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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)

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park timeline (updated: January 2024)

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park is, above all, the story of private developers using governmental power.

2003-2006: Announcement, Debate/Protests, First Approval

July 2003

Atlantic Yards project details leak out; article in Newark Star-Ledger newspaper. New Jersey Nets basketball team would move to Brooklyn to leverage public approval for a large mixed-use project from powerful Brooklyn-based developer Forest City Ratner, the NYC arm of Cleveland-based, nationally traded Forest City Enterprises, known for building the MetroTech office complex in Brooklyn, the Atlantic Center mall, and other projects that required government assistance and/or partnership.

December 2003

Project officially announced by Forest City Ratner, with slogan “Jobs, Housing, and Hoops,” and designs by architect Frank Gehry. Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz is host, at Brooklyn Borough Hall, with Mayor Mike Bloomberg present, as well as fractional investor Jay-Z. New York Times architectural critic Herbert Muschamp is enthralled.

The project would have 4,500 apartments, half of them "affordable"; the four towers flanking the arena would have space for 10,000 jobs. Despite the name, only 8.5 acres of the proposed 22-acre footprint involve the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Vanderbilt Yard, used to store and service Long Island Rail Road trains. The rest is public streets and private property, raising the spectre of condemnation.

The project will be overseen not by New York City or local elected officials, but by the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), the state economic-development agency (originally Urban Development Corporation, or UDC), which answers to Gov. George Pataki, and is the most powerful urban development agency in the country, given powers to override city zoning. The initial price tag: $2.5 million.

January 2004

Investment group led by Bruce Ratner finalizes purchase of New Jersey Nets basketball team.

February 2004

Project opponents concerned about scale, eminent domain, sweetheart deals, and an arena encroaching on a residential area organize as Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB), hire attorney Norman Siegel.

March 2004

First public meeting on Atlantic Yards plan, in Park Slope.

Council Member Letitia James sponsors workshop to develop alternative plan for the railyard, which is of course is of more modest scale, and without an arena.

May 2004

Forest City releases report on expected fiscal benefits to the city and state, by sports economist Andrew Zimbalist, who unwisely--but without facing much skepticism--calls the project a gold mine, mainly because new apartments somehow alchemize into new income tax revenue.

New York City Council holds hearing on Atlantic Yards; James reveals alternative plan, known as UNITY plan.

Forest City sends first mailer to residents promoting Atlantic Yards.

In a front-page article, the Daily News reports that nearly all owners at the condo building 636 Pacific Street, except for activist Daniel Goldstein, have agreed to sell their apartments to Forest City, removing a key roadblock.

June 2004

Jung Kim and Gustav Peebles, an urban planner and an economic historian, respectively, issue a report that criticizes FCR consultant Zimbalist’s projections.

October 2004

Forest City sends second mailer to residents promoting Atlantic Yards.

November 2004

Three Community Boards (CBs 2, 6, and 8) that include pieces of the project site hold informational meeting on the project. It's raucous.

January 2005

Forest City reveals that planned office space around the arena would be swapped for condominiums, severely cutting the promised permanent jobs.

March 2005

New York City and New York State announce non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Forest City, promise capital contributions of $100 million each, tax breaks, and other assistance.

The Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development (PICCED) issues an independent report (“Slam Dunk or Airball? A Preliminary Planning Analysis of the Brooklyn Atlantic Yards Project”) urging caution, and criticizing Zimbalist's economic estimates.

May 2005

Forest City signs Affordable Housing Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with community group New York ACORN. It promises a mix of low- (40%), moderate- (20%), and middle-income housing (40%).

Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announces Request for Proposals for Vanderbilt Yard development rights; DDDB tries to recruit a bidder to rival Forest City, which is widely seen to have an inside track.

New York City Council holds second (and final) hearing on Atlantic Yards.

June 2005

Zimbalist updates his report, estimating that potential project revenue would increase by nearly 50%, owing to additional housing.

Forest City distributes the first issue of the Brooklyn Standard, a promotional publication hailing the project.

United States Supreme Court issues decision upholding eminent domain in Kelo vs. New London.

Forest City publicly signs Community Benefits Agreement with eight groups, including ACORN and BUILD (Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development), most of which are astroturf, having no track record in Brooklyn--but in some cases involving respected leaders from the Black community. It's the first CBA in New York City.

The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYC EDC), in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from project opponents, releases a previously completed memo, “Estimated Fiscal Impacts of the Proposed Atlantic Yards Project,” which undercuts several of Zimbalist’s predictions.

July 2005

New project designs by Gehry released, revealed in a front-page New York Times article, shortly before the gubernatorially-controlled MTA assesses bids.

Bids to MTA for Vanderbilt Yards released; rival developer Extell bids more cash ($150 million) than Forest City ($50 million); Forest City claims the overall value of its bid is greater.

MTA committee meeting and full board meeting on Vanderbilt Yard; MTA agrees to renegotiate exclusively with Forest City, raising spectre of a wired deal.

August 2005

Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn reveals a second Memorandum of Understanding for the project, involving Forest City's rights to build at Site 5, catercorner to arena block, longtime home of Modell's and P.C. Richard, as well as over the nearby Atlantic Center Mall.

September 2005

New York City Independent Budget Office releases analysis of the project, projecting only a small surplus to the city, in contrast with Zimbalist's projections.

Forest City agrees to double its cash bid (to $100 million) for the Vanderbilt Yard; MTA approves deal, with one dissenter.

Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) releases Draft Scope of Analysis, the first step in the environmental review process, which aimed at mitigating potential project impacts.

Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn releases documents suggesting that leaders of community group BUILD, a signatory to the CBA, expect personal enrichment from the group’s contracts with Forest City.

October 2005

ESDC holds hearing soliciting comments on Draft Scope of Analysis.

Democratic mayoral challenger Fernando (Freddy) Ferrer emerges as belated opponent of Atlantic Yards; he is sabotaged by his ostensible supporter Al Sharpton; incumbent Mayor Mike Bloomberg cites Sharpton.

BUILD is being paid to distribute the second issue of the developer's Brooklyn Standard, which is the last issue produced.

A poll commissioned by the New York Observer and conducted by Pace University suggests that, in comparison with previous surveys, the tide has shifted, and a majority of New Yorkers now favor the proposal. But public opinion also depends on the poll wording.

November 2005

Mike Bloomberg re-elected as city mayor.

DDDB holds its first “Walk, Don’t Destroy” fundraiser.

The New York Times, the parent company of which is building a new headquarters in partnership with Forest City, publishes an editorial on the Atlantic Yards plan, criticizing the use of subsidies, but declaring that "the borough deserves a sports team, so long as the price is not too high."

December 2005

Forest City announces that it plans to demolish six buildings on the site, claiming structural damage; Develop Don't Destroy sues to block those demolitions.

February 2006

State court judge upholds demolitions, disqualifies lawyer working for ESDC as a conflict of interest, given his previous work for Forest City; that disqualification is later overturned.

March 2006

ESDC releases Final Scope of Analysis, reveals modest reduction in project’s size. This is part of a pattern: inflate the size of the project, only to reduce it.

ACORN issues a report denouncing subsidized development of luxury housing in Brooklyn, and points to the Atlantic Yards project as an exception.

May 2006

DDDB announces new advisory board, with celebrities and activists.

New Gehry designs for project released.

Some Brooklyn elected officials propose that the project be cut by one-third, in exchange for cost-free rights to develop over the railyard, plus new subsidies.

June 2006

Daniel Goldstein of DDDB is subject of an article claiming he made racially offensive statements in an email, using the term “wealthy white masters” regarding the developer’s relationship to community groups. Black leaders protest.

Municipal Art Society (MAS), a citywide group focusing on planning and design, proposes that the project be revised, with a smaller scale, new streets, and open space that is not behind towers. The group does not oppose the arena.

Nationally known community planner Ron Shiffman joins DDDB, calling the density extreme.

July 2006

Forest City and ACORN schedule two public information sessions on affordable housing, draw thousands, though many attendees are way of the rent levels and the chance of the housing coming soon.

DDDB holds rally at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn.

ESDC adopts General Project Plan (GPP), including Blight Study and Design Guidelines. Releases Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS).

August 2006

Three community boards hold separate hearings to gather comments on the Atlantic Yards DEIS.

ESDC holds epic public hearing on Atlantic Yards, with numerous vocal supporters and opponents.

September 2006

ESDC holds two community forums to gather further public comment.

Forest City announces another small cut in project density, in a front-page New York Times article. New York City Planning Commission endorses that cut, including a reduction in plans for Site 5.

Municipal Art Society launches BrooklynSpeaks, new coalition to improve, not stop the project, in cooperation with several Brooklyn neighborhood groups.

October 2006

DDDB announces eminent domain suit, in federal court, with attorney Matt Brinckerhoff, aiming to avoid state court, where challenges start in the appellate division, with no chance for testimony or cross-examination, thus advantaging the condemnor.

DDDB's second annual walkathon raises over $100,000 for lawsuits.

November 2006

ESDC releases Final Environmental Impact Statement, including responses to comments.

December 2006

MAS recruits two organization to warn about potential massive illuminated signage on “Miss Brooklyn” tower (B1), planned to loom at Flatbush and Atlantic avenues over the arena.

ESDC votes to approve Atlantic Yards Modified General Project Plan, estimating that full project will be finished in ten years, by 2016.

Lowered projected tax revenues lead civic groups to ask Public Authorities Control Board (PACB), a state body that was used to kill the West Side Stadium, to not approve $100 million state contribution to the project. That would effectively kill Atlantic Yards.

PACB approves project; Forest City reveals minor concessions; ESDC releases financial analysis of project from consultant KPMG.

2007-2009: Recession, Lawsuits, Project Revisions, New Nets Owner

January 2007

Barclays is announced as naming rights sponsor for arena, which will be called Barclays Center. The deal is claimed to be worth $400 million over 20 years, but Barclays says $300 million.

Mayoral budget adds $105 million of city funds to Atlantic Yards, on top of previous $100 million.

February 2007

Project landscape architect Laurie Olin suggests that Atlantic Yards will take 20 years to build, and that Gehry will not design each building; Forest City (wrongly) says he’s wrong.

First hearing in federal eminent domain case, before Magistrate Judge Robert Levy; he recommends, on technical grounds, to Judge Nicholas Garaufis that case be dismissed.

Forest City begins demolition work at the Vanderbilt Yard.

March 2007

Executives at Forest City Enterprises, parent company of Forest City Ratner, acknowledge project will take longer than expected.

State lobbying report shows Forest City was the state's third biggest lobbyist, spending $2.1 million over the year.

April 2007

Federal eminent domain case resumes before Judge Garaufis.

DDDB and allies announce lawsuit in state court challenging the project’s environmental review.

May 2007

Oral argument before state Justice Joan Madden in lawsuit challenging environmental review.

After demolition work leads to fall of parapet from Ward Bakery, potentially endangering community, ESDC announces a new staffer—described as an ombudsperson—will work with elected officials, public agencies, and the public.

Architects and planners propose revised UNITY plan.

June 2007

Judge Garaufis dismisses federal eminent domain case, claiming that the acknowledgement of public benefits, however limited or uncertain, obviate claims of a sweetheart deal. 

Forest City executive Jim Stuckey leaves abruptly; MaryAnne Gilmartin named new project overseer. It is later revealed that Stuckey faced allegations of sexual harassment.

State legislature approves 421-a tax break with special provisions for Atlantic Yards.

July 2007

Documents revealed to state Assemblymember Jim Brennan suggest that high costs and overoptimistic expectations of revenues make project financially precarious; Forest City disagrees.

September 2007

State and city funding agreements give Forest City far more than ten years to finish the project. (These agreements are not revealed until March 2008.)

October 2007

Oral argument before Second Circuit Court of Appeals in eminent domain case shows judges skeptical of challengers.

January 2008

Justice Madden dismisses state lawsuit challenging environmental review, though her reasoning is suspect in parts.

February 2008

Judges on Second Circuit Court of Appeals uphold ruling by Garaufis dismissing eminent domain case.

March 2008

Bruce Ratner tells the New York Times that the economy will delay Atlantic Yards, but claims the arena is on track.

May 2008

DDDB and BrooklynSpeaks hold a joint rally calling for a “time-out” on the project to reassess it.

In a Daily News op-ed, Bruce Ratner says the project is “anticipated” to be finished by 2018, a ten-year time period, just starting a bit late.

New designs by Gehry released; they concern only the arena block, not the full project.

MAS releases mock-up image of “Atlantic Lots,” suggesting (and exaggerating) the impact of lingering surface parking.

June 2008

Forest City and allies sponsor “Brooklyn Day” rally at Borough Hall supporting the project.

U.S. Supreme Court declines to allow eminent domain appeal.

United States Treasury Department proposes disallowing certain forms of tax-exempt financing, which could jeopardize bond issue to build the Brooklyn arena.

August 2008

New eminent domain challenge filed in New York state court has additional claim to avoid charges of redundancy.

September 2008

Oral argument before Appellate Division in DDDB’s appeal of Justice Madden’s decision in  environmental review case shows some judges skeptical of the ESDC's arguments.

Beginning of national recession.

October 2008

Stock market plunges. Forest City Enterprises stock drops. Company begins laying off staff nationally, including in New York.

Landscape architect Olin confirms he is no longer with project.

U.S. Treasury Department agrees to grandfather in financing plan for Atlantic Yards arena, saving the developer hundreds of millions, given the ability to have tax-exempt rather than taxable bonds.

November 2008

Barclays recommits to naming rights deal, but--as we'll learn--it has been renegotiated.

Ratner drops Gehry plan (though the architect's departure is not publicly revealed for months); decides to build smaller arena, decoupled from towers around it, which previously were to be built simultaneously. 

December 2008

Forest City Enterprises announces it will slow nearly all development nationally and halt its dividend.

Gehry lays off nearly all his Atlantic Yards staff.

February 2009

State appellate court rejects challenge to Madden decision rejecting challenge to environmental review, though one judge files a scathing concurrence.

Oral argument in state eminent domain case, in appellate court, with judges skeptical of challenge.

March 2009

Forest City announces losses, but says arena will go forward.

May 2009

Appellate Division judges reject eminent domain case.

State Senate holds first state legislative oversight hearing regarding Atlantic Yards; MTA executive reveals they will accept a smaller replacement railyard, thus saving the developer.

Forest City Enterprises raises more than $300 million by selling new shares.

June 2009

Frank Gehry officially dropped from project; new Ellerbe Becket-designed arena revealed. resembling their arena in Indianapolis. It seems too small for major league hockey.

MTA approves proposal for revised deal for railyard rights, requiring $20 million down, and allowing 21 years to pay the remainder of the $100 million, at a gentle interest rate.

ESDC approves revised project plan, allowing for delays in Forest City payments for private property acquired via eminent domain, and acknowledging the project could be delayed. New Technical Memorandum agrees that no Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS)--which could delay the bond sale--is required.

State Court of Appeals agrees to hear appeal in eminent domain case.

July 2009

ESDC holds public question-and-answer session, with Forest City. It gets raucous.

ESDC holds public hearing on new project plan; BrooklynSpeaks and elected officials call for an SEIS—to assess project changes.

September 2009

Forest City releases new design for the arena, with buzzy architectural firm SHoP wrapping the Ellerbe Becket design with a pre-rusted metal skin, and a new oculus; new arena plaza is said to be temporary (but, ultimately, seems permanent).

New York City Independent Budget Office says revised project plan means net loss to the city.

Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods, a community coalition, releases report by independent real estate analyst that says Atlantic Yards cannot be completed by 2019 and more likely will take until at least 2029.

ESDC approves revised project plan; cites new report by KPMG that says it's not unreasonable that the project could be built in ten years, by 2019.

ESDC releases Technical Memo saying there's no need for a Supplemental EIS.

Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov announced as new majority owner of the Nets, minority owner of the arena operating company.

October 2009

Oral argument at New York Court of Appeals in eminent domain appeal.

DDDB and other community groups sue ESDC and Forest City in state court, aiming to annul the recent re-approval of the project and require a Supplemental EIS.

DDDB and legislators sue the MTA in state court, aiming to overturn its revision of the Vanderbilt Yard deal.

November 2009

BrooklynSpeaks and allies also file suit challenging the re-approval of the project and requiring a Supplemental EIS. (The Municipal Art Society has left BrooklynSpeaks.) The case will be combined with the DDDB case.

Mayor Bloomberg, after getting term limits overturned, is elected for a third term. Brooklyn Borough President Markowitz is also elected for a third term. Brooklyn Council Member Bill de Blasio is elected Public Advocate.

New York State Court of Appeals dismisses eminent domain challenge, 6-1, though the dissenter makes some strong points.

New ESDC-created entity, Brooklyn Arena Local Development Corporation, approves tax-exempt bonds for the project.

December 2009

Justice Michael Stallman, with no oral arguments, dismisses case challenging MTA’s project approval.

Project documents, including Development Agreement, signed in master closing that involves Forest City and ESDC.

Arena bonds sold; documents show arena naming rights deal is just $200 million.

2010-2012: Arena Launch, Timetable Questions, Arena Opening, Modular Gambit

January 2010

State Supreme Court Justice Marcy Friedman hears oral argument in combined lawsuits challenging the ESDC’s re-approval of the project.

Development Agreement released, reveals generous deadlines for project phases, including 25 years to finish the project. Later, we learn that "affordable housing" is defined merely as units subject to income-targeted government programs, not the configuration promised in the ACORN deal.

Those facing condemnation file new suit in state court, arguing that changes in the project invalidate the eminent domain findings in 2006. State Supreme Court Justice Abe Gerges hears oral argument.

March 2010

Justice Gerges rejects challenges, says no new eminent domain findings are necessary. Eminent domain approved, so title to remaining properties--including Daniel Goldstein's condo--goes to ESDC.

Justice Friedman dismisses challenge to project re-approval.

Forest City holds arena groundbreaking, with representatives of Barclays, Jay-Z and many more in attendance.

April 2010

At hearing regarding potential eviction of condemnees, Justice Gerges hammers out settlement in which Goldstein agrees to leave his condo within a month. His $3 million settlement is highly contested.

May 2010

National Basketball Association approves Prokhorov as majority owner of the Nets.

June 2010

Forest City announces concrete has been poured for the arena.

Justice Friedman hears oral argument as community groups aim to re-open the case challenging the project approval, based on the delayed release of the Development Agreement and the timetable it discloses.

August 2010

Condemnees sue in state court, before Justice Gerges, asking for new eminent domain findings.

September 2010

Justice Gerges dismisses case requesting new eminent domain findings.

Bruce Ratner tells WNYC that the project would not be built in ten years. Deputy Gilmartin says the first tower will start in spring 2011. (It won't.)

Forest City, using a private entity called the New York City Regional Center, begins seeking investors in China who are willing to lend $500,000 each at a low interest rate in exchange for green cards, in an investor visa program called EB-5. The goal is to raise $249 million. (Ultimately, it's $228 million.)

November 2010

Justice Friedman rules that ESDC failed to analyze the impact of Development Agreement. She orders the state authority to issue new findings on whether a Supplemental EIS is needed.

In the Footprint: The Battle Over Atlantic Yards, fact-based investigative musical/theater project by The Civilians, debuts at a theater in Brooklyn.

December 2010

ESDC board agrees that no Supplemental EIS is needed, issues new Technical Analysis.

March 2011

Oral argument before Justice Friedman in case regarding need for a Supplemental EIS.

New York Times reports that Forest City aims to build the world’s tallest tower using modular technology, producing prefabricated apartment sections in a factory. Forest City plans to build the entire Atlantic Yards project this way, saving money and time, and developing a new business line.

May 2011

Civic groups announce Atlantic Yards Watch, a web-based effort to monitor construction and operational impacts. Forest City opposes a bill to create a state subsidiary overseeing Atlantic Yards, saying bureaucracy would cause delays.

June 2011

Release of documentary film Battle for Brooklyn, chronicling challenges to the project, focusing on Goldstein's crusade, and leaving a sense that the project is tainted.

July 2011

Justice Friedman agrees with challengers, orders ESDC to conduct a Supplemental EIS, but limited to the second phase of the project, excluding the arena block.

November 2011

Forest City releases renderings by SHoP for three towers (B2, B3, B4) flanking the arena. It seems clear that B1 (aka “Miss Brooklyn”), the giant tower planned for what will become the arena plaza, will not be built, since construction would interfere with arena operations.

February 2012

Construction hours for the arena and infrastructure are extended, to meet the September 2012 deadline.

Forest City and ESDC appeal Justice Friedman’s ruling in appellate court.

April 2012

Appellate court upholds Justice Friedman, requires Supplemental EIS.

Brooklyn Nets reveal marketing plan, with #HelloBrooklyn hashtag and new logo, plus new-for-the-NBA black-and-white uniforms, said to be designed by Jay-Z (but not really).

July 2012

Aiming to open big, Brooklyn Nets spend big money, re-sign Deron Williams, trade for Joe Johnson, sacrifice draft picks.

September 2012

Barclays Center ribbon-cutting event involves Prokhorov.

Arena opens with string of eight concerts by Jay-Z. Traffic flows, partly because the police override traffic lights.

October 2012

Barbra Streisand concert is one of several major arena events.

New York Islanders owner Charles Wang says hockey team will move from the Nassau Coliseum to Brooklyn in Fall 2015 under an “ironclad” 25-year lease. With aging arena, team has nowhere to go but to a flawed arena accessible to its fan base.

November 2012

Brooklyn Nets’ first home game is delayed by Superstorm Sandy, though team and arena executives initially aimed to hold the game even with the subway shut down.

December 2012

Groundbreaking ceremony for modular tower, B1, to be named 461 Dean Street. Forest City partners with Skanska on a modular factory at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and Skanska will construct the building.

2013-2014: Delays Loom, Modular Stall, New Investor, New (Affordable) Timetable

January 2013

City Council oversight hearing addresses modular factory; Council takes no action despite seemingly convincing claim that Department of Buildings ignored licensing requirements.

February 2013

Public hearing on Draft Scope for a Supplemental EIS.

June 2013

Brooklyn Nets trade three first-round draft picks to acquire aging Boston Celtics stars Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce; team will have the league’s highest payroll.

August 2013

MTV holds Video Music Awards at Barclays Center, uses surrounding streets as backdrop, generating glee and alarm.

Forest City announces plan to sell at least half of the Atlantic Yards project to an outside investor.

Ratner’s group wins bid to modernize and downsize the Nassau Coliseum, which the hockey Islanders will be leaving. Prokhorov will become main owner of that group.

September 2013

Justice Friedman grants attorneys’ fees to lawyers who brought case calling for a Supplemental EIS, again endorsing that challenge.

October 2013

Forest City says it will sell 70 percent of the project going forward, excepting the arena company and the modular tower, to Greenland USA, an arm of the Shanghai-based conglomerate Greenland Holding Co, known for major projects across China and in major cities around the world. No price is announced.

November 2013

Bill de Blasio elected New York City Mayor; Letitia James elected Public Advocate. Laurie Cumbo elected 35th District Council Member. Eric Adams elected Brooklyn Borough President.

December 2013

Forest City Enterprises reports a $242 million impairment—loss in value—of its Atlantic Yards investment. Greenland will pay $200 million for its 70% share, well below the cost to Forest City.

Justice Eileen Rakower dismisses legal challenge, by industry groups representing plumbing and mechanical contractors, to the Department of Buildings’ acceptance of Forest City's modular plan.

January 2014

Forest City makes its second effort to raise money via EB-5, $249 million in “Atlantic Yards II,” with the U.S. Immigration Fund/NY Regional Center as its partner.

February 2014

Final Scope for a Supplemental EIS released; delay seems aimed to accommodate pending Greenland deal.

March 2014

Draft Supplemental EIS released. It discloses that expected school will be built not on the railyard but on a site across the street from the arena, suggests--debatably--that the project will not lead to indirect displacement.

The Municipal Art Society, distant from its Atlantic Yards critique, announces that Bruce Ratner and MaryAnne Gilmartin have won the organization’s highest honor, the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Medal.

April 2014

Forest City and Greenland say they will add install a secondary green roof on the Barclays Center to add an amenity for neighbors, and bring back the original, discarded plan. The real reason is to tamp down on bass-heavy noise escaping the structure from certain concerts.

May 2014

Public hearing on Draft Supplemental EIS.

June 2014

Greenland sale closes. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announces settlement with community groups (organized by BrooklynSpeaks) that threatened a lawsuit regarding the project timetable on fair housing grounds; it would've claimed that delays in the project disadvantaged Black residents displaced from the surrounding Community Districts before they could take advantage of the preference for locals in the affordable housing lotteries.

Settlement includes new 2025 deadline for affordable housing and commitment for two “100 percent affordable” towers. Unmentioned: most of the below-market units will be for middle-income households.

The settlement also includes agreement to organize a new advisory body, the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC), that is supposed to meet quarterly.

August 2014

Greenland Forest City renames the project Pacific Park Brooklyn, likely to avoid the stigma and controversy connected to Atlantic Yards.

Skanska threatens to stop building modular tower unless Forest City pays cost overruns. Skanska shuts down factory.

Mayor de Blasio leads a pep rally aimed to convince the Democratic National Committee to hold the 2016 presidential nominating convention at the Barclays Center. (Philadelphia is chosen.)

September 2014

Forest City, Skanska file dueling lawsuits over modular tower.

October 2014

Brooklyn Nets’ visit to China helps Greenland Forest City Partners raise $100 million more in EB-5 funds, in “Atlantic Yards III,” again with U.S. Immigration Fund/NY Regional Center.

November 2014

Forest City buys out Skanska’s stake in modular tower, aims to restart construction.

December 2014

Groundbreaking for 535 Carlton, “100 percent affordable,” and 550 Vanderbilt, a condo building, both designed by CookFox.

2015-2018: Initial Construction, Forest City Stall, Upheaval, and Exit, New Nets Owner

February 2015

Forest City says it faces a $146 million impairment (loss in value) on modular tower.

Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC) finally begins its quarterly meetings, though initial members include signatories of the Community Benefits Agreement. The executive director is Tobi Jaiyesimi, who has no real-estate experience, as originally requested.

June 2015

Forest City unveils the design of the project open space, with master plan by new landscape architect Thomas Balsley.

August 2015

State documents reveal leaks and mold in modular tower.

September 2015

Greenland Forest City unveils plans for 615 Dean Street (B12), designed by KPF, but tower does not launch.

ESDC says it has begun the final condemnations, of Modell’s and P.C. Richard at Site 5, but the latter stalls the action in court.

October 2015

New York Islanders start play at Barclays Center. An off-center scoreboard, limited-view seats, and disrespect for the team's traditions, plus an awkward commute, provoke fans' ire.

December 2015

Greenland Forest City announces plans for 664 Pacific (B15), a tower that would include a middle school, designed by Marvel Architects, but the building does not start. (It will later be 662 Pacific.)

January 2016

Forest City closes sale of its remaining interest in the Nets and the arena to Prokhorov, with an implied value of $875 million for the Nets and $825 million for the arena.

Forest City Enterprises becomes a dividend-paying real estate investment trust (REIT), focusing on operations rather than development, and changes its name to Forest City Realty Trust.

February 2016

Greenland Forest City reveals plans to build giant office tower at Site 5, once it gets ESDC to transfer the development rights from the B1 tower (“Miss Brooklyn”) once slated for the arena plaza.

April 2016

Jaiyesimi, executive director of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation, becomes ESDC’s Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Project Director, thus essentially advising herself.

Greenland Forest City announces plan to market three sites (B4, B12, B13) to outside investors.

July 2016

The Real Deal reports that Forest City Ratner has lost 20 percent of its employees, to layoffs or departures.

August 2016

ESDC/BALDC approves refinancing of the arena bonds, saving arena operator Prokhorov $90 million, thanks to lower interest rates.

October 2016

Forest City sells the modular factory to former executive Roger Krulak’s firm, Full Stack Modular, perhaps at a fire sale.

November 2016

Modular tower 461 Dean finally opens, after nearly four years rather than two.

Forest City announces losses on Pacific Park, says it has stalled new vertical construction on Pacific Park, citing glut of rental housing, rising construction cost, and uncertainties regarding 421-a tax break. Greenland does not comment.

Hedge funds pressure Forest City Realty Trust to reform its dual class share structure and its family-controlled board, based in part on losses from Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park.

December 2016

Forest City Realty Trust agrees to a single-class share structure and a board majority of non-family members.

March 2017

Forest City Ratner becomes Forest City New York.

April 2017

Nassau Coliseum reopens, as "NYCB LIVE, home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum Presented By New York Community Bank.” It has no anchor tenant, despite previous pledges to bring a minor league hockey team.

In the housing lottery for 535 Carlton, I find a huge mismatch between the small number of applicants for middle-income units and the enormous number of applicants for low-income units.

Less than two blocks northwest of the arena plaza, developer Alloy announces plans for giant 80 Flatbush project, which is eventually approved with only minor reductions.

June 2017

Grand opening for "100% affordable" 535 Carlton, partly scripted by the developer.

July 2017

Greenland Forest City gets new broker, Nest Seekers International, to sell condos at 550 Vanderbilt, after a sales slowdown.

Three sites (B4, B12, B13) no longer being marketed to outside investors.

September 2017

Forest City Realty Trust announces strategic review to increase shareholder value, which could include a merger or sales of specific assets.

October 2017

Unable to fill middle-income units at 535 Carlton (and 461 Dean), Greenland Forest City is forced to open marketing beyond the official housing lottery.

Joseph Tsai, a Taiwanese-Canadian billionaire who made his fortune as co-founder of the Chinese company Alibaba, agrees to buy 49 percent of the Nets, and then buy the rest in four years, at a valuation of $2.3 billion. It's a big payday for Prokhorov.

November 2017

Forest City says it will sell the modular building, 461 Dean.

December 2017

The Islanders-Barclays deal has an opt-out clause. Islanders win bid to construct new arena at Belmont Park; it should open in 2021. Barclays Center, whose operators also operate the Nassau Coliseum, push for the Islanders to play all their games during the interim in Nassau.

January 2018

Forest City announces it will sell all but 5% of the project going forward to Greenland USA. It will retain its 30% of the three towers built by the joint venture.

CEO MaryAnne Gilmartin leaves Forest City to co-found new firm, L&L MAG, with two new deputies, aiming to pursue development.

Forest City New York has third round of layoffs.

Gov. Cuomo announces Islanders will split next three seasons at Nassau Coliseum and Barclays Center, and offers $6 million in state funds to upgrade the Coliseum for hockey.

Developer Hope Street Capital announces 550 Clinton, 312-foot tower catercorner to northeast corner of Atlantic Yards site.

March 2018

Forest City sells 461 Dean to Principal Global Investors.

Forest City Realty Trust announces it has decided against selling the company, but it will revamp its board, with 9 of 13 board members being replaced. The extended Ratner family will have only two board designees, not four.

May 2018

First retail tenants at 550 Vanderbilt announced.

June 2018

No price announced for Forest City/Greenland deal, as it closes.

August 2018

Forest City Realty Trust board agrees narrowly to be acquired by Brookfield, subject to shareholder vote.

Renters at 535 Carlton can get two months free.

Developer admits Pacific Park should take until 2035.

September 2018

Drama and dissent at Forest City's board revealed over Brookfield deal.

New development partners, TF Cornerstone and the Brodsky Organization, will lease development rights at three sites: B12, B13, and B15.

October 2018

A reality TV show starring broker Ryan Serhant, Million Dollar Listing, distorts the story of 550 Vanderbilt.

Key member of founding Ratner family opposes Forest City's acquisition by Brookfield.

Two signs of change at the Brooklyn Paper: a pink cover, and a "Brownstoner corner." The loss of an editor and more Schneps-i-fication.

November 2018

Forest City Realty Trust shareholders, by significant margin, approve acquisition by Brookfield. It will be the end of a standalone company founded in 1920.

December 2018

New York's bid for Amazon's #HQ2 in Brooklyn offered two Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park sites, B4 and Site 5, plus towers over Atlantic Center mall. Instead, Amazon chose to split its new campus between Virginia and Long Island City, before backing out of the latter.

My article details a claimed 20% off "flash sale" at 550 Vanderbilt.

New York Magazine's Justin Davidson, writing on potential development at Sunnyside Yard, suggests that the "perpetually troubled" Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park "offers another case study in what to avoid."

2019-2021: New Developers Enter, Middle-Income Focus, Railyard Platform Delayed

January 2019

NewYork-Presbyterian opens health center at 38 Sixth, but it doesn't really fulfill the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement, which indicated the health center was supposed to help the needy

Briefly, some middle-income units at "affordable" 535 Carlton come with three months free rent as a concession. One resident says she's happy, though not getting a great bargain.

February 2019

Where a substance abuse treatment program operated on Flatbush, now Brooklyn's first medical marijuana dispensary.

The Islanders will play home games for the playoffs' first round at the Nassau Coliseum, but any further home games will be played at Barclays Center, "reflecting that the Nassau Coliseum does not qualify as an NHL major league facility."

In a victory for P.C. Richard and a delay for a planned tower complex at Site 5, a state judge rebukes original project developer Forest City Ratner, saying it reneged on a promise to provide the retailer replacement space at the site.

March 2019

With 25% affordability (at least) in four buildings starting in 2019 and 2020, still a heavy lift needed to meet May 2025 deadline of 2,250 total units.

Atlantic Yards CDC doesn't get chance to hire its own consultants on project changes, as per 2018 proposal. Advisory body can't get updated building-by-building timetable.

April 2019

My article in City Limits, Ever-Shifting Pacific Park Plan Highlights Uncertainty of Big Development Schemes, cites an unconfirmed plan to meet the affordable housing deadline with a "100% affordable" tower.

While Greenland is the majority shareholder, The Brodsky Organization “bought a significant piece and will manage development” of 18 Sixth Avenue, according to Greenland.

May 2019

Third act: Bruce Ratner as "developer and philanthropist," catalyzing major Holocaust exhibition at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. Ball for Brooklyn: Barclays Center is site of Brooklyn library gala, where arena is honored; Ratner and BPL's Linda Johnson buy a Pierhouse condo. (They later marry.)

Greenland USA executive says Vanderbilt Yard upgrade exceeds $200 million, as do projected platform costs.

June 2019

Three state legislators from Brooklyn write a forceful letter to state economic development chief Howard Zemsky, asking him to explain how Pacific Park will deliver the required 2,250 affordable units by the approaching deadline of May 2025. No answer.

At Fifth Avenue and Dean Street near the arena, a one-time location for accountants will be home to Insomnia Cookies.

For B12 and B13, a big boost in unit count planned: from 542 apartments to 800, which means smaller units.

461 Dean, with new owners, no longer promotes Pacific Park, but offers astoundingly whimsical Brooklyn map.

July 2019

In dramatic fashion, Brooklyn Nets re-set NYC basketball fandom, signing stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. (Was the accessible practice facility a factor?) It represents a new step in player empowerment.

Surprise! ESD will allow 96,000 square feet new below-grade space for a fitness center and field house under the B12 and B13 tower, calling it recreational space, replacing parking. Parking cut from 1,200 spaces to 1,000 provokes skepticism.

Instead of secured, indoor bike parking to serve Barclays Center attendees, new plan to add 56 outdoor, unsecured spaces to arena plaza, plus count existing 44 spaces at mall across the street.

August 2019

In The City, officials express doubts that affordable housing timetable will be met. I think it's possible, but more transparency is needed.

At Vanderbilt and Atlantic avenues, McDonald’s lot opposite Pacific Park flank eyed for high-rise; expected spot rezoning might exceed Community Board 8's still-significant broader plan.

Unusual Atlantic Yards CDC deadlock: board unwilling to recommend that parent ESD vote for (or against) new underground space. Is proposed below-ground "recreational" space really a swap for parking, as ESD claims? No way. ESD board predictably approves new space.

Tsai buys Nets, Barclays Center operating company, in faster-than-expected transaction. Arena CEO Brett Yormark leaves. Slate's Ben Mathis-Lilly suggests Prokhorov did "almost nothing" to increase the value of the Nets franchise, while the state and city governments deserve some of the upside.

So, Greenland USA's parent company has $550 million in unpaid notes. Cash crunch could constrain Pacific Park ambitions (and raise timetable questions). Wall Street Journal says it's time to sell newly hamstrung, debt-burdened Greenland.

September 2019

Construction on two sides of Sixth Avenue, medical facility drop-offs, and scofflaw parking cause continued pedestrian safety issues.

School Construction Authority surprise: middle school at B15 tower won't open until 2023, will house 800 students (not 640). Middle-school classes have more students.

In railyard, how far along is the platform? Some preliminary work is done, but the state either doesn't know or won't offer an assessment.

October 2019

State document from 2018 offers new hint of affordability strategy: towers over railyard with 50% affordable units. No confirmation, no info on Site 5.

Before public meeting, Greenland tells New York Post it will start railyard platform in 2020. That makes 2025 affordable goal more plausible, but doubts remain.

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park seems to be at an inflection point, presenters at a BrooklynSpeaks forum say, and that should offer leverage for improvements in public benefits and public oversight.

The Schneps-ification of local media continues, as Brooklyn Paper owner buys amNewYork, free commuter paper. Gothamist offers a sobering look at Schneps, which buys the free commuter Metro to consolidate it with amNew York.

As big-ticket apartment prices drop, given larger state transfer tax, price cuts for Pacific Park condos.

In NBA firestorm over China, sparked by Houston GM's "Stand with Hong Kong" retweet, a reminder of the bottom line; Nets owner Tsai backs regime.

Barclays Center will get new (Tsai-owned) tenant: WNBA's New York Liberty, with at least 17 home games.

Brett Yormark joins twin Michael at Jay-Z's Roc Nation.

November 2019

New Nets/arena CEO David Levy claims Barclays Center will be active 285 days/year. But last 12 months had 146 ticketed events. Levy departs after two months, with enigmatic statement.

Revealed: NYC's "agreed-upon discounts" for city properties and streets within Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park means $2.3 million valuation for five parcels.

Is Pacific Park really on “fast track”? First phase of new platform, document I acquire reveals, should take three years. That squeezes affordable housing timetable.

Construction at Site 5, catercorner to arena, possibly on horizon after agreement with P.C. Richard enables state to re-launch eminent domain, so it says.

Parking garages on project's southeast block were once to have three entrances. Now one entrance to serve 758 spaces.

B12 & B13 design from Handel Architects reflects brick and masonry, with one shared lobby (?) and underground connection. Open space on southeast block shifts quarter-acre lawn to center, between mostly market-rate towers. Is a homage (!) to demolished Ward Bakery planned?

Curbed calls Barclays Center among NYC’s 10 most important buildings of the past decade.

December 2019

Documents show design of B6 and B7 towers shifted toward Atlantic Avenue from Pacific Street, given use of "bump" for residential cellars. Otherwise, the platform would not allow cellars.

Stalled Triangle Sports building across from arena sells for $7 million; any profit tempered by seven years of stasis.

Gilmartin's firm leaves alliance with L&L, will now be MAG Partners. Is that success, or spin?

Forbes: vault in Nets' value over the past decade is 773%, second only to that of the Warriors.

January 2020

The first group of EB-5 investors in Atlantic Yards has been repaid.

Yes, more Nets live in Brooklyn (and shop at Whole Foods).

Revealed: developer, at least according to one document, plans first three towers over railyard as "50% affordable." To meet housing deadline, that would be major challenge. So maybe one will be 100% affordable.

B12/B13 towers now said to start in spring; platform said to start sometime this year.

February 2020

Second look: the flaw in the traffic/parking analysis was to focus on Nets games rather than smaller events drawing more vehicles.

As Forbes ranks Brooklyn Nets #7 in NBA value, team operating income ranks #25 and revenue/fan #29.

Slogans change: from a "diverse neighborhood" with a school and park to "urban oasis in the center of Brooklyn" (and no longer "A Vision for Downtown Brooklyn").

Venue operators (including Barclays) must be wary, as coronavirus concerns could lead to "canceling mass gatherings."

March 2020

The end of Isles' hockey at Barclays: team returning full-time to Nassau Coliseum next year and for playoffs.

Greenland says it's "close to being ready" to announce progress on first phase of platform.

Uncharted territory: NBA suspends season and college tournament at Barclays canceled, due to coronavirus. Arena hourly employees will be paid through May (and ultimately through the year).

Site 5 is delayed, as P.C. Richard protests state condemnation claim, saying it wants issue of replacement space resolved first.

Gov. Cuomo shuts down construction, but leaves big exceptions, notably buildings with 20% or more affordable housing. Still, work at B4 and B15 shuts down temporarily, out of caution.

April 2020

New York State gets 2,000 ventilators donated, thanks to Nets owner Tsai, helped by Alibaba co-founder and Chinese government.

May 2020

Permits are filed for the B5 tower, the first (of six) expected over the Vanderbilt Yard, but that doesn't mean they'll get approved--it's a long process.

The centrally-located Barclays Center, with its privately managed, publicly accessible plaza, becomes the locus of protests against police brutality, after the police killing of George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis.

June 2020

After ten days of protests against police brutality, and periodic criticism from protesters (plus some praise), the Barclays Center finally tamps down the incessant commercialism blaring from the oculus.

The first virtual Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life meeting is not very transparent. 

The after-hours permits have been sought to enable staggered start times and fewer workers at the same time.

My essay about the Barclays Center: "Brooklyn’s Accidental New Town Square." A New York Times article covers some of the same ground, less skeptically.

Upending the future of the New York Islanders, the Nassau Coliseum, already mothballed because of the coronavirus pandemic, will close indefinitely as arena operator Onexim Sports and Entertainment, which leases the building from Nassau County, has decided to get out of the business.

After five-and-a-half years of legal jousting over the ill-fated Brooklyn tower once said to revolutionize modular construction, Forest City Ratner Companies and Skanska USA Building settle their three lawsuits.

July 2020

How a quote from Angela Davis wound up on the arena plaza, at a transit entrance controlled by arena operators. Except maybe it isn't her quote.

The NBA season will restart in a "bubble" in Orlando.

Asked about the demise of the program identifying project workers by sticker, introduced after instances of harassment, Greeland's Solish says there were once six companies, now just two. Neighbors, though, are nervous, and ESD's project monitors don't track worker compliance with masks and social distancing.

The first virtual meeting of the advisory Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation is very low key.

August 2020

Was the Brooklyn Nets sale really a record? Documents shared with investors in the Barclays Center construction bonds suggest a less impressive bottom line: the deal involved Prokhorov immediately giving up $345 million, which later translated into a Tsai rebate of about $300 million.

Construction of the long-awaited platform over the first block of the Vanderbilt Yard, necessary for the construction of three towers, "will commence" in the second half of the year, according to a memo that from Greenland USA--though it's not accurate.

As teams strike for racial justice, the NBA at a crossroads. The league pledges $300 million, or $1 million per team over ten years. Separately, Joe and Clara Wu Tsai, whose BSE Global owns/operates the Brooklyn Nets, New York Liberty, and Barclays Center, pledge "$50 million over 10 years for social justice initiatives and community investments that will benefit the BIPOC (especially Black) community, with a priority on Brooklyn." 

September 2020

The Barclays Center will be a polling site for the election.

In an Urban Omnibus essay, a protest organizer says Barclays Center "was totally appropriated for the protests."

October 2020

Developer Greenland Forest City Partners and state have gained crucial momentum, with permission to start the approval process at Site 5, to modify the guiding General Project Plan and allow that shift of bulk, even as legal jousting with P.C. Richard continues.

The lack of senior housing in Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park is glaring, as HPD plans for at least 80 units of affordable senior housing nearby on an underutilized city-owned site, 542 Dean Street, and unspecified plans for "another population in need" at a similar city-owned site, 516 Bergen Street. An online kickoff meeting is contentious.

November 2020

I still find it stunning that, for at least four years, the developers of the 550 Vanderbilt condo building have, on their website, been implying that "Pacific Park" is somehow complete. How exactly is this marketing permissible?

Though there no announced plan for Site 5, there's an AKRF contract to "Continue to provide technical memorandum to support GPP [General Project Plan] modification for Atlantic Yards."

The chances of delivering all 2,250 units of required affordable housing in the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park project by the May 31, 2025 deadline seem more questionable--though not impossible--given predictions in a recently produced document and the lack of announced progress on a required platform. 

At meeting, few answers to the big questions around the project's fate, but there was solicitousness and evasiveness toward neighbors--working from home--experiencing construction noise and vibrations over very long days. Downplayed: a spreadsheet of 17 reports from neighbors about loud, intrusive construction--some after-hours--that disturbs people's sleep and compromises their pandemic-constrained lives, including work and school from home.

December 2020

The schedule creep continues, and the middle school at B15 is now due in March 2024.

The B4 tower, 18 Sixth Avenue, has topped out. Photo also shows new digital signage for the arena.

Community Board 8 is wary toward the proposed 18-story tower at  site across Vanderbilt Avenue from Atlantic Yards, now mostly occupied by McDonalds.

Greenland USA says it has a contractor to build the first of two platforms over the Vanderbilt Yard, but has no start date.

Representatives of Empire State Development and the developer play down the impacts of construction, reported by neighbors as disruptive to work and school from home. ESD still circulates misleading two-week Construction Updates. 

The Barclays Center is said to tone down newly bright signage from a new media facade.

As the Brooklyn Nets, clearly superior to the Knicks, contend for NBA supremacy, they dominate the tabloid back pages. 

January 2021
Winning the back pages

In latest six-month look-ahead, developer hedged, telling state officials it may start first phase of platform this year. Didn't happen.

School Construction Authority update: middle-school due September 2024 (not March). 

Nets gain superstar guard James Harden from Houston, pay heavy price. They mortgaged the future because it's a business, of course. With Harden debut, Nets dominate back pages.

So, what exactly should those facing after-hours construction do? Well, ESD says, send email, which won't get a prompt response. 

February 2021

As sports betting approval looms in the NYS Legislature, the Barclays Center is lobbying.

Developer said, "We do believe that the two-week look-aheads are very accurate." Not true. ESD's two-week Construction Updates consistently misreport the actual scope of After-Hours Variances.

How did the middleman for the Nassau Coliseum EB-5 loan get control of the lease--and a $7 million payment? In routine vote, Nassau County approves amendments to support Coliseum reopening. Legislators don't get it.

A reminder on health & safety
New document confirms Barclays Center's brutal pandemic: $24.6 million loss in second half of 2020. The Barclays Center, seemingly successful, saw its bonds go to "junk."

Gov. Cuomo says venues can reopen, at 10% capacity. Barclays Center introduces new safety protocols. 

Office space glut in Brooklyn likely casts further clouds on plans for office project at Site 5.

March 2021

"The Cuomo Way": bullying, micromanaging, and loyalty above all. As allegations mount, elite opinion shifts, and tabloids pile on. Damning reports about Cuomo's "culture of fear, harassment, and intimidation."

Coming sooner than you think: June 2022 deadline to start buildings under current tax break (which might expire), to meet May 2025 project requirements. At brief meeting of advisory Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation, talk of a potential legislative “fix”--extension of tax break and/or deadline?

ESD says "no formal permission granted for parking along Atlantic Avenue" outside Barclays. Which means... informal permission?

With oft-faulty, privately maintained MTA elevator at arena plaza, why can't arena company offer real-time updates?

A 535 Carlton neighbor's lament about excessive dust: "there is no community liaison." When I call, the machine said "message quota exceeded."
The arena block towers from Flatbush & Bergen

From BklynerWill All 258 “Affordable” Units at Largest Pacific Park Tower Go to the Better-Off? The developer won't say, but the answer is yes.

Views of the four towers at or near the arena block (and the likely temptations of underbuilt Flatbush Avenue sites).

April 2021

From Bklyner: "Developers Propose Two 17-Story Towers in Prospect Heights/Crown Heights. CB 8 Says Whoa, Gets Backing From Cumbo." (But not quite, in the end.)

The Triangle Building gets a Harden mural. Still no tenants, though.

May 2021

Oculus + digital signage + new transit wrap
Still three months free for middle-income units at "100% affordable" buildings 535 Carlton and 38 Sixth.

Monetizing the arena plaza and transit entrance: new canvas for advertising, never forecasted (nor, apparently, disallowed), beyond the oculus.

If annual naming rights to UBS Arena at Belmont cost $15 million-plus, the $10 million Barclays deal seems a bargain. Will it be reopened? (Would public get a slice?) What about transit hub?

Plank Road (official)
NY Post: owner of Nets/arena operating company will renegotiate Barclays naming rights, uniform patch, Geico entrance. Tsai says neither side is "looking to change" arena name. Stay tuned.

Welcome to Plank Road, the new name for 662 Pacific Street. The web site offers no info on affordability, doesn't mention "Pacific Park."

The Barclays Center team store spreads out along Flatbush Ave. and changes its name: from "Nets Shop by Adidas" to "Swag Shop" to (briefly) "Brooklyn Style." 

No "accidental town square" on night of George Floyd anniversary protest, Barclays Center was in playoff (business) mode, with protest shunted across the street. New commercial signage activated at plaza and on Flatbush Avenue.

June 2021

From the NYT Magazine: a Kevin Durant profile, a salute to "(Possibly) the Greatest Basketball Team of All Time" (nah), and some gaps. The second round of playoffs await.

As Nets draw playoff crowds, pre-game traffic jams around parking garages prompt gridlock, honking in residential district. For the playoffs, Barclays Center features new Flatbush Ave. entrance (at former team store), more of plaza cordoned off. 

Nets lose in overtime to Bucks, capping disappointing but landmark season: an unpublicized watch party on arena plaza.

From City Limits: mayoral candidate (and former Bloomberg official) Shaun Donovan praises Atlantic Yards (otherwise absent from campaign), but... it's no model housing partnership. "Atlantic Yards down the memory hole," again.

In the 35th District, Crystal Hudson and Michael Hollingsworth face off, amid questions about development (including Prospect Heights) and the future of member deference. Neither embrace Atlantic Yards.

Tsais' Social Justice Fund offering $2.5M in loans to Brooklyn small businesses owned by BIPOC;, the Atlantic Yards CBA once promised small business loans. Another spoon-fed "sports" story in the Daily News, from a beat writer.

From NY Daily News Sports
July 2021

Updated ranked choice voting results: Adams narrowly wins Democratic nod for mayor; Antonio Reynoso for Brooklyn BP; Hudson in 35th; Lincoln Restler,  Chi Ossé, Shahana Hanif in nearby districts. 

Coming: Walgreens
Largest available "flagship" retail space near Barclays Center finally will get (ground-floor) tenant: Walgreens, not a food/drink emporium. 

On Dean Street across from B12/B13 construction site, a disruptive air horn blasts frequently; ten blasts in 15 minutes.

Welcome to "Brooklyn Crossing," new branding for 18 Sixth Ave., avoiding mention of Pacific Park. 

Latest six-month look-ahead for project maintains fuzzy prediction: "Platform construction may commence." 

Mayor-in-waiting Adams' Inner Circle includes power lawyer Frank Carone and Rev. Herbert Daughtry, both with Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park connections.

The Nets build their image with a smartphone donation, but, to quote author Matt Sullivan, have a "Kremlin-esque wall" around more dubious practices, part of letting superstars like Irving and Durant have their way.

August 2021

As 421-a tax break faces June 2022 sunset, the real-estate industry is unsettled. Would departure of embattled Cuomo affect legislative "fix" to enable Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park housing obligation?

Cuomo's resignation, under pressure, means Gov. Kathy Hochul, with question marks regarding 2022 race and potential changes from the top. Incoming: a pragmatic Gov. Hochul, promising transparency. Real-estate firms are optimistic. But a "gross concentration of power" disserves the public.

With departure of ESD head Cohen (also Chair of advisory Atlantic Yards CDC), a chance for Gov. Hochul to shape Atlantic Yards? Not just affordable housing, but accountability. (Not yet.)

Newsday finally (too gently) looks into EB-5 middleman Nick Mastroianni, of the U.S. Immigration Fund.

Greenland, from Forbes
Greenland Holding Group, parent of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park master developer, continues rise (to 142) in Fortune Global 500. But a setback in the Forbes Global 2000 ranking, which uses broader metrics than Fortune.

Greenland, with significant debts, still rated junk, and stock dips. But one ratings agency suggests a positive outlook.

Taking over the Flatbush flank, digitally
Goodbye Brooklyn Style, enter Brooklyn Fanatics: growing digital sports company Fanatics taking over Nets' e-commerce & arena store along Flatbush Ave.

Announcing Barclays Center's incentive for (needed) workers to get vaccinated, de Blasio salutes arena as "incredible success" and predicts "great parade" next year for the team "they gave us."

As Barclays Center--for the first time since debut--advertises significant job openings, a $25,000 prize for vaccinated workers. 

In 2013, incoming Mayor de Blasio said of Atlantic Yards, "On my watch, [the affordable housing] will happen." It's not close to complete (or at income levels promised). Now what?

Plank Road marketing ramps up: high rents, no 3-BR units (or, yet, affordable listings). Dubious claim of views thanks to "lack of competition for high-rise buildings." WTF!

September 2021

From City & State's New York State Top 50 Lobbyists 2021: a big win for mobile sports betting (and the Brooklyn Nets' lobbyists).

Making the plaza for MTV
Preparing for the MTV Video Music Awards, Barclays Center cordons off much of the plaza; Triangle Building now advertising Snapchat. VMAs rely on shutdown of plaza, adjacent streets and sidewalks.lks

In reversal encouraged by Cumbo, Community Board 8 committee endorses developer's 10% cut in proposed 840 Atlantic tower, gaining commitment for lower-income units. Though full board refuses to endorse compromise, revised plan embraced by Cumbo, passed by Council.

Recapping Eric Adams' record on Atlantic Yards: from wariness, fence-sitting, and faux outrage to enthusiastic support (plus some $ from the arena).

Lakers' new jersey patch sponsorship and Clippers' new arena partner suggest revenue opportunities for the Brooklyn Nets.

Brewing crisis with huge Chinese property developer Evergrande casts cloud over real-estate giants, including Greenland, parent of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park master developer. That delayed platform over the Vanderbilt Yard reminds us of a company "exposed to one of the world’s most volatile economies."

Greenland says it's "fully committed and resourced to complete Pacific Park Brooklyn" and it's "unaffected by unrelated corporations around the world," but... its plans are still fuzzy.

Report: vaccine-resistant Nets' star Irving runs afoul of NYC rule, meaning he'll miss home games. Nets, prizing continuity and finally standing up to star Irving, won't let him play part-time (or practice), and will eat part of his salary.

No progress without profit: in Can't Knock the Hustle, author Sullivan 
chronicles transformed 2019-20 Brooklyn Nets, including protest, pandemic & player empowerment. Close reading provokes some Atlantic Yards quibbles.

At 662 Pacific St. (Plank Road), new discounts on available market-rate units.

October 2021

Stay lifted on condemnation of P.C. Richard suggests movement on plans to shift bulk from unbuilt "Miss Brooklyn" across Flatbush Ave. to enable larger towers. Then settlement unlocks that process

On Flatbush Ave. opposite Barclays Center & next to busy take-out restaurants, NYPD's temporary corral deters double-parking & accommodates delivery bikes.

"You/We belong here." New neon artwork planned for Barclays Center subway entrance. But commerce wins, and philanthropy doesn't make up for unfulfilled Atlantic Yards promises.
Advertising Basquiat

Neon artwork will be lit 6 am-midnight, for 3+ years. No Department of Buildings permit needed. Even the artist behind "You/We belong here" recognizes the phraseology's ironies. Beyond question of belonging, it's a governmental gift of new promotional space.

Advertising signage for Warhol painting of Basquiat (briefly?) replaces CBRE ads wrapping transit entrance, only recently deployed for ads.

"Chaos at Barclays." Before Nets' home opener, "Stand with Kyrie" protesters storm arena doors, causing brief closure. Long lines delay ticketholders into Q2.

No "chaos" at Barclays Center for second Brooklyn Nets home game; plaza still cordoned off during day. SeatGeek Plaza at Barclays Center still mostly cordoned off (on non-game day).

Barclays Center operating company, after deep losses in FY 2021, relies on $52 million from billionaire Tsai to pay the bills, and debts. (But he'll do fine.) How big are tax deductions for Tsai from (mostly questionable) losses on Barclays Center operating company? My guess: very big.

Forbes: thanks to patch deal and rising NBA tide, Nets/arena company leaping ahead--and now worth $3.2B, about what Tsai paid. Still 7th in league.

November 2021

At Empire State Development, new board chair from Long Island and CEO from Queens, both with real-estate backgrounds.

At arena during Election Day, Gov. Hochul and Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin announce new vaccine incentive, with free Nets/events tickets, don custom jerseys.

Ratings agency Moody's: Barclays Center has "strong recovery prospects," given pent-up demand, though chance remains for another COVID hit.

Now 662 Pacific St. (aka Plank Road) is open, offering two months free on 16-month leases. Still waiting for affordable housing lottery.

Housing lottery opens for 662 Pacific St. (Plank Road, or B15); middle-income (130% of AMI) but wide range & below-max rent (studios $1,537), though still not aimed at neediest.

No more 50% preference for locals; it's not required for units solely funded via the Affordable New York tax break. Oh well. No three-bedroom apartments. So much for 50% of floor area devoted to family-sized units, as originally promised.

The impact of delay: 622 Pacific got its Temporary Certificate of Occupancy Oct. 14. The Housing Lottery won't close until Jan. 18. Then comes processing. The Citizens Housing and Planning Council says the city should do better.

As with 662 Pacific, "affordable" units at 18 Sixth will be aimed at middle-class, 130% of AMI, but with discounts that recognize market realities. (No one wants a $2,263 "affordable" studio.)

Rising baseline: new middle-income apartments at 130% of Area Median Income can house those earning more than those earning 165% of AMI four years ago.

Big changes in Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park affordable housing. The promise, and (partial?) removal, of community preference. More middle-income units than promised. A glaring lack of disclosure. Projections vs. reality: middle-income emphasis means Atlantic Yards off-track to meet promised allocation of low- and moderate-income affordable apartments.

Waiting for Times Plaza open space
Unresolved and lingering: what happened to the promised Times Plaza open space?

Goodbye, Barclays Center? After $35 million/year arena naming rights deal in Los Angeles, a new/renegotiated deal in Brooklyn seems inevitable.

When protest at Barclays Center coincided with Brooklyn Nets home game, the crowd was small enough to fit on truncated plaza space.

Barclays Center says, yes, it's cordoning off the plaza regularly. Atlantic Ave. parking on game days. The Nets logo on Dean Street didn't require permission. Curious.

Competence and transparency: when developer fails to disclose additional time for after-hours work, state authority ESD should catch that.

December 2021
From The Indypendent

With first of three penthouses sold, at ≈15% discount off initial price, 550 Vanderbilt approaches sell-through; building's huge 421-a discount could save owners $50 million.

Art or Advertising? The Contradictions of “You/We Belong Here” Neon Signage at Barclays Center (from The Indypendent). More on the art/advertising installation: scenes from "Block Party," video of speeches by pols, artist, sponsor.

A.MANO on Dean, at Carlton
Looking at the AY CDC's troubling record of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation: some useful info but more stonewalling (and rubber-stamping); fitful schedule; lack of transparency.

At AY CDC, developer claims no knowledge of school timing (now it’s 2025!); blinkered ESD claims project on track to meet affordable housing deadline (very unlikely).

B12/B13 top out

Now open: Wonderforest Nature Preschool at 38 Sixth; home décor, jewelry and gift shop A.MANO Brooklyn (formerly Cain Sloan) at 535 Carlton (with Dean St. address).

Boosting Brooklyn Nets' attendance, three games (9,000 total tickets) of freebies to New York City employees.

CityLab: advocates suggest changes on Atlantic Avenue at Flatbush intersection and at Vanderbilt. But can bottleneck near arena be avoided?

At Brooklyn Crossing (B4, flanking arena), first five market-rate units listed; prices comparable to Plank Road; middle-income "affordable" lottery awaits.

Coming on Fourth Ave. between Dean and Pacific, a block from Site 5: a 16-story building.

After losing players to COVID protocols and seen stars overloaded, Nets--shockingly--reverse policy and welcome Irving back, for away games. He immediately tests positive. Nets cancel three games as league flounders to maintain revenue amid Omicron surge.

The Strokes postpone New Year's Eve concert at Barclays.

After 15 weeks, ESD issues notes from a Quality of Life meeting. No updates on key issues, though a Q&A explains why"affordable" units at 662 Pacific are being rented at a discount from the allowable rents: "to reflect current market conditions and the needs in the area." 

2022--Platform Pending

January 2022

BrooklynSpeaks begans "Brooklyn Crossroads" campaign to influence the project's future, notably arguing for affordable housing commitments if the developer gets to transfer bulk to Site 5.

The future of Site 5 remains in question, as is the market for office space.

February 2022

BrooklynSpeaks proposes a new entity to manage the project; advocacy planner Ron Shiffman suggests the public should take over the project if the developer is bailed out.

Yes, developers benefiting from the 421-a tax break disproportionately chose the option of 130% of AMI, because that's most lucrative.

March 2022

The Barclays Center is still struggling financially, but bond ratings agency Moody's affirms the Ba1 (highest notch of junk) rating, with the outlook now stable, rather than negative.

Is the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park middle school due in 2024, as a state official suggests? No, it's 2025.

According to the New York City Department of City Planning, Atlantic Avenue and Fourth Avenue are Brooklyn's two "Opportunity Corridors," boulevards that, given access to transit and wide streets, can accommodate far more density in a growing borough. Hence the spate of encouraged development.

April 2022

The first two private rezonings in the M-CROWN area, including 1010 Pacific and 1050 Pacific, are cautionary tales, given that the proponents made empty promises--and then sold at a huge profit. The latter building was once promised to contain only two-bedroom apartments.

After a last-minute negotiation, Council Member Hudson announces a deal for two 17-story towers along Atlantic Avenue at the scale requested, having secured significantly more affordable housing—35%, or 153 units—plus a combined $200,000 to fund anti-displacement services.

"Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai is the face of NBA's uneasy China relationship," reports ESPN, producing some damning details about Tsai's relationship with, and defense of, the Chinese regime, so crucial to league profits.

Nearly seven years after the 550 Vanderbilt condo building launched pre-sales for the 277 apartments (plus a super's unit), developer Greenland Forest City Partners is nearly at a sellthrough, thanks to the sale of the most expensive listed apartment--for $6.7 million, a 13.2% discount--plus one of the other two remaining units.

The playoffs were brief
For the NBA playoffs, a promotion tagged as "NetsLevel." But the team is swept by the Boston Celtics.

Area Median Income (AMI), the baseline calculation from which to calculate income and rent levels for "affordable housing," has risen dramatically, combined with a disproportionate increase in rent levels for both middle-income studios and an array of low-income units.

May 2022

The platform over the Vanderbilt Yard  should start in June, says Greenland's Scott Solish, pending LIRR and Department of Buildings approvals. The first phase should take three years, which means projected completion in mid-2025. B5 won't go vertical until Spring 2023. The two adjacent buildings rely on the renewal or replacement of the 421-a tax break.

Construction fences for Block 1120, that first railyard block, should truncate the streets around it for years. Unaddressed: the affordable housing deadline.

Atlantic Yards and the problem of time: rise in (regional) Area Median Income means "low-income" two-bedroom apartments could now rent for $1,500.

Avanath cites the "Pacific Heights" neighborhood
Greenland Forest City Partners has sold leases to two "100% affordable" towers, 535 Carlton Ave. (B14) and 38 Sixth Ave. (B3), to Avanath Capital Management, which unwisely dubbed them Barclays I and Barclays II and claims, erroneously, they're within "Brooklyn's desirable Pacific Heights neighborhood."

Avanath claims in its press release that the buildings include "market-rate residential and commercial units." It looks like GFCP sold at a loss.

June 2022
Beginning of plaza truncation

Chinese parent of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park developer, damaged by ambitious development plans and COVID lockdowns, faces default risk. 

S&P says it views the Greenland Holding Group's (aka Greenland Holdings) one-year extension of payment for nearly $500 million in notes "as a distressed debt restructuring tantamount to a default." Then S&P upgrades Greenland.

Barclays Center says the plaza will be closed in stages for work to upgrade the pavers and light fixtures. 

Mayor Adams touts "City of Yes," says it's time to build more.

A plan for railyard work.
An Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park update before an AY CDC meeting offers new schematics for the site of B5, 700 Atlantic Ave., the first tower (of six) over the MTA's Vanderbilt Yard.

For the first time, a representative of GFCP essentially admits the obvious: they have no plan to meet the May 31, 2025 deadline to deliver the required 2,250 units of affordable housing. Will they get an extension? 

ESD brushes off an effort to inquire about enforcing the Urban Room requirement, with fines overdue. 

A spokesperson for the developer tells Neil deMause of City Limits (writing about Community Benefits Agreements), "Generally in terms of accountability this project continues to report to the public through a bi-monthly ‘quality of life’ meeting” held by ESD. Really?

Platform work will be conducted through a joint venture with Plaza Construction and China Construction, both state-owned Chinese companies, essentially. Construction is expected to start on Monday, June 20. A construction fence will be in place approximately 36 to 40 months.

July 2022

The Axel, at Vanderbilt & Atlantic
The first large new building along Atlantic Avenue, albeit not within Community District 8, is set to open, with affordable units at 539 Vanderbilt Ave. and market-rate ones as 545 Vanderbilt Ave., aka The Axel, formerly 550 Clinton. The housing lottery starts before the market-rate lease-up, unlike with Plank Road and Brooklyn Crossing.

Greenland USA's Solish says they hope permits for the railyard work will be "sometime in the next several business days." 

BrooklynSpeaks organizes a press conference protesting the failure to build the Urban Room. ESD responds that "the existing plaza... has become an indispensable public space," but says it will work "to expand access to public space and advance the next phases of this critical project.”

 Greenland Forest City says the plaza is better than the Urban Room. (It doesn't control the plaza. The beneficiary is the arena company.)

Perhaps the most consistent challenge to road and sidewalk flow near the Barclays Center involves Chik-fil-A and its neighbor Shake Shack on Flatbush Avenue.

Escalators often out
During plaza repair work, the escalators are down. A responsible operator--the arena company operates the escalator, as it controls the plaza--should make it easier to find out about service status.

August 2022

Construction on the interior of the long-awaited Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park middle school, known as I.S. 653, is finally starting, according to the School Construction Authority.

Nearly three years ago, a Wall Street Journal columnist advised selling Greenland Holdings. He was right, as the company's stock price has dropped by more than half.

Greenland rises on Fortune's annual Global 500 list, to #125 from #142. However, in Forbes's Global 2000 listing, it has dropped for two years, to #415. Forbes uses four metrics: a composite score assessing sales (revenue), profits, assets, and market value. Fortune relies solely on revenue.

September 2022

The Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center have both changed their social media images so they can honor the arena's tenth anniversary year, and it's happening at the site, as well.

Joe Tsai has become a heavyweight in philanthropy with his wife, Clara Wu Tsai.  The venerable Municipal Art Society is giving them the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Medal, its highest honor, but--as I write in CommonEdge--forgetting its crusade against the kind of "supertall" tower that the Tsais have invested in.

October 2022

From one perspective, the Barclays Center is part of a financial success, since the availability of a Brooklyn venue, in the world's media capital, has helped the value of the  Nets--long owned by the operator of the arena company--to soar. 

Still, while the arena's financial performance improved over FY 2021, when the pandemic severely stalled events and revenues, the arena remains ultimately in the red.  Publicly circulated calendars indicate 137 ticketed events over the fiscal year ending in June 2022. There would have been more, but some concert tours were either canceled or postponed. 

After six years or so, the major ground floor space at 461 Dean Street, at the corner of Flatbush Avenue adjacent to the arena, finally has a tenant: the local fast-casual chain Just Salad. That leaves a smaller retail space east of the building's residential lobby.

The next NBA season generates a huge range of scenarios, positive and negative, for the Nets.

The Brooklyn Way? New branding for the team's ten-year anniversary, again leans on the borough's brand, inflected by hip-hop, with a video featuring endearing kids.

November 2022

Bad timing for the Untitled Ronny Chieng Project, a Hulu comedy series inspired by the Brooklyn Nets, given Irving's implicit endorsement of an anti-Semitic film, a public rebuke by Tsai, the firing of Coach Steve Nash, the reported (but never consummated) hiring of scandal-tinged ex-Celtics Coach Ime Udoka. Are the Nets "a superteam of toxicity"?

Not only is the next Quality of Life meeting not scheduled for Nov. 15 as announced, the AY CDC is also way behind schedule. It hasn't met since June but is supposed to meet quarterly.

Hakeem Jeffries rises to lead the House Democrats. An ally says he was "pragmatic" about Atlantic Yards. That doesn't quite capture his' strategically ambiguous 2006 stances.

Greenland USA raises cash by selling two towers in Los Angeles at a loss. Its parent in Shanghai is downgraded by ratings agency Standard & Poor's, to SD (selective default), with specific notes considered D or in default.
Hochul & Wu Tsai with winners (l.-r.), Chantal
Hinds, Bernell Grier, and Kei Williams. 
 Kevin P. 
Coughlin/Governor's Office, 8/2/22

Before Gov. Kathy Hochul attended a WNBA New York Liberty game last summer, posed with Liberty co-owner Clara Wu Tsai, and honored recipients of the team owners' Social Justice Fund, Clara Wu Tsai gave Hochul's election fund the max: $69,700. 

December 2022

A 2019 paper: "Do professional sport franchise owners overpromise and underdeliver the public? Lessons from Brooklyn’s Barclays Center," by Geoffrey Propheter, formerly the property tax analyst at the New York City Independent Budget Office. The answer is yes.

ESD finally offers notes from the previous two Quality of Life meetings, for the first time admitting it won't be done until 2035. Also: "The Developer and ESD are committed to the delivery of the Project’s affordable housing obligations and abiding by the Project documents." That's not the same as saying they'll enforce the penalties.

The Central Brooklyn initiative known as the Atlantic Avenue Mixed-Use Plan (AAMUP), building on M-CROWN, finally moves forward, but there are lots of questions

On Wednesday, Dec. 14, the seating arena on the Barclays Center plaza finally reopens after a revamp, some two-and-a-half months late. Unmentioned: 62 bike coils replace seating.

Despite obfuscation, TF Cornerstone has long planned middle-income "affordable housing" (130% of AMI) at 595 Dean. Same for Greenland, at the B5 tower over the railyard.

2023-Questions Mount

January 2023

What's next from BrooklynSpeaks? New "third party" input to create "more detailed vision of challenges and opportunities" at Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park

How Atlantic Yards failed to deliver "affordable" condos. The cost of delay: "affordable" condos, if ever built, could go to households earning $200K+, nearly double the 2006 estimate.

Time for an open space master plan update? New B12/13 configuration, dog runs. Future "Pacific Street terminus"? Biggest Q is whether platform gets built.

ANHD explains: not only are many "low-income" units not aimed at truly needy, AMI "high housing cost adjustment" makes things worse.

February 2023

With developer (conveniently) missing from scheduled meeting, ESD rep says Greenland *may* face penalty for missing affordable housing deadline. Renegotiation?

Brooklyn Nets, admitting "failure" of superstar era, trade disgruntled Durant to Phoenix Suns for hefty package. Reboot to better version of "old" team?

After ten years, business-friendly Crain's suggests "development around the Barclays Center is on solid ground." Really? Keep your eye on the ball.

March 2023

Greenland USA point man Solish leaves for The Brodsky Organization, which built B15 tower & partnered on B4. What's next? Greenland renegotiation with NY State?

In NY Times exploration of Rep. Jeffries' early career, allies saw his Atlantic Yards stance as forging alliances. Rather, it was more strategic ambiguity.

595 Dean residential entrance & Chelsea Piers
April 2023

At two-tower 595 Dean, more Dean Street entrances (and canopies) for Chelsea Piers than for residents, given one residential lobby.

At meeting of Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation, no answers to big questions about project's future. No sign that fines for missing affordable housing will be enforced.

No progress at Triangle Building.

Updated graphic shows middle-income skew of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park affordable housing.

May 2023

Routine delays in state oversight meetings.

New columns outside 595 Dean Street advertise Pacific Park, as open space expands to three acres, all on the southeast block of the project.

In corporate history posted by new firm formed by Forest City cousins, little mention of Bruce Ratner.

June 2023

Greenland Holdings stock price declines. Company plummets in Forbes Global 2000 rankings

State stalls on new housing policies crucial to project's future, notably 421-a tax break.

Greenland, with middleman Mastroianni, seeking to "restructure" $349 million debt owed to EB=5 investors.

Lottery for middle-income "affordable" units at 595 Dean extended, allows pool to expand, with higher income limits.

Big, if true: master developer Greenland says, despite lull, platform construction "likely to begin" in second half of 2023.

July 2023

Brooklyn Nets trade longest-tenured player, Joe Harris.

The two-tower 595 Dean has just one entrance.

Empire State Development's long-time Atlantic Yards point person, Tobi Jaiyesimi, departs without a replacement.

With SeatGeek gone, Barclays Center plaza now branded by Ticketmaster (fourth sponsor in 10+ years).

A huge homage to Jay-Z, produced by his company, takes over Brooklyn Public Library's Central Library. Might there be contradictions?

Is "The Book of HOV" for anyone but Jay-Z? Well, maybe a bit for arena developer Bruce Ratner (and designer SHoP), thanks to Barclays Center replica.

Gov. Hochul finds workaround to replace 421-a tax break, for Gowanus at least. Will it extend to other neighborhoods? To Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park?

During 2014 negotiations, developer Greenland proposed blanket city concessions re future project changes. That didn't happen. But it shows chutzpah.

August 2023

Reinvent Albany's "Open ESD" report points to authority's convoluted structure, lack of independence, dubious math, and denial of public comment.

Penthouse East, final sponsor unit to sell at 550 Vanderbilt condo building, reaps $4.55 million, less concessions (24% off Offering Price). Buyer gets a huge tax break.

Lottery for 595 Dean affordable units extended again, to Aug. 15, which enlarges pool for middle-income units.

From City Limits: "State Weighs Tax Deal, Plans ‘Public Engagement’ for Atlantic Yards as Housing Deadline Nears" (plus bonus material). Request for study of fiscal feasibility of project as well as report on affordable housing.

In future, more opportunity to comment on Atlantic Yards Community Development Corp. agenda items and also at meetings? Sessions back in Brooklyn?

If "China's 40-Year Boom Is Over" (per WSJ), what's next for companies like Greenland facing complex calculations, and big upfront costs, in Brooklyn?

From Common Edge: Revisiting Brooklyn’s Barclays Center—a Telling Landscape.

Instead of 80-100 units, larger 542 Dean (11 stories) will house 154 seniors; on Dean and Bergen nearby, a stealth rezoning extends to 6th and (?) Flatbush Aves.

September 2023

At Brooklyn Public Library gala honoring Jay-Z, co-chairs include Bruce Ratner (husband of library CEO) + Joe & Clara Wu Tsai. "Book of HOV" exhibit extended, now with a Lexus on the lawn.

Barclays Center updates September 2023 event calendar: Just Brooklyn Prize Awards for racial justice, plus free "new music" concert, first in new series.

October 2023

At "City of Yes" info session, City Planning officials say they hope to reach deeper affordability, go below 80% of AMI. But state must deliver tax break.

From Common Edge: "Does Brooklyn’s New Brooding Monolith Deserve Kudos?" (and do selfie-takers at Barclays Center plaza seek out the supertall?)

Barclays Center operating company in FY 2023 again reports loss. Operating income slighly above FY 2022. Owner Tsai kicked in $18M, less than previous years.

Barclays Center opening up for a (first-ever?) free watch party, as the New York Liberty play a road game in the WNBA finals. (The Liberty ultimately lose.)

Synergy: Tsais' Social Justice Fund supports $1.4M renovation of basketball courts in three Brooklyn parks, with murals honoring New York Liberty & Brooklyn Nets.

The last Atlantic Yards Quality of Life meeting was in February. The last Atlantic Yards Community Development Corp. meeting was in early August. Time for an update? Requested fiscal feasability study, due in early October, is overdue.

In plan for Brooklyn, Borough President Reynoso will advocate for more housing, especially near transit and in the borough's southern and eastern sections.

November 2023

Though Forbes says the Brooklyn Nets & arena company are worth $3.85 billion, rising tide in NBA valuations likely means higher number.

Las Vegas Sands, seeking casino license, leases Nassau Coliseum for $241M. A win for EB-5 middleman Mastroianni. What about the immigrant investors?

Finally, scrutiny for Winnie Greco, ethically dubious liasion to Chinese communities for Brooklyn BPs & now Mayor. She met 2014 with incoming developer Greenland.

From Common Edge: "Jay-Z's Unseemly Takeover of Brooklyn’s Central Libraru."

If Brookfield, which bought out Forest City, no longer actively claims Pacific Park, what remaining stake does it have in the future project? "Nominal," says a rep.

December 2023

With Greenland EB-5 debt in foreclosure, big Qs about future of stalled project, including collateral, platform, & investor visa middleman. What's government's role? More questions.

BrooklynSpeaks: foreclosure sale "potentially fatal" setback & "searing indictment" of NYS oversight. My take: conditions imposed by ESD key to any sale. Big doubts about obligations. 

BrooklynSpeaks says it's time for new oversight & Atlantic Yards plan. But the immediate questions involve foreclosure sale & role of NY State. Will they get a meeting with ESD?

Documents show that below-ground Dean St. garage added 469 parking spaces, not the announced 455, to the existing 303 spaces. How well can 772 spaces work?

Announcing my new Substack newsletter, Learning from Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, 20 years after the project unveiling. Why launch a newsletter? Flashback, Dec. 10, 2003: The Atlantic Yards unveiling.

The Real Deal assesses Atlantic Yards on its 20th anniversary, with a few key new insights—the Chinese company Greenland USA was out of sync—though I don’t fully agree with their analysis. 

As I wrote on Substack: Was Atlantic Yards fundamentally flawed? Yes, a cascade of problems impeded progress. At the start, though, Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff thought it "a crazy risk." He just didn’t say so.

Former Forest City CEO Gilmartin says Atlantic Yards gave her too much PTSD to consider a return to the troubled project. She used to sound confident.

Middle-school across from arena block now due to open Sept. 2024 (not 2025), thanks to interior work on evenings & weekends. Will SCA/DOE talk to neighbors?

Merch for Madonna! A row of idling 53-foot trailer-trucks outside the Barclays Center before three-

In the latest required six-month project look-ahead, master developer Greenland USA says plainly: the platform over the railyard, location for six development sites, won't start.

In the publication Sportico's latest NBA valuations, the value of the Brooklyn Nets, plus the arena company, is estimated at $3.98 billion, but the growth rate far lags the league. Blame the demise of the “superteam,” which attracted sponsors.

From Substack: A "Garden of Eden"? Revisiting a NY Times Rave for the 2003 Atlantic Yards Debut. We've learned that architecture critics can't just focus on the "cultural dimension of building"

With proposed new city financing program for 70% affordable housing, a way forward for Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park? Stay tuned.

From NetsDaily, on the Brooklyn Nets' mediocrity: The Brooklyn Nets are who we thought they were.

January 2024

From Substack: It's the Oversight, Right? New York State has let the developer off the hook. Why no legislative hearings?

Though an intermediate school has long been planned for the B15 tower (Dean Street and Sixth Avenue, aka Plank Road), New York City now seeks to relocate Design Works High School, which opened this year, and a smaller middle school, plus a small special needs program. Does that mean that another school must be built in a future tower to accommodate the eventual new population?

From Substack: Does Atlantic Yards Need a Plan? Or a Process? Two advocates from BrooklynSpeaks propose a new Local Development Corporation (LDC) and federal help for affordable housing. Maybe some caution is in order, as well as a look back.

According to Curbed, an “earthquake” from the Travis Scott concert last month at the Barclays Center caused nearby buildings to shake. Unmentioned: the green roof was installed to prevent that.

Greenland Forest City sells retail condos at the base of the 550 Vanderbilt condo tower for $5.8 million, after touting "below-market rents" (for ice cream purveyor Van Leeuwen?). This may be the last Forest City (owned by Brookfield) holding of consequence.

Foreclosure auction of six development parcels postponed until Feb. 12. Will it happen? Lots of unknowns.

From Substack: New Renderings: (& Animation): Towers Along Atlantic Avenue. Designer Ben Keel produced two short animated videos to help explain what a street-level view of the project buildout would look like. 

Hedging their bets? For 2024, developer Greenland USA downsizes lobbying contract, adds option to terminate.

Though Brooklyn Nets lost badly in Paris to the Cleveland Cavaliers, it was part of new international marketing strategy. (A Biggie Smalls concert! “Brooklyn” pizza!) Would you believe that 36% of single-game Nets tickets at Barclays Center this year are sold to foreign visitors!

The Barclays Center oculus stayed on until 1 am, though it’s supposed to go dark at midnight. Arena says "glitch" has been corrected, but no longer offers phone number for neighbors to call.

From Substack: The EB-5 Marketing from 2014 Looks Even Worse Now.

From Substack: Asleep at the Watch on the EB-5 Loans. ESD failed to do due diligence.

Lotteries for NYC-sponsored affordable units will now 23  now assign 20% of spots, not 50%, to locals. (Last four Atlantic Yards towers NYS-supported, w/no preference.) 

Atlantic Yards CDC meeting: project still in limbo, as ESD talks vaguely of progress, but acknowledges talks with Greenland stalled. Will foreclosure sale happen? Questions about Site 5. New subcommittee to make recommendations for project's future. Directors ask for reports on EB-5 spending. Muddy discussion of "over-leveraged" loans.