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Showing posts from April, 2024

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

Remaining 550 Vanderbilt retail space up for rent. Once leased as construction field office, off (awkward, for now) Pacific Street stub someday (?) to be "park."

View south from Vanderbilt Ave.; Beer Street  South at corner, space for lease at right past car Retail space at 550 Vanderbilt once used as a construction field office and community liaison office is finally up for rent--though it may not be easy to find a tenant.. That's another sign that former tenant Greenland USA is not expecting to soon work on anything related to the Vanderbilt Yard, including a platform and new construction. To recap: in January, I reported  that Greenland Forest City Partners, which built the 550 Vanderbilt condo tower as a 70/30 joint venture, had finally sold the three retail condos--one subdivided--at the base of the building The price: $5.8 million, well below the aspirational $10.5 million value signaled in the offering plan. View west along Pacific St. (Photos: Norman Oder) Two of the condos remain occupied by three tenants, with leases until August 2028 at the earliest. Ending one lease The sole retail unit accessible not directly from Vanderbilt Av

Finally, a tenant for major corner space at 38 Sixth Avenue, at southeast corner of arena block: Heart of Chelsea Veterinary Hospital

Photos: Norman Oder Well after the corner retail space at 38 Sixth Avenue along Dean Street was vacated by construction crews working on nearby towers, that space has been leased to the Heart of Chelsea Veterinary Group, which currently has locations in Chelsea, the Lower East Side, Hell's Kitchen, and Park Slope. Signage went up in the past week week after workers were observed prepping the interior. A few years ago, the retail broker Ripco advertised 3,533 square feet for RETAIL/RESTAURANT (marketing brochure, bottom), omitting the L-shaped space at the corner. More recently, in the other marketing brochure (also below), it pitched 3,393 square feet for retail, restaurant, fitness, or medical use, as a discrete L-shape, but omitting a segment closest to the Barclays Center loading dock. The signage for Heart of Chelsea wraps all the way around the building, as shown at right, so it's not clear if they're leasing even more space, or if there's some internal space omit

Foreclosure auction of six development sites over railyard postponed for the third time, to June 5. Don't bet on it.

The foreclosure auction of developer Greenland USA's rights to six development sites over the Vanderbilt Yard, originally  announced for Jan. 11,  postponed until Feb. 12, and  then to  April 30, has been postponed again, until June 5, according to a representative of the developer. The postponement seemed inevitable once we learned, at the April 18 meeting of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation, that state officials had no expectation that the foreclosure auction of would proceed, as the entity controlling the debt had not presented a potential developer to them. In 2014-15, a Greenland affiliate borrowed $249 million and then $100 million in two low-interest loans, under the EB-5 investor visa program, with $500,000 investments from Chinese nationals organized by the U.S. Immigration Fund, a "regional center" or middleman.  About $63 million of the first loan has been paid back, but the rest has languished past the due date, and a USIF entity, which

At 18 Sixth (Brooklyn Crossing), Life Time fitness center is open; its cafe is getting a liquor license. Also coming around the corner: facial chain Glowbar

As predicted, a Life Time fitness center, a "crazy luxe" gym (or a self-described "athletic country club" ), and the associated Life Cafe opened last Friday, April 19 at the base of 18 Sixth Avenue (B4, aka Brooklyn Crossing), and rising three floors. From Atlantic & Sixth. Photos: Norman Oder The Life Time Atlantic Avenue club is  open  5 am to 11 pm weekdays, 7 am to 10 pm weekends. Memberships  start at  $299 a month, but $269 for those 26 and under and those 65 or older. (Chelsea Piers, two long blocks away, doesn't publicly post its rates, but one Redditor reported $219/month. There are discounts for people living at 595 Dean above that club.) Liquor license pending The Life Cafe has applied for a license from the State Liquor Authority to serve wine, beer, and cider, according to a notice in the window.  According to Community Board 2, the cafe qualified for an automatic waiver last month, under our definition of an "Umbrella Operator," an

New 485-x tax incentive would require (at Atlantic Yards) 25% "affordable" units for households averaging 60% of AMI (now $83,880 for 3 people, but will rise)

Might the state's recently approved 485-x tax incentive re-start Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park? Of course not. Remember, there's an expensive platform, and fines for missing affordable housing to be reckoned with. Zone A in yellow, Zone B in orange  (Department of City Planning) Might it help any potential bidder or developer better assess the bottom line regarding future investment? Surely. A 421-a successor Future buildings would qualify under 485-x ( bill text ), a successor to the since expired 421-a, as a "Very large rental project," defined as a site in in Zone A or Zone B, which includes the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park site, with 150 or more rental units. The carrot: a 40-year exemption from property taxes. That's more than the most recent iteration of 421-a , which for Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park buildings offered a 25-year full exemption, and ten years of exemption applied to the 30% affordable units, at 130% of Area Median Income (AMI).  (Note that the an

As Area Median Income rises nearly 10%, "low-income" 80% AMI reaches $100K for most household sizes. NYC adds 20% AMI as Extremely Low Income option.

Last week, the updated 2024 New York City Area Median Income (AMI) surfaced on the website ( link ) of the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), with an astounding rise of nearly 10% over 2023. So 100% of AMI for a four-person household is now $155,300, up from $141,200 in 2023 . (It was $83,900 in 2014!)  The 2023 figure was a 5.7% increase over $133,400 in 2022, which represented an 11.8% increase over $119,300 in 2021, as I wrote in April 2022. The corresponding income bands for 2023 are below. "Low-income" conundrum That also means that many households at 80% of AMI, the threshold considered "low-income," can now earn six figures: the income limits are $86,960 for one person, $99,940 for two people, $111,840 for three people, and $124,240 for four people. Keep in mind that AMI depends on better-off suburban counties and, especially, the High Housing Cost Adjustment (HHCA), which ANHD, the Association for Neighborhood & Housing Deve

After transmitting developer's flawed stats and provoking doubts, ESD corrects affordable housing chart. A question lingers.

This is the second of two articles on the April 18 meeting of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC), charged to advise on the project and monitor obligations. The first concerned the foreclosure auction, likely to be postponed, and the AY CDC budget passage. OK, I was right.  After Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority that oversees/shepherds the project, on March 26 released an Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Affordable Housing Analysis that prompted questions from me, they went back and corrected it. The correction, below, acknowledges a shift at 535 Carlton of eleven middle-income units to moderate-income ones, though it doesn't explain--as I had reported and two AY CDC directors noted--that it was done to enable significant tax savings at the condo building 550 Vanderbilt down the block, awkwardly yoked in a "zoning lot." The revised chart also reclassifies 24 studios at 662 Pacific as middle-income, not moderate-income; though the

At Atlantic Yards meeting, state says no expectation foreclosure auction will proceed April 30. Quorum allows AY CDC budget passage.

This is the first of two articles on the April 18 meeting of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC), charged to advise on the project and monitor obligations. The second concerned a revised affordable housing analysis. The meeting was brief and mostly uneventful--though my update tomorrow will address the effort by Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority that oversees/shepherds the project, to update its official affordable housing chart. Notably, ESD officials said they had no expectation that the foreclosure auction of the rights to six development sites over the Vanderbilt Yard, scheduled for April 30 but already postponed twice, would proceed, as the entity controlling the debt has not presented a potential developer to them. Budge approved With a quorum, the AY CDC directors were finally able to approve--as they were precluded form doing, at their March 26 meeting--of approving the body's $250,000 budget, which is provided by the developer,

Does ESD have discretion over a potential transfer of development rights in foreclosure? Yes, but the conditions may not be onerous.

As I've written, the foreclosure auction of developer Greenland USA's interest in six development sites over the Vanderbilt Yard has been postponed twice, most recently until April 30 . It's likely to be postponed again. After all, there are a lot of complications, including a winning bidder's obligation to comply with project requirements--or to evade them--regarding affordable housing liquidated damages, and more. That likely involves negotiation with Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority that oversee/shepherds the project. And yesterday, ESD reps said no developer has surfaced. If a bidder does emerge, it's also worth looking at the conditions imposed by ESD on such a transfer. One unit, or two? First, note that, while the six development sites might be seen as a unit, they represent two separate auctions: one for the sites B5-B8, the collateral for the $249 million "Atlantic Yards II," and another for B9-B10, the collateral for the $100 m

In state budget: 485-x, a yet-unspecified incentive for rental housing, plus an extension of 421-a deadline. Both presumably somewhat helpful to Atlantic Yards.

A state budget recently announced, if not fully specified, should incentivize new rental housing and also provide a lifeline to projects that started construction--put footings in the ground--under the only 421-a program. That should make construction of the remaining Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park towers somewhat more viable, though 1) the devil's in the details and 2) these aren't the only factors. Notably, the six development sites over the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's (MTA) Vanderbilt Yard face a foreclosure auction of developer Greenland USA's stake. That is scheduled for April 30, after being postponed twice, and it's unclear if it will go forward. Not only is a tax incentive needed to make the numbers work, any bidder must factor in the cost of a platform to enable vertical construction, the remaining cost to pay the MTA for development rights, and the pending damages of $2,000/month for each of the 876 affordable housing units not delivered by May 20

After my queries regarding the affordable housing chart, ESD says it's "performing due diligence" after conveying the developers' information.

My newsletter yesterday analyzed and critiqued the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park affordable housing chart provided by Empire State Development (ESD) after a request from the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation. See A Dive Into Affordability Prompts a Metaphysical Question , subtitled "If apartments open to middle-income households rent for well below the maximum, do they qualify as moderate-income?" A week earlier, I had pointed out one discrepancy, and shared it with ESD, the state authority that oversees/shepherds the project: the chart ignored the swap of eleven middle-income units at 535 Carlton Ave. for moderate-income ones, thus enabling big tax savings down the block at the 550 Vanderbilt condo building.  See The "Zoning Lot" Hustle , subtitled, "In 2017, eleven rental apartments got cheaper. That saved condo buyers down the block millions." Moderate- or middle-income? I then found another potential discrepancy: I initially counted 24 stu

The Brooklyn Nets report nearly 99% attendance at Barclays Center home games. However, gate count and *paid* tickets unclear.

In the past NBA season, the Brooklyn Nets dropped in attendance rank from eleventh to 21st, according to ESPN, but only saw a fractional decrease in numbers, averaging just 101 fewer fans per game than in 2022-23 . The reported attendance--which reflects tickets distributed, not sold, and does not equal gate count--was 17,568 per game, or 98.85% full. The NBA, as the league announced , set an overall attendance record, with arena's averaging 98% of capacity. What we don't know is how many Nets freebies were given out. Remember, based on anonymous sources, the New York Post  said  the 2021-22 Nets, "after giveaways, sold about 15,000 tickets a game." The Nets in 2022-23 had, at least for part of the season, a couple of superstars, and made the playoffs after a 45-37 record. From ESPN Sunny outlook? Given the team's mediocre performance this past year, with a 32-50 record ranking them 11th and thus out of playoff contention, the Nets didn't have much to promote,

Broadening the affordable housing applicant pool: when the housing lease-up extends into a new AMI calculation and new income ceilings

Last year, when the deadline for applications for below-market middle-income "affordable" units at the two-tower 595 Dean St. (B12/B13) was extended , it was clear that the extension also broadened the potential applicant pool. That's because an increase in the AMI calculation for 2023, as recently announced by the city's Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), meant higher income limits for all applicants. Broadening the pool A related, if not exactly parallel, broadening of the applicant pool has happened over the years, notably with--but not limited to--the two previous towers, 662 Pacific St. (B15, aka Plank Road) and 18 Sixth Ave. (B4, aka Brooklyn Crossing).  As with 595 Dean, they're geared to middle-class applicants earning up to 130% of Area Median Income (AMI), usually more than six figures. And an apparent extended deadline for at least some applications meant that some units were open to applicants earning higher incomes. 662 Pacific: