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Showing posts from November, 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)

SCA Capital Plan: Atlantic Yards middle school to open Sept. 2025. New $170.7M cost suggests 32.4% jump over previous figure (& twice one earlier estimate).

The School Construction Authority's (SCA)  November 2022 update of its FY2020 – 2024 Capital Plan has been published, and it updates/confirms previous information that I.S. 653, the 806-middle school being built in the base of 662 Pacific Street (B15, aka Plank Road), won't open until September 2025. The school has the address of 491 Dean Street. Representatives of Empire State Development, the state authority that oversees/shepherds the project, and master developer Greenland Forest City Partners have, at public meetings, proven uninformed about the school timetable.  I've suggested that elected officials should probe the delays in the school, not just the start of the tower, which was announced and then delayed, but why the school will open nearly four years after Plank Road opened to residents. Now there's another issue. Costs rising Notably, the cost has ballooned to $170.72 million (see below) from the previously estimated $128.91 million (see further below),

From the latest Construction Update: nothing new. Continued boilerplate about possible start of platform. What happened to bi-monthly meeting?

The latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update (bottom), covering the two weeks beginning Monday, Nov. 28 was circulated at 12:19 pm yesterday (late!) by Empire State Development (ESD) after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners (GFCP), which is dominated by Greenland USA. There's really no change compared with the  previous update , just ongoing work previously announced. It's hard to tell whether there are actual changes, or just a failure to update the syntax. For example, on the southeast block at 595 Dean, the East Hoist (B12) will be removed, and deliveries as well as garbage removal will be made utilizing the residential loading dock on Dean Street. Except that was previously said to start in the first week of the month. Platform work  may  start   For more than five months, they've suggested that the preparatory stage of platform work--crucial to three of the six towers over the Vanderbilt Yard--will finally start, but it still requires, as state

Struggling Greenland, parent of Atlantic Yards master developer, gets bond extended. Credit rating back to Selective Default. But new state support for developers.

Shanghai-based Greenland Holdings Group (aka Greenland Holding Group), the parent of the main Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park developer, Greenland USA, is struggling worse than ever, as ratings agency Standard & Poor's (S&P) has reversed its June decision to lift its long-term issuer credit rating on Greenland from SD (selective default) to CCC- (substantially risky). From S&P Now it's sunk back to SD, with specific notes considered D or in default. The upshot is that Greenland likely has little cushion of money to build out Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, which--coupled with rising interest rates and the absence, at least for now, of the 421-a tax break --provide little incentive to proceed with the long-pending two-phase platform and the six towers (and required affordable housing) that it would support.  Coupled with Chinese policies that extend credit and also loan repayment, Greenland seems to have a short-term reprieve, but it's still unclear whether a project i

Raising $504M, Greenland USA sells Metropolis tower in Los Angeles at $200M+ loss. Is there money to shore up struggling parent or help with Brooklyn project?

Greenland Forest City Partners, as reported in May, sold two "100% affordable" Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park towers for $46 million less than the $370.8 million that they cost to build, a sign that cash-strapped majority owner Greenland USA, part of a cash-stapped parent company, was more interested in raising funds than making a profit.  (The press release said the sale was for $315 million, which was rounded up from the $314.53 million in property records.) For those two towers, 535 Carlton and 38 Sixth--as well as the condo building 550 Vanderbilt--Greenland USA owned a 70% share, so it reaped a little more than $220 million. It owns a 95% share of the project going forward. Another sale, more questions Earlier this month, Greenland USA sold an even bigger project in Los Angeles, at a bigger loss, as noted below. The question is whether the money only goes to pay off (partly) financing, or if there' some left for the struggling Shanghai-based parent, or whether it might

Stephen Witt leaves journalism (& Schneps) for Adams administration, replacing Department of Social Services flack who resisted (what she saw as) a cover-up

Well, you can't blame an ink-stained wretch for getting a better-paying job. That's why so many journalists hopscotch into public relations posts or get jobs in communications for a government body or institutions like a university. Or go work for a communications or lobbying consultancy. The benefits are typically better, as well. The tradeoff, in some (but not all) cases, is such jobs offer less freedom and opportunity for public service than journalism. Then again, a lot of journalism jobs, especially when working for tightfisted owners, offer less and less opportunity to do good work. That's my cue to comment on the (important!) new job for the notorious Stephen Witt , once the one-man Atlantic Yards-supporting band at the Courier-Life chain, an editor at Bed-Stuy-based Our Time Press, and then the founder of the independent (but suspiciously promotional ) Kings County Politics, and most recently the Political Editor-in-Chief of Schneps Media, the ever-growing chain t

With platform project pending for months, at least Greenland's had a project manager in place since June 2021. New photo shows scope of unbuilt railyard.

How serious is Greenland USA about building the platform over the Vanderbilt Yard, crucial to six future towers and the majority of the open space? Well, they sure sounded serious, as of May, with a contractor chosen, and a plan to move forward, pending permits. 550 Vanderbilt and 535 Carlton flank the topped-out, but not yet open 595 Dean two-tower project. Beyond is the Newswalk condo, 662 Pacific behind it, and the larger 18 Sixth flanking the arena. Six more towers require a two-block platform over the railyard. Photo: Norman Oder, 11/25/22 But nothing's happened, which raises the question: is this not merely bureaucratic but an unwillingness by the developer to proceed at a time when interest rates are rising, the 421-a tax break has expired (and hasn't yet been renewed), and Shanghai-based parent Greenland Holding Group has seen its stock price decline and its credit rating plunge? Greenland USA--which owns nearly all of Greenland Forest City Partners--should come clean.

Another factor in the housing shortage: undertaxed empty land. (And under-developed parcels?)

So, besides unreasonable expectations of financing and tax breaks , another reason New York lags in housing, as the Wall Street Journal's Konrad Putzier explained 11/22/22, is that  Housing Shortage Reflects the Cheap Cost of Holding Vacant Land . The signal example: a six-acre parcel of empty land next to the United Nations headquarters in Midtown Manhattan, zoned to support some 1,500 apartments, but empty for 17 years, because the developer hasn't figured out what to do--and hasn't been pressured to do so. After all, the site doesn't have a mortgage--which can, of course be a spur to build and reap revenues--and annual property taxes of about $1.5 million per acre are less than one-sixth the rate for nearby apartment buildings. To the WSJ, an executive with the owner blamed zoning approvals, the pandemic, and other priorities for the delay. Unapped potential From the article: U.S. cities are littered with vacant or sparsely built sites like this one. New York City al

With 421-a up in the air, new city rezonings (and Atlantic Yards towers) in doubt. Were approvals made without due diligence?

As Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park watchers know, approval of a project does not mean construction of a project, since the latter depends on factors like financing and tax breaks like 421-a, the tax break that expired June 15 and was not renewed--though Gov. Kathy Hochul had proposed a replacement seen as more politically palatable, since it required somewhat more affordability. Scott Solish of Greenland USA has said that 421-a, or the equivalent, is critical to their plans going forward. And that's why project deadlines are important, and/or--as I'll discuss separately--other spurs, like a tax on vacant land. So some of the recently approved rezonings in City Council come with question marks, as Politico reported 11/21/22, in  Housing plans could stall in the absence of 421-a : “It has a very, very significant impact, and I think every developer would tell you the same thing, it’s questioning the viability of residential rental development,” Jesse Masyr, an attorney for the devel

Flashback to when Nets owner Tsai said players were "partners" in the business; the Kyrie Irving saga shows that has its limits

Given the considerable controversy over star guard Kyrie Irving, suspended and forced to apologize for (but not completely renounce) his implicit endorsement of an anti-Semitic film before he returned, and the  criticism of not just Irving but the Brooklyn Nets' management--see, for example, these columns by  Howard Beck  and  Steve Lichtenstein -- it's worth another look at team owner Joe Tsai's words in May 2020, during the early days of the coronavirus lockdown. As summarized by  NetsDaily , Tsai, speaking at a virtual seminar organized by Stanford, again said his decision to buy the team was influenced by his recognition that teams in the cartel-like league could share league-level wealth, like TV revenues. Particularly interesting, in light of the Irving situation, was Tsai's recognition that team owners--now known as "governors"--share ownership with the players. "So you can’t treat players as employees. They’re your partners in the business,"

As two-tower 595 Dean nears completion, marketing ramps up; affordability unspecified, but lottery in 2023. Chelsea Piers opens in June. Pizza joint signed.

Updated and corrected: the initial version of this post suggested that Chelsea Piers might open in February. Well, developer TF Cornerstone is steadily completing the 798-unit, two-tower complex (B12 & B13) known collectively as 595 Dean Street, hence new renderings and recent articles in two real estate-friendly publications, plus the launch of two websites, 595 Dean St Luxury Brooklyn Apartments , for the market-rate units. and TFC 595 Dean St--Rent Stabilized Luxury in Prospect Heights , for the "affordable" ones. Images from 595 Dean web sites (I'm using titles, not the URLs) So what have we learned? Not "affordable housing" Well, they're not promoting "affordable housing" but rather "rent stabilized luxury," because the 240 "affordable" units, however below market, surely won't be cheap. Tellingly, they haven't yet listed rents--or even what percentage of Area Median Income (AMI) they're targeting. (The lott

Advocate Veconi: as affordable housing deadline approaches, and platform (with future towers) not economically viable, Atlantic Yards faces "realignment"

It's a glaring reality that the developers of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park cannot meet the May 2025 deadline to deliver another 877 (or 876) units of affordable housing before fines of $2,000/month kick in for each missing unit. Surely developer Greenland Forest City Partners--dominated by Greenland USA, the arm of a Shanghai-based firm--has little interest in paying those fines.   Updated graphic on plans and progress This past June, Greenland USA's Scott Solish, for the first time, hinted that they'd seek an extension by invoking a provision in the guiding Development Agreement that covers "the availability of financing for affordable housing and also project financing."  (Whether the first clause can be invoked is by no means clear, because the loss of the crucial 421-a tax break is not necessarily the same thing as the unavailability of a subsidy. And it's not clear that a rise in interest rates means qualifies either. Then again, Empire State Development