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August 31, 2011

From the latest Construction Alert: signs that excavation has been delayed (flooding?), bus stop on Flatbush removed for utility work

Atlantic Yards Report

Yesterday, one day late, Empire State Development (aka Empire State Development Corporation) issued the two-week Construction Alert (bottom) dated 8/29/11 prepared by developer Forest City Ratner. I've highlighted below changes compared to the alert issued two weeks earlier, dated 8/15/11.

The changes seem relatively small, though, interestingly enough, one paragraph in the 8/15/11 alert was missing:

Excavation for storm/sanitation/water services near the intersections of Dean & Flatbush as well as 6th & Pacific will continue during this reporting period and the next. These excavations (trenches) will be in excess of 25 feet below street level and will require tie-in to existing piping within both Dean Street and/or 6th Avenue. Permits are being submitted to borough agencies to allow the tie-ins and a maintenance and protection of traffic (MPT)/pedestrians plans(s) is being prepared; installation will not occur until permits have been granted. A second and/or third shift is being considered to execute this work. Permits for a second or third shift to perform this work will be submitted prior to beginning the work.

(Emphasis added)

I asked ESD yesterday if that excavation was completed, or delayed, perhaps because of the rain associated with Hurricane Irene. If/when I get a response, I'll add it.

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Posted by eric at 10:46 AM

Coming after the arena opens, a follow-up study about traffic conditions

Atlantic Yards Report

The Empire State Development Corporation has posted (also embedded below) 68 questions and responses from the 6/14/11 public meeting on traffic issues.

I've already highlighted some of the questions and responses, including the capacity of sidewalks on Dean Street, plans for the surface parking lot, and the impact of traffic on the Dean Street Playground.

Post-Arena Opening Traffic Study

The question:

3. When will the scope for a follow-up study be established? Will local Stakeholders (electeds, Community Boards and Community Members) have input into the scope? If there are additional changes that will affect traffic or pedestrian flow, what is the timeline for them and what processes will be used to consult the public?

The response:

As required by the FEIS, after the Arena opens, a traffic study will be done to provide information about traffic conditions in the area. The purpose of the study will be to optimize the implementation of the mitigation identified in the FEIS and to identify any further or different opportunities to improve traffic conditions. The study will evaluate the effectiveness of the Arena’s Transportation Demand Management Plan, an FEIS-required traffic mitigation measure that seeks to divert automotive traffic away from the Arena by encouraging the use of mass transit and parking at remote locations. The study will also consider the actual data about conditions after the Arena opening (the FEIS was able to consider only projected traffic conditions) to identify opportunities to improve traffic conditions and to optimize the implementation of any FEIS mitigation measures not implemented prior to the Arena opening. For example, in light of data about actual (rather than projected) traffic conditions after the Arena opens, it may be possible to improve upon signal timing recommendations made in the FEIS, as is common in other NYC projects that have a long lead time between the preparation of the FEIS and the construction of certain project elements. The study will also evaluate pedestrian issues in affected areas. This will be a public process, led by ESD and NYCDOT, and the public and other stakeholders will have an opportunity to review and comment on the scope of the study and its results and recommendations. At this time, FCRC is implementing most of the FEIS traffic mitigation for Phase I of the Project, while postponing implementation of certain traffic measures (such as the widening of 6th Avenue between Dean Street and Flatbush Avenue and the construction of additional lay-by lanes on 6th Avenue on the Arena block) at the direction of NYCDOT until after the Arena opens and data can be gathered as to how best to implement or improve upon the FEIS-required traffic measures. ESD has not approved changes to the FEIS traffic measures at this time.

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Posted by eric at 10:35 AM

Nets Fans Get No Assist From Atlantic Yards’ Shrinking Sidewalks

Streetsblog
by Brad Aaron

In June we wondered whether Forest City Ratner would make the most of the Barclays Center’s potential as a destination for pedestrians, transit riders and cyclists. Recent developments are less than encouraging.

Gib Veconi noted a couple of weeks back on Atlantic Yards Watch that a July proposal from Ratner to NYC DOT regarding bollard placement shows that sidewalks around the arena may be much narrower than what Ratner and the Empire State Development Corporation originally led the public to believe.
...

Veconi notes that the sidewalk on the south side of Atlantic Avenue east of the arena entrance now has an effective width of 5.5 feet, or 40 percent of the 13.5 feet presented in the EIS. “This sidewalk will presumably be traveled by large groups of arena patrons leaving the Atlantic Avenue exit en route to arena parking to the east, and borders busy Atlantic Avenue. No bollards are shown to be installed along this section of sidewalk.”

In addition, Veconi points out that the Dean Street bike lane will be situated between a thru-traffic lane and parking bays designated for pick-ups and drop-offs, putting cyclists in the path of merging vehicles.

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Posted by eric at 10:24 AM

August 30, 2011

MTA agrees to remove coffin-like bollards outside Atlantic Terminal, says replacements less intrusive (maybe also to accommodate larger crowds?)

Atlantic Yards Report

In Bollard backtrack! MTA reverses course on Atlantic Terminal security sarcophagi, the Brooklyn Paper has a scoop:

The MTA has agreed to tear out the massive granite barricades ringing the Long Island Rail Road’s Atlantic Terminal, finally admitting that the concrete coffins at the borough’s largest transit hub were excessive and ugly.
...

I suspect there's another reason for the bollard switch: by eliminating wide bollards that slow people down but don't add significant safety regarding vehicle intrusion, travelers will be able to get into and out from the station much faster.

And that would be necessary to accommodate those visiting the nearby arena scheduled to open in about a year.

Note that smaller metal bollards are also planned for the perimeter of the Atlantic Yards arena site.

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Posted by eric at 12:30 PM

Will judge's decision requiring Supplemental EIS be appealed? Unclear, but we should know by mid-September

Atlantic Yards Report

So, what happened with that significant, if belated, Atlantic Yards judicial ruling in July?

Remember, the Empire State Development Corporation (aka Empire State Development) was ordered to conduct a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for Phase II of the Atlantic Yards project and was criticized for "arbitrary and capricious" reliance on the assumed--but not credible--ten-year buildout.

Well, the state can comply, or it can appeal. And it hasn't decided.

Note that, given the low judicial bar, requiring government agencies to have merely a "rational" basis for their decisions, it's very unusual for judges to lodge such criticism--one of the reason, I'd argue, for the significance of state Supreme Court Justice Marcy Friedman's ruling.

State posture

Last week, I asked Arana Hankin, Director, Atlantic Yards Project for the ESD, about the status of the case.

"We're still discussing our options internally," Hankin said, during a longer interview. "We feel strongly that we complied with all the SEQRA [State Environmental Quality Review Act] laws and all applicable laws. We understand that there may be a need for us to reevaluate some things, or possibly take another look... But we haven't made any final decisions yet. We have until September 16 to appeal. So we're still talking internally, with everyone, including the second floor [governor's office] about how we're going to respond."
...

Note that developer Forest City Ratner was a co-defendant in the case, brought by two coalitions of community groups, led by Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn and the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council, the latter on behalf of BrooklynSpeaks.

Also note that Forest City Ratner pays the fees of the ESDC's outside counsel in this case.

The state agency takes the lead, but, if I had to bet, I'd bet that Forest City Ratner is pushing for an appeal. Cost is merely one factor, and Forest City was once willing to pay a high-priced lawyer to try to avoid a relatively small fine for improper demolition.

So the developer (and the state) might want to see a critical ruling overturned.

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Posted by eric at 11:03 AM

From ESD: increased vehicles/pedestrians on Dean Street not "anticipated" to provoke adverse effect on safety

Atlantic Yards Report

Empire State Development (aka Empire State Development Corporation) has posted (also embedded below) 68 questions and responses from the 6/14/11 public meeting on traffic issues. I've already highlighted some of the questions and responses, including the capacity of sidewalks on Dean Street and plans for the surface parking lot.

No problems from traffic/pedestrian increase?

This one jumped out:

10. Since the introduction of Astroturf to Dean Playground, activity at the playground has significantly increased. Will the increase in traffic and pedestrians make the playground less safe? Will parents still be able to watch their kids play from the sidewalk during league games on the weekends?

No adverse effect on safety in or around the playground is anticipated.

None? Is that why there will be extra cops and security guards around the perimeter of the arena and, presumably, adjacent streets?

As another response explains, there will be about 3000 additional pedestrians traveling between the accessory lot and the arena. It's unclear what fraction will use Dean Street, but it's a main route.

The word "anticipate," as I've documented, has a lot of flex to it.

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Posted by eric at 10:50 AM

Bollard backtrack! MTA reverses course on Atlantic Terminal security sarcophagi

The Brooklyn Paper
by Daniel Bush

It's getting increasingly difficult to keep track of the bollards around here. The Barclays Center, which the NYPD in 2007 said wouldn't require bollards, is going to get more than 200 of them. And now, less than two years after NoLandGrab broke the story of the Atlantic Terminal's massive, tomb-like bollards, the MTA says it's going to downsize them.

The MTA has agreed to tear out the massive granite barricades ringing the Long Island Rail Road’s Atlantic Terminal, finally admitting that the concrete coffins at the borough’s largest transit hub were excessive and ugly.

Starting in February, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will rip out the 14 stone sarcophagi and replace them with a series of short metal bollards at the entrance to the $106-million Atlantic Terminal, which opened to immediate criticism in January, 2010.

Actually, they pre-opened to our criticism on December 7, 2009, to be precise.

MTA spokesman Sal Arena acknowledged that the stunning reversal was a response to outcry over the massive security perimeter.

“The new, smaller bollards are less intrusive and more acceptable to the community,” Arena said.

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NoLandGrab: And in a landmark deal, Barclays has purchased the naming rights, and the MTA spokesman will now be known as Sal Barclays.

Photo: Barry Shifrin/The Brooklyn Paper

Posted by eric at 10:17 AM

Fort Greene thieves love iPhones

The Brooklyn Paper
by Thomas Tracy

And they love Bruce Ratner's malls, too.

Stroller swipe

A thief snagged a wallet from a 41-year-old woman getting last-minute Hurricane Irene provisions from the Atlantic Center Pathmark on Aug. 26.

The woman had left her wallet atop her baby stroller at 8:30 pm when the thief walked by and grabbed it.

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Posted by eric at 10:13 AM

August 29, 2011

Lago di Bruce

flickr

Raul Rothblatt documented the aftermath of Hurricane Irene's pass through Prospect Heights.

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Photo: Raul Rothblatt

Posted by eric at 7:11 PM

Video shows that, after criticism was raised publicly, trucks as of August 26 stopped using residential street as shortcut

Atlantic Yards Report

I can't say the video below documents riveting action, but it does seem to confirm that those working at the railyard site finally paid attention to criticism aired on Atlantic Yards Watch and this blog: trucks previously seen using Clermont Avenue, a residential street, in violation of city law and site rules, as of Friday, August 26, were no longer doing so.

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Posted by eric at 6:54 PM

Storm mostly spares New York City; had winds been worse, unsecured potential projectiles at Atlantic Yards site could have posed dangers

Atlantic Yards Report

Anyone familiar with Bruce Ratner's record of "securing" construction sites won't be surprised that Atlantic Yards was a hurricane accident waiting to happen.

As the New York Times headline put it, Storm Damage Largely Spares New York, which includes the Atlantic Yards site.

NetsDaily reported:

Barry Baum, senior vice-president for communications at The Barclays Center reports the arena "had no structural damage or damage to equipment. There's water, but it is being pumped out. Everything held up very well." Critics had questioned whether equipment had been secured.

That's a rather pat dismissal (though par for the NetsDaily course). After all, the fact of no damage does not mean that equipment was secured.

As noted yesterday, there were signs of inadequate preparation--materials and equipment left uncovered at the site, despite instructions from the Department of Buildings.

Additional photos

And, according to the file below contributed by a reader, there were several instances of unsecured potential projectiles, including loose lumber. Also note overturned toilets and some collected trash that likely exacerbates the rat problem.

Note that the file is hardly comprehensive; the before-and-after photos focus on the railyard and the site perimeter, not the interior of the arena site, where there were more materials and equipment.

Click thru for pictures, including one of the "Outhouse of Flying Daggers."

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Posted by eric at 9:24 AM

Barclays Center Arena panorama

threecee via flickr

Atlantic Avenue near South Portland Avenue
Prospect Heights
Brooklyn, New York

The Barclays Center Arena of Atlantic Yards is under construction south of Atlantic Avenue.

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Posted by eric at 9:18 AM

KPMG beyond Atlantic Yards: a pattern of dubious accounting practices

Atlantic Yards Report

I was looking up some background on the accounting/consulting firm KPMG, notorious for its dubious (and secondhand) work predicting the Brooklyn housing market on behalf of the Empire State Development Corporation.

Was this part of any pattern? Well, the web site Cheating Culture, founded by David Callahan, author of The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead, has posted KPMG: A History of Abetting Fraud:

While KPMG has avoided the fate of fellow auditing giant Arthur Anderson, it has primarily done so through quick settlements that prevent its numerous cases of fraud from ever reaching court. Though most of the focus of the financial crisis of 2008 has been placed upon the nation's big financial institutions such as Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan and Citibank, more evidence is arising over the role of auditing firms throughout the subprime loan disaster. KPMG was the first "big-four" firm to be hit with a lawsuit, accused in 2009 of "grossly negligent audits" of home loan provider New Century Financial Corp.

Other cases involve:

  • a 2005 KPMG settlement "for $22.5 million with SEC for allowing Xerox to manipulate its accounting practices," followed by a 2008 payment to Xerox investors
  • a $24 million SEC settlement "over its alleged role in various misstatements and omissions regarding the lending policies of Countrywide Financial" and
  • $456 million in penalties paid by eight KPMG executives "to the U.S. Department of Justice for creating illegal tax shelters" to help clients "avoid paying over $2.5 billion in taxes."

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Posted by eric at 9:11 AM

August 28, 2011

Atlantic yards construction site with equipment not tied down.

yfrog

A casual inspection of the Atlantic Yards arena construction site makes one have serious doubts that the Department of Building guidelines for securing a construction site before hurricane Irene hits Brooklyn were followed.

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NoLandGrab: The first item on the DOB's list is "Tie down and secure material and loose debris at construction sites."

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, As storm approached, were materials and equipment at Atlantic Yards site secured? Photos suggest vulnerability

Posted by steve at 10:17 PM

Arena architect: "revenue-generating amenities" key; new rendering shows Coke; arena once to be Sportsplex

Atlantic Yards Report

On a web page made available earlier this week (but now unavailable), the main arena architects, Ellerbe Becket, an AECOM company, explained noted that "revenue-generating amenities" are key to the Barclays Center:

Ellerbe Becket, an AECOM company, was selected, in association with SHoP Architects, to design the Barclays Center – the new home of the National Basketball Association's (NBA) Nets. When complete in 2012, this promises to be the most exciting venue in the NBA. Sited in the heart of Brooklyn, the design features a unique weathered steel facade, and a main entrance covered by an impressive canopy with an oculus that contains a dynamic marquee. The glazed main concourse is at street level, making the arena more pedestrian-friendly and creating a strong visual connection with the neighborhood.

The Barclays Center will feature one of the most intimate seating configurations ever designed into a modern multi-purpose arena, with unparalleled sightlines and first-class amenities. An abundance of premium seating will accommodate virtually any spectator need. Seven clubs and restaurants provide further revenue-generating amenities that today’s patrons both appreciate and have increasingly come to expect.

...

As I wrote 8/23/11, in the 8/4/03 Brooklyn Paper [PDF], an article headlined "Nets could take Sportsplex D’town" quoted a very certain Borough President Marty Markowitz:

For two decades Brooklyn politicos have been dreaming of an amateur athletics arena — a “sportsplex” — for the borough. That dream was shelved when the city instead moved ahead with Keyspan Park in Coney Island.
...Markowitz is doubly excited because he anticipates that the facility could be used as a scholastic and amateur sportsplex when the professional team is not playing.
“It would be a multi-use arena and thus a sportsplex would definitely be included in it,” Markowitz told The Brooklyn Papers.
...But asked whether a sportsplex would be part of the Ratner-Nets arena plan he said, “Without a question. It would incorporate, in my opinion, now once again I’m not the one, I’m not gonna own it, but I have no doubt that it would also double as a sportsplex for high school sports — no question about it. It has to be, and it would be, a borough facility, a borough resource, of course.”

Well, some high school tournaments might be played at the arena, but the ink is going elsewhere. The arena would be less a "borough facility" than a "facility in the borough."

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Posted by steve at 10:05 PM

August 27, 2011

Yes, during a discussion of Brooklyn, its literary history and neighborhood change, an inevitable question about the Atlantic Yards arena

Atlantic Yards Report

A discussion with authors Evan Hughes and Nelson George at Fort Greene's Greenlight Bookstore touched on AY.

At the end of the brief Q&A, an audience member asked the two authors what they thought of the Barclays Center.

Hughes said he didn't see it as quite "an open-and-shut case" as fellow panelist George, who's on record as an Atlantic Yards opponent (and joined the Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn advisory board). Why? Hughes thought, at least at one point, that the "jobs" might be worth it.

"They sold a lot of the borough on job creation," George commented. Indeed, I've pointed out how the numbers are ridiculous.

George again suggested that the traffic, foot and vehicular, in the area around the arena would change the character of the neighborhoods on event nights, making the streets outside the bookstore uncomfortable.

By the way, despite a Wall Street Journal article indicating he was planning to leave Fort Greene in reaction to changes wrought by the arena, George told me afterward that he is, in fact, staying.

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Posted by steve at 11:31 PM

If there's no (or belated) enforcement of trucking rules, why not try... civil disobedience?

Atlantic Yards Report

I didn't get a response yesterday from Empire State Development to my 8/25/11 query about apparent violations of trucking rules at the Atlantic Yards site, as documented by Atlantic Yards Watch.

One out-of-town blog reader had an idea: if trucks continue to travel up residential Clermont Avenue, why don't neighborhood residents join up to block the street? After all, if they get arrested, they can point to selective enforcement of rules and regulations.

Well, there won't be any trucks today, because of hurricane concerns, but we'll see if anybody takes up the idea.

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Posted by steve at 11:25 PM

Brooklyn’s home for the Nets

Barkitecture

Here's a fanciful version of Nets history to help explain the architecture of the new Nets arena.

The NBA franchise Hair Nets (commonly referred to simply as “the Nets”) of New Jersey needed a home that represented the pride of the team in its new home. The Nets have a history of moving venues, back and forth between New York and New Jersey. A founding member of the ABA and originally named the New York Americans, the team was renamed to rhyme with two other New York sports franchises with histories of remarkable success, the Mets and the Jets. The new name, the Hair Nets, was also meant to represent a lower, heartier class to distinguish themselves from the Knicks, favorites of the city’s elite, who pay top dollar to sit court side. This time, the venue is being built for them.

The design is a fluid, swooping, and nearly literal adaptation of a hair net display. (Others have thought the design was inspired by other influences. These can be seen if you follow this link and scroll to the bottom.) For emphasis, the architects teamed up with German-born, and New Jersey-raised artist, Kiki Smith who created a bust with a hair net.

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Posted by steve at 11:09 PM

August 26, 2011

Hurricane prep: starting tonight at 9 pm and going 'til 6 am, noisy work on streets around arena site to clean sewers/catch basins

Atlantic Yards Report

All Atlantic Yards work might be suspended after 2 p.m. tomorrow, but Bruce Ratner is giving residents near the Atlantic Yards site a special pre-hurricane gift tonight.

An announcement from developer Forest City Ratner via Empire State Development:

As part of the Atlantic Yards Emergency Preparedness Plan for Hurricane Irene, the utility contractor has secured a Vactor Truck and will be cleaning a number of catch basins in the area of the Atlantic Yards Project. This cleaning will assist in the water flow away from the streets. Below is a list of the 11 catch basins that will they will be working on as may be required:
1. North side of Dean St. at Flatbush Ave:
2. South side of Dean St. at Flatbush Ave
3. West side of 6th Ave at Pacific St.
4. South side of Atlantic Ave west of 6th Ave.
5. South side of Atlantic Ave between 5th Ave and 6th Ave.
6. South west corner of Pacific St. and Carlton Ave intersection
7. South east corner of Pacific St. and Carlton Ave intersection
8. West side of 6th Ave, south of Pacific St.
9. East side of 6th Ave, south of Pacific St.
10. North side of Pacific St., east of 6th Ave.
11. South side of Pacific St., east of 6th Ave.

This work will commence Friday, August 26th at approximately 9 P.M. and will be concluded by 6 A.M., Saturday, August 27th Residents in the vicinity of the project should be aware that the machinery used for this work is noisy. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

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Posted by eric at 9:40 PM

Department of Buildings suspends construction throughout city starting 2 pm Saturday; no AY arena work was planned

Atlantic Yards Report

There's no after-hours variance for work at the Atlantic Yards arena site this weekend (unlike last weekend), which might make sense, given the impending hurricane and--as noted below--that the city has suspended work starting 2 pm tomorrow.

link

Posted by eric at 9:04 PM

Not an isolated incident: truck use of residential Clermont Avenue is widespread

Atlantic Yards Watch
by Danae Oratowski

More than a dozen videos, taken over the course of a single week, document repeated illegal use of Clermont Avenue by fully loaded dump trucks leaving the project site from the Carlton Avenue brige exit. As the videos show, trucks exiting the Carlton Avenue bridge site on to Atlantic make the first left on to Clermont, departing from NYC's designated truck route. Clermont Avenue is a residential street of three story townhouses and a public housing complex and is the location of two public playgrounds (one is part of the Atlantic Terminal Housing; the other, the Cuyler Gore playground, is at intersection of Clermont and Lafayette).

The videos were recorded on three days, August 15, 18 and 19 (There is an AY Watch incident report for each day; while each day's report documents mulitiple violations.) Most of the trucks had ‘LMC Trucking - USDOT: 1501837’ as vehicle identifiers.

The use of a residential street as a truck route violates NYC City law as well as the Barclays Center Delivery Truck Rules and Requirements, which is part of the project's of Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments, to be enforced by ESD and Forest City Ratner.

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Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, From Atlantic Yards Watch: trucks continue to leave railyard site and use residential street

Posted by eric at 11:17 AM

"Surface" parking lot to have a modular second floor deck?

Atlantic Yards Watch

NetsDaily reports that a company called More Park is claiming its prefabricated parking system will be used by the "Brooklyn Nets". More Park's web site describes its parking system as "the lowest-cost parking deck available," and a "green parking solution" that can be assembled (and disassembled) without heavy construction equipment.

A rendering of More Park's parking solution from its web site appears above left. The design of the platform would appear to be consistent with the renderings that were supplied by the ESDC in December 2010, which show a second level of cars parking on block 1129 visible above a fence on block 1129 along Dean Street and Carlton Avenue (below left).

The use of modular parking platforms on block 1129 may affect not only the impact of the facility on the surrounding streets (which are located in the Prospect Heights Historic District), but also the opportunity to landscape the interior of the lot. Although interior landscaping of surface parking lots is required under New York City zoning, Forest City Ratner has stated publicly that it believes it is exempt from such requirements.

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Posted by eric at 11:08 AM

The Resurrection of Seneca Village

The Huffington Post
by Alan Singer

In 1857, Seneca Village, an African-American community in Manhattan was erased from history. About a century later in the 1950s, a Parks Department gardener found a graveyard around 85th Street. The New Yorker magazine reported it was "filled with the bones of tramps and squatters." Today, the village and its former inhabitants are being resurrected by a team of archaeologists from Barnard College-Columbia University and City College (CUNY).
...

In 1853, the New York state legislature set aside land for the construction of Central Park and authorized the use of "eminent domain" to confiscate private property between 59th and 106th Streets (later extended to 110th Street) for public purposes. The residents of Seneca Village received final eviction notices during the summer of 1856. Although property holders were compensated, many protested in the courts. An article in the New York Times reported, "The policemen find it difficult to persuade them out of the idea which has possessed their simple minds, that the sole object of the authorities in making the Park is to procure their expulsion from the homes which they occupy." After eviction, the community was never reestablished.
...

Madeline Landry (Barnard) examined the language used by the local press to justify eminent domain and expulsion of Seneca Village residents from their homes and reported that it was remarkably similar to language used to justify the demolition of homes and businesses in the recent Atlantic Yards controversy in Brooklyn.

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NoLandGrab: The principal difference, of course, being that the former was razed for a public park, while the latter is all about Bruce Ratner's private profit.

Posted by eric at 10:58 AM

The New York Times Building to Host Gallery of Reflection for Sept. 11

Press Release via Reuters

Those patriots at Forest City Ratner, who help themselves — Liberally, of course — to hundreds of millions in public subsidies, are wrapping themselves in the mantle of 9/11.

The New York Times Building will host 9/11 Remembered: A Gallery of Reflection, an exhibit to mark the 10th anniversary of the events of Sept. 11, 2001. The gallery will be on view in the lobby of the Times Building and open to the public from Thursday, Sept. 8, through Monday, Sept. 12, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

9/11 Remembered will be a reflection on Sept. 11, 2001 and the past 10 years, and a look toward the future, told through still and video images curated from The New York Times archive.
...

9/11 Remembered is presented by The New York Times and Forest City Ratner Companies. Additional information about the exhibit can be found at www.NYTGalleryofReflection.com.

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Posted by eric at 10:52 AM

August 25, 2011

The Week in Crime: Police Urge Extra Vigilance

The Local [Fort Greene/Clinton Hill]
by Liza Eckert

The local police are warning that lately, Fort Greene and Clinton Hill are like Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Center and Atlantic Terminal malls — you could be a crime victim at any moment.

A spokesman for the 88th Precinct also asked us to alert residents to a couple of worrying crime trends. A spike in robberies, including several involving iPhones, prompted police to ask residents to be extra careful.

“Especially after dark, we’d like to ask them to refrain from using their expensive electronic items in public,” said a spokesman for the 88th Precinct.
...

Larceny at Marshall’s

-A 37-year-old woman set her bag down next to her stroller in Marshall’s on Atlantic Avenue around 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 15 while she walked away to look at some clothes. When she returned, the bag, containing passports, Medicaid cards, money orders and social security cards, was gone.

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Posted by eric at 6:14 PM

FCR's Gilmartin: AY "the most ambitious middle-income housing project ever undertaken in this city" (no, and that's not what sold ACORN)

Atlantic Yards Report

Now that people are talking about the possibility of the first Atlantic Yards tower, let's remember that Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards point person, MaryAnne Gilmartin, told a real estate industry panel last year that Atlantic Yards "is the most ambitious middle-income housing project ever undertaken in this city."

That's a remarkable statement because 1) it's not true (though it is ambitious) and 2) the Atlantic Yards "affordable housing" was sold to, and supported by, community groups that represent poor and working-class people, not middle-income residents.

Who was the housing for?

That's not to say middle-income New Yorkers don't need housing help. But Atlantic Yards would never have drawn the public support it did had it not been perceived as helping those most struggling.

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NoLandGrab: Don't forget the "world-class Frank Gehry design!"

Posted by eric at 12:13 PM

Workers vs. Ratner — round two

The Brooklyn Paper
by Daniel Bush

OK, score one for the Brooklyn Paper — the only news outlet to cover yesterday's jobs protest at the Barclays Center site.

More than 30 angry construction workers rallied at the Barclays Center on Wednesday, the latest in a series of recent protests against developer Bruce Ratner for failing to hire more locals.

The protest march from Myrtle Avenue in Downtown to the under-construction basketball arena at Flatbush and Atlantic avenues is the second rally in a month, and featured workers demanding jobs that they say Ratner promised in exchange for union support for the $5-billion mega-project.

“We want jobs for the people that supported the project,” said Martin Allen, the president of People for Political and Economic Empowerment, a group that helps unemployed people find work. “Ratner promised he would give us jobs.”
...

Sekou Troutman, a Bedford-Stuyvesant construction worker who protested on Wednesday, said he applied for a job with the developer in January, but never received a reply.

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NoLandGrab: Ratner promised us Frank Gehry, too, among a host of other things he's not delivering, either.

Posted by eric at 12:02 PM

Jacobs v. Moses: New York City as Laboratory for Urban America

Beyond Chron
by Randy Shaw

Last year, I read Cities Back from the Edge: New Life for Downtown, an insightful 1998 book whose primary author is Roberta Brandes Gratz. I had never heard of Brandes Gratz, but learned that she is a disciple of Jane Jacobs and an unusually astute analyst of urban neighborhoods. Brandes Gratz most recent book, The Battle of Gotham: New York in The Shadow of Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs, expands upon the themes of her earlier work using New York City as a laboratory for assessing what urban development polices work, and which fail. One is hard-pressed to think of another recent book with such a perceptive, nuanced, and common sense approach to assessing how city neighborhoods regenerate. And regeneration rather than large-scale demolition is Brandes Gratz’s essential message, as she shows how nurturing the seeds of neighborhood regeneration consistently proves more cost effective and better for the public than the urban renewal, “bigness as a solution” strategy that still harms NYC and other cities.
...

Gratz wrote the book as the Robert Moses-like Atlantic Yards abomination was gaining approval in Brooklyn, showing that while many planners seem to believe “we are all Jane Jacobs now,” that city officials continue to approve massive projects guaranteed not to regenerate existing communities.

When you read her account of Atlantic Yards, or a similar, “urban renewal” strategy Columbia University has underway, one can only wonder why today’s planners are repeating past mistakes. The obvious answer is that money and political clout drive these land use disasters, along with a new strategy of using world-class architects (Gehry and Piano, respectively) as part of their marketing.

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NoLandGrab: The key word there being "marketing," since Frank Gehry, of course, was the Trojan Horse employed by Bruce Ratner to gain key support from the likes of the cultural elitists plying The New York Times's architectural beat.

Well played, Bruce.

Posted by eric at 11:42 AM

A tale of two Brooklyn Paper front pages

Atlantic Yards Report

What was once known as TimesRatnerReport might now be better known as BrooklynPaperReport. Norman Oder highlights some of the latter's recent fumbles in its Atlantic Yards coverage.

link

Posted by eric at 11:38 AM

Ratner Files App for First Residential Bldg. At Atlantic Yards

Brooklyn Daily Eagle
by Linda Collins

Nostradamus? No, MaryAnne Gilmartin!

MaryAnne Gilmartin, executive vice president of commercial and residential development at Forest City Ratner Companies, predicted it would happen.

At a meeting of the Brooklyn Real Estate Roundtable in February, when she was giving an update on the Barclays Center Arena and the Atlantic Yards development, she said that within the year construction might begin on the development’s first residential building closest to the arena.

Indeed, a permit application was filed Aug. 16 with the city’s Department of Buildings (DOB) for the new building.

Emphasis, ours.

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NoLandGrab: Yeah, and The Rapture came on May 21st, and since we didn't repent, we must be in Hell, condemned to having to read nonsense like that above for eternity.

Posted by eric at 11:28 AM

Barclays Center Going Up, Out, and Glassy

Curbed
by Kelsey Keith

Curbed has new construction photos of the Barclays Center, replete with God-awful pre-rusted siding.

You've seen all the ridiculously glossy renderings, but how's that Barclays Center arenafication business going? Evidenced by our intrepid intern William Weber, a good portion of the weathered steel facade is in place and things are getting glassy.

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Photo: William Weber/Curbed

Posted by eric at 11:12 AM

Track outages in two weekends (September/October) due to "continuing construction work at Atlantic Yards"

Atlantic Yards Report

Speaking of changes in our transportation infrastructure, Bruce Ratner will be knocking out subway service for a couple weekends this fall.

Meanwhile, construction does have consequences: subway closures.

The latest Atlantic Yards Construction Alert provided this ambiguous information:

Track Outages (General Orders)

IRT and BMT Tunnel inspections have taken place and repair work will be implemented during scheduled NYCT track outages during evenings and weekends. An IRT GO is scheduled for Saturday, August 27th to perform ceramic tile work. The next BMT GO’s will take place in September and October and are currently being scheduled with NYCT. Minor repair and cleanup work will occur on selective evenings under scheduled NYCT flagging protection.

Brooklyn Community Board 14, recipient of a message from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, provides more detail:

Weekends of September 23-25 and October 14-16, 2011:
From Friday beginning at 10:00 PM to Monday ending at 5:00 AM, for these two weekends B & Q service will be suspended between Pacific Street and Prospect Park, due to continuing construction work at Atlantic Yards. Shuttle bus service will be provided at Pacific Street, 7th Avenue, and Prospect Park B & Q stations.

link

Posted by eric at 11:01 AM

Group Hug, Everyone: Girding for a More Crowded Brooklyn

The NYC Department of Transportation is making safety and mobility improvements, particularly in the growing, high-traffic areas of Atlantic Yards and downtown Brooklyn

Park Slope Patch
by C. Zawadi Morris

Over the last ten years in Central Brooklyn and its surrounding neighborhoods, housing and commercial development has accelerated at lightening speed.

As residents squeeze in tighter to make room for these changes, the New York City Department of Transportation is making safety and mobility improvements, particularly in the high-traffic areas of Atlantic Yards and downtown Brooklyn.

Details about these changes to the area at and around the intersections of Flatbush, Atlantic and Fourth avenues are posted on FCRC’s Atlantic Yards Web site. The changes are being made in accordance with steps detailed in the project’s 2006 Environmental Impact Statement.

Beginning July 31, 2011, the City began reviewing these measures and will continue to monitor these steps after they are implemented.

Click thru for a list of the changes.

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Posted by eric at 10:56 AM

August 24, 2011

Bruce Ratner to Finally Build a Residential Tower at Atlantic Yards?

The L Magazine
by Mark Asch

For now, the Observer further reports, Forest City Ratner isn't ruling out the possibility of building a prefabricated tower—it'd be a cheaper, shorter process, requiring far fewer construction workers—a test balloon that took many potshots when it was floated this spring.

“'Clearly, prefab housing is not what we expected,'" Richard Weiss, a spokesman for Construction and General Building Laborers’ Local 79, told the Brooklyn Paper: '"The only reason we [supported the project] was for jobs for our members.'" Right, because Forest City Ratner has kept so many of the promises it made in manufacturing enlisting support for Atlantic Yards.

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Posted by eric at 11:14 AM

Permit for first Atlantic Yards tower filed; signs suggest it won't be modular (so how will they save money?)

Atlantic Yards Report

While the permit application doesn't say so explicitly, one sign points to conventional construction: the building's primary structural system would be "Steel (Encased in Concrete)," while the tallest modular building extant, a 24-story, $34 million high-rise in Wolverhampton, England, is framed with structural steel.

That structure is considerably shorter than the 33-story, 322-foot, 368-unit tower planned by Forest City. Indeed, what drew headlines was Forest City's apparent interest in building the world's tallest modular residential building--a tactic that might save significant sums but also could pose risks.
...

More subsidies?

If Forest City can't save money via modular construction, how do the numbers "pencil out"? After all, in March 2011, talk show host Brian Lehrer asked Rafael Cestero, outgoing Commissioner of the Department of Housing, Preservation, and Development (HPD), about the report that HPD had declined Forest City Ratner's recent request for an additional $10 million in additional subsidies--beyond the $14 million for 150 units--for the first residential building.

"One is, we have a set of programs that we use across the city... that fall within certain subsidy parameters that make sense for taxpayers and make sense for the city," Cestero responded. "We felt that the additional subsidy that Forest City was requesting... didn't meet those parameters and, frankly, that we felt was not a good public investment to go beyond what we have already committed."

"We want to see housing built there. We're all deeply committed to seeing not just the arena built, but to see... the affordable housing built," he added, "but we think the parameters that we've laid out, the program that we've laid out, allows that project to go forward."

So has the developer figured out a solution? Or has the Bloomberg administration moderated its position?

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Posted by eric at 10:03 AM

This morning, another protest by P.P.E.E. targets downtown construction sites and Atlantic Yards arena site

Atlantic Yards Report

People for Political and Economic Empowerment (P.P.E.E.), vocal supporters (along with REBUILD) of Atlantic Yards through just two years ago, held a much-noted protest 7/27/11 regarding the lack of local construction jobs and local contracting at Atlantic Yards and other sites.

This morning they're holding another protest, starting at the corner of Myrtle Avenue and Jay Street at 9 a.m., and ending later outside the Barclays Center site.

link

Posted by eric at 9:59 AM

Ratner finally moves ahead with residential Yards tower

The Brooklyn Paper
by Daniel Bush

The 368-unit building — which may be either a conventional tower or a controversial pre-fabricated structure — would rise on Dean Street just east of Flatbush Avenue, next door to the under-construction, 19,000-seat Barclays Center.

Ratner’s Executive Vice President MaryAnne Gilmartin said that construction could start this winter after a “year-end ground-breaking.”

Designs for the building are being finalized, but Gilmartin confirmed that Ratner’s team is “still designing both prefab and conventional alternatives” — with a final design decision expected by the end of the year.

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Posted by eric at 9:54 AM

Ratner eyes arena apts.

NY Post
by Rich Calder

After eight years of planning, developer Bruce Ratner hopes to finally move forward with the first of 16 residential and commercial towers planned for Brooklyn’s embattled Atlantic Yards project.

Ratner has filed a permit with the Department of Buildings to erect a 33-story, 368-unit building at Flatbush Avenue and Dean Street, next to the 18,000-seat Barclays Center being built for the NBA’s Nets.

Half the units would be designated as affordable housing for low- and middle-income families.

link

Posted by eric at 9:48 AM

August 23, 2011

If Bruce Ratner Builds It: Forest City Files DOB Application for First Apartment Tower

NY Observer
by Thornton McEnery

Here comes the next round in the city’s most intractable debate over the further development of Atlantic Yards, as it appears that exactly one week ago, Forest City Ratner filed its first building application for a residential tower on the corner of Dean Street and Flatbush Avenue.

And that, and a dollar, will get you... a dollar.

As The Observer reported in the fall, Forest City Ratner planned to begin construction on the project during the first half of this year. While it has missed that mark, there was suspicion nothing would get built this year at all. Herewith is the first proof that might not actually be the case.

According to Forest City Ratner, everything is moving ahead as planned. “The permits were filed as standard operating procedure as we move forward,” Director of Commercial & Residential Development MaryAnne Gilmartin said in a statement. “We are still designing both prefab and conventional alternatives for the first residential building at Atlantic Yards and are shooting for a year end groundbreaking. We hope to show renderings to the public during the 4th quarter of this year.”

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NoLandGrab: By "show renderings to the public," Gilmartin means "grant an exclusive to The New York Times."

Related coverage...

Curbed, Forest City Ratner Files for First Atlantic Yards Residential Permit

The application calls for a 33-story, 368-unit building, and the company previously promised that it would be a 50-30-20 project—20 percent of the units reserved for low-income tenants, 30 percent for middle-income tenants, and the remaining 50 percent for market-rate tenants. The building listed on the application is also roughly the size of the prefabricated tower Bruce Ratner was considering, and a construction worker at the site told Brownstoner that's still a possibility.

The Real Deal, First permit for residential tower at AY filed

Posted by eric at 10:14 PM

DOT extends deadline one month to comment on bollard plan; Rosner argues that security study needed before plan approval

Atlantic Yards Report

This morning, I reported that Community Boards 2 and 6, which cover the Community Districts where bollards would be placed around the Atlantic Yards arena and plaza, had not seen the bollard plan filed in July, because it had been mistakenly sent to Community Board 8.

Robert Perris, District Manager of Community Board 2, had expressed dismay, given that the deadline for comment was August 25, leaving the board's Land Use Committee without an opportunity to examine and perhaps comment on such a plan.

Today Perris reports that the Department of Transportation Office of Franchises, Concessions and Consents sent the petition for revocable consent and related drawings to CBs 2 and 6, with a September 22 deadline for comment.

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Posted by eric at 1:10 PM

COMMUNITY COMMENTARY: Full Security Study Needed Before Approval of Bollard Plan

Alan Rosner, who co-authored a white paper on arena security and terrorism issues in 2005, is urging NoLandGrab readers to ask the New York City Department of Transportation to postpone approval of Forest City Ratner's bollard plan for the Barclays Center pending a thorough security study.

In 2005, Forest City Ratner paid for a private security study. In 2006, the Empire State Development Corporation used that study to assert that closed-circuit television, along with private security guards, would meet all the security needs of the proposed sports arena. That claim, and the claim that the threat of terrorism did not warrant study in the Environmental Impact Statement, was successfully defended in court by Forest City and the ESDC.

If bollards are now suddenly required, it is only because this is a sports arena hard by Brooklyn’s largest transit hub. Yet in today’s environment, vehicle-stopping bollards are useless if a truck bomb gets too close to its target. How close is what matters most, and the design of the Barclays Center violates the city’s and every Federal agency’s standards on “close."

Just two weeks before Newark’s Prudential Arena opened in 2007, that city ordered street closings for every hockey game. Brooklyn’s busiest intersections can’t just be closed when games are played because of some last-minute, legally imposed-but-otherwise-belated security measures. Now is the time for a comprehensive look at the whole issue based on readily available New York City standards.

Judge Marcy Friedman cited Forest City and the ESDC for withholding material information from the courts in her recent decision against them. They are doing that again, this time in their petition to the Department of Transportation.

If we can’t postpone DOT's decision, don’t be surprised when some time next year city officials make a summary announcement of necessary street and/or lane changes or closings, of time and/or vehicle restrictions, etc., all being imposed for our safety… showing once again that Brooklyn, and not basketball, has been played.

The deadline for submitting comments to DOT regarding the Barclays Center bollard plan is this Thursday, August 25th has been extended until September 22nd. Comments can be sent via email to Emma Berenblit, director, at eberenblit@dot.nyc.gov.

Posted by eric at 11:32 AM

Why didn't CB 2 and CB 6 get bollard plan? Forest City produced evasive document, and DOT and CB 8 then erred

Atlantic Yards Report

News that the city Department of Transportation (DOT) is considering a plan to install bollards and tree beds around the Atlantic Yards arena site--plans that cut the "effective width" of nearby sidewalks, likely causing event-related bottlnecks--came as a surprise to the two Brooklyn Community Boards, CB 2 and CB 6, that might comment on such a plan within their jurisdictions.

That's because of a skein of errors and, I'd contend, obfuscation by developer Forest City Ratner.

The DOT, fed somewhat misleading information by the developer, last month sent plans to Community Board 8, the only one of the three project-affected Community Boards that does not have jurisdiction over the arena block. Nor did CB 8 did not forward the plans to its neighbors.

As shown in the map below, the dark blue lines indicate CB boundaries, and the light blue box indicates the approximate location of the arena, west of Sixth Avenue. The arena plaza, also the site of bollards, extends to the triangle just west of the arena within CB 2; though shown on this map, Fifth Avenue has already been demapped.

What next?

Robert Perris, District Manager of Community Board 2, said the board's Land Use Committee typically considers such applications and may make a comment.

"I've reached out to my Chair," he said yesterday, indicating that, given that the deadline to comment (as first noted in Atlantic Yards Watch) to the DOT is Thursday, August 25, the board might ask for the deadline to be extended. "It was not our mistake," he said, that they learned about it so late.

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Posted by eric at 11:08 AM

Revised TV deal for Nets doubles current rate, worth at least $200 million; yet another factor ignored in the cost-benefit analyses

Atlantic Yards Report

From NetsDaily:

Sports Business Journal reports that the Nets and YES have quietly settled their local TV rights dispute with the Nets receiving a big bump-up --about double what the team received this seaons-- and YES retaining the Nets' rights through 2031-32, a ten year extension of their original deal.

The Nets will receive $20 million a year immediately with increases through the end of the deal. Previously, the Nets were receiving about half that figure, putting them near the bottom of NBA local rights deals. The Nets have had the lowest local TV ratings the last two seasons, but the move to Brooklyn should improve them.

In other words, a new arena, in Brooklyn, is worth a lot--if $20 million a year immediately nearly doubles the current take, that's $200 million over ten years, and likely more, given that increases continue.
...

Bottom line: gains to the public are speculative (and, to the IBO, losses to the city are likely), while gains to the developer and team are far more certain.

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NoLandGrab: No doubt about 95% of that 100% increase can be chalked up to Kim Kardashian.

Posted by eric at 10:55 AM

Forest City Starts Permit Push for First AY Tower

Brownstoner

In February a Forest City Ratner executive said the firm hoped to break ground for the first residential building at Atlantic Yards before the year is out, and that may yet happen, as the company just submitted its first application with the DOB for the high-rise. The permit request is for a 33-story, 368-unit tower on Flatbush and 6th Avenue, which means it will be right next to the arena. Half of the building’s units will be affordable housing. A construction worker at the site said this morning that it’s still unclear whether or not the SHoP Architects-designed tower will be prefabricated. Alas, no real renderings yet!

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NoLandGrab: And all of the Brooklyn Islanders are going to live there!

Posted by eric at 10:51 AM

The Barclays Center hires a consultant to book ethnic shows. What's missing? That plan for a student Sportsplex

Atlantic Yards Report

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, reprinting a press release under the headline Barclays Center Names Multicultural Programs Consultant, reports:

Barclays Center of Brooklyn has named Jackie Alvarez as an artistic programming consultant, in which she will program the venue with a variety of multicultural shows and events. Alvarez will serve under the direction of Sean Saadeh, Barclays Center's vice president of programming.

With nearly two decades of experience in booking top ethnic shows for the New York market, Alvarez will identify a wide-range of leading artists in genres such as Latin, Brazilian, Caribbean, Russian, Chinese, Korean, Indian and more.

Alvarez served as a programmer for ethnic and non-ethnic shows and events for Madison Square Garden for 17 years.

And what about the Sportsplex?

Eight years ago, in the 8/4/03 Brooklyn Paper [PDF], an article headlined "Nets could take Sportsplex D’town" quoted a very certain Borough President Marty Markowitz:

For two decades Brooklyn politicos have been dreaming of an amateur athletics arena — a “sportsplex” — for the borough. That dream was shelved when the city instead moved ahead with Keyspan Park in Coney Island.

Now, with principals of the New Jersey Nets in negotiations to move their team to a new arena in Downtown Brooklyn, some prominent Brooklyn officials believe the dream for such a facility will be enhanced, not quashed, by a professional team’s occupancy here.

...Markowitz is doubly excited because he anticipates that the facility could be used as a scholastic and amateur sportsplex when the professional team is not playing.

“It would be a multi-use arena and thus a sportsplex would definitely be included in it,” Markowitz told The Brooklyn Papers.

Markowitz cautioned that he could not comment on negotiations or whether he played any part in bringing Ratner and the Nets together.

But asked whether a sportsplex would be part of the Ratner-Nets arena plan he said, “Without a question. It would incorporate, in my opinion, now once again I’m not the one, I’m not gonna own it, but I have no doubt that it would also double as a sportsplex for high school sports — no question about it. It has to be, and it would be, a borough facility, a borough resource, of course.”

Well, some high school tournaments might be played at the arena, but the ink is going elsewhere. The arena would be less a "borough facility" than a "facility in the borough."

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NoLandGrab: Yup, no question about it.

Posted by eric at 10:43 AM

Five years ago... there was a big public hearing--some retrospectives, and a new video

Atlantic Yards Report

Unhappy fifth anniversary!

During an 88-degree day, on 8/23/06, thousands of Brooklynites tried to attend the first hearing on the Atlantic Yards Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Many were turned away from the Klitgord Auditorium, capacity 900.

I wrote about it the next day--that was before laptops and YouTube, so the coverage was lengthy, but less comprehensive than it could have been. Here's my coverage of that epic hearing....

Here's some actual dialogue from the hearing.

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Posted by eric at 10:37 AM

August 22, 2011

Traffic, including bicycle lane, to be squeezed by Dean Street excavation between Flatbush and Sixth; new removable fencing to be installed to hasten work

Atlantic Yards Report

According to a Supplemental Report (below) to the two-week Atlantic Yards look-ahead dated August 15, prepared by developer Forest City Ratner and distributed by Empire State Development, some 40' to 60' of the 16’ high fence on Dean Street between Flatbush and Sixth avenues will be removed, and replaced by "temporary 8 foot tall barrier consisting of plywood on Jersey barrier."

The reason? A safer and more portable fence is needed, over 30 to 45 days, to be moved daily to accommodate excavation for water and sewer piping.

Given that the excavation for the water and sewer piping will require a 25-foot trench from the face of the foundation to Dean Street centerline, traffic will be squeezed.

The upshot: part of the bicycle lane will be displaced:

Temporary traffic controls signage will be provided to alert bicycles and vehicles to “share the road”. Some parking on the south side of Dean Street will be removed for the duration of the work.

The 16’ high fence will be reinstalled after the piping is installed.

link

Posted by eric at 9:48 PM

Thorny Barclays Center Arena Security Issue Arises Again. Explanations Needed.

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Remember that thorny arena street setback security issue that arose back in 2007? Well it is time to start discussing it again. What it looks like is that Forest City and NY State have a project design that focuses on creating an arena walled off from the neighborhoods, and divides the landscape, but the many barriers they've erected don't actually add up to a secure facility, only one that's separate from the surrounding environment.

In a must-read article on security and sidewalks, Norman Oder reports on the details stemming from a new planning document Forest City has submitted to the DOT.

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Posted by eric at 9:40 PM

First the Nets, Now the Islanders?

NHL team may join the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center

Park Slope Patch
by McCarton Ackerman

Yes, the Islanders may move to Brooklyn — and a giant spaceship may land in Prospect Park and disgorge Snuffleupagus.

Brooklyn will soon be getting a long-awaited professional basketball team when the Nets take the court at the Barclays Center, but a pro hockey team may also be in the cards as well.

According to Gothamist, real estate developer Bruce Ratner and Nets CEO Brett Yomark met NHL league officials at their headquarters in Manhattan last week to express interest in bringing the New York Islanders to Brooklyn.

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NoLandGrab: Good grief! Gothamist, which was picking up a Newsday story, that was riffing on some other media report, actually wrote that "spokespeople declined to discuss what exactly was talked about." Yes, the Islanders are definitely moving to Brooklyn.

Posted by eric at 9:27 PM

Barclays Center will be much closer than 20 feet from street above ground level (though more at sidewalk); also, new documents reveal bollard plan, suggest effective width of sidewalk less than disclosed, creating bottleneck

Atlantic Yards Report

A must-read on security and sidewalks from Norman Oder.

Newly revealed security-related transportation documents for the Atlantic Yards arena indicate that, contrary to previous suggestions that no bollards would be needed, 206 such bollards--178 fixed, 28 removable, one foot in diameter--would be installed at the facility's perimeter.

Moreover, despite previous claims by Forest City Ratner that the arena would be 20 feet from the street, new city documents confirm that the structure would be considerably closer--less than 12 feet--above ground level along Atlantic Avenue, a configuration ambiguously disclosed previously in state documents and obfuscated by the developer. (Click on graphic to enlarge.)

The above graphic, excerpted from a New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) document (below), shows the bollards and tree pits on the Atlantic Avenue sidewalk bordering the north side of arena. It also indicates that the arena's "overhead canopy" essentially meets the property line, which is 11'8" (11.5 ft) from the street.

Further complicating the situation, the new documents reveal that, in the strip of Atlantic Avenue sidewalk just east of the arena, the sidewalk is 9.5 ft wide. Given typical buffer zone subtractions, the effective width of the sidewalk would be 5.5 feet, much less than disclosed in the environmental review and likely a bottleneck for arena-bound pedestrians, as noted by Atlantic Yards Watch.

The DOT is accepting comments on the plans through Thursday, August 25 by email to Emma Berenblit at eberenblit@dot.nyc.gov.
...

The security issue

Would Brooklyn face a situation akin to Newark, where streets surrounding the Prudential Center are closed on game days? The ESDC said "there are no plans to close streets," which does leave some wiggle room.

As the New York Times reported 11/27/07:

[Forest City Ratner spokesman] Mr. [Loren] Riegelhaupt confirmed that this meant that at all points, the arena would be set back at least 20 feet from the street.

...That is the same distance as the Newark arena is from its neighboring streets. So what’s different about the Atlantic Yards arena? That, Mr. Riegelhaupt said, is a security question, to be directed to the Police Department. The Police Department has said that its policy is not to comment on such matters.

Riegelhaupt's answer may have been narrowly true--at all ground level points, the arena would be set back at least 20 feet from the street, but the question should be: what about when the arena is less than 20 feet from the street above ground level?

Forest City Ratner and the New York Police Department have surely had many high-level discussions on security. But shouldn't they explain, at least in outline, why the Brooklyn design is safer than the one in Newark? Or make the case that Newark is overreacting?

After all, plans have already changed. A NYPD spokesman told the 11/30/07 Brooklyn Daily Eagle that "the department doesn’t foresee any street or land closures, sidewalk widening around the arena or the instillation [sic] of bollards."

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Posted by eric at 11:32 AM

Article suggests Forest City has chosen low-cost, stackable modular system--perhaps untested domestically--for Block 1129 surface parking

Atlantic Yards Report

"Modular" — it's not just for 34-story apartment buildings anymore.

According to an 8/20/11 article in the Williamsport (PA) Sun-Gazette, headlined City authority explores new type of parking facility, Forest City Ratner is considering an inexpensive, fast-to-assemble pre-fab parking solution (which, I'd add, is apparently little tested domestically, if at all):

Williamsport Parking Authority is exploring a less all-concrete type of parking facility, designed to be demountable, semi-permanent and more environmentally friendly.

It's called More Park System, a "bump-up parking deck," which is made of removable pre-cast concrete platforms secured by galvanized steel beams that can be assembled in a few weeks - as opposed to several months of construction - and is available in airports in Europe and soon to be providing parking for the Brooklyn Nets, the NBA's new franchise team.

Neither the Nets (not a "new" franchise) nor Atlantic Yards developer Forest City Ratner have made such an announcement, but it's plausible that the developer would aim to save money and time.

Could it be that Bruce Ratner's threatened promised 1100-spot surface parking lot could morph into a 2200-spot bi-level lot? This sci-fi/horror flick raises the possibility.

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Posted by eric at 10:58 AM

Heritage of "Journalistic Enterprise and Courage" Duly Noted: The Modern Day New York Times Meets and Likes Its Boss Tweeds

Noticing New York

Michael D.D. White with a spot-on essay about The Times — boy, have they a-changed.

(Above, an 1872 Harper’s Weekly drawing by Thomas Nast of Tammany Hall Boss Tweed and Horace Greeley influential publisher of the New York Tribune, modified somewhat with the modern faces of Times publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr. and real estate partner and developer Bruce Ratner.)

A few days ago the New York Times complimented itself on its editorial page for the paper’s historic “journalistic enterprise and courage” in covering and eventually bringing to an end the corruption of Tammany Boss William M. Tweed. (Editorial: The Man Who Helped Stop Boss Tweed, August 17, 2011.)
...

The Times concludes in good parable style by teasing out the following moral:

Today’s media landscape is obviously very different. But some things are unchanged. Scoops are still exciting; even more rewarding is helping to ensure civic honesty.

One might infer from all of this that the Times is promoting itself as still interested in scoops and the rewards of ensuring “civic honesty.”

Only one problem: Yes, no doubts some things are “obviously very different” (while human nature being what it is “some things are unchanged”) but the closest analogue to the Tweed Court House scandal of the 1870s in present day New York City is clearly the Atlantic Yards scandal, and when it comes to Atlantic Yards the Times is interested in neither scoops nor the rewards of ensuring “civic honesty.”

In fact, it is far worse. The Times editorial about its exemplary handling of the Tweed scandal makes the point that “Tweed forces” tried to buy off the paper, offering “$5 million — equivalent to $100 million today” to “George Jones, this newspaper’s founding publisher” to back off and refrain from publishing its scoop. In 1871 the Times didn’t accept the offer, but in this century the Times was offered an integrity-compromising deal it did accept: The Times got to benefit financially from the questionable use of eminent domain (many would shout "abuse") and from partnering with Forest City Ratner, the developer of Atlantic Yards, when the Times built its new headquarters building. Since that time the Times has not been critical of, or informative about, the abuse of eminent domain or about Forest City Ratner misconduct. They have also not been informative or critical about the bad urban planning that the Forest City Ratner Atlantic Yards mega-project and the Ratner/Prokhorov "Barclays" basketball arena represent.

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Posted by eric at 10:44 AM

NHL Chats Up Barclays Center But Is Mum On Moving Islanders

Gothamist

Hey, those rumors that the Islanders, our local soon to be stadium-less hockey team, might be coming to Brooklyn may have an ounce of truth to them.

Uh, no. But click thru for more if you want.

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Posted by eric at 10:34 AM

In contrast with 2009 statement by FCR, ESDC says surface parking lot will initially be used for arena events only, not to satisfy general demand (but there's an asterisk)

Atlantic Yards Report

The Empire State Development Corporation has posted (also embedded below) 68 questions and responses from the 6/14/11 public meeting on traffic issues. I've highlighted some of the questions and responses, including the capacity of sidewalks on Dean Street.

Parking lot open 24/7?

This one jumped out:

43. Is the parking lot open 24 hours – 7 days a week?

No. The on-site parking lot on Block 1129, in the Arena-opening condition, is for Arena events and will therefore be open only before, during and after Arena events. The parking lot hours may change as additional buildings are constructed on the Project site and the parking lot is used for the residential and office uses on the Project site.

That does not address the use of the parking lot in the pre-Arena-opening condition, when it could be open for construction workers on multiple shifts, and perhaps others. Also, the post-Arena-opening condition, as stated above, could increase hours.

So the answer "No" refers to a very specific time frame.

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Posted by eric at 10:29 AM

Retail and Hospitality Training Opportunity For Jobs at Barclays Center

BUILD Press Release via Fort Greene-Clinton Hill Patch

Here's the full notice about Barclays Center job opportunities being managed by Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development that raised eyebrows last week.

We all know that we are facing one of the toughest economic periods in our history. Job growth has declined dramatically while unemployment levels seem to be ever increasing. Although there does not seem to be a recovery in sight, we at BUILD know that there is light at the end of tunnel for a select few.

With Barclays Center set to open next year, there will be a number of employment opportunities in the retail and hospitality industries, both in, and around, the arena. Currently, we are working with a number of retailers around the arena and are looking forward to providing access to potential employment opportunities in these sectors for high-energy individuals with positive attitudes.

You can gain a competitive advantage by participating in our Retail and Hospitality Training Program that begins Sept. 6. This will be a competitive process with space limited to 25 individuals in each session. We are looking to place individuals that are serious and have a desire to work in and around a World Class Arena. If you are interested you must R.S.V.P. for one of the following information sessions: Monday, Aug. 22, Tuesday Aug. 23 or Wednesday, Aug. 24. Information sessions will take place at noon and 3 p.m.

To reserve your place or for more information please contact us at (718) 230-7095.

link

NoLandGrab: Apparently, you don't have to be 18-to-30 years old and free of a criminal history — just enthusiastic with a sunny disposition.

Posted by eric at 10:19 AM

August 21, 2011

Looking back at Andrew Zimbalist's work for hire: bad math, obliviousness to the news of a Newark arena, and several updated reports never made public

Atlantic Yards Report

Responding to criticism of the self-serving Atlantic Yards fiscal impact study he prepared on behalf of Forest City Ratner, sports economist Andrew Zimbalist told the 6/29/04 New York Times, in an article headlined A Plan Passes And an Arena Is Protested In Brooklyn, "I was very careful in my use of numbers."

I'd call that a classic example of the "journalism of assertion" the Times purportedly eschews in favor of the "journalism of verification."

While I've spent a lot of time dissecting Zimbalist's work, I--and everyone else, I believe--missed a sloppy, careless error that was not fundamental to his argument but exemplifies, I'd argue, the casual manner in which he prepared his for-hire study.

That math error misreported the number of estimated jobs.

Beyond that, Zimbalist, as if oblivious to any responsibility for verification, missed the news that a new arena was coming in Newark.

Still, Forest City Ratner's business savvy in hiring Zimbalist led to credulous editorials, like this one, from the 5/4/04 New York Sun, headlined Sports, Jobs, and Taxes (echoing the title of one of Zimbalist's books):

Mr. Zimbalist is the nation's leading expert on the financing of sports arenas and co-author of the bible on the subject, a report issued by the Brookings Institution called Sports, Jobs, and Taxes: The Economic Impact of Sports Teams and Stadiums. He has a national reputation for arguing against the use of public dollars to pay for sports arenas. But even Mr. Zimbalist likes the proposed Brooklyn arena deal.

It also led to slapdash coverage like a New York Post article headlined "NETS GOOD SPORT$," in which Gersh Kuntzman (now editing the Brooklyn Paper) asserted that "developer Bruce Ratner's proposed arena for the New Jersey Nets in Downtown Brooklyn would pump more than $800 million into city and state coffers over the next 30 years."

Neil deMause noted that the sum referred to revenues from the entire project, not just the arena, prompting Kuntzman to comment that, while he understood Zimbalist's findings, he was just using "shorthand."

link

Posted by steve at 5:15 PM

Battle For Brooklyn Movie Review

Shockya
By Brent Simon

This reviewer recommends that his readers see the documentary "Battle For Brooklyn" because, even though the film exposes some unpleasantness, "it can sometimes be bracing, in a good way, to be confronted by the ugliness of reality on its own terms, in broad daylight."

A powerful movie about an important and little-reflected-upon topic, “Battle For Brooklyn” is a telling snapshot of (offscreen) political maneuvering, and the tossed-around wrecking-ball weight of corporate might as it relates to individual rights. Americans would be wise to heed movies like this one, because when politicians talk about corporations being people or citizens, they’re certainly not referring to equal-footing status. More money, after all, just equals more “free speech,” and more “rights.”

link

Posted by steve at 3:20 PM

August 20, 2011

So, is that Barclays naming rights deal really worth $400 million? This time the Times hedges

Atlantic Yards Report

From today's New York Times Sports section, published online as Reports: New Meadowlands Soon to Be MetLife Stadium:

If MetLife’s contract averages as much as $20 million annually, it will equal what Citigroup is paying to have its name on Citi Field, the home of the Mets. The other sports facilities in the New York metropolitan area with corporate names are the Prudential Center, the home of the Devils; Barclays Center, the future home of the Nets; and Red Bull Arena, where the Red Bulls play.

The Times did not assert that the Barclays Center naming rights deal was also worth $20 million a year.

However, FoxBusiness did so, in Report: MetLife Lands Naming Rights Deal for Meadowlands, published 8/19/11:

In fact, the last large-scale deals in this area were a pair of 20-year, $400 million sponsorships signed by Citigroup in 2006 for the home of the New York Mets and by Barclays in early 2007 with the New Jersey Nets.

...

Why didn't the Times assert the Barclays deal was also worth $400 million, especially after the Public Editor (credulously) recently expressed satisfaction with the Metro desk's verification of the issue?

Maybe because today's story was written by Sports Business reporter Richard Sandomir, who, in a 1/6/10 article allowed the arena promoters to make their claim, but left it somewhat ambiguous:

The recession and the departure of the star architect Frank Gehry led to the renegotiation of some terms of the Barclays-Nets deal. According to a bond document, the arena naming rights were halved.

The Nets insist that they have given Barclays more for its sponsorship money and that the bank’s total annual payments, including fees for other rights, remain unchanged.

link

NoLandGrab: Whatever the deal is worth, none of the money will go to the State of New York that gave away the naming rights..

Posted by steve at 4:06 PM

Ratner and Yormark meet with NHL executives; talk of preseason for Islanders at Barclays or a move?

Atlantic Yards Report

Late Thursday night, NetsDaily reported that Barclays Center arena operators Bruce Ratner and Brett Yormark met with National Hockey League officials, leading to renewal of talk about the possibility of the New York Islanders, whose Nassau Coliseum renovation plan was just voted down, could become the Brooklyn Islanders.

No details emerged--was it just about pre-season games?--but Newsday and CBSSports.com's Eye on Hockey followed up. Pre-season games are absolutely plausible; consider that the New Jersey Nets booked such dates at the Prudential Center in Newark before moving to an interim home there.

The Barclays Center, due to its basketball-centric design, would have the smallest capacity in the NHL, some 14,000, and with inadequate sightlines for a certain segment of fans.

Then again, moving to Barclays could bring revenues through more expensive suites and seats--and preserve a lucrative local cable TV contract, a factor that a Forbes writer thinks would ensure a Brooklyn move rather than one out of town. Neil deMause, however, thinks that Islanders owner Charles Wang will give a new arena one more try.

link

Posted by steve at 4:03 PM

From the Village Voice's Siegel: Sharpton as mayoral king killer (and, I'd add, the knife in Ferrer's back over AY)

Atlantic Yards Report

This week's Village Voice features on article about the influence of Atlantic Yards supporter Al Sharpton on New York politics. Norman Oder takes a look back at how Sharpton's AY support took precedence in his support of Fernando Ferrer for mayor.

Unmentioned is a key episode in the Ferrer campaign, whereupon the candidate belatedly came out against Atlantic Yards, only to have Sharpton--his supporter--immediately issue a statement criticizing him.

Most in the press played Sharpton's knife in the back over Ferrer's policy switch. The New York Times, for example, published a 10/29/05 article headlined Ferrer Is Chided Over Atlantic Yards:

In a statement sent by e-mail to reporters, Mr. Sharpton said that he and Mr. Ferrer "strongly disagree" on the project, which would place a ridge of skyscrapers and a basketball arena at a major Brooklyn intersection and straddle several low-scale neighborhoods where opposition to the project has recently intensified. Mr. Ferrer, he said, "needs to realize that failure to get projects like this done would be a terrible loss for communities of color throughout this city."

"We cannot play politics with something as important as the Atlantic Yards," Mr. Sharpton said.

In a telephone interview, Mr. Sharpton played down the notion of a rift between the two camps, saying that the statement had been issued in response to calls from reporters and was intended "to make it clear that I wasn't playing politics."

That, people, is Orwellian. What was Sharpton doing other than playing politics?

link

Posted by steve at 3:53 PM

Interviews with "Battle for Brooklyn" Documentarians

Here are further insights in the documentary "Battle for Brooklyn" from the team that made it.

LA Weekly, Film Battle For Brooklyn: Michael Galinsky and Suki Hawley's Documentary Has Echoes in L.A.'s Football Stadium Controversy
By Sarah LaBrie

Galinsky says his focus on the human aspects of the project was a calculated attempt to "retake the narrative for the community." He hopes to present information to the public in a way that newspapers, hampered by the economy, no longer can. "No publications have the resources to deal with complex issues. The developer sends out a press release. The opposition -- when it finally forms sends out a press release -- and they treat them as equals."

Ultimately, he says, he wants to force people to think more deeply about what they read. He hopes Battle for Brooklyn will raise awareness of the downsides of development and the danger of eminent domain abuse, which allowed Ratner to build in Prospect Heights without community input. Although the L.A. stadium project doesn't involve eminent domain, he says, it does stand to pose environmental and economic risks to residents of downtown Los Angeles. By publicizing the project as a source of revenue for the city and for tax payers, Phil Anschutz and his company are being purposely disingenuous.

indieWIRE, INTERVIEW | Michael Galinsky Takes the “Battle for Brooklyn” Across the Country"
by Bryce J. Renninger

When crafting this film, how did you know what story you wanted to tell?

We were concerned with not making a film that felt like an activist film, but we were following activist in a verite way. We decided this film was about [Dan Goldstein] when we realized he was the one guy who was not gonna sell out. Dan was gonna lose his home and his whole way of living in the world. This is a large community fight, but we decided to tell it through one character. Earlier, we loaded the film up with other subjects and it got really boring.

How has the response been with all those involved?

We took pains not to involve ourselves in the fight. In a way, the film is about eminent domain, about kleptocracy in government and special interests working together to do things that benefit themselves. Errol Louis, who wrote about the Atlantic Yards project glowingly in the Daily News, thought the film was fair, which we were worried about. The people who know the situation well think we went easy on the government and the developers. We had a lot more about the corruption, but it became so overwhelming to people. It depressed them too much. The film, as it stands, really paints the government and the developer in a negative light. They colluded together. We were a little nervous. It didn’t represent everyone in the fight against Atlantic Yards, and it wasn’t a pedantic strident story of their fight, but they’ve really gotten behind it.

Posted by steve at 3:43 PM

More Los Angeles Notices for "Battle for Brooklyn"

In L.A., they're learning from the totally tubular documentary "Battle for Brooklyn" that eminent domain abuse and Bruce Ratner are grody to the max.

LA Weekly, Battle for Brooklyn
By Ben Mercer

The documentary opens with a title-card definition of eminent domain," and a scene of last holdout Goldstein standing up to the goons patrolling his condo building's rooftop. Instances of project-proponent doublespeak follow: Podium-banging Nets owner/AY developer Bruce Ratner invokes "the royal 'I'"; Sen. Chuck Schumer says job creation "enervates." [sic] him; a Forest City Ratner VIP appears to spin displacement as a grand American tradition. Goldstein and friends propose less invasive alternative footprints, and then contest the legality of the state seizing their "blighted" property, at seven years' worth of rallies and hearings.

Thompson On Hollywood, Indie Doc Double-Header: Battle for Brooklyn, Darwin Show Two Sides of America

They say you can’t fight City Hall, but you wouldn’t know it watching Battle for Brooklyn... There’s so much sparring in Suki Hawley and Michael Galinsky’s new documentary about New York’s Atlantic Yards project that you’ll think you’ve stumbled into a screening of The Fighter . The opposing sides — the project developer, Forest City Ratner, and a grassroots organization that wants to sink said project, Develop Don’t Destroy — canvas, rally, plot, meet, speak, and, yes, battle over what city councilwoman Letitia James calls “the soul of Brooklyn.” It’s a credit to the filmmakers that Battle for Brooklyn convinces you they’re fighting for even more than that.

Eminent Domain Report, Eminent Domain Documentary "Battle for Brooklyn" Makes its Way to Los Angel
By Brad Kuhn

Do public agencies make low-ball offers? Are areas that are designated as "blighted" really so? Is eminent domain for redevelopment "Un-American"? Is there any point to fighting City Hall? No matter how you feel, this movie may evoke some strong emotions. If you can't make it to see the documentary, but want to know more, I'd suggest checking out Robert Thomas' inversecondemnation.com blog post covering the case in detail.

Posted by steve at 2:41 PM

August 19, 2011

Yes, BUILD was responsible for that customer service training notice; today, BUILD issues broader invitation to apply for such training

Atlantic Yards Report

What did we tell you?

So a representative of BUILD (Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development) was, after all, responsible for the the questionable word-of-mouth solicitation for potential entrants into a 100-person training program seemingly associated with the Barclays Center arena.

And Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, who perhaps was not in a position to know full details, was wrong in telling me the info I had--circulated by the Community Board 8 District Manager--was wrong.

I called the solicitation questionable because it specified age limits and no criminal record, both of which are no-no's under state and federal law.

BUILD's notice

At around noon today, several hours after I published my original post, BUILD issued a notice (below) describing a somewhat similar training program, with information sessions to start Monday.

Click thru for more.

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Posted by eric at 4:01 PM

Arena block sidewalks proposed to be narrower than analyzed in 2006 environmental review

Atlantic Yards Watch

In July, Forest City Ratner submitted to the NYC Department of Transportation plans to install 206 bollards on the sidewalks surrounding the Barclays Center arena. The plans appear to mirror the renderings of Barclays Center submitted by ESDC in December 2010 with its response to a State Supreme Court remand order. However, the plans reveal for the first time that several sidewalks surrounding the arena, including one in front of an arena entrance on Dean Street, will have narrower effective widths than were analyzed for the 2006 environmental impact statement under which the project was approved.

Gee, there's a surprise.

The sidewalk along the south side of Atlantic Avenue east of the arena entrance has very narrow effective width in order to accomodate the site for Building 4 and a protective security wall and fence. The effective width of 5.5 feet is only 40% of the 13.5 feet anticipated in the 2006 FEIS, and is barely more than the U.S. DOT suggests for a sidewalk bordering a residential street. This sidewalk will presumably be traveled by large groups of arena patrons leaving the Atlantic Avenue exit en route to arena parking to the east, and borders busy Atlantic Avenue. No bollards are shown to be installed along this section of sidewalk.
...

The FCR plans also highlight a potential challenge for cyclists traveling to arena events. Cyclists coming from the west and desiring to park in the arena bicycle lot would presumably travel on Dean Street in the bicycle lane. Because the bicycle lane separates the lay-by lane in front of the Dean Street arena entrance from the roadway, cyclists on their way to the bike lot will need to stay alert while dodging cars dropping off arena patrons.

Click thru for diagrams and more info.

article

Posted by eric at 11:52 AM

The Barclays Center seeks 100 customer service reps; the rest is murky (and was notice discriminatory?)

Atlantic Yards Report

As with many job-related aspects of the Atlantic Yards saga, this one's a bit murky.

Brooklyn Community Board 8 members got a message yesterday via the District Manager, Michelle George:

I was just informed that the Barclays Center is looking to hire 100 Customer Service Representatives between the ages of 18-30. An orientation meeting will be held on Monday, August 22, 2011. There will be a 7 week training program beginning September 6, 2011. If you know someone who is interested, please email, fax or call the district office with the name and telephone number before 5pm today (August 18, 2011). (No criminal record)

Out of bounds?

While this was not exactly a job advertisement, it struck me as questionable to specify age and no criminal record.

Indeed, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says:

An age limit may only be specified in the rare circumstance where age has been proven to be a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ).

Also, the Legal Action Center states:

The New York State Human Rights Law states that an applicant may not be denied employment or licensure because of his or her conviction record unless there is a direct relationship between the offense and the job or license sought, or unless hiring or licensure would create an unreasonable risk to property or to public or individual safety.

Wrong info?

"This is not accurate," Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco responded, when I asked him for more info about the program and whether it was appropriate to specify age and criminal record. "Apparently they sent you wrong info. It is, I think, the build [BUILD] job training program but it would be open to all eligible people."

I also contacted Community Benefits Agreement signatory BUILD (Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development) but didn't hear back yesterday.

DePlasco's comment was curious because I had earlier in the week received information very similar to that circulated by CB8 via another source.

That source, citing language different to that used by CB8, called the application process a word-of-mouth affair and said there's no guarantee those going through the training program would be hired.

article

NoLandGrab: Norman Oder goes on to speculate about the particulars of the job posting. Here's our conjecture:

-this is what happens when you assign job-training and recruitment to an astroturf organization with no prior job-training or recruitment experience.
-having BUILD (or someone else) put this out gives Forest City plausible deniability for something clearly discriminatory.
-the focus on 18-to-30 year-olds lets them claim eventually that they were helping the area's young people, for whom the rate of unemployment is high.
-there are already plenty of crooks associated with the Atlantic Yards project and they just don't need any more.

Posted by eric at 11:30 AM

Movie review: 'Battle for Brooklyn'

Although not exactly even-handed, the movie proves a deft look at a reluctant crusader.

Los Angeles Times
by Gary Goldstein

It's true. Battle for Brooklyn, which opens tonight in LA, is overly kind to Bruce Ratner.

The well-assembled documentary "Battle for Brooklyn" follows one man's tenacious and complicated fight to preserve his neighborhood from a questionable invoking of eminent domain.

article

Related coverage...

People's World, Interracial marriage, class arrogance, idealism star at flim fest

When the headline popped up in our Google search, we thought it was the first review focused on the relationship between protagonists Daniel Goldstein and Shabnam Merchant. We were wrong.

Several of the other docs addressed the legal aspects of social issues, including interracial marriage (Loving Story), environmental activism (If a Tree Falls), eminent domain (Battle for Brooklyn, You've Been Trumped), our civil justice system (Hot Coffee) and even Hitler's reign of terror (Nuremberg: It's Lessons for Today).

Curbed Los Angeles, LAX ConstructionWatch, Greatest Eminent Domain Story Every Told

BEVERLY HILLS: If you've been as obsessed with the years-long battle over Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards as our cousins at Curbed NY have, or if you're just into wild stories of eminent domain, you'll get a chance to see the movie version of the development battle starting tomorrow night at the Laemmle Music Hall.
...

In an email, co-director Michael Galinsky mentions that Angelenos might be especially primed for the movie right now, being in the thick of stadium development ourselves.

Posted by eric at 11:16 AM

Ratner, Yormark Meet NHL Officials

NetsDaily

Most likely they were stopping in for a sneak preview of NHL 12 or some other fantasy hockey game.

CNBC's Darren Rovell reports that Bruce Ratner and Brett Yormark visited officials of the National Hockey League Thursday. A Nets insider confirmed the meeting, which took place at the NHL offices in Manhattan, but declined to discuss any details including whether an architect accompanied the two. It's one more indication that the Barclays Center is serious about luring the Islanders to Brooklyn.

In his tweet, Rovell wrote, "Barclays Center Developer Ratner & CEO Yormark spotted at NHL offices today. Brooklyn Islanders?" The big issue, of course, is whether the league would approve an arena with a limited capacity for hockey and questionable sightlines.

link

Posted by eric at 11:09 AM

Mailbag groaning over our Brooklyn Bridge Park coverage

The Brooklyn Paper, Letters to the Editor

While the mailbag was bulging because of Brooklyn Bridge "Park," Long Island's leading letter-writer weighed in wisely on Brooklyn's biggest boondoggle.

To the editor,

Why am I not surprised that Bruce Ratner and Forest City continue to act like pigs at a trough feasting on taxpayer dollars (“Workers to Ratner: Where are the jobs?,” Aug. 5)? In too many cases, projects have been heavily subsidized by taxpayers. Between direct government funding, low-interest loans, and long-term exemptions, the bills to taxpayers may be greater than the benefits.

Too many mega developers make promises to local community groups for the creation of jobs along with awarding of contracts to residents and businesses, which, just like in this case, have yet to see the light of day.

If these projects, such as Atlantic Yards, were so worthwhile, why didn’t major developers, such as Bruce Ratner, use their own funds or obtain loans from banks, rather than pick the pockets of taxpayers to pay a significant portion of the bill?

Real business people who believe in capitalism build their companies on their own. How sad that some don’t want to do it the old-fashioned way by sweat and hard work. They continue looking for shortcuts in the form of huge subsidies at the taxpayers’ expense and favors from elected officials.

Larry Penner
Great Neck, NY

link

Posted by eric at 10:58 AM

August 18, 2011

At meeting on rats, recognition that the multi-faceted problem persists, especially near transit hub

Atlantic Yards Report

A community forum last night on rodent issues, hosted by Empire State Development and New York City Departments of Health and Sanitation, drew just a handful of residents, but their concerns indicated that, however welcome Forest City Ratner's offer of free heavy-duty garbage cans, rat problems in the area of the Atlantic Yards site will persist.

Notably, the street corners at and near Fourth and Atlantic avenues, heavily-used thoroughfares, overflow with garbage, which draws rats, and additional construction and project-related utility work on the streets exposes rats. A few attendees called on Council Member Steve Levin, who represents those blocks, to take action.

(Council Member Letitia James, who represents the north side of Flatbush Avenue, sent a representative, though Levin did not.)

One resident of Pacific Street between Fourth and Flatbush avenues said that "you have to walk shaking your keys" on the street at night to stave off rats. "Otherwise you hear people screaming" after they encounter the rodents.

She and a resident of Dean Street between Fourth and Fifth avenues both said there were severe problems on their street. Indicating the dicey relationship between homeowners and city agencies, both were reluctant to see their names published, fearing that they might be targeted for inspections, then fined if rat burrows were found.

Source of rats

City officials stressed there were multiple sources of and support for rats in the community, even as residents have put most of the blame on Forest City Ratner's major construction site.

At the Atlantic Yards project site, a state official acknowledged, the developer had not been properly disposing of trash, but had since improved performance by hiring new staff and dedicating baskets for food waste.

article

Related coverage...

Brownstoner, Addressing the Rodent Problem Near AY

Posted by eric at 1:25 PM

Mixed Reactions to New Sports Bar Near Planned Arena

The Local [Fort Greene/Clinton Hill]
by Kyle Thomas McGovern

The Barclays Center is not scheduled to open until next September, but just a block away, at 602 Pacific Street, there’s another sports-related establishment sparking debate.

When Machavelle Sports Bar & Lounge — a softly lit two-level drinkery with a wooden bar and plush couches — started serving pints in May, some residents shared their concerns with Park Slope Patch that the area would soon resemble 42nd Street or New Orleans’ Bourbon Street. Others have accused the owners of capitalizing on the planned arena, which many of the bar’s neighbors oppose.

Jon Crow, the coordinator of the Brooklyn Bears Community Garden on Pacific Street, just across from Machavelle, said the bar marks the first of many negative changes to the neighborhood’s landscape as it prepares for the Barclays Center to open.

“You’re going to have a rash of bars like this that want to open up and capitalize on all the crowds they see coming for the games and performances at the ‘urina,’” Mr. Crow said. “We call it the ‘urina’ because when they’re leaving the ‘urina’ they’re going to be urinating all over the neighborhood.”

The owners of the bar, stung by the criticism, point out that that they’re Brooklynites themselves. They say they’ve been unfairly accused of favoring profit over their Pacific Street neighbors.

“We’re not trying to infiltrate,” said Carolyne Monereau-St. Louis, the wife of one of the bar’s owners, Eddie St. Louis. “We just want to be a part of the community, of the neighborhood.”
...

“I don’t have a problem with sports bars,” said Daniel Goldstein of Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, a non-profit that has been critical of the Atlantic Yards project. “I do obviously have a problem with the arena that attracts businesses that are not about the community, they’re about serving patrons of the arena.”

Still, Mr. Goldstein said he does not bear any ill will toward the owners of Machavelle Sports Bar & Lounge. “As Brooklynites, I hope they do well with their business,” he said.

article

Posted by eric at 1:15 PM

The “Battle for Brooklyn” Is Our Fight, Too

Cary Brazeman's Dream City Blog

Lucky Angelenos are getting a new stadium boondoggle of their own, so maybe tomorrow's Los Angeles debut of Battle for Brooklyn can help mobilize the opposition.

This weekend a movie opens in Los Angeles that everyone who cares about neighborhoods should see. It’s about a controversial development (including a sports arena … fancy that) that will change the character of a neighborhood forever. The plan was developed with little community input and opposed by local leaders, but supported by the New York mayor and state officials.

“Battle for Brooklyn” is the story of residents who stood up to defend their neighborhood, and assert their rights to some level of self-determination for their community’s fate.

I won’t tell you how it all ends, except to say that the development site, which was declared blighted and condemned in part because of dilapidated parking lots, now might remain an even bigger parking lot for years to come … the poster child of eminent domain abuse.

Out of the fire emerged a local citizens group, “Develop – Don’t Destroy Brooklyn” that united 21 community organizations. Its founder is Daniel Goldstein, who has inspired me as founder of LA Neighbors United.
...

[C]ome see “Battle for Brooklyn” this weekend with me at the Laemmle theater in Beverly Hills. I’ll be there Friday and Saturday nights on behalf of LA Neighbors United, with Goldstein and others involved in making the movie. We may be on opposite sides of America, but the battle for Brooklyn is our fight in Los Angeles, too.

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Related coverage...

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, From New York to California "Battle for Brooklyn" Resonates

As Battle for Brooklyn is about to open in Los Angeles on Friday August 19th, one week after L.A. City Council approved an MOU for a new NFL stadium, LA Neighbors United founder and activist Cary Brazeman explains to Angelenos why the film is important is important viewing for them.

Smells Like Screen Spirit, Battle for Brooklyn | Review

Those of you who have been following this saga in the news headlines already know how this story ends. The Nets — whom Ratner has since sold a majority ownership share to Russian tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov — are scheduled to begin playing basketball in the Barclays Center in time for the 2012-2013 NBA season. In other words, the corporate interests of Goliath trounced David.

Posted by eric at 12:49 PM

No Predicting 'Common Sense' Court Open to Dissenting Voices

New York Law Journal
by Joel Stashenko

A review of the unpredictable nature of the past year's decisions by New York State's highest court contains a reference to one of the previous year's very predictable decisions.

But none of the Court's cases in 2010-2011 produced the high-profile rulings of the previous year, when the judges ruled that landlords could not charge market-rate rents where they had accepted a city tax break; updated the definition of a "blighted" area to approve the seizure of private land for the controversial Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn; determined that the state's judges had been unconstitutionally denied a raise; and decided that the governor has the authority to fill a lieutenant governor vacancy.

Judge Lippman said in an interview that he was "very proud" of his Court's body of work over the past year.

"To me, it's a common-sense Court," Judge Lippman said.

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NoLandGrab: Yeah, nothing says "common sense" like allowing "blight" to be defined as whatever a developer says it is. Very proud indeed.

Posted by eric at 12:37 PM

Joseph Mohbat, Lawyer, Writer, Boerum Hill Activist, Dies at 73

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

We grieve the passing of a great man, a great Brooklynite and a hugely supportive Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn activist. We give our condolences and love to his wife Nancy.

But we also celebrate his amazing life. As one can see below, Joe was truly a Renaissance man, and he will be sorely missed.

article

Related coverage...

The Local [Fort Greene/Clinton Hill], The Day: Two Atlantic Yards Activists Remembered

Posted by eric at 12:05 PM

August 17, 2011

Joseph Mohbat, Lawyer, Writer, Boerum Hill Activist, Dies at 73

Brooklyn Daily Eagle
by Richard Anderson

Sad news about Joe Mohbat, who was an active opponent of the Atlantic Yards project and a true Renaissance man. Our condolences to his wife, Nancy.

Joseph Mohbat, former journalist, a lawyer and Boerum Hill activist, died after a long and courageous battle with cancer at the Brooklyn Hospital Center August 10. He was senior counsel at the New York City Law Department Office of the Corporation Counsel serving as a trial attorney in the Bronx tort unit.

Many people may remember Joe’s leading role in the play “Da” put on by the Heights Players in 2006 before he had his first bout with cancer. Others may remember that he had been involved in efforts to control the Atlantic Yards project or his successful intervention in blocking a 24-hour McDonald’s drive-in on his corner at Pacific Street and 3rd Avenue. In 1981 Joe co-founded the East Pacific Street Block Association, which succeeded in removing the persistent prostitution problem at his end of Pacific Street.

He and his wife Nancy Schuh were active in the Boerum Hill Association over the years. Joe wrote numerous, often amusing and well-received articles for the Phoenix in its heyday and was a frequent contributor to the Letters to Editor of the New York Times.

Click thru for more on Joe's rich and interesting life.

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Posted by eric at 1:44 PM

The passing of Darnell Canada, Fort Greene community activist, job finder, ex-con, "moral compass," Atlantic Yards intimidator

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder publishes a thorough (does he know any other way?) examination — including extensive interview footage shot by Battle for Brooklyn filmmaker Michael Galinsky — of the life and times of the late Darnell Canada.

Fort Greene resident Darnell Canada, one of the most memorable characters in the Atlantic Yards saga--aggressively interrupting public meetings to shout that "jobs" should trump concerns about the megaproject's impact--died May 27, of pneumonia. He was 52.

A bulky black man from the 'hood, Canada could speak powerfully and extemporaneously from the heart--and from the gut. His performances at public meetings made for crucial cameos in both the new documentary Battle for Brooklyn and the 2007 film Brooklyn Matters. If Atlantic Yards didn't pass and the fellow ex-cons he was helping didn't get work, he warned ominously, "you're the victim."

This echoed the mau-mauing author Tom Wolfe described in 1970, but it came with an Atlantic Yards twist: Canada took on middle- and upper-class neighbors, mostly but not exclusively white, who opposed the project, and even challenged officials holding public meetings.

Thus his intimidation ultimately served "the man" represented by developer Forest City Ratner and its governmental partners. No wonder Forest City paid his funeral expenses. [Correction: I originally wrote "hospital bills."]

Indeed, Canada's role in Atlantic Yards--which he saw less as support for the project than as urgent advocacy for his community--defined him such that the program for his memorial service featured a photo of him speaking at a 7/30/09 public hearing (also above, by Tracy Collins).

article

Posted by eric at 10:52 AM

FOREST CITY RATNER PRESS RELEASE: Basking in the glow of the nearing 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks

Some people have no shame.

Frank Gehry's Lower Manhattan Skyscraper Is A Shining Symbol of Renewal and Residential Renaissance Over the Past Decade

PR Newswire

NEW YORK, Aug. 16, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- A symbol of Lower Manhattan's resurgence over the past decade as a vibrant residential, commercial and cultural neighborhood, the shining New York by Gehry at Eight Spruce Street (NewYorkbyGehry.com) is lauded by architecture critics worldwide. With stainless steel cladding curving like draped fabric, it's an inspired addition to the Manhattan skyline.

"I designed a building I would want to live in as a New Yorker," said renowned architect Frank Gehry. "You could say this is my love letter to New York City. I'm thrilled we were able to do it in Lower Manhattan, which allowed me to be part of something so meaningful -- to stand with this building's neighbors, the residents and businesses of this neighborhood. We worked together over the past seven years to create a new icon for Lower Manhattan."
...

Bruce C. Ratner, Chairman and CEO of Forest City Ratner Companies, said, "Lower Manhattan has shown its resilience, and we are so proud to be part of its residential growth and renewal. It's been extremely fulfilling to collaborate with Frank Gehry to realize his stunning design and to work with the Bloomberg Administration and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to create a new five-story, 100,000-square-foot public school -- much-needed by local families."

link

NoLandGrab: We're a little surprised they didn't Photoshop in the faint outline of the Twin Towers in the photograph and hang a big American flag off of Gehry's "love letter."

Posted by eric at 10:40 AM

Forest City Ratner Responds To Rat Tsunami With Trash Cans

Gothamist
by Garth Johnston

Forest City Ratner, the developer behind the controversial Nets arena currently rising over the Atlantic Yards, seems to have expanded its "rodent control program" to help neighbors dealing with "a rat tsunami." Their solution? Free trash cans! Better than nothing, we guess.

link

Posted by eric at 10:33 AM

Staff Picks: IndieScreen Tells You What To Watch

Gothamist

Welcome to our weekly column Staff Picks, in which we ask the staffers at our favorite book, music, and movie stores around to town to share with us what they're reading, listening to, and watching this week. We figure they're good people to ask. Today we're checking in with Marco Ursino, artistic director of Williamsburg's independent movie theater IndieScreen, to find out what he's been watching lately.
...

Battle for Brooklyn won the Best Documentary Award at the 2011 Brooklyn Film Festival. This smart doc directed by Suki Hawley & Michael Galinsky is an intensely intimate look at the very public and passionate fight waged by owners and residents facing condemnation of their property to make way for the controversial Atlantic Yards project, a massive plan to build 16 skyscrapers and a basketball arena for the New Jersey Nets in the heart of Brooklyn. Shot over seven years and compiled from almost 500 hours of footage, Battle is an epic tale of how far people will go to fight for what they believe in."

link

Posted by eric at 10:28 AM

Concrete workers' strike averted at last minute

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder follows up on the 11th-hour agreement by concrete workers to a new contract, which averts possible work disruptions on the Barclays Center construction site.

article

Posted by eric at 10:19 AM

August 16, 2011

Atlantic Yards developers hand out rat-proof trash cans to neighbors besieged by rodents

NY Daily News
by Kevin Deutsch

Developers of the rat-plagued Atlantic Yards project began doling out free rodent-proof trash cans yesterday to their vermin-weary neighbors.

Forest City Ratner supplied the heavy-duty, high-necked cans after years of complaints from Prospect Heights residents. Locals claim demolition work at the site unleashed an army of furry pests onto their streets - and the only ones happy are the cats.

"I'm glad they're finally giving us these cans, but my cat's been bringing home rats in his mouth since 2007," said Alan Rotthar, 47, who lives across from the future Nets arena. "The rats have been our neighbors ever since excavation began that year. They're in our cars and homes."
...

Joe DePlasco, a spokesman for Forest City Ratner, said the cans are part of a larger effort to expel the vermin. "Anything we can do to help fight the problem, we will try to do," he said, adding that the company will give out hundreds of cans this week.

article

Apparently, some residents aren't convinced by Forest City's platitudes, as this commenter writes:

Nice puff piece. It took loud persistent complaining for RATner to do anything about this. yet it has been happening for years. It should have read after persistent community complaining FCR has finally taken a baby step on this problem.

Posted by eric at 10:34 AM

Ten months later, still waiting for a response to my FOIL request about state official Peter Davidson's trip to China promoting Forest City Ratner's misleading "green cards for investments" venture

Atlantic Yards Report

On 10/5/10, I sent the following letter to the Empire State Development Corporation (aka Empire State Development):

Under the Freedom of Information Law, I request records regarding Executive Director Peter Davidson's planned trip to China this month on behalf of the New York City Regional Center's effort, under the EB-5 visa program, to market an investment in Atlantic Yards.

Specifically, I seek records, including but not limited to correspondence to, from, and within the Empire State Development Corporation, that explain:
--the cost and itinerary of the trip
--what Mr. Davidson is expected to do (outline of remarks, etc)
--the solicitation for and decision to make the trip
--any evaluation on ESDC's part of the job numbers used by NYCRC

Last week, I received yet another letter from the state agency telling me they were still evaluating my request and searching for responsive records. I am to get an update on that search, and possible delivery of such records, by September 29.

I wonder why it's taking so long. Is the information really that obscure?

article

Posted by eric at 10:21 AM

Forest City Ratner Offers Free Garbage Cans Due To Atlantic Yards Rat Problem

NY1

Ratner to slovenly Prospect Heights residents: it's not us, it's you!

After months of complaints from neighbors about an increased rat population around the Atlantic Yards construction site, the developer is now working to fix the problem.

Forest City Ratner is handing out free garbage cans that are harder for rodents to get into.

The developer claims the rat increase is not because of construction garbage but because people are not disposing of their own garbage properly.

article

Posted by eric at 10:06 AM

New Jersey county reverses stance on lone-bidder jail deal on which the Times (and then a Senator) focused

Atlantic Yards Report

From today's New York Times, Reversing Course, Officials in New Jersey Cancel One-Bid Immigrant Jail Deal:

NEWARK — In a sharp turnaround, officials in Essex County, N.J., announced Monday that they would not accept the sole bid on a contract to run a 450-bed immigrant detention center after questions were raised about the transparency and fairness of the bidding process.

The lone bidder was an affiliate of Community Education Centers, a private detention company whose executives have close political ties to Gov. Chris Christie and the top elected official in Essex County, Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr.

The county appeared to give special treatment to Community Education, though its record in housing immigrant detainees is checkered. After The New York Times reported on the contracting process last month, Senator Frank R. Lautenberg of New Jersey wrote to Immigration and Customs Enforcement to ask senior officials to review the deal.

In a telephone call Monday afternoon, James R. Paganelli, Essex County’s counsel, said the county would put out another request for bids in the fall to attract more bidders and better terms. He called it “a business decision” and said the allegations of improprieties played no role. “We want to foster competition, because that makes everybody sharpen their pencils and we hope to get better rates from people,” he said.

...Reporters pressed Mr. DiVincenzo and his staff on possible shortcomings of the bidding process: The county did not actively seek out other bidders, a common practice in government contracts, and its 23-day deadline on the multimillion-dollar bid was unusually short.

On 7/28/11, I pointed to the similarities between this situation and that of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Vanderbilt Yard, which was seemingly assigned to Forest City Ratner early on, 18 months before an RFP.

One difference? This time, the Times paid attention.

link

Posted by eric at 9:59 AM

Another crime in Fort Greene Park

The Brooklyn Paper
by Thomas Tracy

Pocketbooks aren't the only thing not being protected by Target's Pocketbook Protectors — hang on to your lingerie!

Target swipe

A thief snagged the mother lode during a visit to the Flatbush Avenue Target on Aug. 10: a woman’s bag containing a laptop computer, ipod, cellphone and credit cards.

The 30-year-old victim left her bag unattended in a shopping cart as she perused the aisles at 7:02 pm. When she returned two minutes later, her bag was gone.

Bra bilker

A thief swiped more than $1,600 worth of “Dream Angel” bras at the Victoria Secret inside the crime-ridden Atlantic Terminal mall on Flatbush Avenue on Aug. 13.

The unidentified goon pulled the uplifting undergarments — which cost between $45 and $58 apiece — from store shelves at 1:20 pm, putting them in a Target bag. He then scurried out a back door before anyone knew what had happened.

article

Posted by eric at 9:53 AM

Marty Markowitz wants to know why Apple won’t open a store in Brooklyn

NY Post
by Rich Calder

Brooklyn certainly isn’t the Apple of Steve Jobs’ eye, and his latest snub has the borough’s biggest booster seeing red.

"I seriously just don’t get it," Borough President Marty Markowitz said today, after officials announced that an upscale restaurant would anchor new retail coming to the Municipal Building in Downtown Brooklyn -- instead of the Apple store he had been seeking.

He said the computer giant and its CEO "won’t reach the big-time until Apple finally opens a store" in Brooklyn.

Yeah, Apple, which for a spell last week became the world's most valuable company, and which has more cash-on-hand than the Federal government, won't hit the big time until it makes Brooklyn's Blowhard happy. Right.

The Beep said "almost every big-time" Brooklyn developer building new retail space has reached out to Apple – only to be shunned.

Others interested included developers for the Atlantic Yards in Prospect Heights, a few sites in Williamsburg and a city-owned office tower at 345 Adams St. Downtown, sources said.

article

NoLandGrab: Gee, could it be that Steve Jobs would rather eat tacks than have to deal with the likes of Markowitz and Ratner?

Posted by eric at 9:44 AM

From the latest Construction Alert: not much new, but a third shift may still be requested

Atlantic Yards Report

Below is the latest two-week Atlantic Yards Construction Alert, covering the weeks beginning today, 8/15/11. There's no major news, as far as I can tell, though I've bolded certain pieces of text that represent tweaks from the previous report, dated 8/1/11.

Note that no third shift permit has yet been granted, despite multiple mentions that it might be requested, and that the purported request for permission to begin deliveries at 6 am seems odd, since a permit to begin deliveries at 5 am has already been granted.

(It may be that the former request regards a separate part of the site, but perhaps the next ombudsman can clarify that for us.)

article

Posted by eric at 9:38 AM

August 15, 2011

'Battle For Brooklyn' -- How Politicians and a Developer Trashed a Neighborhood for an Arena

Ron Kaye L.A.
by Ron Kaye

A fabulously rich developer with powerful political connections promises to build a sports venue that will create tens thousands of jobs and spark an economic revival of an entire downtown.

It may sound like what Denver billionaire Phil Anschutz and his man in L.A. Tim Leiweke are promising their NFL stadium and a rebuilt Convention Center by bringing millions of people from far and wide to downtown Los Angeles and filling the city treasury with cash as hotels, restaurants and bars are built on every corner.

But it's not. It's what has happened to downtown Brooklyn over the last eight years as a healthy neighborhood was bulldozed, property seized by the city under eminent domain, and promises made to the community be developer Bruce Ratner were broken.

The story of the community's struggle, the personal efforts of the last holdout, Daniel Goldstein, and the resistance of thousands of New Yorkers to having their rights trampled and their interests ignored is told in a powerful new documentary film "Battle for Brooklyn" by Michael Galinsky and Suki Hawley which will open Friday in L.A. at Laemmle's Music Hall 3, 9036 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills.
...

It's all too familiar a story to so many of us in LA. It may help to know we are not alone in feeling betrayed by the people elected to serve us and to see in the "Battle for Brooklyn" how so many fought so hard for so long.

article

Posted by eric at 5:48 PM

THE SCORE HEARS... ODER EXPOSES ATLANTIC YARDS

NY Daily News
by Michael O'Keeffe

Norman Oder is funny when he's angry - and he was furious on Thursday night at Galapagos Art Space.

The man behind Atlantic Yards Report, the blog that serves as the primary watchdog for Nets minority owner Bruce Ratner's Brooklyn real estate scheme, cracked up the crowd at the DUMBO nightspot as he ripped through a list of the people and things - including Mayor Bloomberg, phony Dodgers nostalgia, Nets chief executive officer Brett Yormark, The New York Times, the Daily News - that piss him off. He compared the history of Ratner's project to Byzantine plot twists of Roman Polanski's 1974 film noir classic, "Chinatown."

"Forget it, Jake," Oder hissed throughout his presentation, "it's Atlantic Yards."

Oder was one of the featured speakers of "Get Smart," a weekly salon that combines lectures and performance art (think Nerd Night meets Burning Man) and he took the Galapagos audience on a 15-minute tour of Atlantic Yards' absurdities and falsehoods. "When I get angry I work harder," Oder added, explaining his commitment to his blog. "I'm not an ideologue. I'm not a NIMBY. I just don't like being lied to."

article

NoLandGrab: Huh! And we thought Oder was addressing Gothamist co-founder Jake Dobkin, not Film Noir private dick Jake Gittes.

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, A review of my lecture at Galapagos: "Oder is funny when he's angry" ("Forget it Jake, it's Atlantic Yards")

Posted by eric at 3:45 PM

The Day: Urban Outfitters Threads A Deal With Pratt Students

The Local [Fort Greene/Cllinton Hill]
by Kyle Thomas McGovern

A good reminder that tonight affords the last chance (for now) to see Battle for Brooklyn at Ken Lowy's Brooklyn Heights Cinema.

The wet weather is expected to continue through the evening, so why not hide out in a movie theater? Today is the last chance to see the Atlantic Yards documentary “Battle For Brooklyn” for the next few weeks, according to Michael Galinsky, the film’s co-director and a regular contributor to The Local. Mr. Galinsky and his co-director Suki Hawley are taking their film print to Los Angeles to debut the documentary there, but it will run again in New York City when they return, Mr. Galinsky wrote in an e-mail. “Battle For Brooklyn” is playing at Brooklyn Heights Cinema tonight at 7 p.m., followed by a Q&A with Mr. Galinsky.

link

Posted by eric at 1:14 PM

From Borough Hall: banning photography and video at the Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meetings is "to prevent disruptions." What are disruptions?

Atlantic Yards Report

At the Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meeting, held the morning of 7/14/11 at Borough Hall, some of us in the audience picked up cameras to take a few photos.

I did, as did Amy Clark of Prospect Heights Patch, Michael D. D. White of Noticing New York, and a couple of academics working on a project related to Atlantic Yards.

A Borough Hall staffer told us to stop taking photos.

Getting an explanation

Later, I asked, as I had done in February, for an explanation of why cameras were banned at the meetings, held bi-monthly.

Markowitz spokesman Mark Zustovich sent me a statement:

“Our office, along with Empire State Development (ESD) and Council Member Letitia James, are preparing a statement about the openness of these meetings and our expectations regarding public attendee behavior, and that statement will be included with each meeting’s agenda so there’s no confusion going forward. However, you will recall that an announcement was made at the second AYDSC earlier this year by Arana Hankin of ESD that since these meetings are non-deliberative, they are not subject to open public meetings law. [see coverage] Therefore, while we’ve allowed the public to attend and view the meetings, we have prohibited the use of film and photography in order to prevent disruptions. The public is encouraged to view, record audio, take notes and report on the proceedings of the cabinet. They are not permitted to film or photograph the meetings.”

Follow the link for Norman Oder's conjecture about the reason for the ban — which might have something to do with vanity.

article

Posted by eric at 10:25 AM

A Visit to 620 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn: What Dwight Howard Saw Friday

NetsDaily

The pseudonymous Net Income pays a visit to Prospect Heights.

Now that the roof is racing across the arena's 350-foot-long trusses, the impression from ground level is that how enormous it is. It is much larger and grander in scale than the brownstones to the south but for the most part it's in sync with the downtown feel of the area between the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush and the bridges to Manhattan.
...

Already, the clubs that will serve the arena are going up, indicating other smaller-scale, arena-motivated commercial activity is starting to rise as well. Prime 6 and Machavelle have renovated their properties. A mattress store where the largest of the new clubs, Players GastroPub, will go is having a going-out-of-busines sale. Bark, an aptly named hot dog restaurant nearby, is doing well in anticipation of the opening. It's where the Nets often bring guests.

There didn't seem to be any outward opposition. No graffiti or protest signs on the construction fencing we saw. In fact, we spotted two other fans snapping pictures of the construction. Traffic even on a late Saturday afternoon was heavy and we had to skirt a fender bender at the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush. We anticipate once the arena is open, that intersection is bound to get even messier for a variety of reasons, not all of them anticipated. The stop line for westbound Atlantic Avenue traffic at Fort Greene Place is just opposite the VIP Entrance and Practice Facility curbside viewing point. "Was that Kim Kardashian!?!" Rubber necking galore.

Down below street level, we walked the soon-to-be renamed Barclays Center station, linking the new LIRR Atlantic Terminal station with nine subway lines. Game days, it's going to be jammed down there on the concourse.

article

Posted by eric at 10:19 AM

One of 20 influential non-elected New Yorkers: Alan Fishman of numerous Brooklyn boards (and AY support)

Atlantic Yards Report

In The Influentials, City Hall’s second annual list of 20 influential non-elected officials in New York City, there had to be someone with an Atlantic Yards connection, right?

Indeed, there's Alan Fishman, Chairman, Brooklyn Community Foundation. An excerpt:

Alan Fishman started out as a banker. He ended up becoming a guiding force for a resurgent Brooklyn.

“It all sort of came together,” Fishman said. “The definition of a community banker who’s any good is [one who knows how to] to build the community. That’s the only way you get progress.”

Fishman serves as chairman of some of the borough’s most prominent institutions—the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Brooklyn Community Foundation, the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation—and is on the boards of many other nonprofit groups in the city.

His wide range of interests has let him build connections across the borough and help guide a strategy for developing its economy, its culture and its charitable world. While still working full-time in the financial world, he is helping BAM plan its 150th anniversary and is actively helping the Navy Yard become an economic engine for the city.

Note Michael D.D. White's querying of Fishman after the latter testified (on behalf of BAM) in favor of the revised 2009 Atlantic Yards plan.

link

Posted by eric at 10:08 AM

August 14, 2011

Ratner said the Nets would move to Brooklyn during the 2011-2012 NBA season; it was their "intent," another weasel word in the AY lexicon (also note shifting claims about jobs)

Atlantic Yards Report

Remember how, in the wake of the Atlantic Yards eminent domain decision 11/24/09, Forest City Ratner issued a statement asserting "the intent that the Nets will play ball in the Barclays Center in the 2011-2012 NBA Season"?

(Emphasis added)

That implied the team would move mid-season.

That was a rather optimistic "intent," especially since the New York Times a day later reported that the plan was to move in June 2012, at the end of the season.

(Now the arena's supposed to open 9/28/12.)

No wonder the original press release is no longer available.

However, at left is a screenshot for posterity.

It seems that "intent" is another weasel word for the Atlantic Yards lexicon.

Thus, it's much like "anticipate," which I suggested, does not, to Forest City Ratner, mean foresee but rather "the placeholder date we don't believe but think we can get away with."

Changes in predictions

Note that the press release claims that "Jobs and Affordable Housing to Come to Brooklyn." Well, there's no housing yet and the number of jobs far below expectations.

The press release states:

Mr. Ratner explained as well that the arena and larger development are expected to create 16,924 union construcion jobs and over 8,000 permanent jobs.

These days Forest City Ratner promises "upwards of 17,000 union construction jobs and up to 8,000 permanent jobs."

(Emphases added)

The only way the number of permanent jobs would hit 8,000 is if the developer built three (more likely four) office towers around the arena. However, three of the towers are planned to be housing, and there's no market for the remaining office tower.

The number of construction jobs would reach that total--in job-years, as in 1700 jobs a year over a decade--only if the project is built in full (unlikely) and if no modular towers are built (who knows).

link

Posted by steve at 10:31 PM

Today's correction: Times identifies Civilians' play about AY as concerning "the Navy Yards development in Downtown Brooklyn"

Atlantic Yards Report

From the Arts section of today's New York Times, in the column headlined The Week Ahead: Aug. 14 — 20:

Theater
Charles Isherwood
The New York theater troupe THE CIVILIANS is summering in the Berkshires. The company, which specializes in documentary theater pieces drawn from extensive interviews, is creating its new show on the Nikos Stage at the Williamstown Theater Festival. Although it is also based on real experience, “YOU BETTER SIT DOWN: TALES FROM MY PARENTS’ DIVORCE” nevertheless represents a departure for the company.
Instead of foraging for material in the public sphere, as it has in previous shows like “Gone Missing,” a cabaret musical about all the things that people can manage to lose, and “In the Footprint,” which chronicled the conflict over the Navy Yards development in Downtown Brooklyn, the company is using the life stories of its own members as the raw material.

Actually, "In the Footprint" is about Atlantic Yards, which is in Prospect Heights--and, at the western tip, arguably would extend Downtown Brooklyn.

link

Posted by steve at 10:28 PM

Free Rat-Repellent Trashcans for Atlantic Yards Neighbors

Prospect Heights Patch
By Will Yakowicz

Hey, have a trash can. Now the rats are your problem.

Forest City Ratner is offering tenants, superintendents and building owners—near Atlantic Yards—lidded, heavy-duty trashcans to fight the overwhelming rat problem in and around the soon-to-be Nets arena.

FCR’s trashcans are approved by the Department of Health for the “rodent control strategy.”

Not every building is eligible, only buildings that are 12 units or less and located south of Atlantic Avenue from Fourth Avenue to Vanderbilt Avenue; Vanderbilt Avenue from Atlantic Avenue to Bergen Street; Bergen Street from Vanderbilt to Fourth Avenue; and Fourth Avenue (East side only) from Bergen Street to Atlantic Ave.

link

Posted by steve at 10:24 PM

More trouble with a Casagrande drill when it releases what appears to be smoke

Atlantic Yards Watch

In the last two weeks, this website has received incident reports related to adverse impacts on air quality from mechanical demolition, loading of trucks without spraying, an uncovered pile -- one of a number -- on site, jackhammering of a retaining wall, idling trucks, and now again from the Casagrande drill.

The use of Casagrande drills have instigated complaints from nearby residents related to noise, vibrations and air quality. After striking video documentation of dust spewing from the drill was sent to ESD in April, the drill was apparently modified. In June, mud spewed from the drill injuring two pedestrians outside the construction site and damaging seven cars.

Today, one of the drills released what appears to be smoke into the air. The two videos below were submitted with an incident report which identifies the incident as occurring at 9:23 this morning.

link

Posted by steve at 10:23 PM

Nine violations by trucks of the Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments, Barclays Center Truck Rules and Requirements and/or NYC law are documented today before noon

Atlantic Yards Watch

Nine violations by trucks of the Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments, Barclays Center Truck Rules and Requirements, and/or NYC law were documented before noon today. The filer was stationary and only captured those incidents within the visual range of his/her location. The times below are from the incident reports.

1). 5:50 am

A flatbed truck delivering steel idles under the windows of Newswalk's residences on Pacific Street between Carlton and 6th Avenues. The Barclays Center truck rules require trucks to wait on Pacific Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt and advance under the guidance of a flagger at Carlton and Pacific Street. They are not allowed to wait in this location.

The report states the truck idled for over an hour and that the driver ignored a request to move from a resident. The photo below apparently shows an Atlantic Yards worker documenting the truck with a cell phone camera.

2 and 3). 8:44 am

Two trucks, one red and one white, travel Pacific Street between 6th and Carlton Avenues uncovered. ESD has told Atlantic Yards Report that starting August 5th trucks associated with McKissack, (the contractor they identify as the source of the uncovered trucks previously reported at Atlantic Yards Watch), will be removed from the construction project if they leave the work site uncovered. However, a later incident detailed below documents uncovered trucks like these, (possibly even these same trucks), entering the Barclays Center work site which is supervised by Hunt.

The trucks shown in the photo below either left the site uncovered at Carlton Avenue and Pacific Street, or reached this location by traveling a route not designated as a truck route by NYCDOT like Carlton Avenue and/or Dean Street.

4 and 5). 9:00 am

Two flatbed trucks delivering steel wait, (and the incident report states idle), on Pacific Street between 6th and Carlton to enter the arena block. They are not allowed to wait in this location. Note that one is parked in the travel lane of Pacific Street near the main arena entrance gate. This has happened before.

At around the 4:50 point in the video an empty flatbed truck leaves the arena block entrance, making room for the the forward steel truck to advance. As it moves to the gate a pedestrian pushing a baby carriage is in the crosswalk. The pedestrian is forced to walk around the steel delivery while a green van, which the incident report states is also associated with construction, moves forward without stopping at the designated stopping area roughly 150 feet from the stop light. Note how the operation of backing the steel trailer into the arena block ties up the 6th Avenue/ Pacific Street intersection.

Mostly westbound Pacific Street is currently designed to accommodate eastbound vehicles heading to a LIRR railyard access ramp located east of the 6th Avenue intersection. A "two way traffic ahead" sign and a "do not enter" sign providing instruction to drivers in this location were knocked down around a while ago, possibly by construction, and have not been replaced despite 311 calls.

6). 11:06 am

A truck leaves the railyard entrance on Atlantic Avenue near Carlton and turns onto Clermont Avenue. Clermont appears to be regularly used by trucks from this entrance gate, but it is not a designated truck route. The following is the second of a sequence of four photos. McKissack is the contractor for work in the railyard.

7). 11:15

Either the same red truck, or another, travels Pacific Street uncovered.

8 and 9). 12:00 am

The same red and white trucks, or two more, travel down Pacific Street between Carlton and 6th uncovered. The first video shows them traveling down the street and the second entering the Barclays Center site. These trucks either left the construction site uncovered, or reached this location by traveling down a street that is not a designated truck route like Carlton Avenue or Dean Street. Hunt, not McKissack, is the supervising contractor for the arena work.

Click on the link to see the photographic and video backup for these observations.

link

Posted by steve at 10:18 PM

August 13, 2011

Errant trucks around Atlantic Yards site represent yet more violations of environmental/construction rules; time for state to respond

Atlantic Yards Report

Yesterday morning, I cited, via Atlantic Yards Watch, continuing violations of environmental/truck rules at the Atlantic Yards site.

Last night, Atlantic Yards Watch compiled many more such violations, in Nine violations by trucks of the Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments and/or Barclays Center Truck Rules and Requirements are documented today before noon:

Nine violations by trucks of the Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments and/or Barclays Center Truck Rules and Requirements were documented before noon today. The filer was stationary and only captured those incidents within the visual range of his/her location. The times below are from the incident reports.

They include:

A flatbed truck delivering steel idles under the windows of Newswalk's residences on Pacific Street between Carlton and 6th Avenues. The Barclays Center truck rules require trucks to wait on Pacific Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt

Two trucks, one red and one white, travel Pacific Street between 6th and Carlton Avenues uncovered.

A truck leaves the railyard entrance on Atlantic Avenue near Carlton and turns onto Clermont Avenue. Clermont appears to be regularly used by trucks from this entrance gate, but it is not a designated truck route.

What's next?

It's time for Empire State Development, the state agency that oversees this project and has taken apparently inadequate measures to address such violations, to respond promptly and directly to these reports.

Either these reports are off-base or, if they are valid (as it sure seems), the state should tell the public what additional measures it will take.

link

Posted by steve at 11:19 PM

Whither the Times's architecture chair? New occupant, art critic Kimmelman, coming, as "conventional wisdom" about Ouroussoff concerns detachment from NYC, notably disembodied AY critiques

Atlantic Yards Report

In the New York Observer, Jonathan Liu's essay, Times Art Critic Michael Kimmelman to Take Over as Paper’s Architecture Critic, does a good job of sketching the importance of the post, occupied by just four critics since 1963:

The late Herbert Muschamp (he passed away in 2007) took over in the early 1990s... Muschamp celebrated favorites like the Bilbao Guggenheim with the florid prose and omnivorous interests that might best be called fin de siècle.

Nicolai Ouroussoff, a Muschamp protégé, has held the post since 2004. He announced his resignation June 6. A month later, The Times named his replacement, Michael Kimmelman, the paper’s chief art critic, who will be returning to New York from four years in Europe. Unlike his predecessors, Mr. Kimmelman, who takes the reins at the end of this month, doesn’t have formal training in architecture, or much of a track record as an architectural critic. He will continue to cover art...

“[Kimmelman’s] profiles of architects have been very good, but they aren’t criticism." [said the critic and historian Alexandra Lange] "But his hiring is insulting for the sense one has that The Times doesn’t think it is worth spending a whole salary on an architecture critic...”

Why it matters, and why AY matters

Liu writes:

For Ms. Lange, “the power of the Times critic job is in the fact that their reviews may be the only architecture criticism many people read. This is still true.” Yet when future generations consider the Ouroussoff Era, the defining text—assuming they still use Google—may be Alexandra Lange’s.

He refers to her "devastating takedown," headlined “Why Nicolai Ouroussoff Is Not Good Enough,” in the February 2010 Design Observer, a dissent that "has become more like conventional wisdom."

And what was the centerpiece of Lange's critique? As she wrote (and I excerpted):

Exhibits A and B in this critique are Ouroussoff’s reviews of the massive Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn. It was unclear from his first review whether Ouroussoff had ever been to Brooklyn, so grateful did he think we should be for the services of (Los Angeles) architect Frank Gehry.

link>

Posted by steve at 11:14 PM

Gehry in summer 2004, quotes Ratner: "You understand how to put a neighborhood together, and that's what I need you to do."

Atlantic Yards Report

A book that includes conversations between architect Frank Gehry, and his longtime collaborator and friend Ernest Fleischmann, former managing director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, shows Gehry, in the early days of Atlantic Yards, optimistic about the project and developer Bruce Ratner.

Gehry, who called himself a "liberal do-gooder" as he has done at other points, seemed to have convinced himself that doing Atlantic Yards fit into that self-conception. He had to work under what he termed a "tight budget," but that budget, of course, became ever tighter, eventually causing his 2009 ejection from the project.

And when Ratner told Gehry "You understand how to put a neighborhood together, and that's what I need you to do," was he just buttering up the architect so as to ensure his participation?

After all, Gehry's gone and, despite Ratner's claims and Gehry's aspirations, the architect's strength is in more in constructing striking buildings than in urban planning.

link

Posted by steve at 11:12 PM

Update #83: LA- Brooklyn- DVDs

Kickstarter

Here's an update from the producers of the documentary "Battle of Brooklyn."

Hello All

Lots of exciting news to report:

DVD's went out this week to those of you who responded to our request for addresses.

Battle will have it's last screening at BK Heights this MONDAY (not Wed. this week ) as we need the print for Los Angeles- though it should run again soon- we will update you about that- it's been doing well enough to keep running for a long time. We will be there for q and a and we will have posters for sale!!! Those just came in.

We are geaing up for our visit to LA to launch Battle. The film runs at the Laemmle Music Hall in Beverly Hills.

Daniel, Shabnam, Suki and I will be at the Friday and Saturday 720 screenings- we will also likely be at the 5:00 ones as well.

Fri: 5:00, 7:20 & 9:45
Sat: 12:20, 2:40, 5:00, 7:20 & 9:45
Sun: 12:20, 2:40, 5:00 & 7:20
...Mon-Thu: 5:00 & 7:20

Please help us spread the word. LA is a tough town we know- but this film is more relevant than ever with the City Council's recent approval of a Stadium Deal based on ridiculous financial and job projections.
Out of 750 articles about the deal- only 1 I found was anything but a press release restatement.

link

Posted by steve at 11:05 PM

Catching Up With AY Rats

CBS New York, Brooklyn Residents Cry Foul Over Rats At Atlantic Yards

Residents in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn blame Bruce Ratner and his massive Atlantic Yards dig for a problem they say they never had before — rats.

“What an unfortunate coincidence, since that’s his name,” said one woman.

Giant rats are apparently getting into peoples’ homes and cars.

“Engines deteriorated as a result of rodent infestation,” said councilwoman Letitia James, who says they are munching on the garbage.

Now, the Forest City Ratner company has decided to give out hundreds of rat-proof trash cans to a small part of the neighborhood.

“I’m sort of disappointed…that, in fact, the boundaries are so limited,” James told WCBS 880 reporter Alex Silverman.

One neighbor called it far too little, much too late.

“It’s a deal that stinks,” she said.

“It looks like now they’re at least making some attempt to reach out,” replied Silverman. “It seems like you don’t buy it.”

“No I don’t,” she answered.

Fox New York, Rats Invade Neighborhood Near Atlantic Yards Project

Brooklyn residents are experiencing rats in Prospect Heights and blame the Atlantic Yards development as the source.

Residents blame real estate developer Bruce Ratner and his massive Atlantic Yards project for a problem as they say they never had rats before.

Locals say giant rats are apparently getting into homes and cars and according to Councilwoman Letitia James they are going through the garbage.

Ratner’s real estate company plans to distribute hundreds of rat-proof trash cans to a small part of the neighborhood although residents feel that it’s too late to solve the problem.

Posted by steve at 10:57 PM

The Week in Crime: Violent Fights Across Neighborhood

The Local [Fort Greene/Clinton Hill]
by Lisha Arino

It appears that Target's Pocketbook Protectors have once again failed to protect shoppers' pocketbooks.

Other Stolen Wallets and Purses

-A 32-year-old woman reported on Aug. 4 that someone stole her purse, police said. The woman said that it was taken from her on July 31 at about 7:30 p.m. while she was in the Atlantic Terminal Mall Target, police said. She placed her bag on a shelf to look through some items, but when she returned, the purse was missing, the woman told police. She also lost her Nokia cell phone, chains, Citibank card, credit cards and a university ID card, police said. The victim called her cell phone and spoke to a female on the other line who agreed to return the phone for a reward, but the victim told police that the woman did not follow through.

You can't expect much help from the police, however, when other mall patrons are biting them.

Resisting Arrest at Atlantic Terminal

-Two women were fighting at Atlantic Terminal on Aug. 2 at 5:25 p.m., police said, when an officer stepped in and tried to cool down the fight and arrest one of the woman, police said. She resisted arrest by flailing her arms, kicking, and biting the officer on the right arm, police said. She also yelled, “Get your hands off of me,” police said.

Latasha S. Lee, 18, was arrested at the station at 5:39 p.m., police said. She has been charged with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, harassment in the second degree and assault in the second and third degrees, according to the Kings County District Attorney’s office.

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Posted by eric at 9:40 AM

August 12, 2011

Ratner's trash can bill = $5500? (surely the new employees cost more)

Atlantic Yards Report

The Brooklyn Paper, two days late with the news that Forest City Ratner has announced its plans to distribute heavy-duty garbage cans to a limited number of Prospect Heights residences, adds some useful detail in today's Bruce Ratner--taking on rats:

Now Ratner will dole out 172 cans at the Atlantic Yards Community Liaison Office, which is in a trailer on Carlton Avenue. The tight-lidded cans will help residents stop providing a feast, in the form of easily accessible household trash, for the vermin.

If residents can’t obtain their cans next week, they can set an appointment to pick one up.

The 34-gallon Rubbermaid wheeled cans — valued at $32 apiece — were approved by the Health Department and purchased at Pintchik Hardware on Bergen Street.

At $32 each (which seems to be the low online price), the retail value would be $5504, but I'll bet Forest City Ratner got a quantity discount.

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Posted by eric at 10:43 AM

The ESD, unmet environmental commitments regarding truck routes and rules, and the need for an ombudsperson (aka community/government affairs rep)

Atlantic Yards Report

Given what Atlantic Yards Watch describes as repeated violations of the Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments, Barclays Center Truck Rules and Requirements and city law, it couldn't be too soon before Empire State Development (aka Empire State Development Corporation) hires a new ombudsman (aka community/government affairs rep).

At the 7/14/11 Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meeting, more than four weeks ago, state Atlantic Yards Project Director Arana Hankin said, "ESD is going to be hiring a new community and government affairs rep shortly. And we will be... ramping up the community engagement and... a communications strategy." (The original ombudsman left in June.)

Three days ago, on August 9, I asked the ESD for an update on that hiring, but haven't heard back.

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Posted by eric at 10:14 AM

'Battle for Brooklyn' deftly documents one man's fight to save his home

Providence Journal
by Michael Janusonis

American movies are built around happy endings. No matter how tough the struggle, in the end the good guy always wins and justice prevails.

Unfortunately, real life doesn’t always work that way. It’s a shock to the system.

That’s the underlying theme of the documentary “Battle for Brooklyn,” in which a man discovers less than six months after moving into his new condo in the middle of Brooklyn that a developer plans to tear down his block for a mega construction project. That project, called the Atlantic Yards, will put 15 high-rise apartment buildings and plazas on the space. Daniel Goldstein learns his apartment is slated to be center court for a new basketball arena that will house the New Jersey Nets, a stumbling team owned by developer Bruce Ratner. Ratner seems to have the full backing of Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the state, which Ratner has petitioned to take the buildings by eminent domain.

It’s a modern-day Daniel versus Goliath story as Goldstein organizes community opposition to stop the multi-million-dollar project and save his home.
...

Is he a foolish Don Quixote character tilting at windmills? His neighbors in his building sell out for big bucks and move. But Goldstein declares that he wants to “fight this to the end, whatever that end is.”.

Or is he a folk hero, standing up for his rights against all odds?

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Posted by eric at 10:01 AM

Atlantic Yards "flying up"? On Brian Lehrer, a weak update

Atlantic Yards Report

The arena's rising, sure, but the development is not flying up in the slightest.

Guest host Jami Floyd, who displayed the unfortunate tendency to laugh at things not so funny, like the rat problem around the Atlantic Yards site. Guest Brown suggested, erroneously, that Chinese investors seeking green cards for purportedly job-creating investments  were investing "in the arena."

As I commented, they're investing in something called the "Brooklyn Arena and Infrastructure Project," which is replacing a land loan and will go to infrastructure (and possibly other things).

Of course potential investors were told they were investing in the arena, but that was deceptive.

link

Posted by eric at 9:50 AM

Bruce Ratner — taking on rats!

The Brooklyn Paper
by Kate Briquelet

Bruce Ratner is taking out the trash!

The Atlantic Yards developer on Monday will begin doling out heavy-duty covered garbage cans to Prospect Heights residents who have claimed that his Atlantic Yards mega-project has brought freakishly large rats to their streets.

The move comes one month after the company promised to reimburse infuriated locals for rat-proof cans.
...

Councilwoman Letitia James (D–Fort Greene) said she was disappointed that Ratner’s offer doesn’t extend beyond the immediate neighborhood to Fort Greene, but Peter Krashes, president of the Dean Street Block Association, said that this is the first time he can remember that Ratner has accommodated a community request.

“Let’s hope they understand they have an ongoing obligation for the length of the project,” he said. “This is only a first step.”

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Posted by eric at 9:42 AM

As trucks continue to violate Atlantic Yards environmental commitments and NYC law, signs emerge that methods for coordinating trucks are changing

Atlantic Yards Watch

Construction trucks at the Atlantic Yards construction site have repeatedly violated the Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments, Barclays Center Truck Rules and Requirements and NYC law.  Clarification of truck routes and enforcement were on the Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet agenda July 14th, but the meeting ended before the subject was covered.  

Since Saturday July 30th, this website has received ten more incident reports, (all public here), related either to trucks driving the wrong route, driving against traffic, waiting in travel lanes or bus stops, leaving the construction site uncovered, or idling.  Among the streets documented on this website impacted by insufficient coordination of delivery trailers and trucks are Atlantic Avenue, Pacific Street between Carlton and 6th Avenues, Carlton Avenue between Dean and Pacific Streets, Dean Street, South Portland Avenue, and Clermont Avenue.
...

Perhaps through pressure from ESD, discernible changes are being made to the way trucks are coordinated at the site.  The changes appear to have been in place for several weeks, but to date have not altered the pace or types of truck violations occurring at the construction site.

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Posted by eric at 7:28 AM

Taking the Times to task for its EB-5 coverage, again

Atlantic Yards Report.

The Times opened up comments on its curious article today on Chinese investment in New York.  Almost nobody commented on the EB-5 angle, which seemed shoehorned into the story. My comment again took the Times to task...

link

Posted by eric at 7:11 AM

August 11, 2011

Atlantic Yards Check-In

WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show

The Atlantic Yards development is flying up. Eliot Brown, commercial real estate reporter for the Wall Street Journal, gives an update on the project and checks in on the World Trade Center memorial, which is racing to meet the September 11, 2011, deadline.

link

NoLandGrab: "The Atlantic Yards development is flying up?" Hardly. Check the comments for Norman Oder's running corrective commentary.

Posted by eric at 1:15 PM

Startups Seeking Capital > Sports Bar in Brooklyn - Needs Funding

The Merchant Processing Resource

If you're going to be kept awake all night by the noise, you might as well lie there knowing you've got a piece of the action! Who wouldn't want to invest with someone named Sparkle?

This sports bar is located near the Barclays Stadium in Brooklyn, New York. It is going to be the home of the Brooklyn Nets Basketball team.

Proposal Summary: My cousin and I have been thinking about opening up a sports bar for a while now and since they are building the stadium for the basketball team, we thought that this would be an awesome opportunity. Our business plan is written up and we have the location set.

Management Team: Myself Johnelle Degannes and my cousin Sparkle Johnson

Return On Investment: We know this is going to be a success. We have so many ideas. It would be a great help if we can get the funding for this.

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NoLandGrab: Johnelle and Sparkle are also raising funds to help a Nigerian prince move a large sum of money overseas and to travel to Lithuania to collect on a large lotto jackpot.

Posted by eric at 10:33 AM

The mysteries of after-hours work at the arena site: do people live nearby? (yes, but most permits say "no") and what's the rationale? (not made public)

Atlantic Yards Report

Since February, contractors at the Atlantic Yards arena block have 36 times gained after-hours variance (AHV) permits for work at the Atlantic Yards arena block, according to documents available via the Department of Buildings (DOB) web site.

Nine of those instances regarded weekday work that began early or went to a second shift, and 27 regarded weekend work. No 24-hour variance has been granted yet, though the July 18 Construction Update, prepared by developer Forest City Ratner and issued by the Empire State Development Corporation, suggested one might be sought.

Lingering questions

According to the online versions of those permits--the site is known as 620 Atlantic Avenue or 2-6 Fifth Avenue--two things stood out:

  • Arena builder Hunt Construction, more than three-quarters of the time, apparently stated that there were no residences within 200 feet of the site. (Yes, there are--see photo below by Tracy Collins, looking west from the corner of Dean Street and Sixth Avenue. As discussed below, Hunt asserts that the permits it files always acknowledge there are residences within 200 feet. Without seeing the original documents, that statement will remain a question mark.)
  • No rationale for the after-hours work was publicly provided. Yes, applications to the DOB must contain such a rationale, but apparently the DOB does not make that information public.

I tried to learn more, but didn't get too far.

Click the link to follow Norman Oder down the rabbit hole of the Department of Buildings.

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NoLandGrab: Since every one of the few applications that actually disclosed the proximity of nearby residences was granted anyway, why does the DOB bother to ask?

Posted by eric at 10:00 AM

Atlantic Terminal at the end of an underground passageway from the Barclays Center? Not for suburban train passengers

Atlantic Yards Report

From the ever-arena-boosting Net Income, in Nets Daily, Could Atlantic Terminal Lure Isles?:

We haven't seen NHL commissioner Gary Bettman wandering around Atlantic and Flatbush in a construction helmet, carrying a measuring tape. Things have calmed down a bit regarding an Islander move to Brooklyn.

Still, there are some out there, like the Brooklyn hockey fans the Daily News found Tuesday, who want to see the Isles move 22 miles to the west despite a smaller capacity and questionable sightlines.

In the calculus, however, one thing isn't getting a lot of attention: the Long Island Railroad's new Atlantic Terminal, at the other end of an underground passageway from Barclays Center. Opened in 2010, it accommodates 25,000 LIRR passengers daily, many of whom switch in Brooklyn for subway rides to the Financial District. Some are suggesting that a return trip in the evening, with time out for a hockey game, could be a big lure for the Islanders and their fans.

One reason why it hasn't gotten a lot of attention is that the "underground passageway" is only for subway riders, not suburban train passengers.

That means those Long Islanders coming from work in New York City could get to the arena from the subway. However, they couldn't get to the LIRR from the arena. Nor could Long Island fans coming from home get to the arena from the LIRR.

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Posted by eric at 9:55 AM

Metro Tech BID takeover now complete

The Broolyn Blog [NYPost.com]
by Rich Calder

Just what Brooklynites have been clamoring for — more power consolidated in the greedy hands of Bruce Ratner.

It’s official! The public-private Downtown Brooklyn Partnership beginning August 15 will seize control the Metro Tech Business Improvement District.
...

The Partnership, a development corporation created by Bloomberg to spur economic development in Downtown Brooklyn, will now manage the BID’s operations -- and its $2.6 million yearly budget raised through a neighborhood property tax -- ending more than two years of bickering by BID board members split over the plan.

A faction, including Aviles and top BID brass, had fought the Partnership plan despite pressure from City Hall and developer Forest City Ratner, which built Metro Tech’s office complex in the 1980s.

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Posted by eric at 9:44 AM

Times article on Chinese investment in New York whiffs on Forest City Ratner's EB-5 venture

Atlantic Yards Report

A front-page article in today's New York Times, headlined As Investors, Chinese Turn to New York, stunningly maintains the newspaper's see-no-evil posture toward Forest City Ratner's questionable recruitment of investors seeking green cards.
...

The Chinese putting money into Atlantic Yards--'scuse me, the "Brooklyn Arena and Infrastructure Project"--aren't making real investments. They're buying green cards for themselves and their families, allowing their children to be educated in America.
...

They're supposed to create jobs. No jobs would be created.

Would the Chinese money support residential and office towers? Forest City's partner in China told the investors they were putting money into a basketball arena. That's why Forest City sent Darryl (Chocolate Thunder) Dawkins to China.

More recently, Forest City executives have said the money would be used to refinance a land loan, as well as pay for infrastructure. Or that they haven't decided.

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Posted by eric at 9:32 AM

August 10, 2011

As Investors, Chinese Turn to New York

The New York Times
by Kirk Semple

Leave it to The Times to completely gloss over the controversial nature of its development partner's EB-5 investment program.

Chinese banks have poured more than $1 billion into real estate loans in New York City in the past year. Investors from China are snapping up luxury apartments and planning to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on commercial and residential projects like Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn. Chinese companies have signed major leases at the Empire State Building and at 1 World Trade Center, which is the centerpiece of the rebuilding at ground zero.
...

Chinese money is also poised to flow into the city through a federal program that offers the possibility of permanent residency to foreigners who invest at least $500,000 in certain development projects.

Under this program, known as EB-5, Forest City Ratner Companies has arranged for $249 million in loans from Chinese investors for residential and office towers at Atlantic Yards, the commercial and residential project in Brooklyn that includes a new stadium for the New Jersey Nets.

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NoLandGrab: That's it, the full extent of The Times's coverage of EB-5 investments in Atlantic Yards.

Posted by eric at 10:00 PM

Coming from City Limits: Brooklyn News Bureau

Atlantic Yards Report

An announcement of a new Brooklyn news source, as noted below, that "will spotlight media-deprived communities like Central Brooklyn, as well as immigrant groups and areas undergoing change."

It's a welcome addition to the media ecosystem, but $50,000 a year over two years can only go so far. Perhaps the initial funding will generate additional support.

Click thru for the full announcement.

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Posted by eric at 6:45 PM

Atlantic Yards Developer Looks To Trash Rodent Concerns

NY1

A more accurate headline might be "Atlantic Yards Developer Looks To 'Do Least Amount Possible To Address' Rodent Concerns."

The developer of the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn is looking to fight rodents in the area by giving out heavy duty trash cans to local residents.

Forest City Ratner is providing the cans in response to community complaints about a boom in the rat population in and around the construction site.

The developer says a review of work in the area found garbage in the neighborhood that was not being properly thrown out.

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NoLandGrab: That's right, slovenly Prospect Heights residents, the problem isn't the rats — it's YOU! Learn how to throw out your trash! Thank goodness the munificent Bruce Ratner is going to spring (with your money) for new trash cans.

Posted by eric at 5:59 PM

Immigrant investors helping foot bill for NYC projects

Real Estate Weekly
by Daniel Geiger

A type of transaction that permits foreigners to invest in the United States in exchange for residency rights has caught on as a popular financing mechanism for real estate and development deals in the city.

The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, as the vehicle is called, has been used on a number of recent real estate projects in the city, including the just signed $180 million deal to redevelop the George Washington Bridge Bus Terminal.
...

About $250 million of EB-5 money is also being used on the construction of the Net Arena in the Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn.

The pipeline of funds, much of which comes from China, has helped pay for projects that would otherwise be difficult to finance or would have to borrow the money at higher interest rates.
...

The participants typically earn a relatively low rate of return on their money, which allows the developers of the projects being funded a low cost of financing.

Most EB-5 investors aren’t in it for the profits but because they will receive a green card if the deal delivers the promised number of jobs.

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NoLandGrab: In the case of Atlantic Yards, the EB-5 investments aren't going to create any jobs, as Forest City will be using the money to restructure debt. And most EB-5 investors "aren't in it for the profits" because there are no profits; they're buying green cards, plain and simple. So why doesn't the State Department just auction them to the highest bidders?

Posted by eric at 5:51 PM

Forest City Ratner finally announces free garbage can plan, with limited boundaries (no Fort Greene); educational forum will be held August 17

Atlantic Yards Report

Nearly four weeks after announcing, on 7/14/11, a plan to fund new garbage cans for residents in the area around the Atlantic Yards footprint, Forest City Ratner has finally provided details, via a public notice (below) that began to circulate last night.

However, some of those reporting rat problems likely will be disappointed: the area covered is limited, from Fourth to Vanderbilt Avenues, and Atlantic Avenue to Bergen Street, with a good chunk of the rectangular territory including the Atlantic Yards site itself.

(Residents of buildings with 12 or fewer units can pick up lidded, heavy-duty cans during weekdays next week, as per the notice below, at the Atlantic Yards Community Liaison Office.)

Nor does the area represent an evenly-drawn radius around the site--it goes south (and slightly to the east and west) but not north.

I queried City Council Member Letitia James, who had conveyed complaints from Fort Greene, north of Atlantic Avenue. The "process has begun but it is still subject to change," she said, hinting that the boundaries could be expanded.

The map

The map, taken from the flyer further below, has been amended (by Atlantic Yards Watch) by shading in the Atlantic Yards site, which takes up nearly half the total area.

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Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Watch, FCRC to offer free lidded garbage cans to a set of residents near the project footprint; a rodent forum is scheduled for August 17th

Empire State Development and the New York City Departments of Health and Sanitation will host an educational forum at the Pacific Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library on Wednesday, August 17th from 6-8 pm. At the forum experts will offer strategies for rodent prevention and answer questions.

One strategy they won't be talking up: not allowing the building of a huge basketball arena smack in the middle of residential neighborhoods.

The following are instructions from Forest City Ratner Companies describing how to get a free garbage can:

  1. Make sure your building is located within the eligible boundaries and has 12 units or fewer.
  2. At pick-up, provide photo ID and proof of address by showing a utility bill with your unit number dated within the last three months.
  3. Visit the Atlantic Yards Community Liaison Office, located in a trailer on Carlton Avenue (between Pacific and Dean Streets).

Cans will be available during the following hours:

  • Monday, August 15th 10 am - 4 pm
  • Tuesday, August 16th 10 am - 3 pm & 6 pm - 8 pm
  • Wednesday, August 17th 10 am - 4 pm
  • Thursday, August 18th 10 am - 3 pm & 6 pm -8 pm
  • Friday, August 19th 10 am - 1 pm

FCRC provides the following contact for questions: communityliaison@atlanticyards.com or 1-866-923-5315.

Posted by eric at 11:18 AM

Brooklyn hockey fans ready to welcome Islanders to new Barclays Center

NY Daily News
by Mark Morales and Al Barbarino

More "Brooklyn Islanders" fantasy.

The New York Islanders are one step closer to being nudged off the Island and cast adrift - but Brooklyn fans stand ready to hoist them back in.

Kings County hockey lovers jumped at the idea of having the team share the Nets' Barclays Center at Atlantic Yards.
...

Perhaps that door will open in Brooklyn.

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NoLandGrab: And perhaps that's utter nonsense.

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Daily News, forgetting arena design issues, cheerleads for move of Islanders to Brooklyn

[T]he Brooklyn arena was consciously redesigned to save money and focus on a very tight bowl for basketball, a fact unmentioned in the article and the caption. To accommodate hockey, there would be bad sightlines and only about 14,000 seats--suboptimal.

There still may be a financial argument--the Islanders' cable deal, but that's still a question mark.

TripleDeke.net, TripleDeke Poll: Islanders Arena

Even Islander fans know that the Brooklyn fable is nonsense.

Brooklyn, in my opinion is not a viable option. The design of Atlantic Yards is simply not conducive to NHL hockey. It could be a nice fill-in while something better is being constructed, but it can’t be a permanent home for the team.

Posted by eric at 11:04 AM

Prokhorov's Profitable Future

NetsDaily

Pseudonymous NetsDaily blogger — and Mihail Prokhorov-worshipper — Net Income doesn't foresee any economic downturn for the Russian oligarch.

"We have a team, we're building the arena, we've hired professional management, we have the option to buy in to another large project, the building of an office center. For me, this is a project with explosive profit potential," [Prokhorov] told Vedomosti, as translated by his Moscow staff. "The capitalization of the team will be $700 million after we move to Brooklyn. It will earn approximately 30 [million]. And the arena will be worth around $1 billion. We are planning to become NBA champions within five years."

Assuming he continues to own 80% of the team and gets 80% of the arena, that would mean his interest in the team would be worth $560 million and the arena $800 million. That's a grand total of $1.36 billion...on an investment of around $400 million.

And what of the "option to buy in to another large project, the building of an office center", which we have to assume is his option to buy up to 20% of Atlantic Yards. The price of that option has never been revealed and it is believed to be in negotiations now. Another story in Vedmosti suggested a price that seems impossibly low: $120 million for one fifth of a $4 billion project. According to Vedomosti, "a source close to one of the parties to the transaction" said Prokhorov is prepared to invest $120 million for a 20% stake in Atlantic Yards. The report added that Prokhorov plans to "participate in the development."

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Posted by eric at 10:53 AM

Latest consultant's report: 370 workers on the job (fewer than Forest City Ratner's numbers); arena still ahead of schedule (but lingering schedule issues?)

Atlantic Yards Report

The jobs reality is a little different than what Forest City told the Amsterdam News.

According to the latest Arena Site Observation Report, dated 8/5/11 and based on a 6/23/11 visit and documents made available 7/25/11, the Barclays Center remains one month ahead of schedule and the transit connection remains two months ahead of schedule.

The estimate, based on cash flow, comes in a report prepared by Merritt & Harris, the real estate consultant to the arena PILOT Bond Trustee.

As I wrote 7/22/11 regarding the previous report, some items should provoke further inquiry, such as a discrepancy between the number of workers reported and the number reported by Forest City Ratner.

Also, there may be a lingering dispute about the schedule.

Workers on site: 370 vs. Ratner's numbers

There seem to be fewer workers on site than Forest City Ratner has reported.

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Posted by eric at 10:47 AM

Brooklynites ask, ‘Where the jobs at?'

New York Amsterdam News
by Cyril Josh Barker

Low-income and minority residents in Brooklyn say they are being left out in the cold while looking for jobs in developments springing up throughout downtown Brooklyn. An organization looking out for their interests, Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (FUREE), put together a job hunt last week, bringing together 50 unemployed young people. However, the search yielded no results, as they stopped at sites at the CityPoint development, MetroTech Center and others with no luck.
...

FUREE also solicited developments near the MetroTech Center run by JP Morgan Chase, Forest City Ratner and the Partnership. Ratner is at the helm of one of Brooklyn's largest construction projects: the Barclays Center sports arena.

Ratner, despite having received over $675 million in government aid, currently employs only 430 workers but pledges 17,000 new jobs. FUREE is also accusing Ratner of failing to deliver other community benefits as promised.
...

Meanwhile, Forest City Ratner said that it has numbers to back up claims that it is hiring workers from the community. The figures they sent to the AmNews indicate that there are 612 workers on site and 228 of those workers are from Brooklyn. There have been 102 placements to date and 59 of these workers are still on site. Forty-nine of those placements are residents of community boards 2, 6 and 8.

article

NoLandGrab: Of course, Ratner's jobs figures are pure fantasy.

Posted by eric at 10:38 AM

August 9, 2011

Conundrum: If Gov. Andrew Cuomo Traded The Moratorium on Hydrofracking To Get Gay Marriage Would That Be Good Or a Bad Thing?

Noticing New York

Michael D.D. White's in-depth look at New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's endorsement of the ecologically devastating practice of hydrofracking inevitably comes around to another destructive boondoggle.

My frequent Noticing New York touchstone for politicians, their honorability and what they believe in, particularly when it come to selling off the public realm to private industry interest is the Bruce Ratner mega-monopoly Atlantic Yards debacle in Brooklyn. We are still watching Governor Cuomo carefully in that regard. Mr. Coumo was asked to investigate Atlantic Yards when he was state attorney general. He didn’t. And he took and never returned campaign money from Mr. Ratner. Now the issue of breaking up and finally ending the Ratner mega-monoply artificially created by government will be more clearly before Cuomo as governor given that Justice Marcy Friedman is sending the mega-project back to the state for the environmental review that was surreptitiously sidestepped to get it through in the first instance. What the governor believes in terms of protecting the public from the abuses of private interest run a muck will similarly be seen starkly with respect to Atlantic Yards and hydrofracking. Perhaps each can shed light with respect to the other and Cuomo’s overall philosophy and allegiances.

article

Posted by eric at 10:37 PM

New: late work at the railyard through this week

Atlantic Yards Report

At 5:40 pm today, I received an announcement from the Empire State Development Corporation:

This is a Supplemental Report to the previously issued two week look-ahead regarding upcoming construction activities at Atlantic Yards covering the period of August 1 – August 14, 2011

The following section has been modified to include new information:

Yard
New Information: work related to the installation of low head room mini piles within the car shop on the north east end of the yard. Work is preparatory work related to the structural support for the car shop roof which is located below Atlantic Avenue. The work will be done fully within the confines of the yard and will be monitored by both the LIRR and The McKissack Group. Work will take place during the hours of 3 P.M. to 11:00 P.M. commencing Tuesday, August 9th and continuing through this reporting period.

In other words, it began before it was announced.

link

Posted by eric at 6:14 PM

"Watch the Throne": New Jay-Z/Kanye collabo features ode to "Barclays"

Hip Hop Chop Shop
by E-MAC

We wouldn't have believed it if we hadn't heard it with our own ears — the brand-new Jay-Z and Kanye West opus, "Watch the Throne," features a cameo by King of Brooklyn Bruce Ratner on the track "Barclays."

Sample lyrics:

"Protest at the museum, can't even see 'em,
Took my placemat in the Maybach, sticker price shock."
...

"Silver shovels in the ground, Mike and Bruce on the scene,
Swingin' the wreckin' ball at that punk*ss Goldstein."
...

"And that guy with blogorrhea, Norman Oder,
Carve him up with my light saber, just like Yoda."

link

Posted by eric at 5:21 PM

ESDC: new process to crack down on errant truckers began Friday; none have received "two strikes;" no answer to question about systemic problem

Atlantic Yards Report

I got some but not all answers today to questions posed last Friday regarding the Empire State Development Corporation's new plan to crack down on truckers who leave the railyard site uncovered.

My questions begin after the bullet points, and the ESDC's answers are interpolated:

  • When did the process go into effect?

Last Friday, August 5.

  • Is this one contractor, or more than one?

McKissack -- the site of the problem.

  • Have any truckers been removed? Are those individual drivers, or subcontractors?

No truckers have been removed because none have received two strikes.

  • And isn't it systemic, in a sense: if "Outgoing trucks shall be inspected at the gate," as per the environmental commitments memo, it seems to me there should be some leverage over the firm as a whole, not just the drivers. Does the firm, or whoever's in charge of inspections, face any penalties?

[No answer was received.]

link

Posted by eric at 3:51 PM

Update on my Galapagos lecture Thursday night: admission is free (but it helps to RSVP)

Atlantic Yards Report

As noted in my updated post: admission for the even Thursday (7:30 pm start, 6:30 doors) at Galapagos is free, but those who want to ensure a seat should RSVP to gargi[at]galapagosartspace.com.

The title of my talk is "Why Atlantic Yards Makes Me Angry (and Makes Me a Better Journalist)".

Note that Galapagos is much more like a nightclub than, say, a bookstore or library lecture hall. There will be libations, and entertainment beyond the three "Get Smart" lecturers, as noted below.

link

Posted by eric at 11:59 AM

From Atlantic Yards Watch: at the Dean Street Playground, an adult interloper with a reflector vest

Atlantic Yards Report

This report on Atlantic Yards Watch from August 5, at 2:06 pm, does not describe the most significant local impact from construction, but it's still telling.

A construction worker, obviously looking for a place to rest (likely post-shift), planted himself on a bench at the Dean Street Playground half a block east of the arena site.

The worker's vest identified him as working for an arena site subcontractor, and I'm told by the AY Watch contributor this was one of a number of similar episodes at the playground.

No adults allowed without kids

However, as the sign indicates, playground rules prohibit adults except in the company of children. (And sometimes cops ticket people for violating the rule, as in this episode in June at a park in Bed-Stuy.)

link

Posted by eric at 11:06 AM

Atlantic Yards Concerns Block the Approval of Arts Space Liquor License

Roulette promises to address residents' issues.

Carroll Gardens Patch
by Gwen Ruelle

Roulette, a new experimental arts and avant-garde music space located in the ground floor of the YWCA on Atlantic and Third avenues, is dealing with community concerns before its doors have even officially opened.

The Barclays Center, opening soon just a few short blocks away at Atlantic Yards, has made residents extremely cautious about what new businesses and establishments open nearby.

“Because of the coming arena there is a lot of sensitivity about the rise of commercial businesses in terms of bars and clubs,” said Howard Kolins, President of the Boerum Hill Association. “The community wants to make sure it has a large voice in terms of what gets approved and under what conditions.”

And to that end, Community Board 2 recently voted down a liquor license application for the new branch of the formerly Manhattan based not-for-profit arts venue, which is slated to open on September 15.

“I am not against alcohol,” said Eric Albert, a resident. “I am, however, against the kind of behaviors that seem to aggregate around sporting venues.”
...

Supporters of Roulette insist that the institution has no connection with the sports scene surrounding Atlantic Yards.

“I think certain people are trying to set a precedent, which I understand, but they have to look at this as an individual request,” said Karen Zebulon, board member of the Atlantic Avenue Local Development Corporation. “It’s not going to be a club, it is somebody having a glass of wine at intermission.”

article

NoLandGrab: Wait, they're denying a liquor license to an arts organization housed under the roof of the Young Women's Christian Association while sports bars and clubs like Player's and Prime Six are sprouting like mushrooms after a rainstorm? Barkeep, pour us another one of those NIMBYades.

Posted by eric at 10:51 AM

Coke Will Make Special Sodas For The New Nets Arena

Gothamist
by Garth Johnston

Sure they will.

Coke will reportedly be treating fans with "special Brooklyn-themed flavored beverages" along with the company's trademark sodas.

But for now the company is keeping mum as to what those special drinks will be, so we can only speculate. In honor of the Atlantic Yards' troubled history, perhaps will there be a Gatorade flavor called NIMBYade? When Life Gives You NIMBYs, make NIMBYade! Or maybe a Coca-Cola Net Loss drink to replace Diet Coke? It burns calories, and your hopes of a successful NBA franchise, just drinking it! Meh. Somehow we suspect the final products will be more like In A New York Minute Maid. How would you flavor a Brooklyn-themed beverage?

link

NoLandGrab: Even Manhattan Special would be more Brooklyn-y than Coca Cola.

Posted by eric at 10:45 AM

In the midst of a steep market decline, Forest City Enterprises shares plummet nearly 25% over five days

Atlantic Yards Report

Forest City Enterprises shares went from $17.63 at the opening, Tuesday, August 2, and closed yesterday at $13.24. down 13.46% for the day.

By contrast, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 5.55% and the iShares Dow Jones U.S. Real Estate Fund was down 8.51%.

Forest City's stock is down 24.9% over five days, as shown in the first chart, via Morningstar.

article

NoLandGrab: Given FCE's reliance on government hand-outs, it's no surprise that the specter of fiscal austerity would spook stockholders.

Posted by eric at 10:33 AM

Braininess & Burlesque

Brooklyn Based

Take it off! Take it off! Will Norman Oder reveal all?

DUMBO: Raise the level of your cocktail party conversations at Thursday night’s edition of Get Smart. Galapagos’ lecture series marries intellectual-chic talks by experts with evocative performances courtesy of Floating Kabarette and cocktail pairings. This week, featured speakers include Norman Oder, who’s written extensively about Atlantic Yards including on his blog Atlantic Yards Report; Sam Moree, an award-winning holographer; and Malia Mason, a TEDx speaker and social psychologist.

Date: Thursday, Aug. 11th, 2011
Details: 7:30pm

link

Here's Oder's own preview. Doors open at 6:30.

Posted by eric at 10:21 AM

Oscar's "Rush" Job

Enlisting "Rush Hour" director Bruce Ratner to co-produce the awards show is a bold move. But if the Academy really wants to be really daring – and attract a crowd – make Ricky Gervais host and give Harry Potter his due

NBC Washington
by Jere Hester

Worst Oscar's telecast ever? No, just Bruce Ratner's notoriety leading NBC Washington to confuse him with film director Brett Ratner.

article

Posted by eric at 10:13 AM

August 8, 2011

Coke 'nets' deal at B'klyn arena

NY Post
by Rich Calder

We guess this is why Brooklyn is known as "the Atlanta of the North," right?

Coke is it -- in Brooklyn.

The Barclays Center and Coca-Cola have cut a multimillion-dollar deal to make the soda giant the exclusive soft-drink provider at the Nets' new NBA arena when it opens in September 2012, The Post has learned.

Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark said the arena and the Nets chose Coke because of its longstanding historical ties to Brooklyn, where it once was the official soda of the Dodgers at Ebbets Field.

Nets fans and Brooklynites lobbied for Coke products after arena officials in 2007 initially selected little-known Jones Soda. The arena has settled its contract with Jones.

"Our goal is making this arena all about Brooklyn -- even the food and drink -- and one thing that became clear to me is Brooklyn's a Coke town," Yormark said.

article

NoLandGrab: Can't be long now before Sara Lee is named "the official cheesecake of the Barclays Center."

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, As Jones Soda deal dissolves, arena promoter Yormark pronounces Coke is "all about Brooklyn" (though he was once lauded for choosing Jones over Coke)

As it happens, Yormark was lauded in a 8/24/08 USA Today article for choosing Jones over Coke:

Sealing the deal is what it's all about. "The chase is what gets me up every morning," he says. The chase is also about thinking outside the box whenever possible. When seeking out a beverage sponsor for the Barclays Center, Yormark didn't call Coca-Cola. He called Jones Soda, a little-known Seattle brand.

Jones got a big-time entrée into the East Coast market. And the Barclays Center got a company willing to help build its fledgling brand. Jones has already created a customized soda label with the Barclays Center logo.

NLG: Unfortunately, none of those Barclays Center sodas have turned up on eBay.

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Ratner/Prokhorov/Barclays Arena CEO Brett Yormark: "Brooklyn's a Coke town"

How many more years of drivel are we going to have to take from Ratner/Prokhorov/Barclays Arena CEO Brett Yormark. Here's the latest from the mouth that roared.

Posted by eric at 11:51 AM

A change at the ESDC: executive Juanita Scarlett, who had (some) AY responsibility, moves on after six months (updated/corrected)

Atlantic Yards Report

Mrs. Errol Louis is moving on from the ESDC.

From City & State First Read, the newsletter of City Hall and The Capitol:

Today is Juanita Scarlett's last day at the Empire State Development Corporation, where she served since February as executive vice president for strategy, policy and public affairs. Scarlett, a Democratic operative who also worked for Cuomo in the attorney general's office, is taking an unspecified job in the private sector.

I wrote about Scarlett in February, so that's a pretty swift departure, suggesting 1) a really good offer, 2) some internal agency tensions, or 3) both.

I'm told Scarlett had supervisory responsibility over Arana Hankin, Director of the Atlantic Yards Project.

So presumably Scarlett's replacement might grapple with the ESDC's not-so-stringent approach to Forest City Ratner's (and contractors') repeated violations of the Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments.

Update/correction

I got a message from the ESDC responding to the earlier version of this post:

It is factually inaccurate and establishes a correlation between Juanita Scarlett’s departure and the management of the Atlantic Yards Project which absolutely does not exist and is nothing more than unfounded speculation on your part....

To clarify, Arana Hankin’s direct supervisor has always been Peter Davidson, ESD’s Executive Director. The Atlantic Yards Project was never in Juanita Scarlett’s portfolio; she was consulted from time to time on the public affairs and intergovernmental aspects of the project, but that is all.

I don't think I was suggesting that Scarlett's departure had anything to do with the Atlantic Yards project. Internal agency tensions could refer to a lot of things.

article

NoLandGrab: "Factually inaccurate?" ESDC's prickly defensiveness is pretty amusing considering that almost everything they've put forth about Atlantic Yards -- including what their attorneys have told judges in multiple courtrooms -- could be accurately described as "factually inaccurate."

And as for "unfounded specualtion," well, is there a more apt description of the Atlantic Yards project's alleged "benefits" ESDC has been touting now for the better part of a decade?

Posted by eric at 11:42 AM

Qiao Wai immigration agency in China subject to skeptical local report regarding Brooklyn arena project

Atlantic Yards Report

The Chinese immigration agency recruiting the largest chunk of potential investors for the "Brooklyn Arena and Infrastructure Project"--the odd packaging of a loan to attract immigrant investors to Atlantic Yards--was recently subject to some skeptical mention in the local press. An article pointed to reported exaggerations in the promotion of the Brooklyn project as well as irregularities in the promotion of a project in Philadelphia.

The artilce--from the online news site of People's Daily, one of the country's largest newspapers--is hardly definitive, but it suggests some willingness in the Chinese press to look skeptically at the burgeoning world of EB-5 investment, in which those seeking green cards for themselves and their families park $500,000 in a purportedly job-creating investment.

The 8/2/11 article, was headlined, according to a translation I commissioned, "Risks involved in Immigrant Investment Programs; Qiao-Wai Group In Question." (Here's the Google Translate version.)

article

Posted by eric at 11:31 AM

Then and Now Thursday: De-Mapped on Flatbush

Here's Park Slope

Flatbush, Fifth Avenue and what used to be Pacific Street, before and after.

There are very few instances of streets being entirely wiped off the map in our neighborhood. In the South Slope, we've got the parts of 17th Street displaced for the Prospect Expressway, and in the far North Slope, parts of Fifth Avenue, Dean Street, and Pacific Street have been de-mapped, all within the past couple years, for construction of the Barclay's Center.

In the above 1914 photo, we see one of those rare views that simply does not exist anymore. It's looking northeast, at the tail end of Fifth Avenue from Flatbush, toward Dean Street. Joseph Kaiser's Clothier, Furnisher, and Hatter flanks a bicycle shop on Fifth, and a butcher shop named Berger & Son Company "Of America" is on Dean.

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NoLandGrab: For the record, no portion of Dean Street has been de-mapped, "only" Fifth Avenue and Pacific Street.

Posted by eric at 11:05 AM

From The L Magazine's Best of Brooklyn: "Best Local Blog" is... this one

Atlantic Yards Report

From The L Magazine's The Best of Brooklyn, the cover package in the issue dated August 3:

Best Local Blog
Atlantic Yards Report
Many might have given up on fighting the Atlantic Yards development, seeing it as a lost cause, an inevitability. But Norman Oder's watchdog blog, now in its sixth year, is still attacking the project—its false promises and environmental costs, as well as its credulous media coverage—several times a day.

By the way, no one told me about this, beforehand or after publication. I learned of it when I picked up a copy of the print magazine two days ago.

link

NoLandGrab: Let us be the first to congratulate Atlantic Yards Report for unseating NoLandGrab as best local blog, a title we held for six years running.

OK, actually, we've never been named Best Local Blog. Maybe we oughta launch "The Grabbies."

Posted by eric at 10:51 AM

August 7, 2011

Markowitz's concert program: ads from the Barclays Center/Nets (the Dodgers connection!), Forest City Ratner, Turkish restaurants, and many more

Atlantic Yards Report

Atlantic Yards ur-opponent Patti Hagan passed along the program from Borough President Marty Markowitz's August 4 Seaside Summer Concert Series, held in Coney Island.

It's a hefty publication, with actual (promo-ish) articles about such things as Brooklyn movies and Brooklyn writers, and lots of ads, including from the many patrons (listed in graphic below), sponsors, and contributors.

The pages at bottom show the cover, and the ads from the Barclays Center/Nets and Forest City Ratner.

Hagan noted that, at the August 4 concert featuring Aretha Franklin, Markowitz saluted the Nets and Barclays but managed not to mention Forest City Ratner.

...

Inside the program, as shown at right, Barclays Center and the Nets are going straight for the Brooklyn Dodgers-Brooklyn Nets connection, positioning an image of seats from a baseball stadium on the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, the gateway to all things Brooklyn.

It would be a little more difficult to juxtapose photos of the modest, retro Ebbets Field with the modern Atlantic Yards arena, with its "Barclays Center" signage. Such signage turns a publicly-owned (at least nominally) sports facility into a billboard for a sponsor that bought naming rights that the state simply gave away.

...

Note that some but not all are patrons of Markowitz's other concert series, the Martin Luther King, Jr. concert series, but Barclays/Nets and Forest City are patrons of both.

The Seaside series, held in Coney Island, is aimed at a significantly white audience, though it appeals to a broader crowd. The MLK series, held in Crown Heights, is aimed at a significantly black audience, though it appeals to a broader crowd.

link

Posted by steve at 10:43 PM

Commentator Marshall on New York vs. Hong Kong: "I suspect there is pressure on the MTA to lowball properties."

Atlantic Yards Report

The departure of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's CEO, Jay Walder, to lead the transit agency/company in Hong Kong led journalist and urban Alex Marshall to write an op-ed in the New York Daily News about how the MTA too could operate like a profit-making company.

On the 8/5/11 Brian Lehrer Show, on WNYC, Transit Systems That Make Money, Marshall amplified his thoughts in an interview with guest host Andrea Bernstein.

...

"Why is the Chrysler Building next to Grand Central Station?" Marshall asked rhetorically. "Why is Macy's next to Penn Station? Because it's an incredibly good location. And the only reason these giant buildings can exist is because they have these transit lines underneath them that can pump thousands of workers and shoppers into them."

Unlike in Hong Kong, where new lines are being built out, allowing for new development, such as shopping malls, New York mostly lacks such opportunity, Bernstein suggested.

Marshall agreed, but pointed to MTA projects that pose opportunities, including "Atlantic Yards here in Brooklyn," Hudson Yards, and the Second Avenue Subway. (He used the unfortunate but common shorthand of "Atlantic Yards" for the MTA property, the Vanderbilt Yard, which represents less than 40% of the Atlantic Yards site.)

In addition to direct ownership of a mall, Marshall suggested joint partnerships, and value added taxes around stations to capture wealth generated from development. "This is our public money that's helping generate this wealth," he observed.

The implication: the MTA should have held an open bidding process for the Vanderbilt Yard, rather than indicate repeatedly that Forest City Ratner had the inside track, then issue a belated Request for Proposals that generated only one response--and that because Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn reached out to dozens of developers.

link

Posted by steve at 10:40 PM

August 6, 2011

ESDC acknowledges uncovered trucks leaving Atlantic Yards site not "isolated" incidents, but extent of penalties is unclear

Atlantic Yards Report

Yesterday, I wrote about evidence of repeated examples of dump trucks leaving the Atlantic Yards site uncovered--violations of the Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments.

I finally got an answer from the Empire State Development Corporation, but it wasn't a very satisfying one, even though it acknowledged that it was not an "isolated incident."

Raising the issue

To recap, on 7/25/11 I contacted the ESDC, pointing to additional evidence of trucks leaving the site without tarps, contradicting the agency's previous assertion that it "appears to be an isolated incident."

I got a response on 7/28/11 that they were working on a response. I followed up on 8/4/11, pointing to two more incidents.

I asked:

These are clearly not isolated incidents, so the question remains: if these are violations--and they sure seem to be--what steps or penalties have been or will be taken?

ESDC response

ESDC spokeswoman Elizabeth Mitchell responded yesterday, 8/5/11:

Once it was brought to ESD’s attention by our environmental consultant that this was not an isolated incident, ESD required FCRC [Forest City Ratner Companies] to work with the contractor to develop a more stringent review and disciplinary process which would result in immediate removal from the site if truckers leave the site with their load uncovered. In the past there has been a two-strike policy where truckers would have to be caught in the act twice before they are removed from the site.

More questions

My follow-up:

  • When did the process go into effect?
  • Is this one contractor, or more than one?
  • Have any truckers been removed? Are those individual drivers, or subcontractors?
  • And isn't it systemic, in a sense: if "Outgoing trucks shall be inspected at the gate," as per the environmental commitments memo, it seems to me there should be some leverage over the firm as a whole, not just the drivers. Does the firm, or whoever's in charge of inspections, face any penalties?

When I get an answer, I'll update this.

link

Posted by steve at 11:08 PM

Sycophantic Daily News real estate correspondent, calling Ratner "charming" and "admirable," deems Beekman Tower something the developer has "given" to New York

Atlantic Yards Report

The percentage of New York Daily News readers who can afford an apartment in Forest City Ratner's Beekman Tower (aka 8 Spruce Street aka New York by Gehry) is rather low--only 13.7% have six-figure incomes, and you need more than $100,000 to afford monthly rents of $3040 for a studio--and a lot more for bigger apartments.

But that didn't stop real estate correspondent Jason Sheftell, in yesterday's Inside Gotham's newest skyscraper, New York by Gehry, from planting Herbert Daughtry-like encomia on developer Bruce Ratner:

Ratner, the building’s developer, dressed in a simple, short-sleeved, pinstriped button down and black pants, is not like other developers who give cities $800 million projects like this one. He’s charming because he’s smart. He’s admirable because he gets things done. He’s controversial because he thinks big. Best of all, he’s human.

“I was riding the elevator the other day, and the person riding up with me kept thanking me,” says Ratner, who developed MetroTech pushing Brooklyn as America’s top downtown destination 25 years ago. “He wasn’t thanking me because he loved living there or loved the building; he was thanking me for the job. A job is the beginning and end of how a person feels about themself. I am thankful we can give jobs, and I’m thankful what this building means to lower Manhattan.”

(Emphases added)

Um, Ratner didn't "give" the project to New York. Rather, Ratner took advantage of Liberty Bonds, allowing tax-free financing without the attendant requirement of affordable housing.

As for the jobs Ratner "gives," well, some Brooklynites are not convinced.

By the way, the article contains no mention of architect Frank Gehry's role in--and removal from--Atlantic Yards.

link

Posted by steve at 11:01 PM

Post: Markowitz gave capital funds to hospital that paid for trip; BP says every hospital gets money; records suggest this hospital did well

Atlantic Yards Report

Now that Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz has pushed back against a ruling that cost him $20,000 in fines from the city Conflict of Interests Board, the New York Post is looking a little more closely at potential quid pro quo activity.

In today's article, headlined Carib junketeer Marty 'repays' favor to hosp, the newspaper reported:

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz delivered more than $2.5 million in capital funds last year to the Brooklyn Hospital Center in Fort Greene -- which paid his way on a Caribbean junket in 2007, The Post has learned.

...One of those trips in 2007 was to the island of Grenada, where the Brooklyn Hospital Center covered airfare and lodging bills estimated at $1,000 to $5,000.

Markowitz listed the purpose of the visit on financial-disclosure forms as: "Promoted intercourse in health-care innovations and Brooklyn as a tourist destination."

He also met with officials of St. George's University medical school, which sends students to the Fort Greene hospital for training.

Every hospital that asks?

The BP's office told the Post pointed out that, since 2007, every hospital in Brooklyn that applied for capital money received an award.

Perhaps, but it looks like the Brooklyn Hospital Center did well. In 2009, the one year for which I have details, two hospitals were funded, at much lower numbers: Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center got $700,000, while Long Island College Hospital got $295,000.

Reasons for concern

However, the Post found a watchdog to say the obvious:

But Dick Dadey, executive director of Citizens Union, called the combination of the freebie trip and the government handout worrisome.

"The capital item for the Brooklyn Hospital may be entirely needed. But in the context of him having visited Grenada on their nickel, it raises questions," said Dadey.

link

Posted by steve at 10:57 PM

Atlantic Yards Un-Watch: new residents of Atlantic Terrace declare construction noise "minimal" (what about other side of arena block?)

Atlantic Yards Report

From an article to be published in the August 7 New York Times Real Estate section about Atlantic Terrace, catercorner to the northeast of the Atlantic Yards arena block, headlined In Brooklyn, Blurring the Wealth Boundary:

Mike Leslie, a transplant from San Francisco who bought the original model penthouse unit with his partner, Michael Richardson, said the fact that there were low-income owners in Atlantic Terrace had not given them pause. The looming issue for the couple was the construction of the arena for the New Jersey Nets going on across the avenue at the Atlantic Yards site, but after determining that construction noise was minimal, they were won over by the 463-square-foot terrace with their penthouse, Mr. Richardson said.

Well, there sure might be construction noise if and when Forest City Ratner starts building directly across the street, as is the plan.

Residents of this new building apparently are fortunate, since residents of Pacific and Dean streets bear the brunt of construction staging and noise, as noted on Atlantic Yards Watch.

Unmentioned in the article is that Atlantic Terrace developers gave up a plan for solar panels when they learned how large the nearby Atlantic Yards towers would be.

Also, the team won't be the New Jersey Nets when they get here.

link

Posted by steve at 10:50 PM

August 5, 2011

Why Do Mayors Love Sports Stadiums?

The Nation
by Neil deMause

A must-read from the expert in sports swindles. And after you read it, send a copy to every one of your elected representatives.

On a busy streetcorner in downtown Brooklyn, the steel girders are starting to rise. After a decade of protests by residents (including local celebrities like Steve Buscemi, Jennifer Egan and Jonathan Lethem) and innumerable lawsuits, developer Bruce Ratner’s vision of a new arena to bring the New Jersey Nets basketball team to Brooklyn—with the aid of about $500 million in city and state subsidies—is taking root, with a scheduled opening in September 2012.

Yet Atlantic Yards, as Ratner has dubbed his twenty-two-acre development project on the edge of the bustling neighborhood of Prospect Heights, won’t look much like the image he first unveiled in 2003. The “Miss Brooklyn” office tower, which was supposed to bring jobs to the community, is gone, a victim of the virtual collapse of New York’s commercial real estate market. Meanwhile, the condo towers that were supposed to provide more than 2,250 units of affordable housing are unlikely to be built anytime soon, if at all. (The latest plan involves a “modular” building, akin to stacking shipping containers thirty-four stories high.) The Nets, meanwhile, are spending two seasons playing in Newark’s Prudential Center, another heavily subsidized building ($200 million fronted by taxpayers) that was supposed to revitalize its surrounding neighborhood but that still rests among the same discount stores and fast-food joints that lined Market Street before the arena opened in 2007.

It’s a story that could have been told in almost any American city over the past two decades. Owners of teams in the “big four” sports leagues—the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL—have reaped nearly $20 billion in taxpayer subsidies for new homes since 1990. And for just as long, fans, urban planners and economists have argued that building facilities for private sports teams is a massive waste of public money. As University of Chicago economist Allen Sanderson memorably put it, “If you want to inject money into the local economy, it would be better to drop it from a helicopter than invest it in a new ballpark.”

article

The article is also cross-posted on the NPR web site under the headline "Stop The Subsidy-Sucking Sports Stadiums."

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, From Neil deMause in The Nation: Why Do Mayors Love Sports Stadiums?

Here's the basic explanation:

Why do new sports facilities have such a hold on local elected officials? The simplest explanation is fear: because team owners can choose new cities but cities can't choose new teams — thanks to the leagues' government-sanctioned monopolies over franchise placement — mayors feel they must offer owners anything they want.

However, as described, most teams don't leave, just use the potential as a threat.

Other justifications: sports facilities serve as monuments to the people who helped get them done. (As we've learned, elected officials like groundbreakings and ribbon-cuttings.)

Consulting firms produce glowing "economic impact studies," leading one public official to comment, "Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that elected officials are much into evidence-based decision-making."

And, deMause also cites "[o]utright manipulation" and increasingly clever financing deals, as with the two baseball stadiums in New York.

Posted by eric at 11:48 AM

Forbes: lucrative TV deal could lead Islanders to Brooklyn, despite smaller arena than desired

Atlantic Yards Report

Tom Van Riper writes in Forbes that, despite the fact that the Barclays Center is designed for basketball, meaning bad sightlines for hockey and a capacity of some 14,000 seats, it's more than likely the arena would become home to the Islanders when the Nassau Coliseum lease expires in three years.
...

The Islanders would be a tenant, so few if any revenue from suite sales and naming rights, Van Riper notes, but the cost would be fixed, the arena's accessible, and then there's "NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman’s preference for market stability."

It didn't convince deMause, but...

In his Field of Schemes blog, Neil deMause linked to Van Riper's piece but was skeptical, writing:

So: Brooklyn Islanders, possible? Yes. Likely? Unless both Chales Wang and the NHL decide that the Brooklyn market is so lucrative that it's worth playing in a substandard arena, don't hold your breath.

But deMause didn't directly address the issue cable TV rights, so let's consider it an open issue. He had previously written:

Add in that being even on the outskirts of the NY media market is worth a bunch in cable and sponsorship dollars - or would be if anyone started paying attention to the Islanders again - and it's hard to see where they'd move to that would be an improvement on staying put and throwing another Nassau arena plan at the wall to see if this one sticks.

link

Posted by eric at 11:39 AM

Brooklyn Islanders May be Closer to Reality

Forbes.com
by Tom Van Riper

...in a fantasy land where arena design, seating capacity and awful sightlines don't matter. More Brooklyn Islanders! mania.

Back in 1999, as the local cable sports landscape was beginning its metamorphosis into team owned stations like the Yankees’ YES Network, the Islanders inked an extension with Cablevision all the way through the 2030-31 season, for rights fees that escalate from roughly $14 million a year initially to a reported $36 million by the last year of the deal. The contract is the Islanders’ most valuable asset, one they’re unlikely to duplicate in another market.

“Basically, you can’t leave the market,” says sports business consultant Marc Ganis. So how do you leave your outdated facility behind without leaving the market and your sweet television deal? Join Mikhail Prokhorov and his NBA Nets at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

article

Related nonsense coverage...

WNYC, Could Brooklyn's Barclays Center Be Future Home for the New York Islanders?

“It actually gives the Barclays Center another avenue for revenue, growth and opportunity, and also helps them fill an additional 41 days on their calendar each and every year,” he said.

However, McDonnell said that putting a hockey rink in Brooklyn does involve some risk.

“The game is a tough product to push these days, especially in New York, where sports fans are over-saturated,” he said.

The Real Deal, Barclays Center could score a hockey team

Now Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark said he would be open to "explore hockey opportunities." With a regulation-size hockey rink the stadium's seating capacity would be reduced to just 14,500 people for hockey games, by far the smallest in the National Hockey League.

Finally, a dollop of sanity...

F**ked in Park Slope, BARCLAYS CENTER BULLSHIT: TRAFFIC & HOCKEY

And just in case you cared, the official word was handed down that the Barclays Center will be housing an ice-rink capable of professional hockey team. Once again scraping the bottom of the barrel, who have they found that might be interested? The New York Islanders. ACCORDING TO ESPN, the teams lease at the Nassau Colesium runs out in 2015 and the team wants a new stadium. This is all speculation of course. Once the Islanders realize it takes 4 hours to get in and out of downtown Brooklyn, they'll probably run screaming.

For all the rest of us who don't care about shitty basketball teams or shitty hockey teams, we are left with shitty traffic... FOREVER.

Posted by eric at 11:25 AM

Not isolated incidents: via Atlantic Yards Watch, more trucks seen to leave project site with material uncovered

Atlantic Yards Report

Though the Empire State Development Corporation on July 22 suggested that a truck leaving the Atlantic Yards site with its contents uncovered was an "isolated incident," the evidence, thanks to Atlantic Yards Watch, continues to mount that it wasn't.
...

On July 25, I wrote about how there appear to have been three additional violations that previous week.

On July 26, I cited three additional episodes over the course of two days.

The latest

Yesterday, two more instances were posted on Atlantic Yards Watch.

link

Posted by eric at 11:19 AM

August 4, 2011

The inconsistency of the New York Times editorial page: Islanders owner should build new arena on his own, but request that Ratner "pay his own way" forgotten

Atlantic Yards Report

Is the New York Times editorial page consistent when it comes to public subsidies for sports facilities? Of course not.

An editorial in yesterday's New York Times was headlined Voters Nix $400 Million Hockey Tix:

Voters in Nassau County, showing far better sense and grasp of arithmetic than their elected leaders, have rejected a scheme to raise their taxes so their county could borrow $400 million to build a new hockey arena.

The Times, sounding like it's channeled the collected works Neil deMause, observes:

1. The deal stunk. That’s usually so when governments throw money at sports teams. Mr. Mangano was asking for a 4 percent tax increase, an estimated $14 to $58 more a year per household, in return for gauzy promises of new jobs and tax revenue...

...3. If [Islanders owner] Mr. [Charles] Wang needs a new arena, let him build it. Last we checked, professional sports was still a private (and highly lucrative) business, not a public utility.

What happened to "Mr. Ratner should pay his own way"?

All well and good, but the Times is not exactly consistent. Remember the newspaper's stance in a 3/27/05 editorial headlined A Triple Play for New York Teams:

But the city and state are each supposed to contribute $100 million to build streets and sidewalks and prepare the site for development. That's unnecessary: Mr. Ratner should pay his own way.

(Emphasis added)

That position was forgotten in all subsequent editorials.

article

Related content...

The New York Times, Voters Nix $400 Million Hockey Tix

Posted by eric at 10:30 PM

Labor ripples: concrete workers agree to negotiate through August 16; carpenters agree to strke if new contract not reached by August 15

Atlantic Yards Report

From Crain's New York Business today, Concrete workers return, but carpenters OK strike:

Concrete workers, who walked off their jobs at the World Trade Center and other sites Monday, agreed to return to work Thursday and extended their deadline for a new deal to August 16...

Meanwhile, delegates of the second largest construction union in the city, the 25,000-member District Council of Carpenters, voted unanimously Wednesday night to authorize their union to strike if agreement on a new contract isn't reached by Aug. 15...

Workers picketed outside the Atlantic Yards arena site on Monday, August 1, but did not do so on Tuesday.

link

Posted by eric at 10:05 PM

BEE and the Nets: a metaphorical Atlantic Yards moment in Fort Greene Park, at the National Night Out Against Crime event

Atlantic Yards Report

On Tuesday, August 2, I visited Fort Greene Park for the National Night Out Against Crime event sponsored by the 88th Precinct and the precinct's Community and Youth Council.

I wandered by the table occupied by a representative of Brooklyn Endeavor Experience (BEE), the Community Benefits Agreement signatory whose leader, Delia Hunley-Adossa (also president of the Council), has distinguished herself by leading Forest City Ratner rallies.

What BEE gave out

What exactly does BEE do? You couldn't tell at the table. There were raffle tickets and gift bags, information about a law internship for teens at a community court in Brownsville, bags of potato chips, and handouts for a BEE-branded credit card that shares fees to support the organization.

I picked up the paper handouts, took a look, and, as I was about to leave the table, was offered a parting gift by the cordial volunteer: a Brooklyn Nets keychain (also on sale on Ebay for $5, as shown below).

The message seemed to be: BEE is connected to the Nets. Which it is, in a sense, as the organization has almost exclusively received financial support from Forest City Ratner.
...

BEE, which acquired the broadly meaningless name after first being known as the (limited to one building) First Atlantic Terminal Housing Committee, has never (publicly, at least) fulfilled its CBA obligations.

It was supposed to form a working group for "community input" regarding environmental issues on the project.

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NoLandGrab: BEE, or BEE ESS?

Posted by eric at 12:09 PM

Sorry, Islanders: Brooklyn Nets arena still too small for hockey

Field of Schemes
by Neil deMause

Some cold water for the purveyors of "Brooklyn Islanders" nuttiness.

The only problem, as sharp-eyed FoS readers will remember (or as even dull-eyed Village Voice readers will, since I just wrote about it there on Tuesday): In order to save money, Brooklyn arena builder Bruce Ratner "value engineered" the Barclays Center to have a floor too small for hockey, essentially requiring that thousands of seats be ripped out to make room for a playing surface twice the length of a basketball court.

The Brooklyn Paper's headline was based on the same canned statement by Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark as I cited in my Voice piece.
...

The Brooklyn Paper pegs the number of seats lost at 3,500 (no source given), which would give the arena the smallest capacity in the NHL. More to the point, as I noted in the Voice (thanks in part to a tip from an FoS reader), squeezing an NHL rink into a structure built for basketball could create some seriously ugly sightlines, as happened when the Phoenix Coyotes tried a similar scheme at America West Arena a bunch of years back.

Add in that the Islanders would be tenants of the Nets at the arena, and would probably be expected to pay rent (they'd be taking up nights that could otherwise be used for Lady Gaga shows and the like, after all), and it starts sounding like a less tempting opportunity.
...

So: Brooklyn Islanders, possible? Yes. Likely? Unless both Charles Wang and the NHL decide that the Brooklyn market is so lucrative that it's worth playing in a substandard arena, don't hold your breath.

article

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Hockey in Brooklyn? deMause sees through the hype

Posted by eric at 11:54 AM

GAME CHANGER! Professional hockey could be coming to Brooklyn

The Brooklyn Paper
by Aaron Short

No, professional hockey is not coming to Brooklyn. For the record, it is far more likely that Bruce Ratner returns to the taxpayers the hundreds of millions of our cash he's received than it is that the Islanders will ever call the Barclays Center home.

Barclays Center officials now say that the Prospect Heights sports arena will be able to host a professional hockey team — a flip-flop that comes days after Nassau County voters rejected a new home for the struggling New York Islanders.

Developer Forest City Ratner originally intended to include hockey as a possible use for the under-construction $1-billion home for the Brooklyn-bound Nets, but the icemen were banished when the arena was redesigned two years ago to cut costs.

“We hope to explore hockey opportunities in the future,” Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark said this week, though quickly adding, “[but] our primary focus at the moment is to build the best sports and entertainment venue in the world.”
...

The venue is designed to hold 18,000 seats for basketball, but its capacity for hockey games would only be 14,500 seats, about 1,750 seats less than the Nassau Coliseum. It would be the smallest arena in the National Hockey League.

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NoLandGrab: And because the Barclays Center was designed expressly for basketball, a good number of those remaining seats would have terrible sightlines.

But don't let the facts stop the madness:

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn Islanders?

Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov is currently keeping a safe distance from rumors that the Barclays Center would be a perfect landing spot for the troubled Islanders after Monday’s “No” vote from the Nassau County Board of Elections rejected owner Charles Wang’s plan for a near arena on Long Island.

“As before, [Prokhorov has] no interest in pursuing the purchase of another sports team at this time,” said the Russian billionaire’s spokesperson in a statement Tuesday.
...

Yormark was quick to fend off reports that the Barclays Center wasn’t built to host NHL games this week.

“Barclays Center will have an ice rink that can support professional hockey,” Yormark said via e-mail.

Gothamist, The Islanders Playing Hockey In Brooklyn? Hey, It Could Happen

In addition, they'll likely have some competition from Seattle, Suffolk County, Quebec City, and another borough who are in the market for a sports franchise: Queens! Jack Friedman, executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, told the News that they were hoping to create a sports complex with the Islanders, Mets and U.S. Open. "I really believe this is the time for Queens County to open up their arms," he said.

All About Fifth, Islanders in Brooklyn?

Of course, it didn't take long for the local press to start talking about the Islanders' options, including moving into the controversial Barclays Center, currently being built at the end of Fifth Avenue for the New Jersey Nets.

So, what do you think? Can we support a hockey franchise? Is it better to get the most use out of the arena (even if we hate it) or is the extra traffic not worth the hassle?

The Local [Fort Greene/Clinton Hill], The Day: Islanders Eye Brooklyn

Looks like we might get yet another new sports team.

Posted by eric at 11:32 AM

A partial loophole in Forest City Ratner's plan to hire an Independent Compliance Monitor for the CBA, but the developer still hasn't fulfilled its obligation (and backers are quiet)

Atlantic Yards Report

I should revise my analysis of Forest City Ratner's obligations under the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) to hire an Independent Compliance Monitor (ICM).

I wrote 11/29/10 that Forest City Ratner lied about CBA, claiming it went into effect only when the arena broke ground, and avoided hiring an ICM. I stand by that overall critique. The CBA went into effect shortly after it was signed in June 2005.

However, in terms of hiring an ICM, a footnote in an RFP (Request for Proposals) gave the developer slack until shortly before the groundbreaking, thus contradicting the language (likely) and spirit (clearly) of the CBA.

Even with that slack, however, Forest City Ratner has evaded its obligation, leading to regular situations, as I've described, in which the developer publicly self-reports on compliance with the CBA.

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Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Beyond the over-hyped CBA: Bloomberg announces new plan to address jobs and training for young black and Latino men; response includes a good measure of skepticism (too little, too late?)

Once upon a time, Atlantic Yards and its Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) was portrayed as solving a decent chunk of social problems in Brooklyn. Actually, that was pretty recent; then-Governor David Paterson, at the March 2010 arena groundbreaking, declared, “As the buildings rise on Atlantic Yards, the joblessness rate will fall here in Brooklyn.”

Maybe a somewhat comprehensive strategy is necessary.

A front-page article in today's New York Times, Bloomberg to Use Own Funds in Plan to Aid Minority Youth (or in print "City Campaign Seeks to Lift Young Black and Latino Men"), reports:

The administration of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, in a blunt acknowledgment that thousands of young black and Latino men are cut off from New York’s civic, educational and economic life, plans to spend nearly $130 million on far-reaching measures to improve their circumstances.

The program, the most ambitious policy push of Mr. Bloomberg’s third term, would overhaul how the government interacts with a population of about 315,000 New Yorkers who are disproportionately undereducated, incarcerated and unemployed.

Posted by eric at 11:22 AM

Concrete workers ordered back to work, including at arena site, but union said to plan appeal

Atlantic Yards Report

From Crain's New York Business today, Ruling: Some WTC workers can't strike: An arbitrator late Tuesday ordered striking concrete workers back to their jobs at four sites across the city, ruling that their walkout violated a no-strike provision in labor agreements covering the projects.

The order covered walkouts at Madison Square Garden, the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, World Trade Center Tower 2 and a luxury residential development on West 57th Street. A separate hearing is set for later today on the walkout at a new Weill Cornell Medical College research center on East 69th Street.

...A source close to the building trades said the Cement and Concrete Workers District Council would appeal the ruling. The source said the union's counsel was not properly notified about Tuesday's hearing and therefore did not know about it in time to show up. Had officials known about the hearing, they would have argued that the no-strike provision was no longer in effect because the workers' contract expired at the end of June.

link

Posted by eric at 11:18 AM

Nets Pushing "Billion Dollar Arena"

NetsDaily

Few things could be more offensive in this time of high unemployment and an economy on the brink than touting how expensive your shiny new (heavily subsidized) arena is — especially when you're failing to live up to your promises for jobs.

Enter Bruce Ratner.

It may not be the "world's most famous arena" (it's really just a marketing slogan), but it will be the "world's most expensive arena" (although the Knicks might note its "transformation" costs almost as much as Barclays). It may not be the "Mecca" of basketball, but it will be the "Taj Mahal" (so says Avery Johnson). Get it?

The Nets are indeed promoting that Barclays will be the world's first billion dollar arena. In a city of big, bigger and biggest, that could catch on. "All together, interest, taxes, everything, it's a billion dollars," Bruce Ratner told an NY1 reporter earlier this month.

link

Related coverage...

Construction Digital, The NBA Comes to Brooklyn

We stopped reading halfway through the seventh paragraph, where they ascribed the arena design to Frank Gehry.

Posted by eric at 11:04 AM

August 3, 2011

Journalism of verification? Times Public Editor concurs that confirmation by Nets/Ratner (without document or Barclays) sufficient to report naming rights deal still worth "nearly $400 million"

Atlantic Yards Report

The Times, they're not a-changin'.

Is the Barclays Center naming rights deal really worth "nearly $400 million," as the New York Times reported 7/19/11? There are many reasons for doubt.

However, as in the past, the office of the New York Times Public Editor, the independent, newspaper-paid readers' representative, has given its blessing to the Times's inadequate reporting.

In this case, the Public Editor accepted as sufficient evidence assertions by the New Jersey Nets and Forest City Ratner, despite much circumstantial and documentary evidence that the deal was worth less, including a report by an FCR-commissioned consultant valuing the deal at $200 million, the loss of architect Frank Gehry, and two renegotiations.

Worse, the Public Editor's office, failing to understand the basic nature of deal, told me that the Times had "checked with both parties involved in the transaction," the Nets and Ratner.

Actually, I responded, those two are one side of the deal; the counter-party is Barclays Capital.

Was that taken seriously? No. I was blown off.

So much for the "journalism of verification," the distinguishing factor, according to Times Executive Editor Bill Keller, between his newspaper's work and bloggers' journalism of "assertion."

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NoLandGrab: In which case, we can surely expect a Times front-page story any day now about the 15,000 construction workers building the Barclays Center — as verified by Bruce Ratner and Brett Yormark.

Posted by eric at 9:07 AM

On August 11 at Galapagos, my (brief) lecture: "Why Atlantic Yards Makes Me Angry (and Makes Me a Better Journalist)"

Atlantic Yards Report

On August 11, at the Galapagos Art Space in DUMBO (directions), I'll be participating in the "Get Smart" lecture series. Doors open at [updated times] 6:30 pm and the event starts at 7:30 pm.

The title of my talk is "Why Atlantic Yards Makes Me Angry (and Makes Me a Better Journalist)".

(The entrance fee is $20. I expect to have some free tickets, and will announce later in the week if they're available.)

Here's one example of something that sparked my anger and pushed me to do a better job: the New York Times's inadequate coverage of the Barclays Center naming rights agreement, and my unsuccessful effort, at least with the newspaper's Public Editor, to challenge the claim that the deal is still worth "nearly $400 million."

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Posted by eric at 9:01 AM

What the Long Island Vote Means for the Islanders (and NHL Fans)

Grantland
by Katie Baker

The vote returns had scarcely been counted by the time many settled on that most universal of solutions: "Move to Brooklyn!"

With a brand new arena rising in Atlantic Yards that will soon hold the Brooklyn         s, it seems like an obvious fit. But fit is actually exactly the problem: the arena's original design was tweaked (as these things always are) to lower costs, and the result is less than ideal. The ice surface could be regulation size, but so many seats would have to be taken out to make it so that the arena would end up with the smallest capacity in the league. And the Isles would be the Barclays Center's lowly second tenant. Those are worrisome limitations for a franchise trying to forge a fresh start.

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Posted by eric at 8:54 AM

Thief loots car — then asks victim to call the cops

The Brooklyn Paper
by Thomas Tracy

Looks like Bruce Ratner needs to employ some Parking Lot Protectors in addition to Target's Pocketbook Protectors.

Mall menaces

At least two crimes took place at the Atlantic Center Mall last week. Here’s what happened:

• A thug busted his way into a 2011 Toyota in the parking lot on July 27, taking a laptop computer he found inside.

The owner of the car parked his vehicle inside the Atlantic Avenue lot at 4:05 pm. When he returned nearly two hours later, he learned that someone had smashed his side window and removed a bag holding his computer.

• A 22-year-old man was arrested on July 25 after he tried to buy more than $9,000 in electronics — including five iPads — from the Best Buy inside the Atlantic Center Mall with a fraudulent credit card.

The man was arrested as soon as an employee learned that the credit card he had been reported stolen.

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Posted by eric at 8:47 AM

Lies, Damn Lies, and Developers

The L Magazine
by Ross Barkan

Marching past the skeletal shadow of the rising Barclays Center, Carl Patterson roared that he was sick of broken promises. "We are tired of 'once upon a time,'" he yelled through a megaphone. "We want our dreams to come true now."

Patterson, a community activist in Brooklyn's 35th Council district and the self-proclaimed "Puerto Rican Al Sharpton," led a group of more than 40 protesters on a recent mid-week morning, marching near the construction site as a police car crept alongside.

People for Political and Economic Empowerment, which organized the protest, was once a vocal supporter of the Atlantic Yards development. But now the organization, which helps train and place hard-to-employ people like ex-convicts in jobs like construction, says that local construction workers aren't getting the jobs they were promised.
...

"In this country, there's two ways to do things: one is through litigation, and the other is through fisticuffs," said Robert E. Cornegy, Jr., the Bedford-Stuyvestant district leader. "Hopefully, the litigation will be enough. I don't think they understand how difficult it is for people in certain communities to eat, feed their families, and do everything."

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NoLandGrab: Damn, why hadn't we thought of that — fisticuffs!

Posted by eric at 8:33 AM

August 2, 2011

With demolition of a family shelter, the last existing residences in the Atlantic Yards footprint will be eliminated

Atlantic Yards Watch

Forest City Ratner Company is in the process of demolishing 603 Dean Street, one half of the 94 unit residential family shelter formerly known as the Pacific Dean Annex. The shelter's residences are the last to be demolished in the project footprint.

In the 2006 FEIS, the ESDC estimated 171 residential units and 410 residents would be directly displaced by the project. That number did not include the shelter's family residences.
...

When it was closed in January 2010, the public was told the shelter would be demolished soon thereafter. Residents were given roughly a month to move during the Christmas holiday period. According to shelter officials at the time, no relocation assistance was provided to the shelter residents by the developer. BrooklynSpeaks sponsors raised funds to alleviate moving costs for the families.

link

Video: N. Wayne Bailey

Posted by eric at 11:08 PM

Concrete workers still negotiating with Cement League; no pickets this morning at Atlantic Yards site

Atlantic Yards Report

Yesterday, there was a job action outside the Atlantic Yards arena, with workers holding picket signs and refusing to work, though no official strike has been called.

When I visited the site at about 9 am today, there were no pickets. Does that mean they were back at work? I don't know for sure, but will update when I know more.

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Posted by eric at 11:05 PM

Progress Moves Along at the Barclays Center

A monthly photo essay documenting the construction of the Atlantic Yards development and the Barclays Center, which the Brooklyn-bound New Jersey Nets will soon call home.

Park Slope Patch
by Kristen V. Brown

Installation on the arena’s sfaçade has begun and work on the arena’s frame is nearly complete. Demolition and excavation still continues on the Long Island Railroad/Vanderbilt Yard side of the site.

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Photo: Kristen V. Brown

Posted by eric at 10:58 PM

Are the Islanders Moving to Brooklyn Now or What?

Runnin' Scared
by Neil deMause

Everyone's favorite critic of publicly funded sports facilities weighs in on the Nassau Coliseum fallout.

​So Nassau County held its vote on the $400 million New York Islanders arena plan yesterday, and for team owner Charles Wang things went about as well as ... it's tempting to say "as well as a typical Islanders game," but that'd be cruel. In any case, the final vote was 57-43% against funding a new arena (plus a new minor-league baseball stadium for an as-yet nonexistent Atlantic League team) with a 4% property tax hike, one that just might have been illegal.
...

The question, though, is where the Islanders would go? CBSSports.com runs down the likely leading candidates, marking Brooklyn, Quebec City, Kansas City, Houston, Seattle, Milwaukee, and Hamilton as the front-runners. But each option comes with significant hurdles.
...

Brooklyn's new Barclay Center, the home of the Nets starting next year that is rapidly taking shape atop the ghost of Freddy's, has been widely talked up as a prospective landing place for the Islanders: It's new, and it's easily accessible by Long Island Rail Road if you don't mind the change at Jamaica. Unfortunately, as part of developer Bruce Ratner's plan to downsize the Brooklyn arena's budget, he shrunk the arena as well — to the point where the floor is now far too small to accommodate an NHL rink. (The Post reported today that the Barclays would be an "NHL-regulation size arena," but they appear to be talking about seating capacity, not floor size.) Tearing out the lower seating bowl and rebuilding it to fit hockey might be feasible, but would no doubt be pricey.

(Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark tells the Voice in an emailed statement: "The Barclays Center will have an ice rink that can support professional hockey. Due to the venue's design, the capacity for hockey would be a few thousand seats less than for basketball. While we hope to explore hockey opportunities in the future, our primary focus at the moment is to build the best sports and entertainment venue in the world." Which doesn't answer much about what "can support" means — would it end up like the old America West Arena in Phoenix, with some seats that couldn't see the nets? — and Yormark didn't respond to questions about cost.)

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Posted by eric at 2:13 PM

With voters defeating bond for Nassau Coliseum, a big boost for the Barclays Center (if no new plan in Long Island emerges)

Atlantic Yards Report

Nassau County voters (those that bothered to turn out), given an actual opportunity to weigh in on the public funding of a new arena for the NHL's Islanders, resoundingly rejected a proposed $400 million bond issue.

Barclays Center promoters got a big boost with the defeat yesterday by Nassau County voters (well, about ten percent of them) of a bond measure to replace the Nassau Coliseum, home of the hockey Islanders and numerous concerts and shows.

While it's possible some new plan may arise to house the team, or refurbish the building, where the Islanders have a lease until 2015, the demise of the Coliseum, with no replacement, would divert events to other venues.

The closest? The Barclays Center, accessible to many Long Islanders via the Long Island Rail Road. So, even without the Islanders, the Barclays Center would gain.
...

The package for the Atlantic Yards project, of course, was never put to a vote, nor presented as starkly, as tax breaks and direct subsidies were spread among city, state, and federal taxpayers.

The vote yesterday, scheduled on a summer Monday rather than Election Day, drew only about ten percent of voters--likely those motivated pro and con.

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Meanwhile, let the ridiculous speculating about the Brooklyn Islanders resume.

Related coverage...

The Brooklyn Blog [NYPost.com], Nassau nix leaves door open for Islanders move to Brooklyn

For some time, officials overseeing the planned Barclays Center being built for the NBA’s Nets in Brooklyn have said the arena would be too small for NHL hockey.

However, arena officials yesterday confirmed the Barclays Center will be fitted with an NHL-regulation size arena when it opens in Sept. 2012, although they declined comment on potential interest in the Islanders.

The arena holds 18,000 seats for basketball, but some seating would have to be removed to accommodate hockey. Sources said the arena could hold about 14,500 seats for hockey.

Marty Markowitz, who, surprisingly, was not on an illegal foreign junket, had two cents left over after his recent $20,000 fine:

"If they come here, I would personally take the first spin on the Zamboni."

NoLandGrab: No doubt accompanied by Jamie.

Yahoo! Sports, After voter rejection, Islanders to Brooklyn noise pollution

NetsDaily, With Islander Arena Voted Down, Is Barclays Center A Possibility?

Posted by eric at 1:37 PM

From the latest Construction Alert: more late shifts, plus a plan to begin deliveries at 6 am through the entire arena construction period

Atlantic Yards Report

Feeling like life is dull around the Atlantic Yards footprint, and things are a little too sleepy for your liking? Consider your prayers answered by the "angel sent from God."

According to the latest two-week Atlantic Yards Construction Update (below, dated August 1) and prepared by developer Forest City Ratner and issued by the Empire State Development, there exists significant potential for second- and third-shift work at around the project site.

Also, the main contractor, Hunt Construction, has requested a permit to allow for deliveries to the arena site beginning at 6 am, rather than at 7 am, though arena completion in fall 2012. The rationale?

This work allows for an additional hour of deliveries to take place outside the neighborhood peak traffic patterns and reduce congestion and interference with the local traffic. The permit response is expected to be received this period. If granted, the intention is to continue to permit deliveries during this timeframe through to completion of the Arena.

There's certainly a logic, from the construction standpoint, since it would speed work. However, given that trucks can be noisy, and have idled in the neighborhood before official delivery hours, such a change could lead to significant disruption in the lives of neighbors.

That plan was not disclosed in the Final Environmental Impact Statement.

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Posted by eric at 1:28 PM

For A Film-making Couple, A Battle to Make “The Battle”

Hawley and Galinsky spent nearly a decade on their acclaimed documentary about the Atlantic Yards development

The Brooklyn Ink
by Andie Pak

In the cold of December 2003, Michael Galinsky fetched his camera and raced out of his Brooklyn home. He had just returned from the grocery store, and there, on a bulletin board, a flier announced community opposition to a proposal to build the largest development in borough history.

What Galinsky started filming that day became “Battle for Brooklyn,” a documentary about the community fight, still raging, against the Atlantic Yards development. The film specifically focuses on the fight of one resident, Daniel Goldstein, to keep from losing his home through eminent domain.

“Every time we make a film, the subject matter could be describing us,” said Suki Hawley, 42, who is both Galinsky’s co-director and wife.

“It’s about what’s right,” Galinsky, 42, said of making the film. “It’s that this is wrong, and I don’t agree with it.”

Galinsky filmed for six and half years, a Canon XL1 mounted on his shoulder. Then Hawley edited for a year, with her younger daughter often on her lap. All along, David Beilinson produced, doing everything from conceptualizing, graphics, posters, tracking down old footage to making arrangements to add the helicopter shots that became the opening sequence of the film. The three are partners of Rumur, Inc., a multimedia company based in Brooklyn.
...

Reviews have called the film a “must-see,” “a 21st century addendum to the troubling modern history of eminent domain use,” and praised its “heart, soul and chutzpah” and the filmmakers’ years of dedication to telling the story fairly and deftly. The film has received acclaim from the Wall Street Journal, New York Daily News, New York Times, Rooftop Films, Filmmaker Magazine, and NPR, among others.

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Posted by eric at 1:13 PM

Atlantic Yards Watch: Tracking Daily Impacts

Urban Omnibus
by Norman Oder

In April 2006, recognizing how blogs had sprung up in response to the controversial Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, The New York Times suggested the development “may well be the first large-scale urban real estate venture in New York City where opposition has coalesced most visibly in the blogosphere.”

More than five years later, Atlantic Yards continues to provoke web innovation, with the advent of Atlantic Yards Watch, not a platform for opposition but a self-described “community-based initiative to protect the health and livability of neighborhoods” impacted by the now-under-construction Barclays Center arena and the planned 16 towers. While the arena is the only project building under construction, demolition, utility and railyard work continue, as well as construction staging and development of a massive surface parking lot.

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Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, From Urban Omnibus: Atlantic Yards Watch: Tracking Daily Impacts

Posted by eric at 1:07 PM

Atlantic Yards Project Causes Traffic Woes

NY1

New Atlantic Yards traffic patterns are thus far a big hit with motorists.

Drivers at a busy Brooklyn intersection are dealing with a new traffic pattern because of the ongoing Atlantic Yards project.

Vehicles going north on Fourth Avenue can no longer turn left on Flatbush.

The idea was to reduce traffic tie-ups, but residents said Monday that it's making the problem worse.

"I would say the whole situation we have going on with the new sports stadium and the rerouting of the traffic and everything is a whole mess. It's terrible,” said one resident. “I'm a native of Flatbush, Brooklyn, and I hate it. I hate the whole Atlantic Yards project, it’s just a travesty."

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Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Upon first implementation, traffic changes at Fourth Avenue and Pacific Street are apparently confusing drivers

It's too soon to tell the full effects of the Forest City Ratner-devised, Department of Transportation-accepted plan to divert northbound traffic on Fourth Avenue so drivers can't make a left on Flatbush Avenue, but initial reports indicate confusion and frustration.

Drivers heading west must go left on Atlantic and right on Third Avenue to reach Flatbush, while those heading to the area around Atlantic Terminal must make a right on Pacific Street, which has reversed direction, then a hard left at Pacific Street.

Atlantic Yards Watch, An eventful morning around the Barclays Center construction site

During an overlapping period this morning, a major piece of Sam Schwartz's traffic mitigation plan was tested against weekday traffic for the first time, a job action disrupted construction work at the arena, and a lane of traffic on Atlantic Avenue was closed in order to conduct random radiation tests.

Brownstoner, New AY-Area Traffic Change Slowing Traffic?

Posted by eric at 12:45 PM

Incident Report Saturday documents steel deliveries to Barclays Center that ignore ESDC's published truck regulations and appear to violate NYC law

Atlantic Yards Watch

Another day, another example of Forest City's utter disregard for the law.

The video above from Saturday shows a Barclays Center construction-related truck disobeying both NYC traffic laws and the ESDC's published truck rules on Pacific Street between 6th Avenue and Carlton. The truck crosses the 6th Avenue intersection while the north/south traffic on 6th Avenue has a green light, attaches a load waiting in the travel lane and then drives against traffic to block 1129.

This one truck trip is part of a series of steel deliveries on Saturday that were not consistent with either the Barclays Center Truck Rules and Requirements made public by the ESDC, or NYC traffic law.

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Posted by eric at 12:28 PM

Markowitz on wife Jamie: "I ask her if I've made right decisions."

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder still can't get over Marty Markowitz's hyperbolic boosterism, but in Oder's defense, is there really any Brooklynite more tedious than Markowitz?

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, defending his flouting of a directive not to let his wife Jamie take freebies, tells New York Post columnist Cindy Adams, in Markowitzes two peas in a pod: "It's foreign to me not to have her. I need her. She's got a great sense of what's important. I ask her if I've made right decisions. Yin to the yang, she's my life. My soul mate."

Um, did Jamie agree that, as Markowitz said on video, "Brooklyn is 1000 percent--1000 percent behind Atlantic Yards"?

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Posted by eric at 12:22 PM

August 1, 2011

Concrete Workers Strike at Atlantic Yards

The workers picketed in front of the site as part of a citywide concrete strike.

Park Slope Patch
By Kristen V. Brown

For the second time in less than a week, on Monday morning construction workers rallied outside the looming Barclays Center construction site.

About half of the 25 union concrete workers from the Atlantic Yards site picketed at the site entrance at Sixth Avenue and Pacific Street, joining a citywide strike that members of the Cement and Concrete Workers District Council have threatened ever since the contract covering the workers expired on July 1.

Since then, cement workers have continued work at the Atlantic Yards site without a contract, pouring the site’s concrete floors, but today they said “enough.”

“We’re going to stand out here as long as it takes,” said one union member, who declined to give his name due to fears of retaliation. “They don’t want to let us work for a decent wage.”

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Posted by eric at 10:46 PM

When it comes to Nassau Coliseum coverage, Times reporters express skepticism for sports facility projections, give prominence to critic saying emphasis on sports distracts from real estate deal

Atlantic Yards Report

Today's Times article, $400 Million Plan on Nassau Coliseum Goes to Vote, contained a couple of astonishing paragraphs.

First, a declaration, sans caveat, that projections are generally overblown:

As cities like Cincinnati, Houston and Seattle have learned, the construction of stadiums and arenas almost always costs more than expected, rarely produces the economic benefits initially promised and can saddle local governments with tens of millions of dollars in debts, driving holes through budgets.

Ok, so why did that Times, at the arena groundbreaking last year, uncritically quote outlandish statements about Atlantic Yards benefits?

The article closes with a gimlet-eyed view of what's at stake:

“[Islanders owner Charles] Wang wants to make money and [County Executive Ed] Mangano wants to save the Islanders,” said Clifford B. Sondock, the president of the Land Use Institute, which opposes the project. “Ed and Charles have made this an issue of the Islanders when it is really a real estate deal.”.

And what about "Jobs, Housing, and Hoops"?

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Posted by eric at 10:09 PM

Citywide concrete workers strike affects Atlantic Yards arena; job action apparently delays pouring of superstructure concrete

Atlantic Yards Report

Hmm, maybe Forest City will (need to) hire some of those guys protesting at the arena site last week after all.

A long-threatened citywide strike of concrete workers began this morning, including picketers at the Atlantic Yards site, thus apparently stalling some critical work on the arena, notably the pouring of superstructure concrete.

About a dozen workers picketed, and a representatives said they were about half the 25 union concrete workers at the site, down from a peak of nearly 50.

It was the second job action in less than a week outside the gate to the Barclays Center site at Sixth Avenue and Pacific Street, Last week, in an unrelated event, mostly non-union workers condemned the lack of local hiring and contracting.

Forest City Ratner may have special interest in ensuring that the strike gets settled, or an agreement is reached with the contractor for this job site. The arena, unlike an office residential building, must open by the fall of 2012 for the NBA season. (As of now, it's ahead of schedule, but weather and unpredictable events such as strikes could cause delays.)

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Posted by eric at 2:21 PM

A Story of Three Arenas: Of Sports, Money and Democracy

MetroFocus
by John Farley

Why does the mixture of sports and building incite such furious debate?

The current dispute over whether to replace the aging Nassau Coliseum has elicited significantly more controversy than most big development projects, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise to Tri-state residents. Similar controversies have consumed the planning and construction of two other arenas in recent years: Atlantic Yards’ Barclay Center in Brooklyn and Newark’s Prudential Center in New Jersey. MetroFocus looks at why these projects, which pit the public’s love of sports against its fear of economic waste and exclusionary political processes, continue to get built.
...

The Atlantic Yards project is perhaps the most glaring example of arena-mania bumping awkwardly up against the democratic process. The project began in 2003 when developer Forest City Ratner announced its plan to build a $2.5 billion development featuring affordable housing and a new arena that would bring the New Jersey Nets to Brooklyn. Since then, an organized opposition claims that a small group of powerful politicians teamed up with wealthy corporate interests to bypass the city’s public land review process and used illegal eminent domain procedures to force residents from their homes. Daniel Goldstein of the opposition group Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn has called the project “a corrupt land grab” and “a failure of democracy.”

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NoLandGrab: At least Nassau County voters get to have their say about a new Coliseum. On a Monday. In August. With some uncertainty over polling locations.

Posted by eric at 2:13 PM

New Traffic Patterns Cause Confusion Near Atlantic Yards Project

CBS New York

Some drivers in Brooklyn were left scratching their heads around the Atlantic Yards project after new traffic patterns went into effect Monday morning.

The most significant change is an end to northbound traffic on the one block of Fourth Avenue between Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues.
...

“Yet more problems in Brooklyn,” one driver said.

“I like to go straight, it’s more easier,” another driver said.

Click thru for the audio, replete with honking horns.

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Posted by eric at 2:03 PM

The Week in Crime: Wheelchair Stolen and Daylight Robberies

The Local [Fort Greene/Clinton Hill]
by Susan Rohwer

Maybe Best Buy and Old Navy can borrow a couple Pocketbook Protectors from Target — though they haven't had much success in protecting pocketbooks there, either.

Atlantic Terminal Thefts

  • A total of $2,000 was stolen from the cash registers at Best Buy on Atlantic Avenue between June 4 and July 18, said police. Brandon Stafford, 25, has been arrested and charged with petit larceny in connection with the thefts at Best Buy, said police. Mr. Stafford was arrested at the store on July 19 at 10:25 p.m., according to the police report, which did not say whether Mr. Stafford is an employee at Best Buy.

  • A man tried to walk out of the Old Navy on Atlantic Avenue with $1,016 worth of merchandise that he had not paid for on July 20, police said. That day at 2 p.m. Gabriel Garcia, 41, was arrested at the store and charged with petit larceny, according to the New York State Unified Court System website.

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Posted by eric at 1:55 PM

Battle For Brooklyn — Opens At Cable Car Saturday

Providence Daily Dose

Attention, all our Rhode Island readers!

Opening this Saturday at the Cable Car Cinema — the documentary Battle for Brooklyn, a film about overly ambitious developers, greedy politicians in search of a luxury box to call their own, and the perverting of eminent domain’s original intent.
...

These sports arena projects are not turning into great revenue generators for their cities, in fact just the opposite is true in many cases. Just ask the taxpayers of Cincinnati about their swell new arena (WSJ 7.12.11). Happily, ideas for plopping the Patriots right down in the middle of Providence never got any real traction. Only two showings of this movie are scheduled so far — Saturday at noon, and Sunday at 4pm.

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Posted by eric at 1:44 PM

Down the rabbit hole: federal agency says immigrant investors in EB-5 program can get credit for all the jobs created or saved; critic suggests most EB-5 investments "are of much lower quality"

Atlantic Yards Report

I'm still waiting for more media outlets to latch on to the absurdity of the federal EB-5 program, which is exploding as immigrants seeking to buy their way into the country hook up with entrepreneurs who devise plans that aim to meet the letter, if not the spirit, of a vaguely defined law.

Remember, the $500,000 from each immigrant investor, which gains green cards for the investor and his/her family, is supposed to generate ten jobs.

In the case of Atlantic Yards, no new jobs would be created, but Forest City Ratner's raising $249 million from 498 investors who've been told, misleadingly, that they're investing in an arena.

Most people, learning that wealthy foreigners can buy their way into the country, are taken aback that the program even exists. I focus on whether the letter and spirit of the law are being followed, and whether there's sufficient oversight.

And, as noted below, critic David North suggests that most EB-5 investments are of lower quality than other deals on the open market, which makes sense, since the lure is not financial return but green cards.

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Posted by eric at 10:14 AM

Supporters turn on Atlantic Yards project

Joseph's Blog

The Daily News reported (“New Ratner foes as jobs ‘up in smoke,’” 7/28/11) that people who once supported the Atlantic Yards development in downtown Brooklyn are criticizing it because of the low number of construction jobs.

Borough residents who are not already construction union members cannot get jobs for the project. A Ratner spokesman said the company still expects more jobs to be added, especially by the time the arena and 16 towers are done.

I think this is exactly what Ratner deserves. The project was too good to be true and detrimental to the area to begin with. Hopefully, the project is crippled so much that it is called off completely and the area gets developed to the benefit of those who live and work there.

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Posted by eric at 10:10 AM

Residents Divided Over New Nassau Coliseum Proposal

CBS New York

Hey, just what Nassau County taxpayers need! A $400 million "investment" in a hockey arena.

Monday’s special election will decide the fate of the project. Voters will decide if the county should borrow $400 million for a new Nassau Coliseum and a minor-league baseball stadium.

Islanders’ owner Charles Wang says he’ll move the team without a new arena.

There's a threat.

“Nassau County is effectively bankrupt. They have too much debt. They can’t pay their bills. So it flies in the logic of them going to borrow $400 million to build a stadium,” said Clifford Sondock of the Land Use Institute.

The plan with interest would cost each homeowner about $58, though County Exec. Ed Mangano estimates it will cost homeowners $13.80, based on revenue sharing from sales, hotel and entertainment taxes, and the creation of more than 1,500 construction jobs and 3,040 permanent jobs.

Hmm, these promises seem vaguely familiar.

“I’m a resident in East Meadow, near the coliseum, love hockey, I don’t want to pay for it,” said resident Irwin Kahn.

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Posted by eric at 10:03 AM

Owner Profiles: Atlantic Division

HoopsWorld
by Jason Fleming

New Jersey Nets – Mikhail Prokhorov

Ownership Group: Prokhorov owns an 80% stake in the Nets. Bruce Ratner, the previous owner, has the majority of the remaining 20%, with the rest owned by Sean "Jay-Z" Carter.
Purchase Price (year): $260 million (2010)
2010 Forbes Valuation: $312 million
2010 Forbes Revenue: $89 million
Education: Bachelor's, State Institute of Moscow
...

Notable Team Achievements: The Nets won just 12 games in 2009-10, but doubled that total to 24 in 2010-11.

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NoLandGrab: Wow, doubled their win total! Impressive. Unless Prokohrov bought out all the other minority owners brought in by Ratner, there should be numerous other names on the list of ownership stakes.

Posted by eric at 9:54 AM