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Showing posts from November, 2012

At meeting on first Atlantic Yards tower, questions about affordable housing, CBA oversight, design, safety, parking, noise

The meeting last night at Borough Hall was supposed to address the design for B2, the $183 million, 32-story, modular tower that will be the first Atlantic Yards residential building, but the presentation actually went well beyond it to issues not just of neighborhood impact but also affordable housing and hiring.

The session, which lasted only about 90 minutes of a projected two-hour length, was mostly low-key, with handful of flash points, including the questionable claim that a Dean Street sidewalk narrowed to five feet could accommodate arena crowds.

There were perhaps 60 people in the audience, many of them apparently more interested in issues like affordable housing--applications should be available in January 2014--than the impacts of construction. The building will have 363 units, with 181 (50%) subsidized for low-, moderate-, and middle-income renters.

Representatives of developer Forest City Ratner and its associates were mostly surefooted regarding plans for the building, st…

Uh-oh: Dean Street sidewalk at B2 construction site, adjacent to arena entrance, will narrow to five feet; crowds already cause overflows

In presenting plans last night for B2, the 32-story residential tower slated to be the world’s tallest modular building, developer Forest City Ratner and its partners sounded like they had thought through almost every issue.

[See a full report on the meeting.]

They stressed that, by building most of the components inside a factory at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, there would be less noise, fewer deliveries, and a faster construction schedule--all of which should add up to a decreased impact on neighbors near the tower bordering the Barclays Center at Dean Street and Flatbush Avenue.

The plan (full presentation)


But construction also means that, for one year, the sidewalk on the north side of Dean east of Flatbush--already periodically overburdened by crowds streaming to and from the arena entrance on Dean-- will narrow to just five feet, a situation that left some Prospect Heights neighbors incredulous.

That would leave only one lane of traffic on Dean Street.

The current width, according t…

After pre-rusting the Barclays Center facade, the metal drips, after all

A reader pointed me to this piece at the end of the New York Times's 11/27/12 Appraisal column: Arena Leaves Its Mark:
Love it or hate it, the Barclays Center arena in Brooklyn is open and here to stay. As supporters and detractors alike keep their eyes peeled for shifts in traffic patterns and the fabric of surrounding neighborhoods, one messy prospect has already come to pass.
The deliberately rusted facade has dripped patches of bright orange onto some of the surrounding sidewalks, and left them looking as though a very tall and mischievous teenager had gone at them with a can of pumpkin-colored spray paint.
The facade of the arena is made of 12,000 panels of a material called weathering steel, which is made to rust quickly and then, once a protective layer of rust has formed, to slow the rusting process almost to a stop. But while it may look rugged, the steel bleeds bits of fiery color onto the surrounding area, especially in its early life.
The steel on the Barclays Center w…

FAQ on Forest City Ratner's B2 plans: timing, cost ($24M less than 80 DeKalb), profits, workers, union deal, affordability

Updated with new numbers about the cost of the building.

Some questions and answers regarding what's known about Forest City Ratner's plans for B2, the first residential tower in the Atlantic Yards project, claimed to be cheaper, faster, greener--and with less impact on the surroundings (though see questions for tonight's community meeting.)

So, why did Forest City Ratner wait until yesterday to announce that B2 would be modular, given there was much evidence that plan was already in place?

As Gib Veconi wrote in Prospect Heights Patch:
But as we found out yesterday from the New York Times, the factory has been in operation for some time. Because modular construction means fewer jobs and lower pay for construction workers, the more practical reason for the delay in announcing the use of modular has more to do with negotiating a deal with their unions who were strong initial supporters of the project.  I'd add that they also had to get a financing deal in place. But the …

AY Watch: Questions for tonight's meeting about B2 design: construction plans, sidewalk use, parking, noise, and more

Atlantic Yards Watch has posed several questions regarding the meeting tonight at Borough Hall, 6:30 pm, regarding design plans for B2, the first Atlantic Yards tower

Among them:What are the construction plans for B2, in terms of sidewalk and lane closures, and delivery of modular units?How will sidewalk use be affected by B2 construction, given that arena events already overburden sidewalks?Where will B2 residents park, given that no plan has been announced?How will problems with noise escaping from the arena be addressed, given that bass already penetrates buildings farther away.Where will B2 residents find open space, given the lack of such space. Other questions, such as plans for affordable housing and hiring of local residents, given the decrease of jobs under modular construction, are likely to be ruled out of bounds.
But they are no less worthy of discussion. For the full post, go to Atlantic Yards Watch.

More hiring at the Barclays Center; enlarging the pool, or coping with layoffs already?

There's more hiring at the Barclays Center, but, in the absence of any evidence of more jobs, it looks like they're just refilling or enlarging the pool of potential part-time workers.
If they're just re-filling the pool, then, that suggests some earlier hires are getting laid off. (I queried Forest City Ratner yesterday but didn't hear back.
It's doubtful that they plan to staff the arena with more people; a Forest City executive said last month "We wanted to be sure to open right, so some of the staffing levels, et cetera, have been higher than we would anticipate over the long term."
New hiring: concessions and housekeeping

A message from Community Board 2 yesterday:
Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) has announced two new job opportunities at the Barclays Center, for concessions workers and housekeeping positions.
These positions are separate from the recruitment drive held over the summer, as well as the overnight positions announced in October and …

With bank and unions on board, Forest City ready to test modular constrution; Times scoop doesn't point out that number of jobs likely cut more than 50%

So much for those consistent claims that Forest City Ratner "hadn't decided" whether it would build the first Atlantic Yards tower using modular technology--claims that, as I reported last month, were highly questionable.

Now that a bank is on board, as are unions, so the news is ready to be released.

And the New York Times scoop, which describes a 25% wage cut, does not offer a comparison between the long-promised claims of Atlantic Yards total construction jobs and the potential now--though, as I describe below, there's a significant gap, greater than 50%.

Nor does the article describe what the new figures--both in terms of wage cuts and fewer jobs--do to calculations of Atlantic Yards' fiscal impact. And the construction unions offer Ratner a bye, no longer pointing out that Ratner has reneged on promises.

The news

In At Atlantic Yards, Ready to Test Plans for Prefab Tower, the New York Times's Charles Bagli reports:
In a warehouse deep inside the Brooklyn …

NYC rivalry amps up with Nets win over Knicks; Mayor salutes "great Bruce Ratner;" Markowitz crows; Yormark says Brooklyn has "a team to be proud of" (what about Atlantic Yards promises?)

So the guys wearing Brooklyn Nets uniforms beat the guys (minus a few out for injuries) wearing New York Knicks uniforms last night in an overtime game that had the Barclays Center rocking, bringing the Nets tied with the Knicks in first place in their division.

The news, according to the New York Post cover at right, was more important than the bill from Superstorm Sandy. The Daily News, below left, was slightly more modest.

"The city is under new management," tweeted Jay-Z, aka Shawn Carter, prompting a mere 7600-plus re-tweets.

"Brooklyn Nets are Kings' of NYC...How sweet it is!" declared Borough President Marty Markowitz, who earlier clashed publicly with Spike Lee, a Brooklynite but eternal Knick fan.

"A team to be proud of"

"Start believing brooklyn," pronounced Nets/arena CEO Brett Yormark. "You have a team to be proud of. Congrats. More to come."

We "have" a team. That's how it works: communities embrace sport…