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Showing posts from October, 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)

Would a real-estate firm truly list valid "Cons" for 550 Vanderbilt? Nah.

I must say that I find this  CityRealty page  (screenshot at right) for the 550 Vanderbilt condo building a wee bit slanted.  Consider the list of pros and cons--and put aside the coronavirus crisis, which probably makes some people wary of elevators. The Pros include: near public transportation (sure, though no-parking might now be an issue) "near the Brooklyn Academy of Music" (not quite) near Barclays Center (more or less) "adjacent to new park" (not for many years, and open space isn't quite a park) part of a huge project with more than 6,400 apartments (the proofreading on that needs work, but that total is by no means imminent) The listing text, though not the Pros, mentions the key pro: the very advantageous 25-year 421-a tax abatement.  Unmentioned, oddly enough, is the fact that Vanderbilt Avenue is a vibrant shopping street, with many food and beverage options, and is now an open street. What are the Cons? The Cons, in toto, consist of "Co

Celebrity broker Ryan Serhant makes his own way, forming new firm

So Ryan Serhant, the "Million-Dollar Listing" broker who took over sales at the 550 Vanderbilt condo and participated in an episode that misportrayed his role , last month announced he'd form his own real-estate firm. At least to the Real Deal, "Serhant maintained that he is not leaving Nest Seekers International" and will continue to work on existing projects there, presumably including 550 Vanderbilt, to which that firm is still attached. But the publication quoted "two insiders" who said Serhant and the brokerage "have been unwinding their relationship since at least the start of the year," and several team members have left. And some of his projects at Nest Seekers no longer have his name attached. A follow-up 10/21/20 Real Deal article, Inside Ryan Serhant’s new brokerage , suggests that most superstars actually prefer to be part of a larger firm, given the support they offer. Meanwhile, Serhant may be building "the future of the i

550 Vanderbilt still touting the (implied) presence of a "brand new park," though it may not be done until 2035

I dunno, I still find it stunning that, for at least four years, the developers of the 550 Vanderbilt condo building have, on their website , been implying that "Pacific Park" is somehow complete. It's described as "A brand new park in the heart of Brooklyn with unparalleled services and amenities at your doorstep." According to the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine, the web page was first captured  9/30/16 , though it likely existed before then. Of course that "park"--privately operated, publicly accessible open space--won't be delivered for years, not until the six towers over the railyard, which require an expensive deck, get built. Meanwhile, there's fractional open space outside 550 Vanderbilt, which has been truncated to accommodate construction lasting three years, at the adjacent rental towers 595 Dean and 615 Dean, which include a below-grade fitness facility and fieldhouse. Once those towers are done, the open space between 615

At 550 Vanderbilt condo unit, a price cut takes a studio to $1,999, well into "affordable" territory

Sure, there's a pandemic, and that's played havoc with demand for expensive apartments, especially ones that face toward a courtyard, likely with views of--and sounds from?--the adjacent construction site west on Dean Street, where buildings should rise by 2023. But it's still notable that one studio apartment at the 550 Vanderbilt condominium has seen a drastic price drop, from $2,300 to $1,999. Such a montly rent is well below middle-income "affordable" rents under New York City guidelines , which this year are $2,155 for those earning 130% of Area Median Income (AMI) and $2,753, for those earning 165% of AMI. When leasing began in 2017 at "100% affordable" 535 Carlton Avenue down the block, studios at 165% of Area Median Income rented at $2,137, and at similar 38 Sixth Avenue , studios at 165% of AMI rented at $2,121. Three years later, those rents should have gone up slightly.  That said, the 550 Vanderbilt studio rent is not subject to rent stabili

No, "Florida-based developer Nick Mastroianni II has [not] assumed the Coliseum’s lease" (updated/clarified)

From Newsday, 10/28/20,  New York Riptide plans to play its second NLL season at Nassau Coliseum The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the future of Nassau Coliseum in flux. But a second team besides the Islanders is confident it will play its next season in the venerable barn. The New York Riptide of the National Lacrosse League announced on Wednesday the franchise’s second season would begin in April with the goal of playing home games at the Coliseum. ...Florida-based developer Nick Mastroianni II has assumed the Coliseum’s lease after Mikhail Prokhorov’s Onexim announced in June it was shutting the building. Newsday keeps describing Mastroianni that way, but it's partly imprecise, partly dead wrong.  Yes, he's been a developer but his main identity is a founder/operator of a "regional center" called the U.S. Immigration Fund, a private entity that serves as a middleman, recruiting immigrant investors who offer low-interest loans to real-estate projects in exchange for

At 550 Vanderbilt, the $15,000 a month penthouse

Well, if you can't sell 550 Vanderbilt Avenue #PHE  (Penthouse East), last year marketed for $5 million  (and once  $5.8 million )--one of a number of high-priced, unsold units --why not rent the 2,412-square-foot 3-bedroom, 3.5-bathroom unit with a 735-square-foot terrace and ceilings heights of up to 12 feet. It's off the market, but the $15,000 asking rent was being discounted with one free month, so an effective rent of $13,750. The listing offered "Flexible move in date, can be furnished or unfurnished, open to rent-to-own option." It's an impressive apartment, it's just that the universe of people who want to pay that much rent can't be that large.  The unit is at the northeast portion of the top floor, so not as close to the construction at the parcel to the west, B12/B13, as some other parts of 550 Vanderbilt. Note that, while that current StreetEasy list does not indicate that #PHE was recently for sale, a click on the link indicates that, indeed,

Less than 5% of condos at 550 Vanderbilt still available, with "new pricing" earlier this year. But those high-end units represent about 10.5% of building value.

In describing a marketer's effort to rebrand a maisonette at the 550 Vanderbilt condo tower with the boutique address of 655 Dean Street, I yesterday noted that, by my count, 11 of 278 units remain unsold. It hasn't been easy to move the last units--as I wrote, as of a flash sale in December 2018 , there were 32 apartments left, mostly more expensive ones. In 2019, however, pricing was further pressured by a new mansion tax . Before the coronavirus pandemic upended things, making it even harder to sell units, I noticed in early March an advertisement on a trash can in Downtown Brooklyn, at Court and Schermerhorn streets, aiming to sell the remaining units at 550 Vanderbilt. "Last 5% of inventory with New Pricing!" the advertisement states. "25 year tax abatement."  The "last 5% of inventory" implied that 14 of 277 units were still available--and that conformed to the statistics I'd been keeping. (The 278th unit is for the super; that sal

Welcome to... 655 Dean Street? Unsold maisonette at 550 Vanderbilt refreshed with new address (and price chop)

In a 10/23/20 article, the New York Times reported that, "of more than 20,000 condo units citywide that have come to market since 2018, nearly 60 percent remain unsold," or $33 billion of unsold apartments. That's a lot.  Maisonettes on Dean Street (Google Maps); M1 is at the far west (left) I'm not sure if that includes units at 550 Vanderbilt in Brooklyn, the sole condo building in Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, since sales there begin in 2015--but not all units were put on the market at that time. That said, 11 of the 278 condos remain unsold, by my count, which suggests relatively slow sales since the final 32 units were put on a flash sale in December 2018 . And they're all larger, more expensive units. They include the three uber-expensive penthouse apartments--less enticing now, without a private elevator, right?--and one of the three ground-floor maisonettes, with separate street-level entrances. That unsold maisonette is referred variously as M1 or TH1, p

Bisnow: the future of EB-5 may hinge, in part, on posture toward immigration (IMHO, it's a government issue)

Here's What Could Happen To The EB-5 Program In A New Administration , Bisnow reported 10/21/20, quoting, of course, insiders involved inprofiting from the program: “This program is an economic development program, but it’s painted with the brush of immigration,” said Aaron L. Grau, executive director of Invest in the USA, a trade group. And “Immigration is really not being touched, because it’s politically a time bomb,” said Ronald Fieldstone, a partner with the law firm Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr in Miami. But EB-5 is not necessarily a "win-win-win-win" as pitched, since the big winners are the developers getting cheap capital, the middlemen who reap fees and interest, and then the investors getting visas for themselves and their families, while the required job creation is extremely dubious, as I've written . So the issue is not merely allegations of fraud (too frequent) or the gerrymandering (since curtailed) of so-called Targeted Employment Areas to allow wea

The Times on the future of real estate: a push for equity, but also for more development; quick ways to add affordability

What Will New York Real Estate Look Like Next Year? , states a New York Times article, suggesting that the next primary election will help shape things. There's a new recognition that more equity is necessary, but the power brokers want to push back on anti-development sentiment: “This is not the time to double down on the narrative that business is bad, that development is bad,” said [former Deputy Mayor Alicia] Glen, who recently started a development firm, M Squared, which builds mixed-income housing in cities across the country. “We can’t play to the cheap seats of being against everything and everybody.” And one result is a new push to put affordable housing in affluent neighborhoods like SoHo, with a rezoning on tap. Trusting the real-estate establishment One problem, from my perspective is the issue of trust. The Times reported: A large expansion of Brooklyn’s Industry City complex, which developers said would create 20,000 new jobs,  was quashed last month  by opponents who

Newsday: UBS arena will have 55 suites

From Newsday, 10/23/20,  New renderings of UBS Arena luxury spaces released by Islanders : UBS Arena, slated to hold 17,113 for Islanders games, will have 55 suites, which is significantly fewer than most recent arenas. Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, for example, the most recently built in the metropolitan area, has 101 suites. Instead, the Islanders and their arena partners — arena development company Oak View Group and outgoing Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon — focused their premium experience around the arena’s 1,995 club seats. They'd been cagy about the number of suites, last month saying about 50 . Newsday's Randi Marshall, in a 10/9/20 column  Inside the Islanders' new Belmont Arena , wrote: Taking shape inside the arena’s frame are concourses that are double the size of Nassau Coliseum’s, 25,000 square feet of space just for the Islanders’ locker rooms, 56 suites and eight additional club spaces.  ...Will the investment pay off? [Tim] Leiweke said that so far,

OK, now city officials are worried about a "prohibited person" involved in a sports facility? NY State whiffed after Barclays pleaded guilty to a felony

Clause in Citi Field Lease Could Impede Steve Cohen’s Mets Purchase , the New York Times reported 10/21/20, noting that "Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office notified the Mets and Major League Baseball on Friday that they were looking into whether the team could be legally sold to Cohen." At issue is a clause in the lease between the New York Mets and the city, which technically owns Citi Field (to enable tax-exempt bond financing), and rules out “prohibited” persons as potential owners.  That definition encompasses a felon or a person who has “controlled” a felon. And while Cohen himself has no cirminal record, one of his subordinates was convicted of insider trading, and his company, SAC Capital Partners, paid $1.8 billion in fines for insider trading. Such securities fraud is a felony . My guess is that the city won't intervene in the sale--wouldn't they want the team to have a deep-pocketed owner at a time when fans can't attend?--but might use this to leverage some

At online meeting re affordable projects on Dean and Bergen streets, Cumbo (and a chorus) supports upzoning, while near neighbors can’t get answers about project scope and broader neighborhood rezoning

A contentious online kickoff meeting last night regarding affordable housing plans for underutilized city-owned parcels 542 Dean Street and 516 Bergen Street in Prospect Heights, hosted by the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), generated more heat than light, drawing some 140 attendees. At issue was an announced city plan to upzone the Dean Street parcel (Site B, a parking lot), doubling the bulk to allow a larger building to accommodate more affordable housing for seniors, and to upzone the Bergen Street parcel (Site A, a low-slung commercial building) to allow another, unspecified, affordable housing plan. The difference, at the Dean Street site at least, is between 58 units that could be built at current zoning, maxing at 55 feet tall ( R6B zoning ), and at least 80 units, maxing at 85-95 feet ( R7A zoning ). Some attendees, notably those galvanized by the YIMBY (Yes In My Back Yard) group Open NY, peppered the chat—no non-official was allowed

Upzoning for affordable housing at two Prospect Heights parcels reflects new city policy, raises debate on context; start of broader neighborhood rezoning?

I wrote yesterday about the unfulfilled plans for 225 senior units at Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park. So let's look at the city's  proposal  for at least 80 units of affordable senior housing nearby on an underutilized city-owned site in Prospect Heights, 542 Dean Street, and unspecified plans for "another population in need" at a similar city-owned site, 516 Bergen Street.  Both are between Sixth and Carlton avenues quite close to Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park. As I noted, such affordable housing is welcomed by neighbors, but not necessarily at that scale. The North Prospect Heights Association (NPHA) has called for development at existing zoning--rather than doubling the allowable square footage and enabling nine-story buildings instead of five-story ones--and warned that this sets a precedent for upzoning other parcels nearby. The proposal at Dean Street, rather than offer required open space, "uses the site to bring additional density to an already overtaxed neig

In Prospect Heights, new senior housing planned at least one city-owned site; what happened to 225 senior units once intended for Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park?

More than two years ago, I wrote The "affordable housing crisis for seniors" and the vague plans for 225 senior units at Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park . There are still no plans for such senior housing at the project, despite 2005-era promises.  But the city has new plans for at least 80 units of affordable senior housing nearby on an underutilized city-owned site in Prospect Heights, 542 Dean Street, and unspecified plans for "another population in need" at a similar city-owned site, 516 Bergen Street. While such affordable housing is welcomed by neighbors, if not necessarily at that scale, some neighbors are concerned such plans--which involve doubling the allowable square footage--set a precedent for upzoning other parcels near the larger, still unfinished project. An online  public meeting  is scheduled for tomorrow at 6:30 pm to kick off the plans for the two sites. I'll write separately about the complicated issue of context, but first want to remind reader

Thanks to stipulation, state may start plan to move bulk from unbuilt "Miss Brooklyn" to enlarge Site 5 project across Flatbush--even as P.C. Richard condemnation stays on hold

On 8/31/20, I reported  on what seemed to be another snag in the long-gestating (since 2015) plans by the developer of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park to move the bulk from the unbuilt "Miss Brooklyn" tower at the arena block across to Site 5, long home to Modell's and P.C. Richard, creating a giant two-tower project.  In a win for retailer P.C. Richard, hoping to stay at Site 5 and gain a replacement store at a future project there, a state Supreme Court judge agreed to stay a state condemnation action while a separate, related case proceeds, in which original developer Forest City Ratner appeals a decision awarding P.C. Richard that replacement space. But the developer Greenland Forest City Partners and state have gained crucial momentum, with permission to start the approval process, likely to take at least a year, to modify the guiding General Project Plan and allow that shift of bulk. This is the last remaining parcel on the 22-acre site which remains in contention. (The

From the latest Construction Update: after-hours weekday work expands at B4 and B15, from 6 am to 9 pm

The latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update (bottom), covering the two weeks beginning Monday, 10/19/20, was circulated Friday, 10/16/20 at 2:41 pm (lead time) by Empire State Development (ESD) after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners. There's a significant change from the previous update  regarding after-hours work at the B4 (18 Sixth Ave.) and B15 (37 Sixth Ave., 662-664 Pacific St.) sites. While previously work lasted until 7 pm on weekdays, now it officially ends at 6 pm--but an after-hours variance allows work until 9 pm. Similarly, while the weekday work officially starts at 7 am, an after-hours variance allows deliveries, garbage removal, hoist and crane operation to start as early as 6 am. One adjustment slightly limits specially permitted weekend work. On Saturdays, instead of work starting at 8 am, it will start at 9 am, again lasting until 5 pm. Construction progress Also, the update indicates some benchmarks. The exterior brick facade of B15 an

Call him "Quid Pro Cuomo," or "Status Cuomo," the governor still rules over the hapless mayor

There's a lot of tasty stuff in Nick Paumgarten's 10/12/20 New Yorker profile  Andrew Cuomo, the King of New York , so I encourage you to read it all. The subheading is "The Governor has been widely praised for his response to COVID. But his critics see a would-be authoritarian obsessed with settling scores." Indeed, there's evidence, though the people speaking on the record are cautious--or dead: In some ways, the occasion was perfect for Cuomo. “He’s inclined toward tyranny,” a Democratic legislator told me. “But in a crisis that’s what people want. Someone who can exert command and control. This situation is tailor-made for a tactician of his abilities.” An advocate for government could deploy its considerable capabilities without having to put up with its usual difficulties, which we sometimes call politics. But you can no more repress politics than you can feelings. ...Monica Klein, a progressive strategist, told me that shortly before Richard Brodsky, the fo

Toward the "Next Mayor's Next City," a recognition of interconnectness

The Next Mayor’s Next City , wrote New York magazine's Justin Davidson 10/15/20, with the subheading "Bill de Blasio’s successor can make life easier, nicer, and fairer — or just keep us going the way we were before." And it will also involve many new City Council members and Borough Presidents. He writes: What kind of city materializes in the 2020s will depend in part on how those leaders balance the drive toward global-capital status with the need to care for those who are left out of that prosperity. For nearly seven years, we’ve had a mayor who campaigned on behalf of the poor, the marginalized, and the outer-boroughs but presided over an ever-shinier city of manic wealth and grinding inequities. For all his rhetorical anti-capitalism, Bill de Blasio yoked his affordable-housing aspirations to real-estate-industry trickle-down... And his commitment to safer, greener, more flexible streets has been flickering at best. The history of those disappointments, and the disl