Monday, August 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.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

New Atlantic Yards affordable housing more expensive than would be allowed in de Blasio's mandatory inclusionary zoning proposal

There's been no official press release yet, but some news outlets have reported on a plan by Mayor Bill de Blasio to require 25% or 30% affordable housing--at differing income levels--as part of a rezoning. The plan, which would exclude buildings with ten units or fewer, requires City Council approval.

So it's interesting to compare such mandatory inclusionary zoning to the promises--and now the execution--in the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park plan, which was essentially a private rezoning or spot rezoning in exchange for a measure of affordable housing.

(The state overrode city zoning to allow developer Forest City Ratner to build at the scale it deemed financially feasible. The provision of affordable housing was one justification for the scale.)

Bottom line: Atlantic Yards might come close to those standards, if built as proposed, but the record so far shows otherwise.

The percentage of affordable housing--2250 of 6430 units, or 35%--is indeed more than the minimum required in de Blasio's proposal. And the total number of units is significant.

However, the devil is in the details. (After all, the project was once supposed to be 50% affordable.)

Were Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park executed as once promised, the significant numbers of middle-income units would make it difficult, but not impossible, to reach one of de Blasio's options, which is 30% affordable at an average of 80% of Area Median Income, or AMI.

However, most of the tenants in two under-construction "100% affordable" buildings--buildings with configurations more generous to the developer and less affordable than originally promised--will pay rents well above the maximum in de Blasio's proposal.

So the three buildings with affordable units under construction skew well over the de Blasio plan, with affordability of those units averaging 112% of AMI.

So much for the mayor's claim last December, at the groundbreaking for an all-affordable building, "This is a symbol of what we intend to do with our affordable housing plan over and over and over and over." And, as I've noted, there's a disconnect with the mayor's emphasis on low-income units.

The mayor's plan, and two fundamental contrasts

Capital New York reported, in De Blasio plan would link affordable housing, rezoning:
The plan, outlined to Capital in advance of its rollout by administration and City Council officials, would require builders to set aside 25 percent of their units for affordable housing. The average unit would be rented to residents earning 60 percent of the area median income—a calculation that currently equals $46,620 for a family of three.
The policy, known as "mandatory inclusionary zoning" or "mandatory inclusionary housing," would come with a second option—reserving 30 percent of all units at an average of 80 percent of the area median income, or $62,150 for a family of three.
The Department of City Planning, in concert with the local City Council member for a given development, would decide which option to choose—not the builder, the officials said.
...In conjunction with one of the two mandatory inclusionary options, the local Council member would also be empowered to allow a moderate-income affordable choice [at 120% of Area Median Income, or AMI, more than $93,000 for a family of 3] that does not entail a direct subsidy from the city. That alternative, according to the officials, would be restricted to middle-income areas.
Note that this plan gives more autonomy to local elected officials, unlike with Atlantic Yards, of course.

Another contrast: the affordable housing would be permanent--as noted by the all Street Journal--not limited to the tenure of housing bonds, which has been typical (and is the case with Atlantic Yards).

The Real Estate Board of New York, according to the WSJ, gave it a "cautious welcome," with president John Banks saying “the numbers need to make sense.” 

How many units?

It looks like the mayor is scaling back his ambitions. The WSJ noted:
During the 2013 campaign, Mr. de Blasio drew skepticism with his assertion that mandatory inclusionary zoning in rezoned neighborhoods could generate 50,000 affordable apartments over eight years for poor and middle-class families in New York City.
That turned out to be based on a best-case analysis prepared by an advocacy group, the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development [ANHD], for the rezoning of the entire city.
Now Department of City Planning (DCP) Director Carl Weisbrod is estimating a more general "several thousand." The ANHD, in a report, estimated more ambitious totals:
  • ANHD’s analysis concludes that the new MIZ [Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning] policy as currently outlined by the de Blasio administration could create an estimated 13,800 affordable housing units over the next 10 years. 
  • The current de Blasio administration could also revisit the previous Bloomberg rezonings and convert all the voluntary Inclusionary Housing Program designated areas into Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning areas. We estimate that this could guarantee at least 1,200 additional affordable units in those limited designated areas. 
  • The City lost out on an estimated 8,000 affordable housing units in the rezoned areas because the Inclusionary Housing program was voluntary and limited to small geographic areas.

The ANHD critique of de Blasio's plan

Crain's New York Business reported, Next phase of de Blasio's affordable-housing plan is out—and for one advocate, the devil's in the details, noting the ANHD's criticism of the affordability levels, notably the moderate-income choice:
"Requiring permanently affordable housing in all future upzonings is a huge step forward for creating the inclusive neighborhoods we need in this city, but we need to ask who will be included and who will be left out," said Moses Gates, director of planning and community development for the nonprofit. "The fact is the rent levels proposed are too high to meet the needs of the New Yorkers who are most desperate for affordable housing."
... If [DCP and the Council Member] choose to require 25% of the project's units be dedicated to affordable housing, then rents for the affordable units will have to average out to serve a household making 60% of a metric called the area median income. For a family of three, that equals $1,165 a month in rent. If they pick the 30% option, affordable units will have to average out to 80% of AMI.
ANHD would like a lower average, to reach lower-income New Yorkers, and opposes the moderate-income option. The city, according to the summary from Crain's, "contends that its mix of incomes allows for a more diverse program, and for developers to reach lower income levels on the other end of the spectrum."

The ANHD statement

Gates wrote on the ANHD blog, City Inclusionary Zoning Proposal a Step Forward, but Affordability Must be Fixed, that the plan was "a significant step forward" given that it was mandatory and permanent, but the rent levels were too low:
There are three options for affordability being proposed:
Option A) 25% affordable at an average of 60% AMI.
Option B) 30% affordable at an average of 80% AMI.
Option C) 30% affordable at an average of 120% AMI.
These levels are, quite simply, not where the need is greatest. 85% of New Yorkers making under 50% of AMI are rent-burdened, and in need of affordable housing. This is compared to less than 10% of New Yorkers making 100% AMI. And in raw numbers, the differences are even starker. There are 14 times more rent-burdened households at 50% AMI and under, than at 100% AMI and up. Any new MIZ policy needs to specifically address this, and require a significant portion of affordable housing for truly low-income New Yorkers across all of these options.
And then there is Option C, which shouldn’t be an option at all. This option is intended to be set in neighborhoods where 120% is on or about the market rate, in order to keep incentivizing market-rate development. Put another way, this option not only doesn’t provide affordability, but is specifically designed to not provide affordability. The option’s purpose is to keep the $2000+ apartments coming, without requiring anything for the lower-income half of New Yorkers. This is at direct cross-purposes with the rest of the proposal. An affordable housing program is for creating affordable housing, not market-rate housing.
The Atlantic Yards plan

Atlantic Yards was originally billed as a 50/50 program, with a 50% of the apartments affordable, 50% market, or rather 50/30/20, with 30% of the units moderate- and middle-income, and 20% low-income. 

Then that ratio was applied only to the 4500 rental units, as 1930 condos were added. So 2250 of 6430 units means 35% affordable.

Here's the proposal--actually one of three income mixes, with the highest income boundaries--from the 2005 Affordable Housing Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that Forest City Ratner signed with ACORN.

2005 figures; Area Median Income has since risen from $62,800 to $86,300

According to the MOU, which was incorporated into the "legally binding" Community Benefits Agreement, 1,350 of the units--or 21% of the total 6,430 units--would be affordable at an average of 80% of AMI or better

Another 7% would be affordable at an average of 120% of AMI, with another 7% at an average of 150% of AMI.

So if we just looked at the first 1,800 affordable units--28% of the total, the projected affordability would be 74% of AMI. That's under the de Blasio goal of 80% of AMI, but with something of a fudge factor, since that goal is applied to 30% of the units, not 28%.

Here's my math: [(225 x .4) + (675 x .5) + (450 x .8) + (450 x 1.2)]/1800 = 74% average of AMI. 

If we look at all 2,250 affofdable units--35% of the total, the projected affordability would be 89% of AMI. That's higher than the de Blasio goal of 80% of AMI, but again with a fudge factor, since that goal is applied to 30% of the units, not 35%.

Here's my math: [(225 x .4) + (675 x .5) + (450 x .8) + (450 x 1.2) + (450 x 1.5)]/2250 = 89% average of AMI.

The Atlantic Yards reality

Actually, Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park has turned out somewhat differently. The first building, B2, is aimed to be 50/30/20. But the next two "100% affordable" buildings would be significantly different.

Consider the slide below, prepared by Greenland Forest City Partners, using 2014 Area Median Income (AMI) of $83,900. Now, in 2015, AMI is $86,300, and likely will continue to rise.

Based on the slide above, prepared by the developer, of 779 units:
  • 42, or 5.4% of these 779 affordable units, would be low-income, at 37% of AMI
  • 211, or 27%, would be low-income, at 57% of AMI
  • 65, or 8.3%, would be moderate-income, at 80% of AMI
  • 125, or 16%, would be middle-income, at 130% of AMI
  • 336, or 43.1%, would be middle-income, at 160% of AMI
However, that's not quite accurate. The affordable units in 461 Dean Street (aka B2) would rent at different rent levels: 38%/48%/80%/120%/150%.

So, to be precise, the three buildings would contain the following affordable units:
  • 31 at 37% of AMI
  • 11 at 38% of AMI (B2)
  • 149 at 57% of AMI
  • 62 at 48% of AMI (B2)
  • 65 at 80% of AMI
  • 89 at 130% of AMI
  • 36 at 120% of AMI (B2)
  • 300 at 160% of AMI
  • 36 at 150% of AMI (B2)
The result:the affordable units average 112% of AMI.

Here's my math: [(31 x .37) + (11 x .38) + (149 x .57) + (62 x .48) + (65 x .8) + (89 x 1.3) + (36 x 1.2) + (300 x 1.6) + 36 x 1.5)]/779 = 112% average of AMI.

The larger buildout

But let's look at it from another perspective. Note that, while B2 is a 50/50 building, each of the 100% affordable towers is being paired, more or less, with a 100% condo tower. B11 will have 278 units, while B12 will have 265, as the all-affordable B14 (298 units) and B3 (307 units) go up.

Monday, August 03, 2015

Real Deal: lack of condo inventory in Brooklyn means 550 Vanderbilt will be sold out before opening next year

The Real Deal's July issue, recently online, salutes the 278-unit 550 Vanderbilt Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park condo building (aka B11) as an example of meeting some of the demand that far exceeds supply.

The headline is Brooklyn: ‘Like a desert with no cactus’, subtitled "Despite strong demand for condos, pipeline in borough is pumping out more rentals":
This month, The Real Deal looked at all of the condominiums slated for Brooklyn, and found that the trickle of projects in the works will not be enough to meet the demand.
TRD combed through Department of Buildings records and found 23,700 Brooklyn residential units in the pipeline across 137 projects. Of those, only 1,900 (or about 8 percent) are expected to be condos. Plans are unclear for 4,200 of the units, while rentals account for the bulk: 17,600.
“I think that there’s not enough on the market right now and there’s not going to be even in a year,” said Ofer Cohen, founder and president of Brooklyn commercial brokerage TerraCRG, who regularly works with residential developers looking for sites to build on. “It’s going to take a long time for condo inventory to get into this pipeline, and for the foreseeable future there’s not going to be enough of it.”
The imbalance in the market is largely an echo of the recession. The 2008 downturn, of course, made lenders hesitant to underwrite condo projects in Brooklyn. In the years that followed, rentals also seemed like the logical choice for developers who wanted to protect themselves against market fluctuations....
With Atlantic Yards, now Pacific Park, the developer--then Forest City Ratner, now Greenland Forest City Partners--had flexibility to build condos in multiple buildings over a long buildout. 

The Real Deal explains that "a new generation of buyers: wants "premium for-sale product" unavailable in the existing stock.

Regarding 550 Vanderbilt

The Real Deal reports:
Prices at the project will range from $550,000 for the least expensive studios to $5.5 million for some of the maisonette and penthouse units. Sales launched in mid-June, and the building should be ready for move-ins by the end of 2016.
“We anticipate being sold out by then, no problem,” said Jodi Ann Stasse, managing director of new development for Citi Habitats, who is marketing the building.
According to Streeteasy, 34 units are in contract as of today, with 62 active sales. (So 96 units is a little more than one-third of the total 278 units.)

Given that the building is being marketed to Chinese buyers, thanks to lead partner the Greenland Group, based in Shanghai, one question is whether the buyers in 550 Vanderbilt are people who want to live in Brooklyn or just want to invest.

The burgeoning demand, as I wrote in June, is such that the asking price for units at 550 Vanderbilt, on a per square foot basis, is well ahead of the 2009 projections for 2015, which then were considered aggressive.

That doesn't mean it was realistic to approve the project in 2006 and assume a ten-year buildout. It does mean that, when a real estate developer gets "entitlement," it can often build at its own pace and thus time the market.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Sports economist Zimbalist, wearing academic's hat, calls projected Boston Olympics revenues "drunken optimism"

From, 7/23/15, Olympic revenue numbers are ‘drunken optimism,’ critic says:
Smith College economics professor Andrew Zimbalist sat quietly for the first 15 minutes of the Olympics debate on Thursday night. When Zimbalist did finally open his mouth, he used a unique description of Boston 2024’s revenue estimates.
“Most of the numbers I see reflect drunken optimism,” he said.
Zimbalist said the bid’s expected ticket sale revenues for Olympic basketball games were unlikely to be reached.
...In any case, the creative phrase inspired the #DrunkenOptimism hashtag on Twitter.
...Zimbalist, a consistent critic of Boston 2024, is not shy of referring to the bid in metaphoric language. Speaking broadly about the bidding plans to earlier this week, he called them “a lot of baloney.”
Academic Zimbalist in this case may well be right. But isn't Consultant Zimbalist responsible for the $6 billion lie regarding Atlantic Yards?

An exchange on integrity

The Boston Glob in June reported on a charged exchange between Zimbalist and Steve Pagliuca, who headed Boston's Olympic bid:
Smith College professor Andrew Zimbalist, who for months has criticized the local Olympic bid in just about every mode of media short of semaphore flags, claimed Tuesday on WGBH that Pagliuca offered him a consulting job with Boston 2024 a few days after Pagliuca became chairman of the Olympic bid committee in May.
Pagliuca said he talked to Zimbalist but didn't make an offer. Zimbalist followed up with a letter:
STEVE PAGLIUCA denies asking me to work for him (“Did Pagliuca ask Olympics critic to work for Boston 2024?” Metro, June 9). More precisely, he denies making me a job offer. In part, he may be hiding behind semantics. There was never a concrete job offer made, with a particular salary and schedule. One reason that there was never a formal job offer is that each time he asked me to work for him, I immediately said that I couldn’t do that.
He did, however, say to me several times that he wanted me to work for him and to be on the Boston 2024 committee. At the end of the day, I suppose, it is my word against his. I have always respected him, and I still do. Unfortunately, he is in a thankless job and, like his predecessor, he is compelled to spin every bit of negative news.... 
I originally did not plan on mentioning his phone call to the public. However, after I continued to see the daily misinformation being perpetrated by Boston 2024, I decided that my silence would become part of the spin cycle. I have opted instead for transparency.
Okay, but.. let's remember Zimbalist on Atlantic Yards.

"The main reason I've been supportive of this project--and I was supportive before Forest City Ratner asked me to help them with some economic projections--is not because of its potential to raise per-capita income or employment,” he declared in February 2004, “but because it's wonderful for Brooklyn, for cultural enrichment, cultural identity, to restore something that has been robbed from Brooklyn.”

And then he produced a report declaring that the project would be a gold mine.

The Brooklynettes auditions get loyal coverage from arena partners WPIX, Daily News

Just in case you're wondering whether WPIX is fulfilling its marketing partnership with the Barclays Center, well, consider the 7/6/15 press release from the Brooklyn Nets, BROOKLYNETTES DANCE TEAM TO HOLD OPEN AUDITIONS FOR 2015-16 BROOKLYN NETS SEASON:
BROOKLYN (July 6, 2015) – The Brooklyn Nets will hold open auditions for the Brooklynettes dance team on Sunday, July 12 at 11 a.m. at the Arnold and Marie Schwartz Center on the LIU Brooklyn campus at 1 University Plaza. Registration begins at 10 a.m.
The Brooklynettes, presented by Crunch Fitness, will perform at all Brooklyn Nets games at Barclays Center during the 2015-16 season and represent the team at events throughout the New York metropolitan area and internationally. Special guest judges will be in attendance throughout the week, including celebrity choreographers Luam, Manwé, Nick Kenkel, and Bloc Talent Agency's Fatima Wilson.
Then came a 7/8/15 promotional piece on WPIX, Brooklynettes dance team looking for more dancers. It was presaged by a tweet from the Nets:
Then came the TV station's report, Brooklynettes hopefuls audition at Barclays Center for coveted spot on team:
BARCLAYS CENTER — There was so much excitement at Barclays Center for these very coveted spots. A lot of talent, but only 16 spots to fill on the team.
They came from all over the country and the world. All here to be a part of the magic at Barclays Center, and part of the next Brooklynettes team.
The final round on Tuesday included an interview process, and of course lots of dancing.
The next step for the winners, they’ll be practicing and then performing in the 2015-2016 Brooklyn Nets season.
They also do appearances around the country, and internationally.
What they get paid, of course, doesn't get discussed.

Who else thought this was news?

I did a quick search to see if any other news outlets covered the auditions. The only other report I could find was from the Daily News, which sent a participant-observer, Daily News staffer shows off moves, but fails to make Brooklyn Nets dance team. (Didn't the Brooklyn Paper try this two years ago?)

Hm, doesn't the Daily News have a marketing partnership with the Barclays Center, too?

Saturday, August 01, 2015

From the latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update: more evening work "to address field conditions"; outreach regarding noise control

The latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Brooklyn Construction Update, covering the two weeks beginning Monday August 3 and delivered yesterday by Empire State Development after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners, announces that Saturday work continues at the B3 and B14 tower sites, and evening work until 9 pm weekdays continues at the latter site.

The explanation is "to address field conditions," which I surmise is another way to say "to meet our schedule." The 9 pm work was announced last Monday at the very last minute.

B3 is at the corner of Dean Street and Sixth Avenue, and B14 is at the corner of Dean Street and Carlton Avenue.

Also notable: for the first time, as far as I know, the Construction Update explains how neighbors in a very specific radius of the site can apply for double-pane windows and/or air conditioners to block some of the noise from construction.

Below are verbatim excerpts, with some commentary by me, in italics. The headings are bolded, and I have also bolded new information.

B2 - 461 Dean Street, Modular Residential

During this working period:
• Work related to the erection of modules shall continue.
• Interior work will continue on modules that have already been installed.

Note that they are no longer indicating which floors they are working on, but the building is up to Floor 16, it was stated at a meeting last week. It's unclear why interior work is necessary on modules that are supposed to be delivered finished.

B3 - 38 Sixth Avenue

During this working period:
• Excavation and foundation activities have commenced & continue during this reporting period. Soil that has been classified as clean or contaminated will continue to be removed from the site as part of the excavation activities and brought to appropriate disposal locations. Additional equipment needed for pile installation will arrive during this period.
• Saturday work to address field conditions within the site may occur during this reporting period.

Note "field conditions."

Arena Green Roof

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

LIRR Yard Activities - Block 1120 & 1121

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

LIRR Yard Activities – Atlantic Avenue
• MPT [Maintenance and Protection of Traffic]
o 6th Avenue between Atlantic Avenue and Pacific Street has been restored to two-way traffic.
o Pedestrian crossing at Atlantic and 6th Avenues now takes place at the east, west, south and north sides of the intersection;
o The sidewalk on the west side of the 6th Avenue Bridge (between Pacific and Atlantic) will remain closed to pedestrians;
o The MPT will remain in place on the far west lane of the 6th Avenue Bridge from Pacific Street to Atlantic Avenue.
•  Excavation and hauling of soil will be ongoing during this reporting period.
• Support of Excavation (SOE) work including the installation of lagging and tiebacks will continue within this area during reporting period.

LIRR Yard Activities – Night/Weekend Work

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

Block 1129

• Vibration Monitoring stipulated by the Construction Protection Plan continues to be implemented.

B11 – 550 Vanderbilt Avenue:

During this reporting period:
*Superstructure phase of construction continues mobilizing on site, including a new crane that will be installed during this period, and use of a mobile crane related to this work. Other related equipment and materials will be delivered to the site for ongoing superstructure work.

The size and placement of the new crane is unclear,

B14- 535 Carlton Avenue: 

During this reporting period:
• Excavation and foundation activities will continue during this reporting period. Work includes drilling of tiebacks for the SOE system, excavation of soil to a depth of 40’ and the continued installation of lagging to the same elevation. Soil that has been classified as clean, contaminated or hazardous will be removed from the site as part of the excavation activities and brought to appropriate disposal locations. Protocols for the trucks entering and exiting the site have been put in place. These protocols provide instruction on roadway routing to and from the project site, queuing of trucks while on site and vehicle idling restrictions.
• A tie-back drill rig will be demobilized during this reporting period.
• Installation of spread footings and slab on grade is ongoing. A small crane is being used inside of the excavation to assist in concrete operations. A second small crane will be mobilized on the Carlton Avenue side of the construction site during this reporting period.
• Installation of foundation waterproofing and pouring of foundation walls is ongoing.
• Site mobilization will continue consisting of electrical work to power contractor field office and
relocation of light poles to outside of site fence.
Mobilization will commence on site for superstructure phase of the project, including arrival of a mobile crane and deliveries of material.
Construction of columns shear walls and cellar slab will begin during this reporting period.
•  An existing crane used during the excavation and foundation period is expected to leave the site during this period.
•  Saturday work as well as work up until 9 pm during weekdays to address field conditions within the site will occur during this reporting period. This work includes all work listed above.

The tie-back drill rig was supposed to be demobilized during the previous reporting period. And the second small crane was supposed to be mobilized.

How to Reach Pacific Park Brooklyn Community Liaison Office (CLO)
The Community Liaison Office is located at Atlantic Center Mall, 625 Atlantic Avenue on the 3rd floor. Visitors seeking the office should enter through the mall entrance located at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and So. Portland Avenue. The CLO’s hours are M-F from 9am – 4pm and can be reached by phone at 866-923-5315 and by email at

Noise Receptor Control Program
You may be eligible to receive and have installed double paned or storm windows and an in-window air conditioning unit for certain residential units where such air conditioning and/or double paned windows/storm windows do not exist today. The cost of any windows and any air conditioning units, and the cost of their installation, would be borne by the Developer.
The locations that may be eligible at this time are the residential sites in proximity to site construction and identified in the 2006 Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) or the 2014 Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (FSEIS) as having the potential to experience significant adverse noise impacts during the construction of the Pacific Park Brooklyn project.
In order to schedule an on-site inspection by the Developer to determine which windows may be eligible for replacement and/or AC units provided please contact:
Roberta Fearon
Forest City Ratner Companies Tel: (718) 923-5314 Email:
Irma Barrera
Forest City Ratner Companies Tel: (718) 923-5306

Construction trucks still using Dean Street, though it's not a truck route

As noted in posts yesterday on Atlantic Yards Watch, trucks associated with the B3 tower in the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park project--located at Dean Street and Sixth Avenue--are not supposed to use residential Dean Street between Sixth and Carlton avenues, since it's not a truck route.

But they do.

A cameo for Bertha Lewis in the plastic bag saga

From New York magazine, 7/15/15, The Fight Over Plastic Bags Is About a Lot More Than How to Get Groceries Home:
As a question of civic policy, the plastic-bag debate would seem to be a perfect one for contemporary New York, seeing as it resides precisely at the crossroads of bloodless Bloombergian autocratic problem-solving and de Blasian firebrand progressivism. Yet New York has continually lagged behind other cities and countries on the issue; for example, China, which is not exactly thought of as in the environmental vanguard, banned free plastic bags in 2008. That’s the same year that Mayor Bloomberg floated the notion of a six-cent fee on grocery bags, but it went nowhere. Currently, several City Council members are pushing for a ten-cent fee on plastic bags. But no legislation has been enacted. Bertha Lewis, a consultant to Mayor de Blasio and the head of the Black Leadership Action Coalition, wrote an editorial for the Gotham Gazette arguing that the bag fee “is counterintuitive, and hurts the working class and small-business owners that make our city strong.” Lewis was later asked by Capital New York to account for the fact that her foundation has received payments from the American Progressive Bag Alliance — that’s Mark Daniels’s [bag manufacturers'] group — and she responded, “That’s insulting. I think it is absolutely just the most egregious character assassination ever.
Well, Lewis--a prominent Atlantic Yards backer, of course--does have training in theater.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Hockey News: Islanders' deal in Brooklyn is unique, as arena guarantees annual sum; fan base shifting to Brooklyn (as with Nets)

The New York Islanders, from a business perspective, will not mirror the Brooklyn Nets, but they are reframing their fan base, as have the Nets, as the hockey team moves from Long Island. Not so many fans will move with them, but there are enough people in Brooklyn and New York City to pay new, higher ticket prices.

Essentially, the hockey team no longer administers or controls its own business operation, a highly unusual situation.
The agreement to move the franchise includes the provision that the arena pays Islanders ownership an annual sum to play at Barclays Center and, in exchange, Barclays Center acquired all ticket and suite sales, sponsorships, marketing and promotions and their revenue.
While Barclays Center (and Brooklyn Nets) CEO Brett Yormark confirmed that, the Islanders wouldn't comment. Nor would anyone confirm the sum, though last year the New York Post reported, using unnamed sources, that the guarantee was $50 million annually.

Reports Hackel:
“We did make a revenue guarantee – I’m not going to discuss what the number is – but the number, when we hit it, would only put us 20th in the NHL in revenue,” [Yormark] said.
If so, that number would be around $100 million, using Forbes’ most recent listing of the 30 NHL club revenues. After that number is reached, Barclays Center ceases sharing and keeps the surplus.
Glenn Gerstner, chairman of the Sports Marketing Department of St. John’s University in New York (and a longtime Islanders fan) told Hackel that Islanders owner Charles Wang has essentially outsourced his team’s business department, thus saving overhead.

Hackel suggests it's unclear how the arrangement will work for the team, especially since they can't raise ticket prices to pay for new players. (Current payroll is under $67 million.) Still, he notes that Forbes estimated the most recent team revenue figure at $83 million, with losses of $2.5 million, less than 2012 losses, according to the Times, of $8 million.

The $50 million is by no means the only team revenue. There's a TV deal worth an estimated $20 million a year, and rising, plus league revenues, perhaps $20 million a team, plus sponsorship and licensing fees. Thus, Hackel suggests, the $90 to $100 million annually would trump previous losses, as well as the previous $83 million, which counted overhead.

More expensive tickets, a new fan base

Reports Hackel:
Yormark says Islanders tickets at Barclays Center are roughly twice the price of a ticket at Nassau Coliseum, although the premium tickets include free food and other inducements.
That's a bit unclear, since the premium tickets are only a fraction of the total. About 25% of ticket sales "come from the established Long Island fan base, a larger percentage than he expected." (Maybe not a larger percentage than Islanders' fans expected?)

People from Brooklyn represent 33 percent of the total, with 21 percent from Manhattan. That's similar to the strategy with the Nets, which got a significant Brooklyn boost and fewer New Jersey fans than originally expected.

Indeed, unlike the family-friendly Nassau Coliseum schedule, with many games on weekends, the new schedule is oriented to weeknights--a corporate crowd, one expert tells Hackel--with four home games on Saturdays and three Sunday or holiday Monday matinees. 

That also cuts down on weekend traffic problems in Brooklyn but also kills some fan traditions.

The comments on Lighthouse Hockey's coverage included this message from a frustrated fan:
Abused By Barclay Already
I was a 25 yr Full Season Tix holder who got sucked into an 8 game package at Barclays. While I am not happy about it, I understand that I am paying $70 a game for the same seats that sell to full season tix holders for $55.HOWEVER, they never told me one of my 8 games would be an exhibition, excuse me, "preseason" game. That is BS!!! You can’t give those tickets away. I see them forcing the full season ticket guys into paying $55 for them but itSUCKS that they are ripping me off for $70. I see the legalese in my contract that says they may use a "preseason" games but I am not an attorney, I’m a Hockey Fan! But not a Barclays Fan! I am trying to get out of my contract, doubt they will let me, and I will never go again!!!!!. Already taking a lesson from Mr Dolan at MSG and abusing their most loyal fans…. I’m PISSED!!
by Dr Gary on Jul 20, 2015 | 12:29 PM 
Introducing the new home

The Times reported, 7/9/15, Islanders Still Touching Up Their New Home:
Water dripped from high above the ice on at least one row of the makeshift press area Wednesday, and the 10,000-square-foot space that will include the new locker room for the Islanders, who announced in October 2012 that they would begin playing in Brooklyn in the 2015-16 season, remains at least a month from completion.
Still, General Manager Garth Snow and Steve Rosebrook, the arena’s general manager, were beaming before the team’s rookie scrimmage as they led members of the news media on a tour of the still-under-construction rooms for the player lounges and fitness areas.
...Fans will need to carve out new routines. Saturday games — a Nassau Coliseum staple — will be nearly gone; the team has only four such contests next season, with two of them in early April, in the season’s closing weeks.
Most games will take place on weeknights, although there will be several Sunday afternoon games, including one against Edmonton on Super Bowl Sunday in February.
Then there are the quirks of Barclays Center, which features an off-center scoreboard, several hundred seats with obstructed views and the overall feel of a basketball arena.
...Barry Baum, Barclays Center’s chief communications officer, said 8,000 full-season Islanders ticket plans had been sold. On Thursday, tickets for all games go on sale to the public

Thursday, July 30, 2015

If first condo building will have private open space (maisonette court), what about the other three? Developer won't answer

I'll have a more extensive report from Tuesday's meeting of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC) after Board Materials are posted. But the one agenda item up for a vote--to recommend minor changes in the open space design guidelines--passed uneventfully.

Well, we all know that the rendering below of the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park open space is a bit fanciful, given that the concept plan from landscape architect Thomas Balsley Associates somehow includes street trees on the Sixth Avenue Bridge between Pacific Street and Atlantic Avenue, as well as the east side of Vanderbilt Avenue, which is outside the project boundaries.

At one point during the meeting Tuesday, Balsley--who made a presentation to the board that was well received--was asked by board member Jaime Stein, "Can you describe separating private space from public space?"

"There's no private space," Balsley responded, then corrected himself. "There is one maisonette that has private space shielded" from the public space. See item #25 in the schematic below--marked with the arrow--for a "maisonette court" associated with 550 Vanderbilt, the first of four condo buildings on the site.

A maisonette, according to StreetEasy, is a hot concept in real estate today:
By NYC standards, the current definition of a maisonette is a ground-floor or first-floor condominium or co-op apartment that has a street-level and private entry, thus affording celebrities or recluses a dwelling in which there’s easy and anonymous in-and-out access
In this case, it also has its own patch of green.

More maisonette courts coming?

If a maisonette is a profitable concept, and there are three more condo buildings coming, it seems likely that Greenland Forest City Partners is considering or planning maisonette courts for the three future condo buildings.

At the meeting, I posed that question: will that be the only maisonette court, or will other condo buildings have maisonette courts?

Forest City Ratner executive Ashley Cotton wouldn't answer, even after I rephrased the question to ask if they were ruling it out or in.

That non-response, to me, suggests there will be future maisonette courts. And the next iteration of Balsley's pleasant concept plan will need an update.

Deconstructing some Pacific Park puffery: not a park; not (mostly) over rail yard; not open 24/7

Solish (l.), via Bisnow
From the real estate publication Bisnow, 5 THINGS RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPERS SHOULD NEVER DO:
[Greenland USA director of development Scott Solish] also pointed out that Greenland’s Pacific Park project in Brooklyn will include an eight-acre park built above a former rail yard that’ll be open to the public 24/7 and help connect parts of the borough that had been cut off from each other, plus a new public school.
I don't know whether that sentence is verbatim Solish, or journalistic shorthand, but there are several errors.

Actually, it won't be a public park, but rather publicly accessible, privately managed open space. 

It won't be open 24/7--though there won't be gates, official hours, according to the project's Design Guidelines, will be open from 7 am to 8 pm (or sunset, if later) from Oct. 1 through April 30, and from 7 am to 10:30 pm from May 1 through Sept. 30. (By contrast, city parks are typically open far more hours, from 6 am to 1 am.)

Only pieces of the open space will actually be over the Vanderbilt Yard; the single largest component is the bed of Pacific Street, demapped between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues.

Will the green space connect parts of the borough? Well, somewhat, but mapping new public streets--and open space at the street line, rather than behind buildings--would do more.

As for the new public school, it will only partly meet the demand caused by the new residential population.