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Showing posts from May, 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)

Owners hope for billion-dollar New York Liberty valuation. That bolsters the case for "additional rent" paid to public sector for using the (tax-exempt) Barclays Center.

The  WNBA's New York Liberty, which until last year's playoffs were selling tickets to the Barclays Center's lower bowl, sold out  (17,735) the entire arena Saturday for their home opener, which featured the Indiana Fever and the star rookie Caitlin Clark.  (The Fever still are weak, and the Liberty won easily.) And, as NetsDaily recently reported , Clara Wu Tsai, who owns the team along with her husband Joe Tsai (and serves as its front person), recently told Harvard Business School’s New York alumni club that, as TV viewership grows, team valuations will rise over a decade, and the Liberty could become “the first billion dollar women’s sports franchise." That would be quite a leap, but consider how the valuation of the New Jersey Nets, once $300 million upon the purchase by Bruce Ratner (and others) in 2004, inflated to more than $3 billion (with the arena company) by 2017, and now could be worth far more. As NetsDaily reported, the Liberty purchase, from New York Kn

Daily News editorializes, vaguely, "Nudge forward Atlantic Yards: Brooklyn housing plan must be completed." Renegotiate fines? Pay for platform?

Nudge forward Atlantic Yards: Brooklyn housing plan must be completed , the New York Daily News editorial board wrote yesterday, offering vague support for an implied compromise, including, perhaps, a waiver of the $2,000/month fines for each of the 876 affordable housing units not completed by May 2025. In other words, the editorial--which generally praises the project while describing it misleadingly--is a not-so-incisive look at a process that's so far been a black box. Then again, at least someone's trying to discuss a complicated issue that's mostly been buried. (Here's my recent Atlantic Yards overview , for Urban Omnibus.) Should state pay? In response to the editorial, as noted below, an influential advocate, Gib Veconi, suggested that the state should pay for the platform and, implicitly, waive pending fines.  My take is such a public contribution--the platform, as of 2019, was estimated to cost $240+ million and probably now more than $300 million--must invol

So, those 130% Area Median Income (AMI) income-linked "affordable" units won't stay regulated forever, maybe just 35 years.

A May 2 article from The Real Deal comparing the new 485-x tax break with its predecessor, 421-a, contained this line: "Not only that, but 485x’s affordable units remain income-restricted forever, while 421a’s become market-rate when their tax break ends." That was new to me. Surely that 35-year horizon--see Option C here --option is part of the long-term calculation for the builders of the four Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park buildings taking advantage of 421-a. And it's surely part of the calculation for potential sellers, or buyers. The buildings contain a total of 592 income-linked "affordable" units: B15 (662 Pacific St., aka Plank Road), B3 (18 Sixth Ave., aka Brooklyn Crossing), and B12/B13 (595 Dean St.). All those apartments were made available to households earning up to 130% of Area Median Income (AMI), and while the rents are hardly aimed at the neediest, they represent bargains compared to the market-rate units in the building. Some will see stability

In 2022, the developer claimed, dubiously, the (now-lapsed) Quality of Life meetings fostered accountability. Where can the Pacific Park Conservancy be queried?

So, does anyone care that the Pacific Park Conservancy, the nonprofit funded to manage the three acres of open space, is essentially a phantom, its phone and email nonfunctional, its officers unavailable? That's relevant because, as I reported recently , the Conservancy is supposedly in charge of responding to complaints about noise from the dog run between 535 Carlton and the West Tower of 595 Dean. There should be a venue to air such concerns. However, as I  wrote  last October, the most recent  Quality of Life meeting , for years a bi-monthly opportunity to hear updates and ask questions, was last held Feb. 7, 2023, itself more than four months after the previous meeting. Yes, since then there have been three meetings-- January , March , and April  (the latter a do-over)--of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC), set up to advise the parent Empire State Development (ESD) and monitor project commitments.  But the AY CDC, which has made minor progress but t

As "affordable" rents rise with 2024 Area Median Income, a "low-income" 1-BR could cost $2,330! Now HPD warns that maximum rents may not be realistic.

Last month, I wrote ( link ) about how the updated 2024 New York City Area Median Income (AMI) figures, surfacing on the website of the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), showed an astounding rise of nearly 10% over 2023. That meant 100% of AMI for a four-person household is now $155,300, up from $141,200 in 2023 . At the time, HPD had not yet updated the website with the commensurate rents for various income "bands," from low-income to middle-income. Now it has, as ever-rising AMI generates  ever-rising rents. A one-bedroom apartment at 80% of AMI, technically "low-income," could rent for up to $2,330, while a moderate-income one at 100% of AMI could cost up to $2,912. (That's up from $2,119 and $2,648 under the 2023 guidelines.) At 130% of AMI, allowable for buildings that gain the 421-a tax break, a one-bedroom could rent for $3,786. Better to call these apartment "income-targeted" or "income restricted," rather

Real estate lawyer admits that allowing "affordable" units at 130% of Area Median Income was "a mistake." Last four Atlantic Yards towers had only 130% AMI.

From an April 24 article in the Real Deal about the new 485-x tax break, a successor to 421-a,  Developers have a new tax break. Now they must figure it out : The new one provides property tax exemptions for up to 40 years, and eliminates the highest income band permitted for “affordable” units under the previous program: 130 percent of the area median income. “We knew that 130 percent AMI was going out the window,” said Alvin Schein, a founding partner at Seiden & Schein. Some landlords actually had a difficult time renting out those units . The 130 percent AMI units forced owners and prospective tenants to navigate city bureaucracy and were a punching bag for critics, who ridiculed their “affordable” label. “I think 130 was a mistake,” Schein said. “It helped give 421a a bad name.” Indeed, "affordable" merely means rents targeted to 30% of household income, so the baseline matters--and the term "income-linked" or "income-targeted" are more accurate.

Daily News gets a vague quote from Gov. Hochul re Atlantic Yards, cites "myriad complications," uses stale photo of pre-arena railyard. Backroom deal coming?

There wasn't much new in the Daily News article yesterday,  With the Atlantic Yards project stalled, Gov. Hochul offers scant details about a path forward : “Any way that the influence of the state will result in the building of more housing, I’m all in,” Hochul said at a press conference Thursday, when asked about the status of Atlantic Yards. That could mean anything.  What next? In 2014, the state, under pressure from the coalition BrooklynSpeaks regarding a threatened fair-housing lawsuit, agreed to a new 2025 deadline for the 2,250 below-market, "affordable" units, with $2,000/month fines for each missing apartment. There are 876 left to build, and the deadline won't be met. Developer Greenland USA faces a thrice-postponed foreclosure auction of its development rights to build six towers over the Vanderbilt Yard, but a new developer must factor in the fines as well as the cost of the platform that precedes vertical construction.  From the article: “The practical

As Ratner continues media interviews and establishes Early Detection (Cancer) Initiative, his career misleadingly framed as steady "progressive" path

The rebranding of Bruce Ratner, previously real estate developer and philanthropist, clearly now adds author and health advocate. Even if Ratner, billed as the co-author of Early Detection: Catching Cancer While It's Curable , did less of the work than his scientifically grounded co-author, it seems to be a worthy cause, and he's putting his (tax-deductible) money where his mouth is, this past week establishing the Ratner Early Detection Initiative at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, or MSK. (More below.) But it's still mind-boggling to see how complaisant interviewers, surely prepped by a press kit, confirm the reframing of Ratner's career as a steady progressive pursuit.  I previously wrote about how the one interviewer who went beyond the book, WNYC's Brian Lehrer, elicited Ratner's blasé attitude toward not finishing Atlantic Yards.  I noted that the  Community Benefits Agreement hyped by Ratner's firm aspired to “maximize the benefits of the P

The Real Deal: "Embellishing the truth is second nature to many real estate developers."

Behind the unraveling of Nir Meir , a very interesting piece in the April 1 Real Deal, contains a couple of critical generalizations that, even in a publication generally supportive of developers, must have seemed so obvious that they required no footnotes. Wrote Keith Larsen: Embellishing the truth is second nature to many real estate developers. Meir went beyond... ...In real estate, developers boom and bust, stretch the truth and move money from project to project, aiming to eventually pay back investors and banks. Sometimes they get stuck mid-maneuver. For Meir, though, the game went well beyond that. Those caught in his web are now trying to understand how he played it, and why. (Emphases added)  Also: Real estate was the perfect place for Meir. It’s a business of back rooms and see-and-be-seen galas. Condos are purchased through anonymous Delaware shell companie s. Income statements can be manipulated to obtain larger loans. Appraisals are a joke. There are no disclosure require

While the Pacific Park Conservancy is supposed to maintain project open space, it's spent far more on insurance and lawyers.

This is the second of two articles on the Pacific Park Conservancy. I wrote yesterday ( link ) how complaints about the dog run within "Pacific Park" had been sloughed off to the Pacific Park Conservancy, which, contrary to publicly posted signage, does not have an operating email address or phone number.  Nor does it have a full complement of directors, at least according to its most recently posted public documents. Looking east along Dean Street Beyond managing (presumably) the operation of the dog run, what else is the Conservancy supposed to do? And what has it done? Well, according to extant--albeit limited-- public documents, it's supposed to maintain the "park." But it's spent the majority of its funds on professional services. While the Pacific Park Conservancy has raised $1.6 million over three years, in assessments from project buildings, it has spent a paltry amount on program services--at least as of the end of 2022. Rather, over two fiscal year

At 595 Dean, West Tower residents lament noise from adjacent dog run. Developer TF Cornerstone deflects to (phantom) Pacific Park Conservancy.

This is the first of two articles on the Pacific Park Conservancy. The second concerns the Conservancy's record of spending . Perhaps the most active element in the not-always-used three acres of "Pacific Park" open space is the dog run. It's situated between Dean Street and (demapped) Pacific Street, east of Carlton Avenue, toward the north end of the corridor between 535 Carlton (B14) and the West tower of 595 Dean (B13). Actually, it's divided into two parts, for large and small dogs. Looking east at dog runs & 595 Dean West tower. Photos: Norman Oder The dog run, while popular with dog owners from the nearby buildings and blocks, can generate considerable barking, which disturbs residents in the west-facing units of that West tower, as noted in several Google reviews , one of which called the noise "pretty unbearable." Building developer TF Cornerstone, which has touted the dog park as amenity for tenants, has deflected complaints to the Pacific