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Showing posts from October, 2020

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

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 readers about…

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 de…

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 and wi…

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 fourte…

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 disloc…

As the "Power Brokers" panic, questions about the future of real estate and the city's precariousness (and p.r. fluff)

The Panic Attack of the Power Brokers, wrote New York Magazine's Andrew Rice 10/13/20, quoting real estate machers as deeply unsettled by both the coronavirus crisis, notably its effect on building and sustaining use of office space, and the city's political rejection of development projects.Writes Rice:
If the entire real-estate industry is filled with anxiety, there’s still a hierarchy of distress. The multigenerational family companies, like Spitzer’s, tend to be less heavily leveraged, which should allow them to ride out the pandemic. (Or so they say — they’re extremely private companies, so who knows?) The public real-estate companies are more exposed to market forces.... More imperiled still are the adventurous investors — the ones who are building condo towers catering to foreign billionaires or who borrowed heavily to buy high on speculative trends. What about AY?
What does that mean for Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park? Well, there are family companies, like TF Cornerstone a…

Despite listing, NIT Season Tip-Off not scheduled for Barclays Center next month

I'm not sure that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Barclays Center are truly in sync. According to a 10/13/20 article on, 2020 men's college basketball calendar: Schedule, first games, NCAA tournament dates:Nov. 25, 2020 — The season begins
On Sept. 16, the NCAA Division I Council approved Nov. 25 as the start date for the first men's basketball games of the season. The original start date for the first games of the season was Nov. 10. The NIT Season Tip-Off will start on Nov. 25 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. However, large gatherings are not yet permitted in New York City, and that NIT Season Tip-Off is not listed on the Barclays Center calendar, excerpted at right. (It is listed on the ESPN web site.)
In fact, the only November dates on the Barclays Center calendar are November 23-24, and those events aren't happening:
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Legends Classic Presented by Old Trapper will be rel…

A snag with Nassau Coliseum refunds, thanks to Prokhorov's departure (and another erroneous description of the leaseholder)

The Concerts Were Canceled Months Ago. So Where Are the Refunds?, the New York Times reported yesterday, concerning refunds for Tool and Judas Priest shows at the Nassau Coliseum

Nassau County, the building's owner, says the former leaseholder, Mikhail Prokhorov's Nassau Events Center, is responsible. The latter entity claims to be “working closely with Ticketmaster regarding refunds" but wouldn't explain to the Times the reason for such delays.

Given that Nassau Events Center has walked away from the lease, the possibility of recourse remains in question.
The Times erroneously described the new leaseholder as the U.S. Immigration Fund, which is a regional center that recruits--and profits from--immigrant investors under the EB-5 program. But no one responded to my tweet, below.  Good piece, but needs a correction: the U.S. Immigration Fund is *not* the Nassau Coliseum's leaseholding "investor."

It's the *middleman* for a group of immigrant investors unde…

Hollywood Reporter: reviving concert tours will be more complicated for venues than bringing back sporting events

A 10/9/20 Hollywood Reporter article, Will Live Events Return? There May Be No "Back to Normal", cities, unsurprisingly, the plan for new protocols at live event venues, like contactless purchases/tickets, and extra cleaning. 
Such costs may be passed along to ticket buyers--and many people will have less money, along with wariness about safety, even after a vaccine.
The article makes an important distinction between professional sports, which relies significantly on TV revenues (and thus is easier to revive), and live music, which relies on ticket purchases and also depends on extensive touring, which likely will be complicated by different requirements in different cities.
Beyond that, concert promoters face compressed availability for dates, given that sports have been backloaded, and tours postponed from 2020 will compete with those planned for 2021.

Bottom line: many question marks remain.

Invoking Jackie Robinson, to re-elect the President

Yes, Donald Trump's campaign released a video ad, “Say What You Will About America," with images of famed Brooklyn Dodger and racial poineer Jackie Robinson (among others, including Martin Luther King, Jr.,) and the pushback was fierce.Jackie Robinson’s family strongly objects to the use of Jackie Robinson’s image in a Donald Trump @JRFoundation The Trump campaign is in opposition to all that Jackie Robinson stood for and believed in. We’re insulted and demand that his image be removed! @realDonaldTrump— Sharon Robinson (@sharonarobinson) October 8, 2020As Yahoo News noted, unless "she owns the image and the campaign used it without her permission, the most she may be able to do is publicly call for them to remove it.".@realDonaldTrump and his supporters would have physically stood in the way, clubs and torches in hand, of Jackie Robinson taking a Major League Baseball field.— Dave Zirin (@EdgeofSports) October 9, 2020

From City & State's Power 100, The most influential Black individuals in New York politics, several with Atlantic Yards history

In City & State's recent The Power of Diversity: Black 100, subtitled "The most influential Black individuals in New York politics," there were, of course, several people with Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park ties. (The Black 100 list was "created in partnership with Stephon Johnson of the New York Amsterdam News.")
Of course, given that the prime controversies were more than a decade ago, and these notables have many other things on their resumes, Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park is not part of the mentions.
At #3. after state legislative leaders Carl Heastie and Andrea Stewart-Cousins, came Attorney General Letitia James and then Hakeem Jeffries, Chair, House Democratic Caucus, both cited for work in the national spotlight, not, of course, as local legislators where they were not quite in sync on Atlantic Yards, with James an opponent and Jeffries closer to the fence.
At #5 is Brooklyn Borough President, and mayoral candidate Eric Adams, mostly a project supporter. At…

Second look at naming rights payments: documents offer little insight on claimed $12 million fee and confusing language regarding allotment to Nets

The main news from the FY 2020 annual report from the Barclays Center operating company, Brooklyn Events Center, is that revenue fell well short of projections.

I've also reported on the curious amount of "Goodwill" cited among arena assets, that Joe Tsai has contributed funds to help the arena pay workers through the end of 2020, and that the arena has agreed to provide $11 million in "make-goods" to sponsors.But the latest annual report prompted me to revisit another issue: naming rights. I found complication and confusion, but no resolution.Previously, $12 million? I reported last week on how a September 2019 presentation to arena bond investors, upon the finalization of the sale of the team and arena company from Mikhail Prokhorov to Joe Tsai, suggested that Barclays would by then be paying $12 million a year: $10 million to the arena company and $2 million seemingly to the Brooklyn Nets.

As I wrote, it was unclear is whether Barclays had been paying $12 milli…

Principal of new Belmont arena expects at least 60 concerts a year. Given hype and results for Barclays and Coliseum, that's doubtful.

At 10/7/20 article in Newsday about a media tour, Islanders' $1 billion UBS Arena at Belmont Park beginning to take shape, contains this caption, connected to a video: Oak View Group chief executive Tim Leiweke on Wednesday afternoon guided three Newsday journalists on the first media tour of the UBS Arena site, the upcoming home of the New York Islanders and what he expects will be at least 60 concerts a year. (Emphasis added)
It's not implausible that the new arena, expected to open in Fall 2021--though permissions for large gatherings remain unclear--will corral the main market for concerts on Long Island, especially for big acts.
Arena designers, with lots of space to work with, have lots of backstage for acts, plus have eight loading docks for easier load-in, compared with a tight fit like the Barclays Center (or Madison Square Garden).
Is 60 concerts a year realistic? Surely the new arena's first year, as with the Barclays Center's debut, will offer a bump, as both au…

Due to pandemic pause on delivery of sponsor messages, Barclays Center will offer $11M value in "make goods"

The main news from the FY 2020 annual report from the Barclays Center operating company, Brooklyn Events Center, is that revenue fell well short of projections, unable to cover the required annual bond payments. Also, as I reported, the company attributed more than 41% of the arena's assets to the ethereal notion of "Goodwill"--a sign that billionaire Joe Tsai overpaid for the operating company--and that Tsai has contributed funds to help the arena pay workers through the end of 2020. 

(Note: the New York Post, which earlier had exaggerated the arena's commitment, characterized the latter pledge as "the latest in a series of philanthropic moves since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak." I'd suggest that, given the belated extension in June that I reported, it's also strategic.) Well, the pandemic has driven another challenge.$11 million in "make-goods"From the report:
Driven by the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent Arena closure, as of June 30…

Thanks to money from Tsai, Barclays Center paid PT arena staff nearly $6M (<$200/week?) through June (not May)--and now will pay them through 2020

The main news from the FY 2020 annual report from the Barclays Center operating company, Brooklyn Events Center, is that revenue fell well short of projections, unable to cover the required annual bond payments. Also, as I reported, the company attributed more than 41% of the arena's assets to the ethereal notion of "Goodwill."But the document also discloses that billionaire Joe Tsai, who owns a set of interlocking companies--B-Cubed Arena owns Brooklyn Arena, which owns Brooklyn Events Center--has contributed funds to bolster the arena, backing a commitment to pay workers who've had no events to staff:
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, Brooklyn Arena has supported the Company through capital contributions totaling $13,500,000 during the Successor Period. Among other things, the Company used these contributions to pay for the salaries and benefits of its full-time and part-time employees, despite the Arena having been closed. During the Successor Period [through June 30], …

Bolstering the assets of the Barclays Center operating company, an enormous $467.6M for ethereal "Goodwill," triple the previously claimed value of "Intangibles"

The most recent annual report from the Barclays Center operating company, Brooklyn Events Center,  as I reported, indicated that FY 2020 revenue fell well short of projections, unable to cover the required annual bond payments. Another page in the document raises some questions. The balance sheet below shows an enormous sum, $467.6 million, for "Goodwill," a previously unstated portion of the asset owned by Joe Tsai. 
So, with Goodwill representing more than 41% of the total, the arena company's assets, said to be $1.1 billion, can meet the commensurate liability.It also suggests a bet that the arena company, which has not been able to cover required bond payments with revenues, will recover after the pandemic, with the Brooklyn Nets at star-studded strength, and be worth the approximately $1 billion that Tsai reportedly paid. (Not only should revenues be sufficient to pay off bonds, they also were supposed to deliver tens of millions of dollars in profits.)That figure for…

From the latest Construction Update: facade remedial work at 550 Vanderbilt and 38 Sixth

The latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update (bottom), covering the two weeks beginning Monday, 10/5/20, was circulated Friday, 10/2/20 at 4:03 pm (lead time) by Empire State Development (ESD) after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners.

There's virtually no change from the previous update, including after-hours work at the B4 (18 Sixth Ave.) and B15 (37 Sixth Ave., 662-664 Pacific St.) sites until 7 pm on weekdays and Saturday from 8 am to 5 pm. 
In fact, there's only one thing in red to indicate new work: minor facade remedial work will start at B11 (550 Vanderbilt Ave.). 
It also says that such remdial work "will continue" at B3 (38 Sixth Ave.), though work there, mentioned in the past, was not cited in the previous update.

The Barclays Center, boosting census completion and voter registration

Recently, the Barclays Center has been pushing census completion and voter registration, as stated:The Brooklyn Nets, New York Liberty and Barclays Center are sending Team Hype and volunteers throughout Brooklyn in a special team-branded bus to encourage census completion and voter registration on Thursday, October 1 and Friday, October 2. Team Hype will be sharing Nets and Liberty swag with fans all over the borough. They’ll be visiting specific Brooklyn neighborhoods that are trailing in census completion and voter registration. Brooklyn is at a critical juncture in the census count, with the lowest self-response rate in the city and lagging drastically behind America’s average census response rate. Without a complete count, New York City can potentially lose billions of dollars every year for the next 10 years for COVID-19 relief and vital congressional representation. Look for the Nets, Liberty, and Barclays Center bus in your neighborhood and make sure you complete the 2020 Censu…

New FY 2020 fiscal report shows Barclays Center operating income $16.5M behind estimates. But FY 2019 was worse. In both years, a reserve account funded bond payments.

Battered by the coronavirus pandemic, the Barclays Center operating company is struggling financially, with net operating revenues in FY 2020 (ending June 30) some $16.5 million behind estimates, insufficient to cover required bond payments, much less deliver profits.

The relatively good news, perhaps, for Brooklyn Events Center, is that this fiscal year, in which the arena was shuttered for three-and-a-half months, was not as fiscally painful as FY 2019, and pre-pandemic operations showed improvement.
In that year, the arena was burdened by an onerous lease with the New York Islanders and contractual provisions that steered more revenue to the Brooklyn Nets--but also which generated a separate reserve account to ensure those bond payments would be made.
In FY 2020, according to recently released documents, net operating income (NOI)--subtracting operating expenses from revenues--was $12.5 million, well below the required $22.7 million to pay off arena construction, described as "I…