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Showing posts from 2017

Next Atlantic Yards CDC meeting: maybe early October

One forum where uncertainty about the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park timetable--with no new buildings planned--should get further attention is the next meeting of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC), the advisory body that's a subsidiary of Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority overseeing/shepherding the project.

Except we're not sure when the AY CDC, which is supposed to meet quarterly (but last met 6/6/17), is going to meet.

At Tuesday's bi-monthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life meeting, I asked Tobi Jaiyesimi, who serves as both as ESD's Atlantic Yards Project Manager and AY CDC Executive Director, about the next AY CDC meeting.

"That was actually on my list of things to do," she responded. "It hasn't been confirmed yet, because we are running into the ever problem that we always run into, which is the idea of a quorum, but we are hoping to get something scheduled for the first week of October. I r…

Same as it ever was (til January): BP Adams raising $ for linked nonprofit from businesses including Forest City

The New York Post's Rich Calder broke the story 9/17/17, Brooklyn president scrambles for donations before rule change, and I don't think anyone's followed up:
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is racing the clock to rack in big-buck donations for a controversial nonprofit he created to advance pet projects — all before a new city law takes effect in January that will dramatically limit such contributions.  Roughly a year after federal and state prosecutors helped shame Mayor de Blasio into shuttering his Campaign for One New York, which aggressively raised funds from people doing business with the city, Adams’ One Brooklyn Fund — which has also been the subject of multiple investigations — is set to host its first major fundraiser.  The deep-pocketed supporters invited to the Sept. 27 “inaugural gala” at the Brooklyn Museum include companies who have received work or have other types of business relationships with the city, according to people on the guest list. He go…

As FCRT explores "alternatives," there should be a market for part/all of the firm

A story yesterday in National Real Estate Investor, Forest City Would Attract Plenty of Bidders in a Potential Sale, notes that yesterday's announced sale of Forest City Realty Trust's New York retail portfolio (including Atlantic Terminal and Atlantic Center malls) was long in the works, but that the rest of the company could be in play, thanks to the company's 9/11/17 announcement "to explore a broad range of alternatives to enhance stockholder value."

Given its location in major urban centers, real estate analyst Paul Adornato tells NERI, Forest City “would be a very attractive target.” It also has unused development rights. But the "additional income potential" of projects in process, including Pacific Park Brooklyn, should be tempered by a recognition that that project at least has been stalled and subject to a glut of market rate units.

Beyond selling particular assets, an interviewee suggested that various large entities, such as Blackstone or Br…

Madison International buys remaining share of Forest City's NYC malls; considers roof deck and more opposite arena

Well, in January, the Real Deal reported that Madison International, already a 49% owner of Forest City Realty Trust's New York City retail portfolio, was aiming to buy the remainder of the property, and now it's official.

The agreement announced today (press releases at bottom) values Forest City's interest at about $1 billion; we'll see if that's deemed a good price or a sale from weakness.

Not only is Madison buying Atlantic Terminal and Atlantic Center malls, across from the Barclays Center, it is "considering the potential redevelopment" of both. Crain's adds detail:
[Madison's Ronald] Dickerman said his firm plans to invest "ten of millions of dollars" repositioning the two adjacent Downtown Brooklyn properties to bring in new tenants and make the complex a hipper destination. Included in the plans are an increased number of food options and the installation of a roof deck that Dickerman said would lure larger crowds from the Barcl…

No update on construction timetable; developer admits B15 site "disgusting," cites partial progress

OK, the hole in the sidewalk outside the B15 site was fixed recently, but weeds, garbage, and rats persist just east of Sixth Avenue between Dean and Pacific streets, given an indifferently maintained, long-stalled site.

After complaints from neighbors last night at the bi-monthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life meeting, even Ashley Cotton, Forest City New York's External Affairs EVP, acknowledged "you’re right, it’s disgusting" and announced partial progress.

Because the joint venture Greenland Forest City Partners is still negotiating with a site neighbor about construction protections--the issue in a lawsuit from another neighbor, which was resolved--"we’re in a tricky place," Cotton said, with no construction start imminent.

The building design was announced in December 2015, but delays surfaced in June 2016. Even if the neighbor issue is resolved, given the glut of luxury units, there may not be a business case for the planned 664 Pacific, wit…

The Islanders in Nassau: a "tease" of a return

So, the New York Islanders held a pre-season game Sunday at the renovated/downsized Nassau Coliseum--er, NYCB Live--and it sold out, with 13,917 fans, many tailgating in the parking lot. "Bring them back," chanted fans.

Does that mean the team, engaged in renegotiating its Barclays Center lease and likely bidding on a new arena at the Belmont racetrack site, might return to a shrunken Nassau arena, with few luxury boxes? Not so likely.

A tease at the Coliseum, wrote Newsday's Randi Marshall, who interviewed Brett Yormark, CEO executive of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, which operates both arenas:
Yormark told The Point he sees a two-phase opportunity: first, the Islanders come back for some games, perhaps temporarily; and second, if the team reconsiders making the arena a more permanent home. Both, he noted, would require “doable” improvements to the arena.
“I think yesterday was a great first step for us in what will be a multistep process,” Yormark said in an inter…

Outside B15 site, sidewalk hazard finally fixed (in time for tonight's meeting)

Hey, remember the photo at right, which I published more than two months ago, of the sidewalk on the south side of Pacific Street east of Sixth Avenue, outside the stalled B15 site?

It was a hazard and, actually, a sign of more blight than was found in 2006 by Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority shepherding/overseeing Atlantic Yards (now Pacific Park).

In this case, rather than the state authority using the broken sidewalk (and other sidewalk cracks) as a justification for eminent domain, the city Department of Transportation first tried abatement, ordering the property owner--in this case, ESD, though the site would be taken over by the developer--to fix the hazard or face a fine.

And the fix has been accomplished, as shown in the photo below, from late last week. Perhaps the timing of it all will be discussed at tonight's Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life meeting.

NY Post front-page: suits vs. Barclays charge too-dangerous steep seats

Everyone who's been to the cheap seats at the Barclays Center knows they're pretty steep, thus adding a measure of hazard, and in some cases a very cramped fit trying to get past those already sitting down.

Add in a full house, large people, and/or drunkenness, and the hazard compounds.

A cover story Sunday, posted Saturday 9/16/17 as Fans sue Barclays Center over ‘exceedingly dangerous’ cheap seats, states:
The steep upper bowl of the Barclays Center has prompted at least four lawsuits from folks claiming they were crushed by fellow patrons who tumbled over the harrowingly sheer, narrow, dark rows or stairs. The story is keyed to the latest of the lawsuits, likely goosed by the plaintiff's attorney, since this case, as far as I can tell, is not yet publicly available in the state court database.

(I couldn't find the other three alleged suits, either, which means either I need to look harder, or they might have been settled before they moved ahead. A lawyer told the…

Nets said to hire Cleveland announcer after "borderline scam" local auditions

Update: yes, it's official.

The news isn't official yet, but there's solid evidence, as NetsDaily reports, that the Brooklyn Nets have hired the Cleveland Cavaliers' announcer, Olivier Sedra, to replace the departed David Diamante.

And that suggests that the Nets' July announcement of auditions (see press release, DNAinfo coverage) was another public relations stunt, which generated coverage on News12 and in New York magazine, among other press outlets.

Remember, Diamante, already a pro announcer, was chosen after the Nets in 2011 held auditions that generated even more press coverage. And he got gentle treatment.

In comments on NetsDaily, one fan observed that "it's hard to believe that they couldn't find new talent right here in Brooklyn" while another remarked on the "number of talented people" in the borough.

Responded Net Income (aka Bob Windrem), the main contributor to NetsDaily:
and one reason we didn’t do much on the "audit…

An affordable housing estimate: 800,000 units needed by 2050!

On Bisnow, 9/14/17, the article Building Affordable Housing In New York Keeps Getting Harder contained a hard number:
"I do not believe anybody has actually stated how many affordable housing units are needed in New York City," said Jonathan Rose, the CEO and founder of his eponymous firm. "My guess is about 800,000." Most of the numbers surrounding the idea of meeting affordable housing needs in New York are astronomical. The city has added about 50,000 jobs every year since the Great Recession, driving up demand for market-rate units even in the outer boroughs. Construction costs are higher in New York than just about any city in the world, which makes it impossible to build new affordable buildings without heaps of government subsidies. Keep in mind that Mayor Bill de Blasio's much-vaunted Housing New York Plan, announced in 2014, involves 200,000 units over ten years, but 60% of that, or 120,000 units, is preservation.
So 80,000 new units is just ten percen…

Updating Forest City's latest move: Land and Buildings letter from April slamming continued family control

When earlier this year I wrote about  Forest City Realty Trust (FCRT), parent of Forest City New York, indicated that the real estate investment trust (REIT) was considering a potential sale or merger, I said it was in response to harsh letters from the hedge fund Land and Buildings.

However, I only referenced the first two letters but not the third, from 4/25/17, which, as Bloomberg put it, "said Forest City would attract numerous bidders if it put itself up for sale."

Ok, here's the letter (also at bottom), with emphasis added, headlined "Land and Buildings Calls on Forest City Realty Trust to Form Special Committee to Evaluate Strategic Alternatives":
Dear Fellow Forest City Realty Trust Shareholders:
It appears to be business as usual at Forest City despite the announcement of two new director additions.
Regrettably for shareholders, that means the Ratners are maintaining their grip on Forest City and the composition of our Board of Directors. The announcemen…

For Atlantic Yards Quality of Life meeting Sept. 19, another bare-bones agenda (green wall?)

A message from Empire State Development (ESD) reminds us that the next Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life Meeting--which aims to update community members on construction and other issues--will be held:
Tuesday, September 19, 2017 @ 6 pm
Shirley Chisholm State Office Building
55 Hanson Place
1st Floor Conference Room
Brooklyn, NY 11217 The typically bare-bones, agenda, below, tells us nothing about the content of the presentation. One thing to look for is any hint of plans to start a new building on the southeast block of the project by the end of the year.

If not, ESD is supposed to re-evaluate a longstanding request from project neighbors to move back a giant wall encroaching on part of Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues. It's said to enclose construction activity, but, in recent months, has significantly served to protect worker parking.

Also, by the way, if you search for Atlantic Yards on Google or the ESD website, it leads to this page for the Atlantic Ya…

In longshot Brooklyn bid for new Amazon HQ, a Hail Mary for Site 5?

It got a lot of buzz yesterday, accompanied by some chest-thumping rhetoric--“We’re going to bring it home, no matter what,” claimed Andrew Hoan, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce--but Brooklyn's bid to become the second headquarters for Amazon, with 50,000 jobs, has got to be a real long shot.
After all, the New York Times's The Upshot already suggested Brooklyn wasn't a realistic candidate, saying New York City wouldn't even make the top nine cities because of the high cost of housing. (Their pick, which factors in job growth, labor pool, quality of life, transportation access, and willingness to provide subsidies, was Denver.)

Still, as Crain's reported yesterday, Brooklyn landlords are banding together, pushed by the Chamber's Hoan and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams (see their open letter): Owners like Jamestown, Rudin Management, Forest City and Rubinstein Partners believe it makes sense to partner up to pitch the borough's …

35th District: clear victory for Cumbo in hard-fought race vs. Fox (57.5% to 41.5%)

Also see Gotham Gazette article on Fox.

In a low-turnout primary election with no shocks to incumbents (Mayor Bill de Blasio won re-nomination easily), incumbent 35th Council Member Laurie Cumbo won a clear victory in a hard fought Democratic primary race, with 57.5% of the votes to challenger Ede Fox's 41.5%.

The race is tantamount to election, though Cumbo will face the Green Party's Jabari Bisport, who beat rival Scott Hutchins by 31-4 votes, in the general election.
Cumbo and Fox essentially grew their 2013 totals, with Cumbo's 10,116 votes 33.8% more and Fox's 7,561 votes 36.6% more. Fox, who focused on the Bedford-Union Armory development proposal and distinguished herself from Cumbo on development (to the left) and safe-streets issues, was unable to dramatically broaden her base while cutting into support for the incumbent. (Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park was barely an issue, but Fox got significant support in Prospect Heights, where she co-founded the political cl…

Forest City says it's considering merger or sale transactions, among alternatives

When there's smoke, there's fire?

A press release yesterday from Forest City Realty Trust (FCRT), parent of Forest City New York, indicated that the real estate investment trust (REIT) "commenced a process to consider a broad range of alternatives to enhance stockholder value, including, but not limited to, an accelerated and enhanced operating plan, structural alternatives for the Company’s assets, and potential merger, acquisition or sale transactions."

There are a lot of assets to consider, so any prediction is speculation. But that could mean--just guessing--selling most or all of the firm's 30% ownership of the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park project, which has been an albatross, or finding another structure for ownership.

Greenland Forest City Partners, the joint venture involving Forest City and Greenland Holdings, marketed but was unable to sell part or all of three development sites in the project.

Forest City's stock has risen recently, as activist inve…

Barclays Center (and CEO Yormark) said to be victimized by Carton's alleged Ponzi scheme; Boomer & Carton Kitchen kaput

On 9/6/17, when federal securities fraud and wire fraud charges were revealed against WFAN host Craig Carton, who allegedly misappropriated millions in a ticket-selling scam to pay gambling debts, I wondered how long it would be for the Barclays Center to give up on the Boomer & Carton Kitchen, the arena food stand involving Carton and his longtime broadcast partner Boomer Esiaison.

Answer: not long at all. The link to the Kitchen on the arena website is dead, though it's preserved in the Internet Archive. (Update: the arena told Newsday that they had already decided not to renew the food stand. Who knows.) For now, the press release about the November 2013 opening remains still live, as is the arena press release.

So too is the video (below) showing Carton, Esiason, and Barclays/Nets CEO Brett Yormark, as is Carton's membership on the Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment Advisory Board.

Yes, Carton is innocent until proven guilty and, yes, his lawyer, to Billboard,…

From the latest Construction Update: not much new, but Carlton Avenue's getting paved

According to the latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update (bottom), covering the two weeks beginning September 11, there's no new work coming in this period, compared to the previous period.

That said, a close look suggests a few small changes. Construction of new yard tracks is said to "continue in Block 1121 during this reporting period," but was not part of the previous Update. That's the northeast block of the project site.

Open space work outside B14 (535 Carlton) was supposed to conclude in the last two-week period, but is now described as ongoing.

The announced repaving of portions of Dean Street and Carlton Avenue seems to have come to fruition, as shown in the photo posted by DNAinfo's Rachel Holliday Smith of Carlton between Dean and Pacific streets, outside B14 (535 Carlton).

The update was circulated yesterday at 2:11 pm (late) by Empire State Development (ESD) after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners.

Saturday and after-hours…

A new exhibition of Atlantic Yards-related art opens Friday; two panels follow in next month

"Block Party," a new exhibition of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park-related paintings opens Friday, 9/15/17 in midtown Manhattan and runs through Saturday, 10/28/17.

The work of artist and community organizer Peter Krashes (of the Dean Street Block Association), a neighbor of the project, the paintings--at least the ones made public--are neither agitprop nor documentation, but are far more project-related than the unmoored art hyped by the developers.

Location: The James Gallery, The Graduate Center, CUNY, 365 Fifth Avenue, First Floor.

The exhibition will be accompanied by two panels that discuss the project over the next month, as noted below, one of which includes me.

The description

From the Center for the Humanities of the City University of New York Graduate Center:
Please join us Friday, September 15th from 6 to 8pm at the James Gallery for the opening reception of “Block Party” an exhibition of paintings by artist and community organizer Peter Krashes. We invite the Graduat…