Skip to main content


Showing posts from February, 2023

Featured Post

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park infographics: what's built/what's coming/what's missing, who's responsible, + project FAQ/timeline (pinned post)

At 535 Carlton, a lingering unlocked front door prompts public tenant complaints about safety, fix from landlord after more than five days.

Feb. 26, from 535 Carlton Tenants Yesterday, the 535 Carlton Tenants Association, representing residents at one of the two "100% affordable" Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park buildings, circulated a complaint to their landlord, Avanath Capital, and the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD). "[T]he main entry door to our building, 535 Carlton Avenue, has been broken and unlocked for 5 days," they wrote. "Anyone can walk right into our building at any time, especially when a concierge is on break and the front desk is unattended. This is a major safety and security hazard. Tenants have reported this issue since it began last week, but so far, the door remains open and unlocked, as shown in the attached photos." As shown in the photo at right, the building operator attempted to obscure the problem, and to limit the ability to open the door, by positioning signs on poles directly outside and mini sandwich-board warning barriers in th

So, is the Atlantic Yards CDC supposed to "facilitate progress of the project," or to monitor and evaluate it? Time to talk reconfiguration and new oversight?

So, what's the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC), established after a settlement in 2014 that also set a May 2025 timetable for the project's affordable units, about?  According to the parent Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority that oversees/shepherds Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park,  the AY CDC  "is charged with reviewing and making recommendations on proposed changes to the Project Plan, and monitoring construction impacts and quality of life issues for the Atlantic Yards Project." I've argued that the AY CDC's record is troubling . It's elicited some useful information, but has met infrequently, with hastily scheduled meetings, and faced stonewalling from ESD and/or been enlisted to rubber-stamp changes. Perhaps that record is explained by the ESD's more candid description in certain bi-annual reports. As I wrote in July 2016, the state authority stated, dubiously, that "the creation of AYCDC is expected to

Before platform's purported start in 2022, Chinese Consul General visited 18 Sixth, praised "fabulous project," called Pacific Park a U.S.-China "win-win"

Things were rosier in March 2022, right?  That's when a group of dignitaries including Huang Ping, the Chinese Consul General in New York, apparently visited 18 Sixth Avenue (B4, aka Brooklyn Crossing), co-developed by Greenland USA--a subsidiary of the Shanghai-based Greenland Holdings Corp.--with The Brodsky Organization. The latter seems  solely responsible  for marketing the rentals.  "Encompassing 15 buildings that will be surrounded by an iconic 8-acre park, Pacific Park is a new community and offer a wide range of housing choices with 2250 affordable homes in the heart of Brooklyn," wrote the Consul General on Twitter, seemingly channeling a public relations statement. "Thanks to Greenland USA, they have been building such a fabulous project!" The attached images included a rendering of the 858-unit B4, which contains 30% middle-income "affordable units," plus a photo. Encompassing 15 buildings that will be surrounded by an iconic 8-acre park,

What a law review article gets right, and wrong, about the objections to Atlantic Yards and the perils of anticipating faster change than actual

Vanderbilt Law School Professor Christopher Serkin, a former Brooklyn Law School professor, in February 2021 published  The Wicked Problem of Zoning  in the Vanderbilt Law Review. Serkins sugggests that the speed of perceived development change, more than the change itself, is what drives opposition, and uses Atlantic Yards as an example.  I think he makes some good points, but also misses some key elements of the Atlantic Yards story, notably that the project Brooklyn neighbors have grown to live with is hardly what was planned, promised, or pending. Here's the abstract: This essay is part of the Vanderbilt Law Review Symposium, Wicked Problems. In real-world zoning disputes, existing residents often oppose change. Development proponents respond with accusations of “opportunity hoarding.” Zoning is the battleground, and both sides act as if it reflects a zero-sum binary choice: more development or less, neighborhood transformation or preservation. But zoning fights usually implica

As school construction proceeds in base of 662 Pacific St. tower, Sixth Avenue blocked. Why can't neighbors be alerted via regular Construction Update?

The bi-weekly Construction Updates circulated by Empire State Development, the state authority that oversees/shepherds Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, are mainly concerned with vertical construction overseen by master developer Greenland Forest City Partners and other developers to which it has leased parces. (Here's the most recent example .) Other work, not so much.  A case in point: yesterday, Sixth Avenue between Dean and Pacific Streets was blocked off for work on the middle school being built by the School Construction Authority in the base of the otherwise completed 662 Pacific Street tower (B15, aka Plank Road). A neighbor sent me the photos and video, shot at around 1:45 pm. As shown in the close-up, as well as the video below, certain items were being delivered through the open windows of the segment of the building devoted to the school, which is five stories above ground, plus a deep cavern below. Pending questions How long was the street closed? How much will this recur b

At "supertall" Brooklyn Tower, "luxury" "affordable" units for middle-income households at 130% of AMI will rent for $2,630, $2,811, and $3,360

From Brooklyn Tower So, the supertall will have "affordable housing," sort of, for middle-income households earning up to 130% of Area Median Income (AMI), which likely means six figures. "The Brooklyn Tower is the most anticipated lottery of the year," the web site states . "Apply now for full-service, luxury rental apartments." Actually, the lottery hasn't yet launched via the city's Housing Connect portal, but the developers have already disclosed the anticipated rents: studio: $2,630 1-BR: $2,811 2-BR: $3,360 "Enjoy high-end condominium finishes and first-class amenities, all at a lower rent than a comparable market-rate apartment," the web site states. "The Brooklyn Tower rent is rent-stabilized, guaranteeing optimal renewals." From HPD They haven't yet announced the rents for the market-rate units . (There are condos, too.) Note that even the seemingly hefty "affordable" rents are below the maximum levels al

Despite map's implication, no evidence that "100% affordable" 535 Carlton, at least, has left rent stabilization. Landlord lapse + too little oversight?

New Data Shows Where Rent-Stabilized Apartments Might Be Disappearing , THE CITY reported 2/15/23, with a map that suggested--hardly conclusively, in my assessment--that one building with rent-stabilized units in the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park project might be among the "disappearing" group. Rather, it seems more likely sloppy record-keeping by the building owner-operators, compounded by insufficient oversight. From The City: The nonprofit group JustFix shared with THE CITY records of 44,470 buildings that reported rent-stabilized units on their property tax bills in the last few years. The city Department of Finance says it gets that information directly from the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal (HCR), which requires property owners to annually certify the number of rent-regulated apartments in their properties. Screenshot from THE CITY/JustFix Here's the map , excerpted at right, with the "100% affordable" 535 Carlton Avenue highlighted in blu

What's up with the platform? Responding to FOIL request, ESD says it withholds records to protect information that could "impair" contracts.

Yes, something's brewing regarding the reconfiguration of the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park plan. We just don't know the details. At the Quality of Life meeting earlier this month, Tobi Jaiyesimi, Atlantic Yards Project Manager for Empire State Development (ESD)--the state authority that oversees/shepherds the project-- said there were "no updates to share at this time" regarding the delayed platform. The first phase had been scheduled to start last spring, and would support three of the six towers over the Vanderbilt Yard. Since last spring, it's gotten teased as imminent in the bi-weekly Construction Updates, subject to receipt of permits. Affordable housing delay That delayed platform means it's impossible for developer Greenland Forest City Partners to deliver the remaining 876 (or 877) affordable housing units by May 2025, out of the required 2,250 units. But the developer, dominated by Greenland USA, surely does not want to pay the $2,000/month fines for

Bruce Ratner: among City & State's 7 over 70, but missing his third act: museum chair, co-author of book on cancer. Plus: some Atlantic Yards synergies.

This was a bit odd. In a new addition to its suite of "power lists," which, um, seem geared to generate advertising (and sometimes contain nuggets of interest), City & State on 1/30/23 published The 2023 7 Over 70 , with the subheading "Honoring aging New Yorkers who are still going strong." And there, along with Robert Caro, Gloria Steinem, Charles Rangel, and Tim & Nina Zagat, Tonio Burgos, Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, was Bruce Ratner, among those "still going strong well into their eighth decade and beyond, whether it’s running thriving businesses, endorsing policies and politicians or simply imparting the wisdom they’ve gained through years of experience." What was odd was the description: Bruce Ratner Co-Founder and Former Executive Chair, Forest City Ratner Bruce Ratner formed the Forest City Ratner Cos., an affiliate of his family’s national real estate enterprise Forest City Enterprises, in 1982, following a four-year stint teaching at New York

From the latest Construction Update: little change, except sidewalk bridge is gone from Dean Street outside B12/B13; again, boilerplate on platform start

The latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update (bottom), covering the two weeks beginning Monday, Feb. 20, was circulated at 4:23 pm 2/17/23 (lead time) by Empire State Development (ESD) after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners (GFCP), which is dominated by Greenland USA. There's little change compared with the  previous update , except that the sidewalk bridge along Dean Street, outside the B12/B13 site (595 Dean, between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues), has been removed.  Also, there is no longer mention of restoration of the median and paving a portion of Atlantic Avenue outside B4 (18 Sixth Ave., at Atlantic), so presumably that is completed. The B12/B13 towers are expected to open in the next two months. Platform work  may  start For more than eight 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

A footnote on that street photographer at Barclays; author says original 2008 plan concerned Brooklyn street basketball, but "the Ratner money ran out."

Hey, remember  the book  by ex-footprint resident and street photographer Jeff Mermelstein,  Arena , in which he had four years to take photos at the Barclays Center? There's a lot more back story than the one cited originally in April 2019. The New York Times then wrote: Mr. Mermelstein earned the assignment the hard way: his loft had to be torn down to make room for the arena. From this fraught start began a longstanding friendship with the arena’s chief developer, Bruce Ratner, who commissioned Mr. Mermelstein to do his stuff, no strings attached. My observation at the time: "Bruce Ratner, art patron and champion of free expression? Not necessarily; remember those  gag orders  requiring apartment sellers to play nice?" Different strings Well, there were different strings, at least attached to an earlier iteration of a Mermelstein project, as explained by author (and basketball player) Thomas Beller in his collection  Lost in the Game : A Book About Basketball , publish

Bernard King: Ratner offered not just Executive VP job, but private school for his daughter. But job in NYC promoting project caused marital strains.

Hey, remember former New York Knick star (and New Jersey Nets rookie, and final career-year player)  Bernard King ? He had an important early role in the Atlantic Yards rollout, participating in the December 10, 2003 project announcement, and representing Forest City Ratner at community events and even a City Council hearing in May 4, 2004, before being dropped, quickly, after an arrest for domestic violence. But how exactly did he get there? In his 2017 memoir  Game Face , King devotes two pages to the episode: In 2003, I was contacted by Bruce Ratner, chief operating officer of the real estate development company, the Ratner Group. He wanted to acquire the New Jersey Nets and move the team to Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, an area bordering on the neighborhood where I grew up. Ratner had some ideas about getting me involved in his plans and asked to discuss them over steaks in New York. [His second wife] Shana and I lived in Georgia, just north of Atlanta. We'd moved there when Ami

After ten years, business-friendly Crain's suggests "development around the Barclays Center is on solid ground." Really? Keep your eye on the ball.

OK, I'm a little late at responding to the 11/3/22 Crain's New York business article As Barclays Center turns 10, a look at a neighborhood reinvented . After all, it was paywalled, so it didn't generate much discussion, so far as I can tell. And it's difficult to assess the arena's very mixed legacy in a relatively short space.  Given that Crain's is a business publication, it's not surprising that the coverage, though not fully rah-rah, would tilt positive. Consider: the summary on Facebook was The Nets may be off to a shaky start this season, but development around the Barclays Center is on solid ground. Around the arena? The depends on what "development around the Barclays Center" means. After all, the most consequential building "around" the arena was never built: the flagship tower, which original architect Frank Gehry dubbed "Miss Brooklyn," was supposed to loom over the arena at Flatbush and Atlantic avenues, but was repl