Monday, August 31, 2015

From City Limits: Documents Reveal Woes at Pioneering Atlantic Yards Building

From City Limits, my article today, Documents Reveal Woes at Pioneering Atlantic Yards Building:
The Atlantic Yards apartment tower known as B2 officially launched in December 2012 with great fanfare and high hopes, and not just because of what developer Forest City Ratner proposed to build: 32 stories housing 363 apartments, half of them affordable. It was that B2, nearly flush to the Barclays Center, would be the world's tallest modular tower, with its flooring, fixtures, appliances, and facades delivered within a metal-framed chassis some 10' high, 15' wide, and 30' long. Forest City said it had "cracked a code" and claimed an "iPhone moment".
Two additional Atlantic Yards towers would start within the next 12 to 18 months, among the 6,430 apartments—2,250 of them below-market—planned for the project, all to be built modular. B2's 930 mods—which Forest City CEO MaryAnne Gilmartin likened to "shrink-wrapped apartments—would be made at a new factory at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The first mods arrived at Dean Street and Flatbush Avenue in December 2013 with a proud "Made in Brooklyn" wrapping.
B2's pioneering approach was seen as more than just an intriguing development at the highly contested Atlantic Yards site. Its designers and admirers thought the modular method might lower the cost of affordable housing, creating a new model for high-rise, union built apartments.
Today, the reality of B2 has not matched the anticipation. The building—delayed, stalled, and since re-started to reach half its ultimate height—will take more than twice as long as promised and cost far more than projected. B2, also known as 461 Dean Street, remains mired in lawsuits filed by Forest City and its former partner Skanska, with dueling charges of incompetent execution and flawed design.
While Forest City Chairman Bruce Ratner in July 2014 claimed on NY 1 that modular "worked out technically perfectly," with delays the only problem, state documents acquired via a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request paint a more ominous picture. Half of the first 39 apartments suffered significant water damage. The first four floors were "largely gutted." according to reports from consultant STV, which serves as owner's representative for Empire State Development (ESD), the state agency overseeing/shepherding the entire Atlantic Yards project, which has been renamed Pacific Park Brooklyn.
The builders got so skittish that, on the 9th and 10th floors, drywall sections of the ceilings and walls closest to the windows were omitted from mods, to be installed later, undermining the concept of completing as much as possible in the factory (The STV documents—here's an example—do not seem to bolster either side in the legal dispute between Forest City and Skanska.)
For the rest of the article, please see Documents Reveal Woes at Pioneering Atlantic Yards Building:

Here's a series of STV reports from August 2014:

Here's another STV document, with a few highlights pointing to issues that were unresolved, at least as of August 2014:

Sunday, August 30, 2015

From Atlantic Yards Watch: a truck idling in bus stop, a street closed without notice (and a truck blows through)

As construction proceeds, seeming violations continue, as documented by resident Peter Krashes on Atlantic Yards Watch. Yesterday, Bay Crane delivery truck idles in bus stop on Vanderbilt Avenue:
Bay Crane truck parked in the bus stop on the southwest side of the Vanderbilt/Dean intersection in front of 556 Vanderbilt idles for more than 3 minutes. It was still idling when I arrived and idling when I left. Residences are feet away.
Indeed, see the video:

Saturday was a day when the street was closed for construction, but they're still not supposed to idle like that. Even more confusingly, see a report from Friday, Dean Street block closed without notice for one day:
Due to work in the street at the Dean and Vanderbilt intersection, Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt was closed today. According to multiple workers involved with the work, it was closed all day and re-opened around 2:15.
According to the workers, the work being executed was electrical work in the street for 550 Vanderbilt. The work was not Con Ed. There was no notice of this work, or the closure of the street by either the Pacific Park developers or the State.
Here's video:

Krashes noted:
The closure was poorly done, and caused confusion. The vehicles shown on the street eventually turned around and drove out against the direction of traffic
Here's video of a truck ignoring the closure out of confusion (and blowing through the barrier):

Added Krashes:
There was also electrical work in the street on August 13th for the project that disrupted traffic. That work was apparently directed toward feeding electric to the construction staging area. It took place at the same time the bike lanes were closed to install the white patches the Pacific Park Arts murals are now located on. I don't think either type of work was disclosed to the community.
The closure today is the first of a row of disruptions for the block this week. On Saturday Dean Street and Vanderbilt will be closed to construct a crane. On Tuesday the 1st, a notice from DEP was posted on my door stating the water will be shut down for a day for my building. The notices are posted up and down the street. According to a business I spoke to that depends on the use of water, they were consulted by DEP and found them helpful. It is work related to the construction of Pacific Park. There hasn't been any notice of this closure distributed by the Pacific Park developer or the State.

No, New York Times, there was no effort to "redevelop the Atlantic Yards"

From the front page of the New York Times Styles section today (though published online two days ago), The Battle for the Soul of the Hamptons:
To help make its case publicly, the group has enlisted the powerhouse political firm SKDKnickerbocker, whose officials have factored in the presidential campaigns of John Kerry and Barack Obama and the successful effort to redevelop the Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn over community opposition there.
They keep getting it wrong. It's impossible to say "redevelop the Atlantic Yards" because "Atlantic Yards" never existed in the first place: it was a branding name for a proposed, and now partly enacted, development project. (I wrote about this in May 2006 and again in January 2009.)

It would be OK to say "develop the Atlantic Yards project" or "develop Atlantic Yards" but the use of "the" suggests it's a place. "Re-develop" is worse, because it implies an existing defined place was there to be redeveloped.

Atlantic Yards was a cobbled-together site including railyard, public streets, and private property. (Some, actually, is still private.)

Even calling the 8.5-acre Vanderbilt Yard--the railyard within the 22-acre site--"Atlantic Yards" would be misleading, since that falsely conflates the developer's branding with a much smaller piece of publicly-owned land. (Most of it is still publicly-owned.)

The irony, which reinforces my point, is that the imaginary place "Atlantic Yards" no longer even exists. Last year, the new owners renamed the project Pacific Park, and evidence suggests they did so in part to shake the controversy over the name Atlantic Yards.

Daily News "learns" that Islanders billboards coming tomorrow; WPIX promotes arena craft beer festival

Lots of news outlets publish items that are variations of press releases, but there does seem to be a pattern in which entities associated with the Barclays Center participate.

Yesterday, the Daily News (sponsor of the arena plaza) reported, in New York Islanders billboards roll out in Brooklyn, their new home:
Billboards touting the borough’s newest sports heroes, the New York Islanders hockey team, are going up Monday across the borough, the Daily News has learned.
The “Tradition’s New Home” campaign by Barclays Center, which will be the Isles’ home ice starting this upcoming season, will featuring 20 billboards spotlighting a storied history that includes four Stanley Cup championships.
Some of the billboards feature the team’s stars, including captain John Tavares and defenseman Johnny Boychuk.
Now, how do we think the Daily News "learned" that--through some aggressive application of reporting chops or rather an arena handout?

A 8/25/15 "PIX11 report", TAPPED: The Ultimate Craft Beer Festival at Barclays Center, informed us:
Making its Brooklyn debut Oct. 25, TAPPED: The Ultimate Craft Beer Festival will feature more than 100 craft beers, wines and cider tastings.
Craft connoisseurs — and casual fans alike — can sip their way through two sessions on Oct. 25. The first session runs from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and or the second runs from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Sunday football games will be shown on TVs throughout the arena and interactive games including corn hole, beer pong and Jenga will be available.
Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 27, but PIX11 News viewers have special pre-sale access to the passes.
Use the code “PIX11” to get your tickets early. Pre-sale starts 10 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 26, and ends 9:59 a.m., Thursday, Aug. 27.
Click here to purchase the 12:30 p.m. TAPPED Session, or click here to purchase the 5 p.m. TAPPED Session.
Ok, that's marketing. Remember, WPIX has a studio inside former retail space at the arena.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Ex-Net Darryl Dawkins dies at 58; unmentioned in obits was his EB-5 career, pitching Atlantic Yards in China

From the NBA
The former ex-Philadelphia 76er and New Jersey Net Darryl Dawkins, known for his flamboyant style and backboard-shattering dunks, died this week, with many journalists saluting his career and personality.

All those are deserved, but the sports journalists missed something, because it just wasn't their beat, nor is it nearly anyone else's territory.

Unmentioned was Dawkins's curious sideline role for Barclays Center developer (and Nets majority-then-minority owner) Bruce Ratner. 

Not only did Dawkins do public appearances in Brooklyn, boosting Atlantic Yards, he went to China at least twice on Ratner's behalf, helping promote Atlantic Yards to not-so-well-informed potential investors who were considering investing
Signing autographs in China
$500,000 in the project in exchange for green cards for themselves and their families under the EB-5 program.

Under the program, investors forego all or most interest because they most value the green cards. The benefit, however, goes to the developer, as long as ten jobs are purportedly created by each investment.

Dawkins first went to China in 2010 for the first of three rounds of investment in Atlantic Yards, helping perpetuate the deception that the investment was going into the arena.

Dawkins also went to China in 2014 to boost "Atlantic Yards III."
The official statements

From the Nets:
“The entire Brooklyn Nets organization is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of legendary player Darryl Dawkins. As a member of the Nets in the 1980’s, Darryl, known as Chocolate Thunder, entertained fans on the court with his powerful dunks and effervescent personality, and also made an enormous impact in the community. Following his playing career, Darryl remained a part of the Nets and NBA family by serving as an ambassador and sharing his love of the game with countless fans. He had an amazing personality and touched everyone in a positive way. Our heartfelt condolences go out to the Dawkins family and to all those who had the pleasure of knowing Darryl. He will be deeply missed.”
From the NBA:
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver released the following statement regarding the passing of Darryl Dawkins:"The NBA family is heartbroken by the sudden and tragic passing of Darryl Dawkins. We will always remember Darryl for his incredible talent, his infectious enthusiasm and his boundless generosity. He played the game with passion, integrity and joy, never forgetting how great an influence he had on his legions of fans, young and old. Darryl was beloved around the league and he will be deeply missed by his friends, family, teammates, and coaches, as well as the millions of fans who witnessed the high-flying brilliance of the one and only 'Chocolate Thunder.' Our thoughts and prayers are with Darryl's wife, Janice, and the entire Dawkins family during this difficult time."

Friday, August 28, 2015

Dean Street between Carlton/Vanderbilt, and west side Vanderbilt between Pacific/Bergen closed Saturday for crane assembly

From 6 am through 9 pm tomorrow, Saturday, Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues--y'know, the street with the murals--and Vanderbilt Avenue southbound (west side) between Pacific and Bergen streets will be closed to accommodate a crane being assembled for Pacifi­c Park construction.

(This was previewed in the most recent Construction Update, with details provided late yesterday afternoon.)

Between Pacific and Bergen Streets, Vanderbilt Avenue will remain open to northbound traffic only. Flagmen and Traffic Enforcement Agents will help with vehicular and pedestrian movement. The sidewalks will be open but subject to temporary closures .

The eastbound B65 bus will be rerouted up to Atlantic Avenue and then Washington Avenue, while the southbound B69 buses will be rerouted to Washington Avenue briefly as well.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Updating the retail picture: Flatbush Avenue and Bergen Street (and the $6 cereal bar!)

Well, Leslie Albrecht of DNAinfo did what I was unable to do, attend the Community Board 6 committee meeting on liquor licenses Monday, so she provided many details on the upcoming restaurant next to Shake Shack, in Michelin-Starred Restaurateur Opening 'Speak-easy Sushi Bar' Near Barclays:
The Japanese hospitality company... Plan Do See, Inc. operates restaurants worldwide and owns Sushi Azabu, the Greenwich Street sushi den tucked below the Japanese restaurant Daruma-Ya. Customers enter through Daruma-Ya and have to ask to be seated downstairs at Azabu, which won a Michelin star in 2007.
A similar concept is in the works for the 3,700-square-foot Flatbush Avenue space, which will have a New American restaurant and bar on the ground floor and roof, and a "speak-easy sushi bar" below ground, the co-owners told Community Board 6 on Monday night.
There's no name yet, but the liquor license application got an approval vote, which is advisory but usually presages State Liquor Authority approval. Partner Peter Levin suggested that the restaurant would serve both local and arena patrons, which has been a crossover goal for the Pintchik family of landlords.

CB6's permits committee approved the new establishment's liquor license application, but the State Liquor Authority has final say on the license.

A closing on Bergen

Albrecht also reported, Bergen Street Comics Closing After 6 Years in Business, with no details yet on exactly why:
“I’m so bummed that Bergen Street Comics is closing. The ‘perfect block’ of comics, Babeland, and Gorilla coffee is over," wrote Erik Hinton on Twitter, referring to the nearby adult shop and cafe.
This is Bergen Street between Flatbush and Fifth avenues, a very curated street of small businesses, at least on the south side.

The $6 cereal bar

And, guess what, the news of a cereal bar (!) in the sneaker shop Kith got surprisingly big play in the New York Times food section, with photo, To Munch: Cereal With Toppings From a Clothing Retailer:
New York has its first dedicated cereal bar. A small white-tiled alcove just inside the renovated Kith clothing and sneaker store in Brooklyn has 24 brand-name cold cereal varieties, with toppings. The cereals come packaged in single-serving Mylar bags that fit into small shoe boxes, from which the cereal can be eaten. The boxes are designed by sports figures — Andre Agassi has done the first one. There is no salad-bar-style display because the owner Ronnie Fieg does not like food out in the open. Milk, coffee and cereal-flavored soft-serve are also sold. Mr. Fieg says he has been obsessed with cereals since he was a teenager, mainly because he was not allowed to have sweet ones. Before the store opens, there is an express window to the street for cereal: Cereals from $6 with milk, ice cream from $5.50, Kith Treats, 233 Flatbush Avenue (Bergen Street), Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, 347-889-6114,
I get that they have to charge more for convenience and packaging, but I'll be curious to see how many people want to pay $6 for cereal. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Wrestling, and its amped subculture, comes to the Barclays Center

Y'know, when I stopped by the Barclays Center plaza on Sunday around 6 pm the wrestling fans milling about for SummerSlam, many dressed in wrestling t-shirts, some with wrestling belts, and a few with masks, seemed a little... rowdy.

They were chanting the names of wrestlers at each other: "Rod-dy Pi-per" was one I remembered.

Reports from other nights suggest similar boisterous gatherings--impossible, as I've written, if the original Urban Room were the gathering place, rather than the outdoor, more fluid plaza.

One resident told me that some of fans walking around the neighborhood were similarly amped, a few of them aggressively so. (The masks were disconcerting.) That's the flip side, apparently, of a very engaged fandom, as described below in the Observer piece.

Apparently, the bars on Fifth Avenue got a lot of business.
Inside, on Sunday, it was reported that "[t]here were more than a dozen instances of fans being escorted out of WWESummerSlam at the Barclays Center last night over bad behavior due to being intoxicated, according to PWInsider." (No one linked to the original source.)

The Monday night event

As Vinnie Mancuso reported for the Observer, in Slam Culture: What I Learned From Attending ‘WWE Raw’ at the Barclays Center:
Last night inside Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, I saw a 250-pound physical human specimen assault former Daily Show host Jon Stewart. I also saw a grown man make a seven-year-old girl cry. I also saw a (different) grown man take a shit in a urinal. 
Only one of those things was part of the show.
 And he was reporting on the third night of the three-day event, Monday Night Raw, which was sold out:
Here’s the most important lesson I learned in my three and a half hours of non-stop Raw: The action inside the ring, which despite its reputation is no different from live theater, is second nature to the fascinating subculture that flocks to stadium after stadium to watch it. And if you don’t think that subculture is a large one, your commute obviously didn’t take you along Atlantic Ave past Barclays, where the plaza outside the arena was filled to capacity before the doors opened. Continue down 5th Ave, and from every open air bar you would hear chants you wouldn’t quite understand unless you knew the names of pro wrestlers dating back as far as the 1980s.

That’s the surprising part of all this. You would expect the crowd to be crass (it was) and you anticipate it being on the juvenile side (it was), but nothing I’ve ever attended beat this in pure anticipation..... It reaches a point where at one point during the show the entire audience uses their phones to simulate a sky full of fireflies, and it’s one of the coolest things you have ever seen, and you forget for one second that you’re a fucking culture snob and smile to yourself like an idiot.

Of course, you take this good with the bad.
Saturday's event

The Sportster reported on Saturday's event, in Top 10 Ways NXT Takeover: Brooklyn Was Better Than SummerSlam:
Just how hyped was the crowd leading up to NXT Takeover: Brooklyn? Hundreds of people were lined up outside of the Barclays Center three hours before the doors opened for an event that was not general admission. Even before Triple H began NXT Takeover with a promo inside of the ring, the crowd inside of the Barclays Center was chanting for beloved wrestlers and ready to pop upon hearing the theme songs associated with their favorite acts. That NXT crowd remained energetic and loud past 11:00 pm local time and up through the conclusion of the show, and fans continued to sing the praises of the WWE performers as they exited the arena.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Safety improvements "near" the Barclays Center, and the need for more; enforcement and tolls help, but what about Atlantic Yards?

Officials Unveil Pedestrian Safety Improvements Near Barclays Center, reported CBSNewYork yesterday. Actually, it's not so near the Barclays Center and Streetsblog more precisely reported it as Atlantic and Washington Gets Fixes, Now What About the Rest of Atlantic?

As Streetsblog reported:
The multi-leg intersection of Atlantic Avenue, Washington Avenue, and Underhill Avenue has received its second round of street safety improvements in four years. Adding to a 2011 project that expanded pedestrian space, this latest set of changes includes new turn restrictions, crosswalks, and larger median islands [PDF]. Advocates welcomed the changes, but want DOT to think bigger when it comes to overhauling Atlantic Avenue, one of the city’s most dangerous arterial streets.
There are continuing problems, indeed, around the Atlantic Avenue and Flatbush Avenue intersection actually near the Barclays Center.

As DNAinfo reported 7/14/15, there were more than 150 car crashes occurred in the immediate area around the Barclays Center from Jan. 1-July 7, according to the NYPD. Atlantic and Fourth avenues and Atlantic and Flatbush avenues each had 36 crashes, while Flatbush and Fourth, where a bicyclist had been recently killed, had 23 accidents.

The article did not drill down into causes and fixes.

On Fox5, Gridlock Sam

That DNAinfo article inspired as shown in this Fox 5 report, produced in late July--and taped from the TV by Wayne Bailey, a Prospect Heights resident, Community Board 8 member, and Atlantic Yards Watch contributor who appeared in the segment.

"You can come here at any morning and you'll see people blocking the crosswalks, and pedestrians have to walk into the traffic," Bailey says in the segment. Fox5 quotes the Department of Transportation as "aggressively redesigning the area," with significant drops in injuries and collisions.

One issue Bailey points out is the "toll-shopping" of truck drivers aiming to avoid paying to cross the river, which draws traffic through Brooklyn.

Oddly enough, the Fox5 report does not mentioned is any impact from arena operations, which draw periodic traffic surges, or Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park construction, which has narrowed Atlantic Avenue next to the arena, as well as Dean Street, Carlton Avenue, and Sixth Avenue--as well as the impact of trucks using local streets on their way to a truck route.

In fact, after the discussion of "toll-shopping," the segment went to the studio, where an anchor interviewed "transportation expert" "Gridlock Sam" Schwartz, without mentioning that his firm is a consultant to Forest City Ratner and the Barclays Center on their transportation plans.

"This is a complex problem, a problem created 150 years ago, when you had separate towns in Brooklyn, with different grid systems," Schwartz says. Sure, but it's a little more than that

Asked what's needed, Schwartz added that, once the tolls came off the bridges, truckers drive through Downtown Brooklyn to cross the free bridges rather than to pay to take tunnels or the Verrazano Bridge. He also cited the usefulness of red light cameras to slow traffic. He made no mention of the enormous project being constructed near that intersection.

Doomed on Dean Street: three houses wait for wrecking ball

These three houses on Dean Street east of Sixth Avenue, condemned by the state via eminent domain and one eviction--compensation in case of one building is finalized, for the other two unresolved, as far as I know--are scheduled to be demolished for a 27-story, market-rate building (plus, likely, a school).

That building, B-15, will encompass a larger site stretching 100 feet wide (west) to the sidewalk at Sixth Avenue, and up to Pacific Street. Meanwhile, the houses stand marked with Xs--utility shutoff? target for wrecking ball?--and windows left open, with no worry about deterioration.

If the designation of blight regarding two of these houses was bogus, well, now blight is being achieved, unnaturally. (I took the photos Sunday. Brownstoner reported 7/28/15 on the approval of demolition permits.)

Remember, documents indicated that this 100-foot wide stretch was designated part of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park (at least in part) for business reasons, not because of an urban planning principle. Early on, the stretch was needed for construction staging, as four towers and the arena were supposed to be built at the same time.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Coming on Flatbush: restaurant seeks liquor license next to Shake Shack; sneaker shop Kith rebooting with cereal bar

Nike store in process, via the Real Deal
The retail space between Shake Shack and True Religion Jeans on Flatbush Avenue opposite the Barclays Center, most recently a Nike pop-up shop, is set to become a restaurant, which seeks a liquor, wine, and beer license.

At tonight's meeting of the Community Board 6 Environmental Protection/ Permits & Licenses Committee, held at 6:30 at Cobble Hill Community Room, 250 Baltic Street, the agenda includes:
Presentation and review of a new on-premises liquor license application submitted to the State Liquor Authority on behalf of JP Concepts, LLC at 166 Flatbush Avenue (between Pacific Street/5th Avenue).
The rather spare license application does not indicate the name of the restaurant, but says there will be recorded music, not live music, and an active rooftop space. The applicant is Pete Levin of JP Concepts, who also runs Professor Thom's in the East Village.

The 3,700-foot building, on the market recently for a stratospheric $250/square foot, was once supposed to be the home to the relocated Junior's restaurant, the Real Deal reported. It is among the many properties owned by the Pintchik family.

Sneaker store reboots, adds cereal bar

Via Google Maps; Atrium now closed
So the high-end sneaker store Kith at 233 Flatbush Avenue between Bergen and Dean streets, formerly Atrium + Kith, has seen Atrium (clothing store) close, and the store is rebooting. Complex reported:
Kith's Brooklyn location, the brand's original storefront, has been closed in recent times to undergo renovations. Ronnie Fieg, Kith's founder, has announced that the shop will open up at the end of the month, with a date set at August 24... Beyond that, Fieg also said that there will be a Kith Treats grand opening at the store's 233 Flatbush Ave. location.
Maybe the grand opening is tomorrow, though. TimeOut New York reported 8/13/15:
Trendy sneaker shop KITH NYC is opening its second location on August 25, right near Barclay's (233 Flatbush Ave). But this time, the store will sell much more than shoes and apparel. Soon, in addition to your fashion needs, you can also satisfy that craving for sweet, crunchy breakfast-y goodness.
At the cereal bar, called KITH EATS, customers can grab up to three servings per order, complete with specialty milk and toppings. With two-dozen cereal options, 30 different toppings and 10 types of milk at the self-serve counter, the combinations—and sugar highs—are endless.

A week later, a look at the Dean Street canyon housing #PacificParkArts mural

At Dean Street near Vanderbilt Avenue
Yesterday, just eight days after the "Green Monster" wall on Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues was painted with ten 40-foot murals, I returned for a second look.

First impression: that wall is still huge, creating a canyon for pedestrians, bicyclists, and vehicles.

Second impression: the drivers, of vehicles and bikes, weren't looking at the wall at all. They--especially the bicyclists--were focused on going straight ahead and not getting into any scrapes.

(So much for that chirpy tweet about being excited to bike down Dean Street and seeing the murals.)

That said, I did see a couple of pedestrians with cameras taking photos. So pedestrians--and the press--may have been the real target audience.

Looking east from Dean Street near Carlton Avenue.
The below photos all look west from Dean Street near Vanderbilt Avenue

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The WWE SummerSlam (undisclosed) takeover includes Sixth Avenue and broadcast lot

Well, according to information released earlier this week by the Barclays Center regarding this weekend's WWE SummerSlam event, yes, there was supposed to be noise-attenuated generator installed on the west side of Pacific Street and Sixth Avenue outside the Sugar Factory entrance, as shown in the photo below.

A couple of other phenomena, however, were not disclosed.

There was no mention that media trucks would be placed behind the MPT (maintenance and protection of traffic) on Sixth Avenue outside the arena. Isn't the MPT area supposed to be limited to construction?

Now was there hint that the broadcast lot on the east side of Sixth Avenue between Dean and Pacific streets would be used to assist event attendees.

According to the latest Construction Alert, issued this past Tuesday, "Broadcast lot will be shared/ utilized by both the arena and the B3 site for temporary storage of equipment."

Actually, as the brief video below from yesterday shows, it's also being used for parking--valet parking, I'm told. The big event in the three-day festival is tonight, starting at 6:30.


Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Nets, fandom, and being "too busy" to miss the old Brooklyn (and what about the felonious Barclays?)

The nature and up-down intensity of Brooklyn Nets fandom has been the subject of much discussion, as noted 5/1/14 on NetsDaily:
In a tweet from their own account, the Nets disassociated themselves from Lenn Robbins tweet of Thursday night in which the team's in-house beat writer advised Nets fans to "set your DVD and take notes" on the Raptors home crowd, noting "this is what a playoff crowd sounds like."
Robbins later apologized, and Nets fans in a subsequent game were reportedly quite loud.

Fandom in Brooklyn?

Then again, intense fandom has not exactly penetrated Brooklyn, however much Brooklyn Nets gear pops up around (and beyond) the borough. The night of that subsequent 2014 game, I wandered up Fulton Street and Lafayette Avenue just blocks from the arena. The game was on in most bars and restaurants, but only a fraction of people were watching attentively. 

A week earlier, I was in Pittsburgh, the day of a Penguins hockey playoff game. One main strip of bars and restaurants, East Carson Street, was inundated with people wearing Penguins gear. Every bar was advertising the game.

Pittsburgh is a small city, with a deep sports history. Brooklyn is a big borough, larger than most cities, with a new team and lots more things to do. 

So the Nets are not the Dodgers, the home team of an underdog borough in an era when baseball dominated sports fandom.

But it can't matter much to team owners and arena operators: they can draw fans from not just Brooklyn but the rest of the city and the nearby suburbs. The Brooklyn fan base is not as big a deal. And Brooklyn is big enough that some fraction of the borough can suffice as fans.

That was proven again in the past season, and it looks to be proven by the New York Islanders, which is rejiggering its fan base with Brooklyn and New York City fans.

The new fan base

The emergence of the Brooklyn fan base, and the new Brooklyn was the subject of David Roth's 5/2/14 SB Nation essay, THE HOME TEAM: TWO NOT-VERY-QUIET NIGHTS AT HOME WITH AN NBA TEAM THAT'S FIGURING OUT WHAT IT IS, AND WHAT IT WILL BE. As in the past, he was skeptical about the team's branding:
It is no slight to the team to note that this feels almost incidental in Barclays Center. The game experience is antiseptic and scrupulously leveraged. Various brands wink and blink and blurt and blunder up throughout the game, presenting things or simply being them.
...This is not unique to Brooklyn, of course; it was even more oppressive during the Nets' last years in New Jersey, when the team relied on marketing gimcrackery to wring revenue out of lousy teams playing in mostly empty arenas. But that is sort of the problem.
Becoming a home team

"It takes time to feel at home," wrote Roth, who recalled how 13 years earlier he found a skeevy apartment near Fifth Avenue and Dean Street, a block from the later arena site, at a time before Brooklyn got buzz, and a time when he willingly traveled to New Jersey for Nets games. Now there's "nothing else I would have recognized."

He suggested that fandom is emerging, that the "bars empty some before tip-off, but they were never quite full to begin with." But he thought the kids going to games will grow up into something more, and "Their cheers will be what drowns out the front office's relentless false-bottomed marketing language."

Maybe, maybe not if the team keeps flipping personnel, bringing on--for a high price--aging stars, then losing them to rebuild. The team this season will be significantly different from the one two years ago.

And I'm not so sure "the former O'Connor's is now a perfectly respectable place called McMahon's Public House." I know people who loved O'Connor's who now disdain McMahon's. But there are, yes, new people.

Time and change

Roth, who I respect as an eloquent writer, then strained:
There is nothing terribly natural or good about the variously underhanded and high-handed incidences of micro- and macro-scale corruption that brought the Barclays Center into being or brought the Nets to Brooklyn. All of that was terrible, and continues to be -- the slow and predictable revelation of all the various lies told casts a long shadow on the hopeful thing rising at Flatbush and Fifth. It is all business as usual, but that is never a compliment.
But there is nothing more natural or good about the Brooklyn I lived in -- which is gone, gone, gone -- than there is about the one that's there now. The new one is different, but of course it is. I am welcome to miss or mourn the Brooklyn I knew; the people who live there now are too busy living in this new one to care, and that is as it should be.
(Emphases added)

Well, maybe there is nothing more good--if that's a subjective judgment.

More natural? Well, cities are never natural. The redlining, highway subsidies, and low-interest loans that helped create the suburbs and empty out 1960s Brooklyn, the policies that earlier enforced the Bedford-Stuyvesant ghetto, or the combinations of clearance and subsidies that created MetroTech were hardly natural.

Still, I'd submit, the various instances of "corruption" hinted by Roth were not merely "business as usual." That is too simple, and too pat. And so, I'd submit, the Brooklyn he lived in--as did many of us--has been soured by the deceptions of various parties.

The arena is ever tainted by what I call the Culture of Cheating, not legally corruption but a sequence involving deceit, misdirection, and unfair privileges.

People may be "to busy... to care" about much. That's understandable. Still, in a culture when sports fans care very much about fairness on the court (or the ice), amnesia is selective.

Today, there's even more concrete evidence about cheating: the Barclays Center is named for a felonious (as of March 2015) bank. Yet the name "Barclays Center" is pronounced without qualm of skepticism.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Yes, tickets for Islanders going up: new calculation suggests 46% rise (still less than Nets' leap)

Jesse Lawrence of Forbes, writing in Islanders Move To Barclays Center Already Yielding Much Higher Ticket Prices For 2015-16 Season on 8/18/15 , cites the combination of the new venue and the team's strong record:
A year ago, New York Islanders tickets saw a solid $120 average on the season, while the new campaign is now yielding a considerably higher $175 average. The spike is never more evident than when fans look at New York’s upcoming home opener. In 2014, their home opener against the Carolina Hurricanes was just $137 on average, with a get-in price of $60, but this year’s Barclays Center debut is all the way up to $466.67 on average, while the cheap seats start at $165 on Ticketmaster.
As the Wall Street Journal previously reported, the average ticket price will be $85--that's $35 (or 70%) more than at the Nassau Coliseum, about the league average, according to arena CEO Brett Yormark. The rise to $175 is actually a 46% increase.

Part of the increase may be the unusual numbers in the opening game against the league champion Chicago Blackhawks. Lawrence noted that more than 8,000 season ticket plans--more than half the building--have been sold.'

The 46% rise is still less than the jump for the Nets. Upon the team's' move to Brooklyn in 2012, as I wrote, there was a stunning 50.8% increase in ticket price.

What if things change?

Brian Erni on Islanders Point Blank noted that it was inevitable that prices would go up, but expressed dismay at the dynamic pricing, which shows tickets at vastly different prices for different opponents. (The counter argument is that scalpers would then make the market.)

He warned:
The Islanders have a good case study in the Nets of what happens when a team goes from a hot ticket to an ice cold commodity in an instant. I’m not saying it will happen to the Isles, but they should probably resist the temptation to price some fans out of the building, especially while everyone is getting acclimated to traveling to Brooklyn.
Indeed, as I wrote in March, Brooklyn Nets season ticket prices for their upcoming fourth season, 2015-16, have gone down in several places.

The Nets lowered the cost for the cheapest season tickets in several sections to $25 per game from $45. Remember, those seats were $15 in the first year and $25 in the second year before the aggressive boost to $45. Now the top price in the cheap sections is $45, down from $70.

And the dynamic pricing has also gone in the downward direction, with some midweek games against weak teams costing $10 or $8, as I wrote two seasons ago.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Disturbing and dismaying: a truck wrongly parked, unconcerned traffic agents, and a confrontation with a citizen documentarian

A troubling incident was detailed by Atlantic Yards neighbor Peter Krashes in a post on Atlantic Yards Watch Aug. 18.

"A Posillico Tully truck was standing/parked in a no standing zone on South Portland Avenue below Atlantic Terrace waiting to enter the Atlantic Avenue work area this morning," he wrote. 

"Specifically, the truck was located on the northeast corner of the Atlantic Avenue/South Portland intersection pointed in the direction of the traffic. South Portland is not a legal truck route and is not included in the truck protocols as a truck route, so the truck was not only parked illegally it was on an illegal route. It was standing/parked right below a residential condominium complex."

Indeed, it is not a truck route. See Rail Yard Truck Protocols.

Not much help

However, two NYPD traffic agents at the other side of South Portland at the Atlantic Center mall took no action. Indeed, both the truck driver and traffic agents told Krashes the truck was going to "back across the Atlantic Avenue intersection into the work area adjacent to the arena. Based on the conversation, it sounded to me like a normal practice. The traffic agents asked how else trucks are to enter the site."

Truck Routes omit South Portland, which is above the western third of the project site.
That's certainly questionable, because, as Krashes noted, no such maneuver is in the protocols.

Nor did the traffic agents take action, as the truck seemed illegally standing/parked in a "no standing zone." 

A confrontation

Then things got interesting.

"I attempted to document the truck in its location, and leave promptly," Krashes wrote. "One of the traffic agents stopped me and asked me what I was doing. The truck driver then left his truck, crossed the street, and started cursing me. Instead of letting me move away, the traffic agents continued to engage me and asked me what my problem was. At least one of the agents laughed at the truck driver's profanity and appeared to egg the driver on. The truck driver stated I had photographed his truck before. In no way did I want to engage the driver. "

He was unable to file a 311 complaint about the truck, but because the condition was not existing by the time he could call, he couldn't do so. He did file a 311 complaint regarding the traffic agents

Barclays Center releases updated event calendars (with hockey); WWE SummerSlam load-in begins today; generator to run outside arena

Well, yesterday Barclays Center Community Affairs Manager Terence Kelly circulated a tentative event calendar for four-plus months, which shows that, by the time both hockey and basketball launch in October, the arena will be busy.

It also gave neighbors one day's notice regarding the load-in for the massive pro wrestling event this weekend, which includes three evening events, notably SummerSlam from 6:30 to 10:30 pm.

Note that the documents, which included the schedule for the rest of August, were issued too late to inform neighbors of the disruptive basketball tournament on the arena plaza last Saturday.

It's interesting that the arena is estimating a full house for hockey (15,800 for home opener)  but not for basketball (15,000 for home opener). In the first season, even when all 17,732 tickets for basketball were distributed, fewer than 17,000 people attended and the average gate count was closer to 15,400.

The impact of SummerSlam

This weekend, Barclays Center will host WWE SummerSlam on Sunday night, which is part of a much larger event. Load-in begins today and tomorrow, with events Saturday, Sunday, and Monday evenings--and load out on Monday.

There will also be daytime events--FanFests--Friday at 1 pm and Saturday at 10 am.

All residents and businesses will have unrestricted access in and out of homes and buildings. Note that "no major external production work (with light and sound) will take place in the overnight hours," which suggests that such work may occur at various hours during the morning and evening.

Temporary traffic “freezes” may occur on the arena block for both vehicles and pedestrians, during undisclosed hours. Both Barclays Center Pedestrian Traffic Managers and NYPD Traffic Enforcement Agents (TEAs) will assist.

A "noise-attenuated" generator--though presumably still noisy--will be installed on the west side of Pacific Street and Sixth Avenue outside the Sugar Factory entrance. "The generator will run intermittently starting Friday 8/21 through Monday 8/24," though times are unspecified.

Trucks involved in SummerSlam production vehicles will be parked at an off-site staging area provided by Barclays Center. So keep watch to see whether and how many vehicles wind up parking or idling near the media. Also keep watch on the "very large media check-in program all weekend," especially on event nights.

The event calendar, the rest of August 2015

Note that, as mentioned on the Barclays Center web site (but not the calendar below), the Legacy of Hope Concert in Support of The Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital event scheduled for August 26 has been cancelled.

September 2015

In September 2015, there are five concerts scheduled, and three Islanders pre-season hockey games. That's eight events. In September 2014, there were seven ticketed events: six concerts and an exhibition hockey game, plus two outdoor free afternoon community events.

October 2015

There are four concerts, a religious event, six hockey games, and four basketball games, three of them pre-season, or 15 total events. For October 2014, there were three pre-season Nets basketball games and six concerts planned (ultimately five), plus a pro wrestling night, or nine events.

November 2015

In November 2015, there will be five Nets games, six Islanders games, one college hockey event (actually a double-header, with games starting at 11:15 am and 2:30 pm), seven sessions of college basketball, ten Disney on Ice events, and one religious event. That's 30 events, though six days remain clear.

In November 2014, there were eight Nets games, eleven Disney on Ice (DOI) family shows, and six college basketball tournament evenings, for a total of 25 ticketed events.

December 2015

In December 2015, there will be six Islanders games, ten Nets games, one college basketball event, and one concert, New Years' Eve, with Jimmy Buffet, for 18 events, at least for now. 

In December 2014, there were initially nine Nets games, two concerts, three basketball tournaments, and one Harlem Globetrotters game. The arena later added one boxing card, a LIU basketball game, and concerts featuring Smokey Robinson and Run DMC, for a total of 19 events.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

From City Realty: an analysis of new towers coming in Brooklyn, and a new view of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park

A Brooklyn New Development Report from City Realty, which produces periodic market analyses, portrays "a crush of buildings with 20 or more units under construction, many of them rising 10 or more stories and dramatically changing the built environment." 

The report only covers Greenpoint in the north to Red Hook, Windsor Terrace, and Bushwick part of the way into Brooklyn.

As noted by Crain's, some roughly 5,800 new apartments in larger buildings projected to be built in 2017—more than double this year's estimate of 2,700.  This is far more than the than 3,200 units built in 2008. 

Among the buildings listed, and portrayed in the graphic below, are four that are part of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park: 461 Dean Street (B2, modular, 50/50 rental); 38 Sixth Avenue (B3, affordable rental); 550 Vanderbilt (B11, condo); and 535 Carlton (B14, affordable rental). Note that the B12 condo building was also supposed to start soon.

One question is whether all the new product will make it tougher for the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park buildings to stand out, or whether the boom in Brooklyn will keep sailing on.

Also note that City Realty, in the graphic below, has not only inserted the under-construction towers (numbers 1/2/3/4), but also included graphics representing the buildings to come.

The helicopter scale doesn't provide much context--the Atlantic Lots photo/graphic is better--but the graphic does suggest 1) Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park will be pretty darn big and 2) it will be seen as either relatively in scale or dramatically out of scale depending on perspective (from Downtown Brooklyn to the northwest vs. from Park Slope or Prospect Heights to the south and east).

Remember, as one architect observed candidly, it's a "preposterous amount of square footage."

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

From the latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update: street closings Aug. 29 for crane installation at B11 site

The latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Brooklyn Construction Update, covering the two weeks beginning Monday August 17 and delivered at 9:29 am by Empire State Development after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners, reveals that on Saturday, August 29, a crane installation for the B11 site will require street closings.

Specifically, Dean Street between Vanderbilt and Carlton avenues and one lane of Vanderbilt Avenue will be closed. A community notice with details regarding the crane assembly will be distributed.

Also note that exterior façade adjustments and paint repairs are expected to begin on the B2 modular tower that was supposed to have units delivered complete.

Saturday work will continue at the B3 site at the southeast corner of the arena block. Saturday work as well as work up until 9 pm during weekdays will continue at the B14 site at 535 Carlton Avenue, at Dean Street.

There's new work going on at the B15 site east of Sixth Avenue between Dean and Pacific streets: "preliminary environmental sampling"--both drilling and/or hand excavation--will begin in the basements and open lots on the site. The broadcast lot at the site will be shared/ utilized by both the arena and the B3 site for temporary storage of equipment.

New--or at least purportedly new--information is noted with an asterisk in the text below, and with an asterisk and red type in the document embedded below. I say purportedly new, because some of the information marked as new is not actually new.


B2 - 461 Dean Street, Modular Residential
During this working period:
• Work related to the erection of modules shall continue.
• Interior work will continue on modules that have already been installed.
• *Exterior façade adjustments and paint repairs are targeted to commence.

B3 - 38 Sixth Avenue
During this working period:
• *Excavation and foundation activities, including the commencement of drilling for piles and material delivery, shall occur during this reporting period. Soil that has been classified as clean or contaminated will continue to be removed from the site as part of the excavation activities and brought to appropriate disposal locations. Additional equipment needed for pile installation will arrive during this period. Soil that has been classified as clean, contaminated or hazardous will be removed from the site as part of the excavation activities and brought to appropriate disposal locations.
• *Pile installation and load tests will commence this reporting period.
• Saturday work to address field conditions within the site will occur during this reporting period.

Arena Green Roof
• Architectural metals delivery continues during this reporting period and will be lifted to the roof utilizing the Atlantic Avenue crane. Deliveries will come through the Atlantic Avenue gate utilizing flagmen to direct traffic.
• Protocols for the trucks entering and exiting the site have been put in place to provide clarification and instruction for on roadway routing to and from the project site, queuing of trucks while on site and vehicle idling restrictions.

LIRR Yard Activities - Block 1120 & 1121
• During this reporting period, the Contractor will continue excavation and hauling of soil from Blocks 1120 and 1121. Soil that has been classified as clean, contaminated or hazardous will be removed from the site as part of the excavation activities and brought to appropriate disposal locations. Protocols for the trucks entering and exiting the site have been put in place. These protocols provide instruction on roadway routing to and from the project site, queuing of trucks while on site and vehicle idling restrictions.
• Support of Excavation (SOE) work including the installation of lagging and tiebacks will continue within this area during this reporting period.
• Manhole and duct bank installations will be ongoing in Blocks 1120 and 1121 during this reporting period.
• Foundation footing and pier rebar, formwork, and concrete installations will be ongoing in Blocks 1120 and 1121 throughout this reporting period.
• Pacific Street Retaining wall rebar, formwork, and concrete installations will be ongoing in Block 1120 and 1121 throughout this reporting period.
• Excavation, formwork and underpinning for future removal of LIRR Atlantic Avenue Tunnel wall will continue throughout this reporting period.
• Building and platform foundation pile testing will continue during this reporting period. Production pile installation may begin within this reporting.

LIRR Yard Activities – Atlantic Avenue
• Excavation and hauling of soil will be ongoing during this reporting period.
• Support of Excavation (SOE) work including the installation of lagging and tiebacks will continue
within this area during reporting period.

LIRR Yard Activities – Night/Weekend Work
Tunnel Work
• Weekend Electrical Utility work (conduit and support installation) is being performed inside the LIRR Tunnel and will continue during this reporting period and is currently scheduled to continue through the end of 2015.

Block 1129
• Vibration Monitoring stipulated by the Construction Protection Plan continues to be implemented.
B11 – 550 Vanderbilt Avenue:
During this reporting period:
• *Superstructure phase of construction continues mobilizing on site. The installation of a crane is expected to occur on 8/29/15, which will require a closure of Dean Street between Vanderbilt Avenue and Carlton Avenue and the closing of one lane of Vanderbilt Avenue for the crane installation, subject to DOT approvals and permits. A community notice with details regarding the crane assembly will be distributed.
• *Other related equipment and materials will be delivered to the site for ongoing superstructure work. Carpenters are performing formwork for second floor columns, shear walls and slabs.
• *Site backfilling will be conducted during this period.
• The temporary of removal of a fire hydrant within the B11 footprint on Dean Street.

B14- 535 Carlton Avenue:
During this reporting period:
o The sidewalk on the west side of the 6th Avenue Bridge (between Pacific and Atlantic) will remain closed to pedestrians;
o The MPT will remain in place on the far west lane of the 6th Avenue Bridge from Pacific Street to Atlantic Avenue.
• Excavation and foundation activities will continue during this reporting period. Work includes drilling of tiebacks for the SOE system, excavation of soil to a depth of 40’ and the continued installation of lagging to the same elevation. Soil that has been classified as clean, contaminated or hazardous will be removed from the site as part of the excavation activities and brought to appropriate disposal locations. Protocols for the trucks entering and exiting the site have been put in place. These protocols provide instruction on roadway routing to and from the project site, queuing of trucks while on site and vehicle idling restrictions.
• A tie-back drill rig will be demobilized during this reporting period.
• Installation of spread footings and slab on grade is ongoing. A small crane is being used inside of the excavation to assist in concrete operations. A second small crane will be mobilized on the Carlton Avenue side of the construction site during this reporting period.
• Installation of foundation waterproofing and pouring of foundation walls is ongoing.
• Site mobilization will continue consisting of electrical work to power contractor field office and
relocation of light poles to outside of site fence.
• Mobilization will commence on site for superstructure phase of the project, including arrival of a mobile crane and deliveries of material.
• Construction of columns, shear walls and cellar slab will begin during this reporting period.
• An existing crane used during the excavation and foundation period is expected to leave the site
during this period.
• Saturday work *as well as work up until 9 pm during weekdays to address field conditions within the site will occur during this reporting period. This work includes all work listed above.
• *Material deliveries related to the superstructure phase.
• *Construction of superstructure phase to continue.
• * The removal of equipment, including but not limited to a mobile crane, excavator and pay loader.

*B-15 (6th Ave and Pacific Street)
• *During this period, it is expected that preliminary environmental sampling will commence within the basements and open lots on the site. Work will consist of drilling sample borings and/or hand excavation.
• *Broadcast lot will be shared/ utilized by both the arena and the B3 site for temporary storage of equipment.

Among de Blasio's "messes," Atlantic Yards affordable housing gets a pass

From the New York Times yesterday, Messes Pile Up for de Blasio in 2nd Year:
The [clash with Gov. Andrew Cuomo] episode, recounted by several people familiar with the discussion, was an extraordinary public moment of discord, laying bare a host of challenges confronting the de Blasio administration in a messy second year: tension among aides; a perilous, often powerless relationship with Mr. Cuomo, a fellow Democrat; and the struggles of Mr. de Blasio, a political operative by training, to control the perception of his stewardship.
When the mayor’s top political aide raised concerns about battling the car-service app Uber, saying it could be a tough fight, Mr. de Blasio pushed forward, prompting a public relations fiasco that ended with City Hall’s abruptly dropping a proposal to limit the company’s growth.
Warned that rising complaints about homelessness could hurt him politically, Mr. de Blasio announced action on the issue this month, appearing reactive to negative headlines.
And while federal authorities praised the mayor’s handling of the Legionnaires’ outbreak as “swift” and “robust,” the response was still questioned by some city Democrats. Frustrated, the mayor led a marathon weekend meeting with agency leaders, demanding details on their progress.
In interviews, allies of the mayor said they deeply supported Mr. de Blasio and his efforts to combat inequality. But they expressed worry that his administration had not done enough to ensure New Yorkers recognize his accomplishments.
...Mr. de Blasio forcefully defended his record in an interview on Saturday, citing what he called “fundamental achievements with a very big reach,” including a rare rent freeze on many rent-regulated apartments, progress on affordable housing, and his universal prekindergarten program.
As commenters pointed out, there's evidence for de Blasio being treating more gently by the press than deserved--after all, the Times had to link to a New York Post article about political appointee Stephanie Yazgi. Then again, there was no mention of universal pre-K.

Here's the comment I tried to post too late

A perusal of comments suggests that the press--and this article--have ignored (or very lightly scrutinized) examples of the mayor's achievements and his deficits. Take, for example, the mayor's claims of "progress on affordable housing," reported without elaboration in the article.

At the heavily promoted groundbreaking last December for a tower in the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park complex, de Blasio stated. "This is a symbol of what we intend to do with our affordable housing plan over and over and over and over."

Most people/press bought that, though the Daily News more incisively framed it as "De Blasio hails 'affordable housing' complex in Brooklyn with $3,500 apartments."

After all, this will be a 100% "affordable" building. However, it's merely a reallocation of buildings once planned as 50% market and 50% affordable; this 100% affordable building will be matched by a 100% market building. 

Moreover--and the reason for the Daily News headline--the building skews from the "original promise" to allot the subsidized units among five income "bands," with only 20% for the best-off cohort, middle-income households.

Instead, 50% of the units in this and the next subsidized tower will go to households earning 165% of Area Median Income (AMI), or more than $140,000 for a family of four. That cohort didn't march for this project.

Next Community Update meeting rescheduled to Sept. 16

A message yesterday from Empire State Development:
In consideration of summer vacation plans and to ensure the most up to date information is shared with the community we are rescheduling, the August 19th Atlantic Yards aka Pacific Park Brooklyn Community Update Meeting (formerly known as Quality of Life). The meeting is being moved to Wednesday, September 16th.

The September 16th meeting will take place at:
@ 6:00 PM
Shirley Chisholm State Office Building
55 Hanson Place, 1st Floor Conference Room
Brooklyn NY 11217
A tentative meeting agenda has been attached for your review. We look forward to seeing you then.
Note that the postponement also means that officials from the developer and state get to avoid pesky questions about the intrusive 5 am noise from the block party Saturday, the time of which was never disclosed, or the noisy basketball tournament on the arena plaza, which was never announced.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Straight-faced flack: "Pacific Park Brooklyn has a strong record of compliance and has been completely transparent"

DNAinfo, in As Murals Go Up, Residents Around Atlantic Yards Call for More Transparency, reported on the call for more construction oversight, and got these responses:
In response, developer Greenland Forest City Partners said Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park is “one of the most highly regulated projects in the city,” and has a history of transparency.
“Pacific Park Brooklyn has a strong record of compliance and has been completely transparent and engaged with the greater Brooklyn community about the project's long-term impacts and steps we are taking to mitigate these conditions,” said developer spokesperson Nicole Kolinsky.
Um, weren't claims of transparency belied by the 5 am noise that awakened neighbors on Saturday, as well as the outdoor basketball tournament that was never announced? Or maybe that statement suggests neighbors will just have to suffer through "short-term impacts." (Btw, Kolinsky, a new name to me, works for p.r. firm Berlin Rosen.)

The article continues:
Though the ESD did not comment on the specific demands outlined by the group, an official from the agency said Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park has "ample oversight," particularly since the formation of the AYCDC [Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation].
Oh, sure. Why then did the Barclays Center Impact Zone Alliance ask that the AY CDC be empowered further.

Basketball tournament on arena plaza Saturday never announced; noise intruded on long-planned community garden event

The 5 am start to the mural-painting block party Saturday was only one of the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park-related intrusions that came without appropriate notice to neighbors that day.

To the surprise of many, the plaza outside the Barclays Center was turned over to a 12-hour event (including set-up): Nike's basketball Tournament of Champions, aka #ConquerAllCourts.

It came with a DJ and announcer, both amplified to the point where they could be heard one long block away, at Fourth Avenue.

That meant the sound was blaring on Pacific Street between Fourth and Flatbush avenues, and at the Brooklyn Bear's Garden, which just happened to have scheduled its 30-year anniversary party well before any word of the

"When the [Flatbush Avenue] traffic goes, you're gardening next to a highway," observed garden coordinator Jon Crow, indicating that gardeners were no strangers to noise while still carving out an oasis. "We've never ever had to put up with what happened yesterday. That was just stinkingly rude. They condemned people's homes to build the arena--put it inside the arena."

(Of course, the arena plaza is officially temporary; an office tower, B1, with an enclosed atrium, known as the Urban Room, is planned instead--though may never come. That would not have been as advantageous a place to put up a basketball court.)

No official notice

While Nike and the arena apparently got proper permits, the event was never officially announced to neighbors.

It was omitted on the August event calendar distributed in early July (see screenshot at left) to neighbors, and no updates were distributed. Nor was it mentioned on the Barclays Center web site.

(All calendars are provided as general information and subject to change without notice," stated the accompanying note from arena Community Affairs Manager Terence Kelly. Sure, but shouldn't they circulate distribute updates when something is intrusive?)

Crow said garden volunteers learned about the Nike event six days earlier from a police officer who stopped by during a protest rally.

He said he phoned Kelly early Saturday regarding a very loud 8 am sound check--the sound did go down somewhat--but said Kelly did not respond to further texts during the day.

The music, Crow said, "was not so bad, it was the announcer." Volunteers used funds raised in a bake sale to hire a musician for the party, "and you almost make us have to cancel that."

They didn't do so, and the musician and friends had amplification during the garden concert which started in the late afternoon and went past 8 pm, drawing some 50 attendees. "That said, in the background was the [intrusive] announcer," Crow recounted.

When Nike offered a pop-up store on Flatbush Avenue during All-Star weekend earlier this year, "people lined up outside the garden all night," Crow said, with some of them tossing their garbage in the garden. "This is second time we've been impacted by Nike."

The garden exhibit

When I stopped by in the morning--the garden was on my route, but I didn't know anyone would be there or that either event was planned--Crow in the video below described some photos showing the garden's history, and expressed qualms about the noise.

Visiting the tournament

Then, not long after 11 am, I crossed the street and shot a few minutes of the event on the arena plaza.

(I don't think it shows up on the video, but the music--and the announcer--both included language that was not, ahem, family-friendly. I'm not squeamish about the f-word, but this was a public event with kids around.)

One promotional announcement, from Nike's web site
Via Nike