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Showing posts from November, 2021

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

Slideshow from most recent Quality of Life meeting shows rising B12/B13 towers. Notes from this and previous meeting still not posted.

Two weeks after the 11/16/21 Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life meeting (my coverage here ), Empire State Development still hasn't posted notes from that meeting. Ok, maybe that's not surprising. But there are some lingering questions--what about that episode of alleged harassment by a worker? what about the promised Times Plaza open space?--that might be answered in the notes. More surprising is that we still don't have notes from the previous meeting, held 9/14/21, though we were told the aim was to post them "shortly." Meanwhile, we do have the slide presentation from the most recent meeting. The most notable images--scroll down to pages 7 and 8--show the steadily rising towers at B12 and B13 (615 Dean St. and 595 Dean St.), which are expected to top out in December, at 28 and 23 stories , respectively.

That cute nickname, "The Clays," and the tainted name behind the Barclays Center (which may not last)

It's kinda cute, I guess, calling the Barclays Center "The Clays," a partial parallel to shorthanding Madison Square Garden as "The Garden" (which at least refers to an actual thing).  According to language maven Barry Popik , there were some fitful attempts to call it "Clays" or "The Clays" from the arena's 2012 debut, but the nickname was popularized by Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant on 10/22/21, in a post-game interview. “Next we got a young, athletic team in Charlotte coming to the ‘clays, so we gotta keep that intensity.” - @KDTrey5 — Nets Smoothies (@NetsSmoothies) October 23, 2021 Hey, KD's a trendsetter, he's cool. That was picked up by team owner  Joe Tsai , who also owns the arena operating company, and even the arena's own Twitter account.   BACK AT THE CLAYS😎 — Barclays Center (@barclayscenter) November 16, 2021 It's been mentioned by NetsDaily , the New York Daily News , and the Ta

The Boston Celtics' Enes Kanter takes on the NBA and Nike re China, then Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai

NBA AND NIKE CHOOSE SILENCE AS ENES KANTER TAKES ON CHINA , Sportico reported 10/29/21: Last week [Boston Celtics center Enes] Kanter posted a series of videos on Twitter where he called Chinese President Xi Jinping a “brutal dictator,” and asked the Chinese government to free Tibet and close down “the slave labor camps and free the Uyghur people.” Kanter also took his messages onto the court via custom sneakers designed by Chinese activist-artist Badiucao. On Monday, Kanter was back on Twitter, this time accusing Nike for producing sneakers in labor camps. The next day, he invited Nike’s president Phil Knight and NBA legends Michael Jordan and Lebron James to visit the factories. Just as with then Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey's 2019 tweet (since deleted) in support of pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong, Kanter's current team has faced a backlash, with games pulled from streaming in China. Notes Sportico: Born in Switzerland to Turkish parents, Kanter has been a vocal critic

Competence and transparency: when developer fails to disclose additional time for after-hours work, state authority ESD should catch that.

Sure, it may seem a small thing to harp on, but, as I wrote yesterday , the after-hours variance for work at the B12/B13 site today is from  9 am to 5:30 pm , as it has been for many weeks in the past, despite information to the contrary in the Construction Update.  See the screenshot at right for the variance, from the Department of Buildings (DOB), and the one below for the excerpt from the bi-weekly Construction Update , which is prepared by the developers and then circulated, apparently without vetting, by Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority that oversees/shepherds the project. It's a small difference, but not unimportant. And they know better, because I've pointed it out. (The developer of the site is TF Cornerstone.) Why it matters Why is it not unimportant? Because for months, as I wrote last February, master developer Greenland Forest City Partners had been preparing inaccurate Construction Updates, downplaying much more extensive after-hours work, and

AY down the memory hole: the Tish James summary (and how the next governor has both carrots and sticks regarding the project)

A young writer/organizer named Michael Lange has an interesting Substack newsletter, The Narrative Wars , with some deep dives, such as the 11/12/21 Tish James makes her move . Lange does good research, but isn't as surefooted as I'd like. He writes: Upon entering the council, James was eager to distinguish herself as a frequent critic of the Bloomberg administration, as she quickly cultivated a reputation as one of the body’s most outspoken members. During her first week in office, James inherited the Atlantic Yards development project, a.k.a. the Barclays Center, which consumed the lionshare of her work over the next decade. James emerged as one of the most vocal opponents of the project, vowing to fight eminent domain tooth and nail in court. However, the case was rejected at both the trial and appellate court levels, while the Supreme Court refused to even hear it, a dead-end for James’ efforts. Yet in recent years, James’ once steadfast opposition to Atlantic Yards has app

From the latest Construction Update: belated announcement of TCOs at 662 Pacific; leasing at 18 Sixth will start in early January

The latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update (bottom), covering the two weeks beginning Monday, Nov. 29, was circulated 11/23/21 at 12:22 pm (lead time) by Empire State Development (ESD) after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners. There are only a few changes from the  previous update . Nobably, regarding 662 Pacific St. (B15, aka Plank Road, the document states that "TCOs [Temporary Certificates of Occupancy] have been issued for the building and residents have begun to move into the building." Of course, I reported weeks ago that residents were in the building, which already got TCOs in October. So the announcement via the Construction Update was a little late. Also, outside B15, "Permanent sidewalk work continues along Pacific, Sixth & Dean with anticipated completion by the end of December 2021."  Similarly, outside 18 Sixth Ave. (B4, aka Brooklyn Crossing), "Permanent sidewalk work has been initiated along Sixth Avenue." B4

From "affordable and middle-income housing" to only "affordable" and now maybe just "middle-income"

Well, the circle is completing, as others recognize that "affordable," income-targeted units at the 662 Pacific (B15, aka Plank Road) tower are aimed at middle-income households From Brownstoner yesterday,  Don’t Call It Affordable Housing: Lottery Opens for Pacific Park Tower in Prospect Heights The developer, The Brodsky Organization, has applied for a tax break under the state’s 421-a program and as a result, the building has income-targeted, rent-stabilized units whose lottery launched last week. Interestingly, Brodsky is not calling them “affordable” but rather “middle income.” Indeed, as I wrote nearly six years ago about the evolving rhetoric in the project,, for the first few years after Atlantic Yards was announced, the developer and project supporters used a more precise, if less self-serving, locution: "affordable and middle-income housing."  The reticence to use the term "affordable" for below-market but relatively high-priced units likely re

Projections vs. reality: middle-income emphasis means Atlantic Yards off-track to meet promised allocation of low- and moderate-income affordable apartments

Given what we now know about the middle-income housing, without any community preference , at the next two Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park towers (and likely two more after that), let's look at the promises and the reality of the project's affordable housing Crucially, with 876 more affordable units required to be built beyond those already under construction, it seems impossible to deliver on the project's promise of mixed-income affordable housing, at least within the 4,500 rentals promised. The deficit is too large: 646 more low-income units and 385 more moderate-income units, for a total of 1,031. Only if some of the projected 1,652 condominiums are shifted to rentals (or affordable condos) could the project possibly get back on track.  But low- and moderate-income units, however promised, are not required, given that the guiding Development Agreement does not reflect the initial promises but allows crucial slack, defining affordable housing as participating in a government

The promise, and (partial?) removal, of community preference in AY/PP affordable housing. A glaring lack of disclosure. More middle-income units than promised.

A very important change in the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park project was revealed last week when the  affordable housing lottery  for 662 Pacific St. (B15, aka Plank Road) went live on the city's Housing Connect database: the longstanding program of community preference was gone, as I reported .  Instead of 50% of the income-linked units being reserved for those in the four closest Community Districts, served by Community Boards 2, 3, 6, and 8, the only preference is for New York City residents. We should have been told ahead of time that affordable units in buildings that get only the 421-a tax break, rather than city subsidies and/or financing, do not have such community preference. (And we also should have been told ahead of time that this "affordable" housing would be limited to middle-income units.) Why? Because that's a huge change for a project long promised to offer half of the affordable rentals--1,125 of 2,250--to nearby residents, thus mitigating gentrificati

Rising baseline: new middle-income apartments at 130% of Area Median Income can house those earning more than those earning 165% of AMI four years ago

"Affordable"--it's a " relative thing ," right? While those most in need of low-cost housing tend not to see their incomes rise much, the Area Median Income (AMI), the regional formula that serves as a base for calculating affordable rent and income levels, tends to rise steadily, since it includes prosperous suburban counties. The Atlantic Yards project as of 2005 relied on a regional area median income (AMI) of $62,800 (for a family of four), well above that in Brooklyn. That was memorialized in the 2005 Atlantic Yards Affordable Housing Memorandum of Understanding  (MOU), signed by developer Forest City Ratner and the housing advocacy group ACORN. The number has risen steadily. In 2021, astoundingly, 100% of AMI for a four-person household is  $119,300 . That's a 90% increase over 2005. That means that "low-income," as a fraction of AMI, has risen commensurately.  And that means that "affordable" can mean two-bedroom apartments rentin

Barclays Center says, yes, it's cordoning off the plaza regularly. Atlantic Ave. parking on game days. The Nets logo on Dean Street didn't require permission. Curious.

This the third of three posts about the Nov. 16, 2021 Quality of Life meeting.  The first concerned the school, and project updates. The second concerned affordable housing. Mandy Gutmann of the Barclays Center made a presentation, starting by outlining the arena company's work on food instability. "This weekend will be in four different locations throughout the borough distributing thousands of meals to support those who otherwise may not be able to have a warm Thanksgiving meal and will continue to do a number of great initiatives throughout the community and supportive to not just the youth but also adults and ensuring that everyone can have a happy holidays." Such welcomed initiatives, it should be noted, typically are supported by an arena sponsor--or in this case, as NetsDaily reported , the new Brooklyn Nets and New York Liberty Foundation, which is apparently a successor to a previous team-related foundation, and is likely supported by sponsors and others. The p

When protest at Barclays Center coincided last night with Brooklyn Nets home game, crowd small enough to fit on truncated plaza space

I was skeptical last night that the Barclays Center plaza--er, the SeatGeek Plaza--could accommodate a protest, scheduled for 7 pm, and also a Brooklyn Nets game starting at 7:30. Relatively small crowd of protesters *can* fit into the small corridor not cordoned off on plaza @barclayscenter . More cops than protesters. A larger group, as with the G Floyd protest in May, would’ve had to move away — Norman Oder (@AYReport) November 20, 2021 I was there from about 7 pm to 7:30 pm, and saw perhaps 50-100 people over time, some actively protesting, others perhaps just watching.  All told, there were several dozen cops visible both at the plaza and around the perimeter of the arena. So, at least for a while, there were more cops than protesters. (And there were probably more, less visible.) According to others' accounts, the crowd grew somewhat  (though "hundreds" might be 100-200) and later marched down Flatbush Avenue, heading to the Brooklyn

As with 662 Pacific, "affordable" units at 18 Sixth will be aimed at middle-class, 130% of AMI, but with discounts that recognize market realities. (No one wants a $2,263 "affordable" studio.)

This is the second of three posts about the Nov. 16, 2021 Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life meeting. The first concerned the school, and project updates. The third concerned Barclays Center issues. We got two nuggets of news regarding affordable housing at the meeting.  B4: middle-income, like B15 First, just as with B15 (662 Pacific St., aka Plank Road), the upcoming Housing Connect lottery for the income-linked "affordable" units at the B4 (18 Sixth Ave., aka Brooklyn Crossing) tower will be aimed at middle-income households, with a maximum income of 130% of Area Median Income (AMI). That means a lot of people earning six figures.  (Remember, I reported on solid evidence that the apartments would be aimed at those at 130% of AMI, but the developer refused to confirm it.) That building should open to market-rate tenants by the end of December or early January, so--if the pattern with B15 persists--the lottery might start by then, with move-ins for the affordable

Black former Nets staffers charge racial discrimination, claiming white boss uncomfortable with their politics; team defends employment decisions re seasonal locker room attendants

On 2/2/21, the New York Daily News reported,  Two former Nets employees claim they were let go over race and politics, want to unionize league staffers , citing a public statement on Instagram--since removed--that the workers "have reason to believe that we were terminated due to racial bias, as well as for our beliefs and stance on the Black Lives Matter movement." The article noted that Eddie Bolden and Juwan Williams were the only seasonal attendants not brought back for the 2020-21 season. “The decision on whether or not to rehire seasonal part-time employees is an organizational matter that is carefully and thoughtfully evaluated,” a Nets spokesperson said at the time. “We are entirely comfortable with our decision not to rehire these two individuals.” And a "Nets source" said the number of team attendants was cut because of the pandemic. Yesterday, as reported by the  Daily News  and  Patch , Bolden and Williams filed a federal lawsuit making the same charges.