: only four players can be in the building at any one time,

Brooklyn Nets: "Our borough is... furlough" (my annotation)

The screenshot below reproduces the signature section of the Brooklyn Nets' Twitter account, including the line "Our borough is thorough," which adapts and appropriates (without mention) the "My borough is thorough" from "The What" ( lyrics , audio ) on Ready To Die , the 1994 debut album from Brooklyn hip-hop pioneer The Notorious B.I.G. (aka Biggie Smalls). A coronavirus-era perception shift When I logged on this morning, I swear, my mind's eye translated "thorough" to "furlough," so I then made the following sign-of-the-times annotation. (Yes, I know the borough and city are making steps to reopen, with Nets players now able to practice .) More on the Nets' hip-hop sources Fun fact: "The What" was the online handle of the microcelebrity Brownstoner troll, immortalized in this May 2008 New York magazine article, The What You Are Afraid Of , though there was no mention of Biggie as a possible source

Down the memory hole: Atlantic Yards "has become an anchor of downtown Brooklyn"?

From the 2019 book Zoning: A Guide for 21st-Century Planning , edited by Elliott Sclar, Bernadette Baird-Zars, Valerie Stahl, and Lauren Ames Fischer. The summary: Zoning is at once a key technical competency of urban planning practice and a highly politicized regulatory tool. How this contradiction between the technical and political is resolved has wide-reaching implications for urban equity and sustainability, two key concerns of urban planning. Moving beyond critiques of zoning as a regulatory hindrance to local affordability or merely the rulebook that guides urban land use, this textbook takes an institutional approach to zoning, positioning its practice within the larger political, social, and economic conflicts that shape local access for diverse groups across urban space. ...Where and why has zoning, an act of physical land use regulation, replaced social planning? These questions, grounded in examples and cases, will prompt readers to think critically about the potential

"Ghost games": in the near term, an odd sports experience awaits, as the "experience economy" goes on indefinite pause

Given the increasing likelihood that major league sports will return in fan-less venues, played for the cameras and the television audience, the question arises: how well can it work. In the New York Times, Jere Longman wrote 5/20/20, With No Fans in the Seats, Do Sports Remain Must-Watch TV? , recalling an April 2105 baseball game in Baltimore, played before empty stands in the wake of civil unrest. His observation: But without live spectators for an extended period, traditional games risk being reduced to mathematics with trading cards, especially once the novelty of sports’ return wears off. For those watching on television, spectators are necessary surrogates. They provide jersey-wearing pageantry, face-painted tribalism and adrenaline for the players. He warns against artificial noise and fake spectators. But if games resume, expect some efforts to simulate a crowd. Similarly, Danny Chau wrote 5/20/20 in The Atlantic,  Athletes During the Pandemic Are Learning What Fans

Money talks: plans brew for the centralized return of NBA and NHL, but not in New York

ESPN reports today on shifting attitudes from those running the universe of pro sports:  "To months in, the landscape has shifted, from fear of one positive test shutting down a season to the gradual acceptance of risk." From the Athletic, 5/20/20,  Sources: NBA in serious talks to restart season in Orlando, Disney World the frontrunner : The NBA is in serious discussions with Disney about the property, which has gained clear momentum over cities such as Las Vegas, sources said. It remains unclear when the games would begin, but multiple sources say the prospect of players fully training in mid-June and playing by mid-July has been the most popular and possible scenario discussed. NBA commissioner Adam Silver told the Board of Governors on May 12 that he aims to decide on the season in two-to-four weeks, and that he wants to wait as long as he can to make final decisions. ...For the NBA, Orlando/Disney World’s controllability as a playing site — with a private property

After past launches at the Barclays Center, Samsung moving Unpacked event online

In 2018 and 2019 (at least), Samsung held Unpacked events at the Barclays Center, unveiling the Galaxy Note. Such private events for corporate launches have proved lucrative for the arena, but they're not happening now, given that large gatherings are not possible.  From Tom's Guide today,  Samsung Galaxy Note 20 launch event details just leaked : The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 is expected to launch in August, and now we have the first details of Samsung's plans for the big event. As reported by The Korea Herald out of South Korea (via SamMobile ), Samsung is planning an online-only event to reveal the Galaxy Note 20 and Galaxy Note 20 Plus. This would be the first-ever Samsung Unpacked event that would be completely online.

Yes, venues are being asked for refunds, and some may restructure loans

Sports fans awaiting refunds wonder if they're being played , Crain's New York Business reported two days ago, describing baseball having trouble getting refunds from teams desperate to maintain some liquidity amid the coronavirus crisis. From the article: Some squeezed owners and arena operators are preparing to ask bankers for waivers to their loan covenants. “We’re starting to have those conversations,” Fitch Ratings analyst Chad Lewis said. I don't think the Barclays Center can get a waiver regarding mandatory payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs) required to pay off arena construction. The arena does have a reserve fund, and the owner of the Brooklyn Nets and arena operating company is a billionaire. But the outlook has to be concerning. And while Barclays has announced cancellations and postponements, it does not necessarily control the process. Which means, oddly enough, that a concert scheduled for June 20 is proceeding , at least according to the arena

Apartments nationally are getting redesigned in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, but in Brooklyn?

There are two Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park towers (B4, B15) under construction, two said to start this summer (B12, B13), and one for which a permit has been filed (B5), starting a perhaps-slow process toward construction. One natural question is whether and how such buildings will be (re)designed for the current coronavirus crisis and even a later phase when social distancing remains something of a norm. After all, vertical buildings on expensive, relatively tight parcels offer far more challenge and constraint than horizontal buildings on cheaper land. Until we learn more, however, we can notice the trends.  The Pandemic Is Changing How The Next Wave Of Apartment Amenities Will Be Designed , Bisnow reported 5/4/20. The article quoted interior designer Adam Meshberg as noting that adding separation means pressure to increase the amount of space, which is costly to developers. A fitness center, he suggested, might be cut up into smaller rooms. In larger buildings, more space is

Bad news for venues: poll says few willing to go to a sporting event now, and most would wait for a vaccine; is it too soon for fanless events?

What Would It Take For Sports Fans To Feel Safe? , FiveThirtyEight asked in an article 5/12/20. The answer: less than one quarter (24%) of respondents to an Ipsos  poll of 1,109 Americans  said they'd go back to a very likely (7%) or somewhat likely (14%) to attend an event in person under current circumstances. Though such changes as mandatory mask-wearing, social distancing at venues, and a declining trend in local COVID-19 cases would help a lot or somewhat, more than 60% said it would help only a little or not help. The bottom line: only a (who knows when) vaccine against the coronavirus would lead 51% of those polled to say it would help a lot and 13% say it would help somewhat. Astonishingly, 27% said that they wouldn't feel comfortable even with a vaccine, a suggestion that people are shook at the concept of large gatherings, FiveThirtyEight suggests. Of course that could change; after all, people today think nothing of attending events after getting a routine

From the latest Construction Update: a stealth increase in after-hours work (which had been previously approved, without notice)

The latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update (bottom), covering the two weeks beginning Monday, May 18 (tomorrow), was circulated Friday, 5/15/20 at 4:24 pm (lead time) by Empire State Development (ESD) after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners. Judging from the text in red in the document below, the main new work involves work in the cellar, involving materials/systems as well as rooms, at the B4 (18 Sixth Avenue and B15 (37 Sixth Avenue, 662-4 Pacific Street) sites. (The other signposted new work involves pre-construction surveying and soil sampling activities at the B12 and B13 sites, where construction was once expected to start by June.) However, the update includes a rather stealth acknowledgment of after-hours work at both B4 and B15, not signposted in red: Protocols and facilities have been put in place to ensure an orderly, safe workplace in accordance with current government requirements and permits, which include weekday start times at 7 AM an

"Microsoft will occupy about 500,000 square feet at Atlantic Yards"... in Atlanta

A press release 5/15/20 from the state of Georgia, headlined Governor Kemp Announces Microsoft Corp. to Expand Presence in Atlanta with 1,500 New Jobs, New Facility State Seal : Governor Brian P. Kemp today announced that Fortune 500 company Microsoft Corp., a worldwide leader in software, services, devices, and solutions, will open a new facility in Atlanta, anticipated in summer 2021. The $75 million investment will create 1,500 new high-tech jobs in West Midtown. “We are excited that a global leader like Microsoft Corp. is expanding its investment in Georgia with tech jobs that will be truly beneficial to the company and our state,” said Governor Kemp. “I am confident that our top-notch tech talent and education pipeline will continue to be an asset to Microsoft. We are laser-focused on providing high-quality jobs for hardworking Georgians, and I thank Microsoft for our growing partnership.” Microsoft’s new facility will be a client-facing workplace that will focus on artifici

If at least 20% of office workers decide to keep working from home, "that's a huge blow to office demand"

Yesterday the Real Deal published (broadcast?) an interview with Dror Poleg, author of Rethinking Real Estate , subtitled "A Roadmap to Technology's Impact on the World's Asset Class," and his business partner Antony Slumbers. The summary is that they believe "the office market will begin to emulate the hotel market in terms of the way it's owned and operated," with branding companies like WeWork partnering with landlords to market office space. (Of course, WeWork, however successful at branding, was terrible at business.) Most interesting to me was the exchange that began around 11:14. The Real Deal's Hiten Samtani noted that, given the coronavirus crisis, "New York City suffers from systemic challenges that might impact its attractiveness," including public transit and extremely high density. "If I'm a New York City office landlord, or an office REIT [real estate investment trust]," he asked, "what I am thinking

Challenge to Islanders' new Belmont Park arena thrown out; "rational basis" rules, and judge punts on whether it was a "done deal"

Any legal challenge to a New York State agency decision goes uphill, given the limited role of the courts, so it's no surprise that a state Supreme Court justice has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Village of Floral Park and allies to annul the approval of the new Belmont Park arena project and to require new findings regarding the impact of the arena and associated hotel and retail village. "The Court recognizes that the approval of the Project goes against the VILLAGE’s legitimate concerns with respect to the scope of the project and the impact on its residents," wrote Nassau County Supreme Court Justice Roy S. Mahon in his 5/12/20 decision, first  reported  yesterday by Newsday. "Nonetheless, the Court’s review is limited to the evaluation of whether the determination was made in violation of lawful procedure, was affected by an error of law, or was arbitrary and capricious or an abuse of discretion," he wrote. But the court can't "substitute