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Showing posts from May, 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)

The clock ticks: the May 31, 2025 affordable housing deadline is two years away. The developer will try to avoid fines. Will renegotiation serve public interest?

From 2/22/18 Forest City Realty Trust annual report : On June 27, 2014, the City of New York and State of New York entities revised certain project requirements with the goal of accelerating the construction of affordable housing. Among the requirements, affordable units are required to constitute 35% of all units for which construction has commenced until 1,050 affordable units have been started, after which the percentage drops to 25%. Failure to meet this requirement will prevent the joint venture from seeking new building permits, as well as give the State the right to seek injunctive relief. Also, temporary certificates of occupancy (“TCOs”) for a total of 2,250 affordable housing units are required to be issued by  May 31, 2025  or a $2,000 per unit per month penalty will be imposed for those affordable units which have not received TCOs by such date, until issued. (Emphasis added) That deadline won't be met, given the failure to start a platform over the Metropolitan Transp

From the latest Construction Update: continued work at the 595 Dean site. No platform work planned, but odd (sloppy?) mention of future suspension of bus service.

The latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update (bottom), covering the two weeks beginning Monday, May 29 (though a holiday), has not been circulated by email yet by Empire State Development (ESD) after preparation (presumably) by master developer Greenland Forest City Partners. But I did notice it yesterday--maybe it was there earlier--at ESD's Atlantic Yards page . Again there's little change, compared with the  previous update , though there is something odd. The previous document simply said, regarding Block 1120, the crucial first block of the Vanderbilt Yard, where a platform would support three towers, "There are no construction activities scheduled for the reporting period." (The block is bounded by Sixth and Carlton avenues, and Pacific Street and Atlantic Avenue.) The latest update repeats that, but goes on to add phrasing that was previously part of the Updates when the platform work was teased,  starting in May 2022 : The MTA B45 bus stop at A

Bond With Brooklyn? Well, some pushback on Instagram regarding 595 Dean: "Affordable Housing, not at all!"

It's hardly a surprise that  Bond With Brooklyn , the social media platform from developer TF Cornerstone, is still recruiting applicants for the income-targeted "affordable" housing at the two-tower 595 Dean (aka B12/B13). After all, the rents are, while below market for such new construction in that location, affordable only to a relatively small swath of the population, middle-class households looking to pay $2,290 for a studio, $2,690 for a 1-BR, and $3,360 for a 2-BR.  On Instagram, where Bond With Brooklyn ads entered my feed, they couldn't avoid--as shown below--some angry comments, as in "What a joke for 'affordable housing'" or "Affordable Housing, not at all!"  Hence the developer's use of the term "rent-stabilized." From Instagram

Another sign of how Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park oversight has run aground: again, state lets bi-monthly meeting schedule slack

Oversight of and transparency regarding Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park has continued to slack, as there's no sight of new construction. Yes, TF Cornerstone is finishing the buildings at, and open space around, the two-tower 595 Dean Street, and Chelsea Piers will open its fitness center and fieldhouse next month--and it's unclear how that will all work.  And the School Construction Authority is still working on the middle school at Sixth Avenue between Pacific and Dean streets, at the base of the completed 662 Pacific Street tower, aka Plank Road. Otherwise, there's nothing new pending. And, for months, we haven't heard anything from master developer Greenland Forest City Partners, which is dominated by Greenland USA.  We don't even know if Greenland USA has replaced its longtime Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park point man, Scott Solish, who left in February. We don't know if Greenland has any new estimate on its ability to start the crucial platform over the Vanderbilt

If affordable housing advocates support an extension of the 421-a deadline, with more affordability, what does that signal for the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park deadline?

I wrote 3/6/23 how, according to the Real Deal, some legislators support extending the construction completion deadline for projects supported by the 421-a tax abatement for four years--from June 15, 2026 to June 15, 2030--but not for all projects, as Gov. Kathy Hochul has proposed. Rather, they'd offer that carrot only to buildings that contain more than the required minimum under the tax break provisions, which is 30% at 130% of Area Median Income (AMI), middle-income units aimed at those earning six figures. If so, that could be extended to projects along Atlantic Avenue, just east of the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park site, that were approved in spot rezonings in recent years, but perhaps not B5, 700 Atlantic Avenue, the first Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park tower over the railyard. A renewed argument In a 5/23/23 essay in City Limits,  Opinion: 421-a Deadline Threatens the Promise of Gowanus Rezoning , Michelle de la Uz, executive director of Fifth Avenue Committee, and Rachel Fee,

If the New York Liberty is one of two WBNA "Super Squads," that helps give a halo to the owners, right?

So the sports website The Athletic, owned by the New York Times, recently debuted a series called Super Squads , following the top WNBA teams Las Vegas Aces and New York Liberty. The pitch : The Athletic’s Super Squads series will document these teams’ quests for a championship as we dive into WNBA trends and issues; share snapshots of the lives of star players like Breanna Stewart , A’ja Wilson and Candace Parker ; and talk to team owners and front-office executives to explain how the WNBA has entered a new era of player empowerment. The creation of the Liberty’s impressive roster through free-agency moves — Stewart and Courtney Vandersloot moving to New York — and adding Jonquel Jones in a blockbuster trade , as well as the Aces adding another All-Star in Parker to their defending championship roster, sparked conversations about the way teams can be assembled; salary caps for WNBA teams and pay disparity for women’s basketball players; travel accommodations; overseas play and much

Scenes from outside the New York Liberty season opener: plaza truncated; new players to promote; snags on Dean Street

The New York Liberty, the anchor tenant of the Barclays Center for the next months, are a WNBA superteam and, based at least on the home debut May 21, have a better chance of selling out the arena's lower bowl. drawing an announced 8,575 . As I wrote, the team, owned by Joe Tsai and Clara Wu Tsai, drew  5,327 last year, a significant improvement over the previous year but still below the midpoint of the league. The Athletic reported that the Liberty tout a 200% increase in season-ticket sales.   When I walked by, shortly before the 2 pm game time, I saw the arena plaza cordoned off with fencing (as shown in the photo at right), limiting access to ticketholders, including a basketball court, various souvenir booths, and photo opportunities. That's par for the course with other major events, so it's not surprising; it's just another reminder that the "public" plaza is not so public when the arena operators need it for business reasons. New players to promote

WNBA's New York Liberty start their season tomorrow; while SeatGeek's logo appears on Barclays Center website, tickets link goes to Ticketmaster

The WNBA's New York Liberty "superteam" makes their home debut tomorrow at the Barclays Center.  Note, as shown below in the screenshots, that the team, not surprisingly, charges higher prices for the first game compared to the second. It's a little hard to compare the platforms, the cheapest tickets all cost more than $32, which, while perhaps a bargain compared to the NBA's Brooklyn Nets, can be challenging for families. Also note that, while in neither game is the team selling tickets in the Upper Bowl, surely based on past demand, for the first game a few more sections in the arena's midsection are open. Despite the website claim that events are presented by (on the way out) ticketing partner SeatGeek, the arena's official link takes you to (incoming) partner Ticketmaster. Which may not be where the best-value seats are located, given that, as far as I can tell, Ticketmaster charges more fees than some rivals. Consider, Tickemaster acknowledges that t

In corporate history of Forest City (from new enterprise launched by another Ratner branch), Bruce Ratner's triumphs and failures are ignored or downplayed

I wrote yesterday about how Bruce Ratner's cousins had formed two separate real-estate ventures, The Max Collaborative and Uplands, organized on familial lines, after their nationally traded, family-controlled company, Forest City Realty Trust (originally Forest City Enterprises), was absorbed in 2018 by the conglomerate Brookfield Asset Management. It's notable how the history of Forest City Enterprises, as told  by The Max Collaborative (TMC), diminishes and obscures Bruce Ratner's role as head of the New York subsidiary, Forest City Ratner Companies (later Forest City New York), responsible for some of the nationally-traded company's signature achievements, in its largest market.. As shown in the screenshot at right, TMC makes just one mention of Bruce--his departure from the corporate board. He's almost disappeared. The dis seems deliberate. I can only speculate why. Partly it may be to emphasize the collective achievements of those currently running TMC, thus

After demise of Forest City, two teams of Ratner family members have started new real-estate companies, based in Shaker Heights, OH, and Washington, DC

The 370-unit Broadleaf is a collaboration between Uplands and The Max Collaborative  If Bruce Ratner is retired from the real-estate business, concentrating on philanthropy as Chairman (since June 2014) of the  Museum of Jewish Heritage—A Living Memorial to the Holocaust)  and a board member of the Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer, his cousins and their progeny have taken the assets they got from the 2018 sale of Forest City Realty Trust (formerly Forest City Enterprises) and deployed them back into real estate. (Bruce Ratner's children didn't go into real estate, and his longtime deputy and successor as Forest City Ratner/Forest City New York CEO, MaryAnne Gilmartin, formed her own company,  MAG Partners , with several former colleagues.)  The descendants of Max Ratner, one of the first-generation members of the clan in Cleveland, have formed Shaker Heights, OH-based  The Max Collaborative , while the progeny of second-generation Albert Ratner (still serving!) have formed Wash

The passing of two Atlantic Yards bit players: a critic (former state Sen. Perkins), and an enabler (former MTA Chairman Hemmerdinger)

Bill Perkins, a force in Harlem politics, is dead at 74; ‘Harlem has lost a giant,’ says Mayor Adams , the New York Daily News reported yesterday: Bill Perkins, a hard-charging, reform-minded city and state lawmaker who championed equality in health care and criminal justice as an energetic force in Harlem politics across three decades, died Monday night in his home. He was 74. ...As he rose in politics, Perkins emerged as an outspoken progressive — a supporter of the Central Park 5, an early voice against the Iraq War and a backer of LGBTQ rights. He had an acute focus on health care, and was a leading voice in the passage of lead-paint inspection laws. None of the articles--including more extensive coverage in Harlem's Amsterdam News--addressed a memorable set of 2010 hearings state Sen. Parkins,  distrustful of Columbia University's expansion into Harlem, held on eminent domain. The Amsterdam News did quote what might have been a previous Perkins bio note: "As Chairma

Should Atlantic Avenue rezoning allow 23 stories? Is more bulk the formula for affordable housing? CM Hudson points out another tactic. (And there's more.)

I haven't attended all the meetings of the Atlantic Avenue Mixed-Use Plan , sponsored by the Department of City Planning (DCP) at the behest of (mainly) Council Member Crystal Hudson but I've observed that, despite the significant effort to inform attendees and gather community input, it comes with a strong "City of Yes" tide inspired by eager-to-build Mayor Eric Adams. There's a logic to that--the city needs more housing units, at least if coupled with neighborhood improvements--but some important recent history and controversy have been ignored or downplayed, notably recent spot rezonings on and near Atlantic (as I've noted in my coverage of the kickoff meeting and a Land Use workshop ). That context also would've been important at the most recent workshop, excerpted below in videos.  Notably, as shown at right, a slide presentation (in full at bottom) left the impression that buildings 23 stories--well beyond those previously promoted by DCP or approve

If New York becomes (in part) "the Playground City," what might that mean for Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park (and Site 5)?

From the New York Times 5/10/23:  26 Empire State Buildings Could Fit Into New York’s Empty Office Space. That’s a Sign. , from Edward L. Glaeser, chair of the economics department at Harvard, and Carlo Ratti, director of the Senseable City Lab at M.I.T. Their lead: New York is undergoing a metamorphosis from a city dedicated to productivity to one built around pleasure. Many office buildings still feel eerily empty, with occupancy around 50 percent of prepandemic levels, harming landlords and the local economy. But 56 million people visited New York last year, making Fifth Avenue in December feel as crowded as Ipanema Beach during Carnival. The economic future of the city that never sleeps depends on embracing this shift from vocation to recreation and ensuring that New Yorkers with a wide range of talents want to spend their nights downtown, even if they are spending their days on Zoom. We are witnessing the dawn of a new kind of urban area: the Playground City. That, obviously, is