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Showing posts from 2017

Yormark claims Barclays' loading dock is "flawless" (nah), says area has enough venues (so no Belmont?)

There are a couple of interesting nuggets in a 10/20/2017 Pollstar Executive Profile: Brett Yormark, Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment:
Q: You have a unique load-in at Barclays Center (with its load-in elevator). We suppose that there is a sensitivity for that to other buildings.
BY: Of all the companies out there right now, there is no one out there right now more focused on the artist experience, and that includes load-in, load-out... Barclays Center has a smaller footprint that has its own challenges. Yes, that one is nontraditional but it's worked flawlessly. When people come through those truck elevators they kind of look at it like we're high tech.  (Emphases added)

Oh, sure, it's worked flawlessly. Trucks stall in the street and block traffic, or they block pedestrians, as I described last week, and shown in the photo above
Just enough venues?

Q: What is the Goldilocks principle for New York? Do you have too few, too many or is it just right?
BY: I think it's ju…

So, four of 15 former footprint renters are now back on the project site (the rest?)

This is among several articles regarding the 10/17/17 meeting (video) of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC). Also see the timetable for 38 Sixth (and the issue of middle-income units going begging), the project's uncertain scheduledanger on Dean Street, and the Times Plaza revamp.

At the meeting, board member Jaime Stein asked about the status of the 17 households, formerly renters in the project footprint, who agreed to leave on the condition of being relocated back to the project.

As I reported, the households were asked to enter the lottery for affordable units, because the units could not be set aside. It was unclear, as far as I could learn, how many lotteries they'd have to enter.

Ashley Cotton, representing Greenland Forest City Partners, said, "There were a number of households that were relocated off the site and agreements made with them to bring them back… four households have moved back.. that leaves 11 more households to work thro…

Times Plaza open space revamp may come in Q2 of 2018

This is among several articles regarding the 10/17/17 meeting (video) of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC). Also see the timetable for 38 Sixth (and the issue of middle-income units going begging), the project's uncertain schedule, and danger on Dean Street.

A Department of Transportation message circulated in early September on Twitter (right) indicated that some promised safety fixes at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic avenue would happen this fall, including new pedestrian islands, removing dual right turns from Atlantic to Flatbush, and optimizing signal timing to improve traffic flow.

See graphic at right for summary.

That may be so, but the promised improvement of open space at Times Plaza within that intersection, which is a required mitigation under the 2014 Atlantic Yards Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, won't occur until the second quarter of 2018, at best.

Times Plaza plans

Attendees at the AY CDC meeting got an update…

Danger on Dean: a narrow street squeezes vehicles toward bicycle lane; illegal parking adds hazard

This is among several articles regarding the 10/17/17 meeting (video) of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC). Also see the timetable for 38 Sixth (and the issue of middle-income units going begging) and the project's uncertain schedule.

At the meeting, board member Linda Reardon asked the developer if they'd make arrangements to restripe Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues, where bicyclists and vehicles share a narrow street that's been constricted by the giant green wall guarding the project site, and then further constrained by illegal parking.

"This is current striping," responded Ashley Cotton, representing Greenland Forest City Partners. She pointed to a screenshot in her slideshow that showed two cars illegally parked on the right side of Dean, "which is an ongoing problem for all of us."

"I find it confusing," Reardon said, because when "you turn from Carlton, on the left side it looks like …

At AY CDC meeting, no timetable for new buildings; will green wall be pulled back?

This is among several articles regarding the 10/17/17 meeting (video) of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC). Also see the timetable for 38 Sixth, and the issue of middle-income units going begging.

The bottom line from the meeting: there's no timetable for new buildings, no timetable for the project as a whole, and just maybe the giant green wall (right) on Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues might get pulled back.

Marion Phillips III, an executive at Empire State Development and president of the subsidiary AY CDC said that construction at the B15 site (664 Pacific) remains "stalled due to site access negotiations."

The issue is murky: a lawsuit with a neighbor has been resolved regarding construction safety, but either negotiations continue either with that neighbor or another. But despite the desire for a middle school at that site, there may not be a business reason for Greenland Forest City Partners to move forward on a market…

The Barclays Center loading dock: truck sticks out over curb, forcing pedestrian into street

Yesterday mid-afternoon, I was walking around the project footprint, and turned the corner on Dean Street, walking east from Flatbush Avenue.

I saw a truck aiming to enter the Barclays Center loading dock sticking out over the curb. (So much for that "seamless" function, right?)

When I got closer, I realized I couldn't walk around it. With the help of arena personnel, I crossed midblock.

The teenager below walking west on Dean had to step out into the street.

There were no collisions, thankfully, but it didn't feel too safe. The truck within minutes did get into the loading dock. There's just not much margin for error. And that corner near the loading dock will soon get residents moving into 38 Sixth, perhaps by November.

So now Site 5 (not ready) has been suggested as part of the Amazon HQ2 bid

Well, how about that. It's tough to build an office tower without an anchor tenant, so we shouldn't be surprised that, as part of the city's bid to host Amazon's second headquarters, the developer of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, Greenland Forest City Partners, has proffered Site 5.

Reports the New York Times's Charles Bagli: "Next to Barclays Center, there is a site for a 1 million-square-foot tower."

Actually, there's a site that could host a two-tower project including office and residential space, as I reported last year. But it's by no means ready to go.

First Forest City New York must settle with P.C. Richard, which owns part of the site catercorner to the arena and has filed a lawsuit that's stalled eminent domain. Then there has to be a public process, run by Empire State Development, to change the General Project Plan to allow the transfer of development rights from the unbuilt B1 (aka Miss Brooklyn) over the arena plaza.

It's hard …

When will 38 Sixth (B3) open? Maybe November. Will middle-income affordable units get taken?

This is among several articles to be posted regarding the 10/17/17 meeting of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC).

With Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, most deadlines are flexible, we should remember.

Just one month ago, at the bi-monthly Quality of Life meeting, Forest City New York executive Ashley Cotton--representing the joint venture Greenland Forest City Partners--said of the fourth tower in the project, 38 Sixth Avenue (aka B3), "we’re hoping for move-ins to start in October."

Yesterday, however, Cotton told the board of the AY CDC that interior work at the building was ongoing and “move-ins are expected to begin later in November." She noted that the 67-space garage will be run by Park Pro Systems; as of last month, they didn't have a garage operator.

The developer is currently working on the "fit-out" for the health space to be operated by Methodist Hospital, and is working with the Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance--t…

Before next meeting, AY CDC member suggests board has its limits (as does environmental review)

The next meeting of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC), an advisory body, is today at 3 pm. See previous coverage of footprint renters, West Portal/railyard timing, and project/building/green wall timing.
When I covered a 9/27/17 panel associated with artist/activist Peter Krashes' exhibition, Block Party, I wrote about the tensions expressed in Krashes's paintings, as well as the onerous contract pushed on--but not required of--a project neighbor who wanted back windows thick enough to deter project-related noise.

But another theme surfaced from Jaime Stein, Director of Pratt Institute's M.S. in Sustainable Environmental Systems, who serves on the state-created advisory board, the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC), which first met in February 2015. The board was created as a compromise during a 2014 agreement to speed up the long-delayed affordable housing, but it does not have the policy-making powers once sought.


More questions for AY CDC meeting: project timetable? next building? what about Dean Street wall? (blocked traffic yesterday)

The next meeting of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC), an advisory body, will be tomorrow at 3 pm. Attendees must RSVP today. See previous coverage of footprint renters and West Portal/railyard timing

While the agenda (below left) for tomorrow's meeting is typically vague--President's Report, Public Comments--there's at least one big issue, in two parts, that should be discussed beyond the ones mentioned above.

And that connects to a smaller but very important question about the giant green wall still on Dean Street, in part, which just yesterday again snagged traffic, as described below and shown at right.

Project timetable: 2025? 2030? 2035?

First, the big question: is there a timetable for the project as a whole?

Remember, in November 2016, developer Forest City Realty Trust--which owns 30% of the project going forward, as part of Greenland Forest City Partners--announced an unspecified pause in the project.

In other words, the required deadli…

So, how many former footprint renters have been relocated to the project? Unclear, but they had to enter the lottery (!)

The next meeting of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC), an advisory body, will be Tuesday, Oct. 17, at 3 pm. Attendees must RSVP by Monday.

In March 2017, I tried to answer this question: How many former residents of the Atlantic Yards footprint, who agreed to leave in response to a pledge by developer Forest City Ratner to be relocated to a comparable apartment in the project--and have their rent in the interim subsidized--will be back?

I couldn't get an answer, though the Daily News in November 2012 reported that 17 former tenants had taken the deal, and were expected to move into the first tower, 461 Dean. That building took a lot longer than promised, too.

The fulfillment of the pledge is the kind of thing that that an Independent Compliance Monitor, required by the project's Community Benefits Agreement (CBA), would report on. But that monitor was never hired.

What the city says
I did get a partial update from officials at the New York City Housi…

Yormark: "At the end of the day, it’s great that your food is terrific, but artists want to make money"

Beyond his chilly quote about the New York Islanders, Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment CEO Brett Yormark offered another notable quote in his 10/9/17 interview with Sports Business Journal, when asked about the Barclays Center:
What we need to consistently do is create a point of differentiation because of the competitive landscape. We constantly emphasize Brooklyn as a market that has a cool and hip factor. It’s the combination that creates a reason for artists to come here for the first time and to keep coming back. We have to be mindful of maintaining the cost structure. At the end of the day, it’s great that your food is terrific, but artists want to make money and I have to keep an eye of managing our cost structure so artists and events can come here and make money. (Emphasis added)

That to me partly echoed a 2008 quote from developer Bruce Ratner that presaged the dismissal of original architect Frank Gehry:
“We need jobs, we need shopping that's appropriate and the righ…

A question for the next AY CDC meeting: when will the West Portal be done? The railyard in 2018?

The next meeting of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC), an advisory body, will be Tuesday, Oct. 17, at 3 pm. Attendees must RSVP by Monday.

The announcement Friday, 10/13/17, of overnight construction all weekend for the West Portal of the Vanderbilt Yard--a new entrance from the railyard to the Long Island Rail Road's Atlantic Terminal--prompts a question.

When will that West Portal be done? December 1? December 31? Next year? What about the permanent railyard to store and service LIRR trains? Perhaps that question will be asked at the AY CDC meeting, since the timetable has shifted more than once.

In a June 2014 presentation, the West Portal was to be finished by February 2016, as shown in the screenshot below.

That, of course, didn't happen. As I wrote 10/20/15, Forest City's Ashley Cotton, of Greenland Forest City Partners, disclosed that they'd shifted the date for completing the West Portal from early 2016 to late 2017, but without tell…

Deputy Mayor Glen: "Atlantic Yards deals" represent "a better bargain for the taxpayer and the public" (well, now)

In a segment yesterday on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show, Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen defended the administration's affordable housing plans.

Starting at about 6:10, she said, "I could probably count on my hands the amount of times I've actually had a meeting with a lobbyist. If you look at the record of the administration, and if you look at the deals that we have done, it would pretty impossible to say that lobbyists have been influencing the way we build housing."

Well, there's lobbyists, and then there are companies. And while de Blasio's efforts certainly surpass those of his predecessor, many advocates have been critical, given the city's need.

Glen cited an article about how tough the administration had been in restructuring the affordable housing at the Domino Sugar site in Williamsburg.

"Time and time again, we have demonstrated that we are getting a better bargain for the taxpayer and for the public," she said, "whether it's in the…

Late notice: overnight work starts tonight near Sixth/Atlantic, part of West Portal construction

A message from Pacific Park Brooklyn indicates late night and weekend work beginning during the overnight hours tonight, near the intersection of Sixth Avenue and Atlantic Avenue.

"As part [of] Long Island Railroad West Portal construction for Pacific Park Brooklyn contractors will be working during the overnight hours" through 5 pm Sunday, "demolishing portions of a suspended electrical duct bank." The West Portal is a new entrance from the Vanderbilt Yard to the Atlantic Terminal railway hub.

The notice states that "Localized directional lighting will be used and all construction equipment meets environmental project requirements regarding noise." That doesn't mean it will be quiet.

The notice says that "Coordination with LIRR schedules require that his work take place during this time," which is plausible. Less plausible is that it was not announced in the two-week Construction Update circulated last Friday.

For information/concerns:

Outside 535 Carlton Avenue, the fractional open space now welcomes the public

OK, it's small, pleasant enough, and still too early to evaluate.

But one thing's clear: the first slice of open space (not an actual park) to open in the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park project is not going to make a dent in Prospect Heights.

Nor will it to deliver what Forest City New York CEO MaryAnne Gilmartin once said, “There will no longer be a dearth of green space in the heart of Brooklyn." Not to mention "sprawling lawns." Nor, actually, will the open space serve "Brooklyn" once it's built out, by 2025 at best.

Outside 535 Carlton (aka B14), only a piece of green space has opened, more or less a courtyard, without connection to the adjacent space to the east (the unbuilt B13), as shown above B14 in the rotated rendering at right, nor connection to the lawn that would span the demapped Pacific Street, not to be completed until construction over the adjacent railyard.

A visit

When I visited the fractional open space last Saturday in early after…

Outside B3 site, wind knocks down barriers

On Monday, 10/9/17, a Prospect Heights neighbor snapped photos of metal fencing, wood fencing, and even a few jersey barriers overturned outside the B3 site, 38 Sixth Avenue, apparently by high winds.

Fortunately, an additional cordon of jersey barriers kept the disorder away from pedestrians and vehicles. Remember, in June 2015, debris from the under-construction tower blew off high floors, into the street, though no one was injured.

It's a windy corner, that's for sure, at Sixth Avenue and Dean Street.

Barclays Center now banning backpacks (but allowing them to be checked)

The Barclays Center is now banning backpacks, surely a recognition of increased security risks. From an announcement yesterday:
Beginning this season, Barclays Center has implemented the following policies to ensure a safe and enjoyable event experience for all guests. No backpacks of any size are permitted, with the exception of single-compartment drawstring bags, and no bags larger than 14”x14”x6” will be allowed inside the venue. Guests who arrive with bags that do not meet the entry requirements will be able to check them at the main entrance. This policy does not apply to working media who is entering at the designated entrance. Special consideration will be made for guests with medical needs and those caring for infants.

After Yormark says hockey "economics just don't work," Isles' owner asserts focus on Belmont

Judging by recent rhetoric, the Islanders-Barclays split is on its way, with the arena dissing the team, and the team looking elsewhere.

In a 10/9/17 interview with Sports Business Daily, Brett Yormark, CEO of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, sounded distinctly soured on the Barclays Center as a home for the New York Islanders, as the hockey team enters its third year.

"The economics just don’t work," he said. "It’s a Long Island team trying to create a fan base in Brooklyn, and to date it has been met with very modest success and not at the numbers we have hoped."

That sounds like a prelude to a divorce. I would have expected more conciliatory words, since I expect a renegotiation of the arena-team deal rather than a new arena for the Islanders. But maybe it's strategic too, as Lighthouse Hockey pointed out.

Why don't I expect a new arena, given that the team owners seem ever more serious about it? Because I think there would be an arena glut in the re…

As second term awaits, de Blasio can cite housing progress, but faces pressure to serve neediest

As his likely second term awaits, Mayor Bill de Blasio is facing pressure from the left/grassroots regarding affordable housing, which necessitates some hard choices. As City Limits reported today, in Massive Rally Demands Adoption of Alternative Housing Proposals:
Those rallying want the mayor to adopt two alternative housing proposals conceived by East Brooklyn Congregations and the Metropolitan Industrial Areas Foundation, faith-based organizations that have long been critical of the mayor’s housing approach. One calls for the rapid construction—within four years—of 15,000 units of senior housing on NYCHA and other city-owned lots and stresses the necessity of targeting low-income households. The other calls for a “top-to-bottom” rehabilitation of NYCHA over the same timeline. These are proposals worth discussing, though it all comes down to numbers: de Blasio's plan for housing on NYCHA land would include a significant slice of market-rate units, and thus fewer low-income ones…