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Showing posts from July, 2012

"Roof sponsorship signage" coming to Barclays Center: does Forest City's plan meet Design Guidlines?

Guess what: "roof sponsorship signage" is coming to the Barclays Center, according to the latest two-week Atlantic Yards Construction Alert, released yesterday by Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) after preparation by Forest City Ratner.

Preparation for the installation of the signage will begin this week or next, according to the document, which does not explain the nature and extent of such signage.

I've asked for more details; for example, will it look like the rendering above right, released in early 2010, announcing the Barclays Center?

Either way, however, roof signage was never officially permitted. So it should be seen as a multi-million-dollar giveaway.

Raising the question in 2010

I reported 3/8/10 that rooftop Barclays Center logo that appeared in the latest arena rendering arena seemed to violate the Design Guidelines as stated in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) issued by the ESDC.

Asked in March 2010 if the pictured rooftop signage …

From the latest Atlantic Yards Construction Alert: the oculus and the Haier Store become more visible

There's some interesting stuff in the latest two-week Atlantic Yards Construction Alert, dated 7/30/12 (and embedded below) and released yesterday by Empire State Development after preparation by Forest City Ratner.

Not only will the oculus become ever more visible, so too will be the Haier Store at the east end of the arena, at the extension of Pacific Street. I've written separately about "roof sponsorship signage."

Below I've bolded changes from the previous alert.

Facade installation
• The installation of the entry canopy oculus façade panels is projected to start this reporting period. This installation will be performed on a second and partial third shift timetable, with the Work scheduled from 3 pm to 3 am.
• The installation of the Haier Store (east retail zone) façade panels is projected to start this reporting period. This installation will be performed on a second and partial third shift timetable, with the Work scheduled from 3 pm to 3 am. Waterproofing…

With arena General Manager gone, more pressure on getting arena systems to work; Forest City exec once warned that "it is essential that the arena be completed by early July 2012" for testing

It's a bit of a mystery, and it has to be troubling for Barclays Center operators. Sports Business Journal reports today on the departure of the arena General Manager and (via NetsDaily's summary):
[John] Sparks decided to "go in a different direction" and left New York a month ago, [arena CEO] Brett Yormark told SBJ. The change is not expected to affect the arena construction timetable. Well, it won't affect the construction timetable, as the arena's supposed to reach a substantial completion date of 9/5/12, itself nudged back from 8/12/12, after three other adjustments. But they have little more than three weeks after that to get the building ready for the first Jay-Z concert.

Sparks' departure won't make it easier to make the systems work in a complicated building that, Forest City Ratner's top Atlantic Yards executive once said, had "to be completed by early July 2012" to ensure "three to four months" for testing.

In other …

Flashback to September 2010: Forest City's Gilmartin said "we anticipate" funding for first tower by spring of 2011

Less than two years ago, at a 9/29/10 public meeting on the arena plaza, Forest City Ratner Executive VP MaryAnne Gilmartin aimed to mitigate some of the bad publicity that stemmed from Bruce Ratner's comments at a press event a day earlier about how the project might take longer than ten years.

"We explained the possibility that the project might be delayed by economic conditions and be built over a longer period than ten years," she said. "That being said, Forest City's plans for the buildout are as follows. We are currently working on moving forward with the three residential buildings on the arena block. We anticipate having funding in place to start the first building at Dean and Flatbush in the spring of 2011, the second six to nine months later, and the third about the same time after that."

Note that the Development Agreement gives them a lot more time--ten years for the third tower to start--before penalties kick in. Construction on the first build…

Connecting Mayor Bloomberg's endorsement of Scott Brown, his downplaying of the Barclays/LIBOR scandal, and "corporatist privilege" (that connects to "Bankers Gone Wild")

Michael D. D. White has been writing up a storm on his Noticing New York blog about Barclays, the LIBOR scandal, and the possibility of local governmental agencies gaining recompense in a lawsuit.

In his latest, he muses about Mayor Mike Bloomberg's surprising announcement that he supports incumbent Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, a Republican, against law professor (and Wall Street critic) Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat:
Come on now! No, it’s pretty clear, Brown’s gun control record is just a contrived cover for Bloomberg’s work to keep the banks unregulated and unaccountable. That probably puts the above point #3 in the lead for the reason that Bloomberg is also so eager to minimize the public’s LIBOR losses.
But maybe it doesn’t make any difference which exactly of those above three reasons explains why Bloomberg is minimizing the possibility of the public’s loses at the hands of Barclays and the other banks, because whether it's "Barclays" (Ratner/Prokhorov) arena b…

The modular plan versus Gehry's goal to not make it "look like a project"

"How do you make a complex that doesn’t look like a project even though one architect’s doing it?" asked Frank Gehry, then the architect of Atlantic Yards, in a 10/31/05 interview, describing some of the challenges he faced.

Modular construction does not seem to be the most likely solution. (The developer is still aiming at modular, but has not reached agreement with construction unions, even though an effort to finance the first building is in process.)
But by now Forest City Ratner's goal is cutting costs--not to mention that speedier construction would avoid arena snags. So Gehryesque architecture is not the priority. 
Note that the rendering, by SHoP, is from that curious hovercraft perspective that architects often favor, though it bears no relation to how pedestrians would experience the buildings. Also note the building in the lower right, which seems very small: it's not actually the 10-story Atlantic Terrace building, which should be there, but seven-story…

Downtown Brooklyn hailed for growth in jobs, income; rezoning lost to history; Barclays Center seen as opportunity; DBP portrays itself as nonpartisan

Downtown Brooklyn is booming--sort of. Yesterday, a press conference at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, Borough President Marty Markowitz, and the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership (DBP) unveiled reports about job growth, a residential boom, and the area's future.

While two publications (Patch and the Epoch Times) did check with FUREE (Families United for Racial and Economic Equality), which expressed dismay at the lack of affordable housing, nobody pointed out that the rezoning passed in 2004 was aimed to increase office jobs for Wall Street and other large firms, which didn't happen at all.

Instead, there's been little increase in office space; the boom has been in health care/social assistance, education, leisure hospitality and tech. From 2003 to 2010, there was a growth of nearly 12,000 jobs, or 18.3%, in the Comptroller's broadly designated Downtown Brooklyn, which includes several adjacent neighborhoods, from Boerum Hill to Clinton…

Promises, promises: how the ESDC said care would be taken at the construction site, how complaints have been documented, and what might be done about noise

As I wrote yesterday, a new report validates neighbors' concerns about disruptive Atlantic Yards constructions, and documents suggest that the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) and its environmental monitor have condoned a cover-up of a Forest City contractor's falsification.

Some 19 months ago, an ESDC attorney--in retrospect, not so wisely--assured board members that all commitments to mitigate neighborhood concerns would be followed.

The comment came in the wake of the ESDC's breakneck preparation (via consultant AKRF) that a 25-year Atlantic Yards buildout would not result in any community impacts not disclosed in the agency's previous study of an official ten-year buildout and a five year delay.

Such a finding, in a Technical Analysis (not to be confused with a Technical Memorandum issued in June 2009), was ordered by Supreme Court Justice Marcy Friedman, who ultimately ruled that it was inadequate, and that the agency had to perform a Supplemental Envir…

Atlantic Yards construction violations: not just neglect, but also a cover-up of "documentation falsified by the contractor"

For years, residents near the Atlantic Yards project have complained about deafening late-night noise ("I take sleeping pills," one lamented), delivery trucks using residential streets for staging, and construction workers creating free parking by any means necessary, even uprooting a "No Standing" sign (video).

A new report, commissioned by the community initiative Atlantic Yards Watch, catalogs violations in depressing detail, suggesting that neighbors' interests have been sacrificed in developer Forest City Ratner's rush to get the Barclays Center finished for that first Jay-Z concert Sept. 28.

The state agency overseeing the project, Empire State Development (ESD, aka Empire State Development Corporation), has barely enforced the official mitigation protocols, nor have other agencies stepped up, according to the report. (ESD recently lost a lawsuit, and must analyze the community impact of a potential 25-year project buildout.)

Forest City Ratner's …

Report validates neighbors' steady complaints about Atlantic Yards construction: "continual violations and difficulty with enforcement"

So, maybe the neighbors near the Atlantic Yards project, who have filed complaints and reports about a never-ending stream of construction-related violations--late-night noise causing sleepless nights, dust clouds, illegal parking, jolting vibrations, use of residential streets for truck routes--will be taken more seriously.

And, as the opening of the Barclays Center arena approaches Sept. 28, perhaps officials will recognize that careful monitoring is necessary to ensure against untoward impacts.

A new report, prepared for Atlantic Yards Watch by a veteran environmental consulting firm, concludes that the Forest City Ratner and its contractors, bent on getting a huge project finished by a tight deadline, have regularly failed to comply with mitigation protocols officially agreed to, and that other mitigations were implemented late, poorly, or unevenly.

The report, Evaluation of Construction Air Quality and Noise Commitments and Mitigations (embedded below), was conducted by Sandstone…

Mosley launches Assembly campaign, offers mealymouthed vagueness on Atlantic Yards

Thanks to the Observer's Colin Campbell, who posted Walter Mosley Hopes to Replicate Hakeem Jeffries’ Magic yesterday with video, we have the 57th Assembly District candidate (and current male District Leader), friend and presumed heir of the House of Representatives-bound Jeffries, talking about Atlantic Yards.

Campbell, like a lot of journalists not quite familiar with Atlantic Yards, got it wrong, writing:
And on the most charged and controversial issue in the district, the construction of Atlantic Yards, Mr. Mosley took a middle-of-the-road position of acknowledging his support but demanding more action on the chief complaints of the project’s opponents. Actually, the chief complaints of the project's opponents are that it's a rigged process (see, um, Battle for Brooklyn) with a government willing to give the developer a pass (see the latest Atlantic Yards Watch report).

They've also turned into watchdogs regarding the project's failure to deliver promised jobs…

Naming-rights deals, suggests law professor, are "transparent efforts by dubious enterprises to buy goodwill by permanently associating themselves with famous landmarks"

In a 7/19/12 Boston Review essay headlined Names, Trains, and Corporate Deals: Why Public Transit Shouldn’t Sell Naming Rights, law professor Frank Pasquale writes:
Present-day plutocrats, from Berlusconi to Bloomberg, have focus-grouped more alluring slogans: “public-private partnerships,” “strategic plans,” and “entrepreneurial philanthropy.” Whatever these PR platitudes are trying to convey, these deals need to be recognized for what they are: exploitation of the public sphere by corporate interests.
• • •
Many naming-rights deals are not merely advertising. Rather, they are transparent efforts by dubious enterprises to buy goodwill by permanently associating themselves with famous landmarks....

Barclays also purchased the rights to name the New York Nets’ future home, for more than $300 million. The right to name the subway station next to it cost a mere $4 million, to be paid $200,000 per year for twenty years. There is poetic justice to naming professional sports stadiums after …

The little economic engine that could? Once Atlantic Yards was called an "economic engine." Now it's the arena.

The Summer 2012 issue of Brooklyn!! (embedded below), Borough President Marty Markowitz's promotional publication, offers an enthusiastic coverage of the new arena, with a curious claim:Along with pumping up Brooklyn’s reputation as the place for sporting and entertainment events, Barclays Center is its own economic engine, providing 2,000 full and part-time jobs, plus a shot in the arm to the ancillary businesses around the arena.Forest City Ratner says those 2,000 jobs add up to 1,240 FTE (full-time equivalent), but I think that's very doubtful.

Either way, it's hard to call the arena "its own economic engine," given the significant subsidies and tax breaks, and the fact that the New York City Independent Budget Office calls it a net loss to the city.

After all, sports economist Andrew Zimbalist, at least before he delivered a report for his client, Forest City Ratner, told the 2/16/04, Courier-Life, "One would not say, 'Let's move the Nets to B…

Absurdist Post columnist Peyser: "Almost single-handedly, [Ratner]'’ll have brought the Borough of Kings... back to buzzworthy health"

Giddy, fact-challenged New York Post columnist Andrea Peyser, having completely forgotten the 10,000 Atlantic Yards jobs she once promoted, but maintaining her dada take from 12/1/09, writes a valentine today to Bruce Ratner, headlined B’klyn revival’s ringmaster.

So, Ratner gets credit for Brooklyn's revival? Puh-leeze.

The tie-less developer

Peyser writes:
He thought he’d never pull it off.
Bruce Ratner doesn’t walk. He bounces. In a hard hat, rumpled suit and never a tie, Ratner vibrates giddily amid buzzing saws and deafening drills, before leaping amid never-sat-in seats covered in dusty plastic. Funny, but here are twoexamples where Ratner's wearing a hardhat at the arena and, yes, a tie.

The justification: entertainment

Peyser writes:
We’re in the brand-new crux of the known universe, Barclays Center, now under construction, talking about the rise of Brooklyn.
“It’s incredible!’’ enthused Ratner, 67, the hyperactive developer and CEO of Forest City Ratner.
“We’ve got Barb…

Undoing development promises, in Chelsea and in Prospect Heights: shouldn't there be a quid pro quo?

There's a telling passage at the end of a 7/18/12 New York Observer article, Chelsea Marketing: Expansion Fits With Beloved Building’s Past, But What About Chelsea’s Future?, about the controversial plans to build on top of the Chelsea Market building, to take advantage of the High Line:
Architect Gregg Pasquarelli knows a thing or two about additions on top of Chelsea buildings. His SHoP Architects, better known for the Barclays Center and East River Esplanade, designed the Porter House across the street from the market. It happens to be one of the firm’s first successes, the dark metal box with the vertical lights running through it, perched atop the yellow-brick Old Homestead Steakhouse.

Mr. Pasquarelli has called it home since it opened a decade ago, and he said he welcomes his new neighbor, even if it will block his view.

“What’s wrong with congestion?” he asks. “I’m all for congestion, it’s the lifeblood of the city. The neighborhood can handle the density.”

This is the way …