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Showing posts from May, 2012

As Nets don't get lucky in lottery, warnings about a gloomy season (though much maneuvering to come)

"Could be a big night for brooklyn nets," tweeted Nets/Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark yesterday before the NBA Draft Lottery. But it wasn't--the Nets wound up sixth, just about where the percentages would have put them, and thus lost the pick to Portland.

"Disasterous for Nets," tweeted CNBC's Darren Rovell. "Lose pick. No hype into offseason." (He had previously suggested that, among all the teams, the Nets needed the top pick the most for business reasons.)

Well, they don't gain the hype from the number one pick. And the inability to draft Kentucky's Anthony Davis sets them back. But the Nets didn't so much "lose" the pick as not be lucky enough to get it.

No was there any intervention, as (admitted conspiracy theorist) Charles Barkley predicted--unless you count Rovell's tweet, "Conspiracy theorists have a new one tonight: The NBA sold Tom Benson the [New Orleans] Hornets w/the promise of the #1 pick."

Ruin…

Churches organize "Justice at Atlantic Yards!" protest for June 10; accountability and oversight might come before housing and jobs

In a sign of a new configuration of Atlantic Yards criticism, a group of churches, mostly from central Brooklyn and led by Rev. Clinton Miller of the Brown Memorial Baptist Church in Clinton Hill, is organizing a "Justice At Atlantic Yards" protest on June 10.

Protesters, including parishioners from some 25 congregations, as well as others from the overall Brooklyn community including some active Atlantic Yards critics from BrooklynSpeaks, will gather at 3 pm at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and South Portland Avenue, just north of the Barclays Center arena.

Several elected officials are expected to speak, though the line-up isn't yet set. Miller has a longtime close relationship with Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, who joined state Sen. Eric Adams and Assemblyman Karim Camara at a press conference in January expressing their outrage at the lack of results.

Listed after Miller on the poster are the Rev. Mark Taylor of Church of the Open Door in Fort Greene and the Rev. Con…

As NBA lottery approaches, a "big night" for the Brooklyn Nets would be a statistical anomaly--and very good luck (or a conspiracy)

"Could be a big night for brooklyn nets," tweeted the ever-optimistic Brett Yormark, CEO of the Nets and the Barclays Center.

He's referring to the chance to land the first pick in the NBA draft, where the clear choice is 6'10" Kentucky star Anthony Davis. It's a longshot even for the team to get a pick, as the New York Post's Fred Kerber explains:
The Nets, who after losing a tie-breaker with the Kings would slot in sixth if form holds — and immediately surrender the pick — have a 7.5 percent chance to land Davis. They will keep their own pick only if the gods of fate decide to place them at one, two (8.33 percent chance) or three (9.36 percent chance). Anywhere else, and the pick goes to Portland through the Gerald Wallace trade.
So the Nets roughly have a 25 percent chance to get a top-three pick, which would be the sixth in their history. Their only pick at present is No. 57 in the second round.League hopes and conspiracy theories

Then again, strange…

Coverage of the Neighborhood Protection Plan: the tabloids show up, but not the Times (or the Brooklyn Paper)

Here's a roundup of the coverage of the Neighborhood Protection Plan unveiled yesterday. Note the absence of the Brooklyn Paper and the New York Times, neither of which sent a reporter, though maybe the former will play catch-up. (I'm waiting to see if the Times's blog The Local has coverage.)

Atlantic Yards Report:  Elected officials, community groups propose Neighborhood Protection Plan: new policies, oversight, and funding commitments aimed to mitigate impact of arena on residential neighborhoods

Patch: Civic Groups Ask Barclays to Do More to Prevent Driving to Games
New York Daily News: Pols push for parking taxes, early booze cutoff in plan to shield neighborhoods when Barlcays Center opens
New York Post: Brooklyn arena foes turn to Chicago's Wrigley Field for improvements:
The plan offers no estimated costs. However, those who penned it want Forest City Ratner to dip into the millions of dollars it'll save annually after recently dropping a car-traffic-reducti…

Elected officials, community groups propose Neighborhood Protection Plan: new policies, oversight, and funding commitments aimed to mitigate impact of arena on residential neighborhoods

At a press conference this morning, City Council Members Stephen Levin and Letitia James, along with state Senator Velmanette Montgomery, announced the Barclays Center Neighborhood Protection Plan (NPP), a set of initiatives "aimed at mitigating safety and quality of life impacts expected to result from locating the Brooklyn arena within residential neighborhoods."

The plan, which addresses not only transportation issues left out of last week's Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan but also police, signage, sanitation, and more, is also backed by Council Member Brad Lander and Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries.

It was put together by the three community organizations behind the Atlantic Yards Watch initiative: the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council, the Park Slope Civic Council, and the Boerum Hill Association.

As noted in the press release, the NPP addresses not only policies to be instituted (and paid for) by the Barclays Center operators, but also effo…

Sen. Montgomery asks State Liquor Authority to move Barclays Center hearing to Brooklyn, hold it at night

State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, who represents the Atlantic Yards site and has been a longtime opponent of the project, has asked the State Liquor Authority (SLA) to change the location and time of the agency's required hearing on the Barclays Center liquor license.

The 500-foot rule hearing, required when there are other nearby establishments, is currently scheduled for 11 am on Tuesday, June 12 at the SLA office at 317 Lenox Avenue in Manhattan, at 126th Street. Community boards, as well as civic groups, have asked for assurances of outreach and other arena-related plans, though the community boards have not backed 10 pm cut-off of liquor sales.

The SLA is expected to approve the application; the question is whether the process will impose any conditions on the operator.

Making the hearing more accessible

Montgomery asked for "a weeknight evening in the downtown Brooklyn area," according to her letter, below.

"As you are aware, she wrote, "this is arguabl…

Evaluating the arena transportation plan based on AY Watch's list of questions: lots of unknowns remain (hence push for more in Neighborhood Protection Plan)

Today, at a press conference, community groups involved in Atlantic Yards Watch (Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council, the Park Slope Civic Council, and the Boerum Hill Association) will, along with local elected officials, unveil the Neighborhood Protection Plan.

The goal? Address issues ignored by Forest City Ratner in its release of the draft Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan, as well as other arena-related issues not yet addressed.

I've alreadypointed outunresolvedissues in the TDM plan and would remind readers that the issue that's generated the greatest concern is the protection of residential streets from those seeking free on-street parking.

But let me evaluate it based on the list of questions posed by Atlantic Yards Watch before its release. Below, I've reproduced the meat of the questions, with my scorecard in italics. Lots of questions remain unresolved.

Text below from Atlantic Yards Watch.Text in italics from AYR.

Extent of TDM

1. Does …

WSJ on delayed Atlantic Yards affordable housing: no mention of modular gambit or KPMG report that said project was indeed buildable

There are a couple of interesting things unsaid about Atlantic Yards in today's Wall Street Journal round-up focusing on that project and Willets Point, Housing Pieces Delayed: 'Affordable' Apartments That Helped Sell Big Projects Have Yet to Materialize.

The newspaper reports:
At Atlantic Yards, the project's centerpiece basketball arena is nearing completion. But developer Forest City Ratner Cos. has yet to begin any of the 6,400 units of housing it once anticipated being built by 2016—2,250 of which would be for low- and middle-income families. Forest City has cited higher than expected costs and an inclement market, although it plans to break ground this year on its first building with 175 below-market rate units.

The delays have frustrated officials and given fuel to critics of the project, which went through a contested public approval process before the recession.

"They should do the affordable housing up front, now," said Assemblyman James Brennan of …

Sports Business Journal: 183 events set; "about" 75 percent of suites sold; Calvin Klein signs on; more hockey talk

From Sports Business Journal (via NetsDaily):there are rumors that the 2015 NBA All-Star Game would be played at the Barclays Center (2014 is already out)there are 183 ticketed events scheduled (which, if you add the ten "community" events, would be a total of 193, not quite at the 225 once promised)"[a]bout 75 percent of the 100 suites in the arena have been sold, including four of the 11 Vault Suites." Previously, Nets/Barclays CEO Brett Yormark has flatly said 75 percent, which indicates some wiggle roomCalvin Klein has joined as a founding partner, while "Remaining, or at least unannounced, top-tier sponsorship categories in the building include insurance and automobile."NBA CEO David Stern "called the new arena 'extraordinary' and noted that 'several owners told me this was never going to happen, even as the steel was going into the ground.'"even before 2015, when the Islanders' lease expires, a minor league hockey team …

A myth multiplied: "5 Signs That China Is Colonizing America" said to include Atlantic Yards

If you search on Google for "45 Signs That China Is Colonizing America," you'll get a bunch of results, which include the same, misleading Atlantic Yards sign:
#8 Chinese investors have been gobbling up real estate all over New York City. The following is from a  recent Forbes article….
According to a recent report in the New York Times, investors from China are “snapping up luxury apartments” and are planning to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on commercial and residential projects like Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn. Chinese companies also have signed major leases at the Empire State Building and at 1 World Trade Center, the report said. Except that not-by-Forbes-linked 8/11/11 Times articlegot it wrong. Providing a low-interest loan for infrastructure and loan replacement doesn't give them much purchase on Atlantic Yards. The immigrant investors seeking green cards would only control actual real estate if Forest City Ratner doesn't pay them back in seven ye…

Forecasted contractually obligated revenues for the arena: from 64% to how much? (Also, 15% of office leases for FCE from City of NY/U.S. government)

In late March, Forest City Enterprises, parent of Forest City Ratner reported that some "64 percent of forecasted contractually obligated revenues for the [Barclays Center] arena are currently under contract."

While that's a not insignificant rise from the 56 percent reported in December 2011, the developer has admitted that the 100% mark will not be met by the arena opening.

So we should keep watch for the next report, which will come with the FY 2012 First Quarter conference call. Last year it was held in early June.

Meanwhile, the documents embedded below show how FCE describes the Atlantic Yards project, among many others, to investors. Note that, even through early March, they were using the now-outdated 56 percent mark.

Also note, in last year's Third Quarter Supplemental Package, the document immediately below, one page (above right) pulls out a list of "significant office tenants as of October 31, 2011."

The largest, with 9.38% of total office squar…

Deeming transportation plan inadequate and other issues not addressed, local officials, PHNDC will propose "Neighborhood Protection Plan"

Update: Joining PHNDC will be the Park Slope Civic Council and Boerum Hill Association, which together sponsor Atlantic Yards Watch.

There's lots of reason to think that the Transportation Demand Management plan announced this week by developer Forest City Ratner will not do enough to discourage drivers from seeking free, on-street parking. And there's much reason to wonder how other arena operations will be handled.

In the absence of such plans, the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council, backed by several elected officials on Tuesday will propose a nine point "Neighborhood Protection Plan."

I haven't seen the details, but presumably it draws in part on the example of Wrigley Field in Chicago.

As I wrote three years ago, in 2004, in exchange for being able to play 30 rather than 18 night games, the City Council approved the Wrigley Field Neighborhood Protection Ordinance. The Cubs agreed to "fund and operate expanded remote parking, print residen…

Gridlock Sam goes rogue: "Don't even think of driving" to arena, but Barclays Center website offers driving directions (though parsimonious parking info), and Ticketmaster didn't get the message

Thanks to some uncurious and ahistorical reporting, mainly from the New York Times (and those who relied on it), Forest City Ratner's belatedly-released Transportation Demand Management plan for the Barclays Center was treated as a wise solution rather than an expected tactic with enduring question marks.

And paid consultant "Gridlock Sam" Schwartz was treated as an "expert" rather than an "expert" "consultant" delivering for a client.

Yes, we've known for years that they would emphasize public transit, and provide some increased subway (and train) service. And we've known since the beginning of this month that the number of spaces in the surface parking lot would be halved, a concession more to reality--surface capacity--than to public policy. (In other words, they aimed to build 1,100 spaces, but the oft-discussed use of stackers would have caused delays, as Schwartz's firm had warned.)

But the six-month delay in releasing a pl…

Worth follow-up from the transportation meeting: disincentives, penalties, missing parking data, impact of tower construction, security, and truck routes

Following up my coverage of the May 22 public meeting on the Barclays Center Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan, I want to focus on some exchanges that deserve more analysis, given that the questions didn't quite get full answers.

I already wrote this morning about one seemingly inadequate answer: whether the halving of on-site parking, and other changes, should have triggered revision of project documents. The answer was no, but the evidence seems otherwise.

Below, the embedded video (shot by Jonathan Barkey) is keyed to the specific questions.

Disincentives

One of the biggest issues looming: What disincentives will prevent people from circling neighborhood streets to look for free, on-street parking? When Community Board 6 District Manager Craig Hammerman read the question, there were some titters from the crowd.



Forest City Ratner consultant Sam ("Gridlock Sam") Schwartz answered incompletely, stressing incentives: to use the parking reservation system that w…