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May 31, 2008

Ouroussoff Can Still Join Fight Against Atlantic Yards

gehryarthur.jpg

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

The Times's architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff wrote a scathing attack against Bruce Ratner's and Frank Gehry's Atlantic Yards proposal back in March. In that attack he included this odd phrase:
...No development at all would be preferable to building the design that is now on the table. What’s maddening is how few options opponents seem to have.

We could wage a public campaign to stop it...

...
Today, Ouroussoff comes back with a review of another Gehry-Ratner production—the new Beekman tower design in Downtown Manhattan. We're not particularly interested in what he has to say about that building but we found this sentence interesting, especially in light of his March comment "we could wage a public campaign to stop it."

...His [Gehry's] plan for the colossal Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn remains a pet target of grass-roots activists...

Isn't that cute? Nicci O. recognized that there actually is a campaign against Atlantic Yards, which pre-existed his March article about his pet architect by about 4 years.

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Posted by amy at 10:01 AM

Gehry's Beekman Tower Gets Presented, Goes Street

beekmangraf.jpg

Curbed

The gang from developer Forest City Ratner met last night with folks living near their new Frank Gehry- designed luxury rental tower—the crinkled steel colossus at 8 Spruce Street also known as the Beekman Tower—and they brought along a nifty PowerPoint presentation to share more info about the underway project. Lower Manhattan's wavy wonder has already picked up a major endorsement, so it was nice to get the full scoop. But before getting into the nitty-gritty of the construction and the community benefits and the move-ins and all that fun stuff, can we take a moment to reflect on that Beekman/Gehry logo seen above? It was strange enough when Ian Schrager unveiled his high-brow interpretation of graffiti at the trés chic 40 Bond, but now Bruce Ratner and Frank Gehry want street cred? Guys, at least save it for Brooklyn!

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Posted by amy at 9:52 AM

The (relative) silence about the long-delayed Ingersoll Community Center and the breadth of blogs

DNIngersoll.jpg

Atlantic Yards Report

When, earlier this month, I covered (for the Brooklyn Downtown Star) the annual convention of FUREE (Families United for Racial and Economic Equality), which advocates for low-income women of color, many in the housing projects of Fort Greene, I was surprised to learn that the Ingersoll Community Center, under construction for more than six years, still isn't open, in stark contrast to the steadily rising condos nearby. The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), whose web site says not-so-clearly that the center has been "rebuilt," now promises it will open in the fall.

(Photo from New York Daily News.)
...
Given the paucity of press coverage of Brooklyn in general, I've said publicly that I'm less disturbed by the disproportionate number of bloggers--some good, some not--in Brownstone Brooklyn than by the fact that the Brooklyn bureaus of the city's dailies each have only a handful of people.

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NoLandGrab: For full video coverage of the FUREE rally, Episode 1 of Freddy's Brooklyn Roundhouse's coverage of the FUREE convention will air on BCAT at 8pm Tuesday, June 3rd and in Manhattan Thursday, June 5th, at 8:30pm on MNN. You can also view it on YouTube now.

Posted by amy at 9:29 AM

Looking Skyward in Lower Manhattan

beekspan.jpg

NY Times
NICOLAI OUROUSSOFF thinks that it's a hard knocks life for Frank Gehry in New York, as project after project is dumped or "disfigured by an enormous logo."

His plan for the colossal Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn remains a pet target of grass-roots activists.

But all is not lost from cute little protests! The Beekman Tower forges on!

The design has evolved through an unusual public-private partnership. In an agreement with New York education officials, the tower’s developer, Forest City Ratner, agreed to incorporate a public elementary school into the project. Forest City was responsible for the construction of the school; the Department of Education then bought the building from the developer. (Forest City was also a development partner in the new Midtown headquarters of The New York Times Company.)

The Beekman Tower is thus a curious fusion of public and private zones.

All of FCR's dealings with the government seem to be curious...it would have been nice if the Times had started out being a little more curious about Atlantic Yards.

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Posted by amy at 9:18 AM

May 30, 2008

Open space versus parks

Greater Greater Washington

This District of Columbia blog serves up Atlantic Yards as an example of development that is not "good for the area."

poplarpoint.jpg

The design for Poplar Point seems to do the best with what it has. Making the stadium stimulate activity in the neighborhood depends upon generating foot traffic to and from games rather than simply a lot of car trips to parking next to the stadium. The deck over the 295 freeway is a key piece, connecting the new neighborhood with the old one and the Metro station. The stadium is near the deck and from the drawing, I don't see any surface parking lots.

If the deck doesn't get cut for cost reasons and the stadium can in fact draw more events beyond the 33 professional soccer games a year, this will be good for the area. If the project morphs into something like NYC's Atlantic Yards, where one building after another gets "postponed" and acres of "temporary" surface parking will last for ten years or more, then we'll prove Fisher right. I hope not.

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Posted by eric at 10:19 PM

Atlantic Yards Aerial Photos: Interview with Jonathan Barkey

BarkeyAYFootprintHelicopter.jpg Brit in Brooklyn

Two of the leading documenters of the struggle to stop Atlantic Yards, photographers Adrian Kinloch and Jonathan Barkey, get together to discuss Barkey's recent high-altitude photo shoot of the project footprint.

How did you get to take a helicopter ride around the footprint?

The Municipal Art Society of New York commissioned an architectural team to generate new renderings of the Atlantic Yards project reflecting developer Bruce Ratner's recent admission to The New York Times that most construction will be postponed due to financing issues and the slowing economy. I participated in extensive group e-mail exchanges with MAS that led to the choice of shooting angles and ultimately, their decision to photograph the site from the air.

Why not use shots from The Williamsburgh Savings Bank or other tall structures around the footprint?

Believe me, everyone involved tried hard to get good photos from nearby buildings, since helicopters are really expensive. When MAS asked for existing images, I sent them a panorama I'd taken last year from a rooftop on Flatbush across from the "Miss Brooklyn" and arena sites; it was clearly too close but, at least, good for context.

The Williamsburgh Savings Bank offers amazing views from its higher floors, but the angle isn't quite right, and Forest City's own Atlantic Terminal office building blocks key parts of the site. MAS also tried rooftop views from State Street and farther down Atlantic Avenue, neither of which offered acceptable proximity or height. I championed the idea of shooting from the Vanderbilt Avenue end—to show most effectively what would likely become a massive parking lot stretching west toward the arena. That's the most shocking of the two views used in the MAS renderings, and the reason the website can be called "Atlantic Lots."

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Posted by eric at 2:30 PM

Q4 2007 Forest City Enterprises, Inc. Earnings Conference Call - Final

InsuranceNewsNet.com

InsuranceNewsNet has the entire transcript of Forest City Enterprises's 4th Quarter 2007 earnings call posted on its web site.

Use the search function to dig up references to Atlantic Yards, including the company's latest favorite lie: that it's 18-0 in Atlantic Yards-related legal decisions.

JOANNE MINIERI, PRESIDENT, FOREST CITY RATNER COMPANIES: Thanks, Chuck. We and our partners have been receiving favorable court decisions and now have won 18 separate rulings on the Atlantic yards project. There have been no adverse decisions.

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NoLandGrab: We wonder in what other ways FCE might be misleading investors.

Posted by eric at 2:17 PM

Second to no one

The Brooklyn Paper
by Gersh Kuntzman

A group of ornery Brooklyn Democrats has effectively said it would rather have no one representing it in Congress than Rep. Yvette Clarke.

Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats — a progressive liberal clubhouse — denied Clarke (D–Park Slope) its support on May 22, handing “No endorsement” a stunning, 52–48 victory.

The club is now led by Chris Owens, who ran against Clarke for the open seat in 2006 — but the CBID president (and son of the congressman whom Clarke replaced) denied that he rigged the clubhouse vote to embarrass his former rival.

“This is a cantankerous, progressive club and I made no behind-the-scenes phone calls against Yvette,” said Owens. “I did nothing to color the process in any way. The fact is that if you want our endorsement, you’re expected to vote a certain way. People have not been satisfied enough with Yvette’s performance.”

Owens specifically cited Clarke’s continued support for the Atlantic Yards project....

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NoLandGrab: We were on hand for that vote at CBID. The results had nothing to do with Clarke's defeat of Owens in 2006, and everything to do with her positions on numerous issues, including Atlantic Yards, which the club vehemently opposes.

Posted by eric at 1:59 PM

Pol sour on Domino Sugar plant proposal

The Brooklyn Paper
by Ben Muessig

DominoSugarRendering.jpg Another example of how there's one set of rules for Bruce Ratner, and another set of rules for everyone else.

A local lawmaker has opened a new front against the proposed Domino Sugar mega-project, demanding that the developers behind the glassy waterfront high-rises open their books so that he can independently assess the project’s finances.

Assemblyman Joe Lentol (D–Williamsburg) told The Brooklyn Paper that he can not support the $1.2-billion, 2,200-unit project until the developer justifies the need for two 30-story and two 40-story towers.

“If we’re going to have a project of that magnitude, I really want to see the facts and the figures that require them to build that high and that dense,” Lentol said.
...

But Lentol — who supported the much-larger Atlantic Yards project in low-rise Prospect Heights, despite its less-generous affordable housing component — won’t back Domino until he can eye the dollars.

“If they want us to continue to give them the benefit of the doubt, they need to make the financials transparent,” said Amy Cleary, a spokeswoman for Lentol. “They keep saying, ‘We’re making very little money,’ but they’re not showing us that.”

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NoLandGrab: Yeah, make those financials transparent. Just the way Bruce Ratner has, Joe.

Posted by eric at 1:40 PM

Yards foes extend hand to critic of Ratner and DDDB

The Brooklyn Paper, Letters to the Editor

We’re responding to Leon de Augusto from Bushwick whose letter was published earlier this month regarding the fight to stop Atlantic Yards (“This guy faults Bruce Ratner and Atlantic Yards foes,” Letters, May 17).

Leon, we agree with your desire for the broadest coalition possible against the Atlantic Yards proposal and to find common ground on related issues such as housing, open space and city services.

We’d like to invite you, your family and neighbors and all friends to join us in our continued effort to bring together all the communities negatively affected by Forest City Ratner’s past and current plans. Together we can make a difference!
...

We reach out to you, Leon, and the entire community. The developers and corporations have succeeded for years in dividing us along racial, economic and union or non-union lines. We reject those divisions and urge everyone to join us in our fight to save public housing, provide union living-wage jobs to our youth and community and build real affordable housing.

Claudia Massa, Chris Owens, Beverly Corbin, Mona Fafarman, and Daniel Goldstein

The writers are members of United Neighbors of Brooklyn.

Posted by eric at 1:31 PM

PlaNYC 2030 and the need for parking policy

Atlantic Yards Report

One glaring Atlantic Yards flaw ID'd by transportation advocates is the development project's thousands of planned parking spaces.

Last December, I described how Mayor Mike Bloomberg's much-praised PlaNYC 2030 contains a glaring omission, a failure to address the antiquated anti-urban policy that mandates parking attached to new residential developments outside Manhattan, even when such developments, like Atlantic Yards, are justified precisely because they're located near transit hubs. I called the current situation PlaNYC 1950.

(Ironically enough, the Empire State Development Corporation, which will override several aspects of city zoning to facilitate the Atlantic Yards project, chose note to override the city's parking policy.)

Last month, a year after Bloomberg's plan was announced, a watchdog group identified parking policy as among six administrative initiatives in order to implant the principles of sustainability into the city's governmental structure.

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Posted by eric at 1:20 PM

May 29, 2008

AY ten-year timetable realistic or p.r. scheme? ESDC, residents battle in court

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder delves into the most-recent lawsuit — filed in state court on behalf of apartment renters facing eviction — challenging the use of eminent domain for the Atlantic Yards project.

The Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) has filed legal papers asking for a state court to dismiss the lawsuit filed April 30 that charges that the ESDC’s willingness to give developer Forest City Ratner 12+ years to build Phase 1 of Atlantic Yards violates a provision of the Eminent Domain Procedure Law (EDPL). The suit also requests a new public hearing to evaluate the benefits of the amended project.

In arguing against the lawsuit, filed by 13 residential tenants in two buildings within the project footprint, the ESDC curiously claims that the courts should view Bruce Ratner’s May 4 Daily News op-ed asserting a 2018 completion date as more credible than his interview in the March 21 New York Times regarding the project’s stall, and that the penalties facing the developer for delaying the project are “draconian.”

Ten-year timetable realistic?

While the lawsuit, filed on behalf of petitioners who have lost two other suits filed by attorney George Locker, attempts to break new legal ground and thus must be seen as an uphill effort, it brings an important public policy issue to the legal arena. At essence is whether the project approved by the ESDC in December 2006, with a ten-year “anticipated” timetable for an arena, 16 towers, eight acres of open space and more, remains realistic.

The ESDC says it is: “Petitioners cite an exhibit to the [State] Funding Agreement that describes the draconian contractual remedies that would be available to ESDC if FCRC fails to complete established Project milestones by certain outside dates. The fact that ESDC could bring to bear certain contractual remedies in such circumstances does not change the Project approved by ESDC on December 8, 2006. Moreover, a change in the construction schedule would not be the type of significant change in public use that would require a new EDPL public hearing.”

However, the funding agreement does not address a starting or ending date for the 11 towers of Phase 2, instead leaving that to be resolved in yet-unfinished “Project Documentation.” The petitioners thus contend that the ten-year project “that was studied and approved by ESDC in December 2006, as having sufficient public purpose and public benefit, ceased to exist on September 12, 2007, when by agreement AYP [Atlantic Yards Project] became an uncertain project of an unspecified duration.” The petitioners charge that the agreement “was kept hidden from petitioners and from the public for six months.”

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NoLandGrab: Seems pretty straightforward to us that if your environmental review is based on a 10-year timeframe, and then the state turns around and gives the developer 12 years to build Phase 1 and doesn't attach any deadline to Phase 2, something ain't right.

Posted by eric at 9:14 AM

State Races To Attract an Economic Tsar

At Least Eight Decline To Take Development Post

The NY Sun
By Jacob Gershman

Hey, how about an ad on Craig's List?

DavidPattersonNYSun.jpg

Governor Paterson is struggling to lure a top-tier talent to take over the state's most important economic development agency, as pressure is building on him to settle for a candidate from within his political circle.

A growing list of heavyweights in the business and real estate world has turned down the offer to become the sole chairman of the Empire State Development Corp., which has been left in a state of limbo since Mr. Paterson assumed office more than two months ago.
...

The erstwhile prospects privately offered the administration a variety of reasons for not wanting the job. Some were unwilling to accept a public-sector salary or had business dealings that would be disrupted by their departure. Others are said to have been wary of the intense public scrutiny that accompanies such a high-level government position.
...

Compounding the concerns is the state's financial turmoil, which means a smaller pool of public capital and private investment in costly development projects. The development agency is already mired in setbacks. It recently scrapped plans for a $1,8 billion expansion of the Javits Center and has been unable to breathe life into plans for renovating Penn Station and for the construction of an Atlantic Yards basketball arena and residential complex in Brooklyn.

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NoLandGrab: Could it be that prospective "development czars" aren't jazzed about overseeing the dismantling of the ill-conceived Atlantic Yards project?

Posted by eric at 8:56 AM

It came from the Blogosphere...

Blogosphere117.jpg Here's what they're saying in the blogosphere:

My Slice of Pizza, Tour De Brooklyn
After this weekend's Tour de Brooklyn, one more blogger thinks that Bruce Ratner's controversial "Atlantic Yards" project is an actual neighborhood.

Today, I went on the bike tour of Brooklyn. The borough president Marty Markovitz, in his true Brooklyn accent, started us off. The tour went through a rainbow of neighborhoods: Atlantic yards, Crown Heights, Bed-Sty, Eastern Parkway, Bushwick, and curiously the Navy yard.

Bodega, And the Lil Debbie Award Goes to.....

BODEGA always pays homage to where it is due and deserved. We are awarding the Lil Debbie cake award to Addy & Ferro (our 2nd home) . Standing out can sometimes be a challenge, but this 3 year old Fort Greene based boutique has been standing strong and continues to bring the community fly threads.... Addy is also known for being heavily involved in the community, putting together book drives for children, supporting a NON Atlantic Yards, and pushing people to vote...for Obama (you can register there!).

Gray Wolf's Howl, Will Columbia Take Manhattanville?
From an article explaining the history of the Manhattanville fight against Columbia University's expansion and abuse of eminent domain:

Given the community’s misgivings about the Columbia plan, it’s not surprising that many expansion opponents have connected with residents of two other New York neighborhoods where huge development projects—Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn and Willetts Point in Queens—have sparked backlash against the use of eminent domain.

Daily Kos, In local news

Sometimes, in my rage at the Federal administration, I forget that local politics has its own fair share of disgrace. Case in point: the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn.

In case you didn't know, for the last few years Brooklyn has been victim to a rash of eminent domain abuse by the city and the development company Forest City Ratner. The company has enlisted architect Frank Gehry to design a vast mess of construction to sit on top of the rail yards at Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues, as well as on top of the former sites of many perfectly good residential buildings. The centerpieces of the project are to be a massive tower once known as Miss Brooklyn, and an arena for the Brooklyn Nets (currently the New Jersey Nets).

Of course, this is all financed by the usual shell game involved in pro sports construction.

Two architectural blogs recap the recent article from Architectural Record:
mimdap.org, Gehry, Atlantic Yards’ta yapacağı kulelerin boyunu kısalttı

Atlantic Yards bölgesinde 700 000 metrekarelik karma kullanımı bulunduran New York City projesi, ilk günden çeşitli tartışmaları başlattı. Projenin simge binalarından olan Miss Brooklyn binasının yüksekliği 190 metreden 155 metreye indirildi.

architectsjournal.co.uk, Frank Gehry cuts back New York tower amid financial downturn

The signature building of the 800,000m2 development, called Miss Brooklyn, has been downsized by Gehry from 62m to 51m in height due to the tough economic climate, but campaigners still believe the development is too big for the area. It is pictured here in its latest iteration.

According to the Architectural Record in New York, the building's use has been changed from residential and office space to 65,00m2 of commercial space and even the name has altered. It will now be referred to as Building One.

Posted by lumi at 4:38 AM

Financing Woes Could Doom Lower Manhattan Agency

The NY Sun
By Peter Kiefer

The latest installment in the continuing saga of redevelopment of Lower Manhattan mentions developer Bruce Ratner's Frank Gehry-designed Beekman St. tower, which will finally have its design unveiling tomorrow.

The agency responsible for overseeing more than $20 billion of construction in Lower Manhattan is in danger of being disbanded because financing from the state, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has not been forthcoming, according to several sources.

The hybrid city and state agency known as the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center is in charge of coordinating the development of the World Trade Center site, including plans for a new PATH Station, the MTA's Fulton Transit Center, and the construction of developer Bruce Ratner's 75-story Beekman Tower, among others.

The agency is facing a budget shortfall of about $9 million, according to officials from the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., which controls the Command Center. The Port Authority owes about $5.2 million and the MTA owes $3.8 million. Both entities are controlled by Governor Paterson.

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Posted by lumi at 4:37 AM

May 28, 2008

"Voodoo" actuary provokes firestorm, but "voodoo" economist for AY gets a pass

Atlantic Yards Report

"Voodoo economics" in Albany are causing an outcry, but when it comes to Atlantic Yards, they do do that voodoo that they do so well.

The New York Times and others have rightly made a big deal out of the scandal that an actuary paid by unions was relied on by the State Legislature in its estimate that a bill that would offer early retirement to city workers would not cost a cent. But a not too dissimilar reliance on a partisan source regarding Atlantic Yards raised nary an eyebrow.

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Posted by lumi at 5:37 AM

Ward Bakery Demolition

Photo by horseycraze, via flickr Atlantic Yards Photo Pool.

HC-WardStop.jpg

The Ward Bakery Demolition site is still inactive since last week's accident, pending the Stop Work Orders issued by the Department of Buildings.

See, http://a810-bisweb.nyc.gov/bisweb/OverviewForComplaintServlet?requestid=2&vlcompdetlkey=0001030430.

Posted by lumi at 5:22 AM

Beekman Tower

Forest City to Unveil Frank Gehry's First Manhattan Apartment Tower

gehrygetty.jpg Even though Bruce Ratner's Frank Gehry-designed Beekman St. tower has already broken ground, secured massive subsidies and figures in a deal with State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to provide much-needed classroom space, the public has never actually had a peek at what this tower would look like.

In an effort to gin up publicity for Frank Gehry's first Manhattan residential cloud-buster, the so-called Beekman Tower, developer Forest City Ratner will unveil the design in a ceremony on Friday afternoon.

The development will be Mr. Gehry's second in Manhattan, following his wildly succesful design for the IAC headquarters on 11th Avenue.

The Beekman Tower is slated to rise 76 stories between Spruce and Beekman streets, with 903 market-rate rental apartments inside.

The 1.1 million-square-foot building will also house a public school and an ambulatory care center for New York Downtown Hospital.

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Posted by lumi at 5:00 AM

Country Music Grows in Brooklyn

An unironic country scene flourishes, real-estate woes notwithstanding

The Village Voice
By Marc Ferris

Though country music is flourishing in Brooklyn, some of the venues aren't. Freddy's, in the footprint of Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards plan, is one of two bars with an uncertain future:

Standing in the crosshairs of the Atlantic Yards fiasco, Freddy's Bar & Backroom occupies a block slated for seizure by eminent domain. Newspaper clips about the $4 billion project's progress are posted outside, under glass; a sign taped to one wall reads: "Save the Bar, Save the Neighborhood, Save Brooklyn."

The décor is typical kitsch, but "Freddy's is a great listening room," Oscar says. "I scouted around, just in case, and there's nothing like the Backroom: It's located past a set of swinging doors, and if you want to sit at the bar and watch sports, you don't have to be bothered."

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Posted by lumi at 4:54 AM

tour of the hood

Photo by Tracy Collins, via flickr Atlantic Yards Photo Pool.

TC-SightseeingBus.jpg

If this neighborhood is truly blighted and has a serious crime problem, as the developer-funded, state-sponsored blight study contends, then what the heck is this sightseeing bus doing cruising by on Vanderbilt Avenue?

Posted by lumi at 4:17 AM

Owens: CBID's Clarke Non-Endorsement Nothing Personal

NY Daily News, "The Daily Politics"

Could simmering resentment of Yvette Clarke's pro-Atlantic Yards position be one of the reasons the Central Brooklyn Idependent Democrats didn't endorse the US Rep for re-election?

Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats' President Chris Owens rejected the suggestion that his club's recent decision not to endorse Rep. Yvette Clarke for re-election this fall had something to do with lingering animosity from his own failed bid for her seat in 2006.

"I'm not running, and it's an insult to some very independent-minded and cantakerous progressives to assume that I corraled their votes," Owens said.

Clarke's support of (Hillary Clinton) was a significant issue for some - particularly given Clinton's recent comments BEFORE the RFK gaffe," Owens continued.

"A possible shift of support for HR676 (gov't-sponsored universal health care) was another issue, and her surrogate, John Flateau, reiterated Clarke's support for Atlantic Yards. CBID is very anti-Atlantic Yards."

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Posted by lumi at 4:08 AM

May 27, 2008

The 50 Most Influential Minority Lawyers in America

The National Law Journal
by Michael Moline

Preeta D. Bansal
42, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, New York

PreetaBansal.jpg

Head of the appellate litigation practice at Skadden, Bansal has been counsel of record in the U.S. Supreme Court for a party or amicus in more than 20 cases at the merits stage and in more than a dozen at petition for certiorari stage. Upholding proposed exercise of eminent domain in 2007, the 2d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of a complaint filed by property owners opposing the Atlantic Yards redevelopment project in Brooklyn, N.Y., which included a new stadium for the National Basketball Association's New Jersey Nets. It was the one of the first significant constitutional takings case since Kelo v. New London. Bansal is an adviser to Barack Obama on outreach to Asian-Americans.

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NoLandGrab: Atlantic Yards critics and other opponents of eminent domain abuse are likely relieved that Bansal is not advising Obama on property rights policy.

Posted by eric at 10:49 PM

Tour de Brooklyn, 2008

TourDeBrooklyn2008.jpgPhoto, by Tracy Collins, via flickr Atlantic Yards Photo Pool.

This year, the Tour de Brooklyn passed the footprint of Bruce Ratner's controversial Atlantic Yards plan.

Posted by lumi at 5:42 AM

At West Side hearing, Brodsky questions subsidies, muses about eminent domain for MSG

Atlantic Yards Report

Last week, Westchester Assemblyman Richard Brodsky chaired a hearing of the Assembly Corporations, Authorities and Commissions Committee "to assess the status of various projects on Manhattan’s West Side."

For those concerned with Atlantic Yards, however, the story was Brodsky’s ongoing and unresolved effort to assess the proper level of public investment and subsidies in such projects, and the incomplete responses from government officials.

“We want to create the incentives to get the private sector do things they wouldn’t otherwise do,” explained Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert Lieber. “We want to use the resources of the public sector sparingly to create incentives for the private sector.” It was, he said, a question of risk and value.

That question deserves a close look in the context of Atlantic Yards. When calculating the value of direct and indirect government support, to what extent, for example, did city and state officials assess the value of naming rights for the arena (and other buildings) in the Atlantic Yards project? The value of luxury boxes? While not traditional subsidies, the opportunity for such special revenue sources was made possible only by the government’s backing of Forest City Ratner’s plan.

While Brodsky mentioned Atlantic Yards in passing more than once, and suggested that the state’s willingness to pursue eminent domain for AY means it shouldn’t be philosophically opposed to using it for Moynihan Station, he wouldn’t commit to holding a hearing on Atlantic Yards.

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Posted by lumi at 5:42 AM

Mayor of Willets Point: The last man standing

AM New York
by David Freedlander

Joseph Ardizzone, the last resident of Willets Point Boulevard, is featured in this article. New York City is threatening to use eminent domain to displace Ardizzone and businesses at Willets Point. The City has failed to improve the area's infrastructure for decades.

The Bloomberg administration is calling for a $3 billion redevelopment of the area, including a million square feet in retail space, a convention center, and a hotel. City officials have threatened to invoke eminent domain to push out reluctant businesses, and of course, the area's lone resident.

The plan is undergoing a land-use review by the City Council.

But the business owners say they are desperate to remain in a place, where there can be near their suppliers, and are looking to Ardizzone to lead the way.

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Posted by steve at 5:41 AM

Tax breaks, even redesign to lure NYC corporate tenants

AP via Newsday
by Amy Westfeldt

This article discusses how far government will go to subsidize large developments. The proposed Atlantic Yards development isn't mentioned, but it's hard not to think about it when it is also an example of development that would not happen except for massive subsidies.

Across the city, big development projects are slowing down or falling apart because of uncertain financing, making an anchor tenant's commitment a potential make-or-break factor, experts say.

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Posted by steve at 5:40 AM

Condo sales slumping, cities offer incentives

AP, via WTOL11 (Cleveland)

Slumping sales are forcing Cleveland area condo developers to offer free washers, dryers and even cars to lure buyers.
...
Forest City Enterprises recently re-launched condo sales with a 5 percent discount, plus a free washer and dryer. The empty condos hurt the city's tax base and drive down property values.

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NoLandGrab: What will be the result of Forest City Enterprises's build-it-and-they-will-come business plan in Brooklyn?

Posted by lumi at 5:04 AM

May 26, 2008

Memorial Day, 2008

MemorialDayFortGreeneParkSmall.jpg The Prison Ship Martyrs Monument in Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn.

Posted by steve at 10:59 AM

May 25, 2008

The FCE annual report looks like the NYT Magazine

FCENYTimesFormat.jpg

The cover of the Forest City Enterprises (FCE) annual report, featuring the highly-successful New York Times Tower, jointly developed by FCE subsidiary Forest City Ratner with the New York Times Company, not only uses the typeface from the New York Times Magazine but also is printed on paper of similar dimensions and heft, as opposed to the narrower dimensions of previous reports.

If anyone else did this, there might be some grumbling, but I bet Forest City can get away with it.

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NoLandGrab: Fortunately, this cozy relationship hasn't kept the New York Times from doing its very best job in covering the Atlantic Yards story. Oh, wait...

Posted by steve at 8:56 AM

Affordable housing DOA

The Brooklyn Paper
by Mike McLaughlin

Here is a story that reminds us: although a developer might tell you that he's providing affordable housing, they only get built when, and if, public funds are available to pay for them.

The leaner, meaner real-estate market has forced one of the city’s major developers to eliminate more than 200 affordable housing units from his 660-apartment complex in Downtown Brooklyn.

John Catsimatidis, the billionaire owner of the Gristedes supermarket chain and possible mayoral candidate, told The Brooklyn Paper that he is moving ahead with his project, which was halted in February, and that it is now no longer the mixed-income community he originally proposed.

...

He also couldn’t scrounge up the city and state affordable housing bonds, so he cast off those politically popular below-market-rate units.

The loss of those subsidized apartments provides a cautionary tale for other mega-developments, like Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards, where thousands of affordable units have been indefinitely delayed, that promises of below-market-rate housing are only as strong as the availability of taxpayer subsidies.

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Posted by steve at 8:45 AM

Continuing Sagas: Hudson Yards, Atlantic Lots, and Nouvel's Tower

New York Sun
by Sandy Ikeda

This blog entry contains multiple items including one about the proposed Atlantic Yards development. For those who may have missed it, The Municipal Art Society's "Atlantic Lots" site is featured, as well the recently announced redesign for building B-1.

Speaking of Atlantic Yards, the Municipal Art Society prepared a sobering slideshow called "Atlantic Lots" depicting the Forest City Ratner/Frank Gehry project 1) as it is now, 2) fully built out, and 3) partially built out. The first series shows the huge border vacuum created by the rail yards themselves, much like Hudson Yards, though without the additional border created by the Hudson River. The second strikingly conveys, in the context of the surrounding neighborhood, the "Emerald-City-turned-inside-out look" typical of mega-projects these days, again, much like Related's Hudson Yards proposal. The third, and most frightening, series shows the most likely scenario in the short and perhaps even long term. The arena-in-a-parking-lot look echoes the very Meadowlands Arena, nestled in the New Jersey swampland, that the NBA Nets have been trying so desperately to leave. And I'm sure FCR didn't pitch this thing to New York State authorities as substituting one huge border vacuum for another.

Frank Gehry's architectural response at Atlantic Yards to the shaky economy has been to radically alter the centerpiece of the complex, Miss Brooklyn. This Sun article discusses the changes and contains illustrations. Looking at this thing, what can you say but — Frank Gehry!

link

Posted by steve at 8:25 AM

May 24, 2008

Two more the Times got wrong early on

Atlantic Yards Report

Wouldn't it have been nice if they'd gotten it right? And shouldn't they correct it? Looking back at early New York Times coverage of the Atlantic Yards project, a couple of errors surfaced.

In a 1/23/04 article headlined Bid for a Brooklyn Sports Complex Faces Challenges From All Sides, the Times reported: The arena would sit on what is now the Long Island Rail Road's Vanderbilt storage yard. Mr. Ratner needs the railroad to move the 11 tracks crisscrossing the nine-acre site to the east.

He also needs the state to condemn four blocks to the east of the rail yard, which includes the homes of 864 people and businesses with about 200 jobs. (Emphases added)

As the page from Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn reminds us, the arena would be built over not just the railyard. Also, he blocks extend south rather than east.

The first error, as I've pointed out before, is particularly important, because an arena built just over the railyard would not have required eminent domain and the ensuing court fight. Still, the Times has resisted making corrections.

link

Posted by steve at 8:53 AM

New York’s Past Beckons the Future

The New York Times
by Andy Newman

EbbetsField.jpg

Recently, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced that double-decker buses may run on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue after disappearing about 50 years ago. This article takes advantage of the announcement to meditate on some of the different elements that made up New York City in the past that might also make a comeback. The somewhat light-hearted listing includes World's Fairs and Automats. Things get particularly interesting in a item that suggests bringing back the Brooklyn Dodgers.

THE BROOKLYN DODGERS Walter O’Malley picked up his ball team and went west partly because the government refused to use its power of eminent domain to acquire land for him to build a stadium near the railyards on Atlantic Avenue. But the state seems to have no such compunction these days, having begun exercising eminent domain to clear a path for the developer Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards mega-development next door to O’Malley’s would-have-been stadium site. With Atlantic Yards currently mired in economic woes, why not give the Dodgers a chance to come home? Even if half the city boycotts them, they’re still guaranteed to outdraw the Nets.

article

NoLandGrab: During the ongoing Atlantic Yards fight, project proponents liked to imply that building Atlantic Yards would somehow make up for the loss of the Dodgers. And, although it's not true that the State has exercised eminent domain, it's refreshing to see nostalgia used as a way to perhaps understand the ugly process used to try to make this project happen.

Posted by steve at 5:00 AM

MetroTech: A Vibrant Brooklyn Neighborhood?

An article in the most recent edition of The Brooklyn Paper is about new signs displayed near the pedestrian entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge. Much of the display concerns a map and accompanying description of nearby Brooklyn Neighborhoods.

WelcomeBkPaper.jpg

Surprisingly, a close look at the map reveals that, apparently, Forest City's MetroTech development, located in Downtown Brooklyn, has become its own neighborhood.

The map's description of MetroTech includes the word "vibrant", but it is neither vibrant nor a neighborhood. It's really just an office park, and an unfortunate example of a Forest City project: Built with the help of large public subsidies and the use of eminent domain, the area is completely out of character with the surrounding neighborhoods and is never very lively, particularly after 6 p.m. when the office workers go home and the area goes dead. It's likely that the main point of interest of MetroTech to a Brooklyn visitor is just how uninteresting a place it is.

Mtech.jpg

Posted by steve at 4:45 AM

May 23, 2008

Gehry Downsizes Tower Design for Atlantic Yards

Architectural Record
by C.J. Hughes

The architecture-business bible, perhaps inadvertently, hits the nail on the head.

NewAYPhaseOneSmall.jpg

Even Frank Gehry projects don’t seem to be immune to the current economic downturn.

Atlantic Yards, a 22-acre, 8-million-square-foot mixed-use New York City project that’s been mired in controversy from day one, is now scaling back its signature building, Miss Brooklyn, from 620 to 511 feet in height. Along with the downsizing comes a change in function: originally, the tower was to feature condos and offices, but the new design calls for just 650,000 square feet of commercial space. As such, developer Forest City Ratner Companies is also renaming it, from Miss Brooklyn, for the borough it will sit in, to the more prosaic Building One.

The high-rise has a completely new look. Previously, its facade was arrayed along relatively straight, clean lines, renderings show. Now, though, the glass-and-steel structure twists and tapers as it climbs, skewing its silver-colored panels at enough odd angles to suggest a house of cards. [Emphasis, ours]

article

NoLandGrab: Atlantic Yards suggests a house of cards in more ways than one.

Posted by eric at 8:25 PM

Demolition Watch: Carlton Avenue Bridge

Brownstoner
by Sarah Ryley

CarltonAveBridgeBrownstoner.jpg

The Carlton Avenue Bridge is five months into being dismantled before its planned replacement as part of the Atlantic Yards arena and high-rise project. Fortunately when we were taking this picture we didn't get stopped by some "SUV-driving [woman from New Jersey]" for taking photographs from public property (totally legal), but apparently that happens relatively frequently around the Atlantic Yards footprint. Construction on the bridge is expected to last another 19 months.

link

Posted by eric at 3:07 PM

Bay Ridge’s Atlantic Yards?

The Brooklyn Paper
by Ben Muessig

Congratulations Bruce Ratner, Atlantic Yards is now the poster project for stalled over-a-railyard development!

A developer’s controversial plan to build a Home Depot above a railyard on the border of Sunset Park and Bay Ridge has been abandoned until the economy rebounds.
...

Kohen’s development joins a number of higher-profile projects that have stalled in the aftermath of the sub-prime mortgage crisis.

Bruce Ratner has struggled to save his ailing Atlantic Yards project near Downtown Brooklyn. The cost of the basketball arena has more than doubled to $950 million, an anchor tenant has not come forward for the iconic Miss Brooklyn tower, and the developer now says only one of his original 16 skyscrapers remains in the once $4-billion plan.

And this week, developer and mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis announced that he had eliminated affordable units in his 660-unit project on Myrtle Avenue in Fort Greene because of the credit crisis.

article

Posted by eric at 2:28 PM

4th Annual Tour de Brooklyn

TourdeBrooklyn2008.jpg

FreeNYC

Dust off your bikes for the summer time and take a little ride in the Tour de Brooklyn. The Tour de Brooklyn is an exciting free fun family bike tour through 18 miles of Brooklyn. Each year the route changes to highlight the diverse neighborhoods of the borough. This year's tour will ride by Brooklyn's waterfronts, Atlantic Yards, Eastern Parkway with a brief rest stop at Maria Hernandez Park, continuing towards East Williamsburg and into the exclusive Brooklyn Navy Yards.

link

NoLandGrab: "Atlantic Yards" is still just a plan — not a place. But a ride past the Vanderbilt Yards and their environs could be educational for those not familiar with the details of Bruce Ratner's land grab. Regardless, the Tour de Brooklyn is great fun, and the forecast looks smashing.

Posted by eric at 2:11 PM

More fallout from recent Atlantic Yards letters

The Brooklyn Paper, Letters to the Editor

I certainly can relate to last week’s letter from Leon de Augusto (“This guy faults Ratner and Atlantic Yards foes,” Letters, May 17).

As an African-American living near the footprint of Atlantic Yards, I understand his feelings about the apparent “inner-city cultural divide” between the opposition and their “minority neighbors.”

I say “apparent,” because there are minority neighbors involved in the fight, but not in the numbers that we in the opposition would like. Check out photos of the events that have been posted to numerous Web sites. We people of color are there.

Augusto said that Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn “has failed to persuade [its] minority neighbors that Ratner is fooling them again, this time through surrogates,” but Ratner apparently has not fooled you. I’m sure you’re not the only one.

I urge you, previous letter writer Thomasina Millet (“Mixed messages,” Letters, April 26), and others who have not been fooled by the developer’s public relations campaign to attend one of the many fundraisers, movie screenings, public hearings, protests and other events. It will take more people of color to regularly show up at these and other events to make it clear that the fight is not about race or color.

We don’t need another Metrotech.

Tracy Collins, Prospect Heights



Leon de Augusto and Thomasina Millet should be pointed to a photoblog I posted from the Brooklyn Museum protest at http://kingstonlounge.blogspot.com/2008/04/brooklyn-museum-ratner-protest-card-i.html.

Not only were a wide variety of people of various colors on hand, but a wide variety of ages, economic statuses, and so on were in this crowd. It’s wrong to suggest that everybody at this protest — or everybody who is opposed to Atlantic Yards — looks like Daniel Goldstein. There are plenty “people of color” who oppose this project.

Richard Nickel, Jr., Weeksville

Posted by eric at 9:45 AM

Jeffries says Assembly should hold AY hearing; FCR instead offers breakfast update

Atlantic Yards Report

Hakeem Jeffries continues to talk tougher regarding Atlantic Yards.

While the State Assembly Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions is holding a hearing today on the progress of development projects on Manhattan's West Side, there's a strong argument for a hearing to assess the status of the Atlantic Yards project as well.

Whether that hearing, including representatives of the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) and developer Forest City Ratner, will get scheduled is another question. Assembly leadership--apparently Speaker Sheldon Silver--has so far balked, according to Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries.

Joint committee hearing

Jeffries, who represents Prospect Heights and the AY footprint, is a member of the Corporations committee. He said last night that he and two neighboring legislators--Assemblywoman Joan Millman, who chairs the Oversight, Analysis and Investigation committee, and Assemblyman Jim Brennan, who chairs the Cities committee--want to hold a joint hearing of their committees regarding Atlantic Yards, given the uncertainty regarding the project.

"I'd like to get all of them, ESDC and the developer, on the record, under oath," Jeffries said at a meeting of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council at P.S. 9 on Underhill Avenue. (Among the questions worth asking: how exactly were the generous timetables for the project determined?)

"There's been some resistance," Jeffries said. "The developer has offered to meet with legislators at a legislative breakfast. I think there's been enough back-room conversation."

He said hoped a hearing could sort out plans regarding eminent domain, the financing of the arena, the commitment to build affordable housing, and any negotiations to sell the Nets to an ownership group that would have them play in Newark's Prudential Center instead.

article

NoLandGrab: Jim Brennan also told a meeting of the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats last night that he intends to introduce legislation in the Assembly that would require Atlantic Yards to go through a fast-tracked City ULURP process.

Posted by eric at 9:34 AM

(Another) partial collapse at Ward Bread Bakery during demolition

AYWebCam-Collapse.jpg not another fcking blog*

Tracy Collins posted some images from the Atlantic Yards Web Cam that "possibly recorded the actual collapse" at the Ward Bakery building on Tuesday, May 20.

All of this will need to be verified, but a resident who lives across Dean Street from Ward's heard a loud boom, and later saw a worker being removed on a stretcher.

This photo is a detail from one of the posted images, check out the series on Tracy's blog.

Posted by lumi at 5:28 AM

Ward Bakery update: injured worker in good condition

Atlantic Yards Report

Several people asked me about what happened at the Ward Bakery on Tuesday, after a worker was seen being removed on a stretcher and a stop-work order issued.

Empire State Development Corporation spokesman Warner Johnston offers this update: "The injured worker appears to be in good condition and we expect him to be released today. He was immediately taken to a nearby hospital... and my understanding is that he was kept over night for evaluation."

"With regards to the cause of the incident, the investigation is still being conducted," he added. "I don't have specific information to share until the investigation is complete." The stop-work order suggests a rotted beam as a possible cause for the collapse of a section of the floor.

article

Posted by lumi at 5:26 AM

Springtime!

BA-GommLiason.jpg It's springtime in the footprint of Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project: the trees have donned their new folliage, fledglings are sorting out their wings and the Community Liaison's office is still there.

Posted by lumi at 5:23 AM

Two sides of Gehry

The Brooklyn Paper

From a letter to the editor by Municipal Art Society (MAS) President Kent Barwick about the group's love-hate relationship with Frank Gehry and Forest City Ratner:

The MAS criticized the Atlantic Yards proposal for its poor planning and the total failure of its public and private sponsors to meaningfully engage the public. The MAS presented an award to the IAC building because it was selected by an independent jury as one of the best new buildings in New York City.

The fact that both projects are designed by the same architect is immaterial. In the same awards ceremony, we honored Forest City Ratner, the developer of the Atlantic Yards project, by naming the New York Times Building one of the best new buildings in the city.

article

Posted by lumi at 5:22 AM

The Closer: Celebrating the year of men - in design

NY Daily News

Is is possible that someone really thinks they already live in Atlantic Yards?

To celebrate the opening day of the 20th annual International Contemporary Furniture Fair, one of the three biggest furniture shows on Earth, the world's top designers and architects mingled with guests among works of art that included nudes, orange industrial squares and small pools of water on different levels of a slate terrace.
...
Designer of the year Todd Bracher talked about American design making a comeback.

"Everyone says American design is dead," says Bracher, who recently returned from a teaching stint in France to open a studio in Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards. "I was born in Flatlands, Brooklyn. America is alive and kicking."

article

Folks, this is Atlantic Yards and this is what it looks like now.

If anyone can find Bracher in Atlantic Yards, that would be a story.

Posted by lumi at 5:13 AM

Marine Park Students Get Special Reading Motivation

Canarsie Courier

City Councilman Lew Fidler joined former New Jersey Nets star Albert King last week to show local youth the importance of reading in an event coordinated by Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC). Fidler and King read to dozens of students at P.S. 207...

article

Posted by lumi at 5:09 AM

May 22, 2008

Ward's Bakery: SWO But Well Beyond Salvation

Brownstoner

wards-bakery-0508.jpg

The condition of the Ward's Bakery building, illuminated by recent news of a Stop-Work Order, came like a splash of cold water in the face for Brownstoner.

When we snapped this photo of the rear of Ward's Bakery earlier this week, we did so simply because we were struck by how far along the demolition actually was; from the front, one would have no idea. Now, per Atlantic Yards Report, news comes of the project being hit with a Stop Work Order after a member of the demolition crew was injured on Monday. Other than remedial safety work, demolition may not recommence until the structural engineer gives the thumbs-up. And here we had deludedly held out hope that the recent delays and problems with the Atlantic Yards project as a whole might have opened up a window to save the historic building. Silly us.

link

NoLandGrab: The scorched-earth policy of taking down as many buildings as possible as quickly as possible is a tried-and-true tactic from the developer's playbook. Never mind that the state funding agreement established no deadline for the construction of Phase 2 of the project.

Of course, some of Brownstoner's pro-Atlantic Yards commentariat cites the "possible cause rotted beam" as the reason for the floor collapse that led to the stop-work order, willfully ignoring all the jackhammering, pick-axing and assorted other demolition going on in the building. Why, that parapet must've thrown itself off the Ward Bakery last April!

Posted by eric at 2:16 PM

At MAS, AY as an example of a neighborhood planning struggle

Atlantic Yards Report

When it comes to discussions of “David vs. Goliath,” the subject of a Municipal Art Society (MAS) Planning Center Forum on May 14, Atlantic Yards is an inevitable subject, though--as I’ll note below--the politics of AY means that more than one set of parties might consider themselves “Davids.”

The panel addressed the issue of “neighborhood planning in the face of large-scale development,” and planner/architect Stuart Pertz, in his introduction, noted that some projects are inherently large, and only work if built on a large scale. “Unfortunately, it often gets out of hand,” he said, suggesting that “Goliath in development has extraordinary leverage, using powerful lawyers, contractors, planners, and unions.” Then again, he said, “there are many Davids.”

MarshallBrownMAS.jpg A fair amount of the discussion revolved around the Atlantic Yards-alternative UNITY Plan.

Architect Marshall Brown (right), a developer of the UNITY plan for the Metropolitian Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard (and beyond), said, with perhaps some retrospective bravado, “Four years ago we realized we needed to have something in place for the probable occurrence of Forest City Ratner’s plans running aground.” He suggested that Atlantic Yards exemplified a “willful ignorance of limits,” including the physical limit of an eight-acre railyard, the legal limit of eminent domain, the democratic limit of ULURP (the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, bypassed in this case for a fast-track state review), and “finally, the all too evident limit of the talents of a single architect.”

He noted that he wasn’t dissing Frank Gehry, just pointing out--as have others, and even Gehry himself--that megaprojects require multiple architects.

Brown suggested that questions of sustainability and the “looming environmental apocalypse” meant that the Bloomberg administration should prioritize quality ahead of quantity: “I’d say it’s a city of limits.”

CandaceCarponterMAS.jpg

Lawyer Candace Carponter (right), a co-chair of the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods (CBN), described how the coalition, formed to respond to the Atlantic Yards environmental review, moved from officially agnostic to ultimately oppositional, joining a lawsuit challenging the review, and becoming a supporter of the UNITY plan. She suggested that the combination of a new governor, “detrimental economics,” and the Newark option for the Nets might provide an opening for the UNITY plan--though of course, that remains to be seen.

article

Posted by eric at 10:45 AM

The Manhattan Borough President stresses land use

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder surfs the web to evaluate how New York City's five borough presidents look at land-use issues.

As noted in the discussion May 14 at the Municipal Art Society, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer has advanced ahead of the other borough presidents in stressing the importance of land use issues and in training Community Board members on land use issues.

article

Follow the link for a look at the different borough home pages.

Posted by eric at 10:43 AM

Pacific St. trench

TC-PStTrench.jpgThere appears to be a utility trench on Pacific St. that has not been included in any of the recent Atlantic Yards Construction Updates. "Updates" are released bi-weekly by the Empire State Development Corporation and Forest City Ratner, in their ongoing effort "to keep the Atlantic Yards Community aware of upcoming construction activities."

This photo was taken yesterday by neighborhood photographer Tracy Collins, who posted another photo of the same trench further down the block.

A footprint resident contacted the Atlantic Yards ombudsman for information about the trench, but thus far has received no response.

Posted by lumi at 5:07 AM

May 21, 2008

Stop-work order at Ward Bakery

Atlantic Yards Report

[Updated: 11:05 am] Demolition at the Ward Bakery between Pacific and Dean streets was met with a stop-work order because the work is alleged to undermine an adjacent building and also because of an injury.

While the overview indicates it's been resolved, Department of Buildings spokeswoman Kate Lindquist says, "The Stop Work Order is not 'resolved.'” (The word is used by DOB as an administrative tool to track complaint dispositioning.)

She offered this explanation, "The Stop Work Order was issued on Monday after a worker, employed by Gateway Demolition, was injured during demolition work. The worker was brought to a nearby hospital. The Stop Work Order remains in effect. Workers are able to conduct remedial work to maintain a safe site – such as removing loose debris and tools – but demolition remains halted at this time. The Stop Work Order will remain in effect until the engineer of record, Thornton Tomasetti, fully assesses the structural conditions of the building and submits a revised demolition plan taking into consideration its findings."

WardBaerySWOMay1908.jpg link

Posted by eric at 10:15 AM

Brodsky on West Side deal: subsidy info needed

Atlantic Yards Report

From yesterday's New York Times, in an article headlined New Developer Signs $1 Billion Deal to Transform West Side Railyards:
“Until we get a handle on the level of subsidies involved, there’s no way to determine whether this is a good deal or a bad deal,” said Assemblyman Richard L. Brodsky, a Democrat from Westchester who is holding a hearing on West Side development on Friday.

Last week, I reported on similar comments. "Developers have learned the fight is about the subsidies," Brodsky said. "That distorting element is so powerful we don't know how much to give, what is proper." That, he said, makes it hard to assess "what exactly is the public good."

The same questions could be raised about the Atlantic Yards deal, where, for example, the amount of scarce housing bonds needed was not made public until after the project was approved.

link

NoLandGrab: Unfortunately, Atlantic Yards is not on Assemblyman Brodsky's agenda for Friday.

Posted by eric at 9:58 AM

Gehry's dutiful B1 charade and the marketing of naming rights

Atlantic Yards Report

In for a dime, in for a dollar--or many, many thousands of them. The opportunity to build his first arena, and maybe even "a neighborhood practically from scratch", means starchitect Frank Gehry dutifully participated in a charade over the name of the flagship Atlantic Yards tower, which is now--as predicted by me and NoLandGrab--up for a naming rights sponsorship.

article

Posted by eric at 9:51 AM

Brooklyn's Her Maiden Name: Ratner Offering Naming Deal for Atlantic Yards' Tallest Tower

The NY Observer
by Eliot Brown

GehryModel-v2B1.jpg Here's one we called a couple weeks ago:

Bruce Ratner is looking for a new name for the signature office tower in his $4 billion-plus Atlantic Yards project.

The Frank Gehry-designed tower was known as “Miss Brooklyn” until it was shrunk, redesigned and re-unveiled in April under a new, more staid moniker: “B1.” It turns out that that name, too, may change, should developer Forest City Ratner, led by Mr. Ratner, find a tenant eager enough to attach its name to the building.

article

NoLandGrab: "Find a tenant eager enough to attach its name to the building?" Forest City would be happy enough just to find a tenant that wanted space in the building, since it won't break ground until it has leases for at least 50% of "B1."

Posted by eric at 9:25 AM

Senate report warns of breach of duty in "done deal" Polytechnic-NYU consolidation

Atlantic Yards Report

Two-and-a-half months after the board of Polytechnic University (Poly) in Brooklyn voted to approve a controversial consolidation into much larger New York University (NYU), the chairman of the State Senate Committee on Higher Education has raised some serious questions about the deal, though it's unclear whether those questions--outnumbered by allegations dismissed--are enough for the state Department of Education or the Board of Regents to withhold their approval.
...

Poly, a small engineering school at Brooklyn’s MetroTech that draws mainly on local students, offers NYU, a Greenwich Village-based university with international reach, two things it needs: an engineering school and, crucially, land, including air rights subject to a letter of intent Poly has signed with Forest City Ratner, its neighbor and lead partner on MetroTech.

article

Posted by eric at 9:12 AM

A REAL SCORECARD

FCR PR: Lie frequently and often!!

Bruce Ratner Pants on Fire Atlantic Yards critics have been scratching their heads about developer Forest City Ratner's [FCR] claim of having swept the opposition in the courts (that's court of law, not b-ball), and their frequent trumpeting of their alleged 18-0 record.

Since there haven't been 18 court cases filed, we're assuming that FCR is counting court decisions.

Ratner may have "the math," but we asked Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn for the actual running tally of decisions, and found that the real math tells a somewhat different story, which leads us to the question, why don't reporters ask Forest City Ratner for proof of the company's outstanding record?

[The "journalism of verification" is supposed to mean more than just verifying that Ratner said what he said.]

Here's the tally, which comes out to 11-3 in favor of FCR, by our count:

CASE

Plaintiff

Defendant

DDDB et al v. ESDC et al,
Demolition Case

  gavel-red.gif

DDDB et al v. ESDC et al,
Appeal on David Paget Conflict of Interest

  gavel-red.gif

DDDB et al v. ESDC et al,
Court of Appeals Denies plaintiffs Appeal on Paget Case

  gavel-red.gif

DDDB et al v. ESDC et al,
EIS Case

  gavel-red.gif

Goldstein et al. v. Pataki et al,
Eastern District Eminent Domain Case

  gavel-red.gif

Goldstein et al. v. Patakii et al,
2n Circuit Eminent Domain Case Appeal

  gavel-red.gif

Anderson et al v. ESDC et al,
Rent Stabilization (RS) Tenants Supreme Court [Eminent domain (ED) violates RS laws]

  gavel-red.gif

Anderson et al v. ESDC et al,
RS Tenants Appellate Division (ED)

  gavel-red.gif

Anderson et al v. ESDC et al,
RS Tenants Denied by Court of Appeals (ED)

  gavel-red.gif

Anderson et al v. ESDC et al,
RS Tenants Appellate Division [Relocation plan violates UDC Act]

  gavel-red.gif

Anderson et al v. ESDC et al,
RS Tenants Denied by Court of Appeals (UDC)

  gavel-red.gif

DDDB et al v. ESDC et al,
David Paget conflict case

gavel-green.gif  

752 Pacific LLC v. Pacific Carlton Development Corp.,
Ownership/control case

gavel-green.gif  

Williams v. FCRC,
false arrest case, settled to benefit of plaintiff

gavel-green.gif  

TOTAL

3

11

Two Forest City executives who have been spreading the 18-0 lie:
Bruce Ratner
Joanne Minieri

Here are two reporters and one government official who have been lied to by FCR and should ask for their money back:
Charles V. Bagli, The NY Times
Simon Houpt, Toronto Globe and Mail
Avi Schick, Empire State Development Corporation

Maybe the reporters can get a correction printed, and hopefully both of them have learned their lesson about FCR PR.

In the end, who won what court decisions is of little consequence, when either side needs only to win at the finish line. Compiling this scorecard is practically a waste of time, except for the fact that Bruce Ratner and his troops are making a big deal of it and have proliferated this lie.

Posted by lumi at 6:38 AM

AreYouOnTheList.com

This marketing hook is so over-the-top stupid that we're speechless.

AmIOnTheList.jpg

Click the rotating banner at the bottom of BarclaysCenter.com. The link takes you to http://www.amionthelist.com, where you get congratulated for being on "the list" and get to enter your info to be "NOTIFIED OF EXCITING PARTNERSHIP OPPORTUNITIES AND EXCLUSIVE OFFERS AVAILABLE ONLY ON THE LIST."

NoLandGrab: [still speechless]

Posted by lumi at 5:01 AM

Brooklyn's bloggers show real faces

NY Daily News
By Erin O'Neill

Just after receiving props in an article about Brooklyn bloggers, only the the Mad Overkiller Norman Oder would go to the comments section to criticize the paper's recent coverage of Atlantic Yards.

Last week, the Brooklyn Lyceum hosted the third annual event, which was started by Louise ("Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn") Crawford in 2006 to put virtual names to actual faces.
...
Atlantic Yards Report (atlanticyardsreport.blogspot.com):Norman Oder's blog chronicles every detail of the Atlantic Yards project, analyzing the media coverage, city involvement and developer Bruce Ratner.

Click here for full article and comments.

Posted by lumi at 4:43 AM

Top development official to quit

AP, via Albany Times Union
By Amy Westfeldt

Avi Schick, the state's leading development official who oversaw projects from Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards to ground zero, said Tuesday he'll leave his post at the agency in September for the private sector.

article

This article also ran on CNNMoney.com.

Posted by lumi at 4:40 AM

Jeff Strabone — Bringing New Blood to Cobble Hill’s Leadership

Takes Helm at Cobble Hill Association

Brooklyn Daily Eagle
By Amy Crawford

Congratulations Bruce Ratner, your controversial Atlantic Yards plan is now the poster project for "iffy" development.

Jeff Strabone, the new president of the Cobble Hill Association, compares the controversy over the Brooklyn Bridge Park development plan to that surrounding the Ratner project:

“I don’t want Brooklyn Bridge Park to become another Atlantic Yards,” Strabone said. “With Atlantic Yards there are so many things that turned out to be iffy, that turned out to be not what people thought they were. It’s not clear to me who will hold title to the parkland once the park is built.”

article

NoLandGrab: What we don't get is why Brooklyn Bridge Park has to be "self-sustaining," while Atlantic Yards is on track to suck up billions in direct and indirect subsidies.

Posted by lumi at 4:28 AM

Forest City in the News

Amherst Bee, Boulevard Mall appoints new general manager

Simi Khalsa has been named general manager of the Boulevard Mall. Khalsa was formerly the assistant general manager at Southbay Galleria, located in Redondo Beach, Calif. Prior to joining Forest City Commercial Management, the mall's parent company, she worked for the L.Y.F. Foundation....

GuruFocus.com, Michael Price Buys...

Billionaire investor Michael Price buys stock in out-of-favor small cap companies that are of good values. He is the mentor of David Winters, who also achieved outstanding performances. Michael Price owns 105 stocks with a total value of $563.4 billion. These are the details of the buys and sells.
...
New Purchase: Forest City Enterprises Inc. (FCE-A)

Michael Price initiated holdings in Forest City Enterprises Inc.. His purchase prices were between $35.15 and $41.53, with an estimated average price of $37.2. The impact to his portfolio due to this purchase was 0.12%. His holdings were 17,800 shares as of 03/31/2008.

Forest City Enterprises, Inc. owns, develops, manages, and acquires commercial and residential real estate properties in the United States. Its Commercial Group owns, develops, and operates regional malls, specialty/urban retail centers, Forest City Enterprises Inc. has a market cap of $4.16 billion; its shares were traded at around $41.6 with a P/E ratio of 80.06 and P/S ratio of 3.31. The dividend yield of Forest City Enterprises Inc. stocks is 0.6%.

Posted by lumi at 4:12 AM

May 20, 2008

Open Look: New Jersey Nets

Possession Arrow
by Dan Waraska Jr.

NewJerseyMap.jpg Basketball blog Possession Arrow offers up an off-season checklist for the Nets, with recommendations for trades, draft strategy and... real estate.

(4) FORGET BROOKLYN: With the proposed Barclays Center in Brooklyn light years behind schedule, the Nets need to face the facts and realize they will NOT be moving to Brooklyn in time for the 2009-2010 season, the 2010-2011 season or EVER. They will no doubt be in the Izod Center until their recently signed lease extension runs out at the end of 2012. Facing the public relations nightmare of a Brooklyn move gone horribly wrong, Bruce Ratner should sell the club to someone interested in keeping the team in New Jersey. The new management should look to team up with the Devils yet again and take up residence in the Prudential Center in Newark. Repairing the fractured relationship with their NJ fan base should be paramount for the Nets in the coming years as they look to return to Eastern Conference dominance.

link

NoLandGrab: Possession Arrow describes itself as a "basketball blog that focuses on metric analysis." They've obviously run the numbers, and concluded, like many Atlantic Yards critics, that a Newark move makes increasing sense with each passing day.

Posted by eric at 3:49 PM

Calif. parks, NYC neighborhood on most-endangered sites list

USA Today
by Jayne Clark

NTHPendangeredsitesLES.jpg No, Prospect Heights didn't make the National Trust's 2008 list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, but the Lower East Side did. Why? The threat of overdevelopment.

The entire California State Parks system, New York's Lower East Side, and a Topeka, Kan., elementary school that help foment the Civil Rights Movement are on the 2008 list of "America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places," issued today by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
...

The 2008 list includes a number of neighborhoods, including the New York's Lower East Side, where buildings that figure significantly into the country's immigration history are in danger of yielding to development. They include former tenements, which the trust says, "had an impact on more Americans than any other form of urban housing."

article

NoLandGrab: Tenements once may "have had an impact on more Americans than any other form of urban housing," but their effect has been rapidly surpassed by that of the luxury condo.

Visit PreservationNation.org for the full list of endangered sites.

Posted by eric at 1:42 PM

ATLANTIC YARDS RATNERVILLE CONSTRUCTION UPDATE

A day late and perhaps a couple billion dollars short (but don't worry, Forest City Ratner will be asking for more subsidies), here's the latest update from the Empire State Development Corporation.

ATLANTIC YARDS CONSTRUCTION UPDATE
Weeks beginning May 19, 2008 and May 26, 2008

In an effort to keep the Atlantic Yards Community aware of upcoming construction activities, ESD and Forest City Ratner provide the following outline of anticipated upcoming construction activities.

Please note: the scope and nature of activities are subject to change based upon field conditions. All work has been approved by appropriate City and State agencies where required.

In addition to the activities described below noise attenuation and vibration monitoring measures are underway in connection with the Memorandum of Environmental Commitments dated 12/08/06.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact our project Ombudsperson at: 212-803-3233 or AtlanticYards@empire.state.ny.us.

Long Island Rail Road/Vanderbilt Yard Work

  • Continue excavation, lagging and walers at SOE piles in Southeast Gas Station (block 1121, lot 47).
  • Continue construction and debris removal from block 1121.
  • Continue hauling soil from block 1121.
  • Trench and install conduit in block 1120.
  • Continue demolition of southern portion of Carlton Avenue Bridge.
  • Prepare and begin foundation piles for cable bridge (in block 1120, parallel to 6th Avenue Bridge).

Abatement and Demolition Work

All work described below will comply with the additional oversight and protocols by the Department of Buildings (DOB) that were established on April 30, 2007.

  • Demolition is underway at 800 Pacific Street (block 1129, lot 25) and will continue throughout this two week period.
  • Demolition is complete at 626 Pacific Street (block 1127, lot 22); lot cleanup will continue.
  • Demolition will continue at 642-646 Pacific Street (block 1127, lot 30) within this two week period.
  • Demolition will continue at 640 Pacific Street (block 1127, lot 29) within this two week period.
  • Abatement is complete at 195 Flatbush Avenue (block 1127, lot 1); demolition will begin within this two week period.

Utility Work

All utility work scheduled to take place in Flatbush Avenue will only take place at night (between 10PM and 6AM) as mandated by DOT.

  • The first of three phases of upgraded water and sewer installations is underway and is expected to continue through the end of the year. Work will continue on Dean Street between Flatbush and Sixth Avenues and on Sixth between Pacific and Dean Streets. Night time work began on Flatbush Avenue at Dean Street and continued north along Flatbush. Work is underway on a new sewer chamber on Dean Street near Flatbush during the day.
  • Transit ducts on Flatbush Avenue between Atlantic Avenue and Dean Street will be relocated. This work is expected to continue over the next three months. All work taking place in the sidewalk will occur during the day. Pedestrian walkways will be maintained.

Posted by eric at 1:22 PM

Activist's tenure meets ironic end

NY Daily News

LadyDay-BP.jpg

A former member of the anti-Atlantic Yards group Develop, Don't Destroy, Brooklyn claims she was booted from the influential group during a secret meeting last year.

Patti Hagan, a public face for the fight against overdevelopment in Prospect Heights, compared the decision to eject her to meetings held by elected officials in support of the controversial $4.2 billion project.

"It's all been done in secret," said Hagan of the decision, made last summer, but only recently made public. "It's very odd because Develop, Don't Destroy, Brooklyn, that's the whole point, or one of the reasons it was created - because this whole project had been decided in back rooms."

DDDB member Daniel Goldstein declined to say why Hagan was booted, but defended the decision.

"DDDB restructured itself and dissolved its steering committee," said Goldstein, in a statement. "We are now governed by a new Board of Directors - five individuals we are very proud to have on our board."

link [scroll down]

Posted by eric at 1:11 PM

How build big in NYC? Not via the AY example, panelists suggest

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder files an in-depth report on last night's "Can NYC Build BIG Anymore" panel discussion, and offers plenty of reasons why opponents of Atlantic Yards won't miss Empire State Development Corporation President Avi Schick when he leaves at the end of the summer.

What are the right ways to build big projects in a growing city? Although panelists who spoke Monday night didn’t make the point explicitly, the answers they offered--public planning, realistic timetables, public ownership, infrastructure first, and media skepticism toward overhyped renderings--generally point to the opposite of the process behind Atlantic Yards.

The panel, titled Can NYC Build BIG Anymore?, was sponsored by Democratic Leadership for the 21st Century and held at Iguana Restaurant in Midtown. Notably, the acting head of the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) also offered a hearty defense of Atlantic Yards, adopting some of developer Forest City Ratner's talking points.

The question, panelists agreed, was not “can” but “how.” “One of the problems we have to confront is that people want to build big too fast,” observed Avi Schick, acting president of the ESDC, which approved and is overseeing Atlantic Yards. “Sometimes they bit off a little too much when they tried to push an entire plan forward at once.”

article

Posted by eric at 9:09 AM

Decoding the Daily News's belated story about Brooklyn Tech and AY

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder scolds the Daily News, which just caught on — sort of — that Brooklyn Tech is not going to be relocating to Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards.

Seventeen months ago, after approval of the Atlantic Yards project in December 2006, the Daily News massively overhyped--with the headline "Nets go High Tech: Ratner throws in new home for elite Brooklyn HS in arena deal"--a vague plan by Forest City Ratner to "work with the City, State and the United Federation of Teachers on the creation of a new 21st Century Brooklyn Tech High School, at a yet to be determined location in the borough."

There was no promised new home, and it certainly wasn't guaranteed to be Atlantic Yards. In April 2007, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle shot down any such plans, saying that influential alumni were opposed to the idea of leaving the largest high school in the country--prime potential real estate--and that the Department of Education had no plans to move.

Now they tell us

The Daily News should've responded immediately. Instead, more than a year later, we get a story today, disingenuously headlined Brooklyn Tech building not slated for Atlantic Yards. The article states:
A new building for Brooklyn Technical High School won't be part of the controversial Atlantic Yards project, city officials said.

"There's no such plan," said Mike Weiss, chairman of the Fort Greene school's alumni foundation. "Nobody's working on anything like that."

Developer Bruce Ratner had agreed to work with the city, state and teachers union officials, after the project won key state approval in December 2006, to include a new building for the specialized high school.

That's false. The plan was for a "yet to be determined location."

article

Click on the link to read about the silence of UFT President Randi Weingarten, and how the News buys into yet another tall tale from Forest City Ratner's spinmeister.

NY Daily News, Brooklyn Tech building not slated for Atlantic Yards

Posted by eric at 8:55 AM

Ratnerville Destruction Update Illustrated

Even though the Empire State Development Corporation didn't release a "construction update" this week, photographer Tracy Collins ventured into the footprint of Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project to bring you an update of what's going on.

[Click on the thumbnail images to view.]

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More photos are posted on the flickr Atlantic Yards Photo Pool.

Posted by lumi at 5:24 AM

Development Agency Is Losing Its President

The NY Times
By Charles V. Bagli

AviSchick-NYT.jpg Bruce Ratner's best friend at the Empire State Development Corporation will be stepping down in September.

Avi Schick, president of the state’s economic development agency, which is in the midst of a political overhaul, will step down in September.
...
After Mr. Spitzer was elected governor, Mr. Schick moved to the Empire State Development Corporation, becoming its president. He was responsible for the state’s role in rebuilding Lower Manhattan, as well as Governors Island, and the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, Columbia University’s expansion plan for Manhattanville and the Brooklyn Bridge project.

article

Posted by lumi at 5:14 AM

SAY WHAT CHUCK??

Though a Forest City September 2005 earnings conference call hardly seems like breaking news, Norman Oder reported yesterday that Forest City Enterprises CEO Charles Ratner told investors that they had been eyeing the Atlantic Yards project.

Chuck Ratner, CEO of FCE, said:

I will confess that it was less than two or three years ago we were sitting around in New York wondering where the next deals were going to come from. We had finished a whole bunch of office and we completed MetroTech and we didn't have the next great site in Brooklyn. That was one of the reasons we got so aggressive and creative, Bruce and his team did in this Atlantic Yards project. We saw that land sitting there for this last 10 years, realizing it would be a great opportunity if somebody could turn it on. We hope we've found a way to do that.

What's news about that, other than that it totally contradicts the delusion that Atlantic Yards started with a phone call from Borough President Marty Markowitz to Bruce Ratner?

This nugget is part of the mounting evidence that Atlantic Yards is a developer-driven project with only one developer in mind, Forest City. It also buttresses the claim by property owners who have held out against Ratner and NY State that any public benefits are incidental, perhaps even illusory.

Posted by lumi at 4:51 AM

Forget LeBron and rebuild Knicks pick by brick

amNY
By Shaun Powell

Powell handicaps Bruce Ratner's new Nets arena in Brooklyn in today's column about the possible future of Cleveland Cavalier forward LeBron James and the New York Knicks:

Let's all conveniently forget that LeBron is super-tight with Jay-Z, the rap maestro who has a small piece of the Nets, and if that new arena ever gets built in Brooklyn (my hunch says no), LeBron will be coming to New York, all right.

article

Posted by lumi at 4:43 AM

EarthCam Launches New MegapixelCam For Retail Developers At RECON 2008

Earth News

Atlantic Yards developer Forest City Ratner uses remote video to monitor construction sites and who knows what else. And now, manufacturer EarthCam, presents the 8 mega-pixel hi-def model with a windshield-wiper system, which would really come in handy during a rainy day for the much smaller, community-minded AYCAM. [Ok, sometimes size does matter.]

EarthCam, Inc., (www.earthcam.net) the leader in webcam technology, reinvents the webcam with a new advanced model that features 8 megapixel high def and live streaming video in one revolutionary camera system. This camera is the only 8 megapixel high def model available featuring live streaming video in a heavy-duty enclosure with a maintenance free washer-wipersystem. The breakthrough will be demonstrated for the first time at the EarthCam Exhibit # S8059 during May 18 - 21 at the annual ICSC international event that will be attended by more than 50,000 real estate executives, developers and investors.
...
EarthCam provides complete infrastructure services to manage, host and maintain live streaming and advanced Megapixel video camera systems for its corporate clients. Among them: Atlantic Properties, Barron Collier, Aker Kvaerner, Irving Co., *Forest City Ratner Companies, Trammell Crowe, The Related Cos., Inland, Kimco Realty, Vornado, Turner Construction, Tishman, Perini Building, Pike, Parsons, Skanska, Bechtel, URS, Disney, Coca-Cola, Ford, Sprint, Toyota, Panasonic, Yahoo!, Northrop Grumman, New York City Department of Transportation, Boeing, NASA, Bovis Lend Lease, Lockheed Martin, City of Chicago, GSA, Army Corps of Engineers, and Office of Homeland Security.

link

Posted by lumi at 4:21 AM

May 19, 2008

JAY-Z CAUGHT USING SECRET HANDSHAKE

TheBoomBox.com

This whole Atlantic Yards thing is finally starting to make sense...jayz_boombox_051908_400.jpg

On May 16th, Jay-Z came through to the Barclay's Center showroom opening in Brooklyn, New York to support his big homey Bruce Ratner. The music mogul and Ratner have been in business together ever since the rap star bought a piece of the entrepreneur's New Jersey Nets. The pair's currently working on a deal to transport the basketball team from Newark to Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards near Jay's old stomping grounds.

CORRECTION: The Barclays Center Showroom is located in Manhattan, at the NY Times building, not in Brooklyn. And the Nets would be relocating from East Rutherford, though Z and B-Rat might secretly be working on a plan to move the team to Newark.

They had some laughs and popped some bottles, but it was their oddly-gripped handshake (seen here) that sparked yet another round of Jay-related conspiracy theory.

Hova has long been rumored to be a member of the Freemasons, the fraternal organization known for their deep political ties and use of signs (gestures) and grips (handshakes). Past members allegedly include thirteen signors of the Constitution, fourteen U.S. Presidents and many of the nation's most powerful families such as the Rockefellers (ROC, mane) and Rothschilds.

link

NoLandGrab: We always thought the "conspiracy" involved secret backroom deals between powerful real estate interests and their enablers in government, not the Freemasons. But now we learn that the ranks of the Masonic Temple include, or have included, David Paterson, Chuck Schumer, Charlie Ebbets and Branch Rickey. Coincidence? Maybe. Or maybe not. The "deep political ties" certainly sound familiar.

We also see that both former Montana Senator Conrad Burns and Scottish poet Robert Burns were Freemasons. No word, however, if C. Montgomery Burns is a Mason, though this video proves his membership in the Stonecutters.

Posted by eric at 8:41 PM

More evidence about AY as a developer-driven project

Atlantic Yards Report

If judges were as probing as Norman Oder, we might be getting a little discovery by now.

More than a year ago, on 2/27/07, I wrote about how, despite claims by Forest City Ratner's lawyers that the developer did not conceive of Atlantic Yards, evidence suggested otherwise.

Let's look at two pieces of additional evidence, which seem to contradict each other. When the project was announced, a 12/11/03 New York Times article, headlined A Grand Plan in Brooklyn For the Nets' Arena Complex, reported:
Mr. [Bruce] Ratner said his effort began after [Borough President] Mr. [Marty] Markowitz called urging him to buy the Nets and move the team to Brooklyn.

The implication is that only upon the sale of the Nets did Ratner begin to consider development at the railyards.

"Next great site in Brooklyn"

But consider some more evidence of a developer-driven project. It's from a 9/9/05 Q2 2005 Forest City Enterprises, Inc. Earnings Conference Call (for sale) that representatives of parent Forest City Enterprises (FCE) had with investment analysts.

Chuck Ratner, CEO of FCE, said:
I will confess that it was less than two or three years ago we were sitting around in New York wondering where the next deals were going to come from. We had finished a whole bunch of office and we completed MetroTech and we didn't have the next great site in Brooklyn. That was one of the reasons we got so aggressive and creative, Bruce and his team did in this Atlantic Yards project. We saw that land sitting there for this last 10 years, realizing it would be a great opportunity if somebody could turn it on. We hope we've found a way to do that.

AY appeal

That sequence may be relevant to the pending appeal of the AY eminent domain case at the Supreme Court. (The court is still awaiting briefs on whether to even accept the case for consideration.)

article

Posted by eric at 8:54 AM

Launch of Nets' suite sales met with partial shrug

Atlantic Yards Report

AYRbarclayscentersuites.jpg

While the New Jersey Nets and Forest City Ratner put a lot of effort (Tiffany key chain!) into launching the sale of suites in the yet-unbuilt (heck, ground has not been broken) Barclays Center last Thursday, the media responded with what must be considered a partial shrug. The Barclays Center web site (right) touts articles from the Bergen Record, the Newark Star-Ledger, and the New York Times, but that Times article--as I failed to point out in commentary last week--appeared only online.

The media roundup includes several blog posts and coverage on WNYC radio, but the tabloids--which previewed the announcement in March--didn't cover the event. I think that's a recognition that the story, for now, didn't deserve more attention.

article

NoLandGrab: Interestingly, the dearth of fawning articles forced the folks at barclayscenter.com to post articles from the two big New Jersey dailies that were not altogether flattering.

Posted by eric at 8:36 AM

Not Mr. Gehry's neighbourhood?

A Frank Gehry-designed arena complex in Brooklyn is a target in New Yorkers's favourite blood sport - real estate

Toronto Globe and Mail

By now, surely, Frank Gehry is inured to the revulsion of others. After wrestling with the Spanish over his whimsical Guggenheim Bilbao museum, with Angelenos over his blindingly reflective Walt Disney Concert Hall, with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology over leaks in a $300-million complex he designed there, and with his own neighbours over his chain-link-fence-adorned house in Santa Monica, the 79-year-old Canadian-born architect is now one of the primary targets of community activists over the gargantuan Atlantic Yards development in downtown Brooklyn, of which he is the chief architect.

Conceived more than four years ago when developer Bruce Ratner purchased the New Jersey Nets and announced his intention to move them to Brooklyn, Atlantic Yards was envisioned as an instant neighbourhood: a 16-building, nine-hectare complex that would throw down an 18,000-seat basketball arena, thousands of luxury condos, low-income housing, and eight office towers.

The only problem was, there was already a neighbourhood there.

article

Posted by lumi at 4:24 AM

May 18, 2008

ESDC in disarray, says NYT; AY "not a done deal," says Barron

Atlantic Yards Report covers both today's New York Times article about the ESDC and yesterday's FUREE rally in Fort Greene:

In response to "State Development Agency Buffeted by Slowing Economy and Internal Rifts":

What does that mean for Atlantic Yards? It's unclear. Paterson has expressed his support for the project, which likely requires less state funding than some of the other projects, and he left it out of a major speech on development last month.

The Assembly on Friday will hold a major hearing on the progress of several development projects on Manhattan's West Side. Perhaps some clues about AY will emerge then.

From the FUREE rally:

City Council Member Charles Barron, a candidate for Brooklyn Borough President and a champion of the poor, got his own slot on the dais, preceding a panel featuring four elected officials who represent the immediate neighborhood. The one-time Black Panther began with a call and response, first “Black Power,” then “Latino Power.”

Then he declared, “Atlantic Yards is not a done deal.” The statement generated a moderate amount of applause, even though AY was not on the agenda. “We’ve got a whole new [city] administration coming in 2009." Some 150-200 people were in the audience at the time.
...
Barron suggested there were better uses for city money than “$100 million to [Atlantic Yards developer Bruce] Ratner” or “$100 million to the Yankees.” (Actually, both figures would be greater, with $205 million in direct city spending for AY.)

Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Barron said, “says we have to do 'more with less.' Tell [Yankees owner George] Steinbrenner to do more with less. Tell Ratner to do more with less.”

article

Posted by amy at 9:44 AM

State Development Agency Buffeted by Slowing Economy and Internal Rifts

New York Times
CHARLES V. BAGLI

For more than a year, the state’s main economic development agency, the Empire State Development Corporation, has been in disarray, plagued by turf battles, poor management and the political collapse of Gov. Eliot Spitzer, business leaders and state officials say.
...
A co-chairman of the development corporation, Patrick J. Foye, was one of the first officials to lose his job when Gov. David A. Paterson took over in March. Mr. Paterson has yet to nominate someone to run the agency.

Moreover, the governor has sent conflicting messages, preaching fiscal austerity while suggesting that the state can move forward on a host of costly projects, including the Second Avenue subway, the extension of the No. 7 line, the $14 billion redevelopment of the West Side railyards, the $14 billion Penn Station project and the $4 billion Atlantic Yards basketball arena and residential complex in Brooklyn.

A senior adviser to Mr. Paterson rejected the idea that the administration had sent mixed messages, saying the governor would not commit to projects that the state cannot afford. The official, who was not authorized to be quoted by name, also said the administration planned to release plans for revamping the agency. As part of that overhaul, Mr. Paterson will eliminate one of Mr. Spitzer’s more contentious innovations: dividing the corporation’s leadership into downstate and upstate leaders.

article

Posted by amy at 9:39 AM

New Rochelle, developer reach agreement to overhaul Echo Bay waterfront

LoHud.com
Gerald McKinstry

Forest City's $450 million plan calls for a 300-room hotel, 150,000 square feet of retail, 600 luxury apartments, 62 waterfront townhomes, 42 condominiums and parkland. It includes cleanup of contaminated land there.

In lieu of salvaging the Armory, the developer has proposed a new 20,000-square-foot community center that pays homage to the existing military building built in 1931.

Homage - that sounds even nicer than buildings that “speak to the residential fabric of the neighborhood.”

Saving the Armory is neither feasible nor compatible with Forest City's plans if it is to create 5 acres of open space on the waterfront, said Abe Naparstek, director of development.

Naparstek said the council's vote on the agreement was an important one and that it was "important we have support from the majority of the council."

article

Posted by amy at 9:23 AM

May 17, 2008

Billionaire Land Grab Crashes

ripindy5.08.jpg

The Indypendent
Daniel Goldstein

NoLandGrab: It's not the Daily News, but Daniel Goldstein gets a public venue for a fiery rebuttal to Ratner's op-ed:

Bruce Ratner’s $4 billion, 22-acre, 16-skyscraper Atlantic Yards proposal is in jeopardy due to a perfect storm: turmoil in the credit markets, the demise of the real estate boom, the astronomical increases in construction material costs, a lack of available tax-free housing subsidies, relentless community opposition and vigorous state and federal litigation.

Ratner’s dream of carrying out the largest development plan by a single developer in New York City’s history is on the precipice of failure. Despite this, the Empire State Development Corporation lets Ratner continue his scorched-earth demolition tactics. They continue the charade that the project that had been approved can still be built. It can’t.

But failure is a likely outcome when a developer proposes to demolish and remake a whole neighborhood, abuse eminent domain and subvert democratic processes, all with the support of $2 billion in direct and indirect taxpayer subsidies. And now the developer says he would “need more” subsidies.

article

Posted by amy at 10:15 AM

Grassroots Preservation Award for DDDB from the Historic Districts Council

hdcawarddddb.jpg

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Last night Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn was honored to receive the Grassroots Preservation Award from the Historic Districts Council. We'd like to thank HDC for the award and recognition of our work. And we'd like to thank all of our donors, volunteers and supporters for everything they have contributed to the fight over the past 4 years.

link

Posted by amy at 10:11 AM

HDC Honors Duffield Defenders

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Duffield St. Underground

The Historic Districts Council honored the Duffield Street coalition yesterday at their 2008 Grassroots Preservation Awards. The event got off to a strong start with Reverend Billy, who gave a rousing defense of the importance of free speech icons such as Union Square. Here is a video of Rev. Billy's defense of public space, or as he would say, Preservaluliah. The other awardees were Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, DUMBO Neighborhood Association, Juniper Park Civic Association, Council Member Jessica Lappin and Brownstoner.

link

Posted by amy at 10:07 AM

AY's "modern blueprint" and today's reality

Atlantic Yards Report looks back in time at Nicholas Confessore's NY Times article from October 2005, "To Build Arena in Brooklyn, Developer First Builds Bridges:" ayrtimes5.08.jpg

Yes, Forest City Ratner was successful in gaining approval for the project. However, the expected results, and benefits, seem to be out of the control of those who approved it. And we know a little more about how to "nourish" and "harvest" community backing.

It doesn't look like as much of a modern blueprint now, especially since Forest City Ratner, post-approval, wants supporters to "reach out" to public officials.

article

Posted by amy at 10:00 AM

Markowitz and Chief Of Staff Scissura — B’klyn Dynamic Duo

scissura5.08.jpg

Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Harold Egeln

Marty Markowitz seems to have some new competition for biggest cheerleader:

It might be said that not since the Brooklyn Dodgers has the borough had a team as dynamic as Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and his new Chief of Staff Carlo Scissura. “This is the best office and place I’ve ever worked at. Marty gave me an opportunity to showcase my talents and it’s my opportunity to give back to the people of Brooklyn,” said Scissura, on the job since early April. “The borough president is much more than a cheerleader. He is a great manager and effective leader for Brooklyn.”

It looks like someone's in love, and it's not Marty on his first date:

Such projects as Atlantic Yards complex, the Loew’s Kings Theater restoration and the Asser Levy Park amphitheater are moving ahead despite the economic slowdown, Scissura and Markowitz said. “The Loew’s movie palace is a gorgeous building. In fact, it’s where Marty had his first date,” Scissura said. “When finished, it will be a huge cultural center on Flatbush Avenue, with over 3,000 seats for events for the community and schools.”

On Atlantic Yards, Scissura said that the borough president’s office “is committed to it.” “It will give us not only the Nets, but a huge space for school basketball teams which we now lack. The biggest thing we have with the complex is to ensure that there is enough affordable housing in the project.”

article
NoLandGrab: Trying to keep that affordable housing in the plan is going to seriously limit the time available for fawning...

Posted by amy at 9:16 AM

TODAY: Mega Stoop Sale Benefit

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Spring Cleaning? Donate Your Rummage...

Please DONATE and VOLUNTEER for a day of Thrifty Shopping to raise money for Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn's court cases against the Atlantic Yards project and eminent domain abuse.

BRING YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS to a Stoop Sale of arts & crafts, books, music & media, lightly-used clothing, household items, small furniture, and more.

Saturday May 17th
10 AM to 4 PM
At 622 Carlton Avenue [map]

** You can bring items to the Mega Stoop Sale on Saturday May 17th after 9:30AM.

And you can come shop for stoop treasures from 10 - 4.

link

Posted by amy at 9:09 AM

EXTRA: First "bunker suite" SOLD to Jay-Z!

Like much of the hype surrounding the Nets arena, this week's launch of luxury suite sales was impeccably choreographed and staged.

snakeoil.gif For instance, on Thursday morning, The Newark Star-Ledger reported:

Tonight, the Nets will host a party for more than 120 people, including dozens of corporate chief executives and the hip hop impresario Jay-Z, who is considering buying a suite, according to the team's spokesman, Barry Baum.

So, Jay-Z is "considering" buying a bunker suite? Ooh, wonder what he's going to decide.

On Friday, ESPN The Magazine followed up:

Jay-Z was announced to be the first owner of a "bunker suite," one of 12 "event level" spaces that actually has no direct view of the courts, but is tucked between the home and visting teams locker rooms.

Wow, who woulda guessed!

Are we really supposed to believe that sometime Thursday, just in time for Bruce Ratner's luxury suites rollout party, NJ Nets minority owner Jay-Z finally made up his mind to purchase one of those "bunker suites?"

Is Ratner selling suites or snake oil? The sales tactics are pretty much the same.

Posted by lumi at 7:12 AM

May 16, 2008

"Street to seat brand domination" absent from AY renderings

Atlantic Yards Report

The Sports Business Journal article published Monday on six founding partners for the planned Barclays Center arena said the Nets promise “street to seat brand domination.”
“We’ll have very little static signage,” [Nets CEO Brett] Yormark said. “From the street or subway to the marquee and inside the bowl, only one brand will be visible at a time. The marketers we are talking to want fewer relationships that are more dominant. [Building architect] Frank Gehry did not want to overcommercialize this building, but he wanted to provide ownership for those brands that want to get involved.”

Also, there will be a “construction activation platform” with signage, countdown clocks and other media in which partners will be identified.

However, the new renderings produced by Gehry show no commercial signage (nor "construction activitation platform"), even though signs could be 150 feet high and 75 feet wide. Also, Gehry once wanted to make sure that arena signage had a social function, used for art and community purposes, but that has fallen by the wayside. And the developer has pledged that signage would be relegated to games, a promise that deserves further scrutiny.

article

Posted by eric at 7:02 PM

A SUITE GROWS IN, UM, MANHATTAN

ESPN The Magazine
by Otto Strong

JayZandBruceESPNMag.jpg

The New Jersey Nets took one step closer to Brooklyn Thursday, even if the stopover came in the form of a showroom high above midtown. Team brass rolled out a living, breathing life-size version of what the suite experience will look and feel like in a new sales center on the 38th floor of The New York Times building.

The Celtics may have this season's Big Three, but the the Big Three who served as MCs for Thursday night's event—Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and Nets owners Bruce Ratner and Jay-Z—brought the one liners with them.
...

Jay-Z was announced to be the first owner of a "bunker suite," one of 12 "event level" spaces that actually has no direct view of the courts, but is tucked between the home and visting teams locker rooms. At 500-square feet, these suites are larger than many Manhattan apartments. And at $540,000, they're just about as expensive, too. Aside from having a sophisticated décor that rivals trendier dwellings in the city, these suites include private bathrooms, multiple flat panel HD-LCD TVs and even a regulation pool table. Also included are eight courtside seats per suite, ya know, just in case you feel like checking out LeBron in person.

article

NoLandGrab: We're pretty certain that Forest City Ratner misses the irony of selling "bunker suites" in an arena that they swore was completely secure — before they re-designed it to eliminate most of the not-so-safe-looking glass façade.

Posted by eric at 2:09 PM

The Kitchen Sink

The Brooklyn Paper

Boroughwide: Hypocrisy alert! Our friends at the Municipal Art Society — who opposed the Frank Gehry-designed Atlantic Yards project — seem to have no problem with the starchitect’s IAC Building on the West Side of Manhattan. The Society just awarded Gehry as a co-winner (with Renzo Piano) of its MASterwork award for best new building. We wonder if they’ll do the same for Miss Brooklyn when (or, more accurately, if) she’s built at the corner of Flatbush and Atlantic. …

article [scroll down]

Posted by eric at 2:03 PM

No More Chafing Dishes!

DDDB.net

nochafing.jpgWhile the Nets did their best to lay on the hype yesterday while kicking of sales of non-existent luxury suites, Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn homed in on the most impressive of all the promised bells and whistles:

Atlantic Yards started out in December 2003 with this slogan: "Jobs, Housing and Hoops." Now?

"NO MORE CHAFING DISHES!"

From WNYC-radio's preview of tonight's Barclays Center luxury skybox party:

...Nets President Brett Yormark says the amenities [of the arena's luxury skyboxes) are [to] be a big draw.

YORMARK: Cork floors, induction burners. No more chafing dishes with fire underneath. So a little bit of technology there. Frank Gehry designed lighting fixtures...

link

More DDDB reaction to the Barclays Center luxury-suite-a-thon sales event:

Poor Attendance Modeled for Atlantic Yards

Auto-oriented Atlantic Yards

Posted by eric at 1:00 PM

By the numbers

Bergen Record

The Nets kicked off sales Thursday of a portion of their luxury suites for the proposed Barclays Center, which they hope to open in Brooklyn by the end of 2010. Some seating facts:

64 "Level A" luxury suites, priced at $190,000 to $450,000

54 "Level B" luxury suites, priced at $155,000 to $400,000

12 Court-level "bunker" suites, priced at $540,000

3,200 Premium "club" seats, price not set but probably more than $150 per game

2,000 Upper-level seats for $15

link

NoLandGrab: Interesting that the Nets also remembered to promote the promised 2,000 $15 seats. Those, of course, won't be on sale for a very long time. Most likely, though, they'll be available much, much sooner than any of the units listed below.

AYHousingBands.jpg

Posted by eric at 12:22 PM

Nets are selling the luxury side of their dream arena

Bergen Record
by John Brennan

The New Jersey Nets, who vow to move to Brooklyn in two years, kicked off a critical phase of that effort Thursday with the opening of a sales center in midtown Manhattan.

"We've been saying that Brooklyn has been real for years, and it is real, but this truly is another validation for us," Chief Executive Officer Brett Yormark said during a media tour of the sales office, which includes a 500-square-foot replica of one of the 130 luxury suites at the proposed $950 million Barclays Center.

NoLandGrab: Pinch me! Brooklyn is real!

"We've got hot prospects that we'll be talking to over the next 30 to 60 days, who have been waiting to be able to come in and walk through a suite," said Yormark, who returned to the Nets after gaining a national reputation for his sponsorship and marketing success at NASCAR. "We've got people what I call 'teed up and ready to go,' and [Thursday's events for corporate leaders] could be a closer for them."

Given the current economy, Nets owners may need every bit of Yormark's sales talents to entice major corporations to shell out an average of $300,000 a year for the suites for terms of five to 10 years. Those sales would serve as part of the collateral for the considerable construction loans the Nets will need to break ground by the end of the year.

The Nets, who expect to obtain one-third or more of the building costs from New York City and New York State subsidies, also announced "founding partner" sponsorships worth $100 million this week. Foxwoods Resort Casino, Anheuser-Busch, and Cushman and Wakefield are among those core partners.

NLG: Foxwoods and Anheuser, two more "Brooklyn" companies?

The Nets lose an estimated $40 million annually at the Izod Center, whose design does not feature modern suites or lucrative "club seats" that can fetch hundreds of dollars per ticket for each game. But Yormark reiterated the franchise's insistence that a move to the Prudential Center is not in the cards, either short-term or long-term.

"We're at the Izod Center and committed to the Izod Center, and from the Izod Center we go to the Barclays Center," Yormark said. "There are no other options for us, and we will consider no other options."

article

NLG: Alas, poor Yormark. He and his Nets and Forest City Ratner cronies doth protest too much, we thinks, when it comes to the unrelenting efforts to dispel the inconvenient Nets-to-Newark rumors.

Posted by eric at 9:31 AM

Nets Spin Launch of Suite Sales as Proof of Brooklyn Move

YormarkSuite.jpg

The multi-pronged media effort to repair the damage from Bruce Ratner's shockingly candid March 21st interview with The New York Times continued yesterday with the launch of luxury suite sales for the planned Atlantic Yards arena.

Newark Star-Ledger, Nets say showroom is proof of move

The Nets yesterday showed off a full-size replica of the luxury suites they expect to feature in their $950 million Brooklyn arena, in yet another push to demonstrate they are serious about leaving New Jersey in 2010.
...

"The Barclays Center showroom is one more validation that we're alive and well and we're going to Brooklyn," Yormark said. "The next step is opening day."

NoLandGrab: Actually, the next step is to prove that the arena, let alone any of the rest of the project, can actually be built. Some of the land needed to build the arena is still in the hands of private owners and tenants, who are fighting the use of eminent domain in court. And Ratner has yet to demonstrate that he can actually secure financing for Atlantic Yards.

The marketing push comes as New Jersey officials and Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek are seeking to assemble a group of investors to buy the Nets and move the team to the Prudential Center in Newark instead.
...

Yormark dismissed that as a possibility, saying sharing the Prudential Center with the Devils "is of no interest to us."

Newark Star-Ledger, Nets show off luxury suites in New York

The team has already sold one-fifth of the suites, at prices up to $540,000, according to Yormark.

NoLandGrab: While Yormark has repeated frequently the claim that 20% of the suites have already been sold to "friends and family," he has yet to publicly identify any of those who allegedly ponied up.

Bergen Record, Nets show off luxury suites

Chief Executive Brett Yormark led more than a dozen media members on a tour of the site in the morning, with a luncheon and then a celebrity-studded party rounding out the day.
...

Pricing for the 3,200 premium "club seats," which would have access to high-end lounges, has not been completed, Yormark said. The price is likely to be higher than the $150 per game that the Devils charge for such seats at the Prudential Center in Newark, given the New York City location.

WNYC Radio, Execs get Peek at Nets Arena Luxury Boxes

Nets President Brett Yormark says the amenities are be a big draw.

YORMARK: Cork floors, induction burners. No more chafing dishes with fire underneath. So a little bit of technology there. Frank Gehry designed lighting fixtures.

REPORTER: The Nets are guaranteeing that the arena will open in the fall of 2010, even though their parent company does not yet own all of the property in the arena footprint. Forest City Ratner Companies says it will begin construction later this year.

Nets Daily, Nets Begin Marketing Suites with Press Tour, New York Gala

Brownstoner, Barclays Center Luxury Suites Hit the Market

Curbed, Gehry Arena Luxe Suites Go on Sale, Rendering Porn Included

Curbed appears to have gotten its mitts on the exclusive sales brochure.

Gothamist.com, Troubled Nets Arena in Brooklyn Selling Luxury Suites

Posted by eric at 7:37 AM

No Nets Arena Yet, but Suites Are on Sale

NYTimes.com
by Richard Sandomir

Construction of the Nets’ proposed arena near downtown Brooklyn is long delayed and financing has not been completed. But the effort to sell the Barclays Center’s luxury suites began Thursday with the opening of a showroom in Manhattan.

The 130 suites arranged on three levels are renting for an average of $300,000 (for 5-, 7- and 10-year rentals). But the 12 elite ones are going for $540,000; they are actually under the stands (making them luxurious party bunkers), with no views of the court, but they come with eight seats at plum locations near courtside. The first of 12 was taken Thursday night by Jay-Z, the hip-hop impresario and a Nets investor.

For those seeking a suite, it will be a relief to hear that only 5 percent is due on the first year’s lease at signing, with the rest due in three installments ending in July 2010.

article

NoLandGrab: It's no biggie for Mr. Z, as The Times might refer to him, to plunk down north of half a million bucks for a Nets' suite, what with his new $150 million deal with Live Nation. But that same $540,000 would house more than 60 families for a year in Atlantic Yards' affordable housing units — if they ever get built.

Posted by eric at 7:36 AM

Suites go on sale, timing unquestioned, ticket prices rise, parking prized

Atlantic Yards Report

A revamped Barclays Center web site with renderings of luxury suites for the Barclays Center emerged yesterday in tandem with the first effort to sell such suites.

The news coverage could've used more skepticism. The New York Times, unwilling to grapple with the developer's dubious claims about timing, suggested, Construction on the arena is expected to start later this year, assuming that financing being arranged by Goldman Sachs has been completed.

However, that financing depends on the resolution of three pending lawsuits (and possibly more), as even the Times has acknowledged. After all, Forest City Ratner official Andrew Silberfein submitted an affidavit in the case challenging the AY environmental review saying that "there is a serious question as to whether, given the current state of the debt market, the underwriters will be able to proceed with the financing for the arena while the appeal is pending before this Court."

Interestingly, a lawyer for groups challenging the environmental review noted that a threat was not dispositive, and that the bond market should "price the risk accordingly." Still, I'd bet there's no construction until the lawsuits are cleared, and it's likely such suits will linger well into next year.

article

Posted by lumi at 5:11 AM

PRESS RELEASE: SHOWROOM OPENS FOR SALES OF SPONSORSHIPS, SUITES, AND PREMIUM TICKETS FOR BARCLAYS CENTER IN BROOKLYN

Features Frank Gehry-Designed Full-size Replicated Suite

Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment (BSE), an affiliate of Nets Sports and LLC, today officially opened the dynamic, state-of-the-art Barclays Center Showroom on the 38 th floor of The New York Times Building, 620 8th Avenue, for sales of sponsorships and luxury suites for the Frank Gehry-designed Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Premium season tickets for Nets games will also be available for purchase at the Showroom at a date to be determined.

The opening of the Showroom will be celebrated with a private party tonight to be attended by Nets principal owner Bruce Ratner, Nets part-owner Jay-Z, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver, and many more.
...
From the moment they arrive at the Barclays Center, suite holders and their guests will receive an unprecedented “Street to Suite” experience with hotel-inspired hospitality including red-carpet greeting, distinctive private entrance and lobby, premium concierge service, private elevators, and access to exclusive restaurants and lounges.

“The opening of the Barclays Center Showroom is another significant step towards bringing a world-class arena and major sports team to Brooklyn,” said Brett Yormark, president and CEO of Nets Sports and Entertainment. “The Showroom will be a snapshot for what suite and premium season ticket holders can expect to experience at the Barclays Center when it opens in calendar year 2010. We are already receiving extensive interest in sponsorships, suites, and season tickets and we expect that momentum to continue with the opening of the Showroom.”

Full press release (PDF)

Posted by lumi at 5:08 AM

This guy faults Bruce Ratner and Atlantic Yards foes

The Brooklyn Paper, Letters to the Editor

Though Bruce Ratner has managed to cynically divide the neighborhood among race lines, it appears that Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn has not bridged the gap.

I am black, born and bred in Brooklyn. I despise Bruce Ratner not only for the assaults he has made on the borough with Metrotech and the Atlantic Center and Terminal malls, but for his lies to people of color that accompanied each over-reaching project. ...
Yet, given all this background, I have not been involved in the fight to stop Ratner at Atlantic Yards. Why? Because the fight against Ratner has not jumped the inner-city cultural divide. Develop Don’t Destroy has failed to persuade their minority neighbors that Ratner is fooling them again, this time through surrogates.

It is a pity that those fighting Atlantic Yards didn’t keep trying to find common ground with us people of color. Not everyone for Atlantic Yards is a bought-off loudmouth.

Leon de Augusto, Bushwick

 

Of course, Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn would want to list diverse organizations and ethnicities under its aegis. My point is: where are the many different faces and voices of Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn,?

Goldstein, exclusively, speaks for Develop Don’t Destroy, their 26 allied groups and 4,000 supporters. And the people in the pictures — take the Brooklyn Museum protest, for example — look like him, not me.

Thomasina Millet, Crown Heights

Posted by lumi at 5:00 AM

Barclays Center to open December 31, 2010?

Atlantic Yards Report

Calendar.gif

Nets CEO Brett Yormark said in Sports Business Journal this week that the Barclays Center would open in time for the 2010-11 basketball season, meaning October. But today's Forest City Ratner press release about the sale of luxury suites suggests that Yormark and the developer are further hedging their bets.

The statement:

“The opening of the Barclays Center Showroom is another significant step towards bringing a world-class arena and major sports team to Brooklyn,” said Brett Yormark, president and CEO of Nets Sports and Entertainment. “The Showroom will be a snapshot for what suite and premium season ticket holders can expect to experience at the Barclays Center when it opens in calendar year 2010." (Emphasis added)

So if Forest City Ratner wants to conform to the letter--if not the spirit--of its pledge, it will have to open the building once in 2010. I'm predicting New Year's Eve.

article

Posted by lumi at 4:28 AM

May 15, 2008

DDDB PRESS RELEASE: Tonight: Ratner to Show Off Atlantic Yards Arena Luxury Suites

Back in Reality:
Atlantic Yards and Barclays Center Are On Precipice of Failure

BROOKLYN, NY— Tonight, as reported last week in Crain’s, Bruce Ratner’s New Jersey Nets will “debut a prototype of their Frank Gehry-designed, $300,000-a-year Barclays Center corporate suites at a splashy party in their New York Times Building showroom.”

Meanwhile, back in reality, Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards development proposal—including the arena for which Barclays Bank has purchased naming rights for $400 million—is on the precipice of failure and currently cannot be built.

“Bruce Ratner once promised ‘affordable’ housing. Now, all he is promising are luxury arena skyboxes, and he’s in no position to build even those,” said Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn spokesman Daniel Goldstein. “Tonight’s luxury skybox party vividly represents the Atlantic Yards bait and switch. The proposed ‘affordable’ housing was the bait to enlist the support of many elected officials backing the project, as well as ACORN; the switch is that those in need of an affordable home are left hanging while the ridiculously expensive luxury skyboxes will be given full priority over everything else Ratner once promised.”

Developer Forest City Ratner (FCR) does not own all of the properties it needs to build its proposed arena. Some of that property is in the hands of other private owners or tenants. New York State’s intention to seize those properties by eminent domain, and hand them over to Forest City, is currently being challenged in the courts. Back on March 31, 11 property owners and tenants filed a petition to the US Supreme Court in their case alleging that New York State’s use of eminent domain violates the US Constitution. If the Court takes their case, it would be heard by the end of the year, and a decision would be rendered roughly one year from now. If the Court does not take their case, the plaintiffs intend to file their challenge to eminent domain in New York State court.

In addition to this ownership problem, Forest City Ratner’s Atlantic Yards proposal faces other substantial obstacles, including:

  • FCR needs at least $1.4 billion in tax-free housing bonds, but they are not available.

  • FCR does not have the bond it needs for its $950 million arena—more than double the price tag of the most expensive arena every built.

  • The credit market is in crisis.

  • Construction costs have increased astronomically, and continue to rise.

  • New York City’s real estate boom is over, and Brooklyn has a large oversupply of condos.

  • Political opinion has substantially shifted against the project. (See: May 3rd protest rally)

  • A coming appeal of the community lawsuit challenging the project’s environmental review and overall approval.

  • Other outstanding litigation and the possibility of new litigation beyond that.

Posted by eric at 3:40 PM

TONIGHT: Brooklyn Songwriters Against Atlantic Yards

SongwritersDDBa.gif

Posted by lumi at 5:46 AM

TONIGHT: "Brooklyn Was Mine" at WORD

Thursday, May 15, 7:30pm

Contributors to Brooklyn Was Mine, including Philip Dray, Rachel Cline and Joanna Hershon read and sign books at Greenpoint's WORD.

Brooklyn Was Mine gives some of today's best writers an opportunity to pay tribute to the borough they love in 20 original essays that draw on past and present to create a mosaic that brilliantly captures the quality and diversity of a unique, literary landscape.

WORD, an independent bookseller with selections for adults and children, opened in Greenpoint in March and has been featured in The New York Times, Lucky Magazine, New York Magazine's Intelligencer, The Brooklyn Paper and Shelf Awareness.

WORD is located at 126 Franklin Street in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Take the G train to Greenpoint Avenue. Call 718.383.0096 or visit wordbrooklyn.com.

Posted by lumi at 5:45 AM

Brodsky calls for "time out" on West Side projects; hearing next Friday

Atlantic Yards Report

A powerful Assemblyman is calling for a "time out" on a major development, but it's not Atlantic Yards, focus of a recent "time out" rally. And that Assemblyman, Richard Brodsky, while calling for a timetable and cost-benefit analysis for megaprojects in the state, said that the focus of an Assembly committee's first hearing next week will be limited to projects on Manhattan's West Side.

The New York Times, in an article Wednesday headlined City Revisits Old Bidders After Railyards Deal Fails, reported:

Assemblyman Richard L. Brodsky and other critics, however, say that the authority should wait for the economy to improve, while working with a master plan to coordinate all the activity on the West Side. “These deals are breaking down because the governance system for authorities doesn’t work and because the public subsidies are out of control,” said Mr. Brodsky, a Democrat from Westchester. “We need a time out before this disaster repeats itself everywhere else.”

article

Posted by lumi at 5:44 AM

Ward Bread Bakery demolition continues

Photo by Tracy Collins, via Atlantic Yards Photo Pool (flickr).

TC-WardDemo02.jpg

Posted by lumi at 5:39 AM

JPMorgan sees Bear's Midtown NY site saving $3 bln

Reuters

In an article about JP Morgan's savings on real estate after the acquisition of Bear Stearns, Bruce Ratner's controversial Atlantic Yards project is cited as an example of the effects of the commercial real estate downturn:

New York City's real estate market is slowing as financial companies lay off tens of thousands of workers and developers find bank loans harder to get and more costly. The withering credit has already delayed mega-projects including Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards and Midtown Manhattan's Hudson Yards.

article

Posted by lumi at 5:33 AM

The Dolans’ Conflict of Coverage

The Deal Book [The NY Times]

Now that the Dolan family is lined up to purchase NY Newsday, will the paper have to disclose conflict of interest in stories covering the family's other ventures? The Times says it does (emphasis added):

When the sale was announced, she said, “I asked if we have to drop a line into stories that says, ‘The Knicks, who are owned by Cablevision, which also owns Newsday.’ ”

When reporting on Bruce Ratner, the owner of the Nets, The Times often says that he was a development partner in The Times’ new headquarters building. The newspaper also notes that The New York Times Company owns 17 percent of New England Sports Ventures, the parent company of the Boston Red Sox.

link

NoLandGrab: Thank goodness the Times had the likes of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, NoLandGrab and Norman Oder of Atlantic Yards Report to harass them into "often" (though not consistently) including conflict-of-interest disclosures in articles covering Forest City Ratner.

Posted by lumi at 5:23 AM

CURIOUSER: Brooklyn Public Library

This week, there's a raging debate at Gowanus Lounge over the suitability and propriety of adults viewing online porn at the Brooklyn Public Library. Some claim that public viewing of porn is creepy and shouldn't be condoned in a public institution frequented by children, while others champion citizens' First Amendment right to access all available media.

The Brooklyn Public Library addressed the issue by releasing a statment to Gowanus Lounge which included the following:

While some topics and content may be unpopular it is our job not to judge, just to provide.

We find it curious that this is the same Brooklyn Public Library that rejected several works of art from the Atlantic Yards Footprints Exhibit due to the controversial content.

No one really thinks that the above photos, taken by NoLandGrab contributor Amy Greer, are more controversial than public viewing of online porn. Granted, the library isn't launching an exhibition of porn, but the public institution ought to recognize that they make judgments every day about appropriate content.

It's ironic that the same library that appeared so nervous about the Atlantic Yards controversy can display principled confidence while addressing the great online porn debate, which will surely rage on as Atlantic Yards opponents continue to grind their teeth to the sounds of Bruce Ratner's demolition of the Footprint.

Posted by lumi at 4:50 AM

May 14, 2008

Richard Lipsky: Real Estate Scion

The Neighborhood Retail Alliance

Unlike the self-deprecating Norman Oder, lobbyist-for-the-little-guy-like-Bruce-Ratner, Richard Lipsky, toots his own horn upon being named to the NY Observer's list of the 100 Most Powerful People in New York Real Estate, and complains that he's ranked below... Norman Oder.

We really got a big kick out of the Observer's ranking of Richard Lipsky as one of the 100 most influential people in NYC real estate. Here's the blurb:
80
Richard Lipsky
Lobbyist, Richard Lipsky Associates To many large developers, particularly those who build big-box retail, Mr. Lipsky is a pain in the ass. He organizes public opposition and pitches to the media a constant David vs. Goliath story line, usually with small retailers, threatened by the Vornados and the Related Companies of the world, playing the David role.

In over twenty five years of lobbying work on behalf of small businesses, communities and labor, we have stooped over twenty separate big box and shopping center developments-the only consistent force operating successfully in this capacity; which makes the ranking of Norman Oder ahead of us as something of a mystery. What has Norman actually stopped in his vendetta against Atlantic Yards, and has he ever done anything else to create a body of work?

Oder posted this response on Lipsky's MomandPopNYC blog:

Richard, guess what--I'll agree you (and others) should be ahead of me.

I won't agree it's a vendetta.

And shouldn't you mention that you're paid by Ratner?

Cordially,
Norman Oder

link

NoLandGrab: Frequent reminders that the big-box-fighting Lipsky is on the payroll of the big-box-building Ratner wouldn't sit well with the lobbyist's David-vs.-Goliath storyline. Of course, as Kathy Goldman, the founder of a nonprofit group that supported a project against which Lipsky lobbied, told The New York Times in 1997, "He'll work for whoever pays him. I don't know where principle ends and expedience starts when you do that."

We're also not sure why Lipsky called his post "Real Estate Scion," since a scion is a descendant or heir. Lipsky's pop was a theatrical agent, according to that same Times article. Maybe he confused his father with his patron, Bruce Ratner.

Posted by eric at 11:06 AM

The 100 Most Powerful People in New York Real Estate

Bloomberg, Trump, Ratner, De Niro, the Guy Behind Craigslist! They’re All Among Our 100 Most Powerful People in New York Real Estate

NY Observer

It's noteworthy that the three highest-ranked developers on the Observer's list — #1 Jerry Speyer, #3 Stephen Ross, and #8 Bruce Ratner — are all having a heap of trouble closing their marquee deals: Hudson Yards, Moynihan Station/Madison Square Garden and Atlantic Yards, respectively.

Power. Webster’s Dictionary defines power as … No, no, no, never mind that: Power in New York City real estate means money—its acquisition, spending and creation—especially now, as the market enters a tremulous sunset after several bright, shiny years.

Our list of the 100 Most Powerful People in New York Real Estate was assembled with this finance-centric criterion at the forefront. The list, especially higher up, contains those who animate the deals and the trends. They are the deciders and the money providers. They make the real estate world the rest of us live in; or cover, as the case may be.
...

#8 Bruce Ratner

Chairman of Forest City Ratner Companies

The leader of what is perhaps New York’s most high-profile development, the controversy magnet Atlantic Yards, Bruce Ratner is one of the most active developers in the city, often pursuing large, publicly administered projects. He’s recently taken a liking to famous architects, ensuring that his developments leave a notable impression on the skyline.

article

NoLandGrab: Bruce Ratner only #8 while Amanda Burden is #5? Anyone familiar with the phony 8% Atlantic Yards "scaleback" knows that when Bruce Ratner says "scaleback," Amanda Burden asks "how much?"

Posted by eric at 10:40 AM

So, who's #77 on the Observer's 100 most powerful people in NY real estate list?

Atlantic Yards Report

For those of you who think that the all-too-powerful real estate industry pulls most of New York City's levers (is there anyone who doesn't think that?), a ray of light has emerged: it's a man, it's a journalist/blogger, it's Norman Oder!

According to the New York Observer's quite arbitrary list of the 100 Most Powerful People in New York Real Estate, Bruce Ratner is #8, Frank Gehry is #51, and I am number #77.

While the listing is flattering, I can't say they have me convinced. For example, Charles Bagli, the veteran real estate/development reporter for the New York Times--and formerly at the Observer--does not appear on the list and he's way more powerful than I am. (Despite my criticisms of his AY coverage, he's a very able reporter.) And I am not more powerful than Nicolai Ouroussoff, the Times's architecture critic, at #85, nor Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, chair of the Assembly's Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions, at #89; he has the power to grill public officials. And where's Julia Vitullo-Martin of the Manhattan Institute, a savvy and provocative commentator?

article

NoLandGrab: Like some modern-day Lincoln Steffens (or Fremont Older), Oder has raked the muck caking Atlantic Yards, and in so doing, has exposed the project's seamy underside like no other journalist.

Posted by eric at 9:55 AM

An open letter to NYT Public Editor Clark Hoyt about the paper's curious AY silence

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder publishes an open letter to the NY Times Public Editor, which maybe really hopefully just might actually be more effective than the other calls for comprehensive coverage over the past four and a half years. [Not that we're counting.]

Dear Mr. Hoyt,

If you read other newspapers in New York, you would’ve noticed that there was a lot of Atlantic Yards-related news last week. If you followed the story online, you would’ve learned even more.

That’s why any consumer of media in New York should be disappointed by the New York Times’s failure to publish a word about Atlantic Yards in the past week. Not only is it a major story for the city and region, the Times, given the parent New York Times Company’s business relationship with developer Forest City Ratner, developing the new Times Tower, has a special obligation to be exacting in its coverage.

Norman Oder outlines the litany of news missed by the greying lady, such as:

article

Posted by lumi at 5:27 AM

NYC Mayor Bloomberg, Brooklyn Borough Pres. Announce Brooklyn Bridge 125th Birthday Celebration

Five-Day Celebration to Feature Special Bridge Lighting, Film Series, Concerts, Lectures, Bike Tour, Children's Readings and other Family-Friendly Cultural Events

Atlantic Yards developer Forest CIty Ratner is listed among the "major sponsors" in the City's press release.

BBridgeFog.jpg

New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz today announced plans for a five-day celebration in honor of the 125th birthday of the Brooklyn Bridge.
...
Major sponsors of the Brooklyn Bridge 125th Birthday Celebration include General Contractors Association of New York, Inc., National Grid, Forest City Ratner, Target, as well as Empire Blue Cross, Verizon, Astoria Bank, Citi, Warner Bros. and Sovereign Bank. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov or call 311.

Posted by lumi at 4:28 AM

Forest City in the News

The Journal News, Major builders among top donors for Yonkers Business Week

Forest City Ratner is still making friends in Yonkers:

[Yonkers] Business Week, sponsored by the city's Office of Economic Development, cost $330,000, which was covered entirely by private companies, city officials said. The two top donors are also two top developers: Forest City Ratner, builder of the Ridge Hill, a development whose handling by the Yonkers City Council is under federal investigation; and Struever Fidelco Cappelli, which wants to build the massive River Park Center, just east of City Hall. Both were listed as "pinnacle donors," contributing $30,000 each.

And in the Forest City "lifestlye center" (a mall with housing and/or offices) news :

Denver.YourHub.com, Orchard Town Center to Host Summer Concert Series

The Orchard Town Center to Host Summer Concert Series May Through August "Concerts on the Square" feature Hazel Miller, The Fab Four and Wendy Woo.
...
The Orchard Town Center, located at the northwest corner of Interstate 25 and 144th Avenue, is a unique, pedestrian-friendly lifestyle village. The center offers residents and visitors exceptional options in shopping, dining and entertainment in an environment that invites lingering, relaxing and socializing. Designed in classic prairie craftsmanship, The Orchard Town Center provides more than 40 entertainment, retail and restaurant establishments, including AMC Orchard 12, JCPenney, Macy's, SuperTarget, Rock Bottom Brewery and Woodlands Grill. The project was developed by Forest City Commercial Group Inc. and the City of Westminster.

The Press-Enterprise, List of eateries grows for Temecula mall

Lucille's Smokehouse Bar-B-Que and P.F. Chang's China Bistro have joined the roster of businesses slated to occupy a 126,000-square-foot expansion at The Promenade in Temecula, mall operator Forest City Enterprises announced Tuesday.

Posted by lumi at 4:17 AM

May 13, 2008

Artists Publicize DDDB

DDDB-Songwriters-NLG.gifBrooklyn Daily Eagle
by Sam Howe

The Eagle's arts columnist tosses a bone to DDDB's design team.

Designers Daisy Tikkanen, Sirius Madra Dubh and Scott Turner of Superba Graphics in Greenwood Heights are the talent behind the poster for Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn’s (DDDB’s) May 15 benefit concert at Park Slope Avenue Southpaw. The same designers, who specialize in “yesteryear” aesthetics, have become the go-to artists for DDDB. They also created posters for previous DDDB fundraisers including “Garden Don’t Destroy” and “Walk Don’t Destroy.” Thursday’s concert will bring together Brooklyn musicians in opposition of the Atlantic Yards project: up and coming Clare & The Reasons, Richard Julian and John Wesley Harding, who has shared the stage with big guns such as Bruce Springsteen and Joan Baez during his 20-year career.

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Posted by eric at 5:11 PM

Time Out Rally on BCAT TONIGHT at 8pm

Freddy's Brooklyn Roundhouse

Tonight at 8pm on BCAT 1, Time Warner Channel 34
Freddy's Brooklyn Roundhouse presents:
Chris Owens, Velmanette Montgomery, Letitia James, Hakeem Jeffries, Tony Avella, and others. It's all the speeches from the May 3, 2008 rally that appeal to Governor Paterson to call Time Out on the disastrous Atlantic Yards (or Atlantic Lots) project.

If you would prefer to watch tonight's show on the small screen, it has been posted to YouTube for your convenience: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jttjp4-b8CQ.

Posted by steve at 1:24 PM

In Yonkers, the feds investigate aspects of Ratner's Ridge Hill deal

Atlantic Yards Report

Enter into the shadowy world of Forest City Ratner and public approvals. Norman Oder offers an overview of what is known and suspected regarding the approval by the Yonkers City Council of the Ridge Hill development.

What critics consider a sweetheart deal regarding Atlantic Yards hasn't provoked investigation into any wrongdoing. It was presented as a fait accompli fast tracked by the Empire State Development Corporation, rather than debated in public by local officials. In Yonkers, however, the curious twists and turns of Forest City Ratner's $630 million, 1000-apartment, 81-acre Ridge Hill project (above) have generated a federal investigation.

Some parallels are found in the way public benefits are promoted for both projects:

The Times reports: Promoters say it will create 4,000 permanent jobs and generate some $20 million a year in property, sales and income tax revenues for Yonkers. But from the start, some questioned the way the project was fast-tracked.

The same questions have been raised about AY.

...

The Times reported:
In a news release at the time of her vote switch, Ms. Annabi cited 11th-hour negotiations with Ratner over property taxes, in which she said she was able to wring out millions of additional dollars. Later, it became clear that some of the promised riches had little chance of being paid because of fine print in contracts that Ms. Annabi said she never saw.

Well, many of the riches projected by Atlantic Yards backers were vastly overstated, given flaws in the cost-benefit analysis, increased public costs, and delays in the project.

NoLandGrab: It's always interesting to see how far Forest City Ratner will go to prevent public scrutiny of its publicly-funded projects

link

Posted by steve at 8:30 AM

Nets partnership announcements, suites showroom are four months late

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder offers his take on today's Sports Business Journal story, and highlights the latest in Netspeak.

Meanwhile, we apparently get a new term to add to the Atlantic Yards Lexicon: "construction activation platform."

The newspaper reports:
Incremental to the founding partnership fees, many of the new sponsors will support what the Nets are calling a “construction activation platform” with signage, countdown clocks and other media in which partners will be identified.

“We’ll be marketing the heck out of the building even before it is being built,” Yormark said.

Indeed, that's the subject of the article.

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Posted by eric at 7:24 AM

Rocking and rolling against Ratner's Atlantic Yards plan

Courier-Life Publications
By Meredith Deliso

Over the past four years, DDDB has had approximately 15 benefit performances with more than 30 artists in genres ranging from klezmer to hip-hop to punk. For the upcoming benefit, event coordinator Rob Reilly wanted to feature up-and-coming indie talent in Brooklyn.

"I haven't gotten another response beyond 'I would love to do this, schedule permitting,'" says Reilly, a Cobble Hill resident who volunteers his time to put together benefit concerts for DDDB. "For me it's a matter of setting up the right line up for the night out."

Those who schedule permitted and made for a good indi-heavy line up, are John Wesley Harding, Clare and the Reasons, Richard Julian and Jolie Holland.

[Click image to enlarge.]

Posted by lumi at 5:40 AM

Nets add 6 founding partners for Barclays

Sports Business Journal
By Terry Lefton

BarclaysSponsorSheds.jpg As part of the marketing campaign in advance of the May 15 rollout and pre-sale of "Barclays Center" luxury suites, Nets CEO Brett Yormark is announcing six new arena sponsors, who just happen to already be sponsors in New Jersey. [Eyes rolling.]

A couple of photos offer a sneak-peak of the May 15 rollout:

While the organization’s Barclays Center project is mired in legal delays and reports surfaced recently that New Jersey officials were making a run to have the team move to the Prudential Center in Newark, Nets Sports & Entertainment President and CEO Brett Yormark said last week that he expects to break ground in the fourth quarter of this year and open the building in time for the 2010-11 season.

And as evidence, Yormark said the team has signed six new founding partners that join previously announced Jones Soda, representing more than $100 million in sponsorship commitments in the new building. The founding-partner deals are all five to 10 years in length and range from $1.5 million to $5 million a year, Yormark said.

Most are existing Nets sponsors: Anheuser-Busch, Cushman & Wakefield, MGM Grand/Foxwoods, ADT, Emblem Health and Izod, which has naming rights to the Nets’ current home court at the Meadowlands. Barclays is the naming-rights sponsor for the planned $950 million arena, which is supposed to host more than 200 events a year.

Yormark said that many of the partners are architecturally integrated within the building, plazas or clubs.

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Posted by lumi at 5:25 AM

Columbia Alumnus David Paterson Takes the Helm in Albany

Columbia Spectator
By Melissa Repko

One of Columbia’s own, David Paterson, CC ’77 and an adjunct professor at the School of International and Public Affairs, was sworn in as governor of New York state on March 17.

All New Yorkers involved with land grabs (grabbers and property owners alike) are holding their breath wondering if the new governor's position may have evolved:

In the future, the chief executive and Columbia alumnus could come in handy for Columbia as it moves toward construction of a new campus. With three Manhattanville business owners still unwilling to make deals with the University, state use of eminent domain—which would allow the government to seize ownership of the private property for the public good if the land is deemed underused—may be necessary.

“I’ve talked to Governor Paterson over the years,” Bollinger said, referring to Paterson’s tenure as a state senator. “I know he is supportive of this project. He has said so publicly. And I believe that were eminent domain to be needed to implement the plan, I believe that he would be supportive.”

Yet Paterson’s stance on eminent domain remains murky. In August 2005, the then-New York state Senate minority leader called for a moratorium on the use of eminent domain at a press conference. He also expressed support for a plan to restrict the use of the policy in the city after Councilwoman Letitia James (D-Brooklyn), whose district includes the area of the proposed Atlantic Yards development, proposed the bill. He has not publicly addressed his views on eminent domain since being sworn in as governor.

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Posted by lumi at 5:20 AM

May 12, 2008

Closing Bell: Ratner, Gehry, Pool Barge Win Awards

Brownstoner.com
by Sarah Ryley

Forest City Ratner and Frank Gehry were cited by the Municipal Art Society, but no, the awards weren't for the new renderings of Atlantic Yards.

The Municipal Art Society announced last week the winners of its seventh annual MASterwork Awards, and three Brooklyn heavy hitters made the list. Renzo Piano's New York Times building, built by Forest City Ratner, and Frank Gehry's IAC Building won for best buildings. While both buildings are in Manhattan, Ratner is the developer of the controversial Atlantic Yards area and high-rise megaproject and that place where there's a Target, and Atlantic Yards is designed by Frank Gehry. The Floating Pool lady, moored at the future Brooklyn Bridge Park last summer (and now in the Bronx), won for best neighborhood catalyst along with The New Museum. Diane von Furstenberg's DVF Studio Headquarters in the Meatpacking District and the Museum at Eldridge Street won for best historic renovation.

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Posted by eric at 11:05 PM

AYR briefly on BCAT tonight

Atlantic Yards Report

For those of you who can't get enough of Atlantic Yards Report, you can see Norman Oder tonight on BCAT:

I will make a very brief appearance on BCAT's Brooklyn Review show tonight, in the second segment mentioned below. (Online clips will be available later.) The blurb:

Brooklyn Review (Brooklyn's Only News Magazine)
Premiere: Monday, May 12 at at 9pm (Time Warner 56/Cablevision 69)
Encore Presentations: Thursday, May 15 at 1pm & 9pm; Friday, May 16 at 3pm & 11pm

On this episode, Brooklyn Review’s team of reporters explores tension between the African American and Jewish communities in Crown Heights; looks at the role real estate and watchdog blogs are playing in Brooklyn development; visits a Bensonhurst high school where students are examining the ethics of war through live interviews with survivors; checks out the Sakura Matsuri cherry blossom festival at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden; and samples the borough’s tastiest foods at the Chamber of Commerce’s annual Brooklyn Eats event.

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Posted by eric at 12:20 PM

Why luxury suite sales this week are needed to market arena bonds

Atlantic Yards Report

LuxSuite.jpg Forest City Ratner's ability to recruit buyers for luxury suites — which it begins marketing this Thursday — may be critical to its ability to secure funding for the arena.

A counter-protest in response to the "Time Out" rally. An Bruce Ratner op-ed in the New York Daily News. The release of new renderings of the Atlantic Yards arena, office tower, and first residential building.

Let me try to put Forest City Ratner's recent efforts in some perspective. The office tower rendering is aimed to help attract an anchor tenant and get the building started. The rendering of a residential rental tower, with half the units subsidized, is aimed to maintain public support for the project.

But, more than anything else, the developer's efforts are about getting the arena built. That means the public must be convinced it's viable and, crucially, buyers of luxury suites must be recruited. The guarantee of certain suite revenues, I believe, will back bonds for the now-$950 million arena.

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NoLandGrab: With Madison Square Garden embarking on a top-to-bottom renovation, new stadiums for the Mets and Yankees opening next year, and a new home for the Giants and Jets underway, it'll be interesting to see what demand there might be for suites in an arena that's still in rendering stage.

Posted by eric at 9:36 AM

What would an interim arena without titanium look like?

Atlantic Yards Report

LoneSomeArena.jpg

Current plans for Phase 1 construction of the proposed Atlantic Yards development leaves out the "Urban Room" that was originally designed to connect with the arena, at least until later in the construction. If only the arena and one tower are built for now, what would the arena look like? Norman Oder takes a look.

We can't be sure. But we can be sure that the new renderings, as New York Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff recently wrote in another context, produce a "distorted picture of reality."

That's why it's important for Forest City Ratner to produce more accurate renderings, including descriptions of the publicly accessible open space that (its spokesman told the Post) would occupy what the MAS portrays as vacant lots.

Oder also questions whether the new arena design would conform to the Design Guidelines in the General Project Plan.

I asked ESDC spokesman Warner Johnston if the arena, with a truncated amount of glass, would conform to the Design Guidelines. He said it did.

Because my initial email did not cite the precise dimensions of 125 feet and 7500 square feet, I asked for confirmation. I didn't get a response.

...

And it is notable that the current renderings don't tell us whether the arena would meet the current guidelines, nor when exactly in the development process the current renderings might be realized. So we could have some vacant lots instead.

link

Posted by steve at 9:24 AM

It came from the Blogosphere...

Blogosphere116.jpg Here's what they're saying about all things Atlantic Yards:

Daily Gotham, Pimping for Ratner?

The Brooklyn Papers has an interesting revelation that one of the people leading the pro-Ratner counter rally to Community opposition to Ratner's Atlantic Yards is an admitted pimp:

One of Bruce Ratner’s boosters at the pro–Atlantic Yards rally on Saturday is a former strip club manager who used to arrange for dancers to have sex with NBA stars.

This comes as no surprise.... Ratner's whole scheme is about buying favors, so he and a pimp would get along just fine.

The Gowanus Lounge, Upcoming: Brooklyn Songwriters Against Atlantic Yards

There’s a benefit concert coming up at Southpaw for Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn on Thursday, May 15 featuring Clare & The Reasons, John Wesley Harding, Richard Julian and special. There’s a screening of the documentary Brooklyn Matters at 7PM and the show starts at 8PM. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. Doors open at 6:30.

Nets Daily, Architecture Critics Mixed on New Plans for Nets Arena

The Nets are admit to marketing their new Brooklyn arena more as a “destination” than an oversized gym. With new designs for the arena and surrounding Atlantic Yards just out, what are critics saying? James Gardner of the Sun is disappointed in the arena, but likes the new design for the adjoining skyscraper, “an unruly and asymmetrical mountain of rectilinear boxes”. Local architects think it’s the reverse.

The Knickerblogger, Not So Sure About This Atlantic Yards
According to NY Magazine, the newly appointed head of the Port Authority "thinks Bruce Ratner should consider recruiting architects other than Frank Gehry for the Atlantic Yards."

When the chief of one of the worst boon-doggler/eminent domain abusers in the city is 'not so sure' about atlantic yards, you can bet its a lousy idea. Really, other than Ratner, people Ratner has bribed or stand to benefit directly, financially from it...and of course, the truly foolish does anyone think this is a good idea?

vous lisez... you are reading..., Forest City Unveils Frank Gehry’s New Atlantic Yards Designs
One blogger ran the press release for the new renderings, which begins more like a movie trailer:

“Powerful. Distinguished. Energetic. Iconoclastic."

Lucid Culture, Welcome to the FantasyDome: Frank Gehry’s New Atlantic Yards Renderings

A "slightly edited repost from the DDDB email list," which doesn't sound like a movie trailer.

cuz produces, Collapse of complex real estate projects

In keeping with the previous post (two in one day!), I also see that yet again the large, complex Hudson Yards development has fallen through. This follows the collapse of the Penn Station project and the massive slowdown at Atlantic Yards. Certainly, this has much to do with the declining economy, but I wonder how much of it has to do with the increasing complexity of arrangements among an ever-wider number of actors involved in these contemporary mega-projects. Does their complexity make them less stable than earlier mega-projects?

Sustainable Flatbush, Brooklyn Blogfest 2008
This year's Blogfest had less Atlantic Yards:

When I attended last year’s Brooklyn Blogfest at the Old Stone House in Park Slope, Sustainable Flatbush had been online for only a few weeks. Most of the names and people and language of the blogging world were very new to me, everyone at the event seemed to be from Fort Greene or Prospect Heights, and covering Atlantic Yards was the primary reason for many of the blogs’ existence.

This year’s Blogfest (held at the Brooklyn Lyceum) was much larger and more diverse, and the one topic we could all agree on was that the word “blog” has become inadequate to describe the many different forms an online journal can take.

unwakeable, D.B.A Brooklyn Grand Opening
At least one retailer believes Bruce Ratner's timetable:

D.B.A (Doing Business As) will be opening their doors Friday May 5th from 5p.m to 10p.m. D.B.A is a sneaker/lifestyle store that will carry a very diverse array of items including limited edition sneakers from Nike, Adidas and others.

D.B.A is located for on 454 Dean St in Brooklyn across the street from Atlantic Yards, the home of the 2010 Brooklyn Nets.

NoLandGrab: Most experts believe the 2010 Nets will still be playing in NJ.

Posted by lumi at 4:49 AM

THURSDAY: Brooklyn Songwriters Against Atlantic Yards

SongwritersDDB.gif

More info at Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn's web site.

News of this event came to us via Carroll Garden's neighborhood watchblog Pardon Me For Asking.

Posted by lumi at 4:20 AM

May 11, 2008

Is It The Brookyn, New York, New Jersey Or Newark Nets?

bleacher report.com

William Henry Jones wants the arena to come to "Downtown Brooklyn" (that should say Prospect Heights!!!!), but speculates that the Nets could also be happy near Shea Stadium:

Will somebody please get their story straight? It seems like every day I pick up the paper there is a story about the NJ Nets moving or not moving to Brooklyn. One day the story is saying that the arena will never be built and another day I read that the Barclays Center as it will be called will be open for the 2010 season.

The latest stories appeared last weekend. The New York Daily news reported that the NJ Devils were interested in buying the team and moving them to Newark only to have Bruce Ratner in a guest opinion piece on Sunday deny the story and reassert that the arena would open as planned. On Monday, another article claimed that Brooklyn would never happen.

Mr. Jones will probably not be placated by Mike Lupica's comment in yesterday's Daily News:

As soon as Caring Bruce Ratner said the Nets weren't for sale and were still on their way to Brooklyn, I immediately imagined the team bus making a U-turn and heading for Newark.

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Posted by amy at 11:15 AM

Rally Calls for Time-Out on Atlantic Yards

OurTimeRallythumb.jpg

Our Time Press has great rally coverage, although we're pretty sure Velmanette Montgomery did not give a shout-out to "Joe Melman."

Atlantic Yards Report had this to say about the coverage:

Note that Our Time Press, a Bed-Stuy-based newspaper (formerly twice a month, now weekly) aimed at the black community, has published a variety of voices on Atlantic Yards. Miller's piece, as well as co-founder Bernice Elizabeth Green's endorsement in 2006 of Owens for Congress, looked critically at the project. Regular "Commerce and Community" columns by Errol Louis, on the other hand, have cheered Atlantic Yards and harshly criticized opponents.

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Posted by amy at 10:52 AM

Are AY foes 'real land-grabbers'? The Courier-Life gets "brutally weird"

Atlantic Yards Report apparently had time for the pain of reading Stephen Witt's articles in the Courier. AYR sorts out the "brutally weird" numbers, such as crowd size estimates at the rally, and looks at who the real land-grabbers are...

The real land grabbers?

The next paragraph in the Courier-Life article amps up the claim:
"They are the real land grabbers, because they took the property first and turned back what was jobs into condos," chimed in Charlene Nimmons, sitting nearby and a signatory to the Atlantic Yards community benefits agreement (CBA) with developer Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC).

Nimmons is not a neutral observer and, in this case, not a coherent one.

It's not unusual to repurpose former industrial properties as housing. Forest City Enterprises, the parent company of Forest City Ratner, does it all the time; it's called historic preservation and saving embodied energy.

In the Brooklyn, the "they" who "took" property includes Boymelgreen, an ally of Forest City Ratner in a lease dispute with Henry Weinstein, who owns a building in the footprint. Should counter-protestors have be protesting Ratner and Boymelgreen?

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Posted by amy at 10:35 AM

May 10, 2008

Site V missing and dangling

This week, The Brooklyn Paper reported some chatter about the building planned for Atlantic Yards Site V, which was missing from the most recent rendering released by architect Frank Gehry.

And the so-called Building Five, which would sit on the opposite side of the Atlantic and Flatbush bowtie intersection, is also no longer part of any Forest City Ratner renderings, the latest suggestion that Gehry will not be the designer of that part of the project. (A source told The Brooklyn Paper that the developer has dangled the site to other architects, including the controversial Robert Scarano, but no decisions have been made.)

NoLandGrab: Just when you thought the project couldn't be more loathsome, imagine the collective groan that would follow, if Scarano was named the architect for Site V, the current site of PC Richard and Modell's.

Posted by lumi at 4:05 PM

Ward Bread Bakery Demo cloud

wardvid5.jpg

threecee on flickr

Ward Bread Bakery Building demolition, Prospect Heights Brooklyn, New York

This building is being demolished for Atlantic Yards.

This short video was produced from a sequence of photographs.

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Posted by amy at 1:17 PM

Records show Sharpton owes overdue taxes, other penalties

sharpton5.08.jpg

AP
DAVID B. CARUSO

Big corporations give him money. Presidential candidates seek his endorsement. He has influential friends in Congress and the governor's mansion.
...
But he still carries baggage from his early days as a fire-breathing agitator: Government records obtained by The Associated Press indicate that Sharpton and his business entities owe nearly $1.5 million in overdue taxes and associated penalties.
...
Since the late 1990s, his civil rights group has grown from a small outfit, with a few hundred thousand dollars in annual revenue, to an organization that now routinely takes in $1 million to $2 million per year, thanks partly to corporate support.

Donors have included beer giant Anheuser-Busch, which gave more than $100,000 last year, and Forest City Ratner, a real estate development company that courted black leaders for support of a plan to build an NBA arena in Brooklyn.

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Posted by amy at 12:59 PM

Prosecutors subpoena Michael Spano

The Journal News
By Timothy O'Connor and Glenn Blain

The feds now want to talk to former Assemblyman Michael Spano about his dealings with the Yonkers City Council and Forest City Ratner's controversial Ridge Hill development project:

Federal prosecutors investigating the Yonkers City Council's handling of the controversial Ridge Hill development have issued a grand jury subpoena to Assemblyman Michael Spano.

Two federal agents visited Spano on Thursday at his office and asked him about his dealings with Ridge Hill as well as powerbroker Albert Pirro, the estranged husband of former Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro and a one-time lobbyist for the $630 million project.
...
Spano's subpoena orders him to appear before a federal grand jury in White Plains on May 20.

After he left the Assembly in 2004, Spano worked for the Patricia Lynch Associates lobbying firm, which has Forest City Ratner as a client. He said he was asked in 2005, because of his knowledge of Yonkers, to speak to city officials to gauge their views and objections to the project. He said he spoke to council members Annabi, Dee Barbato and John Murtagh.

His dealings were "strictly informational," he said. He did not lobby them, he said, but just relayed the information to his firm.

"No one at any time did anything inappropriate that I am aware of," Spano said.

The probe has focused on lobbying efforts of council members on behalf of the project.

Read the rest of the article for more details and a wrap-up of the political scandal forming around the approval of Bruce Ratner's project.

Three words: Follow the money.

Posted by lumi at 12:55 PM

Last call at Mooney’s

The Brooklyn Paper

Mooney’s pub has lost its fight to stay in its Flatbush Avenue home and will close for good by the end of June.
...
Now that Mooney’s has been priced out, and there’s a wrecking ball destined to demolish Freddy’s on Dean Street to make way for Atlantic Yards, it’s getting tougher and tougher to find a decent boozing environment.

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NoLandGrab: That's okay, we can all hang out in the public space on the arena's green roof, or in the urban room. Oh, wait...guess not.

Posted by amy at 12:42 PM

Tale of two rallies

Photo by Adrian Kinloch

The Brooklyn Paper
Ben Muessig

“Just because we don’t want the arena to happen doesn’t mean we don’t want development,” said Lillian Hope of Prospect Heights. “We’re not saying they shouldn’t have jobs. We just don’t want them working to build Ratner’s vision.”

Others said that union members should have joined the anti-Ratner rally, given that the developer originally promised 15,000 union construction jobs, but has since admitted that Atlantic Yards will employ 1,500 construction workers per year over its proposed 10-year buildout.

“Protest Ratner, he’s the one not building and he’s the one who proposed a project that couldn’t happen or get financing,” said Daniel Goldstein of Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn.

Though Goldstein sought common ground, the standoff between camps was tense — especially when a group of protestors from the pro-Yards rally looped around the “Time Out” demonstration, surrounding the opponents of the project. Police officers, with plastic handcuffs dangling from their belts, formed a human wall that halted the energetic, though nonviolent, procession.

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Posted by amy at 12:34 PM

Tale of two renderings

toilet2.07.5.08.png

The Brooklyn Paper
Gersh Kuntzman

Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner and his foes presented starkly different visions for the mega-project this week — one, a scaled-back, Frank Gehry wonderland, the other, a collection of bulky buildings and a basketball arena surrounded for decades by parking lots.

Fittingly, the rival visions were published on Monday in rival newspapers, with the Daily News trumpeting the new Gehry renderings and the New York Post playing up the Municipal Art Society’s far-less-glamorous vision in its own exclusive, “The future’s ‘blight’; Nightmare vision of B’klyn arena.”

The Society said it was moved to create the doomsday renderings because Ratner himself has admitted that the 16-tower Atlantic Yards project now contains only two confirmed structures: a residential building and a publicly financed $950-million basketball arena that he intends to begin building before the end of 2008.

The memorable quote in this article comes from Architect Errol Crawford, with language evoking an art piece from Donald O'Finn:

“I think the new design looks like student work at best,” he said. “It is a shame the amount of money being spent on crap like that. I realize that Gehry’s signature is deconstructivist architecture, but his elevations [an architecture term meaning “exterior views”] suck.

“The Williamsburgh Savings Bank building should not have to look down at a clogged toilet bowl every morning,” he added.

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Posted by amy at 12:19 PM

Atlantic Yards Showdown Over the Slowdown

Village Voice: Runnin' Scared
Duncan Meisel

Accusations are flying from all sides of the Atlantic Yards debate over the apparent slowdown in developing the Prospect Heights mega-project. In the four and a half years since the project was announced, delays, lawsuits and controversy have dogged the plan, and some are eying a potential endgame for the project. The timetable for completing the project has been pushed back to 2018, and subsidies for the project ballooned out to $2 billion, even as the first phase of the project has shrunk to include only the Nets Stadium and adjacent office tower.

link

Posted by amy at 12:10 PM

Ratner backer once a pimp

Photo by Adrian Kinloch

The Brooklyn Paper
Ben Muessig

One of Bruce Ratner’s boosters at the pro–Atlantic Yards rally on Saturday is a former strip club manager who used to arrange for dancers to have sex with NBA stars.

The Atlantic Yards supporter, Thomas “Ziggy” Sicignano, who now runs Brooklyn U.S.A., a youth basketball program in Park Slope, said that Ratner’s foundation gave his organization $10,000 in 2005.

That donation came four years after his stunning courtroom admission that he prostituted strippers to attract NBA stars to the Gold Club in Atlanta.

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Posted by amy at 11:48 AM

Writ large

The Brooklyn Paper
Mike McLaughlin

News that the venerable firm of Weil, Gotshal will relocate workers from its IT, finance and operations departments, currently in Midtown, to Bruce Ratner’s Downtown campus this summer was hailed as a major win for the Brooklyn business community.

But the announcement initially sounded more monumental for Metrotech — whose tenants include behind-the-scenes employees of JPMorgan Chase and Bear Stearns. On Tuesday, Forest City Ratner Executive Vice President MaryAnne Gilmartin trumpeted the Weil, Gotshal news at the Brooklyn Real Estate Roundtable, claiming that the deal would involve high-priced law partners and their big expense accounts.

Such “front office” relocations are “a paragon shift” for Metrotech, Gilmartin said.

But hours later, the law firm put out a press release that revealed that only a small portion of its staff will move to 15 Metrotech, between the Myrtle Avenue promenade and Tech Place, this summer. The firm would not say how many of its 1,300 Manhattan-based employees would end up in Brooklyn.

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Posted by amy at 11:45 AM

On the AY web site, the timetable gets an update

timeline5.08.jpg

Atlantic Yards Report

I think the new timetable is unrealistic, especially since Chuck Ratner, CEO of parent Forest City Enterprises, told investment analysts last year, speaking about three other projects, "As you know, in our business, these things take a very long time, most often, frankly, longer than we anticipate."

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Posted by amy at 11:42 AM

Hudson Yards plan snagged by lowered revenues; new plan might involve multiple developers

Atlantic Yards Report

When it comes to megadevelopments, it may be better for developers to lock in the deal, then declare (and even negotiate) a flexible timetable, as with Atlantic Yards.

The negotiations over the Hudson Yards project are a notable counterexample. In an article yesteday headlined Deal to Build at Railyards on West Side Collapses, the New York Times reported:
Six weeks after the Metropolitan Transportation Authority selected Tishman Speyer Properties to build a vast complex of office towers, apartment buildings and parks over the railyards on the West Side of Manhattan, the deal has fallen apart.

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Posted by amy at 11:38 AM

Courier News Round-Up

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Did the Courier stop publishing news online because it was too easy for us to criticize its horrific reporting? Stephen Witt's trifecta of crap really takes the cake today. Although his article on last week's rally, "Yards Foes Called 'Real Land-Grabbers,'" does cover both rallies, eventually, the heading and the first 3/4 of the article could have been written by Ratner. Witt's second diatribe against DDDB, "Dissension Erupts within DDDB's Ranks," is about one member being removed from the steering committee. The article also repeats a quote which was included in the rally article from CBA signer Charlene Nimmons accusing opponents of being land grabbers. If your blood pressure is not yet high enough, continue on to Witt's third installment, "Miss Brooklyn Reinvented," which is a reprint of FCR's press release on the subject.

Posted by amy at 10:33 AM

Yards foes: Let’s set the records straight

The Brooklyn Paper's letter to the editor section was on fire with Ratner criticism. A letter from Daniel Goldstein criticizes a previous letter insinuating that DDDB only represents white, brownstone Brooklynites.

Those who have already been displaced by the threat of eminent domain, and those who remain steadfast in their homes, include rent-stabilized tenants, homeowners, business owners and commercial property owners. This courageous group includes African-Americans, whites, Latinos, and people of South Asian and Middle Eastern descent.

Last we checked, these were all Americans deserving the right to defend what they view as an abuse of their constitutional rights, and an improper seizure of their homes and businesses. DDDB’s support of these tenants and owners is resolute, and absolute.

Steve de Sève wins the humor and irony awards:

How stupid of Bruce Ratner to replace “Miss Brooklyn” with a building called “Building number 1,” especially since it looks like number two. That building literally looks like robot poop! (“The new ‘Miss Brooklyn,’” online update, May 5). Brooklyn Bridge Realty

Hey Frank Gehry, stop dumping on Brooklyn!

Also, one thing that was interesting about Saturday’s rally against Atlantic Yards: There was a counter-protest by some union guys. Imagine: this was the first time I can remember that a “save-our-homes” rally has been protested against.

Larry Penner looks at how developer money pays off officials and community groups (we're looking at you today, Al Sharpton), with taxpayers paying for the projects:

Your recent story about the city’s use of taxpayer dollars to underwrite Bruce Ratner’s land purchases (“Tax dollars paid for this mess,” May 3) was insightful. In too many cases, projects have been heavily subsidized by taxpayers, commonly known as corporate welfare. Between direct government funding, low interest loans and long term tax exemptions, the bill to taxpayers may be greater than the benefits.

There also is a relationship between pay-to-play campaign contributions from developers to elected officials looking for favorable legislation, permits and subsidies. Don’t forget the conflict of interest for senior staff from city or state regulatory and permitting agencies.

Too many leave at the end of any mayoral or governor’s administration to become consultants to the same developers they previously oversaw (yes, I’m talking about you, former Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff).

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Posted by amy at 10:13 AM

May 9, 2008

Yonkers councilwoman's lawyers meet with feds in Ridge Hill probe

The Journal News
By Timothy O'Connor

Here's the latest news on the federal corruption probe investigating matters pertaining to the approval of Forest City Ratner's controversial Ridge Hill development project:

Lawyers for Yonkers City Councilwoman Sandy Annabi met with federal prosecutors and FBI agents yesterday in a long-running probe of the council's handling of the controversial Ridge Hill development.
...
Annabi cast the deciding vote in the council's passage of the $630 million development project on July 11, 2006. She had previously voted against the project.
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The council's handling of the proposed 81-acre development is at the center of a federal investigation launched March 1, 2007, with the issuance of a federal subpoena seeking all council records from the time the seven-member body took up debate of the project in 2004.
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Ridge Hill was not mentioned in that first subpoena; but it was cited in the last two rounds of subpoenas federal prosecutors issued Feb. 5 and March 28.

In the latest subpoena issued in March, federal prosecutors demanded Annabi's financial disclosure form for 2006, all her e-mails from 2004 to March 2008, as well as all of Councilwoman Patricia McDow's e-mails related to Ridge Hill, Forest City Ratner, and Melvin Lowe, who city council members described as a consultant for the developer.

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Posted by lumi at 6:33 PM

A Tale of Two Cities, Only One With Sewers

The New York Times
by Susan Dominus

When Gordhandas Soni, the owner of an Indian food company, agreed to relocate his warehouse and factory to Willets Point, Queens, back in 1990, it never occurred to him to ask about some of the more basic amenities — the sewage system, for example. “You never ask, ‘You have sewers here?’ ” said Mr. Soni, whose business is called House of Spices. “In America, right here, in the heart of New York City? No! It never occurred to me to ask. It would be silly to ask.”
...

Now Mr. Soni has banded together with 11 other businesses in Willets Point, filing a suit charging that the city has neglected to repair potholes and provide basic services like sewers and snow plowing, in an effort to devalue the property and ease the path to redevelopment.

Put in the sewers, and fix the potholes, he and his allies contend, and Willets Point will redevelop itself. The city, in reply, concedes that might be true — but because the area is on a flood plain, the city couldn’t provide sewers without removing the businesses, creating an unfortunate but intractable chicken-and-egg situation.
...

Even if the city could make him whole, Mr. Soni wonders, why shouldn’t he get some additional compensation for the inconvenience of losing his property? As he put it, why should the city “take away from the small guy like me and give to a billion dollar company just so he can make another billion dollars?”
...

Although it’s never easy for American manufacturers to compete with their counterparts in India — especially when it comes to something like an Indian food product — Mr. Soni says that he would be thrilled with his prospects were it not for this major uncertainty hanging over his head, and the threat that the city could invoke eminent domain to take the property.

“I always thought India would be my competition, that India would run me out of business,” he said, watching a machine fill jars with a dark, rich tamarind paste. “I didn’t think it would be New York City.”

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Posted by eric at 12:45 PM

‘Miss Brooklyn’ Renamed & Reconsidered

NY Sun
by James Gardner

NewAYPhaseOneSmall.jpg The Sun's architectural critic thinks the new renderings of Atlantic Yards (or at least a portion of the project) are an upgrade over the previous version.

Forest City Ratner has this week released the latest plans for its contentious development of the Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, more specifically for the parcel of its 22 acres that faces the southwest, looking past the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan. In an architectural context that tends, over time, to drag all things down in the direction of safe and unassuming mediocrity, these plans, from the studio of Frank Gehry, have the distinction of being even bolder than the initial ones and, in some senses, a little better.

But...

With the release of these latest renderings, we finally have some sense of what the Atlantic Yards might actually look like completed. But a great deal could happen between now and then, and the plans could change dramatically in the next few months.

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Posted by eric at 9:40 AM

Site 5 "central" to AY goal, but delay was expected, says ESDC

Atlantic Yards Report

SiteVMissing03.jpg

The new renderings produced by Frank Gehry do not include Site 5, the tower on the wedge of land between Pacific Street and Atlantic, Flatbush, and Fourth avenues, currently home to P.C. Richard and Modell's. Previous renderings (right) did include Site 5.

The General Project Plan approved by the Empire State Development Corporation in December 2006 suggested that Site 5 was a priority:

The development of both Site 5 and Building 1, with high density buildings, is central to the goal of the Project to transform this very public and prominent area by creating architecturally significant buildings that would ring, and be connected to, the transit hub, and by developing uses that would activate and create a vibrant streetscape experience for the public.

Based on the renderings, my surmise is that either the building has been dropped, or its construction has been postponed. I asked ESDC spokesman Warner Johnston for information.

He responded, "Site 5 was never contemplated to be one of the first buildings and will be done in a future phase."

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Posted by lumi at 5:38 AM

May 8, 2008

Increasingly Cautious Lenders Delay Mixed-Use Development

Investor's Business Daily
by Brad Kelly

Shy lenders are trying to avoid mingling with "mixed use." They're putting brakes on developments that blend offices and stores with condominiums, apartments and hotels.

Before the housing bubble's pop and a crunch in credit, developers drew up many mixed-use plans. They were a way to enliven urban blocks and use space economically.

But now it's harder to find lenders who'll back all parts of a project. They vary in which parts of mixed-use they fear.

Some consider office and residential aspects to be higher-risk, says Scott Lynn, a principal at Dallas investment bank Metropolitan Capital Advisors. It's far tougher today, he says, to get financing for mixed-use plans that are part residential, vs. a sole-use retail property.

"Banks are terrified of the residential market and see retail or hotel projects as a safer loan," he said, citing better assurance of income in the latter categories.
...

Developers across the U.S. are delaying mixed-use projects as lenders back away, concerned that risks outweigh returns. High construction costs and worsening fundamentals are jeopardizing major plans.
...

Two months ago in New York, Forest City Ratner Cos. warned of difficulties with office and residential parts of Atlantic Yards, a $4 billion, 22-acre Brooklyn project. Given lack of demand in both niches, the firm said, it would be hard to get enough leasing commitments to secure financing. This week it issued new designs and outlined a 10-year construction schedule that does include offices and residences.

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Posted by eric at 10:01 PM

It came from the Blogosphere...

Jeremiah's Blog, Imminent Domain

My project is called Imminent Domain. This essay will explain why there is such a rush to build so much- if even to build at all. My project exposes a third side to the ongoing dilemma of why so many building projects are being planned in the city, and more importantly, why aren’t they happening. It reveals why in the current time it may be perceived as best to plan as much as possible and get the land (while others can’t afford to keep it), and then to decide what to do with it later, and in the mean time throw up the most extravagant ideas. Imminent Domain explores new projects such as the West Side Stadium, Atlantic Yards, and our very own City Tech Tower project. It explains why the only true sense of imminentness is to get the land—not to build it.

Union-Sackett Block Association, May Event: David vs. Goliath: Neighborhood Planning in the Face of Large-Scale Development

Many observers opine that community-driven plans—official and approved through a city process or unofficial but widely recognized—are no real hedge against unwanted development. But in the cases of West Harlem, Midtown East, and Atlantic Yards, would developers have had carte blanche without community plans? How do community planners believe alternative plans can be more effective? How can alternative plans guarantee that future development will fit consensus-based neighborhood visions? We’ll look at some recent cases—West Harlem, Midtown East, and Prospect Heights/Fort Greene—where developer-driven plans threaten to undermine community vision, and examine the place of community-based planning in these struggles.

The Knickerblogger, McCain on Eminent Domain

Not that I believe, well, anything he says but its got to be embarrassing to be on the wrong side of John McCain on any human rights issue ....'progressive' Bruce Ratner and his Atlantic Yards supporters are just that. Maybe we could ship them to Gitmo bay...and brother Michael will come to their aid.

From the Burrow, BQE

Sufjan's honesty about the highway, not the hula hoops, is what made me a BQE fan-girl. While acknowledging that the BQE represents "bad planning, congestion, and pollution," he sees its more important role in social and economic development:

"[The BQE] is a good way to read the history of Brooklyn from pre-war to World War II to the postwar era. Originally, it was built for transportation purposes, but during the war it served defense purposes. After the war, it was there to create jobs. I think it's much more relevant now than ever, with the building boom around the city, and the Atlantic Yards project. It's hard to imagine we're living in an era with hundreds of projects going on simultaneously."

Posted by eric at 9:40 PM

As Residents Gear Up for Fight, Economy Slows Projects

NewYorksSixth.com

Jersey City blog New York's Sixth draws some parallels between Atlantic Yards and development battles in that city's Powerhouse District.

While residents of the Powerhouse District are lawyering up to fend off the Toll Brother's development, preservation efforts across the river are getting some added help from the economic downtown. Sort of.

One victim of the recent economy downtown might very well be the ailing Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn. That redevelopment plan lead by Forest City Ratner called for constructing massive towers in a mixed use development centered around a new basketball arena. Area residents fought the plan in court, delaying construction on the project during the real estate boom. Now the economy is collapsing, credit is drying up, and the project may never be fully realized.
...

As the lawsuits began tipping in Forest City Ratner's favor, the developer seized on the opportunities to begin leveling properties owned by the company, ostensibly in preparation for construction. However, Ratner's early demolition may actually be a scorched earth tactic in the war between new development and preservationists.

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NoLandGrab: The blogger, and the commenters, warn that opponents of large developments, by delaying projects via lawsuits, have helped (no pun intended) pave the way for the creation of parking lots that blight the landscape. However, if courts granted the injunctions against unnecessary demolitions sought by project opponents, the landscape would still be populated by many perfectly usable buildings, rather than developer-created empty lots.

Posted by eric at 9:25 PM

Second Development-Related Rally in May Expects Hundreds

Bstoner_downtown_brooklyn.jpg
Brownstoner.com
by Sarah Ryley

Brooklyn is expected to see its second massive development-related rally this month on May 17, when hundreds are expected to march to Albee Square protesting the "lack of community involvement in upcoming development plans," according to a press release from Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (FUREE). Last Saturday, hundreds of Brooklynites clashed in a protest and counter-protest over Atlantic Yards. This rally addresses a myriad of other, less publicized effects of Downtown Brooklyn's development boom that have perhaps been overshadowed (pun intended) by the massive arena and high-rise project, or at least its opponents' more forceful media efforts.

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Posted by eric at 6:48 PM

What Might You Eat at a Brooklyn Nets Game?

Grub Street [New York Magazine]

When the basketball arena opens on the Atlantic Yards site in 2010(ish), Nets fans can expect a mythic Brooklyn foodscape. "There will be counters and stands with knishes, pizza, hot dogs, egg creams, cheesecake — the goal is really to provide a distinct Brooklyn flavor," promises arena spokesman Barry Baum. Never mind that Levy Restaurants, a Chicago-based subsidiary of a British company that plies the USTA Center in Queens, is running the concessions. (Tennis fans now enjoy such traditional Flushing dishes as “Blistered Corn Soup” and “Pan-Seared Amish Chicken.”) An on-site kitchen (and separate kosher kitchen) will maintain local flavor, promises Baum.

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NoLandGrab: Does Barry Baum mean "local flavor" like that of the "exclusive carbonated soft drink and bottled water provider" to the Barclays Center, locally Seattle-based Jones Soda Company?

Posted by eric at 5:29 PM

New Port Authority Chief Not So Sure About This Atlantic Yards

Daily Intel [New York Magazine]
by Alec Appelbaum

Chris Ward, due to take over the Port Authority this month, suggests to us that he thinks Bruce Ratner should consider recruiting architects other than Frank Gehry for the Atlantic Yards.

“Flatbush and Atlantic is a totally underused area and a major transportation hub, and I hope we don't lock ourselves into a design that does not allow other architecture or public space,” says Ward. That design is entirely Gehry's; even after Ratner admitted his multi-tower vision might not attract financing, public officials have kept the architect front and center.

“Bruce, with his optimism, is probably feeling that he doesn't have to worry about those contingencies,” Ward continues. “But it would be worthwhile to pay attention to the real-estate risks there.” And, yes, he called him "Bruce": Ward worked under Ratner when the he ran Consumer Affairs in the Koch administration. Still, this warning should hearten the project's opponents: Ward will have a lot of influence over state spending if the developer needs a cash influx.

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NoLandGrab: Chris Ward may be totally pulling our legs, but we already like him better than ex-Port Authority honcho (and ex-ESDC chief) Charles "The Ambassador" Gargano.

Posted by eric at 3:21 PM

Jefferson Charged With Assault

The New York Times

Nets forward Richard Jefferson was charged in a Minneapolis court Wednesday with choking a man who said Jefferson crashed his private birthday party in January.

Jefferson was in Minneapolis for an N.B.A. game against the Timberwolves. The accusation came from Lyle Fox, who, according to a police report, said a hotel area had been roped off for the party. He said Jefferson entered the area, and when he was asked to leave, threw or pushed Fox onto a bench, grabbed him by the throat with both hands and began to choke him.

On “The Mike and Murray Show" on satellite radio, ESPN reported, Jefferson gave a different version of events, saying that he had been approached by someone who was rude and disrespectful and that no punching or choking took place.

Jefferson is charged with assault in the fifth degree-harm. He is scheduled for a court hearing June 18, although Matt Laible, a city spokesman, said Jefferson did not have to be present if his lawyer was there. The charge was a misdemeanor, and if Jefferson is found guilty, he will face a sentence of up to 90 days or a fine up to $1,000 or both.

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NoLandGrab: Does that mean plans for Bring Richard Jefferson to School Day are on hold?

Posted by eric at 12:08 PM

McCain on His Judicial Philosophy

McCain.jpg

RealClearPolitics.com

While the candidates for the Democratic Party's nomination are beating each other up over Jeremiah Wright and spurious gas-tax holidays, the presumptive Republican nominee is speaking out against eminent domain abuse.

The year 2005 also brought the case of Susette Kelo before the Supreme Court. Here was a woman whose home was taken from her because the local government and a few big corporations had designs of their own on the land, and she was getting in the way. There is hardly a clearer principle in all the Constitution than the right of private property. There is a very clear standard in the Constitution requiring not only just compensation in the use of eminent domain, but also that private property may be taken only for "public use." But apparently that standard has been "evolving" too. In the hands of a narrow majority of the court, even the basic right of property doesn't mean what we all thought it meant since the founding of America. A local government seized the private property of an American citizen. It gave that property away to a private developer. And this power play actually got the constitutional "thumbs-up" from five members of the Supreme Court.

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Posted by eric at 11:10 AM

When will Olin's new open space designs be released? (Soon)

Atlantic Yards Reports

Norman Oder wonders when we might get new renderings from Atlantic Yards landscape architect Laurie Olin.

First Frank Gehry's new designs, then more from Laurie Olin? That sounds like developer Forest City Ratner's new Atlantic Yards strategy.
...

As I pointed out Tuesday, Olin's somewhat stale designs, curiously enough, remain in the Atlantic Yards Image Gallery.

However, as Gehry's new graphics suggest, the Urban Room would be quite different. Thus Olin's designs surely will be updated--but when?

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Posted by eric at 8:49 AM

Brooklyn Downtown Star Twofer Thursday

Residents Call Time Out on Net’s Stadium
by Jeffrey Harmatz

A large demonstration was held in the footprint of the Atlantic Yards development last Saturday to urge the new governor to put a hold on further demolitions at the site and reconsider the entire project in light of new statements made by Bruce Ratner, CEO of Forest City Ratner, about the project’s hazy future in a recent interview with The New York Times.

One counter-demonstrator gave this novel reason for his support of the project:

“We’ve got big problems with parking in this neighborhood,” said Wayne Joseph, who came out in support of Atlantic Yards. “The building is great, and it looks like it will make parking a lot easier around here, and that’s something that’s very important to me.”

Atlantic Yards or Atlantic Lots?
by Shane Miller

A team of architects commissioned by the Municipal Art Society released a set of renderings this week that reveal a “lot” about the potential future of Forest City Ratner’s Atlantic Yards project in Prospect Heights.

The architects, who wished to remain anonymous, predict a situation where actual construction of Phase 2 of the project – which contains the majority of the buildings and the affordable units – takes decades to complete. In the meantime, they suggest, the land would be used for parking.

Forest City Ratner, in its plans filed with the state, has said that all of the land needed to build the 11 towers would be cleared and used for parking until construction begins.

Posted by eric at 7:58 AM

Atlantic Yards Reboot Poll: Miss Brooklyn or B1?

MissBvsB1.jpg

Curbed.com

Curbed lets you play American Idol, Starchitecture edition.

On the left, we have Frank Gehry's original Miss Brooklyn, released almost exactly two years ago. On the right, is the new contender, the unfortunately named B1, released this morning. Whether B2 or Mr. Flatbush are coming in 12-24 months is unknown, but B1 is the latest Atlantic Yards thinking.

Which is better, Miss Brooklyn or B1?

Cast your vote

NoLandGrab: Commenter #7 had this to say: "B1! The name harks back to the bomber that never worked, and the perfect defense against a terror attack is a building that already looks blown up!"

Posted by eric at 7:52 AM

Closing Bell: Gehry's Arena Turns Blue

Brownstoner

Blue-n-Bendy.jpg

The arena has been altered as well, and now it's blue! Per a press release from developer Forest City Ratner's people: "The Barclays Center, the future home of the NBA Nets franchise, has also received an updated design. Frank Gehry’s swooping blue metallic exterior surrounds the Center and is in keeping with his world-renown distinctive style."

We've posted some of those other world-renowned buildings. Notice that Brooklyn's metal is the least bend-y.

link-y

Posted by lumi at 6:36 AM

FCR, at least, says there's $205 million from NYC for AY

Atlantic Yards Report

organ.jpg Is a mouth organ for Atlantic Yards making a finer distinction than the house organ?

Remember that Crain's New York Business article this week quoting anonymous sources (presumably city officials) who said that critics mischaracterized the $105 million in infrastructure funding added to the city's initial $100 million subsidy:

Though listed under Atlantic Yards in the city budget, the work is not part of the development.

Well, Forest City Ratner's recently updated official Atlantic Yards FAQ doesn't make such fine distinctions, adding the city's $205 million to the state's $100 million subsidy.

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Posted by lumi at 6:28 AM

MetroTech Campus: ‘More Interest Than Available Office Space’

Quarterly Real Estate Roundtable Hears From Forest City’s Gilmartin

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Linda Collins reports that a Forest City VP publicly stated that construction on the Atlantic Yards signature tower (affectionately redubbed, "B1 Bomber") won't begin until 50% of the space has been leased:

Gilmartin-BDE.jpg

“We have more interest than we have space,” said MaryAnne Gilmartin about the MetroTech Center in Downtown Brooklyn. “We have no space that’s vacant. We have space that is rolling, but spoken for.”

Gilmartin, of Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC), was speaking at the Brooklyn Real Estate Quarterly Roundtable before a “record crowd” at the Brooklyn Historical Society Tuesday about the different kinds of commercial tenants the company is seeing now.
...
Gilmartin was also quizzed about the Atlantic Yards project. (Gehry’s updated designs were published in the Eagle on Tuesday.)

“The project is moving forward and work on the [Barclay] arena will begin in the later part of 2008,” she said. “It is one of the most beautiful arenas ever designed, ever built, and will be a big plus for Brooklyn.” She added that she is certain the Nets will be playing there in the 2010-2011 season.

Work will begin on the new office building, formerly known as Miss Brooklyn but now called B-1, when an anchor tenant has been secured, according to Gilmartin. At least 50 percent of the 650,000-square-foot building must be leased before construction can begin.

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Posted by lumi at 6:20 AM

Comptroller Thompson on Atlantic Yards: "I'm not sure what that project is any longer."

DDDB.net [Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn]

Thompson-notsure.jpg It is really worth repeating, since none of the mainstream media organizations picked up this little tidbit reported by Norman Oder of Atlantic Yards Report, regarding some guy who is making a run for Mayor.

Here is an astounding quote by City Comptroller (and mayoral candidate) William Thompson made at a panel discussion at the New School’s Center for New York City Affairs titled "Maintaining Momentum: Can New York’s Ambitious Development Agenda Survive an Economic Downturn." Norman Oder, on his Atlantic Yards Report was the only one to report it:

...Moderator Greg David, editor of Crain’s New York Business, and City Comptroller (and mayoral candidate) William Thompson urged that the project proceed, while Julia Vitullo-Martin of the Manhattan Institute (who called the project "corporate socialism") and Brad Lander of the Pratt Center for Community Development endorsed a rethink, albeit for somewhat different reasons.

Still, Thompson acknowledged, “I’m not sure what that project is any longer” and even dangled the hint that it might be revived by bringing in additional developers, as the city comes to the belated realization that single-developer projects pose certain dangers.

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Posted by lumi at 6:05 AM

Castle Watch Daily land grab coverage

rally-graphic.jpg Brooklynites tell city officials: “Time Out!”

Councilmember Letitia James summarized the goal of the protest when she spoke to the crowd:

“I remain steadfast in my opposition to Atlantic Yards. The project has definitively proven itself to be a classic bait and switch. For this reason, the demolitions need to stop, the subsidies need to stop and eminent domain must be taken off the table. It’s time to stop blighting my district. I’m calling on Gov. Paterson to put a halt to the project. Then, my city and state colleagues and I, along with the Governor, can start over with a new plan to develop the rail yards that works for the people of Brooklyn.”

Meanwhile, the project’s developer, Bruce Ratner, now says that the project will not be completed for another decade.

Looking for another “preferred developer” in New London

The latest on that all-important land grab that went all the way to the US Supreme Court because the City of New London's economic redevelopment plan hinged on the ability to seize peoples' homes to make way for new ones:

May 29 is the date New London preferred developer Corcoran Jennings is supposed to have financing to begin construction on the site. So far, there has been no building, none of that revitalization, no increased tax revenue–just dead, vacant land, aside from the transformation of naval building into office space. The plan for new housing looks like it may never happen.

NolandGrab: You can't make this stuff up — New London's legislators went all the way to the US Supreme Court in order to raze an entire neighborhood and now it might end up with persistent blight for years to come. Not only is this shameful and sick, it's a waste all around and, some would say, immoral.

Posted by lumi at 5:53 AM

NY Court of Appeals Doesn’t Want To Hear Atlantic Yards Case

Brooklyn Daily Eagle
By Ryan Thompson

The Eagle expresses low expectations for the remainder of the lawsuits that stand in the way of Bruce Ratner's controversial Atlantic Yards project:

With five lawsuits having now been brought by the opponents of the $4 billion project, the state and federal courts at all levels so far have issued denial after denial, dismissal after dismissal.

The latest court that failed to be persuaded by the plaintiffs was New York state’s highest court, the New York Court of Appeals. The high court, which includes Brooklyn-born Judge Theodore T. Jones, who was once the administrative judge of the Kings County Supreme Court on Adams Street, denied leave to appeal and granted $100 in court costs to the Empire State Development Corporation, which is largely behind the 22-acre development project.

This means the end of the line for this one particular case, Anderson, et al v. New York State Urban Development Corp., et al. Other appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court and state appellate courts are perhaps just as unlikely to win. They do, however, continue to exist in the legal realm for the time being.

Posted by lumi at 5:50 AM

Lotsa "Atlantic Lots"

StreetsBlog, Atlantic Yards or Atlantic Lots?

With development projects across the city threatened by an uncertain economy, critics of Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project believe that a slowdown in construction could burden Prospect Heights with decades of blight. A slide show by the Municipal Art Society, called "Atlantic Yards or Atlantic Lots?," offers a bleak look into the future, like this rendering of neighborhood blocks destroyed for "temporary" surface lots that would accommodate some 1,400 cars.

MAS is calling on Governor David Paterson to suspend demolition in order to prepare an interim development plan, and has a link to a web form through which members of the public can contact Paterson directly.

The Campaign for Community-Based Planning, Atlantic Yards = Atlantic Lots?

Following up on this weekend’s Call Time-Out on Atlantic Yards rally, the Municipal Art Society has released renderings of what the area might look like as demolitions continue and only a small piece of the proposed project is actually built. Visit atlanticlots.com for a slide show.

Posted by lumi at 5:42 AM

Defying an Uncertain Market

The Cooperator
By Raanan Geberer

Build it, and they will come:

All over the country, one hears about “the real estate bubble bursting,” but that metaphor doesn’t seem to have reached New York yet.

Whether looking at online or print listings, one sees hundreds of pages of new condos for sale in Williamsburg, Harlem, Tribeca, Bushwick, Prospect Heights and other areas. Prices can range from about $270,000 to tens of millions of dollars, and the names associated with new projects in the city read like a who’s who of real estate investment and development. Developers with projects on-deck for occupancy this year and 2009 include Gary Barnett (Extell), Richard Meier, Mario Percedo, Steven Ross (Related), Jeff Levine (Douglaston Development), Ron Moelis (L&M Equities), Toll Brothers, Veronica Hackett (The Clarett Group), Bruce Ratner (Forest City Ratner), Joe Moinan (the Moinan Group), Ed Minskoff (Minskoff Equities), The Albanese Organization, The Sheldrake Organization, LCOR, SJP Properties, Alchemy Properties, Boymelgreen, Don Capoccia (BFC Partners) and ARC Development.

“It’s not like anyone has stopped [building],” says Frank Percesepe, vice president of residential sales for The Corcoran Group in Brooklyn, and some companies have multiple projects in the works, or recently completed and ready for buyers.

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Posted by lumi at 5:37 AM

Weil, Gotshal Grows, in Brooklyn

The AM Law Daily
By Brian Baxter

[See headline for how the overused literary reference grows in Brooklyn.]

Fictional corporate lawyer Miranda Hobbs turned her nose up at Brooklyn in the HBO television series Sex and the City. But today Brooklyn real estate is so hot that Weil, Gotshal & Manges--ranked tenth in this year's Am Law 100--is opening a Kings County office.

Weil is relocating staff members from its finance, operations, and IT departments into 35,000 square feet of new space at 15 MetroTech Center in downtown Brooklyn. Weil real estate cohead Philip Rosen says the move across the East River, which is scheduled for August, is the first for a major firm. ...
Asked if the move has anything to do with the proposed Atlantic Yards development project, Rosen says Weil has "not yet" been retained on the downtown Brooklyn venture.

And while there are not yet plans to migrate lawyers to MetroTech--a stone's throw from the federal and state courts that ring Cadman Plaza--Rosen says not to "rule that out as a future possibility."

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Posted by lumi at 5:26 AM

Tough times call for oracle's return

NY Daily News
By Matthew Lysiak

The Brooklyn oracle is making a comeback.

After a four-month absence, the Park Slope prophet will soon be returning to answer questions at the special antique phone outside Pintchik's hardware store.

"Oracle Returns. Are you ready with a question?" flashed the blinking billboard in large neon red letters outside Pintchik's on Flatbush Ave.

Brooklynites can use some answers.

"Can the oracle tell me if [developer Bruce] Ratner is still going to take my building," said Joseph Pastore, 64, who fears his Dean St. building will fall to the Atlantic Yards project.

link

NoLandGrab: Maybe others would like to answer Pastore's question. Ask Governor Paterson here.

Posted by lumi at 5:21 AM

there goes the water tower

Photo of the deconstruction of the Ward Bakery water tower by horsecraze, via Atlantic Yards Photo Pool

WardWaterTower.jpg

Posted by lumi at 5:13 AM

May 7, 2008

Another win for Ratner; state appellate court denies appeal on relocation case

Atlantic Yards Report

In November, as I reported, a state appellate court unanimously upheld the relocation plan for 13 residential tenants due to be displaced by the Atlantic Yards development. The attorney for the tenants wanted to appeal that case to the Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, but that appeal, which is at the discretion of the appellate court that upheld the relocation plan, has been denied.

The case, known as Matter of Anderson v. New York State Urban Development Corporation (the latter now doing business as the Empire State Development Corporation, or ESDC), was the second brought by attorney George Locker on behalf of 13 tenants (12 in rent-stabilized units) at 624 Pacific Street and 473 Dean Street. He has since filed a third case challenging the timetable for the project.
...

Locker had said that this case was the only one formally blocking the ESDC from moving to condemn properties. Still, it’s likely the agency wouldn’t proceed against plaintiffs in the eminent domain case until the latter case--currently on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court--is resolved.

article

NoLandGrab: Norman Oder has once again scooped the mainstream media, who'll likely catch on when Forest City Ratner issues the inevitable press release erroneously claiming that they're now 19-0 in court decisions.

Posted by eric at 9:36 AM

Frank Gehry's new Miss Brooklyn- B1

Pasilalinic-Sympathetic Compass

The litany of Frank Gehry's real-world design bloopers sets the stage for one critic's pan of the latest designs for three buildings in the 17-building Atlantic Yards complex.

“B1” is a monstrosity- it looks like a child was building a diorama for a school project when someone bumped into the table before glue set. How the public is even supposed to tell what is what amazes me- I have a trained eye and I can’t make out what the mass of toothpicks at the base of the structure is. I am insulted that Gehry is attempting to use vapid, hollow artist statements to justify a design that he clearly wasn’t expecting to have to defend.

Gehry's defense of the red and pink horror (B2) that towers beside the gold cardboard-box was one of the most patronizing statements I’ve heard issued from the FCR/Gehry camp. The pink and red is supposedly there to “speak to the residential fabric of the neighborhood.” And we, as Brooklynites, are not supposed to know any better, because clearly we do not understand art, and this is great; the man understands our residential fabric! Clearly he understands it better than myself, because last time I looked around the Atlantic Yards footprint, I saw brownstones, row houses, limestone and granite facades and accents. But then again, I’m not even sure if Frank Gehry has even been in Brooklyn.

link

Posted by lumi at 6:43 AM

Missing green roof joins list of promises broken; will it impact EIS lawsuit?

AYR-greenroofgone.jpg Atlantic Yards Report

In the list of Atlantic Yards promises broken, the newly-revealed loss of a green roof (3+ acres) on the arena follows 1) the decision to make promised publicly-accessible open space on the arena private and 2) the decision to move the project's flagship tower (then called "Miss Brooklyn"), promised to not block views of the Williamsburgh Savings Bank's clock tower, so it would block such views, even with a reduction in height.

The difference might be that the green roof was relied on significantly in the Empire State Development Corporation's environmental review because it would help with stormwater management and thus help prevent against CSOs (combined sewer overflows).

Does its loss invalidate the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which has been challenged in state court? Unclear. The case was dismissed and is now on appeal, with arguments to be heard in September.

Norman Oder excerpts Matthew Schuerman's report on WNYC and highlights the numerous citations in the Environmental Impact Statement of the mitigating effect of the "green roof" on the adverse impacts of the project.

article

Posted by lumi at 6:33 AM

Forest City Ratner VP's white lie(?) about white-shoe tenant

Gilmartin-CNB.jpg You'd think that Forest City Ratner would tell the truth, just once in a while, for funzies. Apparently The Brooklyn Paper did too.

The Brooklyn Paper ran with a report that "white-shoe law firm" Weil, Gotshal was relocating to Brooklyn, on the apparent say-so of a Forest City Ratner executive:

Forest City Ratner Vice President Mary Anne Gilmartin made the announcement at the Brooklyn Real Estate Roundtable on Tuesday that the 500-lawyer white shoe firm would soon relocate to Metrotech.

“It’s a paragon shift from back-office to more-discerning tenants,” she said.

Norman "the Mad Overkiller" Oder promptly oderized the Brooklyn Paper, after reading the Weil, Gotshal press release and doing some more research.

A press release from the law firm states:

[The firm] will expand from its New York City headquarters by opening a new office in Downtown Brooklyn's MetroTech Center... The office will house several of the firm's staff groups, including employees in Information Systems, Finance and Operations.

The press release states that the firm will lease 35,000 square feet of space. That's only ten percent of the amount of space the firm has in Manhattan.

As Real Estate Weekly reported in 1996, the firm renewed its lease for 350,000 square feet of office space, occupying approximately 11 floors in the General Motors building located at 767 Fifth Avenue. The new, 21-year lease term will commence in 1998...

In the subsequent revision, Brooklyn Paper editor Gersh Kuntzman expressed dismay at Gilmartin's wild exaggeration, in which she bragged about MetroTech's new-found caché by upgrading "back office space" to "front office space."

Kuntzman didn't give credit for the exposé to the wily Oder, who made the point in the "discussion" section of the online article.

NoLandGrab: "Paragon shift?" Someone better drop Gilmartin a "paradigm."

Posted by lumi at 5:40 AM

Atlantic Yards Loses Green Roof for Arena, 2016 Completion Date

WNYC reporter Matthew Schuerman has focused on the removal of the "green roof" and the new completion date in his coverage of the latest architectural renderings released by Atlantic Yards developer Forest City Ratner:

The news came during a roll-out of a redesign of the first phase of the Atlantic Yards, which includes the basketball arena, and two buildings. WNYC's Matthew Scheuermann discusses the changes with All Things Considered host Amy Eddings.

link

NoLandGrab: To be clear, this redesign is of the arena and two buildings in Phase 1. No details were released on the two other high-rises surrounding the arena and Site V, across Flatbush Ave, is totally absent.

Posted by lumi at 5:20 AM

Slowed Atlantic Yards Project Could Mean Empty Lots

Gothamist

MAS-ParkingLotGmist.jpg

As a counterpoint to the new renderings of Frank Gehry's redesign for the Atlantic Yards flagship tower, here's a different perspective on the project's future look. The Municipal Art Society [MAS] has assembled a compelling slideshow that serves as a sort of dystopian crystal ball, depicting what could come come if Bruce Ratner moves forward with his development on 22-acres of land in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.

The MAS renderings take as a starting point Ratner’s recent admission that the economic downturn will stall most of the proposed construction for the time being. But since he still intends to raze everything in the project’s footprint and break ground on the stadium and one building, the MAS slideshow envisions a desolate expanse of vacant lots surrounding a lonely arena for decades to come.

article

Posted by lumi at 5:10 AM

Federal probe into approval of Forest City Ratner's Ridge Hill project continues

gotcorruption.gif WNBC.com, Corruption Probe Focuses On $630M Yonkers Project

Scrutiny, sources said, has fallen on City Councilwoman Sandy Annabi, who had opposed the $630 million Ridge Hill project in 2005 but subsequently changed her position and voted for it the following year. Her attorney, Murray Richman, had no comment Monday.

Prosecutors, sources said, have also been asking about the role of veteran lobbyist Al Pirro, whose Web site for his firm, The Pirro Group, lists the Ridge Hill developers among his clients. Pirro, husband of former Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro, said he has done nothing wrong.
...
Ridge Hill, a project of Forest City Ratner, is slated to bring 1,000 apartments, 1.3 million square feet of retail space and a movie complex to 81 acres near Sprain Lake.

"We're cooperating with the investigation," said Loren Riegelhaupt, spokesman for Forest City Ratner, developers of Ridge Hill as well as the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn.

The Journal News, Forest City Ratner lobbying campaign for Ridge Hill detailed
Details are surfacing about Forest City Ratner's lobbying campaign for the approval of the development company's other controversial regional megaproject. The exact purpose of several meetings are unclear, so unclear that targets remain certain that nothing untowards happened, though they still have no idea why Forest City asked for the meeting.

Posted by lumi at 4:03 AM

May 6, 2008

Atlantic Yards Rally Urges for Time Out

GlobeSt.com
by Natalie Dolce

Real estate web site GlobeSt.com covers the recent developments in the battle over Atlantic Yards, including a rather outlandish claim about the size of the Forest City Ratner-orchestrated counter-demonstration.

Developer Bruce Ratner says the Atlantic Yards project is moving forward--and he's vowing to break ground on a basketball arena this year. On Saturday afternoon, hundreds of people came together both to support and to protest the $4-billion project. A Forest City Ratner Cos. spokesperson tells GlobeSt.com that "we had about a three to one ratio, at least, of people in support to those opposed."

article

NoLandGrab: Opponents of Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project are quite used to the developer's obfuscations and prevarications, so it's no surprise that the company's spinmeisters would claim vast superiority in the number of protesters; neutral observers estimated that the respective crowds were much closer in size. And if you were to subtract those "supporters" who stand to benefit financially from the project, you might get an altogether different ratio.

Posted by eric at 3:57 PM

New Designs for Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards Project Revealed Amid Controversy

Commercial Property News
by Barbra Murray

Forest City Ratner Cos., developer of the $4 billion mixed-use Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, just unveiled the most recent renderings of the development. The presentation of the new renderings by celebrated architect Frank Gehry were accompanied by Forest City's reiteration that it will build the project in its entirety with over 2,250 affordable housing units, despite claims from angry groups that the project is detrimental to the city and will not produce the benefits promised.
...

Despite Forest City's promises, numerous groups are crying foul, and they made their stance known just prior to CEO Ratner's public confirmation of the company's plans and development timeline. Last Saturday, hundreds gathered at the Atlantic Yards site to protest the development and to call for the Governor to halt the project until issues are addressed, with community input. Among the protestors' issues is the fear that, given the credit crunch, increased construction costs and the downturn in the real estate market, Forest City will not retain certain key aspects of the project it has promised to deliver. In response to the rally, Bruce Bender, Forest City executive vice president for government and public affairs, issued a statement noting that continuing site work for the planned groundbreaking is essential to keeping the project's delivery on schedule and making available affordable housing residences as soon as possible. Additional concerns about Atlantic Yards abound. Additionally, the Municipal Art Society of New York recently revealed architectural renderings that demonstrate the negative impact the developer's planned temporary parking lots will have on the area. The organization claims that what Forest City deems temporary parking will likely exist for over 10 years and add to the blight the project is designed to replace.

article

NoLandGrab: The article concludes on this curious note: "Atlantic Yards, however, still has its backers; among them are Brooklyn Endeavor Experience Inc. and the Atlantic Yards CBA Executive Committee."

Indeed.

[UPDATE: Commercial Property News has emended this story, removing the sentence we highlighted above in response to a message from author and Atlantic Yards critic Steve Ettlinger, who pointed out the "backers" cited are supported financially by Forest City Ratner.]

Posted by eric at 3:39 PM

Give heave-ho to 'Lego' building, say Atlantic Yards critics

NY Daily News
by Jotham Sederstrom

Call it a scrap heap, a life-size land of Legos or, as one critic described it, a post-apocalyptic nightmare - just don't call it fit for Kings County.

One day after the release of scaled-back new designs for the controversial Atlantic Yards project, New Yorkers took a bite out of the spiraling, Lego-like remake of the signature 620-foot Miss Brooklyn building.

"You're kidding, right?" said Anthony Lomastro, 62, when shown renderings of the wild-eyed, glass-and-steel skyscraper, now called Building One. "That looks like it's falling down instead of going up. It's awful."

article

Posted by eric at 11:19 AM

Atlantic Lots and today's media roundup

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder ponders the new renderings from the Municipal Art Society, looks at news coverage of the very recent developments in the battle over Atlantic Yards, and asks what's becoming a predictable question:

Where's the Times?

The New York Times ignored the AY story completely. Baffling.

article

Posted by eric at 11:07 AM

Nets owner-builder says team grows in Brooklyn, not Newark

Newark Star-Ledger
by Maura McDermott

New Jersey State Senate President Richard Codey isn't buying the tale that the Nets will be playing in Brooklyn in 2010.

State Senate President Richard Codey said he did not believe the Brooklyn arena could open in two years, given the delays it has faced so far and the turmoil in the real estate market.

Ratner bought the team in 2004 with plans to move it to New York City.

"Four years later, we're getting a rendering?" Codey said yesterday. "It's becoming ridiculous. They're not going to be playing in Brooklyn in 2010."

article

Posted by eric at 10:52 AM

Decoding the FCR press release on Site 5, the arena, and "Building 1"

Atlantic Yards Report

Who killed Site 5?

The Forest City Ratner press release that followed yesterday's Daily News exclusive confirms some things only hinted at in the coverage.

Notably, the building at Site 5 seems to have vanished, the arena would be surrounded with more metal than glass, and the billing of Building 1 (formerly called Miss Brooklyn) as slimmer still doesn't obscure the fact that it would be nearly twice as bulky as the Williasmburgh Savings Bank, one foot taller at 512 feet.

And Frank Gehry, under the control of the developer's p.r. department, gushes about the potential for the flagship tower, though he avoids calling it, as he did two years ago, "my ego trip."

Also, despite developer Bruce Ratner's statement in a press release that "we mark a significant chapter in Atlantic Yards’ progress," the new image gallery released yesterday is significantly less ambitious than the one released nearly two years ago, in May 2006, given that it includes only three buildings, omits Site 5, and omits any designs for Phase 2.

The failure to produce any more images casts further doubt on the developer's plans for the project at large.

article

Posted by eric at 10:15 AM

More press coverage of the new renderings

GehryModel-v2-NY1.jpg NY1, Atlantic Yards Project Is Redesigned For An Opening By 2018 [dialup/broadband]

WNYC News Radio, Ratner Extends End Date for Atlantic Yards Project
First developer Bruce Ratner blamed market conditions, but that caused a panic, so now the problem is "land acquisition?"

Developer Bruce Ratner is giving himself two more years to finish the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, from 2016, to 2018, because he's having trouble acquiring the land for the massive project.

MetroNY, Ratner’s plan remains alive
Metro reporter Amy Zimmer was one of the few reporters who included critical reaction to the new architectural renderings and statement from developer Bruce Ratner:

Rather than this “interim step,” Julia Vitullo-Martin of the Manhattan Institute wanted the developer and city officials to take “a pause to think” not about simply downsizing but “address the underlying problems.” She said, “The problem smacks of traditional 1950s, 1960s urban renewal” where a large project is proposed and pushed even if “the market is not ready for it.”

“The new designs raise more ques­tions than they answer,” said Brad Lander, executive director of the Pratt Center for Community Develop­ment. “Will Forest City Ratner continue to demolish buildings in Phase II to construct a giant parking lot that separates our neighborhoods?”

Posted by lumi at 6:22 AM

Not ‘Miss Brooklyn’ Anymore; Now, It’s Just ‘Building One’

FCRPR01.gif The Brooklyn Daily Eagle basically ran the Forest City Ratner press release (PDF) with a few minor changes (in italics):

During the approval process, as the Eagle has previously reported, Forest City agreed to reduce the height of B1 to ensure it was not taller than the Williamsburgh Savings Bank (now One Hanson Place), the tallest building in Brooklyn, across the street. “Building One” will now stand 511 feet and 34 stories tall.

link

Posted by lumi at 6:03 AM

Newark a Good Backup Plan for Nets

The NY Sun
By Evan Weiner

Moving the NJ Nets to Newark sounds like a sensible idea to a lot of people, especially the fan base, but is it feasible and how would the deal be financially structured?

Moving to Newark, on the other hand, is not necessarily going to be easy, and it may be a very tough sell. The way the NBA and NHL work financially may mean that Ratner will have to sell his team or become a part-owner of the Devils.

Getting the Nets into Vanderbeek’s building is simple on paper, but it is also extremely complicated, because of how revenues generated inside his building are distributed. Ratner would need access to monies from luxury boxes, club seats, and in-arena concession areas. Vanderbeek would theoretically have to give up lucrative revenue streams from NBA games that he would normally keep from non-Devils events in the building. But Ratner could not financially survive without getting the lion’s share of those revenues.

Vanderbeek and Ratner would have to create a partnership along the lines of those in Chicago, Dallas, or Washington to succeed. In 1988, Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf and the late William Wirtz, owner of the Blackhawks, decided to build jointly a new Chicago arena, sharing in its cost and sharing the revenues generated in the building. The partnership has grown over the years to include a share in a Chicago sports channel that is owned by Comcast, Reinsdorf (who also owns the White Sox), the Tribune Company (which owns the Cubs), and the Wirtz family. Reinsdorf and the Wirtz family are also cross-promoting the White Sox and Blackhawks, with events at both the arena and at U.S. Cellular Field, the White Sox ballyard.

article

Posted by lumi at 5:51 AM

AY Image Gallery 2006 vs. Image Gallery 2008

Atlantic Yards Report

Is the Atlantic Yards project really progressing? The current Image Gallery has the exact same renderings by landscape architect Laurie Olin that were unveiled in May 2006 (bottom). Also, it's a smaller gallery because it lacks any images of Site 5, Phase 2, or neighborhood perspectives, flawed as they may be.

article

Posted by lumi at 5:48 AM

The new ‘Miss Brooklyn’

The Brooklyn Paper
By Gersh Kuntzman

GehryModel-v2B1.jpg

“Miss Brooklyn” is dead — but Bruce Ratner has released new renderings (above) of the 511-foot tower that he hopes will take her place.

Ratner has said he won’t build the Frank Gehry–designed tower, now called “Building B-1,” until he finds an anchor tenant. And he told the New York Times last month that the entire Atlantic Yards project consists of the publicly financed basketball arena (which has taken on even more of Gehry’s signature look) and two smaller buildings around it.

But this weekend, he did an about-face an op-ed in the Daily News (and suggested that our recent front page was inaccurate, despite the fact that Miss Brooklyn is, indeed, dead and that Ratner himself admits that the Atlantic Yards that was approved in December, 2006, has, indeed, been significantly altered).

Ratner’s op-ed claimed that Atlantic Yards was right on target, though it repeated that the Miss Brooklyn tower had been eliminated until an anchor tenant is found.

article

NoLandGrab: You can include the name of the signature tower in the recent vacillations from Bruce Ratner. Speculation is that the moniker "Building 1" is a placeholder for "[Insert anchor tenant] Tower."

Posted by lumi at 5:39 AM

It came from the Blogosphere...

Blogosphere113.jpg

Gowanus Lounge, New Gehry Atlantic Yards Renderings vs. “Nightmare Vision”

Interesting comment:

johnnyate
Gehry has used the image of a fish many times in his buildings. Look! A giant red herring.

Gowanus Lounge, Atlantic Yards “Time Out” Rally: A Few Words & Many Pictures

Gowanus Lounge, At the “Pro-Atlantic Yards Demonstration”

Who are the people who make up Ratner's pr patrol?

Brownstoner.com, Atlantic Yards or Atlantic Lots?

A local I-heart-Atlantic-Yards support group is forming in the comments section of this news roundup.

Curbed.com, The Atlantic Yards Reboot: Battle for Hearts & Minds Rages

Coverage of the "War for the Hearts & Minds of Brooklynites."

Runnin' Scared [The Village Voice], Exclusives Roundup: John Gotti, Atlantic Yards and Dog Poo

The Daily News has an exclusive photo of the revamped "Miss Brooklyn" building, the crown jewel of Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project. The skyscraper, designed by Frank Gehry, has been redesigned and is 100 feet shorter than originally planned. Instead of having commercial and residential space, the building now known as "B1" will be strictly a commercial space. The Post has some renderings of what the controversial project might look like if these delays continue. The prospect is grim indeed, with too much parking and not enough buildings.

Posted by eric at 4:36 AM

DDDB PRESS RELEASE: New Frank Gehry Atlantic Yards Design:
"Ridiculous" Design Has No Impact on Stalled Project

Renderings Only Show Phase 1 of Project

Leaving Out Bulk of "Affordable" Housing

BROOKLYN, NY— Today Forest City Ratner and its architect Frank Gehry released new designs for a portion of the $4 billion Atlantic Yards proposal in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. The architectural renderings show a new design for the project’s proposed arena and 2 other buildings in Phase 1 of the project. But the developer shows no rendering at all for Phase 2--the larger part of the project--which is planned to encompass about 78% of the 2,250 "affordable" units. A State Funding Agreement provides no timeline whatsoever for Phase 2 and the developer has not provided a credible timeline for Phase 2.

"The new design from Frank Gehry is no better than the last--in reality it has gone from the absurd to the ridiculous aesthetically and programmatically," said Ron Shiffman, Professor, Pratt Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment and a New York City Planning Commissioner [1990-1996]. The fact that there isn’t a new design released for Phase 2 concerns me greatly. It seems like there is no plan for the bulk of the affordable housing, which would be in Phase 2. To destroy buildings of significant quality that could house people and jobs for what looks like an open-ended series of parking lots, rather than housing that could be affordable to low and moderate income area residents, is terrible planning and policy."

The New York Daily News published the Frank Gehry renderings as an exclusive. The paper reports that the so-called "Miss Brooklyn" signature skyscraper, is now called simply "Building 1." The reduction of that tower from 620 feet to 511 feet was announced as a "concession" on December 20, 2006 when the project was approved by the Public Authorities Control Board. Today marks the first time the reduction has been shown in a rendering. The rendering does not show the project’s massive scale as it relates to the surrounding neighborhood; its only context is a dark void explaining nothing about the projects context.

The NY Post published exclusive renderings from the Municipal Art Society (MAS) which show the project fully built out within the existing neighborhood context, as well as built only in part (an arena. and one building) surrounded by newly demolished, blighting parking lots. Apparently the MAS renderings were motivated by the March 21 NY Times interview with Mr. Ratner where the developer described the trouble he was having getting his project off the ground.

"Mr. Gehry and Mr. Ratner can release redesigns of Atlantic Yards’s buildings every week if they’d like, but that wouldn’t respond to the core reasons for the widespread opposition to the project," said Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn spokesman Daniel Goldstein. "The new designs are a fantasy. The project lacks committed financing (including tax-free housing bonds and a bond for the arena), an anchor tenant, and the land needed for the project, while Ratner faces vigorous litigation, a frightening credit market and exponential increases in construction costs. His project is in serious jeopardy. So when he says he ‘anticipates’ it will be completed in 2018, it's simply not credible. It means nothing."

DEVELOP DON'T DESTROY BROOKLYN leads a broad-based community coalition fighting for development that will unite our communities instead of dividing and destroying them DDDB is 501c3 non-profit corporation supported by over 4,000 individual donors from the community.

#

Posted by lumi at 4:18 AM

May 5, 2008

Atlantic Yards or Atlantic Lots?

www.atlanticlots.com

The Municipal Art Society has created a nifty web site featuring an animated slide show of the renderings unveiled in today's New York Post, showing how the partial construction of Atlantic Yards could blight Prospect Heights for decades.

link

AtlanticLots01.jpg

Between this morning and this afternoon, MAS managed to redo their images to align "Building 2" with the location shown in updated project renderings released this morning by Forest City Ratner.

Posted by eric at 4:54 PM

Time Out on Atlantic Yards

Video of several of the speakers at Saturday's Atlantic Yards protest rally has been posted to YouTube.

link

Posted by eric at 2:39 PM

ATLANTIC YARDS RATNERVILLE CONSTRUCTION UPDATE

ATLANTIC YARDS CONSTRUCTION UPDATE
Weeks beginning May 5, 2008 and May 12, 2008

In an effort to keep the Atlantic Yards Community aware of upcoming construction activities, ESD and Forest City Ratner provide the following outline of anticipated upcoming construction activities.

Please note: the scope and nature of activities are subject to change based upon field conditions. All work has been approved by appropriate City and State agencies where required.

In addition to the activities described below noise attenuation and vibration monitoring measures are underway in connection with the Memorandum of Environmental Commitments dated 12/08/06.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact our project Ombudsperson at: 212-803-3233 or AtlanticYards@empire.state.ny.us.

Long Island Rail Road/Vanderbilt Yard Work

  • Continue excavation, lagging and walers at SOE piles in Southeast Gas Station (block 1121, lot 47).
  • Continue construction and debris removal from block 1121.
  • Continue hauling soil from block 1121.
  • Trench and install conduit in block 1120.
  • Continue demolition of southern portion of Carlton Avenue Bridge.
  • Prepare and begin foundation piles for cable bridge (in block 1120, parallel to 6th Avenue Bridge).

Abatement and Demolition Work

All work described below will comply with the additional oversight and protocols by the Department of Buildings (DOB) that were established on April 30, 2007.

  • Demolition is underway at 800 Pacific Street (block 1129, lot 25) and will continue throughout this two week period.
  • Demolition is complete at 626 Pacific Street (block 1127, lot 22); lot cleanup will continue.
  • Demolition will begin at 642-646 Pacific Street (block 1127, lot 30) within this two week period.
  • Demolition will begin at 640 Pacific Street (block 1127, lot 29) within this two week period.
  • Demolition is complete at 645 Dean Street (block 1129, lot 62).
  • Abatement is complete at 195 Flatbush Avenue (block 1127, lot 1); demolition will begin within this two week period.
  • Demolition will resume at 585 Dean Street (block 1129, lot 81) within this two week period.

Utility Work

All utility work scheduled to take place in Flatbush Avenue will only take place at night (between 10PM and 6AM) as mandated by DOT.

  • The first of three phases of upgraded water and sewer installations is underway and is expected to continue through the end of the year. Work will continue on Dean Street between Flatbush and Sixth Avenues and on Sixth between Pacific and Dean Streets. Night time work began on Flatbush Avenue at Dean Street and continued north along Flatbush. Work is underway on a new sewer chamber on Dean Street near Flatbush during the day.
  • Transit ducts on Flatbush Avenue between Atlantic Avenue and Dean Street will be relocated. This work is expected to continue over the next three months. All work taking place in the sidewalk will occur during the day. Pedestrian walkways will be maintained.

Posted by eric at 2:19 PM

Atlantic Yards Designer Revises Look For Miss Brooklyn

AHN.com
by Vittorio Hernandez

Aside from at least two new lawsuits, New York's Atlantic Yards project is again the talk of the town as the designer of the tower revised his masterpiece by lopping off 100 feet.

Miss Brooklyn, renamed as Building One, would be down to 511 feet from the original design by Frenk Gehry of 620 feet. The residential component has been removed also, leaving the development as a commercial office space venture.

Gehry explained the innovations he has introduced. "My enthusiasm for Atlantic Yards has grown and grown until arriving at our current design, which works better with the surrounding area that it ever had before," Gehry told the New York Daily News.

article

Posted by eric at 2:17 PM

Daily News Op-Ed: Building Atlantic Yards, More Important Now than Ever

AtlanticYards.com e-newsletter

The boys over at Forest City Ratner Companies wasted no time in sending out an email extolling the boss's debut as a Daily News guest columnist.

On Saturday more than 800 affordable-housing activists, union members, local leaders and community members from all across Brooklyn came out to rally in support of Atlantic Yards. Yesterday Bruce Ratner, CEO and Chairman of Forest City Ratner, penned an Op-Ed in the Daily News affirming FCRC’s commitment to build all of Atlantic Yards, including over 2,250 units of affordable housing. Mr. Ratner for the first time also provided an updated construction schedule for Atlantic Yards.

And today Forest City Ratner released new renderings showing Frank Gehry's beautiful redesign of the Barclays Center arena, the first residential building and the office tower now christened B1 (formerly known as Miss Brooklyn).

Mr. Ratner's entire Op-Ed follows.

link

NoLandGrab: B1? Catchy. We have to admit we already miss "Miss Brooklyn." And in actuality, Bruce Ratner for not-the-first time provided the old, not-remotely realistic construction schedule for Atlantic Yards.

Noticeably absent from the roster of luminaries who came out to shill for Atlantic Yards yesterday were all of the area's elected officials, most of whom were across the way asking the Governor to call "Time Out" on the controversial project.

Posted by eric at 11:59 AM

Nets hold court on luxury suites

Crain's New York Business [subscription required]

Next week, the Nets will debut a prototype of their Frank Gehry-designed, $300,000-a-year Barclays Center corporate suites at a splashy party in their New York Times Building showroom.

To entice 185 of New York’s top CEOs to attend—and buy—the organization delivered a series of gifts over the past month, including a Tiffany key chain with a key, one of which will open a door to a free suite for the team’s inaugural season. The arena is set to open in Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards in 2010, if developer Bruce Ratner can clear all the legal hurdles in its path.

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and rap star Jay-Z, a part-owner of the team, will be on hand for the May 15 event.

Already, 20% of the 130 luxury boxes have been sold to “friends and family,” says Nets Sports Entertainment CEO Brett Yormark.

So, why the full-court press? Mr.Yormark says corporate suites in the area will balloon to 950 from 350 as all the new stadiums come online, including ones for the Yankees, the Mets, and the Giants and Jets. “I can’t take anything for granted,” says the marketer, who will soon announce the advertisers buying rights to brand bars, corridors and other parts, of the arena.

NoLandGrab: "20% of the 130 luxury boxes have been sold to 'friends and family'?" Does that mean owners of the team and related corporate interests? The real test will be in selling suites in an arena for which ground has yet to be broken to unaffiliated companies, with new stadiums opening in the Bronx and Queens and Madison Square Garden embarking on a top-to-bottom renovation.

Posted by eric at 11:45 AM

Crain's defends the funding agreements, takes aim at "opponents"

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder takes a more in-depth look at today's Crain's scolding of "Atlantic Yards opponents," and fixes the article's fractured "facts."

A brief article in Crain's New York Business this week, headlined "Fine distinctions on Atlantic Yards," takes dubious aim at criticisms of state and city funding agreements raised first by AYR and later amplified by groups like Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn.

The article begins:
Atlantic Yards opponents omit key details when criticizing the project’s city subsidies, supporters say.

Well, maybe if state and city agencies had released the funding agreements with some explanation, we'd have a more enlightening discussion. Instead, the state agreement was released quietly by the Empire State Development Corporation and the city agreement was made available only after a Freedom of Information Law request, and the New York City Economic Development Corporation was hardly expansive in answering questions.

article

Posted by eric at 10:47 AM

Fine distinctions on Atlantic Yards

Crain's New York Business [subscription required]

Atlantic Yards opponents omit key details when criticizing the project's city subsidies, supporters say.

Developer Forest City Ratner Cos. can use the city's $100 million to buy but not condemn land,and only in tandem with its own investment. Officials say Forest City must repay the money if it doesn't finish the first phase on time, and would still be obligated to create 1,800 apartments, 35% of them affordable. Critics also mischaracterize $105 million in city infrastructure work as a subsidy. Though listed under Atlantic Yards in the city budget, the work is not part of the development.

NoLandGrab: So far as we can tell, the "supporters" cited by Crain's must be Crain's itself. And call us crazy, but we're betting that $105 million in infrastructure work that's "not part of the development" might not be taking place if Bruce wasn't razing the existing neighborhood in order to build his own.

Posted by eric at 10:35 AM

Monday-Morning Tabloid War??

Yikes, a tabloid war broke out this morning over, of all things, Bruce Ratner's controversial Atlantic Yards project!

So Miss Brooklyn shaved her head and changed her name, a couple of buildings seem to be missing from the new architectural drawings (including all of Phase 2), there's a rumble in the "temporary" surface parking lot, but is that any reason to go mano-a-mano over a bunch of buildings?

It is if the project includes the use of eminent domain, the most expensive arena (EVER!) and many high-rise towers on 22-acres nestled in the heart of Brownstone Brooklyn, and is facing an uncertain economic climate and mounting delays.

TabliodWarofImages.jpg

Never mind that Bruce Ratner, who truthfully has trouble telling the truth, is waging a serious publicity campaign, promising to build the entire project in a whopping ten years, flashing his self-proclaimed "progressive" credentials and staging counter-protests.

Does this smack of desperation and vitriol on Ratner's part? Are project critics sensing vulnerability and stepping up their own pr campaign to expose more of the underbelly of the project that's gobbling up Brooklyn?

All we know is that Brooklynites woke up today to two distinct visions of the controversial Atlantic Yards megaproject.

Forest City Ratner granted the NY Daily News the exclusive sneak peek at the latest designs by Frank Gehry, which only show a partially realized redesign of Phase 1.

[Since the "exclusive" is usually reserved for The NY Times, some readers will naturally conclude that the Times has somewhat fallen out of favor with the Ratner camp after the Ratner interview and accompanying architectural criticism touched off a shockwave of indignation over the admission that major portions of the project, including most of the affordable housing, will be delayed.]

The gleaming new renderings fill a black void that might represent the rest of Brooklyn. Frank Gehry described "Building 1," which replaced the inanely named "Miss Brooklyn," as more "festive;" the News likens it to "a spiraling Lego structure."

In the other corner of the tabloid duel, the Post got the exclusive on renderings released by the Municipal Art Society (MAS), which combine Bruce Ratner's admission that the project is facing delays (that's the admission before this weekend's assertion by Ratner to the contrary) with Ratner's long-standing plan to take down every building in the footprint to make way for a temporary surface parking lot (a particularly contentious issue for MAS).

It seems that MAS guessed wrong as to what residential building Ratner planned to build first (it would be the red-n-pink one instead), but the view from Vanderbilt seems to conform with Ratner's plans to use land in the footprint that is not under construction as a staging area and "interim surface parking lot" for arena goers and and construction workers.

Nearly a year and a half after the project's official approval by the NY State Public Authorities Control Board, who knew that the "done deal" would still be in play and that Ratner would wage a pr campaign as if he had his back against the ropes, or that so many of the questions about the public costs and benefits would remain unanswered?

LINKS:
NY Daily News, Atlantic Yards' Miss Brooklyn is slashed more than 100 feet in massive redo
Atlantic Yards Report, New renderings show Miss Brooklyn cut (duh), renamed, "more festive," but questions unanswered
NY Post, THE FUTURE'S 'BLIGHT'
Atlantic Yards Report, In Post, visions of blight at arena block, rest of AY footprint

Posted by lumi at 7:21 AM

THE FUTURE'S 'BLIGHT'

MAS-ParkingLot.jpgNIGHTMARE VISION OF B'KLYN ARENA

NY Post
By Rich Calder

Forget Atlantic Yards - try "Atlantic Lots."

Renderings commissioned by the Municipal Art Society and obtained by The Post reveal for the first time how Bruce Ratner's controversial project in Brooklyn could look - and remain for many years - should the developer continue facing massive delays.

And this vision of the state-approved project isn't attractive - unless parking spaces turn you on.
...
"If MAS thinks that this resembles our project in any way, they are not only greatly mistaken they're doing themselves and the public a great disservice," said Ratner spokesman Loren Riegelhaupt. "Frankly, this is so far from anything even remotely resembling what we are building that it's not worth commenting on further."

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From the NYPost online slideshow, click thumbnails to enlarge:

MAS-ParkingLot02.jpg

[Renderings, Municipal Art Society; original aerial photos, Jonathan Barkey.]

Atlantic Yards Report, In Post, visions of blight at arena block, rest of AY footprint

The MAS renderings speculate that the first tower would instead be built at the northeast corner of the arena block, at Atlantic and Sixth avenues. That was a reasonable speculation--it's the farthest away from from low-rise Prospect Heights on the arena block--but it apparently was incorrect.

The MAS renderings, as the Post reports, suggest land surrounding the arena as paved with asphalt, but Riegelhaupt suggested that it would more likely be "tree-lined open public space." Come to think of it, that recalls the park space suggested in the revised UNITY plan.

Note that the announcement of such "tree-lined open public space" was made only in response to an inquiry by the Post; the developer had not previously described just what might appear in the empty lots around the arena block.
...
The MAS is on more solid ground when it depicts Block 1129, current home of the Ward Bakery and other buildings in the southeast segment of the project footprint, as the home of interim surface parking.

The Post reports:

The MAS says the decision to show the land east of the arena and lone tower with temporary surface parking lots is based on the project plan on file with the state. In it, the company Forest City Ratner indicates it will clear all of this land needed to build 11 towers and use it for parking until construction begins.

To be clear, interim surface parking was never planned on the arena block. It was, however, planned on the 100-foot wide rectangle of land east of Sixth Avenue, between Pacific and Dean streets, currently occupied by five low-rise houses. That plot of land is also needed by the developer for staging to build the arena.

Posted by lumi at 6:54 AM

Atlantic Yards' Miss Brooklyn is slashed more than 100 feet in massive redo

NY Daily News
By Jotham Sederstrom

GehryModel-v201.jpg Say bye-bye to Miss Brooklyn. She has been dumped for "Building 1" in these new designs released exclusively to the Daily News:

Miss Brooklyn, now called Building One, has been slimmed down and has become more festive, resulting in a very unique office building," he said.

"I've tried to give it some energy and excitement as it meshes with the arena design."

The 34-story structure - once expected to rise higher than the Williamsburgh Savings Bank - will now be dwarfed by it. The sleek Miss Brooklyn is replaced by an asymmetrical design that rises like a spiraling Lego structure, edges askew.

The glass-and-steel-framed building, seen as the centerpiece of the oft-stalled 22-acre project, will no longer house condos and instead will offer 650,000 square feet of office space, officials said.

The condos will be shifted to a different building or be built as rental units instead, said Forest City Ratner Executive Vice President MaryAnne Gilmartin.

Meanwhile, "B2," which will be completed first, is a red-and-pink-hued, 340-foot building featuring 350 market-rate and affordable apartments, which Gehry said "speaks to the residential fabric of the neighborhood."

article

The Daily News's online slideshow of the new Phase 1 designs contains some images of previous versions of Gehry's Atlantic Yards designs. Here are thumbnails of the new images — click to enlarge.

Atlantic Yards Report, New renderings show Miss Brooklyn cut (duh), renamed, "more festive," but questions unanswered
Norman Oder is first out of the gate with commentary on the new project images released this morning in the Daily News:

A Daily News exclusive today shows new renderings of the flagship Atlantic Yards tower but hints at many questions unanswered, notably the apparent dumping of a Phase 1 tower at Site 5 (see building at far left below), the continuing role of architect Frank Gehry, the plans for the proposed Urban Room, and new designs--apparently with less glass, a potential security issue--for the planned arena.

...the news is that the tower would be cut to 511 feet and feature commercial office space only, but neither is a surprise.

After all, the agreement to keep the tower shorter than the 512-foot Williamsburgh Savings Bank tower was announced as a "concession" on 12/20/06, to coincide with the approval of the project by the Public Authorities Control Board. And I reported in February on developer Forest City Ratner's apparent plans to make Miss Brooklyn an office tower only.

Oder tries to answer some of the hard questions that the News left on the table:

The Daily News reports that the building would include 650,000 square feet of office space, which is more than the 528,000 square feet described last October. Given that the building was once supposed to also include a hotel with 164,652 square feet, it's a good bet that the revised plans trade hotel space for office space.
...
If 30% of the apartments are to be affordable, that means 105 affordable apartments, with 42 of them low-income.

While the article doesn't specify the location, Building 2 is at the northeast corner of Dean Street and Flatbush Avenue, according to the official Site Plan. According to the General Project Plan appoved by the Empire State Development Corporation, its maximum height was to be 322 feet. (That refers to the last occupiable floor, so the 340-foot figure may refer to rooftop mechanicals.)

Building 2 is supposed to open at the same time as the arena; the developer says 2010, but that seems highly speculative. Nor was the developer asked if the project would contain 16 towers, as approved, or 15, as hinted by yesterday.

Read the rest of the article for speculation about the "missing buildings" and the urban room.

Posted by lumi at 6:09 AM

Opponents say Ratner's time line for Atlantic Yards is pie in the sky

NY Daily News
By Jotham Sederstrom

Local reaction to Bruce Ratner's Sunday Daily News Op-Ed:

Opponents of Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards panned the rosy picture described Sunday by developer Bruce Ratner, calling his 10-year timetable "a departure from reality."

"His project is in serious jeopardy no matter how he spins it," Daniel Goldstein of the anti-Brooklyn Yards group Develop, Don't Destroy Brooklyn said of Ratner's Op-Ed piece in yesterday's Daily News.
...
"When he says he plans to complete his project in 2018, it's simply not credible," Goldstein said. "It means nothing."

Councilwoman Letitia James (D-Brooklyn) said Ratner offered no new explanation on how he plans to finance the increasingly costly project.

"It's the same plan without definitive financing," said James.

But the true believers are not swayed:

James Caldwell, president of the nonprofit Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development, said he continues to back Ratner and the development plan.

"I feel better, especially with the way the economy is right now, that everything is going ahead as planned."

article

NoLandGrab: The article neglects to mention that the nonprofit Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development receives financial support from project developer Forest City Ratner.

Posted by lumi at 5:52 AM

Has Bruce Ratner adjusted the official location of AY?

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder notes that Bruce Ratner's Sunday Daily News Op-Ed locates the Atlantic Yards project "near downtown Brooklyn," while the project's official web site still calls it "Vision for Downtown Brooklyn."

Why care?

Prospect Heights is not Downtown Brooklyn, as the New York Times finally acknowledged.

article

Posted by lumi at 5:47 AM

BUILD and the unions bond, at least with t-shirts

Atlantic Yards Report

At the counter-protest, where union members joined with signatories of the Community Benefits Agreement, the claims that developer Bruce Ratner will deliver thousands of units of affordable housing were joined by the need for "jobs" to jump start the sagging economy, in order to justify the project:

A related flier distributed at the event, headlined "Build Safe Brooklyn," was subtitled "Communities & Unions Working Together."

Support the Atlantic Yards Project, it read. "Tell your local politicians NOT to use this Project as a tool for their ELECTION! This project is $ Real Money $ for a sagging economy."

"Jump start Brooklyn's Economy by supporting this JOBSITE. Call these politicians and tell them, 'Support US or we WON'T support you.'"

The three politicians targeted: City Council Members David Yassky (running for Comptroller), Bill de Blasio (running for Brooklyn Borough President), and Letitia James (up for reelection). James was referred to as "Tisha."

It's another sign that Atlantic Yards is perceived to be very much in play politically. If Borough President Marty Markowitz runs for mayor, what will he say about AY?

article

Posted by lumi at 5:38 AM

Developer: Atlantic Yards 'moving forward in its entirety'

Associated Press via Newsday

Is the financing for Atlantic Yards looking shaky? Developer Bruce Ratner can't find an anchor tenant for his office tower? Opposition to the project is keeping things from moving ahead? Ratner shuts his eyes tight and proclaims: "No problem."

A developer says lawsuits and the wobbly economy have slowed his plan to transform Brooklyn with an NBA Nets arena and a slate of skyscrapers. But Bruce Ratner says he aims to break ground on the arena this year.

He says he'll build the entire $4 billion Atlantic Yards project by 2018.

Ratner writes in a guest column in Sunday's Daily News that "the project is moving forward in its entirety," though not "as fast as we would like."

The Nets initially hoped to move into the arena for the 2009-2010 season. They are now eying sometime in 2010.

Some tenants whose apartments would be destroyed to make way for Atlantic Yards sued this week to challenge a state agreement that gives Ratner's company at least 12 years to complete the project's first phase.

link

This item also appeared locally in:
MetroNY
am New York

Posted by steve at 5:20 AM

Bruce Ratner Claims Atlantic Yards Will Go On

Gothamist
By Dave Hogarty

He may have been gloomy about the mega-project's prospects last month, but now [Atlantic Yards developer Bruce] Ratner has an opinion piece in today's Daily News, pledging to forge ahead with his eminent domain plans to take over Atlantic Ave.
...
Given that Ratner has been trying to reassure investors that his plan to build up the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush, opponents could see this as essentially an advertorial.

article

MORE COVERAGE OF THE RATNER OP-ED:
WNYC Newsroom, Ratner Moving Ahead With Atlantic Yards Development

WNYC reiterated Bruce Ratner's spin:

[Ratner] says he aims to break ground on the arena this year.

In a guest column in today's Daily News, Ratner writes that he'll complete the entire $4 billion project by 2018. The Nets initially hoped to move into the arena for the 2009-2010 season. The team now expects that to happen sometime in 2010.

NoLandGrab: Though the goal of the Nets playing in Brooklyn in 2010 is dubious, that doesn't stop Bruce Ratner from saying so and the media from repeating it, despite Ratner's poor track record for straight talk.

NY1, Ratner Says Atlantic Yards Project Is On Track Despite Delays [dialup/broadband]

In an op-ed piece in Sunday's Daily News, Ratner dismisses rumors that the struggling economy and numerous court challenges have virtually halted the project.
...
Ratner blames the delays on the lengthy public review process, the high number of court challenges and the slowing economy.

But he says he plans to start construction on the arena later this year, followed soon after by residential buildings and then the so-called "Miss Brooklyn" tower.

He says the entire project is on track to be completed by 2018.

NoLandGrab: The length of the public review process was mandated by NY State, when it took over the project and superceded all local land-use review processes and zoning. Ratner may have already forgotten that it took longer for the MTA board to get around to approving Ratner's low-ball bid because the state authority was bogged down with the West Side Stadium-Hudson Yards controversy.

Posted by lumi at 5:13 AM

Nets to Newark could be a blessing

MetroNY
by Neil deMause

This commentary marks the notable lack of excitement in Brooklyn over the prospect of the Nets making a home in our borough, and how there's little economic benefit to having them here. DeMause goes on to note how Brooklynites are much more interested in affordable housing, which Atlantic Yards will not deliver for a very long time, if ever. The logical conclusion is that now is a good time to rethink the entire project.

So what would the city, and the borough, really lose if the Nets never arrive? Nets fans’ spending money would go to Newark instead of New York, but then Newark would get the game-night traffic jams as well. It’s questionable how many Jerseyites would make the two-river-crossing commute to see the team that bolted their state. And if it’s only Brooklynites spending money on overpriced Thai food instead of Vince Carter jerseys, that’s no difference to the city economy.

Meanwhile, the city would regain something that’s not often talked about: The opportunity to develop a large swath of land at the edge of super-hot brownstone Brooklyn. Without an arena, you would not need superblocks, which means no need for seizing property by eminent domain — which would allow for a plan that provided housing and jobs without unduly disrupting existing neighborhoods. The Nets might be how Atlantic Yards got started, but getting them out of the way might just be how to make it work.

link

Posted by steve at 4:57 AM

U.S. Investigates Yonkers Development After Official’s Surprising ‘Yes’ Vote

The NY Times
By Alison Leigh Cowan

Could it be that the Feds are building a case against a Yonkers City Councilwoman for her deciding vote to approve Forest City Ratner's controversial Ridge Hill development plan?

For years, City Councilwoman Sandy Annabi of Yonkers was among the most vigorous critics of an enormous $600 million development proposal that called for 1,000 housing units, shops and a movie multiplex in the cliffs here over Sprain Lake.

She complained in late 2005 that the developer, Forest City Ratner, was “probably richer than God,” did not need tax breaks and was “robbing the city blind.” And she was the lead plaintiff in a 2005 lawsuit against the city, objecting to its approval process.

So the next summer, it stunned the Yonkers political and business establishment when Ms. Annabi provided the crucial fifth vote on the seven-member Council that the courts made clear Ratner needed to proceed.

Now, as bulldozers zip around the 81-acre parcel known as Ridge Hill, intended as an upscale oasis within a city looking to shed its past as a faded factory town, federal prosecutors are investigating the development deal and leaning toward indicting Ms. Annabi, a 37-year-old Democrat, on corruption charges or other misconduct, according to a person involved in the investigation.

Is Forest City Ratner at the center of a spreading corruption scandal?

To the political and legal cognoscenti in Yonkers, the length and breadth of the inquiry suggests that it must extend beyond Ms. Annabi’s about-face, and perhaps far beyond Yonkers’ 18 square miles to some of Westchester County’s leading power brokers.

Investigators have inquired about Zehy Jereis, the former chairman of the Republican Party here and a distant relative of Ms. Annabi’s — and subpoenaed his financial disclosure forms, though city officials said they had none to turn over. Prosecutors have asked about Albert J. Pirro Jr., a former lobbyist for Forest City Ratner and the estranged husband of Westchester’s former district attorney, Jeanine F. Pirro.

And they have also questioned whether former State Senator Nicholas A. Spano, whose ability to find money in Albany for Yonkers has long made him a Republican legend, or his brother Mike Spano, a Democratic assemblyman who worked as a lobbyist for Ratner between terms in Albany, exerted any undue influence.

article

NoLandGrab: This corruption scandal sounds serious, but is by no means the first for Forest City Ratner in Yonkers.

Early on in the planning and approval process the Ridge Hill Development Corporation was mired in controversy when it had sole discretion over the allocation of profits from the project and also had the twenty-something son-in-law of the former Yonkers Mayor on the payroll at a six-figure salary. A year later, the son-in-law showed up on Forest City Ratner's payroll as the "property manager" for the project.

Posted by lumi at 4:52 AM

DDDB PRESS RELEASE: Ratner Writes!

Bruce Ratner Continues Atlantic Yards Back Pedaling and Damage Control on the Atlantic Yards Stall

Developer of Jeopardized Mega Project Spins Daily News Column

Says Nothing New

BROOKLYN, NY— The New York Daily News today gave Forest City Ratner CEO Bruce Ratner a column in its paper along with an article promoting and regurgitating his column. The article doesn't include any context, countervailing evidence, questions for Ratner, or reaction from neutral parties, critics or opponents. Presumably that was part of the packaged "exclusive."

Denied a forum for reaction by the paper's preference for "exclusives" rather than solid reporting, we are here providing Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn's (DDDB) point of view.

Bruce Ratner says nothing new in his opinion column.

He says nothing new to dispel the picture he painted when he was interviewed in a March 21 New York Times article—that his Atlantic Yards proposal has no committed or realistic timelines; has not secured key and substantial financing; is suffering the impact of the credit crisis, real estate market downturn and drastically increased construction costs; has no anchor tenant for its signature commercial tower and is having significant challenges finding one; faces vigorous community opposition and litigation. Without a demonstrated ability to finance his project, any goalpost-moving timelines are meaningless and should be dismissed accordingly.

Simply put, his project is in serious jeopardy no matter how he spins it.

The only new information in Mr. Ratner's column is that he seems to be paving the way to announce a somewhat smaller project, a project with perhaps one fewer building in Phase 1 (four rather than five, in addition to the arena) and a reduction of Phase 1 housing units from around 2,000 to 1,500.

The column is part of a continued damage-control campaign the developer and his PR team have undertaken in defense of their floundering Atlantic Yards proposal. Yesterday's Forest City Ratner-orchestrated "counter rally" was part and parcel of the campaign, and we expect more to roll out. What we don't expect to come is disclosure of more facts that the public and our elected officials need to know, facts absent from the developer's column today.

Mr. Ratner still claims a ten-year construction timeline for his project with a completion date of 2018. He provides no evidence this can happen, and of course ignores a State Funding Agreement that gives him, after the close of all litigation and transfer of land, 6+ years to build the arena and 12+ years to build the five towers of Phase 1; further, the Funding Agreement specifies no timeline at all for the building of Phase 2—the bulk of the project and about 70% of its proposed "affordable housing" units.

Mr. Ratner ignores the fact that he does not own the land he needs to build his project. Some of it, including land where the arena itself is proposed, is in the hands of owners or tenants who are challenging New York State's use of eminent domain to seize their properties to give to Ratner (that case is pending consideration by the US Supreme Court; should the Court choose not to take the case, those owners and tenants intend to bring their claims to New York State court), and owners who are not in court but still own their properties. Ratner doesn't even own the 8-acre rail yard comprising about 35% of the proposal's footprint—he has an agreement to buy it, but can't close on that agreement unless there is a cessation

Mr. Ratner also fails to disclose, unsurprisingly, that his arena has ballooned in cost from $435 million when announced, to $637 million when approved, to its present whopping $950 million price tag – which would make it twice as expensive as any arena ever built anywhere in the world. And he hasn't secured the tax-free bond for the arena.

Mr. Ratner fails to disclose how much his entire project is going to cost, though we know it must be much more than the $4 billion number that has been out there for years now. (Oddly, he doesn't mention Frank Gehry; might that mean a diminished role for his architect?)

Mr. Ratner fails to disclose that the tax-free housing bonds he needs for his project are scarce at best and currently unavailable.

Mr. Ratner fails to disclose that his project is funded by $2 billion worth of direct and indirect subsidies, while he stands to make an estimated profit of about $1 billion.

Mr. Ratner also fails to disclose that his parent company's President Charles Ratner said they'll "need more" subsidies.

One other disclosure he does not make in the column, because it is the very reason not to trust what the column attempts, is that Bruce Ratner's Metrotech project in Downtown Brooklyn was supposed to take 5 years to build. It took 14 years.

Everyone knows the Atlantic Yards project, if built, would take at least 15-20 years. The project's own landscape architect Laurie Olin said 20 years, friend of the real estate industry Kathryn Wylde of the Partnership for New York has said 15-20. And parent company Forest City Enterprises president Charles Ratner said it would take at least 15 years.

Even Downtown Brooklyn development Czar Joe Chan last week told the NY Observer: "The Atlantic Yards was always a project that was conceived as taking a few economic cycles to fully realize itself." That's not ten years, as Mr. Ratner claims.

So when Bruce Ratner says in his column that he plans to complete the Atlantic Yards project in 2018, it's not credible.

We won't go into a sentence-by-sentence analysis of Mr. Ratner's column, a job http://atlanticyardsreport.blogspot.com/2008/05/in-daily-news-ratner-asserts-ay-by-2018.htmlwe're happy to leave to Atlantic Yards watchdog Norman Oder on his Atlantic Yards Report. But we must respond to two bald-faced claims Mr. Ratner makes.

He writes:

Yes, it's true that construction hasn't happened as fast as we would have liked. Why is this? First, a rigorous public review, conducted in conjunction with the city, state, MTA, local community boards, elected officials and local leaders, took a long time. But this process helped refine the project and ensure a better plan for Brooklyn.

It may have been a lengthy environmental impact disclosure process with one circus of a public hearing, but it was not a "rigorous public review," and it was shepherded by the unelected, unaccountable Empire State Development Corporation and Forest City Ratner with the red-carpet consent of the MTA, Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Pataki. Local community boards and elected officials (other than Albany's "Three Men in a Room") had nothing to do with the review or approval of the project, and had no input or vote. And the "process" led to no meaningful changes to the project; not even a traffic plan. Tellingly, project champion and former Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Dan Doctoroff said in retrospect that the project should have gone through the city's rigorous and democratic Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, or ULURP.

Finally, Mr. Ratner repeats a figure concocted out of whole cloth, which he, his fellow corporate officers, and his publicity agents have been promoting over the past few months.

He writes:

We also had to overcome the hurdles presented in numerous court challenges. The opponents pledged early on to try to stop us cold in court, and they have thrown many obstacles our way. Fortunately, after 18 court decisions in our favor, they're now down to their last appeals.

This idea that there have been "18 court decisions" in Ratner's favor is ludicrous and unsupported by the facts. And it also ignores decisions that went against him. Our tally, depending on how one defines "court decisions," is either 10 decisions in the developer's favor and 3 against, or 13 in the developer's favor and 7 against.

Additionally, it is patently false that legal challenges are "down to their last appeal." Just last week, a new lawsuit was filed by attorney George Locker on behalf of 13 rent-stabilized tenants. And should the eminent domain plaintiffs fail to gain justice in the federal court system, they intend to pursue their eminent domain claims in New York State court. The lawsuits still have a long time to play out; we know Mr. Ratner may not like that, but that is how the American legal system works.

Why have opponents brought their cases? The three cases DDDB has filed or helped organize were brought because we believe the claims are correct, and that they challenge unjust, illegal and unconstitutional procedures. And Mr. Ratner should understand that when democratic, legislative processes are bypassed, and a community is shut out from any involvement with its future development, residents will turn to the courts as their last place of refuge, and will pursue all the rights guaranteed them by the Constitution.

DEVELOP DON'T DESTROY BROOKLYN leads a broad-based community coalition fighting for development that will unite our communities instead of dividing and destroying them.

DDDB is 501c3 non-profit corporation supported by over 4,000 individual donors from the community.

Posted by lumi at 4:37 AM

ATLAN-TICKED OFF

Yesterday, we missed this short item from the NY Post by reporter John Mazor:

May 4, 2008 -- Hundreds of protesters squared off yesterday in Downtown Brooklyn over the Atlantic Yards development project.

Opponents called for Gov. Paterson to put the brakes on the renovation, which includes an arena for the Nets, claiming that affordable housing and jobs have taken a back seat in the wake of skyrocketing construction costs.

link

Posted by lumi at 4:26 AM

May 4, 2008

Not a done deal: “Time Out” rally met with “Build It Now” counter-protest

May08ProtestPaid.JPG

Atlantic Yards Report offers complete coverage of the rally and the counter-protest. See Norman Oder get manhandled by a cop! See civil rights get trampled on! Ponder the mysterious Ukrainian contingent!

“I now believe that you were so right,” proclaimed State Senator Velmanette Montgomery from the podium at the “Time Out” rally held Saturday afternoon on Pacific Street near Carlton Avenue by three groups critical of or opposed to Atlantic Yards. “It’s not a done deal.”

The rally, with City Council Member Letitia James speaking at right, aimed to get Gov. David Paterson “to suspend demolitions, displacement of residents and businesses, infrastructure disruptions and further subsidies to the project so that changes to the project can be assessed and a new plan prepared with community involvement.”

Confirming that was the first-ever example of a counter-protest, a well-engineered effort by Forest City Ratner--with several operatives on hand--to assemble a boisterous crowd of union workers and Community Benefits Agreement signatories, groups that have received the developer's support. No pro-project elected officials were visible.

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Posted by amy at 3:12 PM

Rally Coverage

rallyphotos.jpg

Click here for NoLandGrab's photo coverage...

Four Good Legs: Saturday, May 3, Brooklyn - a day of protests, rallies, speeches and street art

Gowanus Lounge: Atlantic Yards Opponents Demand “Time Out” at Rally as Supporters Stage Counter- Demonstration

The Daily Gotham: mole333: Bruce Ratner: Put up or Shut up!

Found In Brooklyn: The Atlantic Yards Rally

set speed aka onehansonplace.com: Atlantic Yards rally

Brooklyn Born: All we're saying is give "Time Out" a chance.

The Kingston Lounge: Atlantic Yards Rally - "Time Out!"

Jonathan Barkey (photos): Atlantic Yards TIME OUT Rally and Counter Demonstration

Posted by amy at 2:54 PM

Time Out!

By Alexa Halsall,
NLG contributing correspondent

Photos, Tracy Collins, via flickr.

TC-TORally01.jpg "You were right. It's not a done deal," NYS Senator Velmanette Montgomery announced Saturday to a crowd of cheering Brooklynites at the Time Out Atlantic Yards rally. The rally, sponsored by Brooklyn Speaks, the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods and Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, was held in the footprint of the controversial development. Citing the recent economic downturn that has forced developer Forest City Ratner to shelve major portions of the proposed construction, Montgomery called on Governor David Paterson to review the entire process. In particular, she noted the lack of community consideration in the original planning and said that the project must be governed by local laws.

TC-TORally02.jpg Led by Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats' President Chris Owens, the crowd chanted "Time Out," occasionally answering the shouts of a counter-demonstration that included members of ACORN and Build, two pro-development organizations, and their supporters.

Joining Montgomery were NYS Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, and NYC Councilmembers Letitia James, Tony Avella and David Yassky, Ignoring some occasional jeers, Yassky stated "It's plain the community has never had its say," adding his voice to the call for review of the massive project.

TC-TORally03.jpgHe was echoed by James, who called the proposed development "an injustice to our neighborhood and a disrespect to our neighborhood." James led the crowd in more cheers of "Brooklyn, Brooklyn." She spoke out against the proposed cost of the "giant boondoggle," saying the money could be better spent on the city's schools, infrastructure and subways. To Ratner's team, she said "it's time to fold 'em, time to hit the road" and return to New Jersey. As for the New Jersey Nets, who are seeking to move to the proposed Brooklyn arena, she commented "I've seen school kids play better."

Posted by lumi at 2:32 PM

Wilpon hopes Citi Field will revive Ebbets memory

Newsday
STEVEN MARCUS

There are differing accounts of what actually occurred leading up to the Dodgers' move. Some say O'Malley's first choice was to build a domed stadium in the Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, which now is the projected site for the NBA Nets. Reports from that time said Moses wanted O'Malley to build on the present site of Shea Stadium. O'Malley, perhaps bent on leaving for Los Angeles, refused, and the chain of events unfolded.

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NoLandGrab: Since Atlantic Yards Report did the heavy lifting myth-busting today's Daily News, we'll point out the errors in this sentence from Newsday. 1. Atlantic Yards is not a place now, and it wasn't even a glimmer in Bruce Ratner's eye yet in O'Malley's time. 2. Perhaps the writer means Vanderbilt Yards, over which part of the proposed Atlantic Yards would be built, but unfortunately that would still be incorrect, as O'Malley was eying a parcel across the street.

Posted by amy at 11:24 AM

In Daily News Ratner asserts AY by 2018, ignores countervailing evidence

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Atlantic Yards Report does the dirty work of dissecting the, how you say, truthiness, in the Daily News today:

Without explaining where the financing would come from, including scarce affordable housing subsidies, Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner today declares that the project would be complete in 2018, promising a 10-year timetable little different from that announced when the project was approved in 2006, albeit after a pause for delay.

Ratner, in a Daily News op-ed headlined Atlantic Yards dead? Dream on, does not mention the recently-revealed news that the State Funding Agreement gives him 6+ years to build the arena and 12+ years to build the five towers of Phase 1, both after the close of litigation and the delivery of property by eminent domain. Nor did he mention that the City Funding Agreement allows him to build a much smaller Phase 1 than that anticipated in the Empire State Development Corporation's (ESDC) General Project Plan.
...
The announcement puts yesterday's counter-protest in greater perspective, as part of a coordinated effort to show support for the project.

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NoLandGrab: Click through for a point by point rebuttal of the op-ed...

Posted by amy at 11:10 AM

Ratner vows to break ground on Atlantic Yards

NY Daily News
RACHEL MONAHAN and ELIZABETH HAYS

NoLandGrab: In case the Bruce Ratner op-ed is too difficult for you to follow, the Daily News has handily provided the Cliff Notes in a separate article:

In an Op-Ed in Sunday's Daily News, Ratner acknowledged the massive 22-acre project is behind schedule due to numerous court challenges and the shaky economic climate. He insisted the obstacles have not derailed the project - and vowed to break ground on the Frank Gehry-designed Nets arena later this year and complete all 16 residential and office towers by 2018.

"In recent weeks, some have rushed to write the obituary of Atlantic Yards," Ratner wrote in his opinion piece. "Rumors of Atlantic Yards' demise, stirred by opponents, have been greatly exaggerated. The project is moving forward in its entirety."

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Posted by amy at 10:54 AM

Atlantic Yards dead? Dream on

NY Daily News
BRUCE RATNER

NoLandGrab: The Daily News gives Ratner ample space to overcome news of yesterday's rally. In fact, they sealed the deal by not only giving him an op-ed, but then having an additional article regurgitating the op-ed. It's definitely easy to not bother looking behind the curtain, but is it right? Or is this just the latest edition of the Brooklyn Standard?

In recent weeks, some have rushed to write the obituary of Atlantic Yards, the multi-billion dollar, 22-acre development my company is building near downtown Brooklyn.

But rumors of Atlantic Yards' demise, stirred by opponents, have been greatly exaggerated. The project is moving forward in its entirety, and in the coming years it will bring jobs, housing and an improved quality of life to Brooklyn.

We're still building all 6,400 units of housing - including 2,250 affordable units. We're still building the iconic Miss Brooklyn tower and the state-of-the-art Barclays Center, the future home of the Nets.

In fact, today, for the first time, I am offering an updated construction timetable for the project.

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Posted by amy at 10:45 AM

Yonkers Tax Dollars Payoff for Some; Dashes Hope for Others

Yonkers Tribune
Hezi Aris

NoLandGrab: Yonkers worries that it will get the Bruce Ratner treatment from the "New Main Street Land Development Corporation":

There was a time when developer Bruce Ratner was lauded for paying $100 million to buy out homeowners living within the footprint of his Atlantic Yards arena. Now we learn it was New York City who paid Bruce Ratner to do just that. Bruce Ratner was then touted as generous, even magnanimous, by some. According to the just-released funding agreement between New York City and Forest City Ratner, the $100 million for “land acquisition” that the city set aside in 2006 will reimburse the developer for the private land he bought to assemble the project perimeter.
...
“It is unconscionable and indefensible that the city is giving $100 million of taxpayers’ money to pay for Ratner’s strong-arm real-estate deals,” said Daniel Goldstein, the spokesman for Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn (who was the one resident of 636 Pacific St. who did not take Ratner’s buyout). Are similar prospects in store for Yonkers?

When the city announced its $100-million deal-sweetener in 2006, it was listed on budget documents as “land acquisition.”

“Land acquisition” is now the raison d'être for the New Main Street Development Corp.? Say it isn’t so Deputy Mayor Reagan. Tell us it’s simply to be used to daylight the Nepperhan River!

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Posted by amy at 10:40 AM

Problem child was destined to succeed

independent.ie
Barry Egan

TALK about booty. And I'm not just referring to his partner's derriere. Jay-Z's estimated worth is more than $420m.

The man from the Marcy housing project in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn -- whose father abandoned him when he was 12 -- is one of the owners of basketball team, the Nets.

Last year architect Frank Gehry, who had submitted plans for the Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, where the Nets will move from their base in New Jersey, sent Jay a stack of James Joyce novels.

Because, he said, listening to tapes of Joyce reading Finnegan's Wake reminded Gehry of hip-hop. Presumably when Jay-Z was walking past the newsstands in Las Vegas last weekend he was effecting a face of bafflement like he was perusing a copy of Joyce's easy-read for the first time.

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NoLandGrab: Pop quiz: James Joyce, or Bruce Ratner op-ed: "Phall if you but will, rise you must: and none so soon either shall the pahrce for the nunce come to a setdown secular phoenish."

Posted by amy at 10:33 AM

May 3, 2008

Rally Today!

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Posted by eric at 11:25 AM

At today's rally, one voice, and then?

Atlantic Yards Report asks if "the more moderate BrooklynSpeaks, the hard-line Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB), and the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods (CBN)" will all be presenting the same message today and going forward.

BrooklynSpeaks

An email yesterday from Kent Barwick of the Municipal Art Society, which spearheads BrooklynSpeaks, seems to accept Forest City Ratner's curious map but emphasizes a new governance structure and an improved plan shaped by public input:
The site - blighted by a railyard - needs to be developed. But the plan that was rushed to approval in December 2006 was deeply flawed, because of its overwhelming density, outmoded superblock design and 7 acres of “temporary” parking that would blight Brooklyn for decades. Worst of all, the public was totally excluded from the decision-making process for this site.
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DDDB's take

On the other hand, DDDB offers no such willingness to revamp the project:
DDDB has always maintained that Atlantic Yards is not a feasible project. Recent developments in the financial markets and statements by the developer have made that certain, and call the entire project and its purported public benefits into question. The only thing currently with a timeline is the arena and its luxury skyboxes and acres of demolished vacant lots. Meanwhile our neighborhoods are being blighted by unnecessary demolitions for a project that is now a big unknown.

DDDB’s position remains the same as it has from the beginning—the project is bad for many reasons from process to finance to design, and we oppose it. The project should be scrapped; it’s time for a new plan to develop the rail yards in a democratic, fair and responsible way with genuine community participation.

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Posted by amy at 10:42 AM

Web cam records demolition at the Ward Bakery

wardcam5.08.jpg

Atlantic Yards Report

Photographer Adrian Kinloch, aka Brit in Brooklyn, and other members of the Atlantic Yards Camera Club have set up a web cam that records the demolition of the Ward Bakery and nearby property from the south (Dean Street) side.

A screenshot is at right, but the real thing is at his web site.

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Posted by amy at 10:39 AM

Fate of Brooklyn Nets Could Rest on Markowitz's Game

bikemarty5.08.jpg

Gothamist

The revelation that Bruce Ratner, would-be Atlantic Yards developer and Nets owner, has been secretly discussing selling the team to the owners of the New Jersey Devils, has put Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz’s athletic reputation on the line. Newark mayor Cory Booker, who would love the team to come to the Prudential Center in his town, has offered to settle the fight for the Nets with a simple, winner-takes-all game of hoops: Cory vs. Marty, one-on-one.

The challenge was issued after Markowitz rushed out a press release dismissing Newark as Brooklyn's “western suburb” and vowing that they would never get the Nets. One of Markowitz’s campaign promises was to bring a top-level national sports team back to Brooklyn. But with the economy tanking and Ratner’s controversial project stalled by lawsuits, that promise is looking increasingly empty.

Nevertheless, Booker’s challenge brilliantly plays into Markowitz’s Achilles heel: an abiding passion for publicity stunts: “I accept Mayor Booker's challenge and must remind him that I am only 5-foot-5. I’ll accept the challenge only if I can have a ringer play against him.” Expect both pols to keep milking this one, with Booker soon to demand his own ringer, and Markowitz proposing a competitive eating contest instead.

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NoLandGrab: Commenter Rocknrope offers this prayer: Please, dear lord, do not let Marty be "Skins."

Posted by amy at 10:20 AM

Booker to Brooklyn: Let's settle Nets matter on basketball court

The Star-Ledger
Jeffery C. Mays

If left up to Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and Newark Mayor Cory Booker, the battle over the Nets won't be decided by the credit markets or zoning boards, but rather on the basketball court.

Booker challeged Markowitz to a one-on-one game of hoops for the Nets after the borough president released a statement today calling Newark, Brooklyn's 'western suburb" and insiting New Jersey's largest city will never steal Nets from Brooklyn.

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Posted by amy at 10:15 AM

Feasting On Harlem

Black Star News
Michael Henry Adams

By now you’ve heard about how the river-to-river rezoning was approved by the City Council--- 47-to-2. Members Avella and Charles Barron, were the heroes of the day. So were a fiery group 50 Harlemites. Young, old, Black, White, Latino, straight, gay---- they angrily and loudly jeered as a pre-selected cheering section applauded the sealing of Harlem’s fate.

Doing her best to sound like Angela Davis, Council Member Inez Dickens, tried to spin the dirty deed as fulfillment of her promise to deliver jobs and greater opportunity to her district. Robert Jackson, stung to be lustily dismissed by the protesters as “an Uncle Tom sell-out, ” demanded that a visibly shaken Speaker, Christine Quinn, “ clear the balcony!” Routinely, the media have highlighted how crucial their support was. Without it, the zoning would have failed.

What’s gone unreported mostly, is how, as with people, area-wide, this issue is related to every other similar issue. For all the talk of compromises and new “affordable housing,” as outlined by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden, the city government’s zoning policies, amount to little more than social engineering, meant to benefit the rich and resettle the poor.

Whether at Atlantic Yards, on the Lower East Side or the Hunt’s Point waterfront, such displacement is immoral. Paris without Parisians, Chinatown without Chinese, New Orleans or Harlem without Blacks, both culturally and economically are absurd and unsustainable. Whenever it happens, wherever it occurs, the concept that people with more money better deserve to live where you or I live, is nothing short of a kind of terrorism of the establishment.

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Posted by amy at 10:14 AM

Feds seek e-mails from 2 on council

LoHud.com

Federal prosecutors have subpoenaed records from Yonkers City Council members Sandy Annabi and Patricia McDow in their continuing corruption probe in Yonkers - and have been asking questions about former powerbroker Albert Pirro's role in the controversial Ridge Hill project.

The subpoenas ask for Annabi's financial disclosure form from 2006 and all e-mails she sent and received from 2004 until March 28, the date the subpoena was issued to the city.

Federal prosecutors also asked for all e-mails McDow sent and received related to the $630 million Ridge Hill project, the developer Forest City Ratner, consultant Melvin Lowe and another project, the Longfellow development.
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McDow described Melvin Lowe as a representative of Forest City Ratner and said she had never met or heard of him before the Ridge Hill project. She was unaware of why federal officials would want any e-mails between him and her.

"I communicated with him because he was one of the team," she said.

As usual:

A spokesman for Forest City Ratner also declined to comment....

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Some background:

Back in 2005, the NY Times covered the laundry list of Albert Pirro's liabilites to his wife's political fortunes. Pirro's association with Forest City Ratner came up in a disclosure about his work on behalf of the Times new headquarters:*

Mr. Pirro, whose law license was suspended in 2003 for three years, has a lobbying firm, the Pirro Group. For several months in 2004, it was retained by Forest City Ratner, the development partner for the new Midtown headquarters of The New York Times Company, to seek tax credits for an environmental cleanup of the site. The site was cleaned up according to state guidelines although the tax credits were not granted, said Michele de Milly, a spokeswoman for Forest City Ratner.

Posted by amy at 10:05 AM

May 2, 2008

Paterson Sympathizes With the Dolans Over M.S.G.

The New York Observer
by Em Whitney

The Observer reports on Governor David Paterson's appearance this morning on WFAN's Boomer & Carton show. While either the reporter's radio reception wasn't too good, or the Guv wasn't speaking in complete sentences, as far as we tell, he got some things right, and some things wrong.

Speaking about Madison Square Garden's fat tax break:

“A lot of these deals that are tried to make sure that basketball, hockey, football and baseball. The arrangements don’t always work that well for the public,” he said.

No they don't. And Atlantic Yards is a classic example of that. But wait, there's more:

“The Brooklyn arena is going forward,” he said. “If there is continuing delay or legal action against the use of eminent domain, which is when the government condemns property and then excises it, which I didn’t think there was very much at the Atlantic Yards ... I still think the Nets will wind up in Brooklyn,” he said.

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NoLandGrab: The Governor seems to have forgotten that he called for a state-wide moratorium against the use of eminent domain in 2005, and we don't recall him equivocating about volume, either. Just as one can't be "a little bit pregnant," you're either against property seizures, or you're not.

Atlantic Yards Report, On eminent domain, Paterson channels.... Gargano?

Norman Oder, in a not-so-flattering comparison, likens the Governor's knowledge of Atlantic Yards eminent domains issues to that of "The Ambassador," also known as former ESDC head (and Reagan-era ambassador to Trinidad & Tobago) Charles Gargano.

Posted by eric at 2:08 PM

Interest groups split after squabble over affordable housing at Willets Point

NY Daily News (Queens Edition)
by John Lauinger

How does the battle over Willets Point differ from the battle over Atlantic Yards? Well, for one thing, ACORN was on the side of those fighting the abuse of eminent domain — or at least they were until 10 days ago.

A Willets Point business association has parted ways with an influential housing advocacy group, claiming it exploited them to wage an affordable housing battle with the city.

The Committee to Save Willets Point, which includes more than 100 small businesses in the so-called Iron Triangle, said they were misled and misrepresented by the nonprofit organization ACORN.

"It has become apparent to our committee that ACORN's goals and ours are not the same, and that it's not useful for us to collaborate in the fight to preserve the livelihoods of the hard-working people of Willets Point," the committee wrote in an April 21 letter to ACORN.
...

"They were always trying to put words in our mouths," Olaya said, adding that his members' main concern is to have their businesses relocated.

"If the city wants to negotiate, we want to negotiate," Olaya added, charging that ACORN never told them their line in the sand would be 60% affordable housing or bust.

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NoLandGrab: 60%! Is that what ACORN was demanding for Atlantic Yards before they started "negotiating" with Bruce Ratner?

Posted by eric at 10:56 AM

Tax dollars paid for this mess

The Brooklyn Paper
By Mike McLaughlin

JB-AYAerial01.jpgIt's all true — according to the City Funding Agreement, taxpayers paid for Bruce Ratner's generous buyouts, and judging from this recent aerial photo, the neighborhood is a "mess."

According to the just-released funding agreement between the city and Forest City Ratner, the $100 million for “land acquisition” that the city set aside in 2006 will reimburse the developer for the private land he bought to assemble the project’s superblock.

That includes deals that made millionaires out of condo owners who agreed to sell to Ratner while the threat of eminent domain loomed.

The funding agreement was obtained by the Atlantic Yards Report, a Web site, which acquired it through a Freedom of Information Act request.

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Posted by lumi at 6:45 AM

Thompson says other developers might join AY; “I’m not sure what that project is any longer”

Atlantic Yards Report

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Norman Oder attended a panel discussion at the New School’s Center for New York City Affairs and found that Atlantic Yards came up quite often.

Atlantic Yards was the most contentious element of a panel discussion Wednesday at the New School’s Center for New York City Affairs titled Maintaining Momentum: Can New York’s Ambitious Development Agenda Survive an Economic Downturn?

Moderator Greg David, editor of Crain’s New York Business, and City Comptroller (and mayoral candidate) William Thompson urged that the project proceed, while Julia Vitullo-Martin of the Manhattan Institute (who called the project "corporate socialism") and Brad Lander of the Pratt Center for Community Development endorsed a rethink, albeit for somewhat different reasons.

Still, Thompson acknowledged, “I’m not sure what that project is any longer” and even dangled the hint that it might be revived by bringing in additional developers, as the city comes to the belated realization that single-developer projects pose certain dangers. He also agreed that most projects should go through ULURP, the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, rather than state review.

In other words, Thompson gave AY critics and opponents an opportunity for a “told-you-so,” to quote the New York Times’s recent coverage, just as David pressed his own “told-you-so,” nearly taunting Lander for opposing a project that has steadily survived court challenges.

Later in the discussion, Thompson includes Atlantic Yards in his discussion of development issues with David:

He said the market was affecting projects. “The greatest example is Atlantic Yards. You are going to see a rethinking of that in one form or another, only because that project--a project that I supported--I’m not sure what that project is any longer. That is a problem. It has morphed and changed, gone through ups and downs. Right now, the financing side of that--they’re not going to be able to move forward right now. I still think that--it was a good idea two years ago, it will be a good idea in five years and in ten years.”

Of course, he was ignoring the fact that the good idea was premised on a certain timetable and a certain amount of public funding.

“It may be a slightly different project," he continued, "and we may need to bring additional developers--and that’s one of the things I think you’ll see also, it’s no longer relying on one developer on megaprojects, you will look at multiple developers in different stages, so it all doesn’t fall on one person’s shoulders.”

(The alternative UNITY plan is premised on dividing the railyards into parcels for multiple developers.)

David asked “the fundamental, immediate question”: would Thompson proceed with the arena, as Bruce Ratner intends?

Yes, Thompson said.

(Keep in mind that, in 2001, his campaign received $22,500 from five people associated with developer Bruce Ratner. Still, as readers point out, there are other reasons for him to support the project, just as there are other reasons to be critical of Thompson.)

Afterwards, Oder from asks for clarification from Thompson :

I caught up with Thompson afterward. Given that the project was approved under the assumption that the benefits would arrive in ten years, rather than two or three decades, I asked whether he thought it deserved a new review, as some in Brooklyn contend.

“The first thing, we’d like to define it and fully understand it,” he replied. “What is the project going to be over the next two, three, five, ten years? I think that’s the course that we’d like to do. People would like to go back and re-trigger things and look at it again--I don’t know that we should do that.”

So what’s the process to define it, I asked.

“Government has an obligation,” he said "to fully make sure” what the short- and long-term goals of the project are and make them public.

That, I pointed out, might be complicated by the news I’d reported that morning that the developer had the city’s permission to build a much smaller Phase 1 than previously anticipated, and over 12 years.

Yesterday, Bruce Ratner said in a statement denying rumors about talks with New Jersey investors, "We are focused on breaking ground on the Barclays Center in Brooklyn later this year and building all of Atlantic Yards, nothing else."

Expect him to be asked to define what "all of Atlantic Yards" actually means.

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Posted by steve at 6:36 AM

In-snide job

The Brooklyn Paper

This letter to the editor (scroll down the page to find it) defends the efforts of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn to halt the Atlantic Yards project and puts blame on those who signed up with developer Bruce Ratner.

To the editor,

Letter writer Thomasina Millet (“Mixed Message.” April 26) really made me see red with her snide comment about how Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn is “defending the property rights of million-dollar homeowners.”

DDDB has been the major group pushing for a transparent, public process for deciding on the future of Atlantic Yards so that all could participate!

Millet should be going after those so-called “community” groups who bought into Ratner’s lies — some of them in exchange for a six-figure paycheck.

Carol Wierzbicki, Park Slope

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Posted by steve at 6:24 AM

The Star-Ledger follow-up on Nets to Newark talks

This morning, The Star-Ledger followed up on yesterday's article by Ian Shearn, covering the existence of behind-the-scenes meetings between NJ Nets owner and Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner and politicians and parties interested in moving the team to Newark.

Corzine wants Nets to stay in New Jersey
By Ian T. Shearn

Gov. Jon Corzine said yesterday he would like the Nets to stay in New Jersey, be it Newark or East Rutherford, but sees no need for his involvement at this point.

"It would be encouraging to have the Nets stay here, whichever venue," Corzine said. "I would very much prefer they be in New Jersey as opposed to Brooklyn, and we will wait to hear whether there are propositions that the state has a role to play in," the governor told reporters following an appearance in Piscataway.

It's time to bring Nets to Newark
Columnist Steve Politi visits Brooklyn and finds...

A busy rail yard. An abandoned house. Several empty lots. Oh, and traffic. Lots of that.

What's missing from this scene, however is much more telling. No cranes lifting steel girders. No bulldozers moving dirt piles. No construction foremen barking orders.
...
Nets officials insist they still are targeting the 2010-11 season as their first in their new home, but even they have to know that's silly talk. Ratner, who loved to glad-hand reporters after games when his project was on track, turned down multiple interview requests over the past month.

"We are going to Brooklyn," his CEO Brett Yormark said. He has bragged in recent interviews about a recent trip to Europe to meet with eager corporate investors about the project.

The Nets can't sell tickets in Paramus, but now they're going to sell sponsorships in Paris?

The truth is, this franchise is closer to winning an NBA championship than to playing games near the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush in Brooklyn.
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Most troubling for the team? You can't find many people outside of Ratner and his minions who think the arena in Brooklyn makes any sense now. The cost for the arena alone is quickly approaching $1 billion, which would make it twice as expensive as any in U.S. history.

The financial markets have stalled. The neighbor opposition is still strong -- residents filed yet another lawsuit this week. The team is already hemorrhaging money and writing its owners love letters requesting checks to cover those losses.

Brooklynites will appreciate Politi's riff on the absurd:

Moving the team to Newark makes sense on so many levels, which is probably why it hasn't happened.

Posted by lumi at 6:20 AM

In the Pool: Big Bruce Chair

From the footprint of Atlantic Yards, The Gowanus Lounge featured the "Big Bruce Chair," which — like many things in the footprint, real and metaphorical — "has fall[en] and can't get up."

TC-BruceChair.jpg

Posted by lumi at 6:04 AM

City lets Ratner off the hook

The Brooklyn Paper
By Mike McLaughlin

The Brooklyn Paper covers details first uncovered in the Atlantic Yards Report (via a Freedom of Information request) about more sweetheart dealings between New York City and Bruce Ratner.

Bruce Ratner downsized Atlantic Yards — and it turns out that the city gave him the green light to do so.

A newly released funding agreement reveals that the city let the Atlantic Yards developer off the hook for the downsizing he announced last month — yet will still reward him with $205 million in direct city subsidies.

The agreement, signed last September but only released this week to the Atlantic Yards Report, a Web site, allows Forest City Ratner to scale back the $4-billion arena, apartment and office project and build just the publicly financed basketball arena and two or three downsized towers by 2020, four years later and thousands of units of affordable housing less than the 16-tower full monty that was approved by state officials in December, 2006.

If he manages to build the reduced number of units within that stretched-out timetable, he would avoid any penalties.

The article give further details on the City's agreement with Ratner, and political reaction. It also goes on to mention a lawsuit being brought by tenants in the project footprint.

Meanwhile, a group of residents of the footprint sued the Empire State Development Corporation yet again, claiming that any agreement that gives Ratner more than 10 years to build the affordable units violates state condemnation law.

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Posted by steve at 5:58 AM

Rally Will Call on Governor To Halt Atlantic Yards

The New York Sun
By Peter Kieffer

Seizing on a string of reports questioning the economic viability of the Atlantic Yards project, hundreds of residents and a handful of elected officials are expected at a rally Saturday calling on Governor Paterson to step in and halt all demolition related to the $4 billion plan.

“There is tremendous uncertainty about the future of the project,” Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries said in an interview yesterday. “Myself and several of my colleagues in the state believe under Governor Paterson we have an opportunity for a complete reevaluation of the size, scope, and definition for the Atlantic Yards project.”

Since becoming governor, Mr. Paterson has been quiet on Atlantic Yards, an 8-million-squarefoot development that would create more than 6,000 apartments, office space, and an arena for the Nets basketball team on 22 acres, near the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues in Brooklyn. The plan required the state to exercise eminent domain, a process that Mr. Paterson opposed when he was a state senator.

...

“Something is up. If the project was a done deal, why are they now talking about selling the Nets and why is the city funding an agreement allowing Ratner to build a project that is much smaller with far fewer affordable units with no penalty?” a spokesman for Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, Daniel Goldstein, said. “That is why we need a time-out.”

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Posted by steve at 5:49 AM

Community Rally for a ‘Time Out’ on Atlantic Yards

Streetsblog

Several recent developments concerning Atlantic Yards demand your attention.

As originally proposed, the project would overwhelm surrounding neighborhoods, clog our streets, create outdated superblocks that would deaden street life, and create seven acres of “temporary” parking lots that would blight Brooklyn for decades.

But now it’s even worse.

Recently, developer Forest City Ratner acknowledged to the New York Times that the buildings they planned to construct around the arena have been indefinitely delayed.

Now the arena will be instead surrounded by vacant space or more temporary parking, creating a blighted dead zone where vitality was once promised. New York Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff (previously a supporter of the project) called this “a betrayal of the public trust” and suggested that architect Frank Gehry walk away from Atlantic Yards entirely.

Of course, New Yorkers can’t walk away.

Instead, please join the sponsors of BrooklynSpeaks.net, the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods, Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn and your local elected officials at a rally to demand Governor Paterson and Mayor Bloomberg call “Time Out” on Atlantic Yards - and the demolitions on the site that are scarring our community - until we have a plan for the site that works for Brooklyn.

If you only come to one Atlantic Yards rally, please make it this one.

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Posted by steve at 5:43 AM

Nets in Newark: Rumors and Gossip

NetsLogoNJ.gif Rumors of talks to keep Nets in Jersey have been upgraded to full-fledged gossip after the Newark Star-Ledger published a story, citing unnamed sources, reporting that Nets owner Bruce Ratner has met with parties interested in purchasing the team. As you'd expect, Ratner and his pr machine are in full denial mode.

Field of Schemes, Nets-to-Newark move in the works?
Commentary and analysis from Neil deMause:

Being second fiddle to an NHL team usually isn't as enticing a prospect as having your own arena, but there are some special circumstances here: The Nets are currently losing an estimated $40 million a year playing in the Meadowlands, and are stuck there at least another two seasons before a Brooklyn arena could be ready. And they're facing an increasingly tougher financial road there as well, despite heavy public subsidies.
...
Ratner, meanwhile, insists the team isn't for sale, which could be read either way: It could be meant as a sign of reassurance to Brooklyn legislators who might be wondering if they should pull the plug on Atlantic Yards; or, you might wonder whether, if Ratner's really serious about getting more money out of Brooklyn, he wouldn't want to raise the specter of a Newark move to up the ante. I wouldn't hazard a guess, but it's worth noting the Nets wouldn't be the first team to stay in New Jersey after initially insisting it was not an option.

Gothamist, Nets Owner Ratner Rumored to Sell Team to Newark
Like a game of telephone, this Gothamist headline is a little ahead of the actual story, which rehashes the rumors, published in the Star-Ledger, of exploratory TALKS regarding selling the Nets to an ownership group that would move the team to Newark.

No one has said that Ratner is actually selling the team.

The Brooklyn Paper, Nets to stay in Jersey?
The Brooklyn weekly primarily cited the Star-Ledger article, including this point made by George Zoffinger, former chief executive of the New Jersey Sports Authority:

“When you start to spend north of $500 million for an arena, you can’t generate the cash flow necessary to generate a decent return on the investment,” Zoffinger told the Star-Ledger.

“If the number is $900 million, it’s absolutely, positively not viable from an economic standpoint.”

NoLandGrab: Keep in mind, the financial viability of the arena in Ratner's original analysis, compiled by sports venue economist Andrew Zimbalist, assumed that the arena in Newark would not be built. Now the Newark arena is open for business, and the Ratner arena price tag has ballooned to more than twice the original amount.

Associated Press, via NY Post, RATNER: NETS NOT FOR SALE
NJ Nets owner Bruce Ratner is denying all rumors:

The New Jersey Nets are not for sale, the owner of the NBA team said today in shooting down a report that investors were being assembled to buy the franchise and move it to Newark.

"The team is very simply not for sale and any stories that suggest or insinuate that we would be interested in listening to those conversations are flat out false," Bruce Ratner said in a statement. "We are focused on breaking ground on the Barclays Center in Brooklyn later this year and building all of Atlantic Yards, nothing else."

NoLandGrab: Bruce Ratner doesn't have a great track record with telling the truth, so we're not sure if he expects people to believe him this time.

He is between a rock and a hard place on this one. He'd be crazy not to entertain the idea of selling a team that is losing $40 million a year. On the other hand, if he's talking to parties interested in keeping the Nets in NJ, it causes all sorts of problems with potential investors in Atlantic Yards.

This wire story was picked up by several other daily news outlets that cover the NBA:
The NY Times
MetroNY
Edmonton Sun
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Washington Post

Posted by lumi at 4:46 AM

May 1, 2008

Wakeup Call

WBAI-FM

"Brooklyn Matters" filmmaker Isabel Hill and Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn spokesman Daniel Goldstein were on WBAI's Wakeup Call this morning, pitching tonight's free screening of the film and Saturday's rally. [Click on the player to listen.]

[If you have trouble playing the segment, you can download an MP3 of this morning's show. The Atlantic Yards discussion begins around the 47:45 mark.]

Posted by eric at 10:33 AM

Delays in $4 Billion Brooklyn Development Are Challenged in Tenants’ Lawsuit

The NY Times
By Andy Newman

The ever-lengthening timeline for completing the $4 billion Atlantic Yards project near Downtown Brooklyn is not just bad news for those who hoped to see the project’s basketball arena, office towers and apartment blocks completed quickly.

It is also, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday, illegal.

The suit challenges an agreement between the project’s state sponsor, the Empire State Development Corporation, and the developer, Forest City Ratner, that gives Forest City at least 12 years to complete just the first phase of the project and an unspecified amount of time after that to build the second, final phase.

The agreement, the suit says, violates a provision in the state’s eminent-domain law, under which the state agency intends to seize private buildings on Forest City’s behalf. The law says a seized property must be offered back to its prior holder if it is not “materially improved” in 10 years.

Here's a curious bit of color commentary (especially for a news reporter):

But Mr. Ratner’s recently conceded difficulties — he has indefinitely delayed the project’s signature skyscraper, known as Miss Brooklyn — have energized his opponents, in a particularly bitter, told-you-so way.

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NoLandGrab: Just because we told you so, doesn't mean we're bitter, but, naturally, those who take developer Bruce Ratner at his word (repeatedly) might be embarassed, or even defensive.

Atlantic Yards Report, ESDC’s long leash on Phase 1 provokes lawsuit from tenants

The willingness of the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) to give developer Forest City Ratner 12+ years to build Phase 1 of Atlantic Yards has provoked a lawsuit charging that the agency is violating a provision of the Eminent Domain Procedure Law that requires disposition of properties within a decade.

It also argues that, given the expected delay in the promised public benefits, ESDC must hold another public hearing.
...
[T]he suit contends, “New York Eminent Domain Procedure Law (“EDPL”), Article 4 section 406, requires a condemnor to materially improve property within 10 years from acquisition. After ten years, the condemnee has the right to reacquire the materially unimproved property."

So if FCR has more than a decade to build Phase 1 and can sell the property, that violates state law, Locker contends, though he acknowledged there’s no case law on the issue. “This is a case of first impression, based on a clear reading of the statute,” he acknowledged.

Associated Press, via NY Newsday, New lawsuit against Atlantic Yards focuses on its timeline

When "government bodies take votes and appropriate hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money, which is in short supply, based on the promise of affordable housing and jobs, and it's not going to be built in the statutory 10 years, it's really a fraud on the public," said the tenants' lawyer, George Locker.

The lawsuit asks the court to invalidate any parts of the agreement that allow more than 10 years for the project's construction.

An Empire State Development Corp. spokeswoman declined to comment on the lawsuit. Forest City Ratner said more than $42 million in work is nearly done, and more than half the structures on the sprawling property have been torn down.

NoLandGrab: Forest City Ratner failed to add that $50 million has already been disbursed from the City to the developer. In light of that fact, we sincerely hope that the developer has done some sort of work already.

Posted by lumi at 5:45 AM

NJ group explores bringing Nets to Newark

The Star-Ledger
By Ian T. Shearn

PruCenter-NSL.jpg

The owner of the Devils hockey team and Newark Mayor Cory Booker are seeking to assemble a group of investors to buy the Nets and move the basketball team to Newark, according to people familiar with the effort.

In recent weeks, Devils owner Jeffrey Vanderbeek has met with Nets owner Bruce Ratner, while Booker has spoken to an official at Ratner's development company, Forest City Ratner Cos., according to three sources with direct knowledge of the discussions. The outcome of each talk was characterized as "open-ended." The parties spoke on the condition they not be identified.

Meanwhile, Ratner is going outside his usual group of spinmeisters, engaging the pr services of Howard Rubenstein, in order to downplay the talks:

"The team is absolutely not for sale," Ratner said through his spokesman, Howard Rubenstein. "We're inches away from completing the deal in Brooklyn."

NoLandGrab: First "Atlantic Yards" was a "done deal," but now they're "inches away" from sealing the deal?

One official explains Ratner's predicament plainly:

Carl Goldberg, chairman of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, said he believes the Nets could remain where they are.

"The likelihood of the Nets actually building a new facility in Brooklyn and leaving our facility at the Izod Center is diminishing by the moment," Goldberg told a group of Star-Ledger editors in February. "The cost of steel and concrete and the challenges of building a facility of that nature over the railyards are becoming more difficult."

The article cites one of Forest City Ratner's affadavits recently filed in court, an affadavit that the development company says is no longer accurate (maybe they mean "convenient"?), and another expert notes that, though banks may still be underwriting deals for sports facilities, the cost of the financing has ballooned in recent months.

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Atlantic Yards Report, Nets to Newark? The Star-Ledger smells some smoke

Norman Oder also noticed that developer Bruce Ratner brought out the heavy artillery to try to quash the gossip that the Nets may stay in Newark.

The latest time p.r. guru Howard Rubenstein spoke on behalf of Forest City Ratner was last June, delivering the news, papering over any whiff of the untoward, that executive Jim Stuckey had left to "pursue new challenges."

So if the Newark Star-Ledger adds more to the Nets-to-Newark rumors, in an article headlined Nets eyed for Newark: Plan is afoot by N.J. group, well, Rubenstein is there to douse the flames....

The article assembles evidence for and against a sale, and I add a little more context.

Oder reads the tea leaves, adding:

[Newark Mayor Cory] Booker has apparently tried to entice Bruce Ratner by offering him development possibilities in Newark, a city with numerous potential development parcels. (Then again, he can't exactly present single-source, no-bid deal, can he?)
...
The Nets are losing $40 million a year; the team's value has risen less than $40 million since Ratner and fellow investors bought the team, the Star-Ledger suggested.

George Zoffinger, former chief executive of the New Jersey Sports Authority, asserted that Forest City Ratner couldn't make a profit on a billion-dollar arena. Nets CEO Brett Yormark, however, cited "incredible interest" from ten potential Barclays Center "founding partners" he met with in Europe.

Indeed, the potential revenue from partnerships and sponsorships, luxury suites, and television deals might make even a billion-dollar arena economically viable, especially since the developer needs not to pay taxes but rather bond payments in lieu of taxes.

So the upside in a Brooklyn arena remains significant. But Forest City Ratner's numbers people must have a spreadsheet that factors in the costs of delay, including those annual $40 million losses.

NoLandGrab: Bruce Ratner is downplaying the behind-the-scene chatter because he doesn't want to spook potential investors and NY politicians. However, with the Nets posting losses around $40 million per year, he'd be crazy not to consider a sale.

Posted by lumi at 5:14 AM

TONIGHT: BROOKLYN MATTERS

BrooklynMattersPost-sma.jpg

The First Cinema Screening of Isabel Hill's Atlantic Yards Documentary "Brooklyn Matters"

THURSDAY, MAY 1, 7:30pm.

Cobble Hill Cinemas
265 Court Street Brooklyn [Map]
(at Butler Street)

First Come, First Seated

Posted by lumi at 5:09 AM

Mirrors and Glass

Photographer Tasha O'Neill searches the world for reflections; her latest are in the buildings of Frank O. Gehry.

PacketOnline.com [Central NJ News]
By Ilene Dube

While Brooklynites brace themselves for architect Frank Gehry's vision for Brooklyn, there are local fans who are waiting in the wings to make a pilgrimage:

Gehry-ONeil.jpg

Enthusiasts — myself included — began making pilgrimages to the Basque region of Spain. In some ways resembling a large boat covered with titanium fish scales, the Bilbao Guggenheim’s design was said to be inspired by the architect’s memories of the live carp his Jewish grandmother brought home each week. She would keep it in her bathtub until time to make gefilte fish.

Gehry designs closer to home include the Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College in Anondale-on-Hudson, N.Y., and the Stata Center at MIT in Cambridge, Mass. The latter made news last fall when MIT sued Gehry because leaks in the building led to cracked masonry, mold, backed-up drainage and falling ice and debris blocked emergency exits. Gehry fans among us eagerly await the completion of Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, the addition to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and our very own Lewis Science Library on the Princeton University campus.

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NoLandGrab: Sorry to flatten the fluff in your nutter, but Atlantic Yards isn't coming any time soon, and even if it does, Gehry will probably not be designing all the buildings, as was originally announced.

Posted by lumi at 5:00 AM

Paul Newell on Congestion Pricing and Reforming Albany

Streets Blog

Paul Newell is challenging State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver for the 64th District seat in Lower Manhattan. In the second installment of a two-part interview, Newell cites "you know who" as one of the compelling reasons for public-financing of campaigns:

I cannot believe that any candidate for public office would rather spend hours a day on the phone begging people for money -- asking Bruce Ratner and the developers for money -- when they could get it from public financing. That way, in one fell swoop, you eliminate the campaign finance influence on our politics.

article

NoLandGrab: Congratulations Bruce Ratner, somehow you've managed to become the posterboy for money's corruptive influence in local politics.

Posted by lumi at 4:50 AM