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Showing posts from December, 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)

So arena's "Belong/Brooklyn" art (advertising?) project concerns fundamental questions about who belongs? It's "tricky" (though two art critics heap praise).

I didn't notice it initially, but the transit hub at the plaza--er, SeatGeek Plaza--outside the Barclays Center has a plaque crediting artist Tavares Strachan for his neon art installation "Belong/Brooklyn." The text: Brooklyn is the vibrant center of New York City, a refuge for explorers and immigrants the world over. Belong/Brooklyn (2021) is an affirmation of this complex and ever-changiung community. These three simple words--YOU, WE, and BELONG--invite every viewer who enters the site to celebrate the present moment, and to consider fundamental questions about who belongs where, and why . (Emphases added)  Okay, then. Who does belong? Well, SeatGeek Plaza is not necessarily a public space, and the larger Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park project catalyzed by the arena is not so welcoming to residents earning less than six figures. Since the October 2021 installation, there's been an additional valence, involving the Brooklyn Nets, suspended-and-back star Kyrie Irving

Honoring Tsais helps raise nearly $1M for Municipal Art Society (with Ratner among guests). Clara Tsai calls Barclays Center a community center. (Really?)

So, giving Clara Wu Tsai and Joe Tsai a big award--which I'd criticized in September-- helped raise nearly $1 million for the Municipal Art Society (MAS). Four Extraordinary New Yorkers Received the 2022 Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Medal , the MAS stated in a 11/10/22 press release, giving the Tsais--who have residence(s) in New York City but raise(d) their kids in La Jolla, with one still there--a bit of a geographic boost. From the press release: The event raised nearly $1 million to support MAS in its mission of lifting up the voices of the people in the debates that shape New York’s built environment and leading the way toward a more livable city from sidewalk to skyline. Founded in 1893, MAS was instrumental in key battles that have shaped the future of New York. As I'd written, Joe Tsai's posture on China, which he rhetorically supports without question, is not about "lifting up the voices of the people." Honored guests From the press release: Honorees Jon B

Apartment seeker: "This whole Pacific Park development has broken my heart... no actual apartments for people... making under $100K+ a year."

What does it mean to be a tenant in the middle-income housing that qualifies as "affordable" in the latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park towers? As I'll write separately, lottery-winning residents generally think buildings like 18 Sixth Ave. (B4, aka Brooklyn Crossing) and  662 Pacific St. (B15, aka Plank Road) are quite nice, with great location and amenities (for a fee), though in some cases the income-targeted units seem smaller and less advantageously placed than the market-rate ones. (Which is why some reject the units.) It depends on their budget, of course. While the rents  for Brooklyn Crossing/Plank Road--studio: $1,905/$1,547; 1-BR: $2,390/$2,273; 2-BR: $3,344/$3,219--may not be below some available elsewhere in the open market, they're relative bargains for well-located, new buildings with luxury finishes and many amenities.  Hence the much higher rents for market-rate units elsewhere in the buildings. Market rents for Brooklyn Crossing / Plank Road , accordi

In remarkable turnaround and with new defensive focus, streaking Nets (nine straight wins) dominate leading teams, push toward top of conference.

The streaking Brooklyn Nets have made a remarkable turnaround, thanks to (accidental) new head Coach Jacque Vaughn, soundly beating three top teams in a row: the Golden State Warriors (albeit without star Steph Curry), the Milwaukee Bucks (albeit without the oft-absent Khris Middleton), and, two nights ago in Cleveland, the hometown Cavaliers. So, while it only merits a banner on the back of yesterday's tabloids, expect more coverage of the team's surge, especially if they move up from third place in the Eastern Conference, two games behind the Boston Celtics, even higher. To quote NetsDaily : Brooklyn won its ninth-straight game to extend the longest active winning streak in the association with a 125-117 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers . The Nets’ streak is the longest winning streak in franchise history since 2005-06 — when Jacque Vaughn was the back-up point guard — and Brooklyn is a league-best 10-1 in the month of December. The win was also the team’s 20th since Vaug

As part of Brooklyn Bus Network Redesign, MTA proposes re-routing B65 bus from Dean and Bergen streets in Prospect Heights. Public workshop Feb. 2.

As part of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's proposed  Brooklyn Bus Network Redesign , the route bordering the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park project, the eastbound B65, would be re-routed to Atlantic Avenue to avoid Dean Street west of Washington Avenue. That would thus separate it from a bike route, potential traffic jams caused by double-parking, fire department trucks, and vehicles--especially during a heavy event night--lined up for the 535 Carlton parking garage, which in 2023 will expand from 303 spaces to 758 spaces, all via the same narrow entrance. So too would the westbound B65 be re-routed from Bergen Street west of Washington Avenue. In both cases, as shown in the image below, that would add additional traffic to Washington Avenue between Atlantic Avenue and Bergen Street. The MTA explains that the change would mean "using a wider street as compared to Dean St/Bergen St and providing a direct connection to the Atlantic Av-Barclays Center subway and LIRR st

By failing to schedule bi-monthly Quality of Life meeting and quarterly AY CDC meetings, New York State has kept big questions from getting answers.

Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority that oversees/shepherds Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, has notably backed off from the project. For the first time (in my memory), ESD last month not only skipped a scheduled bi-monthly Quality of Life meeting but it issued no announcement, nor any plan to reschedule it. Was it carelessness, staff overload, or deliberate withdrawal from engagement? Unclear, but whatever the explanation, it means resistance to transparency. It's not that complicated a meeting to schedule, given that it typically relies on presentations by ESD staffer Tobi Jaiyesimi and Scott Solish of developer Greenland USA, (which dominates Greenland Forest City Partners), though sometimes Jaiyesimi has done it solo. Despite limited attendance and constrained transparency, the bi-monthly online meeting is still a forum to learn updates about the project, and for stakeholders to ask questions, even if answers aren't always candid.  (Note that there was some can

Avanath finally wises up, in part, updating its 38 Sixth and 535 Carlton websites to say Prospect Heights. Still, "Barclays I" and "Barclays II" remain dubious.

Hey, remember the image at right? Avanath Capital, which in May bought the two "100% affordable" towers 38 Sixth Avenue and 535 Carlton Avenue from Greenland Forest City Partners, dubiously described the towers as "Barclays I" and "Barclays II," and wrongly stated they were part of the "Pacific Heights" neighborhood. (Pacific Heights is in San Francisco. The towers are Prospect Heights, part of the project now known as Pacific Park. That project goes unmentioned.) Moreover, they were so careless that they simply transposed the text from 38 Sixth page to the 535 Carlton page. Despite the obvious errors that I pointed out, they persisted at least through Sept. 24, the last time I wrote about the towers. That doesn't say much about Avanath's savvy and nimbleness--it's a minor issue compared to running a building. Also, Avanath seemingly got a bargain, paying  $315 million  for towers that cost $370.8 million to build. It also  erroneou

From the latest Construction Update: no changes, no news. Which means crucial platform still hasn't launched, as promised, in 2022.

The latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update (bottom), covering the two weeks beginning Monday, Dec. 26 was circulated at 10:55 am yesterday (lead time) by Empire State Development (ESD) after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners (GFCP), which is dominated by Greenland USA. There's no change compared with the previous update , which had announced the start of deliveries of parking stackers at the B12/B13 site (595 Dean St.), on the southeast block, adding 455 spaces to the 303 spaces at the underground garage at 535 Carlton Ave., which is entered via Dean Street just east of Carlton. Platform work may start For more than six months, they've suggested that the preparatory stage of platform work--crucial to three of the six towers over the Vanderbilt Yard, and toward completion of the project's affordable housing commitment--will finally start. But it still requires, as stated, permits to constrain sidewalk access and traffic around the block bounded b

Upzoning agreements negotiated by CM Hudson include local/MWBE contracting goals, but record suggests much wiggle room beyond Community District 8 focus.

In my City Limits article on the belatedly-released details regarding the spot rezonings at 870-888 Atlantic Avenue and 1034-1042 Atlantic Avenue (as well as other rezonings in the area), I didn't address one smaller but still important aspect of the agreement negotiated by Council Member Crystal Hudson, and with two nonprofit housing groups as signatories. The summary for each agreement states that, during construction, the developers will aim to involve local or M/WBE (Minority or Women's Business Enterprises) contractors, but there's a lot of wiggle room. They've "agreed to use good faith efforts to achieve local and/or MWBE participation in construction of the development equal to a minimum of 30% local businesses/employees and/or 10% of the total cost of construction with priority given to employees and businesses first from Community District 8, then Brooklyn-wide."  For the 1034-1042 Atlantic agreement, developed by EMP Capital's Elie Pariente, the

If B5 rises, developers seek 30% (middle-income) affordability, under expired 421-a benefit. Tax break deadline: 2026. But affordable housing deadline: 2025.

As I wrote this week, documents confirmed that developers of the B12/B13 towers--TF Cornerstone, after leasing the sites from master developer Greenland Forest City Partners--plan 30% affordable units at 130% of Area Median Income (AMI), or middle-income households likely earning six figures. TF Cornerstone, not surprisingly, had refused to acknowledge that publicly, since such "affordable" housing--better termed "income-targeted"--hardly serves those who marched for the project. It's hardly surprising the developers would seek to maximize their economic return: that configuration is the most lucrative under the various options presented by the now-expired 421-a tax break , which required buildings to start by 6/15/22--even with just one foundation--and be completed by 6/15/26. 700 Atlantic, as well Similarly, and unsurprisingly, a document shows that the long-gestating B5--700 Atlantic Avenue, the first tower built over the Vanderbilt Yard--is also planned to

If project's Guarantor, Shanghai-based Greenland Holdings, defaults on debt, could that trigger default? Yes, but only if project agreements were enforced.

I wrote yesterday that the Guarantor of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, Shanghai-based Greenland Holdings Corp., does not seem to have filed required annual audited financial statements to Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority that oversees/shepherds the project, That's important because it leaves big questions as to whether the parent of Greenland USA, which bought 70% of the project going forward from Forest City, and later bought out all but 5% of Forest City's share, has money not just to finish the project, but to pay the required $2,000/month fines for affordable housing not completed by May 2025. Another issue, as advocate Gib Veconi stated on Twitter, is "Under the project agreements, guarantor's default on its own debt would trigger a default on the agreements. Greenland may be reaching that point."  Indeed, as I wrote, Greenland's overall credit rating has  sunk to Selective Default, with specific notes in Default. If Greenland defaults

Shanghai-based Greenland Holdings, struggling financially, is Guarantor for the project. Where are required annual audited financial reports to NY State?

One lesson from Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park is that complicated contracts can get ignored, whether willfully or carelessly. We learned that during the kerfuffle over the unbuilt (and largely forgotten) Urban Room, which was supposed to be finished by May but almost certainly won't be built, given the complexity, cost, and interference (with arena activities) of building the flagship "Miss Brooklyn" tower.  Instead, the developer wants to move most of that bulk across the Flatbush Avenue, which would require new project approvals. Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority that oversees/shepherds the project, was distinctly uninterested in enforcing those fines, which could total $10 million by May 2023. ESD does have a "right to refrain" from enforcement, so that situation may stand. And that posture puts in focus a more significant enforcement deadline: May 31, 2025, by which the developer is supposed to complete the project's 2,250 affordable hou