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Showing posts from August, 2014

As Barclays Center prepares for next show, errant trucks fill no-standing zones, cause traffic jam on Flatbush after wrong turn attempt

It's been a slow summer at the Barclays Center, but now that there's another major event--a one-off that apparently requires many specialized deliveries--(apparently) inexperienced and/or poorly managed truckers are violating the law and/or protocols while making deliveries.

As posted yesterday on Atlantic Yards Watch, several 18-wheel trucks making deliveries to the Barclays Center--apparently for the 9/9/14 Fashion Rocks show, a "television special celebrating the powerful relationship between fashion and music"--were parking and idling yesterday in no-standing zones on Dean Street and Sixth Avenue.

Missing the easy turn off Flatbush onto Dean

Below is one example: trucks should traveling south along Flatbush Avenue to make a left onto Dean Street to enter the arena loading dock, which is located on Dean Street between Flatbush and Sixth Avenues,

Dean Street is already relatively narrow, not built for trucks, and it's been further narrowed by scaffolding and ba…

Looking at the very variable prices for Brooklyn Nets single-game tickets

Remember how the Brooklyn Nets this past March claimed that upcoming "Season ticket prices remain the same from the 2013-14 season and start at $45 per seat"?

That's not so. For the first season, they started at $15, part of a longstanding--if short-lived--plan to offer 2,000 seats at $15, and in the second, season tickets started at $25.

Now that single-game Brooklyn Nets tickets are on sale, it's interesting to see how dramatic the price differences are depending on the opponent. Some games cost well more than $45, starting at $110, while some cost far less, starting at $20.
This is not unusual, apparently. The Chicago Bulls, for example, say that "single game ticket prices, depending on the game date and the amount of ticket availability, are subject to change without notice." 
Below, some selected screen shots showing current ticket prices. In Brooklyn, prices likely will change as the season develops and the number of available seats fluctuates.

Note t…

Barclays Center releases September 2014 event calendar: six concerts, two free events, one hockey game (plus construction constraints)

According to the recently released Barclays Center event calendar for September 2014, there will be six ticketed concerts, with a maximum expected attendance at 14,000, two free afternoon community events, and an Islanders-Devils exhibition hockey game.

The  Back to School Bash--an educational resource fair with live music, games, prizes, food trucks, and more--will be 0/13/14 on the arena plaza from 11am-3pm.

The Brooklyn Beat Festival, from 4-5 pm 9/15/14 on the plaza features Dancewave with contemporary choreography, then Bed Stuy Veterans demonstrating NYC Bruk-Up, a style of movement based on a dance form that originated in Jamaica.


September 2013

The September 2013 calendar had eight concerts scheduled, plus boxing, pro wrestling, and a hockey game.


Impact on arena access

According to an arena construction update:
Starting in July 2014, you will notice construction on Atlantic Ave. for a brand new Long Island Rail Road tunnel. Please be aware of the following temporary traffic pat…

Bitter dispute between Forest City and Skanska over cost overruns stalls work at B2 modular tower; raises questions about pre-fab future

Updated with a few details from New York Times coverage and the Wall Street Journal update.

Forest City Ratner has had very high hopes for its modular construction plan, at one point calling it their "iPhone moment" and claiming to have "Cracked the Code" for high-rise modular, expecting to build towers faster than conventional construction, steadily supplied by modules fabricated at a new factory in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

But the first tower, the 32-story, 363-unit (half market, half subsidized) B2, which broke ground in December 2012, faced steady delays. It was originally said to take 20 months (though Forest City in one earlier interview hoped for 14 months!), but the delivery date then became December 2014. As of April 2014, it was slated to open in the fourth quarter of 2015.

Even that may be too optimistic, now that Forest City and its general contractor, Skanska USA, are in a bitter dispute regarding cost overruns (worth tens of millions of dollars, accord…

As state is poised to give Fresh Direct subsidies, project relies on funds from immigrant investors under dubious EB-5 program; pitch in China was misleading

This isn't about Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, or even a similar megaproject, but the EB-5 angle is too glaring to ignore.

Update: the subsidies were approved unanimously. Nearly everyone making public comment offered support of the project, while one representative of South Bronx Unite asked the board to take more time and acknowledge the health impacts. No one mentioned EB-5, though it's obviously crucial to the project.

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At a board meeting (webcast) this morning starting at 9:30, Empire State Development, the state economic development agency, is set to approve what the agenda describes as:
A. Bronx (New York City Region – Bronx County) – Fresh Direct Capital – Urban and Community Development Program – Urban and Community Project Development Assistance (Capital Grant) – and Metropolitan Economic Revitalization Fund (Capital Loan) – Findings and Determinations Pursuant to Sections 5(4), 16-d and 10(g) of the Act; Authorization to Adopt the Proposed General Project Plan; Aut…

PHNDC forum tomorrow for candidates vying to fill Millman's Assembly seat, Adams's Senate seat

This year, two legislative seats representing parts of Prospect Heights are open, given the retirement of Assemblymember Joan Millman and the ascension of state Senator Eric Adams to the Borough Presidency.

So, tomorrow night, Wednesday, August 27, the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council (PHNDC) will host a moderated discussion with candidates running for office in Brooklyn’s 52nd Assembly District and 20th State Senate District
52nd Assembly—Doug Biviano, Pete Sikora and Jo Anne Simon
20th State Senate—Rubain Dorancy, Jesse Hamilton and Guillermo Philpotts
Moderator—Janet Babin of WNYC

When: Wednesday, August 27, 7:30PM

Where: Duryea Presbyterian Church, 362 Sterling Place (corner of Underhill Avenue) [Map] The Democratic primary election is Tuesday, September 9.

Community members may submit questions for the panels using Google Moderator. All questions will be reviewed and compiled by the forum organizers prior to the event.
Links to coverage

From Forest City's latest investor presentation: Atlantic Yards becomes Pacific Park (gif), office space still ignored

First, a gif chronicling the morphing of the Atlantic Yards plan to Pacific Park, according to slides from Forest City Enterprises investor presentations December 2013, February 2014, and August 2014.

Note how only in the latest slide, announcing Pacific Park Brooklyn, highlights "8 acres of landscaped open space." That open space became much more important with the name change.

(Also note how the outlines of all the towers are irregular, unlike in the site plan released with the Pacific Park rebranding.)



From the latest  Investor Presentation

The below slides are from the August 2014 Investor Presentation, as disclosed to the SEC.


Note that the project plan, as in previous iterations, does not mention the promised office space, source of the largest share of projected full-time jobs.



Brooklyn is a big part of Forest City Enterprises' business.



The Barclays Center is now the "anchor of our Pacific Park Brooklyn mixed-use project."

There's no mention of the …

"I guess we all just have to adjust": music critic, once no fan of arena, celebrates Arcade Fire show

In Metro 8/24/14, Gina Angelotti, who moved to Prospect Heights in approximately 2005, wrote Arcade Fire concert review, Barclays Center, Brooklyn, Aug. 22.

The lead to this review, I have to say, is exactly what developer Bruce Ratner and former Borough President Marty Markowitz were hoping for, an acknowledgment that what happens inside the Barclays Center erases previous opposition:
Moving Past the Feeling (Or, A personal account why I was — and still am — so moved by Arcade Fire)
When I moved to Prospect Heights, Brooklyn nearly a decade ago, I soon became aware that I was living in the epicenter of gentrification and development in the borough. I moved into a neighborhood that would rapidly change faces and façades, and I was by default among those thousands causing it, even though like many of its longtime residents, I also begrudged the idea of a sports arena breaking ground just blocks from my new apartment, on the corner where my new favorite dive bar stood. At the time, I wan…

Post: court papers indicate that indicted lobbyist Lowe admits fraud; consultant had ties to Forest City, though not part of charges

The New York Post reported 8/2014, Ex-Sampson aide admits to swiping $100K from officials
Indicted state Sen. John Sampson has been thrown under the bus to the feds by a former top aide who is also in big trouble with the law, new court papers reveal.
Melvin Lowe admitted during confidential meetings with prosecutors that he defrauded the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee out of $100,000 – and gave $75,000 of the money to “Senator #1,” the filing says. A source said “Senator #1” is Lowe’s ex-boss, Sampson (D-Brooklyn), who is fighting charges that he, himself, also committed fraud and tax crimes. Lowe has admitted that he failed to file tax returns for 2010 to 2012, despite earning $923,000. His trial is September 2.

As I wrote in July, 2010, DSCC consultant Lowe, connected to Sampson and Ratner (and Boyland's challenge to Montgomery), racks up the bucks. City Hall News broke the news that "Largely Unknown DSCC Consultant Cleared $300k In Last Year."

Here's br…

Bruce Ratner again gives to AG Schneiderman campaign and Kings County Democrats

From the latest round of campaign finance filings, we learn that Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner contributed $5,000 in July--as did his wife, Dr. Pamela Lipkin--to the re-election campaign for Attorney General Eric Schneiderman,

Those $5,000 sums are larger than most of Schneiderman's many recent contributions, but smaller than dozens of even larger ones.

Ratner also gave $5,000 to the Kings County Democratic Party (aka Kings County Democratic County Committee) in June.


In 2012, Ratner gave $10,000 to Schneiderman and $4,000 to Kings Democrats. In 2010, he gave $12,500 to Schneiderman.

I don't think we can connect Ratner's contributions to Schneiderman's inaction on some Atlantic Yards-related items, such as the debts of BUILD or the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership's reported lobbying. But, as we know, contributors are more likely to get their calls returned and/or attention paid to their issues.

Video touts "how the community won accountability" for Atlantic Yards affordable housing, acknowledges need to make future units more affordable

On the eve of the celebration for "Brooklyn's win in the fight for affordable housing at Atlantic Yards," held last night by BrooklynSpeaks and the Fifth Avenue Committee, BrooklynSpeaks released a video, below, described in a tweet as "How the community won accountability for #affordableHousing at #AtlanticYards, and what's next."

However, as I explained in a long article yesterday for BKLYNR, the affordable housing in the next two towers diverges significantly from previous promises and from the configuration--at least in income bands--in the first tower.
As I wrote last week, FAC and BrooklynSpeaks can celebrate success, notably the new 2025 deadline and penalties for delays in the housing.

But even if the actual affordability was outside the scope of negotiations--secret negotiations, the results announced as a fait accompli--it's both off-key and misleading to proclaim triumph without caveats.

So the video, which does acknowledge a few caveats, is…

My article on Atlantic Yards housing from BKLYNR: "When ‘Affordable’ Rents Push $3,000"

Update: also see my analysis of the BrooklynSpeaks video touting an accountability win.

I have an article in today's semi-monthly edition of the web magazine BKLYNR headlined When ‘Affordable’ Rents Push $3,000: With the controversial Atlantic Yards project — recently rebranded ‘Pacific Park’ — the devil is in the details:
The way Mayor Bill de Blasio put it on June 27, it sounded like alchemy. There was a new plan — hammered out with the administration of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the blessing of some Brooklyn activists who’d threatened to sue — to speed up the long-delayed affordable housing promised at the Atlantic Yards site in Brooklyn.
...“We are determined to jump-start affordable housing at Atlantic Yards,” de Blasio declared. “The agreement means two 100 percent affordable buildings will go in the ground starting next year, with units serving a more diverse range of families. And what’s remarkable is that we’ve secured nearly twice as many affordable units [compared with the …

Viva Movil store across from Barclays Center closes; maybe it will become a coffee joint

There's a prominent empty storefront right across from the Barclays Center: the Viva Movil store at Flatbush Avenue and Pacific Street has closed. Betabeat reported 8/18/14:
It was only a year ago that Jennifer Lopez marched into Brooklyn and heralded a new era of being ripped off by your cell phone provider. Dubbed Viva Movil, it’s a joint venture between the American Idol judge and Verizon Mobile to lure Latino shoppers to the brand. But it looks like its customers have hung up on it.
Last week, we noticed that the shop on Flatbush Avenue across from the Barclays Center shuttered. And Brownstoner followed up with Jennifer Lopez-Sponsored Viva Movil Store Closes on Flatbush Avenue. CNET reported 7/5/14 that employees in Brooklyn acknowledged a disconnect with customers; one said, "More than one customer has come in asking for coffee."

Which means it may well become a food or drink establishment.

Next Quality of Life meeting September 4 (no longer a committee?); community thanked for commitment to project success

A message yesterday from Nicole J. Jordan, Director, Community Relations, for Empire State Development:
Dear Community,
Forest City Ratner Companies, along with New York State and New York City representatives will host the next Quality of Life meeting Thursday, September 4, 2014 at 6:00 PM in the YWCA Community Room located at 30 Third Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11217. We will present an overview of the housing plan and upcoming construction activities.
An overview of the presentation will be emailed in the coming week. If you have any questions please contact ESD at atlanticyards@esd.ny.gov. Thank you for your continued commitment to the overall success of this project.
Please plan to arrive promptly in order to provide time for presentations and questions and answers from the community members.
Best regards,
Nicole (Emphases added)

It's definitely useful to get a presentation ahead of time, as occurred in June.

A change of tone

But it is a bit confounding to compare this message with o…

From the latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Alert: module deliveries on hold; changes at B3 site for Green Roof work (less bike parking)

Two weeks after Greenland Forest City Partners renamed Atlantic Yards as Pacific Park, Empire State Development, which sends out two-week Construction updates after preparation by Forest City Ratner, had made an adjustment.

The email yesterday had the subject line "Atlantic Yards dba PACIFIC PARK BROOKLYN TWO WEEK LOOK AHEAD," and came with a note about the "ongoing effort to update you on the activities surrounding the Atlantic Yards Project (dba Pacific Park Brooklyn)." But it also was addressed to "the Atlantic Yards Community," so they're still working on the nomenclature.

At B2

Notably, no more modules were delivered to the B2 modular tower in the past two weeks, leaving a total of 297 (of 930), with the tenth floor complete. Erection of 11th floor modules will begin in September 2014.

During these two weeks, mechanical, plumbing and electrical mate line work will continue at the building, as will "exterior punch list." That typically re…

In misleading new site plan, Pacific Park Brooklyn towers are shrunken and smoothed out

Notice anything odd about the rather stylized Pacific Park Brooklyn site plan--in green/gray hues below--that surfaced with the project's rebranding by Greenland Forest City Partners?

Well, the design of the buildings has been smoothed out and abstracted, making them seem smaller, compared to other site plans from Forest City Enterprises itself, such as the one with the dark background, from an August 2014 Investor Presentation, as disclosed to the SEC.

Maybe some buildings may have been redesigned. And they're apparently trying to simplify and stylize the design. But they don't need more space to show more complicated buildings.

Notably, it's odd and misleading how B6 and B7, over the center block of the railyard, have been downsized from "catcher's mitts" to simple rectangles.

That's highly doubtful. After all, Building 7 would be 460 feet tall and encompass 733,810 square feet--a huge building. Building 6 would be only 219 feet tall but include 445…

In the Navy Yard, the modular builder that preceded Ratner faces change

From an 8/12/14 New York Times article headlined A Factory in Brooklyn That Constructs Homes Is Losing Its Own:
Across from the Barclays Center sit hundreds of apartments built at a factory in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
They are not part of the Atlantic Yards development, where Bruce C. Ratner is assembling a 32-story tower, which will be the tallest factory-made building in the world. Instead, the apartments are inside 32 red-brick, three-story rowhouses and were built by a company called Capsys. Each home uses three modules, one per story. The homes look a century old but opened in 2002, a decade before Mr. Ratner decided to try to build the first of his Atlantic Yards towers through modular construction.
...After 18 years of producing more than 4,000 modules — enough for 2,300 apartments plus hotels and park bathrooms — [Capsys founder] Mr. [Nicholas] Lembo is worried that he might have to close up shop just as modular building is taking off. His lease is up in two years, and he has b…

Shake Shack now open on Flatbush across from arena

Last Sunday, Danny Meyer's hamburger-and-shakes emporium Shake Shack--open already on Fulton Mall and Old Fulton Street--opened at 170 Flatbush Avenue across from the Barclays Center.
As announced on the Shake Shack blog, the Flatbush Shack has some Brooklyn-specific and even location-specific concretes made with frozen custard:
Originally offered at the Downtown Brooklyn Shack, the Fudge-eddabouitit has chocolate custard blended with fudge sauce, Baked chocolate cloud cookie and Mast Brothers Shack-blend dark chocolate chunks, topped with chocolate sprinkles. A DUMBO favorite, the Brooklyn Pie oh My has vanilla custard blended with a slice of seasonal pie from Four & Twenty Blackbirds. Lastly, the location-specific Nothin’ But NETS has chocolate and vanilla custard blended with marshmallow sauce, crispy crunchies and chocolate sprinkles. And it's very Brooklyn:
In keeping with the Shack’s commitment to the environment, the Flatbush Shack is constructed with recycled and su…

Blocking Atlantic Avenue lanes for construction work next to arena (and VIP entrance): photos

A reader sent me photos yesterday of Atlantic Avenue being significantly narrowed near the Barclays Center to accommodate construction (drilling) of a new West Portal from the Vanderbilt Yard and a new green roof (cranes) on the Barclays Center.

This work has been previouslyannounced, but ramped up significantly yesterday.

It will clearly impact drop-offs at the arena, notably the VIP entrance on Atlantic Avenue, as well as buses that bring large groups such as schoolchildren.

In June, Forest City Ratner spokeswoman Ashley Cotton said the arena will issue new rules and guidelines regarding the constricted space to walk from the arena or to drop off people on Atlantic Avenue. She acknowledged it's "clearly not ideal." (See full plan at bottom.)

Photos: August 15, 2014

Blocking off Atlantic Avenue lanes eastbound from Fort Greene Place to South Portland Avenue/Sixth Avenue, looking east:

A view of the same blockage, looking west:

Looking east from South Portland Avenue/Six…

Celebration for "Brooklyn's win in the fight for affordable housing at Atlantic Yards" downplays key issue: actual affordability

Fifth Avenue Committee (FAC) and BrooklynSpeaks will hold a summer celebration next Thursday, 8/21/14, as stated in the invitation, for "our win in the fight for affordable housing and accountability at Atlantic Yards."

(The graphic at right more narrowly cites "Brooklyn's win in the fight for affordable housing at Atlantic Yards." Neither use the new term Pacific Park.)

The free event, featuring music, dancing and a BBQ, will be held 6-9 pm, the FAC Center Garden, 621 DeGraw St between 3rd & 4th Avenues.

Did Brooklyn win?

But the victoryannounced 6/27/14 is quite flawed, as I've suggested. Yes, the new deadline for 2250 subsidized units--2025 instead of 2035--is meaningful. So too are new penalties, $2000 per month per delayed unit, to begin in 2025.

But the upcoming subsidized units, in two much-touted 100% affordable buildings, are disproportionately aimed at middle-income households. Rents will be well out of reach for most who've rallied or tes…