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Showing posts from July, 2015

Hockey News: Islanders' deal in Brooklyn is unique, as arena guarantees annual sum; fan base shifting to Brooklyn (as with Nets)

The New York Islanders, from a business perspective, will not mirror the Brooklyn Nets, but they are reframing their fan base, as have the Nets, as the hockey team moves from Long Island. Not so many fans will move with them, but there are enough people in Brooklyn and New York City to pay new, higher ticket prices.
Stu Hackel in The Hockey News reported 7/19/15, Islanders’ move to Brooklyn leads to unique business partnership with Barclays Center: Essentially, the hockey team no longer administers or controls its own business operation, a highly unusual situation.
The agreement to move the franchise includes the provision that the arena pays Islanders ownership an annual sum to play at Barclays Center and, in exchange, Barclays Center acquired all ticket and suite sales, sponsorships, marketing and promotions and their revenue. While Barclays Center (and Brooklyn Nets) CEO Brett Yormark confirmed that, the Islanders wouldn't comment. Nor would anyone confirm the sum, though last…

If first condo building will have private open space (maisonette court), what about the other three? Developer won't answer

I'll have a more extensive report from Tuesday's meeting of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC) after Board Materials are posted. But the one agenda item up for a vote--to recommend minor changes in the open space design guidelines--passed uneventfully.

Well, we all know that the rendering below of the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park open space is a bit fanciful, given that the concept plan from landscape architect Thomas Balsley Associates somehow includes street trees on the Sixth Avenue Bridge between Pacific Street and Atlantic Avenue, as well as the east side of Vanderbilt Avenue, which is outside the project boundaries.

At one point during the meeting Tuesday, Balsley--who made a presentation to the board that was well received--was asked by board member Jaime Stein, "Can you describe separating private space from public space?"

"There's no private space," Balsley responded, then corrected himself. "There is one maisonet…

Deconstructing some Pacific Park puffery: not a park; not (mostly) over rail yard; not open 24/7

From the real estate publication Bisnow, 5 THINGS RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPERS SHOULD NEVER DO:
[Greenland USA director of development Scott Solish] also pointed out that Greenland’s Pacific Park project in Brooklyn will include an eight-acre park built above a former rail yard that’ll be open to the public 24/7 and help connect parts of the borough that had been cut off from each other, plus a new public school. I don't know whether that sentence is verbatim Solish, or journalistic shorthand, but there are several errors.
Actually, it won't be a public park, but rather publicly accessible, privately managed open space. 
It won't be open 24/7--though there won't be gates, official hours, according to the project's Design Guidelines, will be open from 7 am to 8 pm (or sunset, if later) from Oct. 1 through April 30, and from 7 am to 10:30 pm from May 1 through Sept. 30. (By contrast, city parks are typically open far more hours, from 6 am to 1 am.)
Only pieces of the open…

Atlantic Yards Watch: neighbors notice after hours work at B14 site with late notice;

Well, neighborhood activists noticed the same thing I did, the belated notice for after-hours concrete pours at the B14 site, as Peter Krashes wrote Monday night on Atlantic Yards Watch, Late night work on 535 Carlton with late notice; cement truck down Carlton Avenue:
A cement pour continues to take place tonight at 535 Carlton Avenue. There was no notice of the late night work before the work took place -- I stumbled on it trying to identify where the noise was coming from. I documented it at 6:15 PM and again at 7:15 PM. You can see the fellow with the orange vest sending a text in the video below. A community notice from the Pacific Park Community Liaison, but not the State went out at 6:45.

I checked the construction update distributed last week and there is no notice of the late night work. The State has not given notice. That is surprising since Pacific Park's (late) notice warns of late night work all week. Such a meaningful amount of late night work ought to be i…

Today's AY CDC board meeting: presentation on open space, then a vote to endorse changes (where's the transparency?)

Today will be an interesting milestone for the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC), established last year as a partial concession to community concerns about project oversight. (It was secondary to an agreement to set a new construction schedule.)

The AY CDC's responsibilities include monitoring developer compliance with public commitments, monitoring quality of life issues, and "reviewing proposed changes to Project plan and agreements, and advising ESD board accordingly in advance of votes."

So the latter is apparently on the agenda (bottom) for today's (hastily announced) AY CDC meeting.

Open space changes, and a fishy sequence

Not only will the AY CDC board observe a presentation about the "open space concept design" by landscape architect Thomas Balsley--not a "park," as I wrote 7/7/15--it also will vote on an authorization "to recommend" that the board of parent Empire State Development (ESD) approve modifica…

At last minute, late-night work announced at B14 site through Friday; up to 20 trucks pouring concrete

At 6:42 pm last night--already after the 6 pm end time for standard construction hours--the Pacific Park Brooklyn Community Liaison Office sent a Community Notice:
Late night work (5) nights between Monday, July 27, 2015 and Friday, July 31, 2015
Temporary Late Night Work at B14 - 535 Carlton Avenue Site [at Carlton Avenue and Dean Street]

Please be advised that during the week of July 27 - July 31, 2015 contractors will be working until 9:00 pm.

Pursuant to their permit, contractors will be doing concrete pours and installing vapor barriers as part of the foundation work. The pours are expected to involve up to 20 concrete trucks, all of which will access the site via the Pacific Street gates. Truck staging will take place within the project site and/or along Pacific Street between Vanderbilt and Carlton Avenues. Note that, while surely they had plans for this late night work, it was not announced in the most recent two-week Construction Update, issued just a week earlier, on Ju…

In modular tower dispute, judge mostly rejects Forest City effort to narrow Skanska's case for damages

Ruling in the preliminary stages of a bitter legal battle, state Supreme Court Justice Saliann Scarpulla rejected most of Forest City Ratner's efforts to narrow one of the three lawsuits between it and Skanska USA regarding their ill-fated and now dissolved partnership over the delayed modular tower known as B2.

Forest City Ratner and its affiliate Atlantic Yards B2 Owner aimed to get most of Skanska's lawsuit dismissed before the case moved further toward trial. The decision (see bottom), dated 7/16/15 and released on 7/20/15, mostly favored Skanska, although it's still early in the process and does not portend an ultimate victory. Forest City did win on a few arguments.

Neither side publicized the decision, perhaps because neither could claim unambiguous good news. But I suspect that had Forest City won more, given its aggressive press strategy, it would have pitched the news to a receptive reporter.

The background
Skanska agreed to lead the fabrication of the modules for…

CompassRock (Stuy Town) will manage two all-affordable Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park buildings

According to CompassRock, a real estate management firm that manages Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village in Manhattan, CompassRock Real Estate LLC Chosen to Manage Two Affordable Buildings at Pacific Park Brooklyn: New York, NY (July 13, 2015) – Manhattan based property management company CompassRock Real Estate LLC announced today that it has been awarded management of two of the new rental residential developments within Pacific Park Brooklyn (formally known as Atlantic Yards) in Brooklyn, NY. The first of the new developments, 535 Carlton Avenue, is expected to open in the fall 2016, the second; 38 Sixth Avenue is expected to open in early 2017. Both buildings will be 100% affordable and will contain retail and commercial space.
“We are extremely excited to be working alongside such a well-respected partner as Greenland Forest City Partners. The entire CompassRock management team is looking forward to delivering the highest quality service for the owner of the buildings and future …

Brooklyn Nets didn't make Forbes's 2014 list of 50 Most Valuable Sports teams. Now they're #24.

It's astounding, isn't it?

The Brooklyn Nets didn't come too close to making Forbes's list of The World's 50 Most Valuable Sports Teams 2014, in which #50, AC Milan, was valued at $856 million. 
(At the time, the Nets were valued at $780 million, more than doubling in two years.)

But they're now in the top half of the magazine's latest list, The World's 50 Most Valuable Sports Teams 2015, valued at $1.5 billion (since January).
That's not because the Nets started selling that many more tickets. In fact, some season ticket prices most recently went down.

Nor is it that the Nets stand to have a strong season, given that they're represented in the Forbes slideshow by the non-star Jarrett Jack and pundits at Sports Illustrated predict they'll be the league's fifth-worst steam.

New TV deal makes the difference
But, as Forbes reports, pro sports team owners are making big money from new media deals:  The NBA inked a $2.66 billion-a-year deal in …

DNAinfo: Fifth Avenue BID installs sign to lure arena visitors

From DNAinfo, Lighted Sign Seeks to Lure Barclays Center Visitors to Park Slope's 5th Ave
PARK SLOPE — A merchants group is hoping a lighted sign over Fifth Avenue will make the street look more inviting to visitors from the Barclays Center.
The Park Slope Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District installed an arched sign with the words "Park Slope's Fifth Avenue" over Fifth Avenue and Dean Street on Wednesday, said the BID's executive director Mark Caserta.

Next meeting of Atlantic Yards CDC will be Tuesday, July 28, not in August

Call it the late-July surprise. Late afternoon yesterday, Empire State Development announced a meeting next Tuesday of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation. That's less than three business days' notice for a meeting previously (and tentatively) scheduled for August 18.
No agenda was announced. Note that RSVPs are necessary by Monday: Tuesday, July 28, 2015, at 3:00 p.m.  Long Island University’s Brooklyn Campus
Library Learning Center – 515 Conference Room (5th Floor)
One University Plaza (at Flatbush and DeKalb Avenues)
Brooklyn, New York 11201 This meeting is open to the public. Web casting of the meeting is available at http://www.esd.ny.gov/webcasts. Those wishing to attend at LIU’s Brooklyn campus must RSVP by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, July 23, 2015. Members of the press should please call (800) 260-7313; Members of the public should please call (212) 803-3795.

Eagle: worker struck in the head by hoist during Barclays Center construction awarded $4.9M

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle yesterday published Worker awarded $4.9M after Barclays Center construction accident. The case was captioned Michael Melville v. Brooklyn Arena, LLC, New York State Urban Development Corp. d/b/a Empire State Development Corp., and Hunt Construction Group, Inc.

According to the Eagle: In October 2011 the plaintiff, a 53-year-old union ironworker at the construction site for the Barclays Center, was struck in the head by a “come-along,” a type of hoist, as it fell from 12 feet above. The 40-pound device, which is used in the construction industry to pull loads up to 3 tons, broke Melville’s hard hat when it fell. He was rendered briefly unconscious and was removed from the site via ambulance to a hospital. While the defense conceded liability during the trial--the plaintiffs alleged an elevation-related hazard--the trial addressed damages. While the defense claimed that Melville's limitation on activities resulted from a 1996 accident, the plaintiff said th…

As $15 fast-food pay advances, Barclays Center, finally coming clean, reveals arena jobs start at $10.50/hour. Not "living wage."

After refusing to reveal details for years, the Barclays Center recently began specifying pay rates as it recruits part-timers. Wages start at $10.50 per hour for food service jobs, $12 for ushers, and $15 for cooks or dishwashers.

Are those "living wages," as Barclays Center reps have claimed?

No, and in two ways.  The jobs are part-time, which means they can't qualify as "living wage." Also, while current legislation defines $10 as "living wage," that requires benefits. It also underestimates what it cost to live in New York City.

Meanwhile, the push for $15

Indeed, a panel set up by Gov. Andrew Cuomo yesterday recommended raising the minimum wage for fast-food franchise workers to $15, well above the state minimum wage of $8.75. Capital reported:
In New York City, the rate would rise to $10.50 by the end of this year, to $12 by the end of 2016, to $13.50 by the end of 2017 and then $15 on Dec. 21, 2018. I don't think the arena jobs qualify as &…

Ratner contributes $20K to Cuomo in most recent fundraising period; other contributions from Forest City

So, did developer Bruce Ratner give Gov. Andrew Cuomo's campaign account $15,000, as the Albany Times Union reported 7/15/15? (The article noted that the governor raised more than $5 million in the last fundraising period.)

Actually, though Ratner did write "a $15,000 check to the campaign April 10," as the newspaper reported, state records show he gave an additional $5,000 to the campaign in July.

Ratner's $20,000 contribution may seem large, but only a fraction of the money Cuomo raised. (Last year, Ratner and his wife gave $19,000 to Cuomo.) Still, it surely ensures some ease of access, especially given no counterweight contribution from critics of Ratner. (The governor's getting heat for some other donations, by the way.)


More campaign contributions

Ratner also contributed $5,000 to Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson.

As shown in the graphics above and below, Ratner and Forest City executive Ashley Cotton each gave $250 to Viverito New York. Given the sam…

Fun For All! Murals, block party on Dean Street follow formula of art masking gentrification, project impact

Around the time the developers of Pacific Park Brooklyn pitched the press--first, a New York Times exclusive, then a general release--on a mural project for the huge encroaching wall for Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues, Bucky Turco of Animal New York published an astute analysis of how art has been used in projects like the Coney Island Walls and the Domino Sugar Factory.

Though Turco did not mention Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park in NYC Real Estate: Where The Worlds of Gentrification and Urban Art Collide, his analysis was spot on:
Savvy developers know that urban art can cheaply provide great cover for development projects not supported by the local community and artists voluntarily work for little or no pay and don’t worry too much about the moral implications of these types of collaborations. Instead of battling it out with vociferous area residents or hiring a PR firm, there’s a much simpler strategy:
1) Donate the disputed space to artists, most of whom won’t ev…

From the latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Alert: mobile cranes (of uncertain size) added to B11 and B14 construction sites

The latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Brooklyn Construction Alert, covering the two weeks beginning yesterday and delivered after 4 pm yesterday, revealed that mobile cranes have been or will be added to the B11 and B14 sites, at Dean Street and Vanderbilt Avenue and Dean Street and Carlton Avenue.

The size of the cranes, however, was not revealed.

The Construction Update, released by Empire State Development (ESD) after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners, is an "effort to keep the Pacific Park Brooklyn Community aware of upcoming construction activities."

As in the most recent documents, the update uses an * and red type to indicate new work being reported. However, the update is unclear. For example, the document in one place states that Saturday work "will commence," but the previous document said the same thing. Does that mean the previous prediction didn't pan out, or did they not correct the document to state that Saturday work "will contin…

The art of distraction: developer plans murals for Dean Street wall; Times article calls wall "ugly," doesn't mention street encroachment

Updated with a comment from Dean Street resident and activist Peter Krashes.

From the New York Times ArtsBeat today, 10 Murals in Brooklyn to Spruce Up Construction Site:
An 820-foot stretch of a Brooklyn street will soon become a canvas for 10 artists, as a way to ease the effects of a multiyear construction project.
In an initiative sponsored by Greenland Forest City Partners, the developer behind Pacific Park Brooklyn – formerly known as Atlantic Yards – Dean Street between Vanderbilt and Carlton Streets in Prospect Heights will feature 10, 10-by-40-foot murals, to be painted on one day, Aug. 15, during a street fair.
“We wanted to do something visual, that gives a little visual reprieve to the neighborhood, that turns this giant ugly wall into something special,” said Mike Perry, the Brooklyn artist who, as the “artist in residence,” is curator of the project.
“It’s really about big, bold graphic kind of statements,” Mr. Perry, 34, added of the work he chose, from the artists Morg…

Church of the Redeemer, near Barclays Center, facing demolition

The Wall Street Journal, in an article published online last night, reports A Brooklyn Church Is About to Vanish: Church of the Redeemer, established soon after the Civil War, is due for demolition:
A year after the Civil War ended, an Episcopal church opened on Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn to serve waves of immigrants arriving from England.
More than a century later, the stately Church of the Redeemer served a different population of immigrants: from the Caribbean and West Indies. “We had 16 to 18 flags for different islands…Jamaica, Antigua, St. Lucia,” said Anderson Holder, who moved to Brooklyn from Barbados 30 years ago and attended the church for seven years. “There were all different countries coming to the Church of the Redeemer.”
That rich history is about to end with the demolition of the Gothic-style stone church, which was closed in 2010 and later sold to an investment company, the Jackson Group, for $20 million as part of the real-estate boom around Barclays Center. No plans h…

Newsday: Ratner seeks tax breaks for Nassau Coliseum; editorial points to Ratner flip-flop on job promises

Remember how Nassau Coliseum redeveloper Bruce Ratner claimed in 2013, in response to a question about government subsidies, "This is one of those opposites. We're giving the municipality money, not a nickel from the municipality, all privately financed, all privately done."

Well, as I wrote, it's never that simple, and government assistance comes in different forms. Indeed, Newsday reported 7/18/15, Nassau Coliseum developer Bruce Ratner seeks more than $4.4 million in IDA tax breaks: Developer Bruce Ratner is seeking more than $3 million in sales tax exemptions and $1 million in relief from mortgage recording taxes from the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency for his overhaul of the Nassau Coliseum, agency officials said.
Ratner, who expects to begin renovating the Coliseum in the coming weeks, would use the $3.37 million sales tax exemption to pay for equipment, construction materials and furnishings, said Nassau IDA executive director Joseph Kearney.
...Ratn…

Beschloss on the Dodgers: sentimentalists should focus instead on the Barclays Center; my critique

From historian Michael Beschloss in the New York Times's The Upshot, The Dodgers Departed Long Before Brooklyn Bounced Back:
Some sentimental Brooklynites sadly recall the demolition of Ebbets Field, in the winter of 1960; someone had misguidedly repainted a wrecking ball to make it look like a baseball.
Instead they might do better to focus on the Barclays Center, opened in 2012, which symbolizes Brooklyn’s current economic rebound and its reacquisition of major league sports. Barclays Center happens to stand near one of those parcels of land that Walter O’Malley tried to acquire 60 years ago, when he was imagining that modernistic domed stadium that might keep the Dodgers once and for all in Brooklyn. Well, there are not so many of those Brooklynites any more, and a heck of a lot happened between the departure of the Dodgers and the arrival of the arena. My comment:
Mr. Beschloss recognizes that "urban governments routinely do somersaults to keep professional sports teams h…

Suit last year charging discrimination by Barclays Center, Levy Premium Foodservice, and supervisors was settled before trial

So, why do I think the lawsuit charging the Barclays Center with dangerous design will get settled and dismissed before trial?

Because it's the nature of corporate entities to ensure that potential bad news gets squelched, and the cost of making a problem go away usually is well worth it, given the potential financial exposure and potential bad publicity. Consider the following example

Lawsuit surfaces

As I wrote 7/29/14, five workers (four of them black) in food service at the Barclays Center filed a federal lawsuit claiming three white supervisors, Levy Restaurants, Levy Premium FoodService, and the Barclays Center (aka Brooklyn Events Center) were liable for racial discrimination, disability discrimination, retaliation, and a hostile work environment..

Both the New York Daily News and New York Post played up claims of discrimination against the disabled. More prominent in the document, however, were claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, with black employees claiming r…

So what if Prokhorov owns the Barclays Center? Arena operations vs. construction imperatives

There has been (and will be) inevitable tension between the imperatives of operating the Barclays Center and building and operating towers around it, especially but not limited to the three or four towers on the arena block.

That's what makes the prospective sale of Forest City Enterprises' shares in the arena and Brooklyn Nets to team majority owner and arena minority owner Mikhail Prokhorov intriguing--and surely should give both sides--Prokhorov and developer Greenland Forest City Parters--some pause.

For now, at least, despite those inevitable tensions, presumably people inside Forest City offices can easily share information and complain/solve problems. When ownership separates, even if there are cordial relations, the structure is different.

Impact of arena operations on towers

Consider that arena crowds line up not merely on the plaza but sometimes toward the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Sixth Avenue, eventually the site of a large residential tower. Or that the second-…

Report: Prokhorov may buy Forest City's share of team/arena; document shows Ratner's group owes Prokhorov $31M+ for capital calls

Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov apparently wants to own all of the Brooklyn Nets (he owns 80%) and the Barclays Center (how owns 45%).

Sports journalist Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report said Prokhorov wants to buy the 20% share of the Brooklyn Nets owned by Forest City Ratner/Enterprises and associated parties in Nets Sports & Entertainment (NS&E), as well as NS&E's 55% share of the Barclays Center.

"The latest is that in the next two weeks we could hear an announcement that he's actually buying 100 percent of the franchise, buying the Barclays Center, going all in," Bucher said, acknowledging the situation could change.

As noted in documents from Forest City Enterprises, NS&E owes Prokhorov well more than $31 million, and the sale could convert that debt to equity, as described below. (NetsDaily says the sum is $50 million.)  And if Forest City doesn't pay, Prokhorov would get an additional 12% share in the team, leaving Forest City with just …