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Showing posts from October, 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)

From the latest (non-) Construction Update: the open space is done, the platform's on hold, & there's nothing to report. What about the requested financial analysis?

The latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update (bottom), covering the two weeks beginning yesterday, Oct. 30, was circulated yesterday at 2:54 pm (late) by email by Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority that oversees/shepherds the project. Compared with the Update two weeks ago , well, everything announced then is finished. "Pacific Park construction" has been substantially completed; there will be no more anticipated updates for B12/B13 going forward," ESD said in the cover letter. Do note: that reference to "Pacific Park," it's clear, refers to the open space on the southeast block designated as such, not the entire project. Going forward? There are no construction activities planned for the platform needed for construction over the railyard. Each of two platform blocks would support three towers. That depends on, as I wrote in August, a tax deal to bring back the savings from the 421-a tax break as well as adherence to--or a r

In crowdsourced maps, Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, including Barclays Center arena, clearly in Prospect Heights, except Site 5 (Park Slope → DT Brooklyn?)

The New York Times just published  An Extremely Detailed Guide to an Extremely Detailed Map of New York City Neighborhoods : We asked New Yorkers themselves to map their neighborhoods and to tell us what they call them. The result, while imperfect, is probably the most detailed map of the city’s neighborhoods ever compiled...  On the maps in this article, brighter solid colors signal agreement on what the area is called. Blurrier areas signal disagreement or uncertainty. Many blocks are called by three or four or even five different names. But when we stack all the drawings on top of one another, the picture that emerges is remarkably coherent. The arena block = Prospect Heights Interestingly enough, the arena block, including the Barclays Center and three towers, is labeled Prospect Heights by 90% of respondents, and Downtown Brooklyn by 5%.  Screenshots from New York Times I've said that the arena itself arguably extends Downtown Brooklyn, but the failure to build the flagship t

A revealing quote from lobbyist Coffey: "There are not enough reporters or media outlets anymore." That necessitates creative public relations.

A revealing quote in PoliticsNY's recent promotional section,  Power Players in Public Relations and Lobbying, from  Chris Coffey, CEO of Tusk Strategies. a public affairs company based in New York that represents "clients like LVMH, McDonald’s, TransPerfect, and Henry Munoz." His mother was Mayor Ed Koch's chief of staff and Coffey, at 21, started work for candidate Mike Bloomberg and stayed for 11 years. Part of the Q&A: What skills do you think are most useful to succeed in this industry? There are not enough reporters or media outlets anymore. You have to be really creative about getting news out in an interesting and dynamic way. Indeed, there are far more people working in public relations--as consultants, on staff, etc.--than in the media. What do you do? That means, among other tactics, presenting news as an "exclusive" to a favored outlet; creating your own written content, to be published as a submission under your client's byline (or that

In plan for Brooklyn, Borough President Reynoso will advocate for more housing, especially near transit and in the borough's southern and eastern sections.

I wrote recently about the illuminating graphics found in  The Comprensive Plan for Brooklyn: A Vision for a Healthier, More Equitable Borough (also bottom), released by Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso.  One key bottom line is that he will push for more housing where it has lagged. Now let's take a closer look. According to the report: Our comprehensive plan is many things at once: 1) It is a vision of a Brooklyn for all. 2) It is a recognition that the well-being of a neighborhood and of our borough is dictated by how we use our land, allocate our funding, and administer our programs. 3) It’s a tool with which we can measure the merits of a proposal, advocate for community needs, and push for changes to our neighborhoods that make sense. 4) It is an information and data resource that can be useful to anyone and everyone. 5) And, critically, it is a space where dialogue can coalesce and a comprehensive plan for our entire city can grow. He acknowledged he can't imp

So, how much did Jay-Z raise for the Brooklyn Public Library? Gala grossed $1.5M, little more than the 2022 gala's $1.3M, which had nearly 1/3 go to expenses.

If the Brooklyn Public Library raised $1.3 million from its 2022 gala, celebrating its 125th anniversary, how much should it have raised from its 2023 gala, honoring Jay-Z? After all, the international superstar is the subject of the "tribute exhibit" The Book of Hov, produced by his company Roc Nation and occupying 40,000 square feet of prominent library space from July through December, with Jay-Z's lyrics plastered over the library's facade. Surely it would be a few multiples of the previous total, right? Nope. According to the New York Times, which reported on the gala, the sum was $1.5 million. That's just $200,000 more than the previous year. Expenses diminish total It's likely a significant chunk of revenue was diminished by having to throw a very fun party, with gala chairs the library CEO Linda Johnson and her husband, original Atlantic Yards (and Barclays Center) developer Bruce Ratner, as well as Joe and Clara Wu Tsai, who currently owned the Brook

Is the Atlantic Ave. Mixed-Use Plan asking for too much (as per City Journal & the Real Deal)? It doesn't even seek the affordability CM Hudson negotiated last year.

Among local residents speaking at public meetings, there's been significant community dismay toward the proposed draft guidelines for the Atlantic Avenue Mixed-Use Plan (AAMUP). Why? Because it seems--unless further modified--to be geared to require affordable housing only at 80% of Area Median Income (AMI), rather than 40% or 50% or 60% of AMI, which would serve those more at risk of displacement. Charts from NYC HPD In other words, a two-bedroom apartment--at least under current income levels, which will rise--for $1,271 or $1,588 or $1,906 rather than, potentially, $2,542.  (Actually, developers of units at 80% of AMI are not asking $2,542, since it's unrealistic.) By contrast, two recent articles by housing supply enthusiasts have questioned the plan for demanding too much affordable housing, which thus would stall developers and block the provision of the city's needed housing, including affordable housing. One takes aim at 35th District Council Member Crystal Hudson,

At hearing on Atlantic Ave. plan, CMs Hudson & Ossé seek more public sites for affordable housing, plus deeper affordability throughout rezoning area.

As the Atlantic Avenue Mixed-Use Plan (AAMUP) proceeds, Council Members Crystal Hudson and Chi Ossé are calling for far more affordable housing than currently contemplated in the Department of City Planning’s proposal to rezone blocks around Atlantic between Vanderbilt and Nostrand avenues for higher-density residential use. Speaking at a Department of City Planning (DCP) online meeting—a preliminary one—on Oct. 17, both Council Members suggested that publicly-owned sites be used for 100% affordable housing, that some private buildings contain 50% affordable units, and that the city's Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) be revised toward deeper affordability, at lower percentages of AMI, or Area Median Income. That implies some combination of, potentially, more public subsidy/contribution, greater density, and more requirements of developers, who are gaining the enormous benefit of new allowable bulk. They spoke at a meeting seeking comments on the scope for the rezoning’s enviro

Do parcels rezoned last year on Atlantic Avenue for 17 stories now have just one developer? Pariente seemingly takes control of second site.

It looks like one developer, not two, will be developing two 17-story buildings on parcels that got spot rezonings last year. In April 2022, Council Member Crystal Hudson approved the spot rezonings of two parcels along Atlantic Avenue in Prospect Heights/Crown Heights, allowing 17-story buildings as long as the developers agreed to include more and deeper affordability than in previous rezonings: 35% below-market housing at a blended average of 54% of Area Median Income, or AMI. (Deal documents took seven months to surface.) The 870-888 Atlantic Ave. site. Nov. 2022 At that time, the developer of 1034-1042 Atlantic Avenue was Elie Pariente of EMP Capital, and the developer of 870-888 Atlantic Avenue was Yoel Teitelbaum of Y&T Development.  Pariente bought the land in March 2022, though details of his transaction--which would've revealed his relatively low cost basis-- didn't surface until after Hudson's announcement.  Teitelbaum didn't own the land. He  told Hud

Honoring publisher and ally Schneps-Yunis, Mayor Adams goes to Nassau County.

Adams visited Long Island. Here’s why. , Politico reported Oct. 19: Mayor Eric Adams ventured out to Long Island on Wednesday to attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony in honor of Victoria “Vicki” Schneps-Yunis, a longtime friend and New York newspaper magnate. But the trek to Nassau County is indicative of a long and controversial relationship between the mayor and the Schneps family, who have traded favors with Adams for years. “When I write my book, there’s going to be a chapter on what she did to get me to become the mayor of the city,” Adams said at the event in Garden City. The program was hosted by Life’s WORC, a nonprofit serving individuals with disabilities that was founded by Schneps-Yunis after the closing of Willowbrook State School . The organization renamed one of its buildings in her honor Wednesday. Schneps Media now owns the Brooklyn Paper, amNewYork Metro (which consolidated two publications), among more than 30 publications, The publications endorsed Adams, who, as Brookl

Lessons from a real-estate "fixer" at key firm Fried, Frank: getting the deal done and the cost of delay. Plus, according to a critic, the cost of corruption.

A Financial Times profile yesterday of a key real-estate figure, Why everybody who’s anybody in Manhattan real estate relies on Jon Mechanic , offers some illuminating lines about the Fried, Frank lawyer whose firm hires prominent state and city legal bureaucrats after their retirement and, yes, has worked on Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park. From the article:  “They just have a murderers’ row of lawyers over there,” one real estate executive observed, invoking the Yankees of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig to try to convey the firm’s talent in legal specialities such as land use and zoning. One interesting reason that Jonathan Mechanic (as mentioned in  various "best of" lists ) and his firm get hired is to avoid facing them as adversaries Another involves his connections to all in the field, including financiers. And about Atlantic Yards? So how might this "fixer who has made himself into an institution" affect the future of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park? Well, after working a

Coming soon(er): restaurants at 595 Dean on southeast block: Ni Hao and SIMÒ.

I wrote in April that two restaurants were scheduled for the two-tower 595 Dean project: a Chinese restaurant known as Ni Hao and a pizzeria named SIMÒ . Ni Hao--or, perhaps, Nin Hao--will be in the western tower, SIMÒ in the eastern one, both flanking the central entrance to the open space. As shown in the photos below that I took Oct. 17, the spaces have window paper signage, so presumably are getting closer to be being built out. (Note that, in press releases from the developer, the restaurant is Ni Hao, though the signage suggests Nin Hao. They both translate to "hello.")

At virtually-ignored Brooklyn BP hearing on 962 Pacific rezoning proposal, no mention of commitment, made at Community Board 8, to deeper affordability.

OK, I'm confused.  A little-publicized public hearing Monday night held at Brooklyn Borough Hall on the proposed 962 Pacific Street rezoning not only drew no testimony other than representatives of appliant HSN Realty--nobody from Community Board 8, no concerned residents--the proposal discussed did not comport with the one CB 8 voted Sept. 14 to support. That may be because the commitments to more affordable housing, at deeper affordability, must be locked in via a yet-to-be created side agreement, sometimes called (misleadingly) a Community Benefits Agreement.  But those weren't even mentioned at the Brooklyn Borough President's hearing. The nine-story building, with at least 150 apartments, would rise on a vacant lot between Grand and Classon avenues. Looking SE from Grand Ave. & Pacific St. toward vacant 962 Pacific parcel (Photo/Norman Oder) Also, those additional affordable units, as discussed last month, likely would upend the developer's earlier promises to

The last Atlantic Yards Quality of Life meeting was in February. The last AY Community Development Corp. meeting was in early August. Time for an update?

Maybe there's not much to talk about. There's no new construction on the horizon. Maybe there's no one to come forward.  But it's notable that the most recent  Quality of Life meeting , for years a bi-monthly opportunity to hear updates and ask questions, was last held 2/7/23, itself more than four months after the previous meeting. Remember, the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park point man for developer Greenland USA left in February , and the corresponding person for state authority Empire State Development (ESD)  had left by July . Neither has been replaced, though higher-ups did speak at the Aug. 2 meeting of the purportedly advisory Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC), which is supposed to monitor the obligations regarding the project. The AY CDC is supposed to meet quarterly, but it had previously met April 11 , which itself was nine months after the previous meeting. Questions pending There are questions to be answered, some more important than o