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Showing posts from June, 2016

Forest City's rep on Rent Guidelines Board suggests tactics to help struggling tenants while not burdening landlords

When in March 2015 Forest City Ratner executive Scott Walsh was appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio an owner representative to the Rent Guidelines Board (RGB), I noted that, given that the affordable housing in Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park will be subject to rent-stabilization increases, Greenland Forest City Partners surely has an interest in steady increases in annual rents.

I also noted that de Blasio might believe that an industry representative with close ties might be more amenable to negotiation and, at least, cordial talk.

Well, Walsh has been cordial, on the losing side opposing the rent freeze de Blasio achieved, and he has proposed other tactics--such as new city/state subsidies--that might assist struggling New Yorkers while not burdening landlords.
Such proposals surely will recur in future negotiations; after all, they could make a difference to the bottom line of the Pacific Park joint venture.
As I've noted, Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park units are billed as “rent-stabil…

Starting Tuesday, Atlantic Avenue sidewalk between Sixth & Carlton avenues closed for six months

According to a Community Notice circulated two days ago, a new work zone on the south side of Atlantic Avenue between Sixth and Carlton avenues will be implemented beginning next week (starting as early as Tuesday, July 5) and remain in place for about six months.

That means the south sidewalk, the eastbound vehicle parking lane, and both crosswalks at Cumberland Street will be closed. The eastbound B45 bus stop on Atlantic Avenue at Cumberland Street will be closed, but the stop at the southeast corner of Carlton and Atlantic Avenues will remain open.

While the notice does not explain the work being done, the road constriction was signaled in the most recent Construction Update and surely refers to plans to demolish two buildings, part of the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park site, that "bump" down from Atlantic Avenue into the railyard.

Note that the public and elected officials were given different timelines regarding the constriction of Atlantic Avenue.

Progress at 664 Pacific: developer gets judge's order for access to assess adjacent site

A New York State judge issued an order yesterday that could start to resolve the impasse between Greenland Forest City Partners (GFCP), developers of 664 Pacific, a market-rate rental building including a school, and the adjacent four-story 497 Dean Street.

As I reported last week, work on 664 Pacific (aka B15) has been stalled because GFCP has been unable to gain access to the adjacent site to assess it and then install protections for that site during construction.

According to state Supreme Court Justice Sylvia Ash's order (below), the owner of 497 Dean must allow access for the GFCP subsidiary to conduct an on-site pre-construction survey, a step toward the installation of needed protections before construction. But the process requires much back-and-forth.

After that, the developer's engineer must update the Support of Excavation (SOE) plan by July 20, the two sides must meet within ten days after that, then the two sides' engineers must submit two more rounds of resp…

Forest City retail head Welch departs, was working on (delayed) Site 5 project

The Commercial Observer reported yesterday, in Forest City Ratner’s Director of Retail, Kathryn Welch, Leaving the Company:
After more than 30 years, Kathryn Welch is leaving Forest City Ratner Companies as of this Saturday, she said in an email blast with her updated contact information. It wasn’t immediately clear where she is headed. Welch not only oversaw projects like Atlantic Center and Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn, and Ridge Hill in Yonkers, but also was spearheading the planned effort to construct a major retail project at Site 5, which is delayed because of litigation.

Neither Welch nor  Forest City "immediately responded to a request for comment," according to the Commercial Observer. The lack of fanfare and seeming short notice contrasts with the more clearly amicable departure, say, of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership's head.

At meeting, Con Edison reps pledge to do better, but trucks still block sidewalks, forcing pedestrians into traffic

The bi-monthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Community Update meeting June 14, held at 55 Hanson Place, addressed multiple issues, including delays in various towers, delays in the building with the planned school, a new detente with project neighbors,concerns about traffic congestion, upcoming sewer work and demolitions, questions about security improvements, an explanation of how high winds caused debris to fly off the under-construction 38 Sixth Avenue building. This is the final article.



It looked like an improvement in transparency and it was, but progress was limited.

At the meeting, Greenland Forest City Partners spokeswoman Ashley Cotton noted that she had gotten "an increased amount of complaints" regarding problems around Sixth Avenue, in many cases because of work by the utility Con Edison.

Since then, Cotton noted, the developers, when informed, have announced street closures caused by Con Ed. And representatives for the first time appeared at a public meeting.

The…

Just the usual: a waiting truck slows bus on Dean Street; idling trucks at midnight opposite arena

There's little margin for error regarding arena operations and construction logistics, as the videos below remind us.

This morning, as shown in the video below, a truck was waiting on playground Dean Street east of Sixth Avenue opposite the Dean Street playground, thus slowing the passage of traffic and making it very tough for a bus to proceed.

Some 15 minutes before the video was shot, photographer Wayne Bailey told me, he asked the driver why he was parked there rather than the staging area on Pacific Street. The driver indicated he driver understood the location of the staging area.



When Bailey returned, traffic had slowed as the bus stopped, waiting for the truck driver to fold in his mirrors to allow the bus to pass  through. He reminded the driver he was supposed to stage the vehicle around the block. The response was that the entrance was "locked."

Indeed, construction is supposed to start at 7 am. But there's no apparently no provision to accommodate drivers…

From the Brooklyn Standard to the Pacific Park Brooklyn newsletter

It's the Brooklyn Standard of the digital age, for those who recall the Atlantic Yards developer's 2005 foray into promotional news, captured in the the New York Times's anomalously tough 9/3/05 coverage: "O.K., The Whole Paper is Basically an Ad."

Welcome to the May 2016 Pacific Park Brooklyn Newsletter:
Greenland Forest City Partners, the team behind Pacific Park Brooklyn, is excited to bring you the first edition of a bi-monthly newsletter focused on progress at Pacific Park and other important community news.
What's Happening at Pacific Park
Construction updates about Brooklyn’s newest neighborhood.
The last module was installed at 461 Dean Street, the 363-unit rental building which was primarily constructed right here, in Brooklyn, at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The housing lottery is underway now. Apply here.
The installations of the custom facades are well under way on both 550 Vanderbilt and 535 Carlton.
There are over 1,800 units of housing under construction…

Visiting the branded Barclays Center plaza on the night of the NBA Draft

Remember, the plan to keep the Barclays Center plaza "permanent open space" positions it as a public amenity, rather than a branded business deal, since the official name is the Resorts World NYC Casino Plaza.

While it has some value to the public at large, the plaza is not only a revenue opportunity for the arena operators, it's also a key safety valve for arena attendees, as noted by the modified tailgate party before an Islanders playoff game in April.

NBA draft time

Indeed, as I was reminded when I visited the plaza Thursday to shoot a few photos on the evening of the NBA draft, it's also an extension of arena activities.

After walking up the stairs--branded with a Resorts World Casino ad--visitors encountered an NBA-branded Draft16 backdrop, branded with sponsor State Farm, for photos.

A State Farm advertisement blinked from the oculus. And a red State Farm booth occupied plaza space that ticketed attendees would pass. (The scalpers murmuring entreaties to buy an…

For third time, Nassau Coliseum re-opening date moved back, now to April 2017

I've previously reported on how the projected December 2016 re-opening date for the Nassau Coliseum--being renovated by a consortium originally led by Forest City Ratner, now principally owned by Mikhail Prokhorov's Onexim--was pushed back to "early 2017" and then March 2017.

Last night Newsday reported:
When renovated Nassau Coliseum re-opens in April, 2017, major boxing events will be as big a part of the programming as six annual visits by the Islanders. Brett Yormark, who is CEO of Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment, which will operate the Coliseum, made the announcement Saturday night.
Yormark outlined an ambitious plan to expand Brooklyn Boxing, As far as I know, that was the first mention of the new opening date, and the continued delay was not mentioned. If it was the first mention, that was a successful example of public relations-as-distraction: the "news" of boxing at the Coliseum crowds out any scrutiny of the delay.
Didn't a Brooklyn journal…

Virtual reality: the real-estate press on project location, units under construction, & "public green park"

It's a bit strange to read some of the real-estate press regarding Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, since some articles posit an alternate reality regarding the location of the project, the number of units under construction, the "public green park," and even the target market.

Consider the Commercial Observer's 6/16/16 article Under Construction: 550 Vanderbilt Avenue, which hails the topping off of the condo tower.
Location
The building is said to be located "[a]t the intersection of Vanderbilt Avenue and Dean Street in between the Clinton Hill and Prospect Heights neighborhoods of Brooklyn."
Oh, really? So Prospect Heights ends at the other three, non-Pacific Park corners of Vanderbilt and Dean? It doesn't.
Unit count
The article states: Once completed, Pacific Park will contain a total of 6,400 residential units, 2,250 of which are affordable (1,800 units are currently underway, 782 of which are affordable). Well, the total is supposed to be 6,430. More im…

Come Together Like Brooklyn: Nets trade Young, only BK resident on team, draft BK-born Whitehead

Remember, fans are rooting for the clothes, and basketball is a business.

Yesterday, before the NBA Draft--before which the Nets had traded away first-round picks in 2016 and 2018, with a swap in 2017--the Nets traded their second-best player, Thad Young, to the Indiana Pacers for a first-round pick, and a future second-round pick.

In return, they drafted Caris LeVert, a significant talent who comes with a question mark: a history of injuries.

The Nets also traded their lower second-round pick (55) to the Utah Jazz, plus cash, for the 42nd slot. They then drafted Coney Island-born guard Isaiah Whitehead, who played at Brooklyn's Lincoln High School and then Seton Hall.

Next up is the pursuit of free agents.

The BK connection

Young and his family were the first team to live in Brooklyn, in a condo building near the Brooklyn Heights waterfront. (I hope they had a rental.) On Twitter, he thanked Brooklyn fans and looked forward to Indiana.

 Whitehead is the first Brooklyn native, and …

Marketing opportunity: a (smaller) Barclays Center roof logo returns, stealthily

Oh, they weren't going to give up that valuable marketing real estate, were they?

A new Barclays Center logo for the arena roof (see screenshot at right) was not in any preparatory public renderings (see below left) of the recently installed green roof, but it's apparently too valuable an advertising space.

Indeed, as construction of the green roof began, Forest City Ratner's Bob Sanna told the 4/26/15 Wall Street Journal, “We are thinking up creative ways to keep the logo…We just haven’t decided where.”

Since then, around the end of the year, Forest City transferred its 55% interest in the arena operating company to minority owner Onexim, controlled by Mikhail Prokhorov.\

The green roof was paid for by the new joint venture Greenland Forest City Partners, aiming to make the arena view more palatable to residents in nearby towers and to tamp down noise escaping from the venue. Surely the logo was also negotiated with Prokhorov.

Brooklyn's newest neighborhood?

It's …

Was school not considered for southeast block because developer was planning to sell two sites?

Now that we know that the school at 664 Pacific (aka B15) is delayed until seemingly 2020--in February, an affidavit from the developer said it would take four years--it's worth looking back at a suggested alternative.

Local elected officials and school advocates, however concerned about the location near the Barclays Center and a police and fire station, backed the B15 plan, thinking it was worth the risk to get a dedicated middle school by 2018. That was the opening date predicted as of last year, though it was already jeopardized (and, indeed, as of this year, they started saying 2019).

The three Community Boards sharing the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park site were more cautious, raising questions about the school site, within a 27-story market-rate rental building, and, in the case of Community Board 2, flatly suggesting a move.

And hindsight now raises a question: was an alternative school site not considered because developer Greenland Forest City Partners (GFCP) was already c…

664 Pacific delayed by dispute with neighbor; developer (in affidavit) says buildout is 4 years; middle school pushed back to 2020 (or later)

Update:  School advocate Gib Veconi reminds me that the B15 school (aka P.S./I.S. 653) was listed on the School Construction Authority's January 2016 capital plan with an August 2019 estimated completion, which was the time frame cited at the April 2 M.S. OneBrooklyn design charrette. I'd note that, as of February 2016, the developer was saying the buildout would take four years.

"Read about the new public school we’re building," tweeted the developers of Pacific Park Brooklyn, touting the middle school planned for the base of the upcoming 664 Pacific tower, just east of Sixth Avenue between Dean and Pacific streets.

What they don't say: the school seems delayed for a year or more after its projected September 2018 August 2019 opening date.

Construction on the 27-story 664 Pacific (aka B15, with market-rate rental apartments) has been stalled by a dispute with neighbors.

Moreover, a court file reveals that a representative of developer Greenland Forest City Partn…

No, security guards can't ban photos. Questions remain about visibility of ID/sticker system.

The bi-monthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Community Update meeting June 14, held at 55 Hanson Place, addressed multiple issues, including delays in the project, a new detente with project neighbors,concerns about traffic congestion, upcoming sewer work and demolitions, and an explanation of how high winds caused debris to fly off the under-construction 38 Sixth Avenue building. I'll have more coverage.
Security issues came up several times at the meeting.
Wayne Bailey, a resident who regularly takes photos and videos (that I often use) of construction/operations issues that impact residents, asked representatives of Tishman Construction if the security guard at the sites they're building works for them.
After Tishman Senior VP Eric Reid said yes, Bailey asked why a guard told him not to shoot video of the site, even though he was on a public street.

"I will address it with principals for that security firm," Reid said.
Forest City Ratner executive Ashley Cotton, the …

From the latest Construction Update: plans (again) to narrow Atlantic Avenue with MPT barriers

According to the latest two-week Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update (bottom), covering the two weeks beginning Monday June 20 and released yesterday by Empire State Development at 12:30 pm (late) after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners, some major work promised in the previous Construction Update is now expected in this period, which could further narrow Atlantic Avenue traffic with barriers.

The exact contour of the barriers is unclear.

Notably, pending approval from the Department of Transportation, installation of new MPT (Maintenance and Protection of Traffic) and mobilization of equipment along Atlantic Avenue (from LIRR Site Entrance to Carlton Avenue) is expected to begin during this reporting period. A community notice will be distributed.

Also, again as predicted in the previous Construction Update and at the Community Update meeting, demolition at Block 1120--the buildings that bump down into the railyard from Atlantic Avenue--could commence upon rec…

On video, Gilmartin spins the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park saga (which requires annotation)

Well, BISNOWTV EXCLUSIVE: MARYANNE GILMARTIN (FOREST CITY RATNER) FROM THE NEW CORNELL TECH CAMPUS - PART 1 is not really journalism. It's "content." Specifically, it's sponsored content for a publication that makes its money from events.

The blurb says "Kenneth Weissenberg, partner at EisnerAmper, and MaryAnne Gilmartin, president & CEO at Forest City Ratner, discuss the new Cornell Tech Campus, the Barclays Center, and creating new neighborhoods in New York City."

Except EisnerAmper, "one of the nation's leading audit, tax and advisory firms," is a Bisnow Content Partner, which means this is big mutual advertorial. Weissenberg serves fat pitches to Gilmartin, whose performance is Yormarkian in its casual disregard of countervailing, complicating facts.

Which is why I will interpolate comments (in italics).

After talking about the Cornell project on Roosevelt Island and the history of MetroTech,  at about 3:22 of the video below, intervie…