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Showing posts from September, 2013

DOT: street parking availability falls during Barclays Center events, but still spaces available; neighbors raise doubts about study

So, what's the impact of the Barclays Center on on-street parking? A presentation unveiled 9/26/13 at the Atlantic Yards Quality of Life meeting by the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) indicated that, while arena events do correlate with to more parking on streets in blocks near the arena, there's still some free parking available among the 9,000 spaces with about a half-mile of the arena.

The study, which followed up a July 2012 study predicting (based on the not so parallel Yankee Stadium experience) that there would be parking available, supports the city's unwillingness to push for residential parking permits, which many neighbors support but requires a change in the state legislature.

However, several neighbors said the DOT's findings departed from their experience, which can require them to circle for hours and find parking. They also questioned the choice of blocks and times sampled--for example, one block closest to the arena, which received a re…

Yormark's global ambitions: "We have some of the best brands working with us" and "the direct connect to [Russian] consumers"

The balance of power between the veteran New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets continues to adjust, with the Nets on the upswing. Most pundits believe the Nets, with their off-season acquisitions of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Andrei Kirilenko, and others, will surpass the Knicks on the court.

Last week, the NBA awarded the 2015  All-Star Game to Madison Square Garden, but the other festivities to the Barclays Center, a nod perhaps to not only the Knicks' longevity but also the plethora of hotel rooms in Manhattan.

Then Knicks' owner James Dolan fired GM Glen Grunwald, demoting him to consultant. As Chris Herring of The Wall Street Journal put it:
By nearly all accounts, Grunwald—who initially took over in 2011 on an interim basis following Donnie Walsh's exit—did well with a difficult situation. Few could have expected last season's No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Still, Dolan probably wasn't thrilled to see the rival Nets steal headlines and make strides, b…

Inside baseball: when Ratner was clever, the Times saluted Atlantic Yards tactics. Now?

Some of us remember this 6/9/05 New York Times article, Unlike Stadium on West Side, an Arena in Brooklyn Is Still a Go, which approvingly described Forest City Ratner's tactics regarding Atlantic Yards:
As soon as it set about devising its plan in early 2002, it brought aboard a seasoned team of lobbyists who immediately went to work building support among political leaders, especially [Assembly Speaker] Mr. [Sheldon] Silver. Or this 10/15/05 article headlined To Build Arena in Brooklyn, Developer First Builds Bridges:
Mr. Ratner's street-level and high-level public relations campaign began in the fall of 2003, when his company retained Dan Klores Communications, one of the city's top public relations firms. Their team, headed by Joe DePlasco, a veteran of the city's Democratic establishment, began lining up politicians and other supporters before the December news conference unveiling the initial design.

Since then, the firm has run what amounted to an ambitious tra…

Victory laps: Bruce Ratner celebrates Barclays Center with sycophantic hosts: John Gambling/Fox Business (Did half of Brooklyn attend an event? Nah.)

It's the anniversary of the Barclays Center, and developer Bruce Ratner is doing a couple of victory laps.

First, the 9/25/13 John Gambling Show, hosted by Mayor Mike Bloomberg's favorite interviewer.

Gambling first asked about the Nassau Coliseum. Ratner responded with his keywords: "gorgeous arena... 30 million cars every year... entertainment [for everybody]...  I think it will rival Barclays in both its success and its beauty."



"Speaking of Barclays, it's only been around for one year, and it seems as though it's been around forever," enthused Gambling.

"It's been a remarkable year," responded Ratner, noting that for the first half of the year, the arena led the U.S. in concert/family show revenue and was second in the world to the O2 in London, which has no anchor sports team and thus more open nights.

Would the full reopening of Madison Square Garden, which has been under renovation, have an effect?

No, said Ratner. "It'…

Another look at latest legal decision; Daily News, Post frame "rare" victory; winning groups not quite cooperative; Times absent

News12 yesterday offered a lame report with a dopey headline, Barclays Center naysayers remain after 1 year, which gave the "naysayers" very little voice.

But why might there be some naysayers? Maybe it's that a judge yet again confirmed the process behind Atlantic Yards was sketchy, awarding legal fees to two community coalitions that challenged the state's 2009 approval of the project and successfully got the court to order a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement to study the community impacts of a 25-year buildout.

However, the narrative, in the rather skimpy news coverage, was more simple, as noted below.

Different takes from the winners

It's also worth noting, as I point out, that the two community coalitions that won the case had somewhat different emphases, with Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn focusing on the judge's vindication of their critique of the project, and BrooklynSpeaks focusing on the failure to deliver benefits like affordable hous…

Forest City: B2 tower pushed back six months, because of revisions at modular factory (for "all good reasons")

A Forest City Ratner executive last night acknowledged that the first modular residential tower, B2, is delayed six months, as indicated in SEC filings earlier this month, but suggested there were "all good reasons" for the delay.

Speaking at the bimonthly meeting of the Atlantic Yards Quality of Life Committee, Jane Marshall said that the developer "originally thought we would be able to open in the summer of 2014. It looks like it's going to be open in the last quarter of 2014."
"The reasons for that are actually all good reasons," she asserted, saying the delay has to do with the start-up of the factory in the Brooklyn Navy Yard that will be producing modules (aka "mods") that will be trucked to the site at Flatbush Avenue and Dean Street and used to build the 32-story tower.
Factory changes
"In starting up the factory, we thought that there were certain kinds of equipment and money that would need to be invested," Marshall said,…

So, when will Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for Atlantic Yards Phase 2 be issued? ESDC says there's no timetable

There was no discussion at the bimonthly Atlantic Yards Quality of Life meeting last night of a judge's decision to award attorneys' fees to two community coalitions that challenged the failure to study an extended Atlantic Yards timetable.

But there was a question about Justice Marcy Friedman's order that the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) issue a Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) regarding Phase 2 of the project.
It's been ten months (actually closer to nine) since the Draft Scope was issued for the SEIS, noted Gib Veconi of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council. "When can we expect to see the Draft SEIS?" (That Draft SEIS would then generate a public hearing, with responses incorporated into a Final SEIS.)

"We're definitely working on it," responded Derek Lynch, ESDC's community and government relations manager for Atlantic Yards. "There were quite a few comments" in response, he sa…

In decision awarding fees to attorneys challenging Atlantic Yards timetable, judge slams ESDC, suggests arena might not have been started/built had agency come clean

A new legal decision casts another cloud over the behavior of the state agency shepherding/overseeing Atlantic Yards and hints that only thanks to cheating did the Barclays Center get started in 2010 and, perhaps, built at all.

In the decision, dated 9/20/13 but released yesterday, state Supreme Court Justice Marcy Friedman granted a yet-to-be-determined amount of attorneys' fees to the two community coalitions that successfully challenged the Empire State Development Corporation's (ESDC) agreement to extend the Atlantic Yards timetable from ten years to 25 years without studying the community impacts.

The practical impact--should the decision not be successfully appealed--is that attorneys for two community coalitions, Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) and BrooklynSpeaks, may get paid for a significant amount of their work so far.
Also, there may be money left over to fund additional legal work regarding the ongoing Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) …

From the Commercial Observer: Barclays Center’s First Year, By The Numbers (big concert venue; bonus: changing number of annual events)

In an article/chart for this week's Commercial Observer, Barclays Center’s First Year, By The Numbers, I wrote:
By most measures, the Barclays Center had a very good year since opening with eight Jay-Z concerts a year ago this Saturday, including hosting MTV’s Video Music Awards last month. As the statistics show, its success as a concert venue was significant, even if audience attendance was bolstered in some part by ongoing renovations at Madison Square Garden.
While some scheduled events never came to fruition, the total number of events lagged behind several estimates, and the start-up costs were a drag on profits, the Barclays Center will get a big bump during the 2015-2016 season when the New York Islanders move in. Click through for various statistics, including the notable difference between projected concerts and the actual number, Nets fan demographics, attendance figures, as well as some of the events (what about that collaboration with BAM?) that were announced but not…

Met Council's Rapfogel said to have kept $1 million out of $5 million stolen; gave $100,000 to help a son buy home

The charges against former charity macher William Rapfogel are so serious that it makes you wonder if he'll make a deal and bring down any associates, such as longtime friend Sheldon Silver, the Assembly Speaker, for which his wife Judy is chief of staff.

And maybe he'll explain why one campaign contribution from his alleged associates went to an opponent of Forest City Ratner foe Letitia James.

Helping out a son

The New York Times reports today, Former Chief of Jewish Charity Stole Money Early and Often, Prosecutors Say:
Shortly after William E. Rapfogel became the leader of one of New York City’s most influential social service organizations in 1992, prosecutors say, he began to steal.
He received envelope after envelope, stuffed with skimmed cash kickbacks, according to a criminal complaint filed on Tuesday. Also cited were a $27,000 check written to a contractor working on his apartment, roughly $100,000 to help his son buy a home, and a campaign finance scheme that manipul…

Fire Department official acknowledges poor communication before Barclays Center disaster drill Sept. 13

There wasn't much discussion of the Barclays Center at last night's 78th Precinct Community Council, at least in part because Council President Pauline Blake suggested that concerns be held for the Atlantic Yards Quality of Life meeting scheduled for this Thursday at 6:30 pm.

But New York Fire Department Battalion Chief Don Hayde did offer some oblique apologies for poor communication before the disaster drill held at the arena on Friday, Sept. 13. It was announced the day before but not circulated to many people until hours before the start.

For those not in the know, the scenes with actors playing dead and injured people, as well as emergency personnel in haz mat suits was alarming.

"It was not public knowledge in this community until late Thursday night," Blake said. "I have to say it was poor communication. I dialogued with OEM [Office of Emergency Management] and they passed the buck to you."

Hayde said previous drills, held in a portion of Penn Statio…

As Ratner's Nassau Coliseum plan moves ahead, analyst predicts developer will try to renegotiate deal with county

In Developer Wins Approval to Renovate Nassau Coliseum, the New York Times reports that the Nassau County Legislature approved the $229 million plan by "the developer Bruce Ratner, the mastermind of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn," to "restore the utilitarian and increasingly outdated 41-year-old Coliseum, in Uniondale, N.Y."

And the article raises a question: though the deal is supposed to save county taxpayers money--they rejected a plan to pay off $400 million in bonds for a new arena--the Coliseum, without the Islanders but likely with a minor league hockey team, may have trouble surviving:
Dennis Coates, a professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, who specializes in sports economics, said he doubted that the arena could generate the revenue it needed without the draw of a big sports team that can fill seats for roughly 40 home games a year, forcing the arena to rely mainly on concerts.
While it can attract big-name entertainers, he said, it wi…

The Barclays boom? Sunny Daily News package on arena's first year allows few discouraging words, less analysis

The New York Daily News, sponsor of the Daily News Plaza at the Barclays Center and a longtime cheerleader for the arena, produced a package of mostly puff pieces yesterday saluting the arena at one year. While a small amount of criticism and contradictory information snuck in, the newspaper didn't look hard enough.

Yes, the arena has gotten mostly good reviews from visitors, drawn healthy crowds for the Nets, and booked more concerts than anticipated. That surely makes the Barclays Center a success by several measures, but it does not make the arena--much less the overall Atlantic Yards project--a success without major caveats.

There was no mention of any untoward local impacts--surely fewer than feared, but still significant on the blocks nearest the arena. Nor acknowledgment that two retail spaces around the arena itself remain empty, while those on Atlantic Avenue lag.

Nor any recognition why mention of the arena at a mayoral forum might provoke scorn.  Nor why there's an