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Showing posts from April, 2023

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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)

Delay becomes routine: nearly three months after the last (historically bi-monthly) Quality of Life meeting, nothing has been scheduled.

What's wrong with this picture, from the web page of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC)? Well, the so-called Quality of Life meetings, in which representatives of Empire State Development (ESD), the parent of the (purportedly) advisory AY CDC, and the developer answered some questions, were long held bi-monthly, until the delays shown after last September. ESD blamed " scheduling conflicts and staff availability, " according to the meeting notes from the 2/7/23 meeting. Or, perhaps, representatives of master developer Greenland Forest City Partners (GFCP), dominated by Greenland USA, had--and still have--little interest in answering questions about a project that seems to have stalled. A plan to start the crucial platform over the first of two railyard blocks--key to three of the six towers over the railyard--was announced last June but never came to fruition. Greenland USA's Atlantic Yards point man, Scott Solish, left in February, with--

With Hochul's housing plan scuttled, no lifeline for 421-a sites like B5 (700 Atlantic), the delayed first tower proposed for the railyard

The failure of Gov. Kathy Hochul's ambitious housing plan has big-picture implications--today's New York Times front-page article was headlined New York Officials Failed to Address the Housing Crisis. Now What? --but for Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park watchers, one provision is probably the most important. The governor had proposed to extend for four years the deadline to complete projects using the 421-a tax break--which had to start by June 15, 2022 and be finished in 2026--but that, as well as other elements of her proposed Housing Compact--didn't pass. Nor was 421-a renewed. B5, center-left, plus (built) B4. Dattner Architects So June 15, 2026, the deadline for construction under the recently expired 421-a tax break, looks ever more challenging--though theoretically possible--for the first tower slated for the Vanderbilt Yard, B5, or 700 Atlantic Avenue. The site supposedly had sufficient footings to qualify as having started under 421-a's loose requirements. After al

With 595 Dean "affordable housing" lottery slated to launch Monday, middle-income-targeted rents revealed: studio, $2,290; 1-BR, $2,690; 2-BR $3,360

Update: here's the HousingConnect link for the lottery. As I wrote April 8, the developers of the two-tower 595 Dean (B12/B13) complex circulated sponsored messages alerting people that the housing lottery --for 240 middle-income units--would open at some point in May, rather than March or April as previously suggested by a representative of developer TF Cornerstone, or "soon," as indicated in the posting last November. That means that those in the income-targeted "affordable" units--30% of the total--will move in well after the market-rate tenants, who've already started moving in. "If your annual household income is between $78,515 and $187,330 you could qualify," the developer's web site states. Note that such incomes are likely well below those moving into comparable market-rate units, but well above those who struggle the most to find housing. As one apartment-seeker wrote last year on a forum for those discussing affordable units at 5

Ominous outlook for Manhattan office space can't be good for Site 5, catercorner to arena and long-planned for big complex.

A front-page article in today's New York Times, headlined "Office Market In Dire Straits In Manhattan (and online as  A Bleak Outlook for Manhattan’s Office Space May Signal a Bigger Problem ) has to be sobering to Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park developer Greenland Forest City Partners, dominated by Greenland USA. The twin hammers of remote work and rising interest rates make office buildings, especially older ones, less attractive to tenants in Manhattan. That could lead to a city budget crisis and--more parochially--make it far less likely that new office space, at least in the near term, will be needed. After all, Vornado has put its big plan for office towers around Penn Station on hold. And in Brooklyn For Greenland, the question is what to do with Site 5, the parcel catercorner to the arena that for years housed the big-box stores Modell's (now closed) and P.C. Richard. Greenland Forest City in 2015-16 started  floating plans  to move the unbuilt bulk of the B1 tower (a

My Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park/Barclays Center tour, as part of the annual Jane's Walk weekend of free tours, will be Friday, May 5, at 6 pm

Jane's Walk , the annual weekend of free tours (#janeswalknyc) inspired by the urbanist and author Jane Jacobs, has returned for in-person tours on the first weekend in May, so I am again offering a tour of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park & Barclays Center, at 6 pm on Friday, May 5. A Megaproject Unresolved: What Happened with Atlantic Yards?  should last 90 minutes to two hours. An RSVP to the organizer, the Municipal Art Society, is required and capacity is limited. Meeting location, ending location, and directions will be provided via email before walk date.  The blurb: Hugely controversial when proposed (in 2003) and later approved, the megaproject Atlantic Yards (in 2014 renamed Pacific Park Brooklyn), still deserves attention. See what’s been built (the Barclays Center, home to the Brooklyn Nets, plus 8 of 15-16 towers) and what remains: delayed plans to deck an MTA railyard for 6 towers and to build a two-tower project opposite the arena, plus an affordable housing deadline

After Brooklyn Nets are swept 4-0 in the first round, new question marks over team's future. Blame owner Tsai and GM Marks?

NY Daily News, 4/23/23 It's an interesting turnabout for the city's two NBA teams, given the historic dysfunction of the New York Knicks and the relative functionality--albeit not in the past two years--of the Brooklyn Nets. While the sixth-seeded Nets were swept 4-0 by the Philadelphia 76ers--playing with former Net James Harden but without MVP candidate Joel Embiid--on Saturday, the fifth-seeded Knicks yesterday beat the fourth-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers, taking a 3-1 lead and earning space on today's New York Post's front page, as well as the full back cover. (Credit point guard Jalen Brunson for the team's turnaround.) Meanwhile, the Nets' fall earned the back of yesterday's New York Daily News (right), and only a tiny mention (below left) on the Post's back cover. As NetsDaily put it,  Nets’ season ends with uninspiring Game 4 loss, 96-88, to 76ers : Despite Embiid’s absence, the Nets faced with the same problems they dealt with for the first 75% o

From The Real Deal: developer Elghanayan says "you must have a super-optimistic view of life" to be a developer (or, as AY suggests, an unfounded one)

From The Real Deal's 20th Anniversary issue, excerpts from "The Closing" interviews: Henry Elghanayan Rockrose Development (2013)  Do you need to have a certain amount of ego to be a successful developer in New York City? You must not only have an ego, you must have a super-optimistic view of life. I have an unnaturally optimistic view on life — it’s a sickness. If you understood the real dangers involved in doing a project, you would never do one. That echoes a 2016 valedictory quote from Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner, who told Crain's New York Business, in the publication's paraphrase, "If he knew the true economics [of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park] at the outset, he said, he would probably have passed." But he surely knew some of them. And with what might be called an "unnaturally optimistic view" or perhaps a "completely unfounded view," Ratner claimed , in a May 2008 New York Daily News op-ed, "We anticipate finishi

Atlantic Yards affordable housing, projections vs. reality. Updated graphic shows middle-income skew and cost of delay, given rising AMI used to calculate rents.

I recently updated a basic chart regarding the promises and reality of the Atlantic Yards "affordable"--better-termed "income-linked" or "income-targeted"  housing, which was supposed to be spread among five "bands": two low-income, one moderate-income, and two middle-income. What's glaring is an oversupply of middle-income apartments: though 1,374 units (61%) of the promised 2,250 total have been built, there have been 718 units in the first middle-income band, or an oversupply of nearly 60%. Moreover, nearly 75% of the promised middle-income units in the second (and higher) middle-income band have been built, not 60%. Meanwhile, the low- and moderate-income units lag significantly. The human impact is: dreams dashed for individuals and families, while the goal of a true mixed-income community has not been met. Both of those gained significant political support for the project.  But it's much worse than that, as explained below, because

More than a year after lease was reported, no visible progress at Triangle Building, across from Barclays Center, for Rihanna's Savage x Fenty store.

Triangle Building from across Flatbush Avenue Remember how the Triangle Building at Flatbush and Fifth avenues, home to a longstanding sports equipment outlet that closed before the Barclays Center opened across Flatbush, sold twice for big money while remaining empty, and, finally, last year, appeared to gain a tenant? WWD 2/24/22 quoted unnamed sources about a 10-year lease for Rihanna's Savage x Fenty lingerie line, with an asking--not necessarily achieved--annual rent of $650,000 a year. (The news was later picked up by multiple sources.) WWD said its sources "say the exterior facade of the Triangle Building will be branded with Savage x Fenty’s bright colors, logo and other marketing materials."  Triangle Building front door WWD noted that Savage x Fenty wouldn't comment but "sources say construction on the space has begun, and will take at least a few months to complete." It was to be the company's first store in New York State. No progress Well,

A good year for the Brooklyn Nets? Attendance up, given (now departed) superstars, but first playoff series is 0-2. Home game tonight for "Brooklyn's team."

ESPN The Brooklyn Nets compiled some seemingly impressive attendance statistics for 2022-23 , with an average reported attendance of 17,669, or 99.6% full, compared to 2021-22 , with an average reported attendance of 17,354, or 97.9% full, according to ESPN. While the Nets in 2021-22 ranked 13th in total attendance and 9th in percentage, this year they rank 11th in both measures, which suggests a lot of teams are selling out their arenas.  (Note the New York Knicks or Chicago Bulls, both of which drew more fans than the Nets but were slightly less full.) Of course a sellout just means distributing tickets. Remember, based  on anonymous sources, the New York Post last May  said  2021-22 Nets, " after giveaways, sold about 15,000 tickets a game." Moreover, tickets distributed doesn't mean gate count. Either way, interest in the Nets was surely sparked by the presence of superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, which made them a potential contender--at least until both engi

As city's water and sewer upgrade on Dean Street from Sixth to Vanderbilt approaches, restaurateurs protest. How much for existing vs. future Atlantic Yards towers?

Sign at northwest corner of Vanderbilt & Pacific Well, the unwelcomed outcome for restaurateurs near Vanderbile Avenue and Dean Street, as described at last week's Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation by open streets organizer (and AY CDC director) Gib Veconi, made it to New York magazine's Grub Street, which 4/17/23 published The City Gets Set to Dig Up a Booming Restaurant Row — Literally : But the situation is not looking so hot this year; over the summer, streets will be dug up, water will be shut off, and construction vehicles will make their way onto the avenue. In talking to the neighborhood’s restaurant owners, it sounds as though many of them are bracing for the worst. The reason for the work is the boom of high-rise developments that are part of Pacific Park, the megadevelopment project formerly known as Atlantic Yards. Officials say the influx of new and incoming residents necessitates upgrades to the existing water and sewage infrastructure. Whole s

BSE Global considering Barclays Center enhancements, which seem focused on premium packages in arena's Lower Bowl, not the steep, cramped Upper Bowl.

In  EXCLUSIVE: BSE Global exploring potential enhancements for Barclays Center , NetsDaily 4/13/23 quoted Barclays Center General Manager Adina Erwin, previewing a new survey of fan preferences, as saying they're "trying to ensure that every fan — no matter what price point they’ve chosen to or been able to engage with in the arena — that they all have what we would call a premium experience.”   Maybe not so much. All images are from survey As far as I can tell, the survey--despite open-ended questions that could sweep in various suggestions-- mainly concerns the more valuable sections of the arena, including likely underutilized suites and club seats, aiming at new ways to serve fans and raise revenue. So it's not about the less-costly (though no longer cheap) seats in the Upper Bowl, the ones that prompted a NetsDaily reader to comment, "Make the stairs and the ticket prices less steep."  Or to prompt responses on Twitter as "More room in the upper…"

Metro IAF's Gecan: outcomes of projects obfuscated, counterfactuals absent. Same goes for Atlantic Yards, where a rigorous study of past and future is needed.

There's an important lesson for Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park watchers in the New York Daily News op-ed yesterday,  Development’s struggle for sites and subsidies: New York should not copy projects like Baltimore’s struggling Harborplace but aim for those like Nehemiah , by Michael Gecan. senior adviser to the leaders of Metro IAF . The latter, which organizes low-income communities on affordable housing, education, and other issues, is an affiliate of the Industrial Areas Foundation , founded by Saul Alinsky in Chicago in 1940. Gecan notes the big plans, approved or floated, that come with major promises and major public subsidies (both direct and indirect): a stadium for the Buffalo Bills; a soccer stadium (and more) in Willets Point; casinos around the state. He sets out a basic template: Why, after decades of examples, many falling far short of original projections, there is not a clear, public upfront way to examine each proposal and to weigh each against other plausible alterna