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Showing posts from February, 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)

Yes, schools approved for 491 Dean, at base of B15 tower across from arena block. Enthusiasm, plus a warning about dangerous Atlantic Ave. nearby.

The relocation in September of a middle-school and a high school, plus a special needs program, to the base of 662 Pacific Street (aka B15 or Plank Road), was approved as expected Feb. 27 by the Department of Education's Panel for Educational Policy (PEP). The school address is 491 Dean Street. View of the school from 6th Ave./Norman Oder The vote was unanimous, as it was for other proposals the PEP was considering. Here's the video . The building is just across Sixth Avenue from the arena block, and one block from busy, sometimes dangerous Atlantic Avenue. So, despite the general enthusiasm about this new school space, one speaker voiced concerns about pupil safety, crossing Atlantic. (As I've written, immediate neighbors have concerns about staff parking, student pick-ups, and other operations in the tight space near police and fire stations. There should be a public meeting to address that closer to the school opening.) The DOE sees the 806-seat K653 it as not just a

Signage now for Life Cafe, part of LifeTime Fitness, coming in April at 18 Sixth Ave. near Atlantic Ave. in base of B4 (aka Brooklyn Crossing)

It shouldn't be surprising, I suppose. You can't build a fitness center without an associated cafe. So the new Chelsea Piers, on Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues, comes with a Canteen , as at its other locations. And now signage is up at 18 Sixth Avenue below Atlantic Avenue, in B4 (aka Brooklyn Crossing), for not just Life Time fitness center, a "crazy luxe" gym  (or a self-described "athletic country club" ), but the associated Life Cafe.  I doubt that Life Cafe, from a company based in Minnesota, has any reference to the  East Village and  Rent . The club, designated  Life Time Atlantic Avenue , is scheduled to open in April. The capsule description: Our second destination in Brooklyn features three stories and over 37,000 square feet of premium amenities. Boutique-style training areas and five studios for unique group fitness formats as well as cedarwood saunas, recovery services, and a juice bar.

With vote for relocation of schools tonight to 491 Dean (B15), public comment analysis shows few concerns, no changes, and no issues from neighbors.

Following up my post from three days ago, there's a likely pro forma vote tonight by the Department of Education's (DOE) Panel for Educational Policy to approve the proposed re-siting of two schools to what was once expected to be I.S. 653, the school at the base of 662 Pacific Street (aka B15), with the school address 491 Dean Street. The 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, P369K@K915, is planned for September. Public comments According to a public comment analysis posted  last night by the DOE (also at bottom), beyond the overwhelmingly positive

Vote on new I.S. 653 (in B15 building) at meeting Tuesday. School Construction Authority finally estimates September 2024 opening.

As I wrote ( link ), there was a low-key public hearing Jan. 22 for the proposed re-siting of two schools to what was once expected to be I.S. 653, the school at the base of 662 Pacific Street (aka B15), with the school address 491 Dean Street. 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. Vote Tuesday The changes are likely to be approved Tuesday, Feb. 27, at the  Panel for Educational Policy  (PEP) meeting at 6 p.m. at Prospect Heights Ed

Members of notorious (David) Koch family said to be seeking 10%-15% of Brooklyn Nets & arena company. If valuation is $4.8B, then Joe Tsai will have scored.

Joe Tsai, owner of the Brooklyn Nets and the Barclays Center operating company, finally might cash out from the continued rise in value of the team-plus-arena-company--and without having to sell the team or lose control. And if he can sell a 10%--or maybe-15%--stake in those BSE Global holdings at a valuation of $4.8 billion, that would not only mark an astonishing rise in value, most recently  estimated  at under $4 billion, that $480-$720 million would more than make up for some of the losses he's absorbed running the arena (and the team). As I  reported  in October, for the last fiscal year, Tsai had to put up $18 million to bolster the arena's finances, while he contributed  $38 million  in FY 2022 and  $52 million  in FY 2021. In FY 2022, the New York Post  said  the combined loss, on the arena and team, was between $50 million and $100 million combined. The overall loss on the Nets is more murky. What's it worth? Sportico in December  valued the team and arena compan

Years later, reflections on an EB-5 scam in Vermont, once promoted as a model. "The whole program, it turned out, lent itself to dishonesty."

A recent New Yorker article (described below) recounting the scandalous saga of Jay Peak Resort in Vermont, site of a major fraud related to the EB-5 investor visa program, reminded me  how Jay Peak was once ballyhooed as a model--and how I was among the skeptics. Here's December 2011 coverage of a Senate hearing, where Jay Peak promoter Bill Stenger was introduced as a personal friend of Sen. Pat Leahy. “The EB-5 Program is a win-win-win program for all involved,” Stenger asserted, citing benefits to Jay Peak, to local workers in an area of high unemployment, and to foreign investors seeking green cards. Here's March 2012 coverage of growing industry skepticism about Jay Peak. Here's April 2012 coverage , from Seven Days Vermont, which questions whether it was shady business, and quoted me on a larger question, “There’s almost no one looking out for the public interest, to ensure that not only the letter but the spirit of the law is being met in terms of creating jobs.” H

Floundering Nets fire Coach Vaughn, but now GM Marks is on the hot seat, with maybe one more chance to right the franchise.

Just three days after the New York Post's Brian Lewis warned, Jacque Vaughn and Nets stars need to be on same page , the 21-33 Brooklyn Nets fired the coach, with GM Sean Marks stating , "This was an incredibly difficult decision, but one we feel is in the best interest of the team going forward." Yes,Vaughn, who was elevated after the firing last season of Steve Nash and saw the departure of stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, had made some criticized coaching decisions, and according to some reports , had lost the confidence of some players. But the firing also makes it look like the team is doing something to respond to fans' frustrations.  What about the GM? And, as the tabloids indicated, Marks too is responsible, for assembling the team, and hiring--and firing--a series of coaches. I’m gonna go get the papers, get the papers: back page edition. — Robert Shields (@rshields37) February 20, 2024 That suggests that the next management c

"For Brooklyn, By Brooklyn." The floundering Nets' latest ticket promotion has no stars for fallback.

Quoting Wikipedia , "There's an old legal aphorism that goes, 'If you have the facts on your side, pound the facts. If you have the law on your side, pound the law. If you have neither on your side, pound the table.'" I was reminded of that when I saw the latest Brooklyn Nets tickets mailing, titled "For Brooklyn, By Brooklyn," which recalled promotions from the debut years of the team, when they emphasized local identity. The sports adaptation of the adage is, "If you have stars, promote the stars. If you don't, lean on Brooklyn." Today, they have no stars, and are stuck in mediocrity. (And what if they can't lean on Brooklyn? Well, Brooklyn will always be there, but if there are diminishing returns, we might see more discounts and promotional bundles, such as food or gear.) Bad times After all, it's getting bad. NetsDaily reports on a podcast in which Nets semi-star Mikal Bridges (on the right in the image above) joined two colle

No, modular construction start-up didn't build high-rise in a day. Assembly OSM has ties to Forest City's B2 modular tower, now seen as "hairy, crazy idea."

A Real Deal article yesterday dubiously headlined How this modular construction startup stacks a high-rise in one day , has in its URL the more accurate "Modular construction startup builds prototype in Brooklyn." Still, the building of eight modules into a modest three-story building in Fort Greene was a promising pilot for the company Assembly OSM , which has several links to the ill-fated B2 modular tower (461 Dean Street) in Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park. (Note: a passage regarding "significant problems" at B2 links to a blog called Construction Junkie,  World’s Tallest Modular Building Opens in New York, But Not Without Challenges , which relies on an investigation I did for  City Limits . Kind of petty not to link to the original.) From the article: Assembly calls its construction method “post-modular” because it is more akin to a car or aircraft assembly line than a traditional modular build-out, where the structure is put together on a single factory floor. Th

Darcy Stacom, Queen of the Skyscrapers and broker of Atlantic Yards to Greenland USA, leaves CBRE.

‘Skyscraper queen’ leaves CBRE as New York property crisis deepens , the Financial Times reported Feb. 5: Darcy Stacom, one of the most powerful figures in New York City real estate, is leaving brokerage firm CBRE after 22 years in a further sign of the crisis upending commercial property. Stacom, dubbed the Queen of the Skyscrapers for her record-breaking sales of Manhattan towers, is starting a boutique advisory firm, Stacom CRE, to guide clients through a real estate market that is now in turmoil after a generation of rising valuations. The move implies she's winding down a career that includes the sale of the General Motors Building  and Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town.  Real estate observer Hiten Samtani called it an "unceremonious exit," adding "Still has a fabulous Rolodex and knowledge and can pull off a big deal here and there, but at least for now chatter is that it won't be a real player in the space." About Atlantic Yards Unmentioned in

CM Ossé's viral YIMBY video generates praise, but the Atlantic Avenue Mixed-Use Plan debate is over affordability, not whether to increase supply.

A simplistic mini-explainer (sort of) on housing--build more and we'll stave off displacement--from the young-and-hip 36th District Council Member Chi Ossé has generated nearly 700,000 on Twitter/X (and more on TikTok ) and predictable hosannas from real-estate boosters and YIMBYs. People are being priced out because we don’t have enough housing. Let’s fix that. — Chi Ossé (@OsseChi) January 16, 2024 But the video itself, and nearly all the online response, show a notable lack of context, starting with the failure to mention the details of--and debates about--the pending Atlantic Avenue Mixed-Use Plan (AAMUP), which he alludes to without naming. There's virtually no debate about whether the rezoning of 13 blocks around Atlantic Avenue, just east of the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park footprint, should deliver more housing: an estimated 4,000 apartments --housing perhaps 9,000 people over 8+ years--with perhaps 1,150 to 1,550 of them below-market "a

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park foreclosure auction postponed a second time, to April 30

Two days ago, I wrote ( link ) that it was unclear that the foreclosure auction of developer Greenland USA's rights to six development sites over the Vanderbilt Yard, announced for Jan. 11 and postponed until today, would actually happen. After all, there are many reasons for any potential bidder to wonder about all the variables, and to seek negotiation with Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority that oversees/shepherds Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, over various complex issues. Today, an ESD rep told me the state authority--which is not managing the foreclosure--learned that the auction has been postponed until April 30. That's more than two and half months, so that offers some time for discussions among private parties, and public parties. The question is how much transparency we'll see. By the way, in case you're wondering about this week's new article in my weekly newsletter (here's last week's version ), it'll be sent tomorrow.

Will there be a foreclosure auction of the rights to six Atlantic Yards parcels Monday? Unclear.

Will the foreclosure auction of developer Greenland USA's rights to six development sites over the Vanderbilt Yard, announced for Jan. 11 and postponed until Feb. 12, actually happen on Monday? Unclear. Two days ago, I queried representatives of the developer and of Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority that oversees/shepherds Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, but I haven't yet gotten a response. After all, it's unclear whether any developer would want to pay (something) for the EB-5 debt, without knowing whether and how much it would owe for the obligation to build 876 (or 877) units of affordable housing by May 2025. And while ESD CEO Hope Knight told legislators that they're seeking a new developer, she didn't share details or express much optimism. So it could be postponed again. The immigrant investors put up $349 million under the EB-5 investor visa program, in which they typically forego interest because they prioritize getting green cards--but ex

With the surging Knicks (ranked #7) and floundering Nets (#23), the narrative finally flips.

One reason the New Jersey-to-Brooklyn Nets had an opportunity to attract fans and establish a new fanbase was the perennial mismanagement and mediocre play of the New York Knicks, which remained a cash cow due to the legacy fanbase and the location in midtown Manhattan. More than a decade later, the situation has reversed. The Nets first capitalized on novelty, then built a scrappy team of strivers, then threw it away in a not-unreasonable bet on star power, signing Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and James Harden. When they played together, in only a fraction of games, the team was a juggernaut. But injuries, the coronavirus, Irving's mercurial personality, and a lack of structure undermined the Nets, and the stars all wrangled trades, leaving the Nets stuck in mediocrity, albeit with some future draft assets. Meanwhile, the Knicks, finally, deftly rebuilt, garnering former Dallas guard Jalen Brunson, trading for Torono's O.G. Anunoby, and developing/acquiring a series of solid pl

TRD "source": Hudson asked 962 Pacific owner to build "100% affordable" housing elsewhere & give $5-$10M? (Note: owner never released requested financials.)

The predictable Real Deal coverage yesterday of the 962 Pacific rezoning drama, Council member crushes Crown Heights project , offered one very interesting (albeit shakily credible) nugget--more below--and claimed that "[t]he decision will delay the project for a year or two and could prevent it from happening at all." Whether the project would be built as proposed and negotiated with Brooklyn Community Board 8 is in doubt, for sure, though surely something will be built after the Atlantic Avenue Mixed-Use Plan (AAMUP), the broader neighborhood rezoning, is passed. As I  wrote , Hudson now faces pressure to ensure that the benefits from the AAMUP, in terms of affordable housing (and even job-creating space) match those proposed for 962 Pacific. However, had the proposal by Nadine Oelsner's HSN Realty (and a future developer as partner or new owner) passed, that would not necessarily have delivered it faster, since the "shovel-ready" project also depended on fina

CM Hudson, maintaining stance that proposed 962 Pacific spot rezoning should wait for neighborhood rezoning, votes it down. Can she deliver with AAMUP?

She stuck to her position. Council Member Crystal Hudson yesterday gave the thumbs down to the proposed spot rezoning of 962 Pacific Street in Crown Heights, where the longtime landowner, Nadine Oelsner's HSN Realty, sought to build a 150-unit building, with more affordability than in nearby private rezonings, on an empty lot. Looking SE from Grand Ave. & Pacific St. toward vacant 962 Pacific parcel (Photo: Norman Oder) In doing so, Hudson maintained her longstanding--if not so loud--opposition to a spot rezoning that would come ahead of the more comprehensive Atlantic Avenue Mixed-Use Plan (AAMUP), which would ultimately enable housing at the 962 Pacific site and deliver other neighborhood improvements. Her opposition was reflected in votes ( video here ) against the rezoning yesterday at the City Council's Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises, and later at the Land Use Committee, as Council Members typically defer to the local representative. Bucking a tide The 962 Pacif

The latest Construction Update (nothing happening) and a small footnote re Empire State Development

It's no big deal, but it's worth nothing that two versions of the same Construction Update email were sent yesterday to recipients of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park updates on the mailing list maintained by Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority that oversees/shepherds the project. The text of the email: Attached for your information is the February 5, 2024, and February 12, 2024 Atlantic Yards Project construction activity update. As a reminder, please be advised that construction alert emails will be sent once a month until there is a change in construction activity. Bi-weekly construction alerts will continue to update on the Atlantic Yards website As stated in the document (bottom), regarding the future platform over the MTA's Vanderbilt Yard, "There are no construction activities scheduled for the reporting period." And that means, without the platform, no tower construction. Who's behind it? The email was attributed to ESD's Atlantic Yards

As 962 Pacific faces resolution Tuesday at City Council, with more affordability than (pending) AAMUP & likely big profit for applicant, will CM Hudson forge a deal?

The proposed 962 Pacific Street development, which sailed through the City Planning Commission after much debate at Community Board 8, faces a resolution by Tuesday, with votes scheduled by the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises, and then the Land Use Committee. Looking SE from Grand Ave. & Pacific St. toward vacant 962 Pacific parcel (Photo: Norman Oder) There's been some press--likely furthered by the developer's camp--noting the project would include more affordability (48 of 150 units) and job-creating space than similar spot rezonings and even the pending Atlantic Avenue Mixed-Use Plan (AAMUP), while portraying Council Member Crystal Hudson's resistance as irrational. Hudson, at a Jan. 23 Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises hearing, criticized 962 Pacific as "seeking to get ahead of the final comprehensive plan," which would include improvements in streetscape, public space, and other amenities, and noted that the "draft rezoning proposal is j