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Showing posts from March, 2024

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Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park infographics: what's built/coming/missing, who's responsible, + project overview/FAQ/timeline (pinned post)

To advisory group, ESD says (mystery) documents confirm that $349M in EB-5 funds were spent appropriately. Other evidence raises doubts.

This is the third of three articles about the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC) meeting March 26.  The  first  concerned the project's murky future.  The second concerned the issue of affordable housing. So, were low-interest loans from immigrant investors, via the EB-5 investor visa program, received by project developer Greenland Forest City Partners (now, essentially, Greenland USA) spent appropriately, on helping move Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park forward? Yes, said state officials. But documentation was not provided, and other evidence suggests otherwise. Anna Pycior, Senior Vice President, Community Relations at the parent Empire State Development (ESD), reported back on the AY CDC's previous request regarding whether the $349 million in EB-5 loans--tranches of $249 million and $100 million--adhered to what ESD had established as Permitted Uses. I had  reported , before the AY CDC meeting in January, that only in June 2019, well after the annual re

At AY CDC meeting, state finally provides more info on project's affordable housing record, but it doesn't stress the middle-income skew. What about 2025 fines?

This is the second of three articles about the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC) meeting March 26. The first concerned the project's murky future. The third concerned oversight of EB-5 spending. How much affordable housing"--better-termed "income-linked" or "income-targeted"--has been delivered in Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park?  We know there are 1,374 below-market apartments, among 3,212 total units, but who do they serve? Anna Pycior, Senior Vice President, Community Relations at the parent Empire State Development (ESD), provided an update, as requested previously by AY CDC directors. The information was more extensive than presented by ESD previously, but it still didn't go far enough to point out how much the below-market "affordable" units serve middle-income households. Nor did it fully explain how the configuration diverges from that promised in the 2005 Housing Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)--non-binding bu

At Atlantic Yards meeting, state officials acknowledge project is stalled, with neither new plans nor developer proposed. Will foreclosure auction happen next month?

This is the first of three articles about the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC) meeting March 26.  The  second  concerned the issue of affordable housing.  The third concerned oversight of EB-5 spending. Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park seems stalled, as state officials acknowledged that they have been presented with no specific plans regarding the project's future, nor any possible developer. That's the main news that emerged from the AY CDC meeting, which was called, in part, to get the directors to approve the annual budget for the year beginning April 1. That didn't happen, because the unexpected absence of one director meant there was no quorum. However, the informational aspect of the meeting--held at the Manhattan offices of the parent Empire State Development (ESD)--proceeded anyway for the five directors present. Master developer Greenland USA, which did not send a representative to the meeting, has not paid back some $286 million in loans (out

Columnist Hollinger: "Have Knicks, Nets swapped destinies?"

From columnist John Hollinger in The Athletic, March 25, Have Knicks, Nets swapped destinies? Once upon a time, this was supposed to be the Brooklyn Nets : Building patiently, developing late draft picks and smart free-agent signings and riding in the slipstream of good culture vibes while keeping their powder dry for just the right moment to pounce on a big star. But this past Saturday, as on most days this season, it was their crosstown rivals in Madison Square Garden who had all the right ingredients for that formula. The most notable thing about the New York Knicks’ perfunctory 105-93 win over the Nets on Saturday was that it wasn’t even remotely surprising. It was yet another data point in the divergence between the stumbling rebuild in Brooklyn and the near-flawless execution of New York’s surprising rise from the Dolan doldrums. Hollinger deftly synthesizes what the tabs have been saying, which I summarized six weeks ago as  With the surging Knicks (ranked #7) and floundering N

With the future of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park in question, it all may depend on "abiding by the Project documents" (which might change)

As a potentially meaningful--or, maybe not--meeting of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC) approaches today, I'm reminded of some notes from the parent Empire State Development (ESD) delivered in December 2022, as a reported in a post citing "belated candor and weasel words." Does the developer have a plan to  meet the May 2025 deadline  to start and complete 876 (or 877) more units of affordable housing, or face $2,000/month fines for each missing unit? In July 2022, Scott Solish, then of master developer Greenland USA,  said  it was the "same answer that we always have. We're moving ahead with our plans with the platform.... We are working on hitting all of our targets, as we always have."  Except they hadn't hit their targets--for example, they announced in 2019 that the platform would start in 2020, and it hadn't.  I asked if ESD would enforce the fines, but didn't get an answer at the time.  The document, as excerp

Foregone property taxes on Barclays Center site now estimated at $110.2M. Payments in lieu of (some) taxes go not to NYC but pay off cheap construction debt

In May 2022, I reported that foregone property taxes for the Barclays Center continued to rise, reaching $85 million, from $61.3 million in 2017 and, oddly enough, $53.7 million in 2018. Today they're more than double the low point, according to the New York City Department of Finance's Annual Report on Tax Expenditures , reaching $98.6 million last year and $110.2 million this year. That's all a nice gift to arena operators and team owners. FY 2023 In Fiscal Year 2023 , the foregone taxes for the arena reached $98.6 million. Note the larger tax expenditures for the two addresses directly above it, Citifield and Yankee Stadium, which also benefit from tax-exempt land. Also note the oddly depressed tax break, as calculated by the city for MSG Arena, only $42.4 million. Surely the Madison Square Garden Site is move valuable than the Brooklyn site.  That's because, as the Independent Budget Office has suggested , the valuation is artificially depressed, given that the cit

Agenda for Atlantic Yards CDC vague: updates & follow-ups. Is the meeting Tuesday mainly to approve the annual budget? (It's questionable.)

With three business days' notice, Empire State Development (ESD) yesterday issued an Agenda and Board Materials (bottom) for next Tuesday's meeting of the (purportedly) advisory Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC). The Agenda doesn't offer much of a clue, however, as to what's at issue, since the item "3. Updates and Follow-Ups (Oral Reports)" could cover a lot of ground. That means those wishing to comment on Agenda items--writing to by 3 pm on Monday, March 25--don't have much to go on. (Those attending in person, who must RSVP , can comment in real time. The meeting also will be webcast .) Mainly budget issues? The simplest explanation for the meeting may be that no new revelations are expected, but the Directors are simply being asked to review and approve the proposed AY CDC operating budget for the fiscal year beginning April 1. I have some questions about that budget, as noted below, given that the spend

Center for a NYC Future: Why not add $1 surcharge on venue tickets to help fund city parks? (That's a lot less than Ticketmaster fees.)

A recent report from the Center for an Urban Future,  Paying for the Growing Needs of NYC’s Parks: 20 Fresh Ideas to Fund Parks and Open Spaces , offers some intriguing solutions "to pay for parks' growing maintenance and infrastructure needs, while investing in new parks and open spaces in the places they’re needed the most." The report, by John Surico and Eli Dvorkin, notes that the Department of Parks and Recreation’s headcount has fallen 38 percent since the mid-1970s, while budget cuts enacted in 2020 led parks conditions to deteriorate to the worst levels in 20 years. The cost of major maintenance needs last year exceeded $58.9 million, with just 16 percent of those needs being met. Now there's at least $685 million "in capital needs just to bring existing infrastructure up to a state of good repair, with just 30 percent of those needs either underway or planned over the next three years." Beyond that, "more than 16 percent of New York City reside

At last minute, advisory Atlantic Yards Community Development Corp. meeting postponed until Tuesday. Mundane quorum issue, or something larger?

With less than 24 hours' notice and no explanation, Empire State Development (ESD) at 4:52 pm yesterday announced that the meeting of the (purportedly) advisory Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC), scheduled for today at 3 pm, would be moved to Tuesday, March 26, at 3 pm. It wasn't a total surprise, because they never released an Agenda, despite a 3 pm deadline yesterday for public comments on Agenda items. (Nor did AY CDC directors get one .) Was this because they lost a precarious required quorum? Or is there something brewing--a renegotiation of project terms?--that hasn't been finalized, and ESD is waiting for that resolution? I'd bet on the more mundane explanation, but that doesn't not mean something's brewing.  The whole sequence--the last-minute announcement, the missing agenda--does not inspire confidence in the state authority overseeing/shepherding the project. What could it be? As I speculated , perhaps parent ESD is looking fo

With questionable timing, BSE Global reveals plan to swap 30 suites for freer-flowing club spaces, one inspired by (?!?) historic brownstones

After less than 12 years, the Barclays Center needs work to stay competitive. Now comes a swap of 30 suites (of 87) for club-like spaces called The Row and The Key, accommodating a total of 436 seats. Latest renovations will help Barclays Center offer fans high-end F&B and more interaction , Sports Business Journal reported March 18: Twelve-year-old Barclays Center is still the fifth-newest building in the NBA, with arguably its most unique exterior, but it’s well down the line in recent years in terms of major capital expenditures, whether on a new building or renovation. And new ones are in the pipeline, including the Clippers’ Intuit Dome, which opens this fall. “When you’re outside the arena, a ton of people come by, they take photos of the exterior, it’s ranked one of the top venues in the 2010s globally,” said Shanon Ferguson, BSE Global chief hospitality officer, in his first sports job after more than a dozen years in the hospitality world. “The experience indoors, it’s st