Skip to main content


Showing posts from June, 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)

With Qatari wealth fund buying into DC sports conglomerate, will other NBA teams (Nets?) sell minority stakes? Sportswashing comes slowly.

From The Athletic, 6/22/23, Qatari Investment Authority close to buying stake in Wizards, Capitals, Mystics: Sources : The NBA , NHL and WNBA are on the precipice of being the first North American professional sports leagues to receive an investment from a sovereign wealth fund. The Qatari Investment Authority, the country’s sovereign wealth fund, is close to buying a stake in Monumental Sports and Entertainment, the parent company of the Washington Wizards , Washington Capitals , and Washington Mystics , sources briefed on the deal told The Athletic. A "small stake," even just 5%, would represent $200 million of a $4 billion portfolio, which includes Capital One Arena and Monumental Sports Network. By contrast, the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center operating company are worth $3.86 billion, Sportico estimated last December. From the article: “In November 2022, the NBA Board of Governors decided to permit passive, non-controlling, minority investments in NBA teams by insti

With 2023 AMI up nearly 6%, allowable "affordable" rents rise (& middle-income targets more unrealistic). City adjustment--after error?--lowers studio rents.

The relentless rise of Area Median Income (AMI) for New York City continues, which means allowable "affordable" rents continue to skyrocket, even if AMI bears little relation to the incomes of the city's renters. That means that, as described below, middle-income units at 130% of AMI--including those in Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park--are typically marketed below the astoundingly allow allowable rents, such as $3,443 for a 1-BR. A nearly 6% increase At 100% of AMI, which qualifies as moderate-income, the 2023 AMI for the New York City region is $127,100 for a three-person family and $141,200 for a four-person household 100% AMI, according to the city's Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD). That's a 5.7%-5.8% increase over 2022, when the corresponding figures were $120,100 and $133,400. And those represented an 11.8% increase over the previous year, as I wrote in April 2022. Note that HPD does not disclose its new calculations at the beginning of

Barclays Center food concession workers rally outside arena to presage strike vote; they seek higher wages from Levy Restaurants and better access to healthcare benefit

Workers for Barclays Center food concessionaire Levy Restaurants rallied outside the arena on June 22, the day of the NBA draft, as part of the effort by the hospitality workers’ union UNITE HERE Local 100 to gain a new contract to pay better wages and ensure healthcare benefits. Hey,  @LevyRestaurants  it’s about time! What you pay is a crime! Levy workers at Barclays Center have an expired union contract - so workers took to the streets to demand a new one with wage increases and healthcare. — UNITEHERE! Local100 (@unitehere100)  June 23, 2023 Of the 650 workers represented by UNITE HERE Local 100, only 66 of them qualified for health insurance, according to union rep Alyssa Pollard. She said they aim to get at least 200 qualified under a new contract. Depending on when the worker started, they either have to work 900 hours in the previous contract year--that's 17.3 hours a week--or average 30 hours a week. So it's plausible that some could average

DOB filings, lobbying contract suggest that Greenland is moving toward the platform project, crucial to new towers. But what are the terms & assumptions?

Yesterday I expressed skepticism  about the likelihood that Greenland USA, which owns nearly all of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park going forward, would proceed with the first phase of the platform over the Vanderbilt Yard in the second half of this year. That platform over Block 1120--between Atlantic Avenue and Pacific Street and between Sixth and Carlton avenues--would ultimely support three residential towers, with retail at the base. The first of three towers, B5 (700 Atlantic Avenue), would start going vertical a year after the platform started, according to a previous Greenland statement. After all, despite the developer's incentives to do proceed, including looming fines for affordable housing not built by May 2025, there are macro disincentives, such as high interest rates and the absence of the 421-a tax break, as well as the financial struggles of Shanghai-based parent Greenland Holdings Corp. Other evidence points to progress That said, other evidence, as noted b

Big, if true: master developer Greenland says, despite lull, platform construction "likely to begin" later this year. It was previously slated to start in 2020 & 2022.

File this under the category of "big, if true," but, based on the torturous history of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, take it with a grain of salt. According to the latest six-month project look-ahead (bottom) that master developer Greenland Forest City Partners--dominated by Greenland USA--has filed with New York State, construction of the platform over the first of two railyard blocks is "likely to begin." That's crucial to the progress of the project, as it would enable three towers. That language is more optimistic than "may commence," which is what appeared in the five previous iterations of the document.  However, certain drags on future tower construction--the high cost of the platform, likely at last $200 million; high interest rates; and the state's failure to renew the 421-a tax break , as cited by former Greenland executive Scott Solish--presumably limit the incentive to proceed, as do the financial struggles of Greenland USA's Shang

Jersey City developer LeFrak: project expected to take 20 years should take 50 years (or maybe 60 years)

From The Real Deal, 5/22/23, Richard LeFrak to step back from day-to-day role at firm : LeFrak said he originally expected the waterfront redevelopment [in Jersey City] to take 20 years. But with 22 project sites left in the Newport area, he said it will likely take at least 50. His sons estimate 60. Now the Newport project is far larger than Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park--a 300-acre site vs. a 22-acre one--so they're not directly comparable. What is comparable is that optimistic assumptions about a project's buildout--remember, Atlantic Yards was long supposed to take ten years, but now would likely take 25+ years--are not uncommon in big, complicated, multi-part real estate projects.

From the latest Construction (non-) Update: again, nothing new, not even a document.

As I wrote June 10, for the first time in memory, Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority that oversees/shepherds Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, neglected to circulate to those on its mailing list a bi-weekly Construction Update that indicates construction activity--at least by the developers involved--at the site. Instead, the ESD's website stated that there were no new construction activities for the two weeks beginning June 12. Similarly, the  website  now states there are no new construction activities for the two weeks beginning tomorrow, June 26. As I previously wrote, some work is ongoing, notably the construction of a middle school at the B15 site, 662 Pacific Street. But because it's not a developer responsibility, it's not part of that two-week documentation.

Lottery for 240 "affordable" units at 595 Dean extended to July 31, with increased income limits for applicants (thanks to 2023 AMI changes). Move-ins again delayed.

Yesterday, developer TF Cornerstone announced that the deadline to apply for the city's lottery for "affordable housing" at the two-tower 595 Dean complex has been extended to July 31, from July 3.  (Given that the units are not so affordable, by common parlance, the developer savvily emphasizes their "rent-stabilized" status.) The extension not only increases the time available to recruit applicants for these income-targeted units, aimed at middle-income households earning up to 130% of Area Median Income, or AMI.  After all, it's never easy to recruit for such units, which, while well below market for such new, well-situated buildings, still have not-inexpensive rent levels: $2,290 for a studio, $2,690 for a 1-BR, and $3,360 for a 2-BR.  Rent-stabilization offers predictable, relatively small rent increases, but some in that middle-income cohort would rather look toward ownership.   Broadening the applicant pool Unmentioned: the extension also allows TF C

In "shake-up," Brooklyn Nets (and arena company) owner Tsai to ascend to Chairman of Chinese e-commerce behemoth Alibaba Group

In what was variously called a "shake-up" or "overhaul," Joe Tsai, Executive Chairman of the Chinese e-commerce behemoth Alibaba Group, will become the company's Chairman in September, an increase in responsibility aimed to improve the company's growth prospects as it splits into six separate entities. That presumably will leave Tsai with somewhat less time to devote to his ownership of the Brooklyn Nets, the New York Liberty, and the Barclays Center operating company. He has (or had) homes in Hong Kong, La Jolla, and New York, and presumably will spend more time in China, including Alibaba's headquarters city of Hangzhou. Tsai was in Hangzhou yesterday, according to the South China Morning Post. Several news articles also prominently identified Tsai as the Nets' owner. Various press outlets noted Tsai's ties to founding Chairman Jack Ma, who departed in 2019 and left the public eye after criticizing Chinese regulators, but remains the company&#

Panel on notorious 1978 police killing implicitly updates a questionable public gesture by Borough President Adams.

Just as the New York Times article yesterday helped explain Borough President Eric Adams' reflexive support of the scofflaw nightclub Woodland, a look at another recent article offers an unacknowledged update on one of Adams' public gestures. Remember, as I wrote in January, a bombshell New York article, The Mayor and the Con Man , raised questions about whether the religious figure Lamor Whitehead (aka Miller-Whitehead or Miller Whitehead) indeed is the son of Arthur Miller, a Black man killed in 1978 by police officers in Crown Heights, a notorious episode Adams--as Borough President, not as Mayor--has commemorated with Whitehead as guest. Whitehead has said he is the son of a woman not married to Miller. One of the four children Miller had with his wife told the New Yorker that "she and her siblings offered to fly Whitehead to Florida, where they now live, to take a DNA test. He had declined." The memorials In June 2020, Adams appeared with Whitehead at a public

Another reason why BP Adams might have defended (scofflaw nightclub) Woodland reflexively: his top aide's son had a DJ gig there.

There's a connect-the-dots passage in the New York Times's profile of Ingrid Lewis-Martin, perhaps the second most powerful person in city government,  The ‘Fiercely Loyal’ Adams Adviser Agitating From Inside City Hall . (It was published online two days ago, and on the front page--of the New York edition--today.) Lewis-Martin, the wife of Glenn Martin, who met Eric Adams in the police academy, has pushed ethical boundaries and has been well compensated. And then there's her son: Ms. Lewis-Martin’s family has benefited in other ways. Her son, Glenn Martin II, a professional D.J., has gotten exposure by performing at Borough Hall and Gracie Mansion , and at other events sponsored by Mr. Adams’s offices, including the Rise Up Concert Series last summer. “Big Stage!!” he wrote on Instagram about the Rise Up concert. He tagged Mr. Adams. Mr. Martin for years played a weekly brunch set at Woodland, a restaurant that was run by Johnny and Robert Petrosyants , brothers who are

Brooklyn Paper: "Developers say proposed Coney Island casino would bring 4,000 new jobs." History shows not to trust such puffery.

From the Brooklyn Paper, 6/15/23,  Developers say proposed Coney Island casino would bring 4,000 new jobs to the People’s Playground . As they workshop their proposal to open a new casino in Coney Island, Thor Equities, the team of developers behind the bid, have announced they believe the new gaming facility would bring roughly 4,000 union jobs to the neighborhood. According to Robert Cornegy, one of the partners on the pro-casino task force, the jobs would be within the hospitality, hotel and gaming realm, offering locals who have been detached from the ability to earn a decent wage year-round a chance to work 12 months out of the year in a “lucrative” industry. Um, the "old" Brooklyn Paper, circa 2005, wouldn't have fallen for this. Yes, the new article does quote the local Community Board chair, who (logically) wants to know what percentage of jobs would go to locals and points out that some public housing residents may be wary that earnings over a certain threshold c

President Biden got Ticketmaster and others to reveal all fees upfront. Those fees remain high (27% of face value!). More intervention needed.

A win for ticket buyers to venues like the Barclays Center? Only partially, since Ticketmaster, which is taking over all ticketing, still has near-monopoly power in the marketplace to set very high fees. CNN reported 6/15/23,  Biden announces Live Nation and Ticketmaster will allow consumers to see all fees up front : President Joe Biden announced from a White House roundtable on Thursday that entertainment giant Live Nation (LYV) and ticketing behemoth Ticketmaster have pledged to give US consumers the ability to see the full price of tickets up front, minimizing the frequently frustrating experience of watching additional fees add up late in the checkout process when buying online. The announcement came amid increased pressure on the industry from debacles over exorbitant ticketing fees and as the president has urged Congress to pass legislation targeting other hidden costs paid by consumers throughout the economy. It marked Biden’s latest effort to address kitchen-table issues as

Tomorrow, a grand opening for (already open) Chelsea Piers fitness center in base/basement of 595 Dean Street. Leaning into Prospect Heights, not Pacific Park.

Photos June 15/Norman Oder Chelsea Piers to open sports and fitness facility in Prospect Heights , TimeOut NY told us 6/9/23. "And they’re celebrating with free gym classes, games, giveaways and more."  That's at 595 Dean Street, the new, two-tower development. The club opened June 5  and, as shown in the photo at right, so is the associated Canteen. The club hours are 5:30 am to 10 pm weekdays, 8:30 am to 8 pm on weekends, with fewer hours for the Kids Clubhouse. Tomorrow, there will be free exercise classes from 3-7 pm (sign up on  Eventbrite ), as well as, to quote TimeOut, freebies from "R&D Foods and Van Leeuwen, a silent auction to support the Chelsea Piers Scholarship Foundation (CPSF), exclusive tours with the facility's Membership and Training Team, as well as patio games and giveaways." As the screenshot at right from a Facebook sponsored post shows, they're going full bore into Prospect Heights, without, um, mentioning Pacific Park (as far

March 2010: Gov. Paterson said, "I guarantee that we will be scrupulous in our monitoring... to make sure that, everything we were promised, we receive." Nah.

Let's go back to then-Gov. David Paterson's remarks at the 3/11/10 groundbreaking for the Barclays Center. (My coverage .) "To those who have supported the project and to those who opposed the project, I guarantee that we will be scrupulous in our monitoring of the contract that Forest City Ratner signed with the state to make sure that everything we were promised, we receive," Paterson said. "In addition to a school, there will be job training. There will also be a day care, youth, and senior facility, and a health care facility to offer health care previously unavailable to people in this area." These will come late, or not at all, or not with funds from developer Forest City Ratner, I wrote at the time. Indeed, the school, though finally under construction, isn't due until September 2025. The "intergenerational center," serving youths and seniors, won't be built until towers are built over the railyard, which won't start until an exp