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Showing posts from June, 2022

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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)

Greenland Holding gets S&P credit rating lifted from Selective Default, but "high repayment risk" persists

Just a week after downgrading Greenland Holding Group (aka Greenland Holdings) to SD (Selective Default), ratings agency Standard & Poor's has upgraded the Shanghai-based conglomerate three notches to CCC-, but said the outlook remained negative. Greenland is the parent of Greenland USA, which owns nearly all of Greenland Forest City Partners, the master developer of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, and has funding responsibility for nearly all going forward. And default might --though that's unclear--stall the project. In a 6/29/22 announcement , S&P based the upgrade on Greenland's completion of a "distressed maturity extension," which means the company has one more year, until 6/25/23, to pay back $500 million in bonds. Risks remain But it warned that the company still "faces high repayment risk," given general lack of available cash and other debt due this year. CCC- is an "extremely speculative" low grade of "junk" bonds, d

With limited options, mercurial Nets star Irving "blinks," chooses another season in Brooklyn

Well, the melodrama around the Brooklyn Nets' mercurial star Kyrie Irving has subsided, for now, as Irving--recognizing his limited options for a trade, a new contract, or a departure--opted into a one-year extension, gaining $36.5 million to "run it back" with fellow star Kevin Durant (who signed for four years). That means, on paper, that the Nets have three stars, assuming former Philadelphia 76er Ben Simmons returns to form after well over a year off in injury rehab, and the team--at least if it can upgrade a few roster spots--might compete with the Eastern Conference elite, like the Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, and Milwaukee Bucks. It also means that, should Irving have a year without major injuries and volitional absences, and delivers his dazzle, he could earn a giant contract from the Nets, and/or a welcomed landing spot elsewhere as a free agent. (Had he opted out, he could only have earned $6 million at a new team.) One sticking point, according to second-hand r

From the latest Construction Update: platform work ahead, still pending; bus stop to be removed. No mention of reconstruction of arena plaza.

The latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update (bottom), covering the two weeks beginning Monday, June 27, was circulated yesterday at 11:29 am (late) by Empire State Development (ESD) after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners (GFCP), which is dominated by Greenland USA. There's not much new compared to the  previous update , and the document somehow excludes the most dramatic change around the project footprint--the fencing around the arena plaza for revamping of the pavement and other features. (See separate article .) Atlantic Avenue, east of Sixth Avenue As stated two weeks ago, the preparatory stage of platform work, putting up a fence and eliminating parking, is again expected to start, pending receipt of necessary permits.  The work will occur at the street level around Block 1120, which is bounded by Sixth and Carlton avenues, and Pacific Street and Atlantic Avenue. As shown in a photo below right, parking persists on Pacific Street east of Sixth Avenu

Photos: arena plaza significantly truncated for renovation work, which should finish by October. Flatbush Avenue access blocked through July.

As planned , renovation work at the Barclays Center Plaza--er, SeatGeek Plaza--has begun, with limited access to the MTA transit entrance.  The aim is to revamp the pavers and lighting, with the work finished by October, before the NBA and events season ramps up. There will be no access, as shown in the photo at right (taken around 6 pm yesterday), until the end of July. Access remains available from Atlantic Avenue. That makes the "We belong here/You belong here" art/advertising signage ever more ironic. Those exiting from the transit hub face a fence that extends across a good portion of the plaza, forcing potential arenagoers to the entrance doors at the side closest to Atlantic Avenue. As shown in the photo below, yesterday the area at/around the fence had been commandeered by the joint campaign of Jumaane Williams and Ana Maria Archila, running as Democrats in today's primary for Governor and Lieutenant Governor, respectively. Closer to Atlantic and Flatbush As show

Atlantic Yards down the memory hole: Gilmartin, pitching project in Richmond, suggested "public trust" in Brooklyn has been honored

It's Atlantic Yards down the memory hole, yet again. In  N.Y. developer MAG Partners co-leads team pitching for Diamond District project , Richmond BizSense reported 4/19/22 on the bid (one of six) by "New York-based MAG Partners and Seattle-based MacFarlane Partners... for the mixed-use redevelopment of city-owned land that would include a replacement of The Diamond baseball stadium." MAG Partners, of course, is led by MaryAnne Gilmartin, former CEO of Forest City Ratner/Forest City New York. Another partner on the team: MSquared, a firm founded by Alicia Glen, who as deputy mayor under Bill de Blasio worked with Gilmartin. The Brooklyn effect MAG Partners' bid was not among the three chosen as finalists, as announced in early May. Still, that April interview is worth a deeper look: While different in market and scale, Gilmartin said the 67-acre Diamond District project is similar to the 8-acre Pacific Park Brooklyn development that’s anchored by Barclays Center, ho

Melodrama surrounding contract for star Irving said to alienate fans, show Brooklyn Nets' dysfunction

The soap opera surrounding the Brooklyn Nets and the future of mercurial star Kyrie Irving, whose anti-vax stance and (previous) injuries have caused him to miss a significant number of games, has hit a froth, with unsourced--and, likely, self-serving--bit emerging through favored reporters. Here are the headlines from NetsDaily: 6/20/22:  IMPASSE! Kyrie Irving, Nets at a negotiations standstill, perhaps clearing way for him to leave 6/21/22:  LEVERAGE: Nets, Irving ‘keen’ about keeping negotiations ‘fluid’ as deadline approaches 6/21/22: Friedell: Friendship between Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving ‘isn’t always as close as it appears’ 6/22/22: Woj: Nets risk ‘alienating’ Kevin Durant, ‘unfastening him from his commitment’ 6/25/22: Woj: Negotiations between Nets and Kyrie Irving have turned ‘acrimonious’ as Lakers ‘loom’ For financial reasons, it's more likely than not that Irving stays in Brooklyn, even without a new contract, but who knows--the front office's effort to tie comp

For now, the 421-a tax break is dead. But another revision might get on the legislative agenda in January.

The June 15 deadline to get residential buildings to qualify for the 421-a tax break has passed, and many now have the beginnings of foundations--and a three-year deadline, by 6/15/26, to complete construction. And that means, likely, a temporary stall on new construction, at least that which is not fully market-rate or significantly subsidized by the city. Dead and buried: 421a is gone. Will it ever return? , the Real Deal reported 6/15/22, noting that Gov. Kathy Hochul's proposed replacement program, 485-w , failed in the Legislature. That proposal, I'd note, would've required deeper affordability than the previous iteration (aka "Affordable New York"), passed in 2017, which allowed for 30% of units for households at 130% of Area Median Income (AMI)--people essentially earning six figures  and potentially paying more than $3,000 per unit. What next? The Real Deal noted, "In a joint statement, the Real Estate Board of New York, 32BJ SEIU and the New York Bui

Tsai said to aim for $1 billion in revenue from the Nets, currently generating $343 million. Need to win championships. Could new arena naming rights help?

Brooklyn Nets Owner Watches Warriors Win Title And Dreams Of Making $1 Billion , wrote Forbes's Jabari Young 6/18/22, suggesting the projection of $1 billion in revenue within seven years is "an audacious projection." As Young writes: The new CEO, Sam Zussman , will need to repair the team’s image , fix an arena that’s good for little profit and navigate the Nets out of the joke mill. Tsai, who owns BSE Global, the sports company that operates the Nets, has decreed it. Young's not clear whether that $1 billion figure include the Nets or the umbrella company BSE Global, though another article, cited below, seems to point to the Nets--albeit with an asterisk. The key, of course, is the Nets winning--and they've underachieved, despite having superstars. About the arena From the article: Barclays Center isn’t the worst sports arena in the NBA, but it has problems. Rival executives who spoke with Forbes highlighted the arena’s inept parking, overcrowded entrances, unat

The power of stenography: industry publications repeat Avanath p.r. about buying 38 Sixth/535 Carlton with "market-rate" units. (Though there's a kernel of truth.)

One of my Atlantic Yards mantras (borrowed from megaproject maven Bent Flyvbjerg ) is "Power defines reality" or, in this case, "the power to issue a press release to stenographic publications defines reality." Which is how we get two Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park "100% affordable" buildings, last month acquired by Avanath Capital, described as "market-rate" and one of them, 535 Carlton, described as "adjacent to Barclays Center," though it's more than a block away. From Globe Street, 5/26/22,  Avanath Buys Brooklyn Multifamily Portfolio for $315M : Avanath Capital Management has acquired a mixed-use portfolio containing two multifamily properties with ground-floor retail space in Brooklyn, for $315 million. The portfolio consists of 601 affordable and market-rate residential and commercial units and qualifies for New York City’s Rent Stabilization program. Similarly in Multifamily Executive, 5/25/22,  Avanath Capital Management Acqu

After extension of debt repayment, Greenland Holdings, parent of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park main developer, downgraded (by S&P) to Selective Default

Three weeks ago, I wrote that Greenland Holdings Corp. (aka Greenland Holding), the Shanghai-based conglomerate that owns Greenland USA, had seen its stock price halved in two years and its credit rating plummet. (Greenland USA owns nearly all of Greenland Forest City Partners, which owns/has funding responsibility for Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park going forward, though the joint venture has sold off properties.) So that led to two, multi-notch downgrades in a week from the two main credit rating agencies, Moody's and Standard & Poor's, with S&P--though not Moody's--placing Greenland on the edge of default. New downgrade Now S&P, in a 6/21/22 announcement, Greenland Holding Downgraded to 'SD' On Completion of Distressed Maturity Extension , said it viewed the company's one-year extension of payment for nearly $500 million in notes (originally due June 25) "as a distressed debt restructuring tantamount to a default." That, however, is not qui

Atlantic Yards now a prime example of a failed Community Benefits Agreement. No comment from arena, or CBA signatories. Spin from new developer.

When Developers Promise Community Benefits, Who Holds Them Accountable? , Neil deMause wrote in City Limits 6/17/22, assessing unfulfilled promises regarding the Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs) Atlantic Yards, Yankee Stadium, Columbia University. and the Bronx Terminal Market. The first half of the article focuses on Atlantic Yards, detailing how it's fallen short (and relying significantly on my reporting). And it quotes me: The poor results, Oder says now, should come as no surprise. “The rollout was deceptive and over-hyped, the structure fundamentally flawed, and the oversight—by the (absent) Independent Compliance Monitor and local officials/press, as well as the under-equipped signatories—inadequate,” he writes in an email. (Editor’s note: Oder is a freelance contributor to City Limits). About housing From the article: Start with the housing provision of that agreement: While roughly half of the housing completed to date has been designated as affordable to low- or moder

Though spokesman for developer says Quality of Life Meetings boost accountability, notes show limited transparency re affordability, timing, funding, and staff

As I wrote 6/16/22, the main news from the  notes (also at bottom) from the bi-monthly 5/10/22 Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life meeting was that the platform over the Vanderbilt Yard will be built via a "joint venture with Plaza Construction and China Construction," sibling companies with a state-owned parent in Beijing.  But there are some smaller things worth flagging, especially since a spokesman for the project's developer just offered to City Limits an astounding quote about Atlantic Yards accountability, part of an article on Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs) that noted that the CBA for this project was pretty much dead. “Generally in terms of accountability [ #AtlanticYards @pacificparkbk ] continues to report to the public through a bi-monthly ‘quality of life’ meeting” held by @EmpireStateDev , says spox (from @BerlinRosen ) for majority owner Greenland USA Well, see notes