Skip to main content


Showing posts from February, 2021

Featured Post

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

CBRE buys 35% stake in workspace provider Industrious, which has outpost on Dean Street, across from B12/B13 site

A 2/22/21 press release,  CBRE Group, Inc. Acquires 35 Percent Interest in Industrious, Leading Provider of Flexible Space Solutions , adding that the "world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment firm," which is headquartered in Dallas, is expecting to acquire another 5% in the coming weeks. The deal includes $200 million in cash and the transfer of CBRE's own "flexible-space solutions offering, Hana," which has ten locations in the U.S. and UK. The Commercial Observer quoted Industrious CEO Jamie Hodari: "Almost every Fortune 500 [company] is putting in workplace plans that explicitly say they’re going to massively increase their use of flex." "Industrious has more than 100 locations in more than 50 U.S. cities and specializes in asset-lite flexible workplace operating models," according to the press release, which added: The investment significantly increases CBRE’s participation in the flexible workplace sector and posi

In routine vote, Nassau County approves amendments to support Coliseum reopening. Again, a misunderstanding: "So this lender... They aren't running the Coliseum, right?"

Nope, nobody cares about the Nassau Coliseum switcheroo , in which the middleman for the building's EB-5 loan, an affiliate of Nicholas Mastroianni's U.S. Immigration Fund, curiously became the leaseholder, after Mikhail Prokhorov's Nassau Events Center (NEC) withdrew. Though I raised some significant questions about the candor of Nassau County officials and what County Legislators understood regarding the County-owned building, neither officials nor the press took it up. So the Legislature on 2/22/21 unanimously approved lease amendments allowing rent relief for the tenant and also--as Newsday  put it  in a brief summary, protected "the county from potential lawsuits against the leaseholder." And, as I describe below, the Legislature still doesn't understand the switcheroo, with the Presiding Officer confusing the lender and borrower--not surprising, given the convolutions. The upshot That means, as Patch reported 2/24/21, the New York Islanders will resume

Office space glut in Brooklyn likely casts further clouds on plans for office project at Site 5

How Brooklyn’s Office Market Is Getting Through COVID , the Commercial Observer reported 2/23/21, quoting broker Chris Havens of TerraCRG that, even though it was a tenant's market before the pandemic, now it's even more so: "There’s really nothing large happening.” So prices for office/industrial properties are going down, to $327 per square foot at the end of 2020 from $467 psf a year earlier, and rents to $39.03 a square foot from $40.37, with an availability rate in 2020 to 18.3% (Colliers Intl.) to 22.4% (CBRE). The article notes several major projects haven't panned out, including the former Jehovah’s Witnesses headquarters in Fulton Ferry, now called Panorama; Dock 72 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard; The Refinery at the Domino Sugar site in Williamsburg; and 25 Kent Avenue in Williamsburg.  (The Refinery strikes me as the most attractive property, given its placement near open space, but maybe people would rather work from their apartments.) Meanwhile, some 4 million

How an Albany resistance to Freedom of Information Law candor helps explain the difference between "TV Cuomo" and "newspaper Cuomo"

So, how do things really work in Albany?  Cuomo's new ethics chair ran governor's 'defense' program , wrote the Times-Union's Chris Bragg 2/21/21, offers a revealing anecdote: In 2015, longtime Cuomo aide Linda A. Lacewell set up a little-noticed program spanning the executive branch. Lacewell, at that point in the post of "chief risk officer" for the Executive Chamber, embedded highly paid senior attorneys in two dozen state agencies. ...A function of “special counsels” embedded at state agencies, according to sources speaking on condition of anonymity, has been helping flag and manage potentially troublesome Freedom of Information Law requests filed with those agencies by the media and others — exactly the sort of requests that are at the center of the administration's controversial handling of nursing homes during the coronavirus pandemic. Cuomo's administration often drags out, by months and even years, the release of public records. Hmm, so th

Commercial Observer interviewees: the arena has kinda helped some but not too many nearby businesses

Barclays Center Set to Allow Limited Attendance for Brooklyn Nets Games , the Commercial Observer offered 2/22/21, saying it "renews focus on whether the arena has sparked economic benefits for Brooklyn eight and a half years since its debut." The answer was mixed, even though the interviewees came from the real estate world. Timothy King of SVN CPEX Real Estate said the arena has helped some food-and-beverage purveyors nearby--sure--while others farther away lost out.  Ofer Cohen of TerraCRG said the new housing has helped restaurants whether or not there's a game. OK, but does that make up for the increased rent? (Also, News 12  quoted  various nearby restaurant owners, also hoping for foot traffic.) About Triangle Sports Cohen's company sold the former Triangle Sports Building at 182 Flatbush for $4.1 million in 2012 and then $7 million in 2019 "despite no improvements being made" but also--I'd add--no use other than for exterior advertising.  That ma

Next Quality of Life meeting set for March 2, again via Zoom. (ESD claims, "The information provided in the construction alert is accurate." Nah.)

The next Atlantic Yards Project Quality of Life Meeting, where residents can raise questions/concerns and get updates on project elements, will be held on Tuesday, 3/2/21, according to a notice from Empire State Development (ESD), which oversees and shephards the project. Though the meetings are typically scheduled every two months, this date is actually just five weeks after the most meeting, on 1/26/21. (Here's my coverage .) ESD on 2/18/21 finally posted Meeting Notes (bottom) from the event, which, as I note below, sidestep the challenge I made regarding inaccurate Construction Updates. Project-related questions and suggested agenda items may be sent to . Presumably we'll learn some more about construction progress and the Barclays Center reopening to fans, but, as indicated in the notes below, candor about larger questions is lacking. Via Virtual Conferencing Dial In: +16465588656,,94517394934# Meeting ID: 945

For first Nets game with fans, arena entrance on Dean Street, lots of protocols--and more people paid to be there than paying

Photos taken by a neighbor for AY/PP Report So, for the first time since the pandemic closed the building to fans, the Brooklyn Nets welcomed 300 fans last night to the Barclays Center--a "soft opening," given that they'll be at the allowed 10%, or 1,773 after the All-Star Break--and no major snags were reported. (The Nets extended their winning streak to seven games.) Fans used the Dean Street entrance exclusively, with an entrance tent to offer rapid COVID-19 tests and by necessity, commandeering some of the public sidewalk for those waiting and for TV interviews.  Presumably a larger crowd will require an even larger tent over the arena plaza--and warmer weather. The plaza last night was blocked off with fencing, while arena staffers directed game visitors around the corner, as shown in the photo at right.   The Daily News's Dennis Young wrote What it was like for Nets fans in their first game back at Barclays , noting that the Nets didn't disclose ticket pric

Scholars suggest eminent domain for Atlantic Yards was framed as detached from governmental responsibility

This is the second of two articles on recent work by two scholars regarding Atlantic Yards. The first addressed their book What the Signs Say . Let's take a look at  When the Street Disappears: Eminent Domain, Redevelopment, and the Dissociative State , published in the May 2018 issue of  PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review .  It makes the intriguing--and, to me, largely convincing--argument that the deployment of eminent domain for Atlantic Yards was portrayed as detached from the government, thus diminishing public oversight and responsibility. The article is by sociolinguist Shonna Trinch and cultural anthropologist Edward Snajdr, a married couple who both teach in the Department of Anthropology at John Jay College, CUNY, and are pursuing a larger study of Atlantic Yards. Their conclusion: Despite the state’s dissociation from the developer during the negotiations with residents, the successful assemblage of land was implicitly guaranteed by New York State’s initial

In a new book on Brooklyn gentrification, a revelation about Forest City and Newswalk; questions about framing Atlantic Yards

This is the first of two articles on recent work by two scholars regarding Atlantic Yards. The second concerned their article on eminent domain. A book published last year, What the Signs Say: Language, Gentrification, and Place-Making in Brooklyn , focuses on a close analysis of retail signs. It also contains some interesting insights on Atlantic Yards, plus--I'd contend--some misreadings. This isn't the last word on Atlantic Yards from sociolinguist Shonna Trinch and cultural anthropologist Edward Snajdr, a married couple who both teach in the Department of Anthropology at John Jay College, CUNY, who are pursuing a larger study. They gained a 2010 National Science Foundation award to research “the dynamic and mutually transforming relations between local communities and urban development projects.” So this book reflects part of that research, focusing on retail markers of gentrification. The gist: The unique and consistent features of many words, large lettering, a

From the latest Construction Update: overnight railyard work expected next three weekends; projection of after-hours work ignores 5 am start

The latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update (bottom), covering the two weeks beginning Monday, 2/22/21, was circulated Friday 2/19/21 at 12:18 pm (lead time) by Empire State Development (ESD) after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners. There's no red type to indicate anything new, but a close comparison to the previous update  shows a few changes. Notably, the potentially disruptive track work previously announced for the two blocks of the Vanderbilt Yard has been extended again, apparently for the next three weekends. Work on the weekends of February 26, March 5 and March 12 will start at 9 pm Friday and finish by 4 am Monday, and may require the use of portable light towers. After-hours work, incomplete transparency In the previous update, as I wrote, the state and developer finally reversed its 11-week long practice of misstating the scope of after-hours variances (AHVs), ignoring Sunday work and weekday hours from 5 am to 10 pm, instead citing 6 am to 9

A booming value for clapboard 474 Dean, across from Barclays Center, now on sale for the third time since 2013

Photo from 2021 StreetEasy So 474 Dean Street, the yellow-painted federal townhouse across the street from the Barclays Center's southern entrance, is on sale for the third time since 2013, and the prices continue to rise. So the proximity to sometimes boisterous arena crowds and traffic--and the possibility of arena workers congregating around the front door to smoke, a subject of admonitory signage in the past--has not, apparently diminished pricing. Since the two previous sales, the house has been joined on its western flank by the rental building (and garage entrance thereof) Heritage Dean Street , on the former Bergen Tile site. Nearby, just east of Sixth Avenue, the 662 Pacific Street tower (B15) is well under way, and may open to residents later this year, though the planned middle-school isn't due until September 2024 . Note that the house was significantly renovated after the first sale, though I'm not sure what was changed after the second one. The 2013 sale The

Looking back: how the glitzy Barclays Center, seemingly successful, saw its bonds go to "junk" (plus: a looming challenge in 2026)

The narrative around the Barclays Center since its opening in 2012 has mostly been triumphant. Kudos from architecture critics. Strong numbers for ticket sales. And a seeming high value for the arena operating company--at least in the most recent transaction.  The operating company, Brooklyn Events Center, was sold in a deal that closed in September 2019, along with the remaining majority share of the Brooklyn Nets, by Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov to Taiwanese-Canadian entrepreneur Joe Tsai. The price for the arena was some $1 billion , even if Forbes thought it was overpriced. Clearly the New York City market, coupled with the scarce commodity of a professional sports team, drove the sale price, along with the confidence that--at least, pre-pandemic--the league's "socialist" economics (to quote Tsai ) ensured a rising tide of revenues.  But the arena's gauzy revenues have long translated into paltry profits, sometimes barely enough to cover debt service to pa