Skip to main content

Featured Post

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 2022: false starts on (delayed) platform & B5 tower; NYS unwilling to pursue transparency; more middle-income "affordability." Brooklyn Nets a roller coaster.

This work never started
The year 2022 was supposed to be a turning point for the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park project, with the long-awaited start of the platform (or deck) over the first block (of two) over the MTA's Vanderbilt Yard, which would support three towers.

That start would also bring the project closer to required of 2,250 affordable housing units by May 31, 2025, given 876 (or 877) units yet to launch. 

Instead, despite an announced intention to start in June, including a briefing for neighbors, the platform remained in limbo, essentially foreclosing the possibility that the housing obligation would be met.

There was no explanation from developer Greenland Forest City Partners (GFCP) other than permitting issues, which, without further details, just wasn't convincing. 

Nor was there an announced effort to extend or renegotiate the housing deadline, by which fines of $2.000/month for each missing unit are supposed to be levied. But such an effort seems inevitable.

Delays without explanation

B5, center-left, plus (built) B4. Dattner Architects
It was hard not to wonder if the financial struggles faced by Shanghai-based Greenland Holdings Corp.--parent of Greenland USA, which owns nearly all of GFCP--were part of the reason for the stall.

Announced but never started was the B5 tower (700 Atlantic Ave.), the first to rise over the MTA's Vanderbilt Yard.

Also long-gestating, but with no progress, are plans for Site 5, catercorner to the Barclays Center and longtime home to Modell's and P.C. Richard.

While a lawsuit no longer blocks potential development, GFCP has not moved forward on a giant, two-tower project, which would use bulk from the unbuilt flagship tower (aka "Miss Brooklyn") once slated to loom over the arena. 

This plan, floated in 2016, didn't proceed, either

Miss Brooklyn + Urban Room
A deadline, and a protest

Last May marked the deadline, long ignored or forgotten, to build the "Urban Room," a glass atrium bridging "Miss Brooklyn" and the arena, but which could not be built--and surely would not be built, given the crucial function of the arena plaza.

So the sole 2022 criticism involving elected officials, organized by the coalition BrooklynSpeaks, did point to the missing Urban Room, but was also meant to focus attention on the affordable housing deadline. 

BrooklynSpeaks also organized a series of charettes, dubbed Crossroads, about the future of the project, addressing issues like urban design, traffic, and accountability--including a new oversight entity--but has not delivered a report or summary.

One deal, much opacity 

GFCP did sell the two "100% affordable" towers, 535 Carlton Ave. and 38 Sixth Ave., to a new owner, Avanath Capital Management, which confusingly--if tellingly--reported that the buildings included "market-rate" apartments, either an error or a nod to the predominant middle-income nature of the units. Would that money finance the platform?

Marketing "affordable" at 595 Dean
Though TF Cornerstone, which is developing the B12/B13 sites it leased from GFCP, was strategically opaque about the affordability of the two-tower project (known as 595 Dean Street), documents confirmed that--duh--all 240 below-market units would be leased to middle-income households. 

Empire State Development (ESD), the state agency that oversees/shepherds the project, continued to treat the developer gently, failing to demand any affordable housing schedule, canceling (without explanation) a scheduled bi-monthly Quality of Life meeting or to schedule a quarterly meeting of the purportedly advisory Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC).

That pattern raises questions about whether ESD would invoke the "Right to Refrain," a clause in the project's Development Agreement, from enforcing provisions regarding the project, notably the affordable housing obligation. (It essentially already did so, regarding the Urban Room fines.)

That said, ESD did casually acknowledge for the first time that the project would take until 2035. (A developer's rep suggested eight or nine years from now.)

Press attention has continued to wither. There was nothing about Atlantic Yards in the Brooklyn Paper's 2022 roundup, for example.

About the Nets and the arena

The Brooklyn Nets went through a roller-coaster period, seeing unvaxxed star Kyrie Irving finally returning in early 2022, the team flaming out in the subsequent playoffs, having Irving and fellow star Kevin Durant on the brink of leaving, and then Irving suspended for seemingly promoting an anti-Semitic documentary.

Then came the firing of Coach Steve Nash, the almost-hiring of scandal tinged Ime Udoka, and the team's remarkable resurgence--the hottest in the league, right now--under former Assistant Coach Jacque Vaughn.

If the general diminishment of COVID consciousness and requirements helped the Nets fill the stands, the Barclays Center still didn't return to a pre-COVID schedule, given the falloff of some concert tours. So the arena still lost money--even as the value of the Nets continued to rise. 

Tsai said he hoped to earn much more from the Nets. But a naming-rights renegotiation didn't emerge.

The Social Justice Fund of the Joe and Clara Tsai Foundation announced a new initiative, investments in start-ups led by BIPOC founders that must be located--at least for a brief while--in Brooklyn.

The escalator at the arena plaza was often out of commission. The arena plaza revamp, aimed to refresh the pavers and lighting, took far longer than announced. 

Retail effects

Belatedly, a tenant finally emerged at 461 Dean Street, the modular tower adjacent to the arena: Just Salad, which is continuing its buildout. A pizzeria, Simo, is announced at 595 Dean, opening mid-year. No retail has yet been announced at Brooklyn Crossing, though Equinox has previously been said to be planned.

Across from the arena, a large Flatbush Avenue parcel said to become a Walgreen's did not do so, while progress seemed minimal at the Triangle Building, announced as the home to Rihanna's Savage x Fenty lingerie line.

The busiest, most challenging retail near the project, though not necessarily related, remained Chik-fil-A, which, with Shake Shack on Flatbush Avenue across from Barclays, was so busy that cars double-parked and delivery bikes filled the sidewalks. 

Temporary measures and then a permanent bike corral helped, but didn't deter double-parking.

Beyond the footprint

The area around Atlantic Avenue east of Vanderbilt Avenue, the eastern border of the project site, continued to be in the sights of developers and the city.

After much debate, and backroom negotiations, two parcels were approved for spot rezonings in what Community Board 8 has called M-CROWN, with 17-story buildings at 35% affordability, and New York City's Department of City Planning began to rezone the larger area, now known as the Atlantic Avenue Mixed Use Project.

The Atlantic Avenue Mixed-Use Project

What was the surprise?

The most confounding and surprising aspect of 2022 was the failure to start the platform, despite multiple announcements that it it was pending, and the plan for truncating traffic.



Also, despite hints in my 2022 preview, there was no new plan for Site 5 or a new timetable. Nor were there new deals beyond Avanath.

Another surprise was the contretemps over Irving, who owner Tsai said was "unfit" to be "currently" a Net.

That raised questions about Tsai's own politics, given his support for the government of China, as well as whether the public really wants to hear what NBA players feel about hot-button issues. It also set a contrast between Irving getting peppered with questions and the failure of the media to scrutinize Tsai.

January 2022

Lottery launches for 258 income-targeted, rent-stabilized "affordable housing" units at Brooklyn Crossing (B4, 18 Sixth Ave.), the largest building so far in Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park. It seeks higher rents than Plank Road (B15, 662 Pacific St.), though both are below allowable levels.

18 Sixth Ave. housing lottery

The future of Site 5 remains in question, as is the market for office space.

BrooklynSpeaks starts Crossroads sessions. Council Member Crystal Hudson says the missing affordable housing should generate fines back to the community.

Pacific Street possibility; from BrooklynSpeaks charette
BrooklynSpeaks suggests urban design principles for Site 5 and beyond, but fails to address the tradeoff--how big should the building be?

Will curb cuts remain on quiet Pacific Street? Will the Dean Street firehouse be moved, allowing for a slowdown in traffic (and, perhaps, more housing)?

BrooklynSpeaks proposals regarding transportation and traffic: no one disagrees with more enforcement of illegal parking and idling during arena events, but getting there likely requires a city oversight hearing. Many but not all agree that a residential permit parking (RPP) system is needed.

The looming question: how big should Site 5 be? The approved Floor Area Ration (FAR) was 9. The developers previously sought a FAR of about 23.5, some 50% larger than then the 80 Flatbush project.

Nets star Irving, thanks to a reversal of team policy to allow him as an unvaxxed part-timer, enters the lineup for away games. Comments scribe Howard Beck: "If there’s one consistency to the Nets’ handling of this craziness, it’s that they’ve chosen cold pragmatism each time."

Former Deputy Mayor Vicki Been says Cuomo's 421-a revision kneecapped former Mayor Bill de Blasio's pursuit of lower-income affordable housing. That's what leads to 130% AMI for Atlantic Yards buildings.

Yes, big real estate is optimistic about new Mayor Eric Adams. Former Forest City CEO MaryAnne Gilmartin says he was "very accessible for our company.”

Accidental Gov. Kathy Hochul is raking in the cash from real estate, including from Florida-based EB-5 middleman Nicholas Mastroianni, who's raised immigrant investor money for Atlantic Yards.

Would Hochul's proposed 421-a replacement help Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park? Well, it would require deeper affordability.

Looking back: journalists (including me) and civic watchdogs missed crucial fine print: "affordable housing" had been redefined with much greater latitude for the developer, obviating a requirement to fulfill previous promises.

February 2022

In a surprise, John Abbamondi, CEO of BSE Global, will leave at the end of the NBA season.

Yes, developers benefiting from the 421-a tax break disproportionately chose the option of 130% of AMI, because that's most lucrative.

New clouds about Mayor Adams and his shifty friends, with a "checkered past" (actually, a checkered present, too). The mayor's faux veganism is a sideshow.
BrooklynSpeaks proposal

BrooklynSpeaks proposes a new Local Development Corporation to oversee the project. But who is the community and who decides the trade-offs? Is the AY CDC's main problem that it doesn't meet enough? (No.)

Advocacy planner Ron Shiffman says he saw a "bargaining process that accepts the existing program as is. I would urge [BrooklynSpeaks] to abandon a bargaining process and aggressively pursue the redesign of the project.”

No more "scary hours," as disgruntled Nets star James Harden, less than 13 months after forcing his way out of Houston with a trade, wrangles a trade to the Philadelphia 76ers. The Nets get injured Ben Simmons.

Formerly MetroTech
Now that Brookfield Properties has owned the portfolio it acquired from Forest City Realty Trust/Forest City New York since 2018, it's renaming MetroTech as Brooklyn Commons. What about the subway station?

A real estate agent is said to report that "every time he shows apartments for 130% AMI, people tell him they’ve been called for 4 or 5 different buildings at the same time, because they are hard to fill."

No, the B12/B13 towers (595 Dean St.) won't have any units larger than two bedrooms, just as with Brooklyn Crossing and Plank Road, despite the 2005 (non-binding) pledge that half the affordable space, in floor area, would go to family-sized units.

In a nod to surface diversity, at least, Brooklyn Crossing will have "artwork from eight artists, all of whom are BIPOC and either live or work in the borough."

A Greenland USA executive says they were hampered by not having factored a supply chain crisis into their construction planning.

March 2022

The Barclays Center is still struggling financially, but bond ratings agency Moody's affirms the Ba1 (highest notch of junk) rating, with the outlook now stable, rather than negative.

Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty lingerie store is coming to the Triangle Building across from Barclays. (The buildout, however, did not progress.)

A New York magazine's "eater" columnist dubs (oft-touted) Barclays' food "Biggest bummer," after a taste test. 

City & State's latest Real Estate Power 100 omits Hu Gang, President and CEO, Greenland USA. Maybe they know something. According to a November 2013 prediction by the chairman of parent Greenland Holding Group, Atlantic Yards was supposed to have been completed four months ago.

Rents are "roaring back," but some units at 535 Carlton Avenue, for households earning up to 165% of AMI, still offer incentives.

With Russia's recent invasion of Ukraine, a new focus on "sportswashing" by nations and individuals. Was that what former Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov did?

MHANY promotes middle-income housing
The mission of MHANY (Mutual Housing Association of New York), the ACORN successor contracted to manage intake for the affordable housing for Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, doesn't really match the middle-income units it now processes for the project.

Is the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park middle school due in 2024, as a state official suggests? Nope.

Marion Phillips III, the President of the AY CDC and ESD's longtime Senior VP for Community Relations, departs.

Mayor Adams lets the Nets bring Irving back for home games, saying it's about morale, since New York teams are at a competitive disadvantage

Developers are fine with Gov. Hochul's proposed replacement for the expiring 421-a tax break, dubbed Affordable Neighborhoods for New Yorkers, or 485-w. But several elected officials are not. It doesn't pass.

Times Plaza plan
No news on the much-delayed work revamping Times Plaza, which was required as a mitigation under the 2014 Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement.

According to the New York City Department of City Planning, Atlantic Avenue and Fourth Avenue are Brooklyn's two "Opportunity Corridors," boulevards that, given access to transit and wide streets, can accommodate far more density in a growing borough. Hence the spate of encouraged development.

Something odd is going on regarding 840 Atlantic Avenue, the tower approved last year by the City Council at the southeast corner of Vanderbilt Avenue, at a parcel largely occupied by a still-operating McDonald's. Will it be two towers?

Two spot rezonings, which would bring residential buildings rising 17 stories (or maybe 15) along broad Atlantic Avenue, are pending before the City Council. What did Community Board 8's disapproval-with-conditions vote mean?

April 2022

The developers of 870-888 Atlantic and 1034-1042 Atlantic are evasive when faced with basic questions at a City Council hearing about their business practices, such as use of MWBE contractors or union jobs during construction.

The first two private rezonings in the M-CROWN area, including 1010 Pacific and 1050 Pacific, are cautionary tales, given that the proponents made empty promises--and then sold at a huge profit. The latter building was once promised to contain only two-bedroom apartments.

As proposed rezonings are pending, Council Members Hudson and Chi Osse, with allies, ask the city to take a broader look at ways to enable development while improving the larger community, with an area rezoning.

Given speculative market/rising property values and rising value of buildable square feet, is there a mechanism to get more out of the developers, or to curb speculation? A Pratt Center report suggests restructuring taxation, among other solutions.

870-888 Atlantic, slated for 17 stories
Tensions at Community Board 8’s Land Use Committee over the two pending rezonings. Another sport rezoning, 962 Pacific Street, surfaces.

After a last-minute negotiation, Hudson announces a deal for two 17-story towers along Atlantic Avenue at the scale requested, having secured significantly more affordable housing—35%, or 153 units—plus a combined $200,000 to fund anti-displacement services.

Shortly after Hudson announces the rezoning deal, the developer of 1034-1042 Atlantic, EMP Capital, files a construction permit as well as belated disclosures about the sale of the parcels, suggesting big profits. Upon official passage by the City Council, a press release--but no accompanying documents that memorialize the agreements. 

"Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai is the face of NBA's uneasy China relationship," reports ESPN, producing some damning details about Tsai's relationship with, and defense of, the Chinese regime, so crucial to league profits.

The graphic designer Ben Keel produces a new infographic on the project's current Owners/Developers and Designers.

This is updated to include the sale of B3/B13 to Avanath Capital

Drilling equipment in the storage lot on Atlantic Avenue immediately adjacent to the McDonald's lot suggests that the 840 Atlantic project aims to get foundations -in the ground by June 15 to take advantage of the current, and not yet renewed, 421-a tax break.

The construction of the platform over the first block of the Vanderbilt Yard seems ever closer, as does construction of the first tower, which will be partly over that platform, as both gain official permits from the New York City Department of Buildings.

Nearly seven years after the 550 Vanderbilt condo building launched pre-sales for the 277 apartments (plus a super's unit), developer Greenland Forest City Partners is nearly at a sellthrough, thanks to the sale of the most expensive listed apartment--for $6.7 million, a 13.2% discount--plus one of the other two remaining units.

The playoffs were brief
For the NBA playoffs, a promotion tagged as "NetsLevel." But the team is swept by the Boston Celtics.

Area Median Income (AMI), the baseline calculation from which to calculate income and rent levels for "affordable housing," has risen dramatically, combined with a disproportionate increase in rent levels for both middle-income studios and an array of low-income units.

May 2022

Mayor Adams proposes $5 billion in capital funding to promote the creation and preservation of affordable housing--less than what advocates expected.

Based on anonymous sources, the New York Post says the arena and team lost "between $50 million and $100 million combined in the 2021-22 season." For the year ending in June, "there are projected to be just 147 Barclays Center events," as opposed to 194 in the last pre-pandemic year. (It turns out to be fewer.)

Prices for a captive audience
"The Nets, after giveaways, sold about 15,000 tickets a game"--a far cry from the reported attendance average of 17,354 fans, or 97.9% of capacity. 

"So let’s say I was a little naive," acknowledges former team/arena CEO Brett Yormark. "What was said to me was that we'll get to Brooklyn in three years, Brett, You’ll be in New Jersey for a couple of years. It ended up being seven."

The platform should start in June, says Greenland's Scott Solish, pending LIRR and Department of Buildings approvals. The first phase should take three years, which means projected completion in mid-2025. B5 won't go vertical until Spring 2023. The two adjacent buildings rely on the renewal or replacement of the 421-a tax break.

Construction fences for Block 1120, that first railyard block, should truncate the streets around it for years. Unaddressed: the affordable housing deadline.

The delayed notes from previous Quality of Life meetings finally surface, a little suspiciously. The arena operating company plans paver and lighting updates "on our plaza," from late June to September.

Atlantic Yards and the problem of time: rise in (regional) Area Median Income means "low-income" two-bedroom apartments could now rent for $1,500.


Greenland Forest City Partners has sold leases to two "100% affordable" towers, 535 Carlton Ave. (B14) and 38 Sixth Ave. (B3), to Avanath Capital Management, which unwisely dubbed them Barclays I and Barclays II and claims, erroneously, they're within "Brooklyn's desirable Pacific Heights neighborhood."

Avanath claims in its press release that the buildings include "market-rate residential and commercial units." It looks like GFCP sold at a loss.
Avanath cites the "Pacific Heights" neighborhood

Rep. Yvette Clarke--a Flatbush resident--is losing Atlantic Yards, as her 9th District boundary moves east of Washington Avenue. Errol Louis recounts the tangled redistricting process and observes, "A New Progressive Tenth District Has Set Off a Political Free-for-All."

Hell Gate publishes "Albany Problems: NYC's Perpetual Corporate Tax Break Machine," by Doug Turetsky, formerly of the city's Independent Budget Office. One prime example is Barclays Center. Foregone taxes this year? $85 million.

The NYC Department of Design and Construction plans Pacific Park Project Phase I, involving a combined sewer installation and water main replacement, expected to start this fall and last three years.

The Brodsky Organization says its fully leased-up Plank Road (B14, 662 Pacific), at least the market-rate units, some of which came with incentives.

There's mounting evidence of shadiness, if not illegality, around the relationship between Mayor Eric Adams and his chief of staff, Frank Carone, a key ally while Adams was Brooklyn Borough President.

The Association for Neighborhood & Housing Development (ANHD), which includes non-profit affordable housing groups, releases its 2022 Housing Risk Chart. Notably Brooklyn CD 8 is in orange, with 13 threats to affordable housing, while CD 2 and CD 3 are in yellow, with ten and nine threats, respectively. CD 6, with Park Slope, faces only four threats.

June 2022
Beginning of plaza truncation

Chinese parent of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park developer, damaged by ambitious development plans and COVID lockdowns, faces default risk. 

S&P says it views the Greenland Holding Group's (aka Greenland Holdings) one-year extension of payment for nearly $500 million in notes "as a distressed debt restructuring tantamount to a default." Then S&P upgrades Greenland.

Barclays Center Community Relations says the plaza will be closed in stages for work to upgrade the pavers and light fixtures. Now the work is scheduled to end in October, not September. The plaza gets truncated.

Mayor Adams touts "City of Yes," says it's time to build more.

A plan for railyard work.
An Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park update before an AY CDC meeting offers new schematics for the site of B5, 700 Atlantic Ave., the first tower (of six) over the MTA's Vanderbilt Yard.

For the first time, a representative of GFCP essentially admits the obvious: they have no plan to meet the May 31, 2025 deadline to deliver the required 2,250 units of affordable housing. Will they get an extension? 

default, points out AY CDC Director Gib Veconi, could stall the project. Unless Empire State Development exercises its "right to refrain."

Greenland USA's Solish offers a tentative completion date: "We think sometime probably in the next eight-ish, eight to nine years."

Brooklyn Nets parent BSE Global names Sam Zussman as new CEO. Nets owner Tsai projects $1 billion in revenue within seven years, a very ambitious goal. Rival executives tell Forbes about "the arena’s inept parking, overcrowded entrances, unattractive suites and exterior design."

The B5 tower should qualify for the 421-a tax break.

ESD brushes off an effort to inquire about enforcing the Urban Room requirement, with fines overdue. A spokesperson for the developer tells Neil deMause of City Limits (writing about Community Benefits Agreements), "Generally in terms of accountability this project continues to report to the public through a bi-monthly ‘quality of life’ meeting” held by ESD. Really?

Platform work will be conducted through a joint venture with Plaza Construction and China Construction, both state-owned Chinese companies, essentially. Construction is expected to start on Monday, June 20. A construction fence will be in place approximately 36 to 40 months.

Andrew Zimbalist--the guy who said Atlantic Yards would be a gold mine--remember him? Well, one sports economist calls him a "shill."

The soap opera surrounding the Nets and the future of mercurial star Irving, hits a froth, then ends, as Irving--recognizing his limited options for a trade, a new contract, or a departure--opts into a one-year extension, gaining $36.5 million to "run it back" with fellow star Kevin Durant.

It's Atlantic Yards down the memory hole. Gilmartin, pitching a project in Richnond says Atlantic Yards is an example of honoring the public trust.

July 2022

The Nets are in turmoil, with Durant requesting a trade and Irving expected to leave, too. To one journalist, it's “an organizational catastrophe."

The Axel, at Vanderbilt & Atlantic
The first large new building along Atlantic Avenue, albeit not within Community District 8, is set to open, with affordable units at 539 Vanderbilt Ave. and market-rate ones as 545 Vanderbilt Ave., aka The Axel. The housing lottery starts before the market-rate lease-up, unlike with Plank Road and Brooklyn Crossing.

The NYC Independent Budget Office confirms: the most recent iteration of the 421-a tax break has disproportionately incentivized not-so-affordable income-targeted housing, serving the middle-class.

Given the May 2020 deadline to start construction at Site 5, longtime home of the big-box stores Modell's (now closed) and P.C. Richard, did the developer pay New York City for its retained development rights or give up those rights? No answer.

ESD in 2014 passed amendments to the guiding General Project Plan that did not incorporate a change regarding the Urban Room. That document was not public--until Gib Veconi of BrooklynSpeaks belatedly makes it so.

Greenland USA's Solish says they hope permits for the railyard work will be "sometime in the next several business days." Asked about the delays, Solish responds a bit sharply: "There's no delay. I just went through that. We're just waiting for our permits and we will get moving, hopefully soon."

Solish says, "We're moving ahead with our plans with the platform.... We are working on hitting all of our targets, as we always have." Amir Stein of TF Cornerstone, disingenuously, has no answer regarding the affordability of the B12/B13 towers.

BrooklynSpeaks organizes a press conference protesting the failure to build the Urban Room. ESD responds that "the existing plaza... has become an indispensable public space," but says it will work "to expand access to public space and advance the next phases of this critical project.” Greenland Forest City says the plaza is better than the Urban Room. (It doesn't control the plaza. The beneficiary is the arena company.)



The context for the reflexive support for Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park from Empire State Development, the state authority that oversees/shepherds the project, is that it's controlled by the governor.

On Flatbush opposite the arena
Newsday editorializes that "Nassau Coliseum has served Long Island well but now is an expensive albatross that must be demolished."  County Executive Blakeman speaks similarly. That might have been predicted when the new UBS Arena opened.

Perhaps the most consistent challenge to road and sidewalk flow near the Barclays Center involves Chik-fil-A and its neighbor Shake Shack on Flatbush Avenue.

KKR acquires the two-building office project Atlantic Yards in Atlanta. It's also a buyer of 36-story 80 DeKalb (aka DKLB BKLN) flanking Fort Greene Park near Downtown Brooklyn, originally built by Forest City.

The Brooklyn Bear's Garden, bordering Site 5, tells BrooklynSpeaks: don't forget us, nor accept all of "Miss Brooklyn's" bulk at Site 5.

Escalators often out
During plaza repair work, the escalators are down. A responsible operator--the arena company operates the escalator, as it controls the plaza--should make it easier to find out about service status.

Another major job awaits: cleaning up (or replacing) the rust-stained sidewalks, a consequence of the arena's pre-rusted exoskeleton.

China’s debt cataclysm threatens U.S. real estate projects, the Real Deal says, citing several firms, including Greenland USA, master developer of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park in Brooklyn and owner of the Metropolis complex in Los Angeles. (Also: rising interest rates don't help.)

Adams, as Borough President, introduced his son Jordan Coleman to Brett Yormark. Now Coleman works at Yormark-led Roc Nation.

August 2022

From the Department of City Planning to Fried Frank: former ESD lawyer Anita Laremont.

Beginning to build out the school
Construction on the interior of the long-awaited Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park middle school, known as I.S. 653, is finally starting, according to the School Construction Authority.

To make remote work more attractive, at Brooklyn Crossing (B4), the Brodsky Organization "scrapped plans for an open lounge" and more private space to the building’s co-working space.

More clouds over Mayor Adams and his dubious pals, who used to run Woodland, near the arena.

No candidate but Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon even mentions Atlantic Yards in the 10th District Congressional race. The crucial New York Times endorsement goes to TriBeCa resident and self-funding lawyer Dan Goldman, noted for his impeachment role. He wins the low-turnout election with a narrow plurality.

Nearly three years ago, a Wall Street Journal columnist advised selling Greenland Holdings. He was right, as the company's stock price has dropped by more than half.

How can Greenland USA raise money? It would be tough to sell development rights over the railyard.

Greenland rises on Fortune's annual Global 500 list, to #125 from #142. However, in Forbes's Global 2000 listing, it has dropped for two years, to #415. Forbes uses four metrics: a composite score assessing sales (revenue), profits, assets, and market value. Fortune relies solely on revenue.

Related is trying to renegotiate its agreement with the MTA regarding Hudson Yards. Is the developer of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park trying to do similarly?

After weeks of drama and speculation, the stand-off between Durant and the Brooklyn Nets ends with KD blinking--rescinding his trade demand and his reported request for the coach and General Manager to be replaced.

A curious decade
The context around Downtown Brooklyn/Atlantic Terminal keeps changing--and that's both a nudge for development at Site 5 of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park and a warning against the ambitions previously expressed.

September 2022

ESD remains very late in posting official meeting notes from the bi-monthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life meetings, says it aims to have them posted within two or three weeks of the meeting.

The Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center have both changed their social media images so they can honor the arena's tenth anniversary year, and it's happening at the site, as well.

Atlantic Yards down the memory hole, in coverage of Sunnyside Yard: no, the Brooklyn project did not get a deck over the existing yard.

Yes, there's proof that the project developer's required first investment in existing parks has been made, at the Dean Street Playground.

Recapping the Barclays Center naming rights saga, a source says that developer Bruce Ratner's switch from starchitect Frank Gehry's arena to an off-the-shelf one from Ellerbe Becket "didn't sit well with the decision-makers," which meant the deal had "to be vastly renegotiated."

595 Dean, from above
Before the Quality of Life meeting, with curious timing, new renderings of 595 Dean are released. It make sense for Greenland and allies to get positive buzz to distract from the failure to proceed with the platform.

Greenland's Solish blames water main work on Atlantic Avenue for the platform delay. But the work seems over soon.

Did plaza work get approvals? ESD says the arena company got agency approvals, and the work "was presented during public community meetings" and is "expected to be completed by mid-October."

Residents notice debris in a little-used top-floor stairwell at 535 Carlton Ave. that suggests someone had been living there for at least several days. But operator Avanath is not responsive.

Joe Tsai has become a heavyweight in philanthropy with his wife, Clara Wu Tsai.  The venerable Municipal Art Society is giving them the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Medal, its highest honor, but--as I write in CommonEdge--forgetting its crusade against the kind of "supertall" tower that the Tsais have invested in.

No, the Tsais have not "made an extraordinary impact on the quality of New York’s built environment," as per the previous Onassis Medal criteria. They can't even provide working escalators outside the arena.

A mashup that points the Tsais to the supertall in which they invested

How much is Joe Tsai worth? Forbes and Bloomberg calculate differently, at the time ranking him #232 and #377 among the world's wealthiest, respectively.

October 2022

From one perspective, the Barclays Center is part of a financial success, since the availability of a Brooklyn venue, in the world's media capital, has helped the value of the  Nets--long owned by the operator of the arena company--to soar. 

Still, while the arena's financial performance improved over FY 2021, when the pandemic severely stalled events and revenues, the arena remains ultimately in the red. 

Publicly circulated calendars indicate 137 ticketed events over the fiscal year ending in June 2022. There would have been more, but some concert tours were either canceled or postponed. 

Finally, a tenant at 461 Dean
Over ten years, the Brooklyn Nets have never quite reached their potential, only getting to the second round of the playoffs twice. 

Over ten years, the team's announced regular-season home attendance started with a relative bang (#16 in the 30-team league, after ranking last in New Jersey), then retreated, and then rebounded; last season, it came back to #13. The arena's concert schedule started strong, then subsided

After six years or so, the major ground floor space at 461 Dean Street, at the corner of Flatbush Avenue adjacent to the arena, finally has a tenant: the local fast-casual chain Just Salad. That leaves a smaller retail space east of the building's residential lobby.

Bernell Grier, executive director of the nonprofit housing group IMPACCT Brooklyn, says that, "when we get to" middle-income apartments for households at 130% of AMI, "the apartments languish."

The Municipal Art Society, perhaps mindful of criticism of the Tsais, adds musician Jon Batiste to the 2022 Onassis Medal Honoree Lineup.

Why is the middle-school delayed until 2025? Local elected officials should ask questions.


Jeremy Gordon's review-essay suggests that Nets star Irving's "rebelliousness often does not seem political, but rather the contrarianism of a dorm room debater."

The next NBA season generates a huge range of scenarios, positive and negative, for the Nets.

The Brooklyn Way? New branding for the team's ten-year anniversary, again leans on the borough's brand, inflected by hip-hop, with a video featuring endearing kids.

Most of the plaza is restored in time for the Nets' home debut. The team may be last in season ticket sales, given soaring prices, but the secondary market stays hot.
What's up with that boiler outside 461 Dean?

Though the Nets were the only team in the NBA to lose money during the 2021-22 season, Forbes says their value still rose, to $3.5 billion, given the rising value of all NBA teams.

Not just Greenland but also the e-commerce company Alibaba, the main source of Tsai's wealth, face stock market drops.

What's up with that temporary emergency boiler that has been stationed outside 461 Dean Street (aka B2) for many months? No explanation.

School construction makes for a tight Sixth Avenue between Pacific and Dean streets.

November 2022

Bad timing for the Untitled Ronny Chieng Project, a Hulu comedy series inspired by the Brooklyn Nets, given Irving's implicit endorsement of an anti-Semitic film, a public rebuke by Tsai, the firing of Coach Steve Nash, the reported (but never consummated) hiring of scandal-tinged ex-Celtics Coach Ime Udoka. Are the Nets "a superteam of toxicity"?

Irving is suspended for at least five games. While he was defending the indefensible, but the outrage seems selective, given that Tsai gets a much larger pass.

For the Tsais' Social Justice Fund, an opportune time to announce BX-XL, "the largest business accelerator for minority founders of early-stage startups."

The Nets instead elevate Vaughn as coach. Remember when Tsai said players were "your partners in the business." Substack writer Ethan Strauss suggests that a "nontrivial amount" of NBA players share "Irving’s views on The Jews," and it's dangerous to trust players' views on other hot-button issues.

Not only is the next Quality of Life meeting not scheduled for Nov. 15 as announced, the AY CDC is also way behind schedule. It hasn't met since June but is supposed to meet quarterly.

Now housing advocates are blowing the whistle on rising AMIs.

At Fourth Avenue and Dean
A new 12-story building at 52 Fourth Avenue, at the southwest corner of Dean Street.

ESD appoints Arden Sokolow as Executive VP, Real Estate Development and Planning.

There's a (partial) solution for the congested sidewalk on Flatbush Avenue outside Shake Shack and especially Chik-fil-A: a new bike corral has been created in the parking lane, which is now blocked by planters for southbound traffic.

Hakeem Jeffries rises to lead the House Democrats. An ally says he was "pragmatic" about Atlantic Yards. That doesn't quite capture his' strategically ambiguous 2006 stances.

Veconi says some kind of "realignment" regarding Atlantic Yards is inevitable.

Promo for 595 Dean
New website for 595 Dean (B12/B13); Chelsea Piers opens June 2023. A lease with Simo Pizza. The architects say they've incorporated pieces of the Ward Bakery into "the park" and the railings and balustrades are used in new tables.

The failure to renew 421-a means some of the recently approved rezonings in City Council come with question marks.

Greenland USA at least has a project manager for the railyard project.

The notorious Stephen Witt leaves journalism for the Adams administration.

Greenland USA raises cash by selling two towers in Los Angeles at a loss. Its parent in Shanghai is downgraded by ratings agency Standard & Poor's, to SD (selective default), with specific notes considered D or in default.

The School Construction Authority says the cost of middle school has ballooned to $170.72 million from the previously estimated $128.91 million. Why exactly?
Hochul & Wu Tsai with winners (l.-r.), Chantal
Hinds, Bernell Grier, and Kei Williams. 
Photo:
 Kevin P. 
Coughlin/Governor's Office, 8/2/22

Before Gov. Kathy Hochul attended a WNBA New York Liberty game last summer, posed with Liberty co-owner Clara Wu Tsai, and honored recipients of the team owners' Social Justice Fund, Clara Wu Tsai gave Hochul's election fund the max: $69,700. 

December 2022

It's obvious that the New York Police Department has little interest in pursuing complaints about vehicles parking or idling illegally during Barclays Center events; Streetsblog explores non-response to 311 complaints.

Nets collaboration with Ample Hills for new ice cream flavors is (too) sweet.

A 2019 paper: "Do professional sport franchise owners overpromise and underdeliver the public? Lessons from Brooklyn’s Barclays Center," by Geoffrey Propheter, formerly the property tax analyst at the New York City Independent Budget Office. The answer is yes.

The Tsais' "BX-XL was set up to provide funding to entrepreneurs in Brooklyn from diverse backgrounds," says the Times. Well, only a brief time is required in Brooklyn.

Adams touts "Moonshot" goal of 500,000 new homes, but has begun process to unlock 50,000 more.

From City Limits: after seven months, details regarding contested Atlantic Avenue rezonings finally emerge. The Fifth Avenue Committee and IMPACCT Brooklyn are the developers' partners.

ESD finally offers notes from the previous two Quality of Life meetings, for the first time admitting it won't be done until 2035. Also: "The Developer and ESD are committed to the delivery of the Project’s affordable housing obligations and abiding by the Project documents." That's not the same as saying they'll enforce the penalties.

A Freedom of Information Law request with ESD, seeking documents regarding the affordable housing deadline turns up empty. It's possible there have been verbal discussions not memorialized in documents. Or, it's possible that such discussions are with the governor's office.

Sportico says the Nets (and associated properties) have risen in value "only" 7%, to a total of $3.86 billion, which means they've dropped two spots from the 2021 ranking.

Former Nets star James Harden reflects on his time in Brooklyn: "It was just, there was no structure and even superstars, they need structure."
A delayed revamp; bike coils replace benches

Among New York Magazine's "39 Reasons to Love New York, Right Now," is "Because the Knicks have something to smile about (the Nets)." But it's already dated.

Since Vaughn took over as coach and Irving returned after an eight-game suspension, the Nets have won steadily. Is Barclays the worst arena in America? No, but it has its flaws.

The Central Brooklyn initiative known as the Atlantic Avenue Mixed-Use Plan (AAMUP), building on M-CROWN, finally moves forward, but there are lots of questions. Also: much wiggle room on the earlier upzonings regarding local or M/WBE (Minority or Women's Business Enterprises) contractors.

On Wednesday, Dec. 14, the seating arena on the Barclays Center plaza finally reopens after a revamp, some two-and-a-half months late. Unmentioned: 62 bike coils replace seating.

Despite obfuscation, TF Cornerstone has long planned middle-income "affordable housing" (130% of AMI) at 595 Dean. Same for Greenland, at the B5 tower over the railyard.

Avanath finally wises up, relocating Barclays I and Barclays II in Prospect Heights.

Does Greenland provide annual financial reports, as obligated, to ESD? No evidence.

As part of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's proposed Brooklyn Bus Network Redesign, the route bordering Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, the eastbound B65, would be re-routed to Atlantic Avenue to avoid Dean Street west of Washington Avenue.

The streaking Brooklyn Nets have made a remarkable turnaround, thanks to (accidental) new head Coach Vaughn, soundly beating three top teams in a row. Daily News columnist Mike Lupica writes, Love them or hate them, Kevin Durant and the Nets are NBA’s most compelling team

What does it mean to see "affordable housing" defined as middle-income? "This whole Pacific Park development has broken my heart," writes one observer frustrated by units only at 130% of AMI.

So, giving Clara Wu Tsai and Joe Tsai a big award helped raise nearly $1 million for the Municipal Art Society (MAS). Art critics overpraise the Belong/Brooklyn installation.

Comments