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Showing posts from July, 2020

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

As Gilmartin gets new short-term role at REIT in New Jersey, a new NY filing for MAG Partners

From the Real Deal 7/28/20, Rent-a-CEO: Inside Gilmartin’s short-term gig at Mack-Cali, regarding the former Forest City Ratner/Forest City New York executive MaryAnne Gilmartin, a member of the board of the Mack-Cali, a real estate investment trust (REIT) focused on New Jersey, now elevated to temporary CEO:
After a massive shakeup of Mack-Cali’s board, MaryAnne Gilmartin is temporarily stepping in as the New Jersey-based real estate investment trust’s CEO.
Gilmartin, through an agreement between Mack-Cali and her company MAG Partners, will serve as CEO for six months or until the company finds a replacement, whichever happens first, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Mack-Cali, in turn, will pay MAG Partners a monthly fee of $150,000 and offer a one-time cash sign-on bonus of $300,000 and a completion bonus of $200,000 at the end of Gilmartin’s term, according to filings. An activist investor had pushed for the resignation of Mack-Cali CEO Michael DeMa…

An interesting TRD interview with Hakeem Jeffries, and a lingering Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park question

Not that surprising that a Member of Congress still gets stopped.
See Sen. Tim Scott, etc. https://t.co/UnregWscA2

(I was stopped 3-4 times in early 1990s. Not since, tho.) — Norman Oder (@AYReport) July 27, 2020
Rep. Jeffries as incoming Assemblymember helped negotiate a promise of 200 below-market for-sale units (condos), rather than affordable rentals, in #AtlanticYards@pacificparkbkhttps://t.co/gDvhKk1nFO

But that plan seems dead, w/no enforceability (& no push from legislators) — Norman Oder (@AYReport) July 27, 2020
Well, it was also a matter of the drafting language in the project documents signed by the developer and @EmpireStateDev — Norman Oder (@AYReport) July 28, 2020

As Belmont arena principals talk naming rights and new features, a lingering question: how many suites?

There's a little mystery regarding the New York Islanders new arena at Belmont Park, recently announced as UBS Arena: how many suites will it have?

When Newsday 7/22/20 reported on the naming rights deal, Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky said more than a third of the suites have been sold at Belmont. But no information about the number of suites exists on the arena web site or the press release, or on the Isles' web site.
On a recent podcast with The Athletic's Arthur Staple,  Ledecky said the arena would have more lower bowl seats than any other, aiming at a crowded atmosphere (and, perhaps, swapping out suites), while Oak View Group Chief Executive Officer Tim Leiweke, the arena operator, built on that.

"But our job is to make that bowl the greatest stage ever, for an artist, and for an athlete," he said. "So we've gone away from trends. You look at places like the [Madison Square] Garden, they have 160-170 suites. we don't. We ultiamtely got rid of …

Yes, Abbamondi will be CEO of BSE Global, parent of both Nets and arena company

A press release 7/28/20, SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY VETERAN JOHN ABBAMONDI NAMED CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF BSE GLOBAL, confirms that the former Madison Square Garden executive, previously revealed as CEO of the Brooklyn Nets, will also run the Barclays Center and other properties.

Note that the arena still needs a head of programming and a CFO.

Here's the text of the press release:
BROOKLYN – BSE Global today announced that John Abbamondi has been named Chief Executive Officer of the company with immediate effect. BSE Global is the parent company of the National Basketball Association’s Brooklyn Nets and its home arena Barclays Center, as well as the Long Island Nets of the NBA G League and NetsGC of the NBA 2K League. Abbamondi will also be nominated to become an Alternate Governor of the Brooklyn Nets.  Abbamondi will be responsible for leading the overall business strategy and operations for BSE Global. As Chief Executive Officer, he will be in charge of advancing the c…

At uneventful AY CDC teleconference meeting, no updates on platform or affordability, but claimed commitment (amid doubt) regarding affordable housing deadline

The first virtual meeting of the advisory Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation, held yesterday by teleconference, was brief, under 40 minutes, and mostly uneventful, punctuated by static and sometimes less than audible statements.

No member of the public submitted a public comment by the deadline, the previous afternoon, and there was no opportunity for public comment after the agenda items.

There was a significant discussion of the plans, yet unrevealed, to meet the 2025 deadline for affordable housing, with the developer alluding to ongoing negotiations, yet unresolved, with the Long Island Rail Road to build the first phase of the platform.

That platform, expected to take three years, will support three towers, likely two of which must be built by the deadline. Note that master developer Greenland Forest City Partners, dominated by Greenland USA, last year predicted that first phase would start in early 2020 and be finished by 2022.

There was no discussion, however, of…

From the IBO in May: "the long-term attractiveness of New York City as a place to live and do business is very much an open question"

A May 2020 Fiscal Brief from the New York City Independent Budget Office, focusing on the Executive Budget, warns Tumbling Tax Revenues, Shrinking Reserves, Growing Budget Gaps: New York City Faces Substantial Fiscal Challenges in the Weeks and Months Ahead.

It surely has gotten worse--with the coronavirus crisis causing increased unemployment and hardship, compounded by rising crime and social distrust, with the police brutality protests further exposing fault lines.

Below I pasted in some verbatim text regarding real estate and general risks, with emphases and commentary added. The bottom line is that the future is ominous.

What's interesting is that projects like Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park seems to be building into an optimistic future,

"We are hopeful there will be a vaccine and this will be resolved by the time buildings are open," said Amir Stein, a representative of TF Cornerstone, builder of B12 and B13, at the most Quality of Life meeting in June.

Last week, we…

As Atlantic Yards advisory group finally meets tomorrow, vague agenda, questions about six-month look-ahead. Will all/most coming "affordable" units rent to those earning $100,000+?

Sometime this past Friday, 7/24/20, we got an agenda (right), typically vague, for tomorrow's long-awaited meeting of the advisory Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC).

The telephonic meeting will be webcast here.

The board, dominated by gubernatorial appointees but with a few who've shown some independence, is supposed to meet quarterly, but hasn't met since last summer--in July 2019, and then a fellow-up meet a few weeks later.

Vague agenda, comments pre-meeting

The agenda includes a Community Relations Update and a Construction Activity & Project Update.

A typical public meeting enables members of the public to comment on specific agenda items and to comment in general at the end of the meeting. In this case, before knowing the actual content of the meeting--board materials are not posted yet--public comments must be submitted in writing to AYCDCBdMtg@esd.ny.gov by 4:30 pm today.

That, of course, means #covid19 meetings are less democratic than t…

From the latest Construction Update: B12/B13 (again) may start; progress at B4; after-hours work ends at railyard

The latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update (bottom), covering the two weeks beginning Monday, 7/27/20, was circulated Friday, 7/24/20 at 5:10 pm (lead time) by Empire State Development (ESD) after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners.

Judging from the text highlighted in in red in the document below, the only possible new work (compared with the previous update) cited is excavation and foundation work for the B12 (615 Dean) and B13 (595 Dean) towers, which would include "oversized equipment (i.e. drill rigs, excavators, etc.) during early morning hours."

Note that such excavation and foundation work was noted in the two previous two-week updates as expected to commence.

Progress at B4

At the B4 tower (18 Sixth Avenue), which is rising steadily, the document indicates a new phase of work:
Mechanical trades are installing materials / systems up the building as the work progresses. Layout and construction of floors continues, and work on the exterior faca…

Forbes: value of naming rights deals plunges when venues go dark. (Is Barclays paying right now?)

The Changing Landscape Of Stadium Naming Rights Deals, Forbes contributor Tim Newcomb wrote 7/17/20, suggesting that the value has dropped enormously for arenas like Barclays Center:
As venues largely remain empty now for months on end across the United States, [marketer Eric] Smallwood says NFL venues are the ones best set up to hold their value if games are still played this fall in what will be a heavily watched season on television, while arenas — many that host more than 250 events per year with NBA, NHL, concerts and family entertainment and over 2 million visitors— have little to no value. Baseball, of course, if the season is played as now planned, will drop the value of its deals by 50 percent by eliminating roughly half the home games and removing fans from the equation. I'm not sure the value of the name of an arena at a major crossroads in Brooklyn goes to zero value, but surely the absence of public events is an enormous blow. The announced MTV Video Music Awards cer…

A new president for the Nets, former MSG/NBA executive Abbamondi; arena role unclear

Sportico's Scott Soshnick reported an exclusive 7/22/20, BROOKLYN NETS TO NAME MSG EXEC JOHN ABBAMONDI AS TEAM PRESIDENT.
Actually, John Abbamondi is a former executive vice president of ticketing, suites and hospitality at Madison Square Garden, who left in January after about four years.
Before that, Abbamondi worked as senior vice president of team marketing and business operations at the National Basketball Association, according to Sportico.
NetsDaily noted that the Nets had no official comment "but insiders confirmed the news."

Though Abbamondi is taking some of the duties previously occupied by David Levy, who was CEO of both the arena and team, it's not clear whether he'll also be responsible for running the arena.

A shift in real estate? Major firm Tishman Speyer moving into affordable housing

A press release this past week, Tishman Speyer Taps Gary Rodney to Establish Affordable Housing Platform:
Tishman Speyer President and CEO Rob Speyer today announced the firm has hired Gary Rodney to help establish and manage a new affordable housing platform that will initially focus on the New York City region.

Rodney will help Tishman Speyer source opportunities to acquire, redevelop and engage in ground-up construction of quality housing that is affordable to low- and middle-income New Yorkers throughout the five boroughs.

Rodney brings more than two decades of experience related to the development and financing of affordable housing to his newly-created Managing Director role at Tishman Speyer. For the past four years, Rodney served as Chairman of CREA, LLC, where he worked with the senior management team and its partners to help finance quality affordable housing in cities throughout the country.

Immediately prior to CREA, Rodney served as President of the New York City Housing D…

As B12 & B13 start looms, no info about affordability (middle-income?); Chelsea Piers still involved ("storage" was placeholder); dubious exchange on expanded parking

This is the third of three posts on the 7/21/20 Quality of Life meeting, sponsored by Empire State Development (ESD). The first concerned construction progress and open issues. The second concerned Barclays Center issues.

The B12 and B13 towers at the southeast block of the site have not actually started, TF Cornerstone's Amir Stein said at the meeting, though a construction fence has been installed. "We're working on final coordination with city agencies."

Once construction starts, it should take one year to build the foundation, part of a three-year total buildout. The towers will be built simultaneously.

There may be off-hour deliveries of construction equipment in coming weeks, he said.

He said the first five months, drilling piles, should be the noisiest, follwed by seven months of concrete pouring. Then eight months of superstructure. After that, general construction, including interior work.

He said there "likely will have to be night and weekend work, de…

Barclays Center: no details yet on MTV awards show; vague on continuing worker pay; MLK quote stays at oculus (for now); no comment on petition for school space

This is the second of three posts on the 7/21/20 Quality of Life meeting, sponsored by Empire State Development (ESD). The first concerned construction progress and open issues.  The third concerned the B12 and B13 sites.

Barclays Center spokeswoman Mandy Gutmann responded to several questions and made a few announcements.

MTV Video Music Awards

The Barclays Center plans to host MTV's Video Music Awards on Aug. 30, without an audience.

Neighbors pointed out that the 2013 production caused great strains on local blocks.

"I was here in 2013," Gutmann said. "I know it was a massive production… This year will be different."

As details are resolved, she said, "I can discuss with [ESD's] Tobi [Jaiyesimi] the best way to disseminate information."

Noting that the North Prospect Heights Association has offered to organize a meeting before the event, Gutmann said, "we appreciate your help and your offer and will certainly be in touch as details unfold.&…

Belmont arena to be named for Swiss bank UBS; deal value (on public land) claimed to be $275-$300M

Expected to open next year, Islanders' new home to be called UBS Arena, Newsday reported yesterday:
In announcing the naming rights agreement Wednesday, Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky and Oak View Group Chief Executive Officer Tim Leiweke said UBS, a Switzerland-based bank, wanted to "send a strong message about their commitment to the future of this city, the metropolitan area and the economy" amid the coronavirus pandemic. UBS, which describes itself as "a global firm providing financial services in over 50 countries," has a 20-year agreement for the arena naming rights. Team executives declined to say how much the deal was worth.Value murky

Pollstar reported:
The deal for UBS Arena is valued at more than $300 million over the course of the 20-year term, according to industry sources.Sportico reported:
The deal will last at least twenty years and will pay the team a minimum of $275 million, according to a person familiar with the terms. The source was granted an…

At Quality of Life meeting, no news about Site 5 and B5/platform development, but two towers (B4, B15) rising steadily

This is the first of three posts on the 7/21/20 Quality of Life meeting, sponsored by Empire State Development (ESD). The second concerned Barclays Center issues. The third concerned the B12 and B13 sites.
The news from last night's meeting is that there is no big news. Several big questions remain pending.

For example, Tobi Jaiyesimi, Atlantic Yards project director for ESD, said they have no updates on plans for development at Site 5 catercorner to the arena block, currently home to Modell's and P.C. Richard, and proposed for a giant two-tower project.

"There are no updates on the Site 5 condemnation," she said, which has not moved ahead, nor updates on the litigation between P.C. Richard, which won a preliminary ruling ordering original developer Forest City Ratner to deliver replacement space in a future building.

Nor are there any updates on plans to build B5, the first tower over the railyard, for which permits have been submitted (but not finalized), nor plans…

After nearly a year's delay, next Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation Directors meeting July 28

After nearly a year without a meeting, the advisory Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC) is scheduled to meet at 11 am next Tuesday, 7/28/20, by teleconference, as announced yesterday by Empire State Development.

There's no agenda yet, but it will be posted at least a day before the meeting. After all, members of the public may submit comments on the Agenda items in writing to AYCDCBdMtg@esd.ny.gov by 4:30 p.m. on Monday, July 27, 2020.
I'll write before the meeting about potential agenda issues before the meeting. As I'll detail elsewhere, last night's Quality of Life meeting raised relatively few issues for follow-up. Still, big questions remain, regarding the affordability of upcoming units, the plan to start building the platform, and the plan to meet the requirement of 2,250 affordable units by 2025.
Previous delay

The AY CDC is supposed to meet quarterly. It had been scheduled to meet in March, but that was canceled by the coronavirus.

As I wr…

Petition calls for Barclays Center spaces to be used for public school students during pandemic; questions of logistics, economics

Earlier this month, New York magazine critic Justin Davidson suggested--to some skepticism--that empty theaters, arenas, and other venues might be repurposed to help the city school system grapple with overcrowding

Yesterday, Prospect Heights activist Raul Rothblatt launched a petition, Use Barclays Center complex for DOE Students during Covid19, which has so far gotten 85 signatures:
Barclays Center pays no taxes. It is on publicly owned land. Its rich owners rely on huge public subsidies. Yet while our public school students face a massive new space crunch due to coronavirus, it sits empty.
The public has donated enough to Barclays Center—it’s time to get something back. We demand that the meeting rooms, atrium, Tidal Theater, unused restaurant spaces, practice courts, arena and concourses be used to help our children. We are not asking for thousands of children to be spread only in the arena—that is only one of the many spaces in the building. Indeed, there are multiple spaces in t…

Is the quote posted at the Barclays Center transit entrance really from Angela Davis? (It's common, but not sourced.)

Note: before publication, I sent a query to Angela Davis at the only email address I could find. I didn't get a response. (Added 8/4/20.)

On 7/8/20, I wrote an article for Bklyner, How an Angela Davis Quote Wound Up at the Barclays Center Subway Entrance.

The article noted that the plaza entrance, instead of advertising, offered a stark black-and-white quote, “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I can no longer accept,” attributed to “Angela Davis, American Political Activist, Educator, and Author.”


Now researcher Barry Popik, known as a contributor to various dictionaries, makes a strong case that the quote, while frequently attributed to Davis in books and on the web, is not from her. He notes that Wikiquote has it as unsourced.

I hadn't researched it thoroughly--I was more curious about how the quote got there. So until further information surfaces, it does not seem a legitimately sourced quote.

Likely one of the best-known examples…