Saturday, January 31, 2015

Atlantic Yards, Pacific Park, and the Culture of Cheating

I offer a framework to analyze and evaluate Atlantic Yards (in August 2014 rebranded as Pacific Park Brooklyn) and the Barclays Center: Atlantic Yards, Pacific Park, and the Culture of Cheating.

Note: this post is post-dated to remain at the top of the page. Please send tips to the email address above, rather than posting a comment here.

model shown to potential immigrant investors in China in 2014,
though not shown publicly in Brooklyn.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Greenland claims to avoids NIMBY; Dean Street business owner, who supports Atlantic Yards, outraged by street narrowing

From Bloomberg News via the Los Angeles Times, 1/24/15: Community challenges to development drive up project costs in nation's least affordable city:
Greenland Holding Group steers clear of Hollywood [Los Angeles] and other communities where the company may face protracted opposition, said Ifei Chang, chief executive officer of the U.S. unit of the Shanghai-based development company.
"We want to invest in a city that's more forward-thinking," said Chang, whose projects include the $1 billion Metropolis in downtown Los Angeles and the $5 billion Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn. "Communities that say 'not in my backyard' might not welcome us. Those cities aren't in the picture."
From today's New York Daily News, Voice of the People:
Give Brooklyn back its street
Brooklyn: I feel harassed, betrayed and exhausted trying to live and work in the borough where I grew up. In 1999, I purchased the building that houses my business in Prospect Heights. When the Atlantic Yards project came on the drawing board, I thought of it as a positive proposition for jobs and the community. 
Fast forward to today. I don’t have a problem with any part of the construction project, now called Pacific Park. I have a huge problem with the fact that the city gave the developer half of Dean St., literally. The street now has a 16-foot construction wall, one lane of traffic and no parking lane. My business’ five trucks must park all over the neighborhood during the day and indoors at night.
In one week, we have received six parking tickets — all from the same police officer — for parking on the sidewalk while in the process of bringing trucks inside. It is so unfair to the working guy that there seem to be more obstacles in our way every day in this city. Jack Ippolito
He runs Primo Uniform Service at 606 Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues. Above right is what it looks like, taken from a video

Below, thanks to Google Maps, is what it used to look like. It's a big difference.


Atlantic Yards down the memory hole: Pacific Park issues pre-Barclays photo of Flatbush and Atlantic


The photo circulated by Pacific Park Brooklyn

Beyond the link to Tracy Collins's photos, more directly available here and here, also see Kevin Walsh's survey in Forgotten New York.
By Tracy Collins
It was not a historic district: there were some empty buildings, some tired buildings, and some better buildings. But the announcement of Atlantic Yards froze all redevelopment plans. And the site certainly was not empty as portrayed in the photo above until Forest City Ratner began significant demolition.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Construction fence squeezes Carlton Avenue between Dean and Pacific, three episodes of tree damage, limited view of stoplight

The construction of 535 Carlton Avenue means a very large construction fence encroaching on Carlton Avenue. That leaves little room for error when large vehicles travel from Dean to Pacific street--and there are already casualties.

From an incident report on Atlantic Yards Watch:
On Monday morning contractors associated with Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park apparently hit a tree on Carlton Avenue. I was called by a Carlton Avenue resident who forwarded me the following text and the attached photographs.
The tree has grown on a lean so the width of the street is narrower at the top of the height of a truck and wider at street level. The tree has been damaged recently in more than one spot suggesting it has been hit more than once. There is what appears to be plastic stuck in one of the damaged areas of the tree. I agree with the person who forwarded me the complaint that Carlton appears to have been narrowed too much. It is an old, beautiful tree and I worry the tree will be damaged more.
The eyewitness stated:
On Monday morning I heard a horrendous noise from the street and rushed to my front window to discover that an EJ Electrical contracting truck was stuck by the tree in front of my house. This happened numerous times since the green wall was put up in the middle of the street. The sidewalk side of streets were to park cars and not for carrying traffic. As the streets are constructed for the rain water to run to the side gutters where normally cars are parked now with the green wall blocking the center of street all trucks and cars are forced to use the leaning gutter side of street and all cars and trucks lean toward the sidewalk which has out trees and when the trucks are loaded improperly they hit the trees. EJ Electric just removed a street light on the corner of Carlton and Dean and instead of following truck route via Dean/ Vanderbilt/ Atlantic they took Carlton to pick up and remove the street light post on the corner of Carlton/ Pacific.
I rushed outside and told the men that they were not supposed to go on this block, but they said they just wanted to go to the next corner ( not wanting to go the assigned route).
The street light post was just thrown on top of truck. It took a hoist to remove it and put back properly then they backed out of Carlton and took the assigned route on Dean etc.
It is outrageous for the city to refuse to put up a no trucks sign as we suggested to them some time ago. Why can the green wall not to be moved back by just a couple of feet?

The street was closed off for over 1/2 hour !!!!! and this was not the first time!!!!
And another report

From another report:
The construction fencing on Carlton Avenue is pinching the street too much and creating an ongoing unsafe condition. Taller vehicles like trucks and buses cannot pass through the Avenue without hitting a tree. The tree is old and beautiful and should be preserved. The damage is both to the tree and the vehicles that pass.
Today I witnessed and videotaped a truck hitting the tree while I passed by. The truck hit the tree hard, and the video turned off as I ran forward to see if the driver was alright. This is the same situation I filed an incident report about on Tuesday. The tree shows fresh signs of being hit regularly. 


The commenter also notes that "the fencing blocks the view of the stop light at Carlton Avenue and Pacific Street for drivers. The light is only visible once the car approaches the intersection."

Indeed, the traffic light becomes visible only about 26 seconds into the video below.



The third incident

Wrote Peter Krashes yesterday:
For the 3rd time this week a truck got stuck under the tree on Carlton Avenue. This morning the truck wasn't just too tall, it was also too wide. According to the resident who forwarded me the information, the truck hit the tree because of its height, and the green wall because of its width. There are fresh scratches on the green wall across from the tree.
Obviously, the risk is to the tree, the owner of the truck and the drivers, because some trucks barrel down Carlton as they do Dean. When the trucks get stuck, they block traffic. Assuming the fence is built as approved, I think DOT has approved an unsafe and non-functioning condition.
DOT should make sure Carlton Avenue is well posted with "no truck" signs and the sign on Dean Street at 6th Avenue should finally get fixed. As has previously been filed here, that sign is pivoted, making it look like trucks are banned northbound on 6th Avenue from Dean. But because I think it will be hard for the NYPD to commit the resources to guarantee no trucks or buses come down this stretch of Carlton, I think DOT should be reassessing the amount they have reduced Carlton Avenue. Right now the width causes a regular blockage.
The resident's description:
We had fun this AM, heard truck motor too long, went to window and a huge, long, very wide yellow truck with a huge street roller piggy back on stuck between Dean and my tree. went out in robe..... told driver he was not supposed to be on Carlton as it is no trucks... he said: Miss I just came down on Carlton and could not make the turn onto Dean"

"why are you taking pictures I am a city truck we do street resurfacing" I said "that does not give you the right to use no trucks streets" and he said " I am not talking to you, I am the city" I called 911 and another neighbor did the same, police took a while to show, they all blamed the Mayor for doing nothing, they had to send for a crew, dismanteled the convoy and piec by piece pulled it to the bridge where they assembled it again. This huge heavy truck had to ride on the sidewalk and at certain area the curb stone is damaged including by the fire hydrant.

Weekend Con Ed work on Pacific Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt

A message from Empire State Development:
Please be advised that ConEd will be conducting work related to the decommissioning of power lines on the north side of Pacific street, between Carlton & Vanderbilt Avenues. Work is slated to take place during the weekend of January 23rd . Actual work hours are dependent upon the availability of work crews & subject to emergencies

Friday, January 23, 2015

A perilous crossing at Atlantic and Sixth avenues: construction work narrows passage, no clear path for pedestrians

Work at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Sixth Avenue has made it perilous to cross the major artery of Atlantic, as noted in a post on Atlantic Yards Watch.

A resident of Atlantic Terrace, the building at the northeast corner of the intersection, filed an incident report, and photos:
The crosswalk on this intersection has been unsafe and continuously shared between cars, trucks, bikers , construction trucks and pedestrians. The authorities, DOB, or the developers did not even bother painting a new crosswalk in a more safe location, indicating where pedestrians should cross to stay safe and away from cars. Several times a day there are no workers helping and indicating the way.
Pictures from a high floor on the Atlantic Terrace residential building on Atlantic Avenue between South Oxford and South Portland Streets show the exact intersection of 6th Avenue and Atlantic Avenue and the sequence of events of cars and pedestrians sharing the crosswalk.
Nicole Jordan, community relations manager for Empire State Development, filed a response that said, in part:
Per the previous construction alert (Two Week Look Ahead) and the one circulated on January 20, 2015 the pedestrian pathways will remain closed while steel trusses work is being conducted on Sixth Avenue. Forest City Ratner Companies will continue to have flagmen present to direct pedestrians away from the work area. 
The flagmen don't fully help

However, according to a follow-up comment by nearby resident Peter Krashes, that's not quite enough, since the flagmen seem focused on the trucks, and there's no clear path to cross:
I happened to be passing through this intersection on foot today and saw the situation the person filing the incident report is describing first hand. 
There were flagmen when I passed through, and NYPD had also posted an officer at the location. The officer focused on the pedestrians while the flagger focused on getting the construction equipment out into traffic. Thanks are due the 78th Precinct once again! 
There is a lot of traffic moving through Atlantic Avenue and 6th Avenues most times of the day. Both have been narrowed, squeezing volume into a few lanes. In the meantime, there are also a lot of pedestrians, even with all the sidewalk and crosswalk closures. The pedestrians don't really have a clearly delineated path how to cross Atlantic. It is unsettling because the traffic traveling down 6th Avenue actually passes directly over the area delineated as a crosswalk, plus construction equipment is entering and exiting onto the crosswalk from both sides.
The dirty tire tracks of construction equipment don't help. 
I think what the filer of the incident report is writing is correct: even with properly trained (and let's hope paid for by the for profit developer, not taxpayer!) help, pedestrians still need clear visual clues how to pass through the intersection. If the construction vehicles can be directed a different way, I would also try that. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

As Assembly Speaker Silver faces arrest, the question arises: could that connect to Ratner?

The New York Times has a scoop, Sheldon Silver, New York Assembly Speaker, Faces Arrest on Corruption Charges:
Federal authorities are expected to arrest Sheldon Silver, the powerful speaker of the New York State Assembly, on corruption charges on Thursday, people with knowledge of the matter said. The case is likely to throw Albany into disarray at the beginning of a new session.
The investigation that led to the expected charges against Mr. Silver, a Democrat from the Lower East Side of Manhattan who has served as speaker for more than two decades, began after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in March abruptly shut down an anticorruption commission he had created in 2013.
Details of the specific charges to be brought against Mr. Silver were unclear on Wednesday night, but one of the people with knowledge of the matter said they stemmed from payments that Mr. Silver received from a small law firm that specializes in seeking reductions of New York City real estate taxes.
Could it reach Ratner?

And a reader already asked me: "How does the Silver corruption probe reach to Ratner? Not if, but how?"

The short answer, of course, is nobody knows. First, we can't be sure if any charges will stick.

Second, none of the clients of the law firm--at least the ones mentioned publicly--have anything to do with Forest City Ratner.

Then again, I did write, in my 2015 preview,  that "there are elected officials under indictment or investigation--state Sen. John Sampson and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver are the most obvious examples--who have ties, direct and indirect, to Forest City Ratner."

And if Silver is in fact caught red-handed, he might want to reduce his sentence by cooperating with prosecutors. As Phillip Anderson of The Albany Project put it:
Silver is old. He’s rich. And he’s been at the very nexus of Albany corruption for years. Silver knows where all the bodies are buried, so to speak. And it definitely looks like Bharara has the goods on him for real this time. Does Silver roll? Does he save his ass whilst doing an enormous public service to the State of New York and all of us who have suffered such corruption for so long?
I think we’re about to find out.
Silver and Ratner

So, how might Silver connect prosecutors to Ratner? Unclear. (Also, note that prosecutors tend to prioritize political corruption ahead of corporate malfeasance, which seems to be why Forest City was untouched in the Ridge Hill case in Yonkers.)

First, consider that what may seem unethical--such as Forest City Ratner's January 2008 "slush fund" contribution of $58,420 to the Silver-controlled Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee--is perfectly legal under New York law.

Was Silver's agreement in 2006 to approve state funding for Atlantic Yards as part of the Public Authorities Control Board greased by any unseemly Ratner promises? Not that we know of; Silver was reportedly most appreciative that there'd be little or no office space to compete with his Lower Manhattan district.

What about the legislature's 2007 approval of a "carve-out" that spared Atlantic Yards from reform of the 421-a law? That was supported by numerous other legislators and the Real Estate Board of New York. But we don't know.

Then there are connections to the recent grand larceny conviction of William Rapfogel, leader of the powerful Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, and Silver's childhood friend. After all, the Met Council and Silver have honored Bruce Ratner, while Ratner hired Michael Rapfogel, a son of William Rapfogel and Judy Rapfogel, who just happens to be Silver's chief of staff.

"The [Michael Rapfogel] job was seen internally as a way to please Mr. Silver, say people familiar with the son’s work," the Times reported last year, though Forest City denied that. That Times article on the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area noted an unsuccessful plan in the early 1990s to direct the site to Ratner:
But months later, he and Mr. Rapfogel quietly put their weight behind yet another new plan, from a handpicked developer who included no housing. According to official memos, Mr. Silver asked city officials to approve a “big box” store, like Costco, on the site. The developer, Bruce Ratner, would build it. The sponsor would be the South Manhattan Development Corporation, which Mr. Rapfogel then headed.
Silver has been dealing with Ratner for a long time, but an unseemly alliance is not necessarily a crime. So that doesn't mean he has the goods on Ratner, or that what he knows about Ratner is more valuable than what he knows about other legislators.

But prosecutors, if successful in pursuing these initial charges against Silver, surely know there's much more to ask about Albany, the Lower East Side, and Silver's favorite developer in Brooklyn.

Nets value skyrockets, even as they lose money; "trophy asset" should drive sales figure

It's stunning, again.

The value of the Brooklyn Nets nearly doubled in the past year (from $780 million to $1.5 billion), according to Forbes, after a nearly 50% increase in the value a year earlier.

And that's from a team that's losing nearly $100 million a year--the only team to lose money last year--thanks to enormous contracts aimed to lure players.

Part of that is due simply to the league's well-positioned luck, since the Nets actually went down a notch, from the fifth most-valuable team to the sixth.

As Forbes reports:
What do you get when you combine a massive new $24 billion television contract, a nearly six-year bull market in equities creating tremendous wealth, and cheap credit? You get a massive rise in sports franchise values, with the NBA serving as ground zero for the current boom. The average NBA team is now worth $1.1 billion, 74% more than last year. It is the biggest one-year gain since Forbes began valuing teams in the four major U.S. sports leagues in 1998.
The shared league revenue contributes $298 million of the value of the Nets today, up hugely from $141 million, which itself was way down from $292 million a year earlier.

The New York/Brooklyn market contributes $543 million of value, a huge jump from last year's $297 million. The building ("stadium," though actually an arena) contributes $512 million, again up hugely from $257 million. And the Brooklyn Nets brand rose significantly, to $154 million from $91 million.

Maybe it doesn't matter that they lose money?

How much are they worth?

Forbes's Kurt Badenhausen writes:
The Nets present an even trickier valuation proposition. Mikhail Prokhorov paid $365 million in 2010 for 80% of the team and 45% of the operating rights to its home arena, Barclays Center. The club lost an NBA-record $99 million last season thanks to $206 million in player costs from salaries, benefits and $91 million luxury tax bill, another NBA record. The Barclays Center was the busiest arena in North America in 2013 and the first half of 2014, but the new owners would be on the hook for $50 million annually in bond payments, plus another $15 million to operate the building. Even so, the Nets will be valued like a trophy asset, as the rare sports property put up for auction in the biggest market in the U.S. We value the Nets and the operating lease to Barclays at $1.5 billion, sixth among NBA franchises.
(Emphasis added)

Those numbers are not correct, nor does that paragraph fully make sense to me.

Prokhorov can sell the Nets without selling his share of the arena. 

The bond debt service on the arena doesn't hit $50 million until 2038, as noted in the graphic at right, from the Official Statement for the bonds.

And it costs well more than $15 million a year to operate the building, even if that $15 million was meant to represent only 45% of the cost.

The Nets' value depends, as Badenhausen rightly suggests, on the competition for a trophy asset. They need not make money, because, as he writes, there are always deductions:
Paying $1.5 billion or more for a business losing $100 million a year doesn’t make a lot of economic sense. But in addition to joining an ultra-exclusive club, new NBA owners also benefit from hefty tax breaks. Owners can deduct the value of the intangible assets in the deal over 15 years after a transaction. This deduction can offset earnings for the NBA franchise or other businesses the owner may control. This part of the U.S. tax code applies to all business and not just sports. But the NBA and sports teams reap significant benefits because 90% or more of the purchase price can typically be deemed an intangible asset with a sports team. It is a major factor as hedge fund titans and billionaires swirl around the Nets in the coming months.
On the Nets

The Forbes page on the Brooklyn Nets states:
Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov hired investment bank Evercore Partners in January to sell his majority interest in the Nets. Forest City Ratner Companies enlisted Evercore last year to sell its 20% stake in the team. The team is bleeding red ink due to its high payroll, enormous debt and low local television deal. Some of the Nets losses should be alleviated when the NHL's New York Islanders move into the Barclays Center for the 2015-16 season. The Nets' luxury tax bill last season was a record $90.6 million leading to the biggest operating loss in NBA history.
(Emphasis added)

I have no idea why the Nets losses would be alleviated once the Islanders move in. It may be that Prokhorov's revenues from his stake in the arena would rise.

(Here's an odd Crain's piece that draws on last year's valuation of the Nets but extrapolates from the seemingly overinflated $2 billion price paid for the Los Angeles Clippers, and suggests the nets would be worth more.)

The most valuable teams


Via NetsDaily

As predicted, Ratner looks to get government help--state-funded parking--for the Nassau Coliseum revamp

Where's the catch? I asked in August 2013, when Bruce Ratner's Nassau Events Center won the bid to renovate and revamp the antiquated Nassau Coliseum.

As I wrote, I have to wonder when Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano announced "a historic public-private partnership... a 100% privately financed Coliseum that will share revenue with the County at zero expense to the taxpayer."

We've since learned that Ratner will be able to sell naming rights to the project--a giveaway of sorts--and that he admitted he'd ask "the county’s Industrial Development Agency for some tax exemptions," as the Times reported.

But Professor Dennis Coates warned they might "back out of the deal at some point and come back to the county and say we need more money, and the county will be on the hook.”

From Cuomo's Opportunity Agenda
That's not what has happened (yet), but Newsday reported yesterday that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has proposed spending $150 million for several parking projects, including one at the Nassau Coliseum:
Ratner needs about 5,000 parking spots but construction of a multi-story parking garage adjacent to the arena would liberate dozens of acres of blacktop for additional development.
"A state investment in this facility would complement the current private investment and drive hundreds of millions of dollars of additional private investment at the site," Cuomo's office said in a statement.
..."This initiative will assist in creating jobs and opportunities while complementing the redeveloped Coliseum and surrounding sports-and-entertainment district," said  [Nassau County Executive Ed] Mangano.
Ratner said in a statement: “We welcome the state’s investment in parking infrastructure at the Nassau Coliseum site and thank Governor Cuomo for his efforts to spur economic development in New York.”

The life and death of that much-hyped GQ barbershop at the arena.

In January 2014, the news (Barclays Center press release) that GQ would open a barbershop at the arena generated all sorts of coverage, in the Daily News, the ObserverDNAinfo, and New York magazine, among others.

We should've noticed this statement in the press release: "the 400-square-foot barbershop will be a permanent fixture on the venue’s main concourse throughout 2014."

Because, as Times beat writer Andrew Keh reported last week on Twitter, "I'm sad to report that the Barclays Center barbershop, presented by GQ, has been unceremoniously replaced with a merchandise kiosk."

"barber in arena worst idea ever," replied one Twitter user.

Fellow Barber, which ran the shop, said on Instagram, "it was a one year project. We are on to new stuff in 2015!"

Let's put it this way: the expiration of the barbershop did not inspire nearly as much coverage as its launch. Because that's the way things work. (That said, Racked did a quick post in response to my tweet yesterday.)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

My Times op-ed: "Holding the Democratic Convention in Brooklyn? Fuhgeddaboudit." (+ new Impact Zone Alliance)

I have an online op-ed in the New York Times today, Holding the Democratic Convention in Brooklyn? Fuhgeddaboudit., arguing that there are logistical and ethical reasons to oppose bringing the 2016 Democratic National Convention to Brooklyn.

Below is an illustration of one major logistical problem: an entire flank of the arena will be a construction zone, given the delay in finishing the B2 modular tower at Flatbush Avenue and Dean Street and the expected start of the B3 tower this year at Sixth Avenue and Dean Street.

The two tower sites flank the secondary entrance to the arena, which is where crowds on the arena plaza are typically sent. They also flank the loading dock for trucks and other vehicles entering the building. The residential neighborhood is across the street.


The ethical reasons include the notion of an oligarch-owned arena, a project in which a Chinese government profits by marketing U.S. visas, and "affordable housing" that backs off promises to fight gentrification.

New Barclays Center Impact Zone Alliance

Also today: a new coalition, the Barclays Center Impact Zone Alliance, emerged to express concern about the convention and calling on the mayor "to immediately appoint a point-person to coordinate government agencies and the developer with the involvement of local community boards and elected officials as a means to minimize unnecessary adverse impacts."

The group also asks asks for a "plan to promote local businesses as well as a commitment to compensate for any lost income caused as a result of access limitations necessitated by such a high security event."

The alliance includes the North Flatbush Business Improvement District, residents of Newswalk, the Dean Street Block Association (6th to Vanderbilt), the Atlantic Terrace Outreach Committee and the St. Marks Block Association.

(For those who may wonder: though this article and my op-ed emerged on the same day, I submitted a version of my essay months ago.)

An administration response to the alliance

Capital New York updates its article:
De Blasio spokeswoman Marti Adams responded by email with the following comment: “For months, the Administration has been engaging with residents, business owners, elected officials community and civic leaders and organizations, including the Barclays Center Impact Zone Alliance. Mayor de Blasio has been clear that this will be a collaborative process and our door remains open. We’ll continue to engage with community members as we work together to build a convention that will bring maximum benefit to the City as well as the Democratic Party. Additionally, we will name a community liaison when selected as the host city. From UNGA to the Super Bowl to the Thanksgiving Day parade, we have a long history of executing high profile events with minimal disruptions to the lives of everyday New Yorkers, and the convention will be no different.”
The Brooklyn Paper's coverage added a quote from a merchant support of the convention:
About six dozen businesses, from the neighborhood and beyond, signed onto a letter of support on Friday, telling Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Democratic committee chairwoman, that they want to bring the convention here.
Francine Stephens, who owns Franny’s and Bklyn Larder, both on Flatbush Avenue, said she does see an uptick in business during big events, such as during the Video Music Awards.
“That night was very good for us,” Stephens said. “The people who would normally be attracted to my businesses, there were just more of them.”
She does acknowledge that during many events at Barclays people tend to go straight to the arena and then straight home. She said the mayor’s office will have to come up with a plan to encourage convention-goers to explore the area around the arena if local businesses are going to benefit.
 

Nearly three years after Barclays Center opens, a first BAM-arena collaboration (hyped as 3-4 shows a year)

From the New York Times, Color Guard Is David Byrne’s New Project. Yes, Color Guard.
Since Talking Heads broke up in the early ’90s, David Byrne’s eclectic projects have focused on everything from visual art and musical theater to bicycles and gentrification. His latest obsession? Color guard.
...This summer, Mr. Byrne will present “Contemporary Color” in Toronto and Brooklyn, pairing 10 teenage color guard teams from Canada and the United States with musicians including Kelis, St. Vincent, Devonté Hynes and Nelly Furtado.
...A co-commission of the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Toronto’s Luminato Festival, the show will premiere at the Air Canada Center on June 22 and 23. The show will come to Barclays Center in Brooklyn on June 27 and 28, in the Academy’s first partnership with its neighboring arena.
My comment... Interestingly enough, this show--coming in the later part of the third year of the Barclays Center's operation--is the *first* example of the BAM-Barclays collaboration that was hyped in 2011 as "three or four shows a year"

Pending questions about the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation

Remember how the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation, formed to channel some form of input/oversight (if not full accountability) to Empire State Development regarding Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Brooklyn, was supposed to get off the ground in December?

And then how instead its first meeting was scheduled for January 30, six weeks after the groundbreaking for two new towers?

That date is rapidly approaching, with no new information. 

On Friday, I asked Empire State Development about the time and location of the first meeting; the names of the appointed members; the meeting agenda; and the name of the person recruited to direct the AY CDC.

When I get answers, I'll post them.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

From the latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Alert: delay in finishing 16-foot fence near 550 Vanderbilt site

According to the latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Brooklyn Construction Update, below, covering this week and next and issued today by Empire State Development after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners, weather has delayed some work near B11, the condo tower at 550 Vanderbilt Avenue (between Dean and Pacific streets).

(Here's the previous alert.)

Regarding B11, work will continue by National Grid to relocate a gas line in the Dean Street sidewalk between Carlton Avenue and Vanderbilt Avenue that will service this and the adjacent future building.

I've bolded the new information; note that poor proofreading left in the previous statement that the work would be done by January 23:
Because this work conflicts with bracing blocks for the 16 foot fence for the Block 1129 construction, lower fences, varying in height from eight to twelve feet, have initially been installed in front of the work zone. The work zone is approximately 150 feet long and about 125 feet west of Vanderbilt Avenue. It is expected that the full 16 foot fence will be constructed and in place by January 23rd. This work has been delayed due to weather conditions and is currently anticipated to be completed by mid-February. Once completed, the 16’ fence will be installed along Dean Street.
Other new work going on at that building site:
• Excavation and hauling of soil from site. Soil that has been classified as clean, contaminated or hazardous will be removed from the site as part of the excavation activities and brought to appropriate disposal locations. Protocols for the trucks entering and exiting the site have been put in place. These protocols provide instruction on roadway routing to and from the project site, queuing of trucks while on site and vehicle idling restrictions
• Installation of support of excavation (SOE), including pouring of concrete piers and installation lagging will commence during this reporting period.
Regarding B14, the rental tower at 535 Carlton Avenue, beyond continuing excavation and foundation activities, with a support of excavation (SOE) drill rig, the document indicates the following new information:
o Site mobilization will continue, consisting of electrical work to power contractor field office and relocation of light poles to outside of site fence.

Despite high rank worldwide, Barclays Center's second full year shows drop of 27% in tickets sold, 28% in gross revenue


The Barclays Center's second full year was very strong, arena officials proclaimed last week, issuing a press release headlined "After Just Two Years, Barclays Center Continues To Be a Top-Ranked Venue Worldwide."

Pollstar 2014 results
Yes, in 2014, the Brooklyn arena ranked just behind Madison Square Garden among the highest grossing U.S. arena for concerts, family shows, and other events, as the Barclays Center announced, citing Billboard and Venues Today (which do not include Brooklyn Nets games). Also, Pollstar ranked Barclays as second among U.S. venues for tickets sold.

However, those impressive rankings mask a significant decline in the Barclays Center's popularity compared to its slam-bang debut year: 27% in total tickets sold, and 28% in gross revenue.

(The net revenue decline is likely less, since arena managers last year pursued new efforts at cutting costs.)

The Brooklyn arena, which opened in September 2012, could no longer ride its initial buzz, and no longer dominated the New York City market once Madison Square Garden completed a renovation in late October 2013.

Tickets sold, gross revenue

According to Pollstar, the Brooklyn arena in 2013 ranked first in the country (and third in the world), with 991,752 concert tickets sold. In 2014, according to Pollstar, the Barclays Center ranked second in the country (and sixth in the world), with 723,616 tickets sold, a 27% drop.

2013 results, Billboard
Well, what about gross revenue? After all, an arena could sell fewer tickets but book more higher priced shows.

In 2013, under Billboard's count (which actually began in mid-November 2012), the Barclays Center welcomed 1,135,505 people, grossing $83.5 million. That ranked the arena as first in the U.S. and third in the world among similarly sized venues, seating at least 15,000 people.

In 2014, by contrast, the Barclays Center ranked second in the country and fourth in the world, grossing $60 million from 867,927 attendees, according to Billboard. That's a 28% drop in revenue on a 23.6% decline in gate count.

The revenue figure may reflect that in 2013 the Barclays Center had more big name concerts. In 2014, the Barclays Center actually had two more shows than in 2013: 139 vs. 137, according to Billboard.

(Billboard and Pollstar differ in total tickets sold, perhaps partly because Billboard doesn't use a calendar year, and also because Pollstar is limited to concerts.)

2014 results, Billboard
Madison Square Garden in 2014 reaped $123.6 million from attendance of 1,347,475, according to Billboard, a huge jump from its 2013 results: $73.4 million from attendance of 846,976.

Then again, as noted, the MSG renovation was not completed until the last quarter of 2014. Either way, Madison Square Garden can capitalize on its location and history and reap far more per ticket.

Big shows?

As noted in the press release, the Barclays Center last year booked major shows, including entertainers like Elton John, Justin Timberlake, JAY Z, Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Marc Anthony. But Madison Square Garden eclipsed it.

According to Pollstar, the biggest concert gross in 2014 by far came from Billy Joel's 12-show stand at Madison Square Garden. Other big shows at MSG included Paul Simon/Sting, ranked 42 (two shows); Fleetwood Mac, at 45 (two shows); Justin Timberlake, at 77 (two shows); Bruno Mars, at 82 (two shows).

The first Barclays Center act on the list was Katy Perry, whose two shows ranked 88. That said, gross depends somewhat on volume: the Barclays Center reaped more $2 million from its single Justin Timberlake concert, while MSG earned $3.66 million from two shows.

Going forward

“In just two full years, we are proud to have become a global destination that is bringing the best programming to Brooklyn,” said Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark in the press release, who pledged to "soon announce several major events and unique programming alliances."

It seems like some have taken notice. WPIX reported, in coverage of the potential impact of the Democratic National Convention:
However, at businesses like Yayo’s Restaurant, located two blocks from Barclays Center, its owner said that not luring the convention to New York would make a trying situation even worse.
“It’s not the way we thought it would be,” said Geronimo Diaz, regarding his receipts since Barclays opened three years ago. He said there was a need for more hip hop and Latin music concerts, as well as other major events, including the DNC. He described his business this way, “It’s not been happening like it was the first year.”
The press release