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Showing posts from March, 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)

Views of the four towers at or near the arena block (and the likely temptations of Flatbush Avenue sites)

On Monday, 3/29/21, I walked around the arena block and got the following photos, which show the towers all at their full height, though two--B4 (18 Sixth Ave.) and B15 (662 Pacific St.)--aren't finished yet. They should open, at least initial floors, later this year, though it should take a long time to fill the 860-unit B4 and the middle school at B15 is not due until fall 2024 . A view from Flatbush Avenue just east of Atlantic Avenue shows the arena flanked by three towers (from left: B4, B3, B2)--and the crucial role of the plaza, rather than the once-posited "Miss Brooklyn" tower-plus-atrium, in serving arena crowds. The view below from Sixth Avenue and Flatbush Avenue shows not only B15 at far right but the significant contrast with Flatbush, where lower-rise buildings are likely eyed by property owners and investors for larger replacements. Note that B15 is approved at 272 feet and B4 at 511 feet; this view will change if and when the large B5, approved at 397 fe

Retail tenants announced, finally, for 38 Sixth (Wonderforest Nature Preschool, opening in fall) and 535 Carlton (Cain Sloan shop, opening unclear).

Fulfilling the hints dropped in previous public meetings, developer Greenland Forest City Partners yesterday announced two tenants for long vacant retail spaces within buildings they've developed. One space will open in the fall, while the other's opening date is unclear. In both cases, the tenants are occupying their first brick-and-mortar spaces. At 38 Sixth (and Dean) From Wonderforest Nature Preschool At 38 Sixth Ave. (B3), in a space destined for an announcement just as the pandemic began, Wonderforest Nature Preschool , a forest/nature preschool provider for children in Prospect Park, signed a 3,629-square foot lease for a space apparently viewable from Sixth Avenue, as shown in the rendering at right.  The school is expected to open in Fall 2021 , as construction continues.  Note that an announcement of a new retail tenant at that building was imminent as of March 2020 , but was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. While the press release (below) says the retail space a

Another caveat on (Manhattan) office space, the danger of return-to-work predictions, and the future of Site 5

Remote Work Is Here to Stay. Manhattan May Never Be the Same. , the New York Times reports today. Here's the crux: A year after the coronavirus sparked an extraordinary exodus of workers from office buildings, what had seemed like a short-term inconvenience is now clearly becoming a permanent and tectonic shift in how and where people work. Employers and employees have both embraced the advantages of remote work, including lower office costs and greater flexibility for employees, especially those with families. Still, about 90 percent of Manhattan office workers are working remotely, a rate that has remained unchanged for months, according to a recent survey of major employers by the Partnership for New York City, an influential business group, which estimated that less than half of office workers would return by September. Across Midtown and Lower Manhattan, the country’s two largest central business districts, there has never been more office space — 16.4 percent — for lease, m

As Nets sign another (former) All-Star and Durant's return imminent, expectations rise even more

The Brooklyn Nets have won consistently without injured star Kevin Durant and with star Kyrie Irving missing some games, so the additions of former All-Star Blake Griffin and now LaMarcus Aldridge make the team even stronger. As noted by NetsDaily, Aldridge, whose contract had been bought out by the San Antonio Spurs, was seen as headed to the Miami Heat but chose the Nets because of a better chance at a championship. (It made a mention on the Post and Daily News back covers.) And, as reported by the New York Post, there's more to come: The Nets, despite having been the NBA’s best team for most of the past two months, still haven’t been at their best. But with the expected returns of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving over the next week, they’ll finally get to build toward the “scary hours” that James Harden warned the rest of the league about. So we should expect the Barclays Center to fill up as much as the emerging, and evolving, state guidelines allow--currently at 10% but, I&#

A neighbor's lament about excessive dust: "there is no community liaison" (and when I called, the machine said "message quota exceeded")

I'd like to highlight a comment recently posted on this blog: Hi Greetings, I live at 535 Carlton Avenue along with hundreds of families. The dust from the Pacfici Park site, which is unabated, is passing through our building creating, and aggravating asthma and breathing conditions for our families. There is no increased dust abatement and work continues through the weekend. There is no community liaison to speak with--their phone is either not working or message full and their email bounces. Also they are working through the weekend. There is no oversight, no community engagement and it's becoming an impossible situation for long standing tenants to live! Indeed, this morning I tried to call the developer's Community Liaison Office and got a voice on an answering machine telling callers to leave a message--but then it was impossible, since "message quota exceeded." That means the system doesn't quite work. ( Update 3/31/21: the voice mail was working.) Wha

As new report cites delays at Fourth & Atlantic, a reminder: Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park traffic study coming sooner than expected (after 1,500 units)

This Brooklyn Intersection Is The Worst In The State, Study Finds , Patch wrote yesterday:  Drivers crossing through an intersection in the heart of Brooklyn will spend more time stuck at traffic lights each day than anywhere else in the state, according to a new report. Atlantic Avenue and Fourth Avenue — the bustling intersection steps from the Barclays Center and Atlantic Terminal — has been rated the worst intersection in New York for the number of hours per day drivers are delayed waiting for a light to change, according to the study by analytics firm INRIX. Drivers lose an average of 1,086 hours each day stuck at the Brooklyn crossing, more than any of the 18,560 intersections analyzed in the state, according to the report. The study found that more than half of the 76,000 or so cars driving through Atlantic and Fourth avenues each day were stopped, waiting an average of 51.2 seconds each time. What exactly that means, however, is unclear. First, it says nothing about safety. A

At brief meeting of advisory AY CDC, talk of a potential legislative “fix”--extension of tax break and/or deadline?--as project faces affordable housing crunch.

The meeting Tuesday, 3/23/21 of the advisory Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC) was brief, less than 40 minutes, and mostly uneventful, with dutiful recaps of previously shared information and no comments submitted from the public. (Of course, those comments had to be submitted a day early, so there’s no opportunity for real-time reaction.) But at the end of the session, Chair Steven M. Cohen (also Chairman of Empire State Development , or ESD), a gubernatorial ally, offered a new, albeit not shocking, suggestion: a legislative “fix” might be needed to enable the project to meet its affordable housing obligations, which include 876 more affordable units by May 2025. If not, the developer faces fines of $2,000 per month for each missing unit. What that "fix" means is unclear, though it could include a targeted extension or modification of the Affordable New York tax break, set to expire in June 2022, to allow for buildings that start after that date.

In City & State's 2021 Real Estate Power 100, Greenland USA's (low-profile) Hu now at #68 (after #64 and a generous #27)

Well, City & State has just issued The 2021 Real Estate Power 100: The industry leaders navigating the coronavirus pandemic. , and it not only explicitly cites the pandemic, it offers more recognition to tenant advocates and other activists, indicating a perceived change in the balance of power.  That likely will be reflected in state legislative results, but I think--as indicated in the mayoral race--there's also significant momentum toward development advocacy. These lists are of course arbitrary, but they provide a general snapshot of trends. At the top of the list are Stephen Ross & Jeff Blau Chair and Founder; CEO, Related Companies, given not only their major projects like Hudson Yards but also their willingness to spend money on campaigns. Next come New York City Deputy Mayor Vicki Been and politically active developer Scott Rechler of RXR. The mainstream and the activists Other notable mainstream figures high in the list are, #7, Brian Kingston & Ben Brown Manag

From Bklyner: "Will All 258 “Affordable” Units at Largest Pacific Park Tower Go to the Better-Off?"

I have an article in Bklyner, headlined Will All 258 “Affordable” Units at Largest Pacific Park Tower Go to the Better-Off? 18 Sixth Ave. (l.) from presentation  The lead: The largest building so far in Pacific Park Brooklyn, slated to open later this year, is set to deliver 258 affordable units (30%) out of 860 total–but seemingly all for middle-income households, many earning six figures. A studio could rent for $2,155, a one-bedroom for $2,700, and a two-bedroom for $3,235, according to 2020 city guidelines . Those income-targeted apartments, next to the Barclays Center in the 51-story 18 Sixth Avenue, will be aimed at households earning 130% of Area Median Income (AMI), according to a lender for the project. Presented with the lender’s publicly stated information, however, a spokesperson for developer Greenland Forest City Partners said, “AMI and rent levels have yet to be confirmed.” Below is the disclosure by the lender, which has not been updated, though presumably the develop

From the latest Construction Update: work until 10 each weeknight dismantling crane; removal over the weekend, with Sixth Ave. closed for two blocks

The latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update (bottom), covering the two weeks beginning today was circulated yesterday at 4:13 pm (late) by Empire State Development (ESD) after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners.  Not only did that not give neighbors time to prepare for potentially noisy late-night work--the dismantling of a crane at 18 Sixth Ave. (B4) until 10 pm each weeknight, it also was 17 minutes before the deadline to submit any comments for tomorrow's Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC) meeting . "Dismantling of the crane is expected to commence on 3/22 and continue through 3/26; work related to this activity will occur until 10 pm," the document states. "After dismantling, the crane will be removed from the site starting at 12 AM Saturday, March 27 through midnight Sunday, March 28," it states. (That implies continuous work, though there's no permit yet for that.) "During this time, Sixth Avenue be

With oft-faulty, privately maintained MTA elevator at arena plaza, why can't Barclays Center offer real-time updates?

March 11, 2021. Photo by Norman Oder "Of the 340 elevators in the subway system, 52 are already under the watch of third parties, typically property owners whose buildings connect to neighboring stations," tweeted The City yesterday. "The MTA & the Department of City Planning would like to add more." That linked to a 3/17/21 article by Jose Martinez, headlined  MTA Looking for Private Business Help With Subway Accessibility Upgrades , which reminded us that "four of the 10 subway elevators with the worst 24-hour availability rates are privately maintained," and that the one at Barclays Center was down nearly 25% of the time. Well, it was down on 3/11/21, when I wandered by on the night of a Brooklyn Nets home game, as shown in the photo at right. I reported on a 3/3/20 public meeting in which a Barclays Center rep said they'd switched vendors and were trying to fix the elevator. Last June that rep, Mandy Gutmann, said that "according to ava

Just over the line: earlier-than-anticipated (thanks to OT?) completion of B4 means three towers at arena block should meet May 2022 bulk requirement

When I recently walked around the arena block, I again noticed that the required "Work in Progress" sign at the 18 Sixth Ave. tower, aka B4, still says "Anticipated Completion: April 2023." That sign has been up for a while. Delivery at that time, as I wrote in October 2019, would trigger penalties, given the requirement that the developer is required to "Substantially Complete" improvements on the Phase 1 Property--the arena block and Site 5--covering at least 1.5 million square feet within 12 years after the Project Effective Date, which was 5/12/10 . So that's a 5/12/22 deadline. That said, an April 2023 deadline might have been extra cautious, or referring to final completion, since the developer had already told the New York Post's Steve Cuozzo that the $640 million tower would be finished sometime in 2022.  Faster timeline Not long after I first wrote about it, we got an update. In November 2019, Greenland USA's Scott Solish said , &quo

No Construction Update yet, but after-hours variances for work on weekends at two sites near arena, on Saturday further down Dean Street

Well, the two-week Construction Update for the two weeks starting Monday 3/22/21 was due yesterday, at least according to the general pattern , so we don't have the official--and not always accurate --announcement of construction hours and after-hours variances (AHVs). However, a look at the Department of Buildings (DOB) website offers some information--and we'll see if it's reflected in the next update, which presumably will be circulated on Monday by Empire State Development. On the northeast flank of the arena, 18 Sixth Ave. (B4) has AHVs for weekdays starting at  5 am , through 4/1/21, and  weekdays until 10 pm, and Saturdays  9 am to 5 pm, through 3/31/21. It also has AHVs for  Sunday work  9 am to 5 pm for the next two Sundays. Just southeast, 662 Pacific St. (B15) has AHVs for  weekdays  starting at 6 am and  weekdays  until 10 pm, and Saturdays 9 am to 5 pm, both through 4/2/21. It also has AHVs for Sunday work 9 am to 5 pm for the next two Sundays. A block and a

Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation set to meet March 23, via webcast. But no comments allowed in real time; they must be submitted the day before.

OK, the next meeting for Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC), a meeting has been announced for next Tuesday, 3/23/21, at 3 pm. (It's about three months and two weeks after the previous meeting , held 12/10/20.) "Due to public health concerns and as authorized by Executive Order of the Governor, this meeting will be conducted via video conference and teleconference," the announcement states. The public may view and listen to the meeting via webcast . Comments and the agenda The agenda, as shown at right, is quite vague, as is typical, involving approval of the minutes and operating budget, and then updates (typically anodyne) on community relations and construction. That said, sometimes directors raise questions that elicit new information. Members of the public may submit comments on the Agenda items in writing to  by 4:30 pm on Monday, March 22.  But no Board Materials have been posted yet. Without seeing, for example, those

About Curbed's framing of "Prospect Heights Residents (and a local McDonald’s) Push Back Against New Tower"

So Curbed yetserday published  Prospect Heights Residents (and a local McDonald’s) Push Back Against New Tower , which begins: Less than a mile down Atlantic Avenue from Barclays Center, past the area’s gleaming new high-rises, an 18-story building may soon replace the drive-through McDonald’s at the corner of Vanderbilt. It’s a part of Prospect Heights that has been called a “ development desert ,” filled mostly with car-repair and tire shops and low-rise brownstones. But with the Pacific Park megaproject bringing 17 buildings to the area just east of Barclays, a far taller skyline is inching its way down the avenue. This wave of new construction hasn’t made things any easier for the proposed high-rise building, which has just started its public review process and already sparked a familiar NIMBY backlash from neighbors (even the McDonald’s franchise is in the mix, fighting the developers over a fivefold rent hike).  This led to such misguided tweets as one from a New York Times repo

Along Flatbush Avenue, Barclays Center retail spaces under renovation--for new team store?

Something's going on at the retail spaces along the Flatbush Avenue side of the Barclays Center, as shown in the photos I took last Thursday, 3/11/21.  Remember, they were long empty and/or underutilized, so could the work be to position those space for future retail use?  Perhaps this will be the announced new, larger team store , which is supposed to move, allowing the former Swag Shop, adjacent to the retail, to serve as an additional entrance for the arena, which needs more options during pandemic times. The new location has not been announced. As shown at right, the space has been hollowed out and, as shown below, there's construction paper up inside much of the interior. Filings with the New York City Department of Buildings indicate modification of several systems--plumbing, sprinkler, and mechanical--as well as plan for removal and installation of interior partitions, ceiling, flooring and finishes, with "no change in use, egress or occupancy" under that appl

State says "no formal permission granted for parking along Atlantic Avenue" outside arena. Which means...?

Empire State Development has posted notes (also below) from the 3/2/21 Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life meeting (my coverage ), and there's a little more to add. I got an answer to a question I posed: "Has the arena been given permission to 'combat park' on Atlantic Avenue where there is a 'No Standing Anytime' sign?" March 11, 2021 The answer: "There has been no formal permission granted for parking along Atlantic Avenue. Parking signage is regulated by NYC Department of Transportation and enforced by the NYPD." So, maybe that means there's informal permission?  To be fair, drivers can't continue in the parking lane, or even the next lane--to which the parked cars extend--because it's ultimately blocked by the construction of the B4 tower, 18 Sixth Ave.  But (non-combat) parking has long been common in that parking lane, despite the signage. Litter around the railyard In response to questions raised at the meeting, the n

Barclays Center: adapting to #COVID-19 on the entrance plaza, and a #CovidMemorial

The Barclays Center last Thursday, 3/11/21, hosted its first Brooklyn Nets game at 10% of capacity, or about 1,770 attendees, which required use of the plaza rather than, as with earlier games hosting just 300 ticketholders, a tent at the Dean Street entrance. As shown in the photo at right, the plaza offered multple entrances, including those for testing, for those using the mobile app CLEAR to validate coronavirus test results, and to those without the CLEAR app. (Also note: that new digital signage over the entrance programmed for the game.) Using the plaza and perimeter The arena operators were (and are) making significant use of available real estate at the plaza and in the building perimeter.  As shown above, they uses metal fencing--as in the past--to segment crowds on this privately managed public space. As shown at left, one entrance was used for COVID-19 testing. As shown at right, part of the arena space, formerly the team store, is being used for testing.  What happened t