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Showing posts from March, 2023

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

The advisory Atlantic Yards CDC is supposed to meet quarterly. It last met in June. The next meeting was "anticipated" for March. That won't happen.

The Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC), which is supposed to add accountability to Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park by meeting quarterly and advising the parent Empire State Development (ESD), has not lived up to its promise, as I've detailed . But it has added some transparency, occasionally--but only if it actually meets. The AY CDC hasn't met since last June, perhaps because the entity has had trouble finding a quota. It recently added two new members , but the 14-seat board has three openings, all among the nine gubernatorial appointees . "We anticipate that the next AY CDC board meeting will be sometime in March," said ESD's Tobi Jaiyesimi at the 2/7/23 Quality of Life meeting. That won't happen. But the board would have a lot to talk about, including the apparent decision by developer Greenland USA (which owns nearly all of Greenland Forest City Partners) to pause plans for the crucial platform, the departure of Greenland USA point

Madison Square Garden doesn't deserve a tax break. But other sports venues, including the Barclays Center, get not just tax exemption but also tax-free financing.

There's no excuse for the tax-exempt status of Madison Square Garden, bestowed dubiously in rough 1982 and justified as preventing the departure of the New York Knicks and New York Rangers from the country's economic capital--and which Mayor Ed Koch mistakenly thought would last just ten years. But that doesn't mean that, as state Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal grandstanded yesterday in a press release, that Madison Square Garden Has The Richest Stadium Deal in NYC, New IBO Report Says . Actually, that IBO report (bottom) comes with a letter to Hoylman-Sigal, who requested the analysis, stating that the bottom line is murky: All these sports facilities benefit from public subsidies or incentives that reduce costs but because the subsidy structures for each are different, cross-comparisons are difficult to make. None of the stadium owners are currently liable for New York City property taxes but for different reasons. Missing the point Hoylman-Sigal stressed that MSG isn't res

Atlantic Avenue Mixed-Use Plan Community Planning workshop rescheduled for April 16, in Prospect Heights.

The meeting on the Atlantic Avenue Mixed-Use Plan (AAMUP) originally scheduled for March 12 has been rescheduled to April 16. From the Department of City Planning's AAMUP  overview page : Atlantic Avenue Mixed-Use Plan (AAMUP) Community Planning Workshop 2 Sunday, April 16, 2023 | 2:00 PM - 5:30 PM Location: Brooklyn PS 9 Gym | 80 Underhill Ave., Brooklyn NY 11236 This is the same location as the  three workshops  during the week of Feb. 13. I attended one, and was hoping to get copies of the digital presentations, but they have not been made available.  Nor are the names of the Steering Committee members available on the AAMUP page , though they were part of a slideshow shared with Community Board 8. (Did anyone official answer my tweet asking why the names weren't posted? Not yet.) The Land Use discussions were notably vague, as I wrote , at least compared to the more specific arguments--regarding trade-offs around scale, density, affordability, and job-creating space--in p

CM Hudson plans meeting Saturday to shape land use priorities in District 35, invites constituents to complete survey. (I think it should drill down more on renters.)

Updated with location. There's more land-use discussion before the April 16   rescheduled  Community Planning Workshop for the Atlantic Avenue Mixed-Use Plan (AAMUP), the city-sponsored rezoning of blocks around Atlantic between Vanderbilt and Nostrand avenues (though maybe it should extend farther east, given a proposed spot rezoning ). 35th District Council Member Crystal Hudson has proposed a related effort, a public meeting on land use in the district, aimed to "ensure that community priorities are integrated in land use processes in District 35."  On Twitter, she suggested "Think of it like #ParticipatoryBudgeting , but for #LandUse ." The meeting will be this Saturday, April 1, from 1-3 pm. The location will be the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph, 856 Pacific Street, between Vanderbilt and Underhill avenues--another location (like P.S. 9, site of the meetings on the AAMUP) toward the western (and more affluent) side of the district. Hudson is working with Heste

In NY Times exploration of Rep. Jeffries' early career, allies saw his Atlantic Yards stance as forging alliances. Rather, it was more strategic ambiguity.

From a New York Times profile today,  The Dual Education of Hakeem Jeffries , subtitled "Shaped by Black Brooklyn and trained by Manhattan’s legal elite, the House Democrats’ new leader is not easily pigeonholed": When Forest City Ratner proposed a multibillion-dollar redevelopment in Mr. Jeffries’s backyard — including an arena that is now home to the Brooklyn Nets — some of his neighbors were flummoxed by his position. Ms. [Letitia] James forcefully opposed the project, known as Atlantic Yards; Mr. [Roger] Green supported it. Mr. Jeffries straddled the divide, saying he was against the use of eminent domain to seize land for the development and some design decisions, but not the project as a whole. “I spent six hours at two meetings with him,” Daniel Goldstein, an opponent of the project, told The New York Times in 2006 . “After six hours, it was unclear to us where he stood.” Allies saw early signs of something else, though — an ability to balance competing and sometimes o

In 2017 study, the Brooklyn Chamber unwisely hailed seeming success of Barclays Center and predicted 2025 delivery of required affordable housing

From the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce's 2017 COMPREHENSIVE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY (CEDS) for Brooklyn: The Next 100 Years : The Atlantic Yards development has repurposed former railyards to create a new entertainment center at the Barclays Arena that generated $47 million in gross ticket sales revenue in its first year, positioning it as the top-grossing US venue for concerts and the second globally. The development project will also create at least 2,250 new units of affordable housing by 2025. Well, both sunny statements deserved caveats back then, and red flags now. First, $47 million in "gross ticket sales" for concerts in the arena's debut year, 2012-2013, does not represent profits. The arena (reportedly) made generous deals with performs so it could open big. Madison Square Garden was still under renovation. (The source of that $47 million statistic was apparently the trade magazine Pollstar, as 

Sponsored content for 595 Dean, a "building" with 798 "airy studios, sleek 1-bedrooms, and plush 2-bedroom rentals," plus "a brand-new public park" (nope)

An email from Brooklyn Magazine includes this sponcon (sponsored content), THE INIMITABLE 595 DEAN ST HAS SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE , regarding the two-tower project otherwise known as B12/B13, including: Say hello there to 595 Dean St , a building that offers something for everyone (and we mean *everyone*). This impressive space boasts a brand-new public park, flexible layouts, a deluxe suite of indoor and outdoor amenities, and the latest Chelsea Piers Field House & Fitness Center. Seriously, what’s not to like? Note: it's two buildings, not one. Hmm, nearly two acres of privately operated, publicly accessible open space does not a park make. Nor will residents' lives necessarily be serene if and when the railyard immediately to the north is platformed, supporting three towers and the lion's share of the promised 8 acres of open space, as suggested in the graphic below. More from TF Cornerstone's marketing copy: So, what exactly are the specs for this new living spac

"At the end of the day," says another ex-Net after the superteam's demise, pro basketball is "a business."

From Several former Nets not surprised by breakup of Brooklyn superteam , by Brian Lewis in the 3/20/23 New York Post: “I don’t know if I’m surprised,” Jeff Green told The Post. “But at the end of the day, we realize that it as [sic] a business. It was stuff that both sides couldn’t really control, and it ran its course.” That echoes a quote , more than a month earlier, from one of the two superstars who pushed for trades, Kyrie Irving: “But it is a business at the end of the day, as we always say." Indeed, the Brooklyn Nets are not a civic trust but, like other major league teams (except the NFL's Green Bay Packers ), a "sports entertainment corporation," to quote subsidy skeptic Bettina Damiani.

ESD Board Chair: no public comments received. But I did send a comment, noting limited window for public comment. (Not the first time comments were ignored.)

So yesterday the board of Empire State Development (ESD) held its monthly board meeting . I thought Atlantic Yards should've been on the agenda, but they apparently had more pressing business. As shown in the video below, Chair Kevin Law , at the outset of the meeting, stated, "I'd like to note that the public was given both an opportunity to attend the meeting--but I think we have all staff here... We also gave the public an opportunity to provide written comments to all the Agenda items today and, as of this morning, we have not received any comments from the public regarding today's Agenda." Not quite. There was a very limited opportunity to comment, but I did submit a comment a day earlier, with appropriate lead time, as shown in the screenshot above right, pointing out the absurdity of allowing fewer than 2.5 hours to peruse the Agenda and send a comment.   The meeting  announcement  stated, "Members of the public may submit comments on the Agenda item

The DBNA is taking applications (due March 31) for Brooklyn nonprofits/CBOs to be eligible for free tickets to Barclays Center events. Will drawings resume?

The Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance (DBNA), one of the only active remaining signatories of the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement (CBA), is taking applications for its 2022-23 Community Tickets Program, in which Brooklyn-based nonprofits and community-based organizations, especially those in areas near the arena, get free tickets to Barclays Center events, including but not limited to Brooklyn Nets games. Groups can win tickets for seating in 50 upper bowl seats, 4 lower bowl seats, or a suite. The application is here , and below. The deadline is 5 pm on March 31. Program began in 2012 The DBNA, founded by the Rev. Herbert Daughtry, started distributing free tickets when the arena opened in 2012 and, according to its website , has distributed more than 85,000 tickets to more than 600 community organizations.  It regularly held in-person and livestream drawings to distribute the tickets until the pandemic closed Barclays Center in early 2020. The last livestream on the

Updated: Agenda for tomorrow's ESD board meeting posted with less than 2.5 hours before noon deadline to comment. Nothing related to Atlantic Yards.

As I wrote yesterday, the big issues facing Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park--the delayed platform, the affordable housing deadline and penalty--all deserve discussion by the board of Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority that oversees/shepherds the project. That board meets Thursday. but requires public comment on Agenda items by noon Wednesday. Besides that inability to respond to the board's discussions, potential commenters are hampered by the fact that Agenda (which should be here ), hasn't been made public yet. When I wrote yesterday, that deadline was less than 29 hours away.  I checked at 9:30 am today. No Agenda. Sometime between then and 9:56 am, when I checked again, the Agenda and Materials was posted. There's nothing related to Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park. Needless to say, less than 2.5 hours to read and comment on a 328-page document means that public comment is essentially squelched.

Typically late, official notes from Quality of Life meeting don't mention the developer's pause on platform, or ESD downplaying fines for absent affordable housing

The official notes for the most Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life meetings, typically held bi-monthly until the recent hiatus from September 2022 to February 2023, typically don't arrive for more than a month, sometimes longer, from meeting host Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority that oversees/shepherds the project. Why the delay? Unclear. (Legal review? Understaffing? Bureaucratic sloth?) The recently surfacing notes for the 2/7/23 meeting--at this  ESD link  and at bottom--come with a side of irony, given what we've learned since then. I pointed out at the time that it was curious that Scott Solish, the point man for Greenland USA, was conveniently absent, which meant the developer didn't have to answer hard questions about the stalled plans for the platform over the Vanderbilt Yard or their presumed effort to avoid $2,000/month fines for affordable units--as of now, 876 (or 877)--not delivered by May 2025. But the "scheduling conflict&quo

From The New Yorker: "New York is a city of neighborhoods, and each has its own paper." (No way. Much missing in local coverage.)

The New Yorker on 3/13/23 published  A Coup at the WestView News . an entertaining and troubling story about the succession battle at an Greenwich Village newspaper run by eccentric (at best) seniors. It's gotten much deserved praise, but what stuck in my craw was this assumption that we live in an era of good local coverage. Writes Zach Helfand: New York is a city of neighborhoods, and each has its own paper. Bowery Boogie, Rockaway Times, Norwood News, Canarsie Courier. Amid the larger forces of homogenization, the community rag remains a stubborn fixture . The city has a hundred and sixteen of them—your foreign-language Der Yid and ethnic Haitian Times and fully digital—and that doesn’t include dozens of newsletters, zines, and shoppers.... Now, as then, the papers tend to be vehicles for ads for hyper-local periodontists and shoe-repair joints, but they bestow upon the bodega browser a sense of belonging to a particular place, even as foreign investors buy u

ESD board meets Thursday, but comments required *the day before.* Will the Atlantic Yards stall be discussed? The Agenda hasn't emerged.

There's a monthly meeting this Thursday, March 23, at 9:30 am, of the Directors of the New York State Urban Development Corporation d/b/a Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority that, among other things, oversees/shepherds Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park. It's probably wise to keep an eye on ESD meetings since that's where discussion about the murky future of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park might surface.  You'd think it would be appropriate to alert the board that developer Greenland USA has lost its Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park point man and has paused or discarded plans to start the platform--and likely wants to renegotiate the looming fines for missing the May 2025 affordable housing deadline. The meeting is hybrid--in person at ESD offices in midtown Manhattan, and viewable via webcast. Limited transparency Either way, however, they're using the pandemic to limit the ability to comment. Pre-pandemic, members of the public at the meetings could get up and

From the latest Construction Update: developer finally acknowledges reality, as crucial platform work posited as imminent since last May is now off the table.

NY Post, 9/30/19 The latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update (bottom), covering the two weeks beginning March 20, was circulated at 4:48 pm yesterday (lead time) by Empire State Development (ESD) after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners (GFCP), which is dominated by Greenland USA. The big change, compared with the  previous update , is the belated acknowledgment that work on the crucial first block of the platform--teased as starting last May , with a repeat in every subsequent two-week Update suggesting potential work--has been put aside for now.  That platform, between Sixth and Carlton avenues and between Atlantic Avenue and Pacific Street, would support three towers over the MTA's Vanderbilt Yard. A second platform block, one block east, between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues, would support three more towers and help deliver the lion's share of the project's much-touted open space. That suggests that Greenland USA, having lost its Atlantic Yar

Where are Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park towers located? Today, promotional copy (mostly) says Prospect Heights. But the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership still claims them.

Atlantic Yards, some long-timers might remember, was once promoted by original developer Forest City Ratner as "A Vision For Downtown Brooklyn," as in the 2006 brochure at right and the project web site from that year. That's changed, mostly, likely because the developers and operators recognize reality--mostly--as well the evolving relationship between Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park and the neighborhoods it abuts. The Downtown Brooklyn strategy As of the project's announcement in December 2003 and for maybe the next half-decade, there was some strategy to contending that the project was an extension of Downtown Brooklyn. After all, this border zone in Prospect Heights, near--or in one case replacing some--row houses, couldn't be seen as a natural extension of that generally low-rise neighborhood, or neighboring Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, or Boreum Hill. (That said, across broad Atlantic Avenue, on the north side, there are some high-rises.) After, only Downtown Br