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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)

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park in 2021: questions persist over timetable, accountability; new branding for towers; "affordable" = middle-income; arena claims promo space; Nets (& unvaxxed star) make headlines

My 2021 preview focused on question marks regarding the project timeline, the future of Site 5, the affordability of new housing, and overall accountability, plus the re-opening of the Barclays Center. 

Most of those question marks persisted, and some answers we got were dismaying.

A 2021 surprise: new neon
signage (+new sponsor)
Though construction proceeded steadily on four towers, doubts mount regarding crucial aspects of the project, notably the two-phase platform over the two-block Vanderbilt Yard, a precursor to six towers and completion of the project, including the 8 acres of open space.

And that shadows developer Greenland Forest City Partners' professed--and diminishing--path to meeting the May 2025 deadline for 2,250 units of affordable housing. 

We got some belated information--no thanks to the developers or the state overseers--about the affordability of the next two towers, B15 (662 Pacific St.) and B4 (18 Sixth Ave.): all affordable units will be aimed at middle-class households, likely earning six figures. Also: no community preference.

B4 (right) & B15 (left), nearly done
(Those towers, branded as Plank Road and Brooklyn Crossing respectively, make no reference to the larger Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park project--unsurprising, given the absent "park," most of which would be a long block away--but emphasize that value of the Prospect Heights location.)

That affordability plan, keyed to the Affordable New York tax break, likely will be the same for the B12/B13 (615 Dean St./595 Dean St.) towers, scheduled to open in mid-2023.

We did get a partial clue about plans for Site 5, longtime home to Modell's and P.C. Richard, which is no longer blocked from development; a giant, two-tower project had been proposed.

Also, while it was not formally discussed, records show that the much-hyped middle-school on the project site, to be built in the lower floors of B15, won't open until the fall of 2025.

The COVID-19 challenge, continues

The Barclays Center reopened to partial crowds, and then fully vaccinated ones, for the Brooklyn Nets, though the concert/event schedule hasn't resumed fully, and has been recently snagged by the Omicron surge.
662 Pacific: middle-income affordable units

For the first time since the 2012 opening, Barclays Center operators had to scrounge for (vaccinated) staff, given advertising many open positions and even offering a weekly sweepstakes for each shift worked.

Construction continued after-hours at all four construction sites, allowing B4 and B15 to meet their targets, more or less. So the concerns of neighbors, working or attending school from home, got short shrift. Two new retail tenants were announced, and finally arrived, at B3 (38 Sixth) and B14 (535 Carlton).

The Brooklyn Nets

The Nets became a national story, first because they came close to a 2020-21 NBA championship, after adding (yes, in early 2021!) a third star, James Harden, and became an initial favorite for the 2021-22 season. Then mercurial star Kyrie Irving chose to resist vaccination, rendering him ineligible to play home games, as well as those at Madison Square Garden or in Toronto.

Emphasizing continuity, the Nets decided to bench Irving for away games, eating his considerable salary, until--astoundingly--they reversed themselves, allowing Irving to return part-time, because the pandemic had devasted the team's roster, and placed a huge load on the remaining stars, Kevin Durant and Harden.

The 2021 surprise(s)

If Irving's anti-vax status and team banishment/re-acceptance provoked the most headlines, other aspects regarding the team/arena were surprising and striking.

The Nets and the arena company acquired deep-pocketed new sponsors, including a new ticket company, SeatGeek. Notably, the (Chinese-owned) trading app WeBull paid a reported $30 million a year for its logo on a uniform patch, some three times the Barclays Center naming rights contract, which seems unlikely to survive without renegotiation.

The growing Fanatics business now runs the team store, Brooklyn Fanatics, which was built out along the Flatbush Avenue storefronts once promised/presumed for multiple other businesses.

No permission needed for promo
A neon sign accompanies that store. Similarly, the arena has been appropriating as much space as possible for advertising and promotional efforts: along the Dean Street wall next to the entrance (and over the "pad"); digital signage over the entrance doors (also used for video snippets); and the walls of the transit entrance (which went from advertising CBRE to Basquiat).

But the most striking, and audacious, claim on space was the unveiling, in October, of what was billed as a neon art installation, mounted on the transit entrance: large signage in cursive lettering stating "You belong here" and "We belong here."

It was billed as a homage to the #BlackLivesMatter demonstrations that coalescted at the plaza of the then-shuttered arena in May 2020 after the police murder in Minneapolis of George Floyd, a Black man.

But the Social Justice Fund of the Joe and Clara Tsai Foundation--the billionaires who own the arena company and Nets--didn't invite any protest leaders to the unveiling and, as I wrote, the signage seems to be doing double-duty as advertising--on space the arena did not previously have permission to use.

New leaders, new officials, continuity & accountability?

Running to succeed Mayor Bill de Blasio, front-running Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams eked out the Democratic mayoral nomination, then won the general election easily. (Atlantic Yards barely came up.) Though Adams is, by NYC standards, a centrist on public safety, he remains a question mark on many issues, including development.

Bushwick Council Member Antonio Reynoso, running toward the left, won the Brooklyn Borough Presidency, besting, among others, Boerum Hill Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon, a member of the sporadic BrooklynSpeaks coalition. 

Crystal Hudson, a former aide to Council Member Laurie Cumbo, won a highly contested race in the 35th District over Democratic Socialists of America member Mike Hollingsworth. And while Hudson was the (relative) centrist in the race on development issues, she ran to the left of Cumbo, who, in the waning weeks of her term, green-lighted a new tower at 840 Atlantic Ave., across the street from the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park site.

The most crucial political official regarding Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park remains the governor of New York State, given that the project is overseen/shepherded by the gubernatorially-controlled Empire State Development. 

The shocking departure of longtime incumbent Andrew Cuomo, felled by sexual harassment allegations investigated by Attorney General Letitia James, led to the accidental ascension of Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, a savvy Buffalo-area pol who quickly consolidated support, forcing James--who unwisely announced a pursuit of the governorship--to focus on reelection.

Hochul, unsurprisingly, has done little to ensure greater accountability with this project. The advisory Atlantic Yards Community Development, which is gubernatorially controlled, has neither met its quarterly schedule nor served as a watchdog, ignoring basic, looming questions about the project. 

Rather, Hochul--not unlike Cuomo--went to the arena for a photo op. Before her ascent, the short-term Chair of Empire State Development floated the notion of a "legislative fix" to enable the project to meet its affordable housing obligations. That tantalizing hint lingers.

Below, two graphics regarding the project's fitful progress and unfulfilled affordability plans, and then a month-by-month survey.

An updated map of project plans and progress

The affordable housing picture

January 2021

Big discounts include three months free for some "affordable" rentals.

B15 and B4 said to be finished in July and October. (Didn't happen.)  No info on affordability.
Winning the back pages

In latest six-month look-ahead, developer hedged, telling state officials it may start first phase of platform this year. Didn't happen.

School Construction Authority update: middle-school due September 2024 (not March). (Once slated for 2018.)

Nets gain superstar guard Harden from Houston, pay heavy price. They mortgaged the future because it's a business, of course. With Harden debut, Nets dominate back pages.

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

So, what exactly should those facing after-hours construction do? Well, ESD says, send email, which won't get a prompt response. No one ensures real-time responses, except the Barclays Center, which offers a 24/7 phone number in response to oculus malfunctions.

February 2021

As sports betting approval looms in the NYS Legislature, the Barclays Center is lobbying.

If Hudson Yards faces huge doubts about platform and second phase, well, what about Brooklyn?

Developer said, "We do believe that the two-week look-aheads are very accurate." Not true. ESD's two-week Construction Updates consistently misreport the actual scope of After-Hours Variances.

How did the middleman for the Nassau Coliseum EB-5 loan get control of the lease--and a $7 million payment? In routine vote, Nassau County approves amendments to support Coliseum reopening. Legislators don't get it.

Forest City, according to new book, underestimated neighborhood gentrification and failed to buy the closed New York Daily News printing plant in Prospect Heights, later bought by Shaya Boymelgreen and transformed into the Newswalk condos.
A reminder on health & safety

New document confirms Barclays Center's brutal pandemic: $24.6 million loss in second half of 2020. The Barclays Center, seemingly successful, saw its bonds go to "junk."

Gov. Cuomo says venues can reopen, at 10% capacity. Barclays Center introduces new safety protocols. 

For first Nets game with fans, arena entrance is on Dean Street, with lots of protocols--and more workers than guests.

Commercial Observer interviewees say the Barclays Center has helped some but not too many nearby businesses.

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

March 2021

An image from a moveable model does not mean new a new Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park building on south side of Dean Street. But could there be new construction at FDNY site?

"The Cuomo Way": bullying, micromanaging, and loyalty above all. As allegations mount, elite opinion shifts, and tabloids pile on. Damning reports about Cuomo's "culture of fear, harassment, and intimidation"--and governance by optics.

State requires arenagoers to have negative COVID-19 test within three days days. Barclays Center now sets two days. But not rapid testing.

Coming sooner than you think: June 2022 deadline to start buildings under current tax break (which might expire), to meet May 2025 project requirements. At brief meeting of advisory Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation, talk of a potential legislative “fix”--extension of tax break and/or deadline?

The Brooklyn Nets are now favorites to win the NBA title.
From 840 Atlantic handout; planned 195'

From Bklyner: Proposed Tower at McDonald’s Site Faces Pushback, Questions Over Ownership. Images from 840 Atlantic Avenue both show and downplay the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park context.

The image shows a full buildout of Pacific Park, though that of course is not guaranteed.

Yes, that "Angela Davis" quote is gone from the Barclays Center subway station. Now: a pharmacy ad.

The city held a COVID-19 memorial ceremony, and the Barclays Center, among others, did its part, turning commercial signage into civic signage.

ESD says "no formal permission granted for parking along Atlantic Avenue" outside Barclays. Which means... informal permission?

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

Earlier-than-anticipated (thanks to after-hours work) completion of B4 means three towers at arena block should meet May 2022 bulk requirement.

A 535 Carlton neighbor's lament about excessive dust: "there is no community liaison." When I call, the machine said "message quota exceeded."
The arena block towers from Flatbush & Bergen

From Bklyner: Will All 258 “Affordable” Units at Largest Pacific Park Tower Go to the Better-Off? The developer won't say, but the answer is yes.

Retail tenants announced, finally, for 38 Sixth (preschool) and 535 Carlton (home décor, jewelry and gift shop).

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

April 2021

From Bklyner: "Developers Propose Two 17-Story Towers in Prospect Heights/Crown Heights. CB 8 Says Whoa, Gets Backing From [Council Member Laurie] Cumbo." (But not quite, in the end.)

Public space, private use: how Barclays Center relies on parking in Atlantic Avenue drop-off lane and Dean Street sidewalk.

Harden looms, briefly
The Triangle Building gets a Harden mural. Still no tenants, though.

For playoffs, arenas like Barclays Center can go to 25% capacity. But that won't save concert tours.

Happy Earth Day! Did you know the Barclays Center's green roof doesn't perform as proposed, was revived to muffle escaping bass, and that added steel undermines environmental benefit?

On Fourth Avenue below Atlantic Avenue, Barclays Deli & Juice Bar, one of several businesses spotted with arena references.

Yes, the NBA's looking at a big TV payday. That will raise the value of teams.

May 2021

Oculus + digital signage + new transit wrap
Still three months free for middle-income units at "100% affordable" buildings 535 Carlton and 38 Sixth.

Monetizing the arena plaza and transit entrance: new canvas for advertising, never forecasted (nor, apparently, disallowed), beyond the oculus.

If annual naming rights to UBS Arena at Belmont cost $15 million-plus, the $10 million Barclays deal seems a bargain. Will it be reopened? (Would public get a slice?) What about transit hub?

Plank Road (official)
NY Post: owner of Nets/arena operating company will renegotiate Barclays naming rights, uniform patch, Geico entrance. Tsai says neither side is "looking to change" arena name. Stay tuned.

Welcome to Plank Road, the new name for 662 Pacific Street. The web site offers no info on affordability, doesn't mention "Pacific Park."

Barclays Center says Dean Street sidewalk parking not encouraged but used by "our canine unit." ESD: (illegal) parking on Atlantic Avenue is "supporting arena operations." Of course.

K-9 unit on sidewalk, so OK?
At one commercial storefront, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Barclays Center serve as "Urban Market" bookends.

While (truncated) open space at two Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park towers is barely used, the Vanderbilt Avenue open streets are bustling.

Not one but three journalistic investigations of Borough President Adams's charity shows dubious practices (self-promotion, entanglement with real-estate projects). He calls coverage racially biased, but predecessor Marty Markowitz faced same scrutiny.

With new state policy assigning at least 50% of seating for vaccinated fans, arenas can fill up much more for the NBA playoffs.

As uniform-wearing de Blasio touts Brooklyn Nets, he becomes a meme; team partners on vaccination, with drawings for playoff tickets.

The Barclays Center team store spreads out along Flatbush Ave. and changes its name: from "Nets Shop by Adidas" to "Swag Shop" to (apparently) "Brooklyn Style."

Yes, 2022 looks to be a boom year for arenas and stadiums. The NYC-area offers a test case, with the new UBS Arena opening.

James Caldwell;
Photo: Tracy Collins
No "accidental town square" on night of George Floyd anniversary protest, Barclays Center was in playoff (business) mode, with protest shunted across the street. New commercial signage  isactivated at plaza and on Flatbush Avenue.

The passing of James Caldwell, leader of the 77th Precinct Council (and of BUILD). In remembering James Caldwell, the notorious Witt again rewrites Atlantic Yards history.

One fan reports: season tickets to watch the Nets will cost two to three times more.

June 2021

From City & State: Top 50 NYC Lobbyists 2021 of course contain Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park connections, notably Kasirer.

From the NYT Magazine: a Kevin Durant profile, a salute to "(Possibly) the Greatest Basketball Team of All Time" (nah), and some gaps. The second round of playoffs await.

Despite clashes among mayoral rivals, a notable--and under-discussed--consensus on affordable housing investment and land use blueprint.

In a New Yorker piece on Brooklyn Public Library, a bit of Bruce Ratner news: he's re-married, to BPL's President/CEO.

Brooklyn Nets beat Milwaukee Bucks in first game of decisive series, provoking tab takeover and a mayoral visit.

As Nets draw playoff crowds, pre-game traffic jams around parking garages prompt gridlock, honking in residential district. For the playoffs, Barclays Center features new Flatbush Ave. entrance (at former team store), more of plaza cordoned off. 

Before Nets, Bucks play decisive final game of series, a reassessment in New Jersey: you can root for the Brooklyn Nets.  

Nets lose in overtime to Bucks, capping disappointing but landmark season: an unpublicized watch party on arena plaza.

Nets/arena CEO says concerts set to boom (sure) and are "generally sold out" (nah). He also says they need entry-level workers.

On CNBC, Nets owner Tsai doubles down defending China ("the average citizen is very hopeful about the future") and Hong Kong's national security legislation.

From City Limits: mayoral candidate (and former Bloomberg official) Shaun Donovan praises Atlantic Yards (otherwise absent from campaign), but... it's no model housing partnership. "Atlantic Yards down the memory hole," again.

In the 35th District, Crystal Hudson and Michael Hollingsworth face off, amid questions about development (including Prospect Heights) and the future of member deference. Neither embrace Atlantic Yards.

As election approaches, some more belated scrutiny for Adams, even as local coverage diminishes (with Wall Street Journal shut-down of Greater NY section).

Though mayoral campaign discourse has focused on crime or even the politics of ranked choice voting, too little has been said about housing, rent, and land use. 

First round of voting shows Adams with significant lead in mayoral race; Council races complicated; Hudson leads Hollingsworth in 35th.

At Barclays Center plaza, a DoorDash Nets experience for locals--while the elevator to transit hub remains on the fritz.

Tsais' Social Justice Fund offering $2.5M in loans to Brooklyn small businesses owned by BIPOC;, the Atlantic Yards CBA once promised small business loans. Another spoon-fed "sports" story in the Daily News, from a beat writer.

From NY Daily News Sports

July 2021

“Pro-development” BP Adams, following CB 8, recommends limiting 840 Atlantic proposal to 145 feet (with ≈39% bulk cut); urges deeper affordability. His recommendation notes the obvious: Pacific Park "affordable" units are not geared to those facing most displacement pressure.

Updated ranked choice voting results: Adams narrowly wins Democratic nod for mayor; Antonio Reynoso for Brooklyn BP; Hudson in 35th; Lincoln Restler,  Chi Ossé, Shahana Hanif in nearby districts. 

As residential real estate "bounces back," office vacancies continue in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Implication: no push for a Site 5 office tower?
Coming: Walgreens

Largest available "flagship" retail space near Barclays Center finally will get (ground-floor) tenant: Walgreens, not a food/drink emporium. 

On Dean Street across from B12/B13 construction site, a disruptive air horn blasts frequently; ten blasts in 15 minutes.

Yes, arena will broadcast brief clips of Brooklyn Nets & New York Liberty games on LED "atrium glass display." Elevator repairs coming. 

Welcome to "Brooklyn Crossing," new branding for 18 Sixth Ave., avoiding mention of Pacific Park. 
Invoking location, not project

Latest six-month look-ahead for project maintains fuzzy prediction: "Platform construction may commence." 

Middle-school still scheduled for March 2024 completion, assuming construction starts this month. (Nah.) 

Mayor-in-waiting Adams' Inner Circle includes power lawyer Frank Carone and Rev. Herbert Daughtry, both with Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park connections.

The Nets build their image with a smartphone donation, but, to quote author Matt Sullivan, have a "Kremlin-esque wall" around more dubious practices, part of letting superstars like Irving and Durant have their way.

In "sensitive time" for Tsai, a pricey NYC condo purchase, notable new philanthropy, and more criticism for his reflexive defense of China.

ProPublica explains how billionaire sports team owners get tax write-offs. The same applies to arena operators. (Hello, Brooklyn!) A tax benefit for below-market naming rights?
It all rhymes

August 2021

In Bushwick, "Brooklyn Pets" is the latest to echo the Nets' logo.

EB-5 beneficiary takes new stake in partner's Coliseum project. It's... questionable.

As 421-a tax break faces June 2022 sunset, the real-estate industry is unsettled. Would departure of embattled Cuomo affect legislative "fix" to enable Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park housing obligation?

Cuomo's resignation, under pressure, means Gov. Kathy Hochul, with question marks regarding 2022 race and potential changes from the top; Port Authority staffers blast "non-transparent, politically motivated decisions."

Incoming: a pragmatic Gov. Hochul, promising transparency. Real-estate firms are optimistic. But a "gross concentration of power" disserves the public.

With departure of ESD head Cohen (also Chair of advisory Atlantic Yards CDC), a chance for Gov. Hochul to shape Atlantic Yards? Not just affordable housing, but accountability. (Not yet.)

What was that?
An alarming day around Pacific Park construction: water jets shooting out of B4 tower, strange buzzing sounds from B15. It was just a fire system test, but neighbors weren't alerted.

Lingering questions: Did Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park get a new development manager after Forest City sold? If not, was a restriction violated--or waived? No answer.

Four weeks later, where are the minutes from the bi-monthly Quality of Life meeting--and the previous one, both promised "as quickly as possible"? (This will become a pattern.)

In City & State's (predictable and arbitrary) Brooklyn Power 100, the Tsais are listed at #37. City & State doesn't mention that one member of its advisory board, former NYC Commissioner of Small Business Services, Gregg Bishop, in June was named Executive Director of the Tsais' Social Justice Fund.

Barclays Center institutes vaccination mandate starting Sept. 13. How many workers will leave? 

The *continued* rise of "Hakeem" and "Tish": from Central Brooklyn to national prominence (and, likely, new positions).  

The NY Post on "Why Alibaba’s Joe Tsai gets to party but Jack Ma is punished by China" (better on "office politics"); missing: the heft of his Nets investment and Brooklyn philanthropy.

Newsday finally (too gently) looks into EB-5 middleman Nick Mastroianni, of the U.S. Immigration Fund.

Greenland, from Forbes
New financial documents confirm brutal year for Barclays Center, but uptick in Q2 ticket sales may be promising.

Greenland Holding Group, parent of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park master developer, continues rise (to 142) in Fortune Global 500. But a setback in the Forbes Global 2000 ranking, which uses broader metrics than Fortune.

Greenland, with significant debts, still rated junk, and stock dips. But one ratings agency suggests a positive outlook.

Taking over the Flatbush flank, digitally
Goodbye Brooklyn Style, enter Brooklyn Fanatics: growing digital sports company Fanatics taking over Nets' e-commerce & arena store along Flatbush Ave.

Brooklyn Nets tickets now start at $70/game, at least for season-ticket plans. Times have changed. Shouldn't public support for Barclays Center (& MSG) be revisited? With 11-game ticket plans, tickets range from $45 to $120.

Announcing Barclays Center's incentive for (needed) workers to get vaccinated, de Blasio salutes arena as "incredible success" and predicts "great parade" next year for the team "they gave us."

As Barclays Center--for the first time since debut--advertises significant job openings, a $25,000 prize for vaccinated workers. Levy jobs include Attendant, Catering ($31.80); Attendant, Warehouse ($17.80); Administrative Assistant ($21.50); Bartender ($14.55).

In 2013, incoming Mayor de Blasio said of Atlantic Yards, "On my watch, [the affordable housing] will happen." It's not close to complete (or at income levels promised). Now what?

Plank Road marketing ramps up: high rents, no 3-BR units (or, yet, affordable listings). Dubious claim of views thanks to "lack of competition for high-rise buildings." WTF!

Fund-raisers for Adams include Atlantic Yards lobbyist Kasirer and booster/neighbor Cohen.

Summarizing Sportico's friendly, not-so-deep dive into BSE Global: focus on international (Chinese) media rights, new digital revenue streams, and younger Nets fans.

Belatedly, ESD offers notes from past two Quality of Life meetings, but evades some tough questions (sidewalk parking, after-hours work, disclosure of such work).

September 2021

In city's Draft EIS for Gowanus rezoning, as the Municipal Art Society points out, Pacific Park is wrongly seen as contributing open space. (Also: Atlantic Yards residents will use it first.)

From City & State's New York State Top 50 Lobbyists 2021: a big win for mobile sports betting (and the Brooklyn Nets' lobbyists).

Making the plaza for MTV
Brooklyn Nets reshuffle roster, trade (expensive) DeAndre Jordan, who'd come as part of the "Big 3." Returning: LaMarcus Aldridge.

Preparing for the MTV Video Music Awards, Barclays Center cordons off much of the plaza; Triangle Building now advertising Snapchat. VMAs rely on shutdown of plaza, adjacent streets and sidewalks

In reversal encouraged by Cumbo, Community Board 8 committee endorses developer's 10% cut in proposed 840 Atlantic tower, gaining commitment for lower-income units.

In surprise, CB 8 board refuses to endorse Land Use Committee's compromise on 840 Atlantic. Revised 840 Atlantic plan passed by key Council subcommittee, as Cumbo ignores CB 8 non-endorsement (despite previous pledge).

Barclays Center no longer requiring vaccinated patrons to wear masks. Teams in other cities require masks but not vaccination. Then there's eating/drinking.

Former Mayor Bloomberg says "rail yards... offer the next mayor opportunities to create housing" (but Vanderbilt Yard still awaits development).

The closing of Bklyner, the diminishing coverage of Brooklyn, the tilt toward p.r., and a glimmer of game-changing hope for local news.

Quality of Life meeting: no updates on big issues or affordable housing lotteries; Dean Street early morning construction through end of year. Aiming for B4 move-ins early November (nope). Aiming for B15 in September or early October. (They started sometime in October).

As events return to Barclays, the plaza returns as checkpoint. Greenland USA exec deflects question about garage preparation for arena events.

Recapping Eric Adams' record on Atlantic Yards: from wariness, fence-sitting, and faux outrage to enthusiastic support (plus some $ from the arena).

Lakers' new jersey patch sponsorship and Clippers' new arena partner suggest revenue opportunities for the Brooklyn Nets.

Brewing crisis with huge Chinese property developer Evergrande casts cloud over real-estate giants, including Greenland, parent of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park master developer. That delayed platform over the Vanderbilt Yard reminds us of a company "exposed to one of the world’s most volatile economies."

Greenland says it's "fully committed and resourced to complete Pacific Park Brooklyn" and it's "unaffected by unrelated corporations around the world," but... its plans are still fuzzy.

Former ESDC executive Laremont replaces former ESDC executive Lago at Department of City Planning/City Planning Commission.

Report: vaccine-resistant Nets' star Irving apparently runs afoul of NYC rule. Will he miss home games? A scoop from Matt Sullivan in Rollling Stone has legs. The downside to player empowerment and the NBA's tough-to-enforce new COVID guidelines.

As Irving's evasions regarding vax status lead Nets news, team signs $30M deal with patch sponsor Webull; is Barclays (renegotiation? exit?) next?

Even as Nets dominate predictions for league success, vexing situation of un-vaxxed star means "Irving has lost the fan base."

Tammany Hall redux? Nets' practice facility now cleared for unvaccinated star Irving, since it's part of office building limited to tenants (really?).

Nets, prizing continuity and finally standing up to star Irving, won't let him play part-time (or practice), and will eat part of his salary.

No progress without profit: in Can't Knock the Hustle, author Sullivan chronicles transformed 2019-20 Brooklyn Nets, including protest, pandemic & player empowerment. Close reading provokes some Atlantic Yards quibbles.

At 662 Pacific St. (Plank Road), new discounts on available market-rate units.

October 2021

Stay lifted on condemnation of P.C. Richard suggests movement on plans to shift bulk from unbuilt "Miss Brooklyn" across Flatbush Ave. to enable larger towers. 
Then settlement unlocks that process

Listen to Gridlock Sam: automated control of illegal parking could "fix New York's traffic hell." Maybe it could relieve burden on streets near Barclays Center.

TRD: Madison International, four years after buying Atlantic Terminal/Center malls from Forest City, still trying to upgrade.

Opposite the arena
As shooting incidents near Barclays Center snarl traffic, talk of new resources (from arena that benefits from zoning override) to ensure safer streets. OK. Though why not start with regular enforcement? 

On Flatbush Ave. opposite Barclays Center & next to busy take-out restaurants, NYPD's temporary corral deters double-parking & accommodates delivery bikes.

"You/We belong here." New neon artwork planned for Barclays Center subway entrance. But commerce wins, and philanthropy doesn't make up for unfulfilled Atlantic Yards promises.
Advertising Basquiat

Neon artwork will be lit 6 am-midnight, for 3+ years. No Department of Building permit needed. Will "You belong" apply to (oft-faulty) elevator, Hong Kong protests?

Even the artist behind "You/We belong here" recognizes the phraseology's ironies. Beyond question of belonging, it's a governmental gift of new promotional space.

You belong here? Premium courtside lounge opens with two-day promotional viewing of Warhol's ($20M?) Basquiat. Advertising signage for Warhol painting of Basquiat (briefly?) replaces CBRE ads wrapping transit entrance, only recently deployed for ads.

"Chaos at Barclays." Before Nets' home opener, "Stand with Kyrie" protesters storm arena doors, causing brief closure. Long lines delay ticketholders into Q2.

No "chaos" at Barclays Center for second Brooklyn Nets home game; plaza still cordoned off during day. "We belong here." SeatGeek Plaza at Barclays Center still mostly cordoned off (on non-game day).

Monetizing the available canvas: Barclays Center operators gain advertising/promotional value from previously unused space around arena.

Tsai says re Irving: "people are entitled to their own opinion and choice." But remember, "1.4 billion Chinese citizens stand united."

Net Operating Income should cover Interest
The Times assesses Nets fandom, as de Blasio channels Markowitz, and team brass aim beyond NYC.

Barclays Center operating company, after deep losses in FY 2021, relies on $52 million from billionaire Tsai to pay the bills, and debts. (But he'll do fine.)

Forbes: thanks to patch deal and rising NBA tide, Nets/arena company leaping ahead--and now worth $3.2B, about what Tsai paid. Still 7th in league.

So, how big are tax deductions for Tsai from (mostly questionable) losses on Barclays Center operating company? My guess: very big.

"Anti-masker" construction worker at/near Atlantic Yards site said to harass dad and 6 y.o. son. Developer said to take action. What exactly?

Bumping up attendance at Barclays: first eight Brooklyn Nets home games each feature 1,000 free tickets, thanks to sponsor Webull.

November 2021

At Empire State Development, new board chair from Long Island and CEO from Queens, both with real-estate backgrounds.

At arena during Election Day, Gov. Hochul and Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin announce new vaccine incentive, with free Nets/events tickets, don custom jerseys.

Ratings agency Moody's: Barclays Center has "strong recovery prospects," given pent-up demand, though chance remains for another COVID hit.

At Key Food in Crown Heights
Two more businesses with a team/arena theme: Brooklyn Net Wellness & Barcklays Pizza & Pasta.  Key Food's Urban Market, at 653 Nostrand Avenue in Crown Heights, has an arena image.

Flashback, 2014: after new affordable housing deal, Public Advocate James cited lack of trust in developer; opponent Goldstein presciently predicted project wouldn't be finished by 2025. (AG James announced a run for Governor, then--after reports of poor fundraising--said she'd run for reelection.)

Now 662 Pacific St. (aka Plank Road) is open, offering two months free on 16-month leases. Still waiting for affordable housing lottery.

After Greenland USA said it had commitment and resources to complete Pacific Park, parent company's credit rating downgraded deeper into "junk"; funding for operations likely constrained.

Did "luck" help an "unheralded developer" win approval for the 840 Atlantic rezoning? TRD's account obscures the strategy and discounts the Council Member's role.

A surprise: NYPD guarding Atlantic Avenue no-standing lane outside arena, for now (?) no longer used (with one exception) as private parking.

Housing lottery opens for 662 Pacific St. (Plank Road, or B15); middle-income (130% of AMI) but wide range & below-max rent (studios $1,537), though still not aimed neediest.

No more 50% preference for locals; it's not required for units solely funded via the Affordable New York tax break. Oh well.

No three-bedroom apartments. So much for 50% of floor area devoted to family-sized units, as originally promised.

The impact of delay: 622 Pacific got its Temporary Certificate of Occupancy Oct. 14. The Housing Lottery won't close until Jan. 18. Then comes processing. The Citizens Housing and Planning Council says the city should do better.

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.)

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.

Big changes in Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park affordable housing. The promise, and (partial?) removal, of community preference. More middle-income units than promised. A glaring lack of disclosure.

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

Waiting for Times Plaza open space
Rhetoric check: from "affordable and middle-income housing" to only "affordable" and now maybe just "middle-income."

Unresolved and lingering: what happened to the promised Times Plaza open space?

Goodbye, Barclays Center? After $35 million/year arena naming rights deal in Los Angeles, a new/renegotiated deal in Brooklyn seems inevitable.

ESD: never mind, no answers yet about upcoming middle-school; no update on plan to meet housing deadline; meetings stay virtual; notes stay elusive.

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

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

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.

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

The Boston Celtics' Enes Kanter takes on the NBA and Nike re China, then Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai. And faces a backlash for right-wing associations.

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

December 2021
From The Indypendent

Another holy grail (and slippery rhetoric): architectural firm SHoP (which designed B2) now claims to have reinvented modular construction with Assembly OSM.

With first of three penthouses sold, at ≈15% discount off initial price, 550 Vanderbilt approaches sell-through; building's huge 421-a discount could save owners $50 million.

Art or Advertising? The Contradictions of “You/We Belong Here” Neon Signage at Barclays Center (from The Indypendent).

More on the art/advertising installation: scenes from "Block Party," video of speeches by pols, artist, sponsor.

To a friendly YES network interviewer, Clara Wu Tsai talks up Brooklyn Nets, social justice, and "Belong Brooklyn" art installation.

A.MANO on Dean, at Carlton
Conflict of Interests Board says de Blasio improperly raised funds from Ratner in 2014, then gave the money back. He continued improper fundraising.

After nearly nine-month hiatus, advisory Atlantic Yards CDC set to meet (virtually). Big questions loom.

Looking at the AY CDC's troubling record of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation: some useful info but more stonewalling (and rubber-stamping); fitful schedule; lack of transparency.

At AY CDC, developer claims no knowledge of school timing (now it’s 2025!); blinkered ESD claims project on track to meet affordable housing deadline (very unlikely).

B12/B13 top out

While 461 Dean retail still awaits tenants, major retail space across Flatbush Avenue has leased.

Now open: Wonderforest Nature Preschool at 38 Sixth; home décor, jewelry and gift shop A.MANO Brooklyn (formerly Cain Sloan) at 535 Carlton (with Dean St. address).

Boosting Brooklyn Nets' attendance, three games (9,000 total tickets) of freebies to New York City employees.

CityLab: advocates suggest changes on Atlantic Avenue at Flatbush intersection and at Vanderbilt. But can bottleneck near arena be avoided?

At Brooklyn Crossing (B4, flanking arena), first five market-rate units listed; prices comparable to Plank Road; middle-income "affordable" lottery awaits.

Coming on Fourth Ave. between Dean and Pacific, a block from Site 5: a 16-story building.

After losing players to COVID protocols and seen stars overloaded, Nets--shockingly--reverse policy and welcome Irving back, for away games. He immediately tests positive. Nets cancel three games as league flounders to maintain revenue amid Omicron surge.

The Strokes postpone New Year's Eve concert at Barclays.

de Blasio takes a victory lap, though his legacy is mixed, and claims about affordable housing overblown. His pledge to get the Atlantic Yards housing done? Ignored.

After 15 weeks, ESD issues notes from a Quality of Life meeting. No updates on key issues, though a Q&A explains why"affordable" units at 662 Pacific are being rented at a discount from the allowable rents: "to reflect current market conditions and the needs in the area."