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Showing posts from September, 2011

Malcolm Gladwell, in Grantland, gets the Atlantic Yards big picture: "a man buys a basketball team as insurance on a real estate project"

Well, New York Daily News sports columnist Mike Lupica was right all along, writing 11/13/05:
If Caring Bruce Ratner is still the owner of the Nets in five years, I'll eat my hat.

...He doesn't want the team.

He never really did.

He wants the land.After the March 2010 groundbreaking, Lupica commented, "It was a hustle in broad daylight by Caring Bruce Ratner from the start."

Enter Gladwell

That same sentiment comes from New Yorker writer and Grantland contributing editor Malcolm Gladwell, in a 9/26/11 essay in the latter headlined The Nets and NBA Economics: David Stern would have you believe the Brooklyn-bound franchise embodies everything wrong with the league's finances. It's not true.

His conclusion:
The rich have gone from being grateful for what they have to pushing for everything they can get. They have mastered the arts of whining and predation, without regard to logic or shame. In the end, this is the lesson of the NBA lockout. A man buys a basketball t…

Trucks still idle improperly at Atlantic Yards site, move from Pacific Street "No Standing" zone to Atlantic Avenue "No Standing" zone

Well, someone managing work at the Atlantic Yards site has been reading Atlantic Yards Watch. And they've apparently decided that, if they're going to continue to flout city parking rules by idling trucks in the early morning, it's better to do it on a non-residential street.

But Atlantic Yards Watch contributors are still watching.


In other words, the dump trucks that for weeks have for weeks been idling on Pacific Street between Sixth and Carlton avenues, occupying a "No Standing" zone, yesterday appeared (above) on Atlantic Avenue, occupying a "No Standing" zone between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues.



FEIS said it would be fine

According to Chapter 17, Construction Impacts, of the Atlantic Yards Final Environmental Statement (FEIS), there was no reason to expect such a stack-up:
As is the case on almost all large urban construction sites, materials deliveries to the site would be highly regimented and scheduled. Because of the high level of construct…

Top Markowitz aide Scissura positioning himself for Borough President; does he agree with his boss that "Brooklyn is 1000 percent behind Atlantic Yards"?

City Hall News reported 9/28/11:
Carlo Scissura is taking another step toward running to replace his boss Marty Markowitz as Brooklyn borough president. The beep’s chief of staff is stepping down from that job to become a special advisor instead, taking a $15,000 pay cut to $124,000, with some of his responsibilities transferred to other staff members. The move frees him from the restrictions that bar top city officials from raising campaign money or doing other overtly political acts. Scissura, who declined to comment, received Conflicts of Interest Board clearance for the move. Markowitz will not replace him as chief of staff.In other words, Scissura likely will function in several ways as chief of staff, but without the title--for more than two years.

Fundraiser tomorrow

He's holding a fundraiser tomorrow, with one of hosts Andrew Steininger, capital budget/economic development specialist at Borough Hall, and another Sharon Davidson of the North Flatbush Business Improveme…

What can be done during the next month of jackhammering? Waiting for answers

Two days ago, I queried Empire State Development, the state agency in charge of Atlantic Yards.

I pointed them to an Atlantic Yards Watch posting:I have filed numerous 311 noise complaints about the jack hammering going on between 10pm and at least 4am every evening for the past 5 weeks. I can't sleep. I had a guest leave my apartment at 3am a few weeks ago to stay in a hotel because of the jack hammering.
This exception to the construction noise rule should not have been approved for jack hammering that goes on for hours on end every single night. It is torture for those of who live in the area.
I have also written to Community Boards 2 and 6. If someone doesn't put a stop to this, I will either have to have my windows soundproofed or move.The jackhammering, as CB 2 District Manager Robert Perris told the complainant, is mandated to be done at night by the city Department of Transportation.

Forest City Ratner executive Jane Marshall, at an Atlantic Yards District Servi…

"Jay-Z Rocks the House"? Brooklyn Paper stays sunny side up

The Brooklyn Paper, ever eager to boost Atlantic Yards, this week informs us that "JAY-Z ROCKS THE HOUSE."

Well, maybe he will when he plays the Barclays Center next year, but his promotional presentation on 9/26/11 lasted less than two minutes, and was, in the words of a Times hoops writer, "brief and anticlimactic."

I called it "an anticlimax for news," too.

Of course the Brooklyn Paper didn't bother to report on the curious statements made by developer Bruce Ratner or Borough President Marty Markowitz.

(There was a token voice of dissent, from Battle for Brooklyn filmmaker Michael Galinsky.)

Or the meeting Empire State Development CEO Kenneth Adams had that same night with Brooklyn elected officials.

Or the glaring discrepancy between the rules that trucks at the Atlantic Yards site are supposed to follow and their actual performance.

Let's go to the videotape

Did Jay-Z rock the house? The video below will help you decide.

A caution on that BrooklynSpeaks/DDDB press release: wouldn't deferring railyard development prolong blight?

On Monday, before the community meeting with Empire State Development CEO Kenneth Adams, BrooklynSpeaks and Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) issued what I think was their first-ever joint press release, headlined What ESDC must do now to make Atlantic Yards work for Brooklyn.

It was very much BrooklynSpeaks language--DDDB never wanted to make "Atlantic Yards work for Brooklyn" but rather to stop the project. So perhaps it was an exercise in pragmatism.

The recommendations, including opening up the project site to additional developers, would require ESD to amend the project plan and numerous contract documents.

There's never been any sign of the political will to do so. If the state wanted to ensure that the project gets done without opening it up to additional developers, it could have impose tougher deadlines and fines to push Forest City Ratner.

Gentle deadline

And the joint recommendation to defer development on the railyard because of a costly platform--whic…

The Times's Learning Network flubs Atlantic Yards: three errors in two sentences (but then fixes it)

The Learning Network, which on the New York Times website "provides teaching and learning materials and ideas based on New York Times content" for teachers and students, didn't do a very good job in its initial mention today of Atlantic Yards, part of Sept. 29, 1957 | New York Giants Play Last Baseball Game.

But give them credit for fixing it quickly.

It stated:
After years of contentious debate and taxpayer protest, an arena at Atlantic Yards in downtown Brooklyn is under now construction. It will be the new home of the National Basketball Association’s New Jersey Nets, who on Monday were officially renamed the Brooklyn Nets.My comment

I commented that there were three factual errors.

First, while those protesting are (like most people) taxpayers, it's not a "taxpayer protest" as usually understood: people exercised by increased taxes associated with the project. Rather, there's opposition to the project's environmental impact and the perception of s…

Atlantic Yards Project Director Arana Hankin: project remains on schedule (despite trending slower), trucking procedures "a work in progress" (despite continued violations)

After the cordial but not very productive community meeting on Atlantic Yards Monday with underinformed Empire State Development (ESD) CEO Kenneth Adams, I approached him and Atlantic Yards Project Director Arana Hankin with a few follow-up questions.

Adams listened briefly, but cordially--and not without reason--begged off to greet some of the elected officials who, after all, are his bosses.

The arena schedule

I asked Hankin if the arena was on schedule, given the efforts at expensiveafter-hours work, unresolved discrepancies reported by a construction monitor, and, as discussed at the meeting with Adams, talk of a "recovery schedule," a construction term used to specific accelerated work.

"There’s not a recovery schedule for the arena," Hankin said. "The schedule is constantly morphing, based on weather conditions."

Are they ahead?

"They’re on schedule," Hankin responded.

"Is that trending?" I asked.

"It’s pretty constant that t…

Two views of the Barclays Center hypemasters: smiling, and grimacing

Before the big announcement Monday, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, on his Facebook page, posted Paul Martinka's photo of himself (center), Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner (left), and superstar Jay-Z.


The same day, Tracy Collins captured Jay-Z and Nets/Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark looking a little tense.

Atlantic Yards Watch identifies narrower traffic capacity on Sixth Avenue, points to bottleneck for vehicles and pedestrians

Here the news from the latest Atlantic Yards Watch posting, 6th Avenue to have fewer travel lanes than analyzed in the 2006 environmental impact statement:
Sixth Avenue was supposed to have four lanes, but now would have three from Atlantic to Pacific and two from Pacific to FlatbushGiven increased traffic circulation, congestion "may" be increased (I'd say likely) It's unclear if the change is permanent, because future mitigations may be imposedThe state analysis overstated the effective width of the narrow sidewalks on Sixth Avenue south of Dean StreetTo create additional travel lanes, the sidewalks would have to be narrowed furtherThe sidewalks likely will be heavily used as a route to the arena from Flatbush Avenue and the Bergen Street 2/3 stationMy analysis: residents of those blocks will bear the brunt of increased vehicles and pedestrians--and it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to accommodate both.


From the latest Construction Alert: some residents to lose water service temporarily; Flatbush Avenue will lose a lane at night

According to the latest two-week Atlantic Yards Construction Alert (below), dated September 25 but distributed yesterday by Empire State Development (after preparation by developer Forest City Ratner), some residents around the 4th Avenue and Flatbush Avenue intersection will lose water service temporarily--but it's unclear how long and how extensive that shutdown will be.

Also, the document indicates that bollard installation--pending Department of Transportation approval (hearing October 5)--is on the way. Also, additional lane restriction on Atlantic Avenue is planned, and from 10 pm to 6 am a lane on Flatbush Avenue will go out of service.

The text below mainly concerns text in the document that differs from the previous document, with the new language in bold.

Water shut down for traffic mitigation site work
• The northbound lanes of 4th Avenue were closed at Atlantic Avenue on July 31, 2011 with temporary MPT (see details below). During the next two-week period work will co…

From New York magazine: more skepticism toward the Barclays/Nets' claim that they funded a playground renovation

Update October 10: 4. An item in the “Intelligencer” of the October 3 issue built on information about the New Jersey–Brooklyn Nets that the Atlantic Yards Report first published. We neglected to credit the site’s author, Norman Oder, for the initial reporting.

From this week's New York magazine (dated Oct. 3), Intelligencer section, another piece of skepticism towards the Barclays/Nets' claim that they had funded a playground in Canarsie. I had the news on 9/20/11, but didn't get a credit.

Genial ESD CEO Adams meets with community members, gets praised for showing up, says state solidly supports Forest City, opposes governance entity, admits he has much to learn

Despite the general air of mutual cordiality and the non-defensiveness expressed by Empire State Development (ESD) CEO Kenneth Adams, the meeting last night which allowed Adams to meet with Brooklynites concerned about Atlantic Yards was somewhat odd on multiple levels.

First, the meeting for weeks was billed as an invitation-only affair, with questions to be submitted beforehand and to be delivered via elected officials.

However, just hours before the meeting, held at Brooklyn Borough Hall, ESD opened up the meeting to the press. (Besides me, the only other reporter to attend from the Daily News, and she left early.) During the meeting, community members were allowed to ask direct questions.

Second, though Adams was accompanied to the meeting by no fewer than seven ESD staffers, he pre-empted questions by saying he was "really here to understand." When faced with specific queries, he offered genial promises to look into things, rather than canvassing colleagues for an answ…

The Jay-Z media event: an anticlimax for news (Brooklyn Nets, concert), but a chance for TV coverage; also, Ratner, Markowitz make some curious claims

The media event this morning featuring "cultural icon" Jay-Z was a bit of an anticlimax--there was little response from the generally supportive crowd when Mr. Carter announced that the team would be called the Brooklyn Nets and that he'd open the Barclays Center arena with a concert--actually a couple (though he didn't say eight, as the New York Daily News reported).

After all, in well-planned exclusives accepted by the compliant tabloids, the Daily News placed the Jay-Z opening news on page 4 and the New York Post placed its news--that the team hopes "to steal Knick fans from lower Manhattan"--on page 3.

(In photo, which I took, the sign with Jay-Z inducing ticket buyers was just being put up on the arena facade as the 10 am press conference time approached.)

Aimed at TV

But the event today was aimed at TV, with the Barclays Center rising in the background. There were exclusive interviews first on Fox 5, including with Jay-Z.

(See Battle for Brooklyn direc…