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Showing posts from January, 2021

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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)

So, what exactly should those facing after-hours construction do? Well, there's email.... (plus slides from meeting)

This is the fourth of a few posts on the 1/26/21 Quality of Life  meeting , sponsored by Empire State Development (ESD) and held virtually. The  first  concerned postponed weekend railyard work. The  second  concerned the timing of construction. The third concerned the Barclays Center, including the ability to admit guests at Brooklyn Nets games. One question I posed: If a resident near the project believes that there is improper after-hours construction--say, at 6:30 am outside B12/B13--what should they do? Who should they contact at that time? That was related to an ambiguous incident I described before the meeting. If a resident believes there's after-hours work, "feel free to send a note to us," said Tobi Jaiyesemi of ESD, which both oversees and shepherds the project.  That's: Messages, at least, for ESD's Atlantic Yards Team, can be left at (212) 803-3736 Both she and Scott Solish of Greenland USA (which owns nearly all of Greenla

If luxury LIC rentals faced a big hit from the pandemic, the developers of the giant B4 tower (18 Sixth) have to be wary of a 2021 opening

The Real Deal 1/29/21 published  Two huge Long Island City rentals see occupancy plummet , notably: At Tishman Speyers’ 1,871-unit Jackson Park, occupancy declined from 96 percent in 2019 to 59 percent as of September 2020... Nearby, RockRose Development ’s 715-unit Linc LIC, at 43-10 Crescent Street, saw occupancy decline from 91 percent in 2019 to 67 percent in the third quarter of 2020. The article notes that amenities planned for these luxury buildings--fitness center, clubhouse, etc.--are made less attractive by the pandemic, but the developers expect occupancy to rebound once the pandemic is under control. What that means, though, remains unclear, especially since some percentage of wealthier young people--the target audience for such rentals--may decide to work from home from another location. Bottom line: developers of large towers in Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park have to be watching this.  What about B4? For example, 18 Sixth Ave. (B4) is slated to include 860 units, with 258 o

Barclays Center rep: "highest levels of state government" approved program to honor 62 essential workers at Nets game (despite state guidelines)

This is the third of a few posts on the 1/26/21 Quality of Life meeting, sponsored by Empire State Development and held virtually. The first concerned postponed weekend railyard work. The second concerned the timing of construction. Barclays Center representative Mandy Gutmann at the meeting described various initiatives, including: the new Social Justice Fund founded by Joe and Clara Tsai, whose company owns the Brooklyn Nets and operates the arena, which recently gave its first grants a new supplier diversity program that aims to find local suppliers that are "at least 51 percent owned, operated and managed by individuals who are: minorities, women, disabled, LGBTQ, and/or military veterans." the Brooklyn Nets' opening night on 12/22/20, when the team honored 62 essential workers--representing 26 organization and numerous professions--as part of a special event, Barclays Essential Together , which also raised $2.25 million for COVID-19 relief The Brooklyn Nets Food P

Timing update: crane for B4 tower should depart by March; excavation for B12/B13 should be complete by early spring (but no answers on major questions)

This is the second of a few posts on the 1/26/21 Quality of Life  meeting , sponsored by Empire State Development and held virtually. The first concerned postponed weekend railyard work. There was no update on some of the major questions regarding the project: plans to start the first of two platform phases over the Long Island Rail Road's Vanderbilt Yard; plans to build three towers over that first platform; plans to meet the project's requirement of 2,250 affordable units by building about 877 more by May 2025; plans to shift the bulk of the unbuilt "Miss Brooklyn" tower Scott Solish of Greenland USA, the project's master developer (as nearly full owner of Greenland Forest City Partners) said that the the curtain wall of B4 tower, 18 Sixth Ave., is now above the 38th floor (of 51 stories ) and interior fitout work continues. From presentation; note that B4 is a  joint project of Greenland Forest City Partners & The Brodsky Organization He said the crane for

Potentially disruptive overnight weekend railyard work has been postponed again. It should start Feb. 5-8, and continue for two more weekends.

This is the first of a few posts on the 1/26/21 Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life meeting , sponsored by Empire State Development and held virtually. There was no big news from the lightly attended meeting, which attracted 26 people and, as usual, muted all but the presenters and didn't let attendees see others' questions and comments in the chat.  But it was disclosed that the overnight weekend railyard work announced in the two previous two-week Construction Updates has been delayed, and is now expected to start not this coming weekend but the first one in February: from Feb. 5 through Feb. 8, and then the two following weekends. Such potentially disruptive track work for the two blocks of the Vanderbilt Yard starts 9 pm on a Friday and finishes by 4 am Monday. "It's dependent on the availablility of the LIRR [Long Island Rail Road] labor force," said Scott Solish of master developer Greenland USA, which owns nearly all of Greenland Forest City Partne

Cuomo proposal: offices in Manhattan and hotels in the city (including Brooklyn) could become housing, with some affordability

State proposes zoning override for commercial-to-resi conversions,  the Real Deal reported 1/20/21: For the next five years, certain New York City building owners may be able to get around some local zoning rules to convert properties to residential use . One of the bills in the state’s proposed 2022 budget elaborates on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to incentivize the conversion of commercial buildings into affordable housing. The measure applies to hotels with fewer than 150 rooms and other forms of temporary lodging, as well as class B and C office buildings in Midtown. That would allow looser zoning, with less light and air required per unit. And it would mean that hotels, though not offices, in and around Downtown Brooklyn, might be converted. There is a requirement for either 20% affordable units, or supportive housing, or possibly contributing to a housing fund. So that's clearly up for negotiation. (And the definition of "affordable" is unclear.) From the Real Deal

For Quality of Life Meeting tomorrow, questions about timetable, arena, after-hours work, and disruptive noise

The next Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life Meeting will be held tomorrow, Tuesday, January 26, 2021, on Zoom. Access details below. The meeting agenda, at right, is typically vague, merely listing representatives/entities as topics: Empire State Development (ESD); Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (repped by an ESD staffer); Barclays Center; and developer Greenland Forest City Partners. So certain questions persist, such as: the updated pace of construction for the four ongoing buildings (B4, B15, B12, B13) the affordability of the income-restricted units at those building the timing of the school at B15, since delayed to September 2024 , and impact of school construction on residents of the building the plans for the platform over the Vanderbilt Yard, once supposed to start in 2020 the plans for the first tower over the railyard, B5 the plans to build some 877 more apartments  to complete the required 2,250 affordable units by May 2025 the ability of, and limi

What's low-income affordable housing? The state and city offer different (and shifting) guidelines

Reading the New York State  budget book , I was struck by what seemed to be a  classification  of low-income housing: Middle Income Housing. $150 million for new construction, adaptive reuse, or reconstruction of rental housing affordable to households that earn between 60 and 130 percent of AMI [Area Median Income] ...New York City Affordable Housing. $100 million for the preservation, restoration or creation of affordable housing units in New York City. All units must be affordable to households earning up to 60 percent of AMI.  That suggests that low-income housing is defined as up to 60% of AMI.  But not always. The Furman Center  tells us : The New York State Low-income Housing Tax Credit Program (SLIHC) is modeled after the federal  LIHTC  Program and provides a dollar-for-dollar reduction in state income taxes to investors in qualified low-income housing. However, it has one major difference: SLIHC-assisted units must serve households with incomes at or below 90 percent of Area

From the latest Construction Update: overnight railyard work extended through next weekend; after-hours variances allowing work 5 am to 10 pm again *not* disclosed

The latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update (bottom), covering the two weeks beginning Monday, Jan. 25, was circulated yesterday at 2:05 pm (lead time) by Empire State Development (ESD) after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners. The news, compared to the previous update , is that the potentially disruptive track work previously announced for the two blocks of the Vanderbilt Yard, both this past weekend and this one has been extended to next weekend. The work starts 9 pm Friday and finishes by 4 am Monday. The work "may require the use of portable light towers," according to the notice. "The light towers will be positioned to illuminate only the work zone in the Yard thereby minimizing impact to the surrounding community." Again, the reason for such work is not stated. After-hours work, officially stated It's again important to contrast the after-hours work announced in the Construction Update and that disclosed by the New York City Depar

Behind New York Forever, real estate (and more) and some powerful p.r. firms

Jerry Seinfeld, Amy Schumer, Billy Porter and More New Yorkers Join Campaign to Rebuild City , the Hollywood Reporter told us yesterday, presaging a parade of stars: "New York’s comeback depends on New Yorkers," say founders Risa Heller and Jonathan Rosen in a joint statement. "We are eager to help our neighbors play a meaningful part in building New York’s future — by supporting locally owned small businesses, looking out for our unemployed restaurant workers, applauding our essential workers and caring for families battling homelessness. We are excited about this project and confident in the city’s resilience."  ...NY Forever states its mission as cheerleading for NYC, getting New Yorkers engaged and partnering with nonprofits to help New Yorkers in need. "Facing unprecedented challenges, New York City needs to turn this moment into a city-defining triumph. To do so, we wanted to build an inclusive brand to inspire all 8 million New Yorkers," says the gr

Developers of TSX Broadway now think a casino will make project viable. So much for USIF telling EB-5 investors that this was "materially safer" than Nassau Coliseum.

A Casino in Manhattan? Strapped Developers Hope So , the New York Times reported today, noting how at least three real-estate developers have floated casino projects in midtown Manhattan, aiming to rescue office developments threatened by the coronavirus crisis and work-from-home trends. And one involves TSX Broadway, the huge project that has recently seen an influx of money from immigrant investors who'd originally put their funds into the Nassau Coliseum and Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park projects, both orchestrated by the middleman U.S. Immigration Fund, the leading "regional center" under the EB-5 investor visa program. From the Times: L&L Holding Company has proposed making a casino the centerpiece of a $2.5 billion tower it is building at the intersection of 47th Street and Broadway, a 46-story development that encompasses a landmark theater and includes a 669-room hotel. ...L&L Holding Company began exploring the idea of a casino after the pandemic began and

Behind "Nassau Live Center" on Coliseum ice logo, an EB-5 transaction that remains perplexing

In  'Nassau Live Center' the temporary words on Islanders' Coliseum ice logo , Newsday reported 1/19/21 that the name Nassau Live Center now surrounds the team logo at center ice, though it will eventually read "Nassau Live at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum."  That's because the naming rights holder, New York Community Bank, withdrew.  Per Newsday: Nassau Live Center is the name of the Coliseum’s new leaseholder, which has taken over control of the county-owned building after Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov defaulted on rent and walked away from a $100 million loan. ...Nassau then negotiated a deal with [Nicholas] Mastroianni to take over the same lease because his Jupiter, Florida, company, U.S. Immigration Fund, orchestrated the loan that helped finance Onexim’s renovation of the Coliseum. That's presented as something routine. However, as I wrote last month, the deal seems akin to a mortgage default that leaves the mortgage broker , not the mo

Sportico: Brooklyn Nets and arena company worth $3.4B, fourth in the league (before Harden trade). Still, revenues only 11th--and paltry past profits ignored.

Three NBA Teams Top $5 Billion in Sportico’s 2021 Franchise Valuations Report , Sportico reported yesterday, with the Brooklyn Nets ranked fourth, at a combined valuation of $3.4 billion for the team and the arena operating company, part of BSE Global, all owned by entities held by Joe Tsai. That valuation was calculated after last season and before the astonishing trade that brought superstar James Harden, so based on Sportico's metric--and putting aside the relatively small coronavirus-imposed drag on revenues--it presumably would rise, given Harden's arrival. From Sportico Reasons for doubt Then again, there are several reasons for skepticism.  The Nets are only 11th in reported revenues (both national and local) and Sportico's metric makes no mention of what I'd argue is a more important metric: net income, or profit. (My tweet about this drew no official response, though one respondent, an appraiser, suggested net income could be fungible.) Last February, accordi

In City & State's 2021 Political PR Power 50, BerlinRosen again in second slot (though no mention of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park)

Last week, City & State NY published  The 2021 Political PR Power 50 , its second annual ranking. Such lists are both arbitrary, as well as advertising-driven, but they provide a reasonable benchmark regarding influencers in our midst. The summary: As politicians, government officials, business executives and nonprofit leaders navigate these turbulent times, they are turning to savvy PR professionals to help get their message across, whether it’s highlighting their responses to the pandemic, drawing attention to demands for social justice or simply maintaining connections with employees working remotely. Another way of putting it: many of the messages and articles you encounter regarding major projects like Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park--say, "Brooklyn’s Pacific Park moves to fast track," as I wrote in October 2019--are mediated through a public relations firm. Note that this list focuses on "players directly involved in the world of New York politics and policy,"

With Harden debut, Nets dominate back pages; meanwhile, another protest outside, while LED screen (though not oculus) offers MLK quote

OK, this will be my last Brooklyn Nets post for now, but let's note that the debut of star guard James Harden, who hadn't practiced with the team, went very well, with a couple of asterisks.  As the Daily News put it, The James Harden-Kevin Durant Nets look unguardable , and the New York Post put it,  James Harden does it all in winning Nets debut . That dominated the tabloids' back pages. From the Daily News: Harden recorded the first-ever Nets debut triple double and the first-ever 30-point triple double in a team debut in NBA history. He saw players open before they did, pushed the tempo like he used to under Mike D’Antoni in Houston, was pragmatic about his shot selection, and left his mark all over the tie-dye court with 32 points, 14 assists and 12 rebounds on the night. Meanwhile, Kevin Durant scored 42 points and shooter Joe Harris scored 17.  And that was without star guard Kyrie Irving, who is also unguardable, though could raise complications.  The challenges for

The business upside of the Nets' Harden trade: new placements for ads, and new rates

Yup, it's a business. As Sportico reported yesterday, in  HARDEN TRADE PROMPTS YES NETWORK, NETS TO LAUNCH VIRTUAL ADS ON COURT , the Brooklyn Nets' dramatic , not-without- risk addition of superstar James Harden may cost draft picks and higher salaries, but comes with an upside: Because of pinched budgets during the pandemic, the NBA is allowing broadcasts this season to include virtual ads on the court during games. The Nets and their TV partner, YES Network , originally decided to hold off on selling that space. On Thursday, 24 hours after the team acquired Harden in a blockbuster trade , the two sides reversed course. In a few weeks, advertising partners will have placement on the court during home and away games. The trade “definitely pushed us quicker to the table,” said Howard Levinson, YES Network’s senior vice president of ad sales. “We were trying to develop a market for it, and now we feel like with this trade, the market will be there.” As Sportico reported, adverti

OK, the Nets mortgaged the future because... it's a business, of course.

Well, the Brooklyn Nets' blockbuster trade for start shooting guard James Harden, creating a superteam at significant sacrifice, continued to generate much discussion and buzz yesterday after General Manager Sean Marks addressed the media , leaving many commentators with more optimism than not. As the New York Times distilled it:  With James Harden, the Nets now have an elite trio of ball-dominant playmakers. Yet there are key differences in how Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving thrive that could allow this grand experiment to work. The New York Post's Brian Lewis addressed an obvious question: Q: GM Sean Marks said in November he wouldn’t mortgage the future, but here we are. Why were they willing to make the deal now? A: The need was greater for both Brooklyn and Houston. While Marks can say this had nothing to do with Irving’s personal issues, Harden provides the most expensive insurance policy in NBA history against Irving getting hurt, going AWOL or being dealt. And after

Nets gain superstar guard Harden from Houston, pay heavy price; superteam may be justified only by a title, but should continue to wrest attention from Knicks

In another remarkable--albeit risky--move, the Brooklyn Nets yesterday became even more of a superteam, adding Houston Rockets superstar James Harden, who'd agitated to leave, in exchange for a heavy price: three solid young players, including budding stars Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen, and a trove of draft assets: three unprotected first-round picks, plus four opportunities to swap draft positions. That lifted the Nets into the NBA's likely second slot, behind the defending champs Los Angeles Lakers, according to betting odds , though pundits said the trade would be justified only by a title.  It should further cement the Nets--who last night beat the long-struggling New York Knicks with forward Kevin Durant as their only star on the court--as the city's dominant team, thus narrowing the Knicks' long advantage in revenue, sponsorships, viewers, and value.  And if it delivers a championship to the Nets, who began playing in Brooklyn in September 2012, it's anoth

School Construction Authority update: middle-school located in Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park tower due to open in September 2024 (not March). Once slated for 2018.

I reported last month that the 812-seat middle-school occupying the first six floors, plus below-ground space, at the B15 tower--just across Sixth Avenue from the Barclays Center--was as of then due in March 2024, according to the School Construction Authority (SCA).  And that suggested that I.S. 653--called by backers MS OneBrooklyn --wouldn't open until the 2024-25 school year, a year later than the previous prediction of September 2023.   Ineed, in a presentation last night to the Community Education Council of District 13, the SCA's Tamar Smith said that the school had been pushed back a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Her slide, excerpted above, indicated that the school would be occupied by September 2024. That's approximately three years after when the first residents of the rental apartment tower might move in. The completion of the school might thus be disruptive to those living above noisy construction. New address: 491 Dean Street? Smith's slides als

Layoffs (unquantified) at Barclays Center, among "Brooklyn Boxing" staff promoting a niche sport

In NYFights 1/7/21, columnist Michael Woods, wrote  Pandemic, Social Upheaval Spur Changes At Barclays Center, But Brooklyn Boxing Will Survive: On Tuesday, word dropped that layoffs hit at Barclays Center, and that included someone who rode the wave of Brooklyn Boxing from the get go, Joseph DiMitri of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. “The end of an era…Yesterday, I along with many other of my closest colleagues were let go by Barclays Center. After 8 1/2 dedicated years, I will not be able to finish…what was started,” the 37 year old sales ace shared on social. “Prior to the stoppage in March, Brooklyn Boxing was set to have another big year to host some of the biggest fights in the game. All I can say is a big ‘thank you’ to my great clients, family and friends who have loyally supported throughout the years. I hope we all can stay in contact as I seek my next venture and hope to announce it soon.” It's unclear how many workers were laid off. (DiMitri told Woods that Barclays did the rig

From the latest Construction Update: overnight track work for three nights over next two weekends means light towers "minimizing" impact on neighbors. Again, after-hours work misleadingly minimized

The latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update (bottom), covering the two weeks beginning Monday, Jan. 11 (today), was circulated Friday at 2:58 pm (lead time) by Empire State Development (ESD) after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners.  The news, compared to the previous Update , is that potentially disruptive track work planned for the two blocks of the Vanderbilt Yard, both this weekend and next, starting 9 pm Friday January 15 and January 22, and finishing by 4 am Monday January 18 and January 25, respectively.  The work "may require the use of portable light towers," according to the notice. "The light towers will be positioned to illuminate only the work zone in the Yard thereby minimizing impact to the surrounding community." Note that the track record for such work is that the lighting does not necessarily minimize impact but penetrates people's homes.  The reason for such work is not stated. Is this the final completion of the n

Barclays Center gets "Personal Growth Prize" from critics for hosting protests. I'd call it strategic accommodation.

The architecture critics Mark Lamster and Alexandra Lange, in their 12/28/20 round-up, Mask Up! It’s the 2020 Architecture and Design Awards , offered: Personal Growth Prize: To Barclays Center, long a symbol of everything that’s bad about the way things get built in New York City, serving as a central Brooklyn meeting spot for weeks of Black Lives Matter protests. PS: And now KD is balling. Well, that link, unsurprisingly, goes to the New York Times article that came after--but didn't mention--my more skeptical essay in Bklyner on Brooklyn's Accidental New Town Square . The Times wrote, for example: The operators of the arena have taken the protests as an opportunity to change the messaging on the screen above the plaza. Gone is the rotating menu of ads for Geico insurance and JetBlue airlines and Dumbo Moving and Storage. In its place is a quote from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “The time is always right to do what is right.” I wrote, with more context: For days, th