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Showing posts from January, 2024

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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)

At legislative hearing, ESD CEO Knight claims they're seeking new developer (how?) out of foreclosure, punts on fines for absent affordable housing.

During yesterday's joint Legislative hearing on the gubernatorial administration's budget proposal, Brooklyn Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon (video here , also below) queried Hope Knight, President, CEO and Commissioner of Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority that oversees/shepherds Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, about the troubled project. Knight hardly offered candor, but she did hint--as seemed likely--that ESD has not merely been standing by while master developer Greenland USA faces a foreclosure action that would lead to the loss of its ability to develop six parcels (B5-B10) over the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Vanderbilt Yard. Still, however much ESD hopes a new developer may step in, that doesn't make it likely. Nor does it resolve some knotty questions, including one Knight essentially dodged regarding the master developer's obligation to pay $2,000/month fines for each unit of affordable housing--876 (or 877) in total--not delivered

With the collapse of Evergrande, other Chinese property developers under scrutiny; Greenland Holding, parent of Greenland USA, still struggling.

With $300 billion in debt (versus total assets of about $240 billion) and the unfortunate designation as the world's most most indebted developer,  Evergrande, as the AP  reported , "among  dozens of Chinese developers  that have collapsed since 2020" once the national government tried to limit borrowing.  What does that mean for Greenland Holding Group (aka Greenland Holdings Corp.), parent of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park developer Greenland USA, which itself is facing a foreclosure auction of its interest in six development sites in the Brooklyn project? Well, it can't be good, though each situation is specific. Investors via the Shanghai stock market can't be optimistic; as shown in the screenshot below from  Google Finance , Greenland's stock price, now 2.27 yuan, has declined 27.5% in the past year. From  Google Finance Credit rating still low, outlook still negative Last August, I wrote ( link ) how ratings agency Moody's had downgraded its rating two

At brief public hearing on moving schools to base of B15 tower, general enthusiasm. Comments welcome by Feb. 26, before vote. Neighbors' questions will persist.

So I checked out the public hearing Jan. 22 for the proposed re-siting of two schools to what was once expected to be I.S. 653, the building at the base of 662 Pacific Street (aka B15). The Department of Education (DOE) now sees the 806-seat K653 it as not just a solution to a small, crowded existing intermediate school ( M.S. 915; Bridges: a School of Exploration and Equity ) in Downtown Brooklyn, but more so the permanent home of the new  Design Works High School , which for its launch was temporarily sited into a Downtown Brooklyn space intended for an elementary school. That move, which would also include space for a small program for middle-school students with special needs, would happen in September 2024, assuming approval by schools officials. And that seems on its way. The online hearing lasted less than an hour and was pretty low-key. About 50 people attended, at least a third of them representatives of the Department of Education, the schools, or associated entities. Those

Was ESD “asleep at the watch”? At Atlantic Yards CDC meeting, directors ask for reports on EB-5 spending. Muddy discussion of "over-leveraged" loans.

This is the third of three articles on the Jan. 23, 2024 meeting of the (purportedly) advisory Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC). The  first  concerned the project's stalled progress.  The  second  concerned questions about Site 5 and the plan for a proactive new board subcommittee. Director Gib Veconi brought up an article I published the day before,  Asleep at the Watch on the EB-5 Loans , which, based on Freedom of Information Law requests, argued that Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority that oversees Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, did not do due diligence on the EB-5 loans now in foreclosure. As I wrote, ESD allowed the collateral for the first loan, of $249 million, to be diluted once a second loan, for $100 million, was issued.  (After $63.16 million was paid back in 2019, that leaves $285.84 million outstanding, with $185.84 million owed to the first group of investors, who put in $500,000 each, and $100 million to the second group.) Tho

At Atlantic Yards Community Development Corp. meeting, questions about Site 5. New subcommittee to make recommendations for project's future.

This is the second of three articles on the Jan. 23, 2024 meeting of the (purportedly) advisory Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC). The  first  concerned the project's stalled progress. The third concerned whether parent ESD's oversight of the EB-5 loans was sufficient. As reported yesterday, Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation Director Ron Shiffman, a veteran advocacy planner and former City Planning Commissioner, pushed for Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority that oversees/shepherds the project, to proactively prepare for changes in ownership and in the plan. Arden Sokolow, ESD’s Executive Vice President, Real Estate and Planning, noted that they were constrained by project agreements. “This is not a blue sky opportunity.” Shiffman said he understood that, but that ESD should be prepared for Greenland’s request to avoid liquidated damages of $25-$26 million a year”—the $2,000/month penalty for each affordable housing unit n

Atlantic Yards CDC meeting: project still in limbo, as ESD talks vaguely of progress, but acknowledges talks with Greenland stalled. Will foreclosure sale happen?

This is the first of three articles on the Jan. 23, 2024 meeting of the (purportedly) advisory Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC). The second concerned questions about Site 5 and the plan for a proactive new board subcommittee.  The third concerned whether parent ESD's oversight of the EB-5 loans was sufficient. A long-awaited meeting yesterday of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation did not shed much light on the future of the project, which--in terms of the six railyard development sites--has stalled since developer Greenland USA in late 2019 claimed it planned to move forward on a crucial platform. (Video is below.) Unlike at the previous meeting , Aug. 2, there were no representatives from Greenland present, nor the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) at the session, held in Manhattan at the offices of parent Empire State Development, the gubernatorially controlled state authority. Both parties then announced they’d reached agree

Lotteries for NYC-sponsored affordable units will now assign 20% of spots, not 50%, to locals. (Last four Atlantic Yards towers NYS-supported, w/no preference.)

A legal settlement announced yesterday put an end, in large part, to the city's community preference policy that assigned half the below-market city-sponsored units in the affordable housing lottery to residents of the local community district. The rationale for the federal lawsuit, filed in 2015, was that it exacerbated segregation against Black and Hispanic applicants, for example disadvantaging them when seeking affordable housing in Manhattan.  Moreover, it offered no credit to longtime residents seeking to stay in their neighborhoods; anyone, by virtue of their local address, could be eligible. Lawyer Craig Gurian of the Anti-Discrimination Center, which brought the lawsuit, said (according to the New York Times ) that the agreement showed that “city officials have turned away from the discredited politics of racial turf and said out loud, in words, that all of our neighborhoods need to belong to all of us.” The defense for the policy, however, was that it gave local elected o

From Substack, an EB-5 doubleheader: the misleading marketing and the failure to keep watch

The EB-5 Marketing from 2014 Looks Even Worse Now: Back in 2014, the pitch for "golden visas" blatantly misled Chinese immigrant investors. What could go wrong? Link Asleep at the Watch on the EB-5 Loans: Had NY State done required due diligence on the transactions and/or the spending, it might have staved off foreclosure. Link

Finally, an Atlantic Yards Community Development Corp. meeting Tuesday at ESD HQ to discuss foreclosure & "next steps." Has a deal been reached?

More than six months after it last met--though it's supposed to meet quarterly--the advisory Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC) is set to meet at 3 pm Tuesday, Jan. 23, at office of the parent Empire State Development (ESD) offices in Manhattan. The agenda includes updates on the rescheduled Feb. 12 foreclosure auction of EB-5 debt, with the collateral developer Greenland USA's rights to develop six parcels (B5-B10) over the Vanderbilt Yard. "Next Steps"? One item, related to ESD, is "Next Steps," which could mean--who knows?--that the state authority has communicated to potential bidders whether or not it would impose affordable housing obligations, including a $2.000/month fine for each unit not delivered by May 2025, on them.  Unbuilt are 876 (or 877) of the required 2,250 below-market units. Or perhaps whether New York State is prepared to present a synthetic replacement for the 421-a tax break that would enable development. As I

Madonna's concert(s) at Barclays started very late. So there's a class-action lawsuit.

For neighbors of the Madonna show (or shows?) at Barclays Center in December that started late and ran past midnight, well, they had to grin and bear it, with the intrusive oculus lighting left on overtime for safety reasons. But who knows, maybe they could tag onto the class action suit filed by two concertgoers against Madonna, promoter Live Nation, and the arena. The plaintiffs say that, while they expected an 8:30 midweek start time, the more than two-hour wait meant they faced "limited public transportation, limited ride-sharing, and/or increased public and private transportation costs" as well as the strains of getting up early for work and family responsibilities. More coverage from Hell Gate  and People . No responses yet from the defendants. Then again, Madonna has a long history of starting late, as the suit notes, and previous such lawsuits have ended in murky settlements . (Does this mean the plaintiffs and their lawyers will get paid to go away?) The main law f

The Barclays Center oculus stayed on until 1 am. Arena says "glitch" has been corrected, but no longer offers phone number for neighbors to call.

View from Pacific St. Jan. 18 early evening (not after hours) As I've written, the Barclays Center is a remarkably tight fit, which leaves little margin for error. So, what are arena neighbors supposed to do if the lighting at the oval oculus and associated LED advertising wall stays on past their midnight shutoff? Not much, apparently. The issue occurred in mid-December, after a late start to a Madonna concert meant the arena kept the lighting on past midnight so that exiting guests could exit safely. That was a not unreasonable explanation, but the arena rep, who called it a "rare occasion," did not answer a Pacific Street neighbor's question about whether there was "someone attentive to and accountable for this light pollution." A recurring issue For some on Pacific Street, the neighbor told me, the late-night bright lighting penetrates their bedroom windows, despite shades, and disturbs sleep. On Monday, Jan. 8, the neighbor wrote to the arena at 12:25