Saturday, October 31, 2015

A noisy morning at 535 Carlton, and a platform falls

Not such a good morning at 535 Carlton, on top of some serious noise. Note what happens at about 1:02 of this video--a platform falls--and the subsequent yelling of "timber."

Prokhorov to buy 85% stake in Nassau Coliseum operating company; purchase of Nets/Barclays coming soon?

It was inevitable, right? And so is the next step.

Two Long Island publications broke the news that Nets majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov is buying an 85% stake in the company renovating the Nassau Coliseum and building the associated retail and entertainment complex. (The property is owned by Nassau County.) Terms were undisclosed.

Note that Prokhorov already had an unspecified share of Nassau Events Center, led by Forest City Ratner, and parent Forest City Enterprises, about to convert to a real estate investment trust by 2016, is eager to shed "non-core assets."

Surely soon will come Prokhorov's purchase of the remaining 20% share of the Brooklyn Nets controlled by Forest City Enterprises and the latter's 55% share of the Barclays Center operating company.

And that will again raise the question: would public agencies have been so eager to do the various deals if they knew the beneficiary was a Russian billionaire?

The news emerges

The news was first broken by Long Island Business News, Coliseum groundbreaking next week; arena may be sold to Russians, which noted:
Construction on the new arena, promised to start in August [see my coverage], has been delayed, though Nassau Events Center, the Forest City Ratner Companies-controlled redevelopment entity, has conducted some environmental testing and other “pre-demolition” activities at the site.
Newsday, in Nets owner takes controlling stake in Coliseum redevelopment company, later produced a more comprehensive report:
Forest City Ratner executive chairman Bruce Ratner will maintain a 15 percent ownership in NEC and will remain the lead developer on the Coliseum project, along with Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark, according to company spokeswoman Ashley Cotton. Ratner and Yormark would continue to manage the arena with Onexim after it reopens.
Cotton told Newsday "Onexim will maintain Ratner's vision for the property and will abide by the terms of the lease agreement with the county." 

Newsday reported that the Nassau County executive says no legislative approval is needed for the lease revision, while the county comptroller tweeted that it was required.

Newsday quoted one real estate expert as saying it's unclear if the new owners can revise development efforts.

With Atlantic Yards, at least, the lesson is that everything is open to revision.

Newsday reported that a Nets D-League team will got to the Coliseum for the 2017-18 season after playing next year at Barclays, while a promised--and required by the Coliseum lease--deal to bring a minor league hockey team is still unresolved. 

The arena renovation is supposed to be finished by December 2016.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Gehry's biographer puts on kid gloves regarding Ratner, buffs some of "Frank's" rough edges

It’s no surprise that the New York book party Oct. 21 for Paul Goldberger’s very impressive (but flawed) biography Building Art: The Life and Work of Frank Gehry was held at the architect’s curvy 8 Spruce Street apartment tower in Lower Manhattan, and hosted by the building’s developer, Forest City Ratner.

After all, it’s not just Gehry’s most successful New York commission, boldly branded by Forest City as “New York by Gehry.” Biographer Goldberger, who even admirers call “the voice of the urban elite,” also treats the developer with kid gloves, thus buffing the building’s backstory.

Indeed, this substantial book is flawed not merely because Goldberger, as several reviewers have pointed out, mutes his own critical voice when describing works like the Bilbao Guggenheim or Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.

It's also flawed because the book--despite describing Gehry choose work over family, jettison longtime lieutenants, and hunger for fame--still sandpapers (or misses) rough edges in Gehry's long and rich life and career.

Channeling Ratner

FCR's Maryanne Gilmartin and author Paul Goldberger
(Neither Bruce Ratner nor Frank Gehry were there)
Photo by Ben Asen/WWD
For example, Goldberger recounts "Frank's" alarm at developer Bruce Ratner’s recession-era proposal to stop 8 Spruce Street halfway up, to avoid having to rent a building with more than 900 units.

“Ratner, trusting his instinct that the market would recover, decided to move forward,” reports Goldberger, unmindful that the developer's pause was used to wring concessions from construction unions.

Goldberger similarly channels Ratner’s narrative when it comes to Gehry’s star-crossed Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, planned to include an arena and 16 towers.

In describing the substitution of Gehry’s titanium-clad arena with a copy of the Ellerbe Becket-designed Indianapolis arena, Goldberger writes that “[t]he banality of the building troubled” Ratner.

But it wasn’t Ratner’s internal Ada Louise Huxtable that got SHoP hired to rework the Barclays Center. (Remember his 2008 quote, "The architecture is important, but it's not that important"?)

Rather, as Goldberger fails to explain, New York Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff launched a jeremiad against the "colossal, spiritless box," and a Ratner lieutenant later admitted SHoP was hired “for public reasons” (i.e., to win back critics, which it did).

Assessing Atlantic Yards

Still, Goldberger should be credited for reporting that "Frank was devastated by the news" that Atlantic Yards would be designed by another firm. That complicates the narrative regarding Ratner. Of course, Gehry was tethered to the developer for 8 Spruce Street, so he wasn't free to express his feelings at the time.

From Building Art
In Building Art, Goldberger in many ways reprises his 2006 criticism of Atlantic Yards, observing that Gehry was better at designing buildings in the context of the larger city than conjuring up the entire context himself. (Still he errs in the book in describing the project as "a twenty-two-acre project over the Long Island Rail Road yards in Brooklyn.")

Yet the author dials back in small but noticeable ways. While Goldberger in 2006 wrote that Gehry's "talents hardly seem suited to" Atlantic Yards, today he writes that the project "did not necessarily play to [Gehry's] strengths." While he earlier wrote that Gehry's signature tower was "foolishly named Miss Brooklyn," the book states merely that Gehry "named" it Miss Brooklyn.

Goldberger in 2006 earlier wrote critically:
Ratner seems to have been less interested in using Gehry’s architectural talent to best advantage than in trying to leverage his celebrity to make an unpopular development more palatable. Gehry, for his part, clearly loved the idea of taking on the biggest project in New York. But even the most famous architect in the world has limits.
In the book, that gets dialed back--part of Goldberger muting his own voice?--to "the opponents suggested that Ratner hired him not for his design skill but in the cynical hope that his reputation would draw attention away from the issues that concerned them." They did, as Goldberger further describes. He just doesn't give that conclusion his imprimatur.

Giving Frank a break

Goldberger, who was authorized by Gehry to write the biography but gave the architect no editorial control, says his subject doesn’t like the book's treatment of his troubled first marriage and relationship with his children.

Still, Gehry had to appreciate Goldberger’s discretion. For example, the author calls Gehry’s petulant response to a Spanish journalist last year—extending his middle finger in response to a question about his buildings as sculpture—“a trivial incident, funny more than scandalous.” Perhaps, especially since Gehry was very tired, and he's getting older and understandably less patient.

But Goldberger omits a somewhat similar 2009 clash at the Aspen Ideas Festival, in which Fred Kent, a pioneer in placemaking, asked why iconic architecture doesn't create good public places, triggering such disdain from Gehry that journalist James Fallows called it “incredible and unforgettable."

Also unmentioned is the 2006 episode in Brooklyn, whereupon noticing picket signs outside a press conference unveiling new Atlantic Yards designs, Gehry cracked dismissively, "They should've been picketing Henry Ford.”

Coldblooded Frank

Such moments, along with others I've witnessed, suggest a man more coldblooded than described in the book. Both Building Art and Sydney Pollack’s mostly flattering documentary Sketches of Frank Gehry tell of Gehry's split with the Rouse Company, for which he designed the Santa Monica Place mall.

A Rouse executive visiting Gehry's unique home, a new structure built around an existing house, asked about the divide between Gehry’s work and his passion. Gehry that weekend chose to give up such commissions. “It was like jumping off a cliff, an amazing feeling,” Gehry says in the film. “And I was so happy from then on.”

Gehry expresses no qualms about the 30 staffers he fired abruptly, and Goldberger simply reports that such consequence “was unavoidable.”

Willfully naive Frank
Williamsburgh Bank
trumps "Miss Brooklyn"

Goldberger also ignores Gehry's seemingly willful naivete regarding Ratner. Designing a project like Atlantic Yards, at least 8 million square feet, would typically involve other architects, the architect said in various interviews, but Ratner insisted it would go faster to work with one office.

Surely the developer, who indeed has hired multiple architects since Gehry left the project, valued the starchitect’s brand. Similarly, Gehry told interviewer Barbara Isenberg rather wishfully that Ratner "had studied my work and realized I was an urban planner but hadn’t had the chance to do that.”

"Bruce Ratner is also politically like me,” Gehry claimed at one public forum, calling himself “do-gooder, lefty."

That, of course, ignored Ratner’s hardball tactics as a developer, including gag orders on property sellers and the creation of community groups to show "grassroots" support.

Gehry played along. His office produced produce misleading Atlantic Yards renderings; in one (above), a nearby Brooklyn tower was portrayed as a giant crushing Gehry’s “Miss Brooklyn” office tower, though the latter would be more than 100 feet taller and three times bulkier.

Boorish Frank

Finally, the mannerly Goldberger seems to miss a certain boorishness in his subject. The opening chapter of Building Art is centered around the March 2011 party celebrating the completion of 8 Spruce Street.

But the author misses the moment, some 14 months earlier, when, at the topping-out ceremony for the tower, Gehry pointed to the sky and quipped, “No Viagra.”

The bottom line

My list of flaws, I acknowledge, addresses only a small fraction of a mostly very impressive book.

But if it seems churlish to point them out, we must recognize that Gehry won't cooperate with another biographer. If Building Art will serve as the closest thing to a definitive Gehry biography, well, it should have been more Frank.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

"The post-hype Nets begin again," and it's brutal

A brutal account of last night's season debut of the Brooklyn Nets vs. the Chicago Bulls, from Howard Megdal in Politico NY, The post-hype Nets begin again:
A crowd seemingly aware of the bleak present and future showed up in Brooklyn Wednesday night. Large patches of empty rows could be seen throughout the lower bowl, and even in the mostly filled upper levels, the crowd energy veered far closer to golf than Garden. No one in the starting lineup was cheered sufficiently to stand out as the most popular Net.
Nets shops around the stadium's lower bowl that once proudly hawked "Williams 8" jerseys and shirseys now stood absent any player, the omnipresent white, black and gray with the logo standing in while the team figures out what that means next. The crowd, too, had largely dispensed with Williams, or Johnson, or virtually any other Net in any kind of bulk. The most popular jersey I saw Wednesday night was Derrick Rose's 1, in the red and black colors of the road team.
The branding effort, of the Nets as champions, as the top destination in New York sports, has been scaled back dramatically. The stand that once sold sushi now sells beer. The bars around the arena where fans gathered played the Mets World Series game. Very little seemed to matter less than the outcome of the Nets game. Fans ever-so-slowly filtered back to their seats after a half in which the Nets played competitively against the Bulls, who themselves had just beaten LeBron James' Cavs.

Forest City now said to be considering office space at Site 5 and B1 sites (really?)

Remember, Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park is a "never say never" project, and now it looks like more office space--always allowed, but ignored/downplayed for years--may be on the drawing board.

Yesterday, the New York Times's real estate page offered With Workers Living in Brooklyn, Offices May Follow:

Those who work in Manhattan and live in another borough will often talk of a job in “the city.” The slip might be understandable. Most office buildings are in Manhattan, which means many New Yorkers spend the bulk of their waking hours there.
But Brooklyn seems poised to become a serious rival for the 9-to-5 set. About 16 million square feet of office space is under construction or planned, brokers say, in an arc that stretches south from Williamsburg through downtown to Sunset Park. The properties range from single warehouses to multibuilding complexes.
Though the scale of investment, from many of New York’s largest developers, appears unprecedented, it is not risk-free. A lack of amenities and public transportation can put certain neighborhoods at a disadvantage, according to critics.
Yet supporters say it is about time the commercial real estate market caught up with a decade-long residential boom.
Supporters also want the Relocation and Employment Assistance Program (REAP), "which offers lucrative city tax credits to certain companies that trade Manhattan for Brooklyn," thus basically cutting rents by $20/sf, to be renewed.

(The article mentions that the credits can't be counted on forever, but ignores the push for renewal by the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, steered by Forest City.)

Brooklyn and AY

Forest City Ratner's MetroTech "is more than 97 percent leased, a record high, according to [CEO] Ms. [MaryAnne] Gilmartin," the Times reports, without analyzing how the developer may have offered discounts to lure nontraditional tenants.

The Times reports:
Part of what kept MetroTech from realizing its full potential, Ms. Gilmartin said, was that people who might have worked there lived too far away; the hike from the Upper East Side every morning might not have been worth it.
That doesn't fully make sense. MetroTech was billed as back office space, less for top executives than for support staff, who couldn't afford the Upper East Side in the first place.

The article continues:
Now, though, with Brooklyn having become such a desirable residential address, corporations are in a sense following their employees, Ms. Gilmartin said. She is turning her attention to Pacific Park Brooklyn, the mixed-use development that includes Barclays Center, where apartments have been the focus to this point. There she can build as much as 1.6 million square feet of offices, though a hotel will most likely account for some of that.
That 1.6 million square feet is actually less than originally allowed on the arena block but--after having three arena block buildings designated housing--consists of the B1 tower over the arena plaza and the Site 5 tower across Flatbush Avenue.

It's unclear, as I've written, whether B1 will be built, or whether its development rights might be traded to another site, perhaps in part to Site 5. And the Site 5 tower, as I wrote recently, may be tweaked, and I speculated that it may be enlarged as some portion of the B1 square footage gets shifted.

But none of it will become office space until the REAP program gets renewed, I'm sure, and until there's an anchor tenant. (Remember the 2011 effort to lure Panasonic?)

Now we know what the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership seeks: permanent incentives for office space

Remember that cryptic New York Daily News piece in August:
Downtown Brooklyn developers have been so preoccupied with building supertall residential towers that they’ve been neglecting the office market.
...“As the Downtown Brooklyn renaissance continues on all fronts, there’s a critical need for office space to meet growing demand,” said Tucker Reed, president of the DBP [Downtown Brooklyn Partnership]. “It’s essential that we focus on all the elements – commercial, residential, retail and cultural – needed to make Downtown Brooklyn a thriving central business district.”
Missing from such coverage was any hint of the agenda of the DBP, which is steered significantly by Forest City Ratner, whose CEO, MaryAnne Gilmartin, co-chairs the board. Now we know. (And Forest City, according to Gilmartin, is now considering office space at the Site 5 and B1 sites.)

Incentives sought

In the Commercial Observer, Now That Brooklyn is Hot, Let’s Make it Hotter, Alan Washington, the DBP's director of real estate and planning, wrote 9/27/15
But lost in the discussion about the need for additional commercial office space within Downtown Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Tech Triangle, and the borough as a whole, are a few essential ingredients that are key to helping the area reach its full potential as a healthy central business district that drives the most populous borough’s economy: incentive programs. 
The city wisely recognized that in order to spur economic diversity that fosters and celebrates the best of mixed-use development in a real estate market where highest and best use is almost certainly residential, incentive programs are necessary not only to attract but also to retain commercial business in the areas of the city in need of economic stimulus. To the city’s credit, several incentive programs were created, including the Industrial and Commercial Abatement Program (ICAP), the Commercial Expansion Program (CEP), the Relocation and Employment Assistance Program (REAP) and a variety of energy programs, including the Energy Cost Savings Program (ECSP).
(Emphasis added)

Those programs, in June, were extended for two years each, which Washington says is not a long-term solution, because of the time it takes to relocate a major tenant and because the uncertainty of such programs could kill future conversion projects, which take time to reach fruition.

What's the alternative?

Could there be an alternative: why not amend the rezoning or otherwise tweak policies to make housing in the downtown district less so the "highest and best use"?

After all, Downtown Brooklyn was rezoned in 2004--giving windfalls to property owners--to allow for new towers featuring office space. That didn't work, because they could make more money building housing.
Downtown Brooklyn Plan Summary, 2003-04

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Nets season opens. The promotions already seem heavy. Expectations are low.

Two days ago, the free daily Metro newspaper came with the wraparound cover reproduced below, presaging the Brooklyn Nets season that begins tonight at home against the Chicago Bulls. (TiqIQ says there are a lot of seats available below market price.)

The emphasis on promotional nights (Joe Johnson Bobblead!) and promotions (free 11th game compliments of WPIX 11) suggest a New Jersey-eque recognition that it will be tough to get people into the building.

That's because the consensus is that the Nets will be lousy, and, for the first time in a while, the rival Knicks show more promise. Note the appearance of point guard Jarrett Jack on the inside cover. He had one of the worst plus-minus statistics in the league last year, and the worst of any player on a playoff team.
Outside cover
Inside cover
A rival's glee

Heck, a Boston Celtic fan even founded a blog, Billy Kingmaker, to tweak the Nets for making that Kevin Garnett/Paul Pierce trade and mortgaging their future draft picks to the Celtics:
Simple: on July 12, 2013, Nets GM Billy King won a secret bid on a contract with Celtics GM Danny Ainge to outsource the Celtics’ upcoming tank job, beginning in the 2015/2016 NBA season and continuing on until the 2018 draft. So confident was Danny Ainge in Billy King’s competence to deliver the lottery goods that last season he pink-slipped his in-house tank crew and headed straight for respectability.
Lowered expectations

Even the faithful at NetsDaily are realistic. Writes uber-blogger Net Income (aka Bob Windrem):
NI: The expectation, the HOPE, is that this will work out in the long-term, but it is not BY ANY MEANS a given. The Nets free agency dreams for 2016 are realistic only if they can prove their young core, including 27-year-olds Lopez and Young, have the potential to contend at a high level. That will fall apart if the record is disastrous or one of the key players gets hurt. Insiders hope this year is the worst they will be, that long-term, they have assets to attract top players.
Zach Lowe in Grantland rates the Nets 28 of 30th in watchability:
An unwatchable cast of vanilla slowpokes, misfits, and fringe players (and Thad Young) lifted from dead last by the only perfect “10” League Pass Minutiae score. The Nets, once again, sport the league’s best top-to-bottom broadcast experience.
One ESPN expert, as noted by NetsDaily, called the Nets "'arguably' the worst team in the NBA."

Another ESPN piece declared the Nets "disastrous" as team and franchise.'s Andy Vasquez pointed to what may be the year's slogan, from Johnson: "It's not that bad here."

And principal owner now claims he didn't bring star players for brand awareness:
We didn’t bring in star players for brand awareness, but as a person who signed off all these deals, I can say that the only thing I really care about is building a winning team, and I do believe that we had a fresh shot with all these trades. It didn’t work out, because sport isn’t predictable. That’s why we love it. But I can fairly say, our focus remains absolutely the same today.
But former Nets beat reporter Stefan Bondy of the Daily News responded that indeed Prokhorov last year claimed a "great investment in the Brooklyn brand."

After "well-behaved" Barclays beer event, some vomit on sidewalks nearby

From The Daily Meal, Tapped Brings Lots of Beer, Thousands of People to Barclays Center for Its First Beer Event:
On Sunday afternoon, thousands of thirsty beer lovers packed into the Barclays Center, located on the northern end of Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood, for the sports and music venue’s first major beer event, called Tapped. During two epic sessions, nearly 30 different breweries poured more than 100 beers.
The beer stations were primarily set up on the arena’s floor, which became packed shortly after the doors opened, and a handful of stations were set up on either side of the arena’s concourse as well. Even though it was incredibly crowded, with some guests waiting several minutes on line between pours, everyone was well-behaved and seemed to really be enjoying themselves.
...Overall it’s hard not to consider the event an overwhelming success; big crowds means that it sold well.
First, "big crowds" can also mean it sold well after discounting. More importantly, however well-behaved people were inside, a neighbor tells me there was periodic visible vomit on sidewalks nearby.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Barclays swaps Cushman & Wakefield for Tidal as arena "theater" sponsor (but not naming rights buyer)

Not unlike the way The Vault has become the Billboard Lounge, the curtained-off, lower bowl "theater" version of Barclays Center, formerly called the Cushman & Wakefield Theater, is now the TIDAL Theater.

And the music streaming service co-owned by Jay-Z, which last week held a concert at the arena, will be "curating" a minimum of eight events at the "theater."

And despite sloppy journalistic shorthand to the contrary, that doesn't mean that TIDAL is buying naming rights. Given the failure to announce terms, it sounds more like a trade, as (apparently) with the Billboard Lounge "alignment."

The press release
Barclays Center Introduces Tidal as Naming Sponsor of Venues [sic] Theater
BROOKLYN (October 26, 2015) -- TIDAL, a recognized experiential music and entertainment platform, is the new title sponsor of the theater at Barclays Center.
TIDAL Theater will offer a new state of the art curtaining system for an intimate theater configuration, with seating between 4,000 and 6,000 for theatrical performances, concerts, music festivals, boxing events, comedy acts, and other events.
The newly unveiled configuration will also allow guests to have direct floor access to Barclays Center’s Billboard Lounge amplified by Lightpath and the Calvin Klein Courtside Club, as well as offer top sightlines from the 40/40 CLUB & Restaurant by American Express.
As part of its naming rights agreement, TIDAL will be curating a minimum of eight events annually in the TIDAL Theater with emerging and established artists.
The announcement of TIDAL Theater comes soon after the spectacular TIDAL X: 1020 Amplified by HTC show on Oct. 20 at Barclays Center, which included performances by world-class artists JAY Z, Nicki Minaj, and other stars, and was featured on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live. Additional major TIDAL events are planned for Barclays Center.
“TIDAL’s name is synonymous with exclusive and personalized fan experiences making it a perfect fit for the theater at Barclays Center,” said Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark. “Our new theater configuration provides TIDAL Theater with a special atmosphere that allows us to bring more diverse content and many big nights to Brooklyn.”
“Our fans clearly love Barclays Center as our recent concert proved and we are excited to offer an even more intimate experience through TIDAL Theater,” said Tim Riley, TIDAL Senior Vice President, Artist and Label Relations. “We are looking forward to hosting more phenomenal events at Barclays Center and in the new TIDAL Theater.”
Upcoming shows for TIDAL Theater will be announced soon.
The Billboard article

The Barclays Center's comfort level with new business partner Billboard is apparently such that the Billboard article, Barclays Center Inks First-of-Its-Kind Content Deal with Tidal, is reproduced in full on the arena's web site without attribution.

Note how the lead states "Billboard has learned," as if it was some sort of investigatory effort.

From the article:

Cushman & Wakefield has been "repositioned" into other areas of Barclays Center, according to Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark, who describes the Tidal partnership as a "content deal." 
...Yormark declined to reveal financial aspects of the deal beyond its content component, but did say, "Any of our platforms in Brooklyn, any of our major pieces of inventory, there’s a cost to them. But I don’t look at this [Tidal deal] as a revenue driver in that respect, I look at this as a really good strategic partnership because, ultimately we’re only as good as the events we have at the building." That sounds like a trade. 
What does that mean? There's "a cost" could mean that there's a value, not a payment. And if it's not "a revenue driver" but a "strategic partnership," does that mean that other partnerships are not supposed to drive revenue?

From the latest Construction Update: Saturday and late weeknight work continues; Atlantic Avenue roof crane still not down

According to the latest two-week Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Brooklyn Construction Update (bottom), released yesterday by Empire State Development after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners, "Saturday work to address field conditions" will continue at the B2, B3, B11, B14, and B15 tower sites, with weekday work until 9 pm at the B14 (525 Carlton Avenue) site.

Weekend electrical utility work will continue at the railroad tunnel underneath Atlantic Avenue.
Despite an announcement in the previous alert that the Atlantic Avenue crane for the arena green roof would be disassembled on Saturday, October 24 (subject to permits), the latest notice says that the "crane is not expected to come down in this reporting period."

Also, notably, module erection for floor 23 (of 32)  of the B2 modular tower (aka 461 Dean Street) is expected to be completed this period.

The northern Dean Street sidewalk in front of the B3 site just west of Sixth Avenue will be closed between Wednesday October 28 (tomorrow) and Friday October 30 to install temporary electricity at the site.

New work is reported below, verbatim from the document. (The alert was released in the morning, which by the standards of previous weeks is progress, but it still should be released before the day it starts.)

B3 - 38 Sixth Avenue
  • Complete Pouring of pile caps and grade beams along the southern and eastern portions of the site.
  • The framing and pouring of the west exterior foundation wall along with the south foundation mat and the tower crane footing will occur during this reporting period along with the excavation of the center mat foundation.
  • Form and pour foundation walls along the Barclays Center and the matt foundation at southern portion of site.
B11 – 550 Vanderbilt Avenue
  • Hoist jump [erection of a stationary equipment left] will take place on Saturday, October 31, 2015.
  • Masonry work will commence, including but not limited to the installation of walls in the building cellar and then moving to higher floors. This work will include deliveries of materials during work hours.
  • There are ongoing deliveries for project MEP trades approximately every three days in support of ductwork and piping installation which will commence on the cellar floor and move up through the building.
B14- 535 Carlton Avenue
  • Superstructure work is continuing with the framing and pouring of the 2nd floor. The framing of the 3rd and 4th floors will occur in this reporting period. Concrete pours will also continue.
  • Foundation backfill and waterproofing will continue and the cutting of the SOE piles will begin during this reporting period.
10-26-15 Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Brooklyn Construction Alert

Monday, October 26, 2015

Forest City touts new technology to keep B2 from swaying, previous plan (heavier, more expensive) unmentioned

So here's how you announce a switch in technology for an innovative building with a troubled history: you don't.

A 10/23/15 Real Deal article, From NASA to Brooklyn: Here’s why skyscraper living doesn’t make you queasy, is subtitled "Forest City will test-drive the fluid harmonic disruptor at B2," explains that Forest City Ratner, working with structural engineer Thornton Tomasetti, will be the first building to use the above-mentioned NASA-developed technology to keep the building from swaying:
Here’s how it works. Six water-filled pipes on the roof of the 32-story building — making up about 0.5 percent of the building’s total mass — will stymie the tower’s vibrations. The NASA-designed disruptor will control the water’s movement and change how the liquid and building would usually react when wind or other vibrations occur. 
...The polyvinyl chloride pipes, each three feet in diameter, will be installed once the building is completed, which is slated to be early next year, Malsch said. Robert Sanna, director of construction and design at Forest City, said B2’s lightweight modular material necessitated the use of a disruptor. 
That's not quite the full story. Actually, the modular tower, now the tallest in the United States, was previously supposed to use a different technology common on larger buildings, a tuned mass damper.

The previous technology

Indeed, the Real Deal describes that technology, but doesn't mention that it was the original plan for B2:
Most skyscrapers use a different technology, called a tuned mass damper, which uses a steel or concrete weight to resist movement and giant tanks of water to weigh down the building, said Steve DeSimone, president of DeSimone Consulting Engineers.
...But buildings shorter than 800 feet typically don’t require them, DeSimone said, adding that he “wouldn’t put a damper on a 32-story building.”
Dampers also typically require some movement to kick them into action — a system often compared to a pendulum— which [NASA's Rob] Berry sees as a pitfall, especially when something like an earthquake requires an immediate reaction.
There are not many earthquakes in New York, so surely there were other reasons, and the Real Deal supplies them:
Thornton Tomasetti, which has the exclusive right to apply the fluid harmonic disruptor to tall buildings in the U.S. and is bringing it to B2, is billing the technology as a cheaper and lighter alternative to traditional dampers. 
Those attributes--"cheaper and lighter"--likely drive the change at B2, aka 461 Dean Street. After all, the delayed tower is already way over budget. And, as described below, it may have been a challenge to lift the previously planned tuned mass dampers to the roof of B2.

On the other hand, any pioneer use of technology, as with the modular plan itself, can be vulnerable to glitches.

The previous plan

The previous plan was described in a 7/11/14 article in the in-house magazine of the engineering firm Arup, a designer on the B2 tower. In Engineering the factory-built tower, Arup's David Farnsworth wrote:
The lack of concrete in the modules makes the structure as a whole very light compared to typical construction. This, combined with the building’s orientation and massing, meant that the structure would sway more in high wind than conventional buildings of similar height. We therefore incorporated two 100-ton tuned mass dampers (not typically found in buildings of under 40 stories) into the design to reduce wind-induced motions to acceptable levels.
Given that B2's heaviest single module (the largest piece of the largest apartment) is only 24 tons, according to Farnsworth's article, that means each mass damper would have been more than four times as large. 

And given that "B2’s tower crane can lift a maximum of 26.5 tons," as Farnsworth wrote, that could have posed a challenge for assembling the mass dampers, at least for the weights at the center of them. (The weight of the heaviest component  of the mass damper was not stated.)

And while Farnsworth didn't say explicitly that the mass dampers would be on the roof, available evidence is that such installations are on the roof or very high floors. 

So "cheaper and lighter" might make a big difference for B2.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

From affordable housing solution to (relative bargain!) $6.86 million penthouse

Oh, remember how Atlantic Yards, according to a promotional flyer produced by Forest City Ratner in 2006 (before the project was trimmed slightly) was to supply "over 6,800 units of badly needed mixed-income housing for Brooklyn"?

Remember how Atlantic Yards was, as the flyer said, "Helping Solve Brooklyn's Housing Crisis"?

Well, consider the New York Post, 10/14/15, The meteoric price rise of the Brooklyn penthouse:
Early this month, a 2,859-square-foot penthouse at 550 Vanderbilt Ave. in Prospect Heights — part of the Pacific Park megaproject near Barclays Center — hit the market for $6.86 million. If it sells for that price, it would handily squash the area’s existing $5.1 million condo record.
...“Brooklyn is a hot spot in general — it’s drawing the attention of a wider demographic looking for all types of housing, including luxury housing that they see in Manhattan,” says Jodi Stasse, the managing director at Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group who’s overseeing sales efforts at 550 Vanderbilt.
...One [new product] is 550 Vanderbilt’s $6.86 million specimen, which came to market two weeks ago and has triple exposures and a 1,850-square-foot terrace. But its best feature, perhaps, is that’s it’s a relative bargain.
As Strasse says, “To find that in Manhattan, the [price] would be double.
Below, the rendering provided to the Post of the penthouse:

Water main work on Flatbush between Atlantic/Fifth this week

There's no evidence of any relationship to Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, but, as the alert from the New York City Department of Design and Construction shows, Flatbush Avenue between Atlantic and Fifth avenues near the Barclays Center will be the site of roadway excavation this week.

The work, Monday through Friday from 7 am to 4 pm, is for the removal of the existing water mains--12" and 16"--and the installation of new 20" water mains. (Thanks to Rob Perris of Community Board 2 for the info.)

Saturday, October 24, 2015

At second public discussion for Intersection/Prospect Heights, an opportunity for real talk

Today (3:30 pm, Brooklyn Public Library is the second public discussion associated with the InterSection/Prospect Heights project, which describes its aims:
Exposing change through individual stories, we seek to foster conversations on development, displacement and sustainability in this critical moment for the city.
I attended the first public discussion, at the library on October 7, which was heartfelt, candid, and a little frustrating.

The significant value of such events is they provide an opportunity for residents and neighbors--relative strangers, if not complete strangers--to speak candidly, in both small groups and (if they volunteer) publicly before the larger audience.

Such candor represents a refreshing change from the promotional talk--recent examples summarized below--associated with Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park.

At the first discussion

Among the two invited speakers, businessman and radio host Bob Law (whose scope of Prospect Heights was what we'd call Crown Heights North) described an idyllic youth in a neighborhood of mixed ethnicity, with a "subtle racism" he as a black teen recognized only as he reached high school.

"Gentrification doesn't have to be displacement, it doesn't have to change the very culture of the community," he said.

The other invited speaker, New Yorker writer George Packer, told of the tangled process in the past decade in which he and his family bought a house and put roots in the the neighborhood. With some snags, got to know their neighbors, in part because they together faced a construction project in which the site-maximizing developer pushed to the edge of the allowable site.

After small group discussions among the 30 or so people, four people (two white women, two black women) from the audience spoke publicly, talking of their path to and place in the neighborhood.

Among the sentiments expressed:
  • laments about the loss of The Usual, the diner on Vanderbilt that closed earlier this year
  • questions about the border between Prospect Heights and Crown Heights
  • the disappearance of diversity as houses sell for increased prices
  • resentment of the new 550 Vanderbilt Pacific Park tower rising steadily
  • tensions between West Indian and African-American residents
Going forward

Today's event, which includes Public Advocate (and former Council Member) Letitia James--and previously was to include Rep. Hakeem Jeffries--offers another opportunity for such talk.

There are few places for such cordial intersections. The most dramatic opportunities, in fact, have been Atlantic Yards-related public hearings, which attracted an even more diverse crowd than the (my observation) mostly middle-class audience at the library.

The challenge, I think, for projects like Intersection is ultimately to go beyond such worthy conversations to specifics about "development, displacement and sustainability." For example, talk of "affordable housing" has to peel back promotional language to look at specifics.

The promotional talk

There's been so much deceptive, misleading, and/or promotion talk revolving around Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park that a compilation from just the past few weeks includes:

Friday, October 23, 2015

At AY CDC, a push for more transparency; are Community Updates "developer meetings"?

Not much new was on the agenda for Tuesday's meeting of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC), the gubernatorially-controlled board set up to monitor and advise on the project.

But near the end of the meeting, some tension emerged, following the community relations report from Empire State Development (ESD), the state agency which oversees/shepherds the project now known as Pacific Park Brooklyn, and the project update from developer Greenland Forest City Partners, and an intriguing statement about plans for the Site 5 tower.

A few AY CDC directors and members of the public pushed back on a pattern of management in which project-related meetings have been poorly promoted and project impacts deserve a more complete response.

They got a pledge for a measure of more transparency, as if restoring basic standards.

But the limits to the state response emerged when AY CDC President Marion Phillips III, an ESD executive, made the surprising--and confounding--statement that the periodic Community Update meetings were "a developer meeting."

Actually, as I describe below, they have morphed from meetings sponsored by ESD and other governmental entities.

Community Updates and incident logs

Community Relations Manager Nicole Jordan provided an update on two Community Update meetings held in September and October, in which attendees where informed of plans for new construction, open, space, demolitions, changes to truck protocols, and more.

"A total of about 30 stakeholders attended both meetings," she said, including community residents, representatives of organizations, the 78th Precinct, and more. What she didn't say was that the confirmation for the latest meeting, last week, came with only one day's notice, and only three civilians showed up.

From her report, at least, it appears that the project is well-monitored. She noted that, as of Oct. 15, ESD had logged 117 community incidents, with just one logged with an open status, and three logged with a pending status.

Asked by acting Chairman Joe Chan to elaborate, Jordan said the open issue regards a pending request for noise mitigation--new rear windows--which the developer is working on, and the pending issues regard trash and snow removal on Long Island Rail Road property.

Director Tamara McCaw questioned whether an issue should be described as resolved if its recurring.

Phillips agreed that there should be a way to keep a running tally of recurring issues.

Director Jaime Stein, whose candidacy was pushed by neighbors closest to the project, observed that Jordan's log was very different from the report produced by ESD's environmental monitor, HDR, which she was examining.

Stein suggested an opportunity to go through the reports " and piece together some intervention points.. a lot has to do with having city agencies present," such as the New York Police Department and the Department of Transportation.

Phillips observed that NYPD and DOT are are responsive and attend Community Update meetings, but it would be difficult to get them to attend the meetings of the AY CDC, which is a state entity.

Chan suggested it was a good idea, and asked Stein, as a mayoral appointee to the CDC, to help.

A change to truck protocols

Asked by Stein about changes to to truck protocol, Jordan responded that "the protocol gives the truck drivers the ability to go down to the DOT-approved truck routing as quick as possible."

Prospect Heights residents earlier this year were alarmed that trucks serving the B3 site at the southeast corner of the arena block were not turning on Sixth Avenue to go to Atlantic or Flatbush avenues--as other trucks serving the arena block had proceeded--but instead got permission to go down residential Dean Street to Vanderbilt Avenue.

"The truck goes straight down Dean Street—that’s the quickest way for them to go to the DOT-approved truck route," Jordan said. That change, she said, was proposed to DOT, which gave the OK.

Unmentioned was that that change frustrated (or infuriated, as per the comment below) residents, as discussed at a Community Update meeting in September.

Krashes at the time pointed out that the exit route seemingly violates city standards, in which trucks are supposed to take the shortest distance to a truck route, which in this case would necessitate a turn on Sixth directly to Atlantic or Flatbush.

The Department of Transportation's Keith Bray said the agency looked at the situation, and agreed with Greenland Forest City and ESD that this was the best solution, because a turn on Sixth wouldn't work.

"As far as public notice, we possibly could've done that, I concede that," Bray said. "But it's not a mapping change."

"The premise is based on notion of minimizing impacts on community," Krashes said, citing various environmental reviews. "You defined one specific contractor allowed to use Dean Street between Sixth and Vanderbilt. So when we see a truck, how do we know it's coming from the designated place versus another place?"

"I have to go out there and look myself," Bray allowed.

Notice to residents

During the opportunity Tuesday for public comment, Krashes pointed out that "the publicity for the [project-related] meetings doesn't make sense," saying that ten days' notice should be typical.

Beyond that, he said, there's no way to truly log residents's concerns. "For a long time, we haven't had minutes, haven't had recordings allowed."

Actually, audio is allowed, not video or photos. In 2011, after I shot video of the predecessor Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meetings, I was told by a spokesman for then-Borough President Marty Markowitz that ESD's Arana Hankin had said "that since these meetings are non-deliberative, they are not subject to open public meetings law. [see coverage] Therefore, while we’ve allowed the public to attend and view the meetings, we have prohibited the use of film and photography in order to prevent disruptions."

That seems like a way to avoid the record.

Krashes suggested that, despite the claim of closed incidents, problems remain, such as an announcement of measures residents could reduce construction notice, which was delivered after construction started. "Where did that bog down? And what was the penalty for that failure?"

Getting more from HDR

Stein asked if a representative of HDR could attend the next AY CDC meeting to answer questions. Chan and Phillips agreed.

"I have questions about this report," Stein said, pointing to a document she had been given. It covered the months January through March of this year, was apparently written in August, and was received in October. She added that she had asked AY CDC Executive Director Tobi Jaiyesimi "that appendices be posted on the [project] web site."

Stein noted an observation that ESD had requested the developer to evaluate possible improvements to staging protocols, and said she wanted to learn more.

Better notice

Later, Stein and directors Barika Williams and Bertha Lewis reiterated the importance of sufficient notice and public input, and Phillips invited them to attend such Community Update meetings.

Chan suggested, "Why can't we commit to a bare minimum in terms of public notice," suggesting "at least 14, 21, 28 days notice."

Phillips said they could.

"I think it's fair to say to the public, 'we won't notice a Quality of Life [aka Community Update] meeting, or a community meeting, in less than X days,'" Chan followed up.

(I'd add that notice is just the first step. An agenda and board materials should be released before the meeting, not after, which would be in keeping with the parent ESD board's own practices.)

Chan said they should consider another format so more detailed items can be reported. Phillips responded that, two meetings earlier, Jordan provided a much more detailed report.

Better documentation

"Why can't we just get a transcript, or the minutes of what occurred?" Lewis asked. "Is someone recording this like we have this recorder [transcriptionist and video feed] here? Wouldn't it better if we could actually get what is said?"

"We don’t transcript that meeting, we don’t record that meeting," Phillips responded. "One, it's not really a state meeting, it's a developer meeting, the state is partnering--"

Lewis interjected, as if suggesting Greenland Forest City would cooperate: "The developer wouldn't have any—"

Forest City Ratner's Ashley Cotton, from the audience, intervened: "--I’m not going to volunteer to do that."

"That would solve a lot of problems with this basic issue," Lewis continued. "Then you'd actually have documentation."

(I should credit Lewis, who as a partner on the Community Benefits Agreement has often cooperated with the developer and drawn my criticism, for pushing transparency. The other CBA partner on the AY CDC board, Sharon Daughtry, attended the first AY CDC meeting in February, but has missed the last four meetings.)

"It's definitely a reasonable request to have some sort of summary about comments and what was requested," Chan said, suggesting that producing minutes is a lengthy process.

"It's a developer meeting"

Is it really a developer meeting, as Phillips suggested? Well, the notices and the schedule come from ESD.

Beyond that, the history is murky. The Community Update meeting, formerly the Quality of Life Committee, grew out of the Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet, which emerged after a 9/29/10 meeting on the arena plaza.

ESD's Hankin said the agency and Forest City would work with local elected officials and Community Boards to set up community meetings to ensure that the community stays informed and is being heard. Later, when asked about a previous pledge for intergovernmental working group meetings, suggested they would be combined.

The Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet, more of a working group, first met at Brooklyn Borough Hall in November 2010. The hosts were the Brooklyn Borough President's Office and Council Member Letitia James, but it was really the Forest City Ratner show. It met during business hours.

The successor Quality of Life Committee, which was to meet bi-monthly in the evening, aimed to allow for more input from those most impacted by arena operations and responded to a request by Community Boards 2 and 6 in the liquor license process.

The committee was sponsored by ESD, the Borough President’s office, and the offices of Council Members James and Steve Levin. Such meetings involved agenda items from many, including the public.

This past spring, reflecting a more top-down structure, the name of the meeting was changed to Community Update. As I wrote, last week the new structure came in for criticism.

“It went from a community exchange to you talking at us,” commented resident May Taliaferrow. “That’s disappointing.”

“As the project moves forward, there’s a lot more to share,” Phillips responded, completely unruffled. “Back then, it made more sense” to have that exchange.

Yet that doesn't necessarily make it a "developer meeting."

Another suggestion

Gib Veconi of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council said that, as Atlantic Avenue roadbed between Flatbush Avenue and points east will have to be rebuilt, there's an opportunity to make it safer and more pedestrian-friendly.

Oct. 20, 2015 Atlantic Yards CDC President Report

The railyard runaround, updated: MTA says only approval was for work proposed before June 2014

I wrote Monday that I didn't buy Forest City Ratner's explanation for a change in the completion date for railyard work from 2016 to 2017. Information I have since gained from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority bolsters that skepticism.

Timeline announced June 2014 shows West Portal finished Feb. 2016
To recap, in early June 2014, Forest City described railyard work ending with the West Portal finished in February 2016, as shown in the graphic below right.

However, Forest City--er, Greenland Forest City Partners--now says the West Portal work will be finished by July 2017, part of a larger railyard project to be completed at the end of 2017.

That was publicly stated last month, and the timeline below left was revealed last week.

Last June, Forest City executive Ashley Cotton said at the Community Update meeting last week. "We signed [a joint venture agreement] with our dear partners, Greenland, we posted a completion guarantee for the MTA [Metropolitan Transportation Authority], and we got really deep in the railyard.”

“We realized that, if you are going to start building all around this area near the West Portal and then the railyard work.. and then you’re going to build foundations for a platform and building... we were going to be going in and ripping things up that we’ve already built.”

Timeline Oct. 2015 shows West Portal finished July 2017
Railyard completed December 2017
“So we figured out a more efficient, more sophisticated, smarter way to do this... so we added scope to what we call the West Portal work, and therefore changed the date of completion,” she said. 

“Super sorry we didn’t make it clear here,” Cotton said. “We actually called all the politicians and notified them. And obviously it was all done with total approval from the MTA.” She refused to offer more details.

Cotton repeated the account, in more truncated form, at the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation meeting this past Tuesday. She was not challenged.

Drilling down

But it didn't make sense. 

After all, as I wrote Monday, Forest City in April 2014--well before the Greenland deal was finalized--proposed a new December 2017 timetable for the railyard. The plan was approved by the MTA in late June of 2014.

In other words, the change had been percolating for a while, and was clearly on the table when Forest City in early June 2014 provided its timetable.

So, was there a second approval that I somehow missed? No. 

"There have been no more formal approvals since June 2014," MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg confirmed in response to my query, "but routine construction scheduling issues do not require board notice or board action."

That was not what Cotton was describing.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Hints at a new plan for Site 5 building, replacing Modell's & P.C. Richard; could there be swap from B1?

Arrow points to Site 5; photo of model in Pacific Park sales office
An intriguing hint about the future of Site 5--the parcel of land in the new Pacific Park "neighborhood" west of wide Flatbush Avenue--emerged at Tuesday's meeting of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC).

AY CDC President Marion Phillips III, a senior VP at Empire State Development (ESD), told the directors that ESD had begun condemnations of the two Site 5 businesses, the last parcels to be taken by eminent domain.

For Modell's, which is in a building owned by Forest City Ratner, the condemnation covers just the ground lease, while for P.C. Richard, it's the entire property. 

(The adjacent Brooklyn Bear's Garden remains, at the tip of the site where Flatbush and Pacific Street converge.)

"Proceedings will probably commence by the end of this year, early next year," Phillips said, noting that that the building, which can contain either residential or commercial space, has 439,050 square feet. He didn't mention the maximum height: 250 feet, which was reduced twice during the approval process, from 400 feet and 350 feet.
From President's Report to AY CDC
A change coming?

Then Phillips left a tantalizing hint.

"We've had some discussion with Forest City Greenland Partners [sic; actually Greenland Forest City Partners] about other possibilities related to the project... Nothing has been presented, nothing has been approved," he said. "If there is a project proposal that moves forward it will be provided to ESD, there is an entire public process that it must go through" to modify the General Project Plan (GPP).

"At this point, we are going forward with what is provided in the GPP," he said.

What could be the "other possibilities"?

I can only speculate.

But consider that there is considerable sentiment for keeping the arena plaza, and not building the giant, 511-foot, 1.1 million square foot (though it says only 760,190 in the image below) B1 tower.

If that tower is eliminated or truncated, then Greenland Forest City would surely want to get equal value in development rights elsewhere. So part of that trade could come at Site 5.

They could make an argument for a larger building at Site 5: first, it was once supposed to be secondary to B1 (aka Miss Brooklyn), but if it stands alone then it could be larger. 

Also, the march of towers into Fort Greene near the Brooklyn Academy of Music--though not quite to Atlantic and Flatbush avenues--dwarfs the 250-foot height currently approved (though that in turn dwarfs the residential block(s) bordering it to the south.

Stay tuned. When a change gets floated, there's usually something happening. After all, as I've said before, Atlantic Yards is a "never say never" project.

A fence coming on Dean as demolitions planned; 664 Pacific will obliterate memory of Dean Street scale

491, 493, 495 Dean, Oct. 20
They've been doomed for a while. Now three houses on Dean Street just east of Sixth Avenue, and an industrial building on Pacific Street behind them, are getting closer to the wrecking ball.

So forget 491, 493, and 495 Dean Street, the addresses of a smaller-scale, older-time Brooklyn. They will be obliterated for 664 Pacific Street, the address of the building known as B15, a 27-story tower filled with market-rate rental apartments, with a public school at the base.

At the Community Update Meeting Oct. 14, Forest City Ratner executive Ashley Cotton said that an 8-foot-high plywood fence--not unlike the one across Sixth Avenue for the B3 site--should go up on Dean Street in front of the homes, where abatement (not demolition) work is ongoing.

Then comes demolition by the contractor, Russo Demolition, after permits are issued. That means a fence (purple in the slide below and at bottom) just three feet from the curb (yellow).

The first building will be the two-story 495 Dean Street, which will be demolished using hand tools, given that it stands next to the extant apartment building, 497 Dean.  (The fence, according to the large slide near bottom, will apparently go partly in front of 497 Dean.) The four-story buildings to the west will be demolished via mechanical demolition.

Cotton said the demolition method for 666 Pacific Street and the adjacent building on Sixth Avenue has yet to be determined.

493 Dean, last night
"We have noticed all the neighbors about windows, air conditioners [offered by the developer to be installed], so all sorts of protections are in place," Cotton said, noting that "we made special outreach to all constituents" that Peter Krashes of the Dean Street Block Association "brought to our attention."

Other safeguards?

Krashes, noting that even hand demolition causes impacts such as noise and dust, asked if any other provisions had been put in place, because neighbors already have double-pane windows.

"There's no needed extra special provision... because we're doing sorts of stuff that’s really helpful," Cotton said, citing (again) air conditioners, windows, and public notices, "and the rules that regulate the rest of the site" regarding regulation of dust and noise.

Krashes reiterated that the building has elderly people who have health conditions in the building.. "Any steps that the developer can take to ensure their health is protected would be appreciated."

Cotton said that flaggers will be present 7 am to 5 pm to help pedestrian access. Why not later?

"There won’t be work after 5," responded Forest City executive Jane Marshall.

"I think this must be what the regulation is, I’d be happy to follow up," Cotton said.

Chainlink Fence on Concrete Barrier to Be Demolished As Necessary
Parking Lot To Be Used As Staging Arena
Chainlink Fence To Be Removed For Access
Sidewalk Closed. Pedestrians To Cross At Crosswalk
Iron Railing To Be Removed During Demolition
Neighbors Railing To Remain
Sidewalk Closed. Pedestrians To Cross At Crosswalk
From meeting presentation

Krashes asked about the designation of 666 Pacific as an "e" building, with a history of hazardous materials.

Cotton said she had no further information, but "we know it’s an 'e' building… everything safe and environmentally sound will be done."

He also asked if the B15 site, which includes a parking lot originally designated for satellite TV trucks, would be used for construction staging or arena operations or parking.

"Will there be potentially arena activities on the future site of the school building, I will say yes.. and will there potentially be construction siting, yes.

"That’s why I'm asking, it's all very impactful," Krashes said.

"It's all very impactful, that’s why we’re coming here," Cotton responded, as if exasperated that pesky residents didn't see the big picture.

Krashes noted that the lot's use has already expanded, apparently to included suite parking and other arena-related uses not originally disclosed.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

For Tidal show, Dean Street closed not only for vehicles but also pedestrians

So the Tidal show last night at the Barclays Center--a charitable event to promote the Jay-Z (and others')-owned streaming musical service, was a real hit for attendees at the Jimmy Kimmel Live show at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, since they were "surprised" with free tickets.

Media check-in outside B3 site at Sixth Ave. & Dean St.
The show itself, according to the Times review, was a "thudding marathon... too big to fail, and so of course it did."

For locals, inevitably, there was mission creep in terms of arena activities taking over local streets. We knew--at least the morning after an arena rep refused to confirm it--that Dean Street outside the arena, between Flatbush and Vanderbilt avenues would be closed to vehicles to allow drop-off of VIPs.

(Note the difference, however, between the first notice below issued Oct. 15, and an updated Oct. 19 notice that adjusted the street closure start from 5 pm to 4 pm and the Red Carpet start from 6:30 pm to 6 pm.)

What annoyed residents, I'm told, was that Dean Street outside the arena was also shut down to pedestrians, thus inconveniencing locals who wanted a direct walk home. That was not part of the public notice.

Then again, it did offer an all-purpose CYA: "Security and crowd control measures will be introduced and directed by the NYPD as needed."

Note that no closures are announced for Thursday's Powerhouse 2015 concert, but vehicular drop-offs for "talent and high-level event staff" are planned on Dean Street as well. So keep watch for any additional security/crowd control measures.

First notice
Second notice

As Dean Street houses await wrecking ball, open windows make deterioration inevitable

The three houses left on Dean Street east of Sixth Avenue--impediments to that "neighborhood from scratch" being marketed--are not just destined for the wrecking ball. Some windows seem to have been deliberately left open to the elements, which would further deterioration and make their vanishing inevitable.

Coming to the larger B15 site that includes those three plots is a 27-story market-rate tower, with a school at the base.
493 Dean, Oct. 20, 2015

495 Dean, Oct. 20, 2015

491-495 Dean, Oct. 20, 2015

Hey, what's that on the top of 550 Vanderbilt? Model shows what rendering doesn't

The model of 550 Vanderbilt, which appears in the condo sales office on Flatbush Avenue at the Barclays Center, seems to extend the equivalent of at least three floors higher than announced.

That should not be shocking: the building is supposed to be 202 feet and 17 stories, so there's certainly room for additional height within the building envelope. (If for some reason the building is already 202 feet without the extension, that would be meaningful.)

But it does represent a contrast with the main rendering used to pitch the project, which minimizes the building's scale.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The marketing slogan: "If you could build the ideal New York neighborhood from scratch, what would you do?"

Spotted, at bottom, a new message in the window of the marketing office for the 550 Vanderbilt condos on Flatbush Avenue outside the Barclays Center: "If you could build the ideal New York neighborhood from scratch, what would you do?"

(Um, start by getting residents/businesses out, using public money to pay for property, and then levelling the buildings?)

It's astounding effrontery to embrace a line that, when uttered by architect Frank Gehry (and reported inaccurately without his caveat "practically from scratch"), generated outrage.

Then again, the developers are happy to claim, in the project's Twitter profiled that Pacific Park has "a NYC public school and 8 acre park," when the school and the open space--not an actual park--are years away (for the open space, at least a decade, in full).