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September 30, 2011

Trucks still idle improperly at Atlantic Yards site, move from Pacific Street "No Standing" zone to Atlantic Avenue "No Standing" zone

Atlantic Yards Report

We fully expect to be relaxing in our Martian colony, watching a hologram about the last case of cancer, before Forest City Ratner and the ESDC enforce their own truck rules around the Atlantic Yards construction site.

Well, someone managing work at the Atlantic Yards site has been reading Atlantic Yards Watch. And they've apparently decided that, if they're going to continue to flout city parking rules by idling trucks in the early morning, it's better to do it on a non-residential street.

But Atlantic Yards Watch contributors are still watching.

In other words, the dump trucks that for weeks have for weeks been idling on Pacific Street between Sixth and Carlton avenues, occupying a "No Standing" zone, yesterday appeared (above) on Atlantic Avenue, occupying a "No Standing" zone between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues.

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Posted by eric at 12:53 PM

Comic: Gladwell Goes HAM

HoopSpeak.com
by Anthony Bain

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Posted by eric at 12:41 PM

Malcolm Gladwell, in Grantland, gets the Atlantic Yards big picture: "a man buys a basketball team as insurance on a real estate project"

Atlantic Yards Report

Well, New York Daily News sports columnist Mike Lupica was right all along, writing 11/13/05:

If Caring Bruce Ratner is still the owner of the Nets in five years, I'll eat my hat.

...He doesn't want the team.

He never really did.

He wants the land.

After the March 2010 groundbreaking, Lupica commented, "It was a hustle in broad daylight by Caring Bruce Ratner from the start."

Enter Gladwell

That same sentiment comes from New Yorker writer and Grantland contributing editor Malcolm Gladwell, in a 9/26/11 essay in the latter headlined The Nets and NBA Economics: David Stern would have you believe the Brooklyn-bound franchise embodies everything wrong with the league's finances. It's not true.

His conclusion:

The rich have gone from being grateful for what they have to pushing for everything they can get. They have mastered the arts of whining and predation, without regard to logic or shame. In the end, this is the lesson of the NBA lockout. A man buys a basketball team as insurance on a real estate project, flips the franchise to a Russian billionaire when he wins the deal, and then — as both parties happily count their winnings — what lesson are we asked to draw? The players are greedy.

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Related coverage...

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, It's A Tipping Point: Malcolm Gladwell Nails Bruce Ratner on His Trojan Horse Nets

Malcolm Gladwell is about eight years late to the party nonetheless he has penned a must-read column revealing the bogusness of Bruce Ratner the Basketball Man, and how his toying with the Nets exemplifies the absurd notion that NBA owners are suffering financially.

The main point, which has been one of our mantras since DDDB's inception, is that Atlantic Yards has never been about basketball.

Rainman Suite, Even Malcolm Gladwell Thinks Bruce Ratner Is A Scumbag

Malcolm Gladwell wrote a piece on Grantland about the scam Bruce Ratner pulled on New York to get his massive development built in Brooklyn under the guise of moving the Nets and helping the community. It’s been under-the-radar for a long time but I think this is the most informative article I’ve read about the subject.

NoLandGrab: Under-the-what?! You must have missed our 18,000 or so posts on the subject.

Posted by eric at 12:27 PM

The Tragedy of Urban Renewal: The destruction and survival of a New York City neighborhood

Reason Hit & Run
by Jim Epstein and Nick Gillespie

New York City has a long, shameful history of neighborhood destruction under the guise of "civic projects." Take six minutes and watch this video.

In 1949, President Harry Truman signed the Housing Act, which gave federal, state, and local governments unprecedented power to shape residential life. One of the Housing Act's main initiatives - "urban renewal" - destroyed about 2,000 communities in the 1950s and '60s and forced more than 300,000 families from their homes. Overall, about half of urban renewal's victims were black, a reality that led to James Baldwin's famous quip that "urban renewal means Negro removal."

New York City's Manhattantown (1951) was one of the first projects authorized under urban renewal and it set the model not only for hundreds of urban renewal projects but for the next 60 years of eminent domain abuse at places such as Poletown, New London, and Atlantic Yards. The Manhattantown project destroyed six blocks on New York City's Upper West Side, including an African-American community that dated to the turn of the century. The city sold the land for a token sum to a group of well-connected Democratic pols to build a middle-class housing development. Then came the often repeated bulldoze-and-abandon phenomenon: With little financial skin in the game, the developers let the demolished land sit vacant for years.

The community destroyed at Manhattantown was a model for the tight-knit, interconnected neighborhoods later celebrated by Jane Jacobs and other critics of top-down redevelopment.

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Posted by eric at 12:19 PM

What can be done during the next month of jackhammering? Waiting for answers

Atlantic Yards Report

Two days ago, I queried Empire State Development, the state agency in charge of Atlantic Yards.

I pointed them to an Atlantic Yards Watch posting:

I have filed numerous 311 noise complaints about the jack hammering going on between 10pm and at least 4am every evening for the past 5 weeks. I can't sleep. I had a guest leave my apartment at 3am a few weeks ago to stay in a hotel because of the jack hammering.
This exception to the construction noise rule should not have been approved for jack hammering that goes on for hours on end every single night. It is torture for those of who live in the area.
I have also written to Community Boards 2 and 6. If someone doesn't put a stop to this, I will either have to have my windows soundproofed or move.

The jackhammering, as CB 2 District Manager Robert Perris told the complainant, is mandated to be done at night by the city Department of Transportation.

Forest City Ratner executive Jane Marshall, at an Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meeting last week, likened it to a dentist's appointment that would be over after a month or so.

But Forest City Ratner was to pay for soundproofed windows on certain blocks in the vicinity of the project site.

"Is there any plan/option for FCR to pay for additional soundproofing, as they were required at least for certain areas?" I asked two days ago.

I'll update this when I get an answer.

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Posted by eric at 12:07 PM

Top Markowitz aide Scissura positioning himself for Borough President; does he agree with his boss that "Brooklyn is 1000 percent behind Atlantic Yards"?

Atlantic Yards Report

Four more years of Marty? Shouldn't term limits apply to clones, too?

City Hall News reported 9/28/11:

Carlo Scissura is taking another step toward running to replace his boss Marty Markowitz as Brooklyn borough president. The beep’s chief of staff is stepping down from that job to become a special advisor instead, taking a $15,000 pay cut to $124,000, with some of his responsibilities transferred to other staff members. The move frees him from the restrictions that bar top city officials from raising campaign money or doing other overtly political acts. Scissura, who declined to comment, received Conflicts of Interest Board clearance for the move. Markowitz will not replace him as chief of staff.

In other words, Scissura likely will function in several ways as chief of staff, but without the title--for more than two years.

Fundraiser tomorrow

He's holding a fundraiser tomorrow, with one of hosts Andrew Steininger, capital budget/economic development specialist at Borough Hall, and another Sharon Davidson of the North Flatbush Business Improvement District.

(Note how Scissura, in the picture, is wearing a "Brooklyn" pin the way Markowitz does.)
...

Some baggage

City Hall News noted that Scissura's political baggage includes his willingness to represent Markowitz when his bought a house--a conflict of interest that led both to be fined this year.

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NoLandGrab: Now there's change we can believe in — a pro-land grab, anti-bike lane, ethically challenged Borough President.

Posted by eric at 11:56 AM

"Jay-Z Rocks the House"? Brooklyn Paper stays sunny side up

Atlantic Yards Report

The Brooklyn Paper, ever eager to boost Atlantic Yards, this week informs us that "JAY-Z ROCKS THE HOUSE."

Well, maybe he will when he plays the Barlcays Center next year, but his promotional presentation on 9/26/11 lasted less than two minutes, and was, in the words of a Times hoops writer, "brief and anticlimactic."

I called it "an anticlimax for news," too.

Of course the Brooklyn Paper didn't bother to report on the curious statements made by developer Bruce Ratner or Borough President Marty Markowitz.
...

Or the meeting Empire State Development CEO Kenneth Adams had that same night with Brooklyn elected officials.

Or the glaring discrepancy between the rules that trucks at the Atlantic Yards site are supposed to follow and their actual performance.

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Posted by eric at 11:48 AM

Crime is out of control in Fort Greene

The Brooklyn Paper
by Kate Briquelet

...and you can bet Bruce Ratner is doing his part.

On Target

Cops arrested a wannabe pickpocket at the Flatbush Avenue Target on Sept. 25.

The 37-year-old thief was in the frequently burglarized store near Atlantic Avenue at 4:15 pm when she plucked a mobile, credit cards, iPod, and cosmetics from a woman’s bag left in a shopping cart. But a witness saw it all happen and police seized the cutpurse as she tried to leave the store.

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Posted by eric at 11:44 AM

September 29, 2011

What ESDC must do now to make Atlantic Yards work for Brooklyn

Brooklyn Speaks

Construction of the Barclays Center arena is moving ahead, but the completion of Phase I and all of Phase II of the Atlantic Yards project risks being significantly delayed. Sadly, the promises of jobs, economic vitality for the area, income for the City of New York, affordable housing, and open space all seem unlikely to be realized for decades, if not generations.

BrooklynSpeaks and Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn want successful development of the Atlantic Yards site. We want what the State and City want: the economic development, the jobs, and the public benefits that a healthy development can provide—not in the 25 years now understood by all as being likely, but within the next few years as needed.

The project’s present path won’t lead us there. Although economic conditions may be discouraging for development, it is the project plan itself that is the constraint. Conceived at a time when financing was readily available and the market was ripe for a large new development, the project was planned from west to east, merging the difficult and expensive site development with the easy. As a result, the project plan has burdened what is feasible with that which has become infeasible, and risks bringing development to a halt. The project’s dependence on luxury housing hampers forward movement and adds exposure to market fluctuations that might otherwise be avoided.

In most ESDC projects, flexibility and managing risk are part of the plan. Without altering the intent or spirit of the Atlantic Yards project, ESDC should now consider pragmatic changes that will foster success and accelerate its benefits.

  • Build first on currently developable parcels, deferring the costly Vanderbilt Yards platform.
  • Develop affordable housing in the manner and context of recent successes nearby.
  • Open the development to additional teams in order to distribute the investment, the risk and the total work effort.
  • Bring the community and its elected representatives to the table so we can all work together and win.

link

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, A caution on that BrooklynSpeaks/DDDB press release: wouldn't deferring railyard development prolong blight?

On Monday, before the community meeting with Empire State Development CEO Kenneth Adams, BrooklynSpeaks and Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) issued what I think was their first-ever joint press release, headlined What ESDC must do now to make Atlantic Yards work for Brooklyn.

It was very much BrooklynSpeaks language--DDDB never wanted to make "Atlantic Yards work for Brooklyn" but rather to stop the project. So perhaps it was an exercise in pragmatism.

The recommendations, including opening up the project site to additional developers, would require ESD to amend the project plan and numerous contract documents.

There's never been any sign of the political will to do so. If the state wanted to ensure that the project gets done without opening it up to additional developers, it could have impose tougher deadlines and fines to push Forest City Ratner.

Gentle deadline

And the joint recommendation to defer development on the railyard because of a costly platform--which the developer already has 15 years to start--implicitly endorses that gentle deadline to which the state agreed.

In other words, everyone now seems to agree that the railyard, the most prominent claim to blight on the oddly-drawn Atlantic Yards footprint, can remain a blighting influence.

(Astonishingly, FCR in March 2009 told the Empire State Development Corporation that "the vast majority" of benefits for the community would be "entirely realized in the remote circumstance of MTA's default scenario," in which no platform were built.)

Posted by steve at 2:27 PM

Sept. 29, 1957 | New York Giants Play Last Baseball Game

The Learning Network via The New York Times

This blog entry moves from some history of the New York Giants to the issue of public funding for professional sports venues. The Atlantic Yards fight is invoked.

After years of contentious debate and protest, an arena at Atlantic Yards near downtown Brooklyn is under now construction. It will be the new home of the National Basketball Association’s New Jersey Nets, who will be officially renamed the Brooklyn Nets. Just this past summer, Nassau County voters rejected a proposal to finance a new arena for the National Hockey League’s Islanders.

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Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, The Times's Learning Network flubs Atlantic Yards: three errors in two sentences (but then fixes it)

The Learning Network, which on the New York Times website "provides teaching and learning materials and ideas based on New York Times content" for teachers and students, didn't do a very good job in its initial mention today of Atlantic Yards, part of Sept. 29, 1957 | New York Giants Play Last Baseball Game.

But give them credit for fixing it quickly.

It stated:

After years of contentious debate and taxpayer protest, an arena at Atlantic Yards in downtown Brooklyn is under now construction. It will be the new home of the National Basketball Association’s New Jersey Nets, who on Monday were officially renamed the Brooklyn Nets.

My comment

I commented that there were three factual errors.

First, while those protesting are (like most people) taxpayers, it's not a "taxpayer protest" as usually understood: people exercised by increased taxes associated with the project. Rather, there's opposition to the project's environmental impact and the perception of sweetheart deals granted the developer Forest City Ratner, which also built the new Times Tower with the New York Times Company.

Second, the arena's not in downtown Brooklyn. It's near Downtown Brooklyn. (The Times has published several corrections on this.)

The distinction is worth making--for example, Downtown Brooklyn was actually rezoned for increased development, while the Prospect Heights site for Atlantic Yards was not rezoned, but instead subject to a state override of zoning on behalf of developer Forest City Ratner.

Third, the team can't be officially renamed the Brooklyn Nets until it moves to Brooklyn. There's one more season left. Jay-Z announcing the name change on September 26 does not mean it's done.

Posted by steve at 2:17 PM

Screening: Battle for Brooklyn (2011, USA, 93 min.)

BMW Guggenheim Lab

Saturday, October 1, 2011, 2–4 pm

The critically acclaimed film Battle for Brooklyn is an intimate look at the community fight against the Atlantic Yards megaproject. Filmed over seven years, it follows opposition leader Daniel Goldstein, whose home sits in the way of the proposed basketball arena. Tackling issues of urban planning, eminent domain, community, and the nexus of developers and government, the epic tale will open your eyes and put you on the edge of your seat.

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Posted by steve at 2:14 PM

Getting Near to Holly Near: Performing This Saturday at First Acoustics (with John Bucchino and special guest Linda Tillery)- Plus Notes on Empire

Noticing New York

This blog post begins with musical matters and then moves to thoughts about a contemporary musician, Jay-Z.

But if you want your bad guys pure and straight up bad in their “empire”-building we suggest you direct your attention where gangsta-rap music star Jay-Z directed his attention this week: Atlantic Yards, the Bruce Ratner mega-monopoly. Jay-Z has been given a small piece of the action in Ratner's mega-monopoly to act as a front man dutifully providing ripped-off-the-Teleprompter PR statements centered around unbelievable stories about job creation and similar fictions. Talk about “contrived.”

The problem is that the bad empire-building behavior Jay-Z is supporting is not happening at a safe remove in a by-gone historical era. The damage he is contributing to is going on now in real time. The only good thing good about the fact that it's happening in real time is that this means a conscious and objecting public has options to do something about. Insisting that Ratner's monopoly be broken up and bid out to competing developers would be a good first step in the things to be accomplished. Ensuring that subsidies are fair and minimal with diminished density would be some other good things to accomplish.

...

Jay-Z showed up at the press event this week to announce that the Ratner/Prokhorov basketball team, the New Jersey Nets now in New Jersey are being renamed the “Brooklyn Nets.” The team, of course, along with jay-Z, have are being used to justify Ratner’s land grab, receipt of huge public subsidies and override of laws and the community.

But the only elected representative at the event was Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. All other politicians stayed away, although Ratner is still very much reliant on the Bloomberg and Andrew Cuomo backing he gets in the background.

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Posted by steve at 2:05 PM

Downtown Brooklyn Partnership Exec Headed To State Development Corp.

Fort Greene-Clinton Hill Patch
By Paul Leonard

Despite its civic-sounding name, the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership is representative for developers. After years of being a cheerleader for Atlantic Yards, DBP head Joe Chan is rewarded with a post with the Empire State Development Corporation.

Joe Chan, head of Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, will step down from his post after years of overseeing the neighborhood's transformation from a underutilized outpost to a thriving retail and residential center.

Chan, a resident of Fort Greene, leaves DBP to become vice president of development at Empire State Development, the agency overseeing some of New York's biggest construction projects, including Atlantic Yards.

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Posted by steve at 1:58 PM

September 28, 2011

Two views of the Barclays Center hypemasters: smiling, and grimacing

Atlantic Yards Report

Before the big announcement Monday, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, on his Facebook page, posted Paul Martinka's photo of himself (center), Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner (left), and superstar Jay-Z.

The same day, Tracy Collins captured Jay-Z and Nets/Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark looking a little tense.

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Related coverage...

Gothamist, The Time Jay-Z Posed With Marty Markowitz And Bruce Ratner

The newly rechristened Brooklyn Nets are really serious about using Jay-Z as the face of their brand while the Barclays Center continues to rise over the Atlantic Yards. And you know what that means? Stupendously fantastic photo ops, like the one above. Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz (or whoever runs his Facebook page) captioned this "'Looking up' to Jay-Z (along with Bruce Ratner) outside Barclays Center" but we suspect that you can do better. Have at it in the comments!

Posted by steve at 11:26 AM

Atlantic Yards Project Director Arana Hankin: project remains on schedule (despite trending slower), trucking procedures "a work in progress" (despite continued violations)

Atlantic Yards Report

After the cordial but not very productive community meeting on Atlantic Yards Monday with underinformed Empire State Development (ESD) CEO Kenneth Adams, I approached him and Atlantic Yards Project Director Arana Hankin with a few follow-up questions.

Adams listened briefly, but cordially--and not without reason--begged off to greet some of the elected officials who, after all, are his bosses.

...

I asked Hankin if the arena was on schedule, given the efforts at expensive after-hours work, unresolved discrepancies reported by a construction monitor, and, as discussed at the meeting with Adams, talk of a "recovery schedule," a construction term used to specific accelerated work.

...

Given that Forest City Ratner now has a hard deadline of September 2012 to open the arena, I suggested that community impacts come more into focus.

After all, at the Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meeting on September 22, a Forest City Ratner executive said revamped trucking procedures were "very effective" in reducing the number of trucks inappropriately idling on a residential block--but that it wasn't working at all, as documented by Atlantic Yards Watch, again and again.

(For example, in this screenshot from a video taken that morning from Pacific Street looking west, the empty truck in the foreground is illegally parked, and the tractor-trailer in the intersection, poised to go into the arena site but not flagged in, is causing southbound traffic on Sixth Avenue to veer left into the northbound lane.)

“Like I’ve always said, it’s a work in progress," Hankin responded, repeating her mantra. "We constantly nag Forest City Ratner every day to make sure that they improve their game and modify their plan. They’ve already changed the way they manage the trucks at least five times.”

I asked about the first-ever "notice of violation" sent about a month ago to Forest City, giving them 30 days to comply with the state's Memorandum of Environmental Commitments. What did the developer say?

“They said they’re amending the truck rules and regs again,” Hankin said.

It still hasn't been working, I pointed out.

"Like I said, it’s a work in progress," Hankin responded.

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Posted by steve at 11:21 AM

Atlantic Yards Watch identifies narrower traffic capacity on Sixth Avenue, points to bottleneck for vehicles and pedestrians

Atlantic Yards Report

Here the news from the latest Atlantic Yards Watch posting, 6th Avenue to have fewer travel lanes than's analyzed in the 2006 environmental impact statement:

  • Sixth Avenue was supposed to have four lanes, but now would have three from Atlantic to Pacific and two from Pacific to Flatbush
  • Given increased traffic circulation, congestion "may" be increased (I'd say likely)
  • It's unclear if the change is permanent, because future mitigations may be imposed
  • The state analysis overstated the effective width of the narrow sidewalks on Sixth Avenue south of Dean Street
  • To create additional travel lanes, the sidewalks would have to be narrowed further
  • The sidewalks likely will be heavily used as a route to the arena from Flatbush Avenue and the Bergen Street 2/3 station

My analysis: residents of those blocks will bear the brunt of increased vehicles and pedestrians--and it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to accommodate both.

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Posted by steve at 11:16 AM

From the latest Construction Alert: some residents to lose water service temporarily; Flatbush Avenue will lose a lane at night

Atlantic Yards Report

According to the latest two-week Atlantic Yards Construction Alert (below), dated September 25 but distributed yesterday by Empire State Development (after preparation by developer Forest City Ratner), some residents around the 4th Avenue and Flatbush Avenue intersection will lose water service temporarily--but it's unclear how long and how extensive that shutdown will be.

Also, the document indicates that bollard installation--pending Department of Transportation approval (hearing October 5)--is on the way. Also, additional lane restriction on Atlantic Avenue is planned, and from 10 pm to 6 am a lane on Flatbush Avenue will go out of service.

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Posted by steve at 11:12 AM

From New York magazine: more skepticism toward the Barclays/Nets' claim that they funded a playground renovation

Atlantic Yards Report

From this week's New York magazine (dated Oct. 3), Intelligencer section, another piece of skepticism towards the Barclays/Nets' claim that they had funded a playground in Canarsie. I had the news on 9/20/11, but didn't get a credit.

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Posted by steve at 11:05 AM

Is Keeping the Name ‘Nets’ a Net Loss for Jay-Z and Brooklyn?

The New York Observer

“I asked for two things out of my partners in ownership is that we rename the New Jersey Nets the Brooklyn Nets, and the second one is that I open it with a concert,” Shawn Carter said at a press conference in front of the under-construction Barclays Center yesterday, which made official the team’s name.

Really Jay? One of the best lyricists in hip-hop history, and the best you could come up with was the Brooklyn Nets?

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NoLandGrab: Really New York Observer? With all the issues around Atlantic Yards, the best you could come up with is a discussion of the name "Nets"?

Posted by steve at 11:02 AM

Beyond the Hype of Jay-Z's Brooklyn Nets Announcement

Huffington Post
By Norman Oder

Fueled by hype that began last Friday -- "Cultural Icon Shawn 'Jay-Z' Carter" would make a "significant announcements" regarding the Barclays Center arena in Brooklyn and the "borough's future NBA team," the media turned out in droves Monday for a heavily-managed press conference in Brooklyn across from the under-construction arena.

...

But there were reasons to look deeper. Malcolm Gladwell, in a Grantland essay on the NBA lockout coincidentally published the same day, pointed to the enormous profit the team and arena owners -- Mikhail Prokhorov and Bruce Ratner, mainly -- stand to make.

Michael Galinsky, co-director of the documentary Battle for Brooklyn, which portrays the not-so-seemly machinations behind the project, stood outside the event trying to get the press to recognize that the developer's promises of jobs and housing have come to little.

He got few takers, but those of us listening to developer Ratner noticed that, while making vague promises of jobs at Atlantic Yards -- where 16 promised towers have yet to be built -- he proudly offered statistics about jobs in the malls nearby he developed -- projects completely unrelated to Atlantic Yards.

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Posted by steve at 10:50 AM

September 27, 2011

Genial ESD CEO Adams meets with community members, gets praised for showing up, says state solidly supports Forest City, opposes governance entity, admits he has much to learn

Atlantic Yards Report

Despite the general air of mutual cordiality and the non-defensiveness expressed by Empire State Development (ESD) CEO Kenneth Adams, the meeting last night which allowed Adams to meet with Brooklynites concerned about Atlantic Yards was somewhat odd on multiple levels.

First, the meeting for weeks was billed as an invitation-only affair, with questions to be submitted beforehand and to be delivered via elected officials.

However, just hours before the meeting, held at Brooklyn Borough Hall, ESD opened up the meeting to the press. (Besides me, the only other reporter to attend from the Daily News, and she left early.) During the meeting, community members were allowed to ask direct questions.

Second, though Adams was accompanied to the meeting by no fewer than seven ESD staffers, he pre-empted questions by saying he was "really here to understand." When faced with specific queries, he offered genial promises to look into things, rather than canvassing colleagues for an answer.

For example, Adams said he wanted to get more details about the community-sponsored UNITY plan, which would divide the site into multiple development parcels, as well as the developer’s specific obligations to get the project done.

Surely someone in the room could have told him that his agency long ago dismissed the UNITY plan, during the environmental review. Also, while several people, including Council Member Letitia James, said a 25-year project buildout was unacceptable, that’s exactly what the ESD negotiated.

Not discussed was that a state judge had slammed his agency for failure to study the impacts of an buildout that could last 25 years--and, rather than accept those decisions, the ESDC is appealing them (nonetheless while conducting a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement).

Bottom line

Still, the fact that Adams, a longtime Brooklynite who knew a reasonable slice of the 25 or so invited representatives and elected officials, had shown up was considered a major step forward, given the failure of any of his predecessors to hold such a meeting.
...

But Adams’ bottom line, delivered in his friendly manner, was unswerving: the state supports Forest City Ratner and believes the project will get done as promised.
...

It also was curious to see project opponents like Daniel Goldstein of Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) and Eric McClure of Park Slope Neighbors/No Land Grab question Adams cordially, and get cordial, if somewhat brush-off answers in response.

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NoLandGrab: We didn't think about it at the time, but yes, that was kind of surreal.

Posted by eric at 1:18 PM

What ESDC must do now to make Atlantic Yards work for Brooklyn

BrooklynSpeaks

BrooklynSpeaks and DDDB yesterday issued what Atlantic Yards Report believes is their first-ever joint press release.

Construction of the Barclays Center arena is moving ahead, but the completion of Phase I and all of Phase II of the Atlantic Yards project risks being significantly delayed. Sadly, the promises of jobs, economic vitality for the area, income for the City of New York, affordable housing, and open space all seem unlikely to be realized for decades, if not generations.

BrooklynSpeaks and Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn want successful development of the Atlantic Yards site. We want what the State and City want: the economic development, the jobs, and the public benefits that a healthy development can provide—not in the 25 years now understood by all as being likely, but within the next few years as needed.

The project’s present path won’t lead us there. Although economic conditions may be discouraging for development, it is the project plan itself that is the constraint. Conceived at a time when financing was readily available and the market was ripe for a large new development, the project was planned from west to east, merging the difficult and expensive site development with the easy. As a result, the project plan has burdened what is feasible with that which has become infeasible, and risks bringing development to a halt. The project’s dependence on luxury housing hampers forward movement and adds exposure to market fluctuations that might otherwise be avoided.

In most ESDC projects, flexibility and managing risk are part of the plan. Without altering the intent or spirit of the Atlantic Yards project, ESDC should now consider pragmatic changes that will foster success and accelerate its benefits.

  • Build first on currently developable parcels, deferring the costly Vanderbilt Yards platform.
  • Develop affordable housing in the manner and context of recent successes nearby.
  • Open the development to additional teams in order to distribute the investment, the risk and the total work effort.
  • Bring the community and its elected representatives to the table so we can all work together and win.

link

Posted by eric at 1:11 PM

6th Avenue to have fewer travel lanes than analyzed in the 2006 environmental impact statement

Atlantic Yards Watch

The 2006 Atlantic Yards Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) assumed 6th Avenue would be widened between Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues in order to "facilitate traffic circulation at the project site and provide an alternative route for traffic diverted as a result of the closure of 5th Avenue between Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues." (FEIS, 12-65) [PDF]

However, it has emerged this summer that 6th Avenue from Flatbush to Atlantic will not be widened at the time of the arena opening as described in the FEIS. Instead, not only will there be fewer north-south travel lanes at the time of the arena opening than analyzed in the FEIS, there will actually be fewer north/south travel lanes through the project footprint than existed before the street closures that created it in 2010.

The change will surely affect traffic circulation around the arena block, and congestion in the vicinity of the arena may be increased....

It is unclear if the change is temporary or permanent.

article

Posted by eric at 1:06 PM

How the New Jersey Nets are like Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”

Billy Paultz Reconsidered
by Mike Gross

Terrific piece here from Malcolm Gladwell on the NBA lockout, and especially the colorful recent business history of the New Jersey Nets.

Gladwell’s overarching point here, and in a previous piece on Grantland, is one I’ve made many times. Pro sports teams are not businesses. They are luxury goods like works of art, yachts, Ferraris or Italian Villas.
...

Consider the Nets’ situation, in which the previous owner, Bruce Ratner, wanted the team as part of a mega-real estate arena project in Brooklyn. A competing offer to buy the property from the city, from a developer named Gary Barnett, would have used less land, been far less intrusive to the existing neighborhood, and would have resulted in just apartment buildings. No arena. No Nets.

Oh: And Barnett’s offer was triple Ratner’s.

Gladwell: “Barnett lost. He never had a chance. He wanted to build apartments. Ratner was restoring the sporting glory lost when the Dodgers fled for Los Angeles.”

article

Related coverage...

Nets Are Scorching, Gladwell on the Nets and NBA Economics

That said, you don’t need financial expertise to detect BS from billionaires, and Ratner laid it on thick today about youth — citing the prospect of a child seeing their first circus at the Barclays Center as his driving inspiration. Come on, Bruce. If this didn’t give you the opportunity to make boatloads of money, you wouldn’t do it. I’m sure that Barclays will do a lot for kids, but it’s not about them.

The sad truth, though, is that Ratner can always pretend otherwise. We can paint him as a greedy, dirty billionaire as much as we want (fair or not), and he’ll remain a billionaire. That’s the game. I’d just rather watch a different one.

NoLandGrab: It's small consolation, but Bruce Ratner, while rich, is by all reports worth considerably less than a billion dollars.

Posted by eric at 12:57 PM

#128553 Jack hammering EVERY NIGHT

SeeClickFix

This one might be beyond the abilities of SeeClickFix.

Street Address:
590 Atlantic Ave Brooklyn, NY
Boerum Hill

Tags: Noise Complaint
Status: Open

I have filed multiple noise complaints with 311. Every night (except when it rains!) jack hammering begins around 10pm and goes on through the wee hours of the morning. I have to turn on my a/c unit in the bedroom just to muffle the noise. It's difficult to sleep. I live on Pacific St. near 4th Ave. and it seems that this construction project (roads? cable company? no idea) is exempt from the 6pm-7am law prohibiting loud construction. Why? There are many apartment buildings in the area. I had a guest in my apartment leave in the middle of the night to stay in a hotel. This must stop. It's inhumane.

link

NoLandGrab: Why? Because Bruce Ratner has an arena to build.

Posted by eric at 12:49 PM

2011 Jay-Z media event

threecee via flickr

September 26, 2011
Atlantic Terminal Mall
Atlantic Avenue at Fort Greene Place
Fort Greene, New York

link

Posted by eric at 12:42 PM

City Caps Boerum Hill

South Brooklyn Post
by Nicole LaRosa

Local artist Therese Urban fought against the Atlantic Yards development. She’s grateful that the new zoning will keep the rising towers of Downtown Brooklyn out of Boerum Hill.

“Having a lovely neighborhood that has been cared for for 150 years is an important thing in America and it’s an important thing in Brooklyn,” said Urban, 67, a Boerum Hill Association member who raised four children in the leafy enclave.

“There’s a place for everything—in its place.” She welcomes new larger buildings on 3rd and 4th avenues but insists that preserving the charm of the residential streets brings a cohesiveness that was lacking in the area disrupted by the new Barclay Arena stadium.

article

Related content...

Forbes, The Downzoning Uprising and the Fight Against Density

Similar resistance has emerged across the entire city, where Mayor Bloomberg has aggressively rezoned more than a fifth of its land. Last week, the city council voted unanimously to downzone a swath of Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. Prompted by the sting of the Atlantic Yards development, the neighborhood turned to downzoning, becoming the eighth brownstone Brooklyn pocket to do so in recent years. It was a move, the neighborhood association leader told the Brooklyn Paper, “to keep Boerum Hill feeling like a small neighborhood.”

Posted by eric at 12:34 PM

The Brooklyn Nets and The Barf: No News Is...No News

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Not everyone buys the hype, however.

We'll happily let others cover today's non-news news event. That would be the Atlantic Interminable Mall press get-together with "Cultural Icon Shawn 'Jay-Z' Carter," eminent domain abuse icon Bruce Ratner, insomnia icon Brett Yormark and hearty handshake and obsolescence icon Marty Markowitz, where the hip hop star announced that after putting their heads together they've decided that the New Jersey Nets would become the...Brooklyn Nets, and that he'd do a few shows at the arena when it opens. (How is it news that the .3% owner of the team will perform in the team's new home? It would be news if he didn't.)
...

We're also betting that there won't ever be a big press event to announce the fulfillment of 10,000 jobs or 2,250 "affordable" housing units.

link

Related coverage...

'An I Heard 'Em Say, Sure Jay-Z’s Rich, But He’s Still a Pawn for Really, Really Rich Dudes

And it's not just the usual suspects who aren't buying it.

First, while many are celebrating the arrival of the Nets, they forget that an entire community was essentially evicted to make way for the stadium and Atlantic Yards complex using some very sketchy eminent domain law. Simply put, a lot of every rich and powerful people, lead by real estate developer Bruce Ranter, got together, realized they could make a shit ton of money and tossed out everyone already living there to make room.

Gladwell’s piece is largely about the economics behind the NBA lockout – it’s ridiculous for teams like the Nets to claim they’re losing money and blame players when they’re involved in multi-billion dollar real estate deals – but what really caught my eye was this brief mention of Hova. Here’s Gladwell on Bruce Ratner’s plan to use the Nets, and Jay-Z, to procure some rack on racks on racks:

“Ratner knew this would not be easy. The 14 acres he wanted to raze was a perfectly functional neighborhood, inhabited by taxpaying businesses and homeowners. He needed a political halo, and Ratner’s genius was in understanding how beautifully the Nets could serve that purpose. The minute basketball was involved, Brooklyn’s favorite son — Jay-Z — signed up as a part-owner and full-time booster.”

What really struck me about that paragraph is that while the hip-hop sphere tends to treat Jay-Z like the most powerful man on Earth, it’s a reminder that he’s really just the most powerful man in hip-hop, which really isn’t that powerful. Although a completely willing, and extraordinarily well-payed pawn, Jay’s essentially being used as a pawn here by real estate moguls, Russian billionaires and New York politicians with more money and power than Jay could ever dream of.

Posted by eric at 12:24 PM

More Non-News About the Brooklyn (Same-Old) Nets and Jay-Z

The Brooklyn Paper, Jay-Z confirms that he’ll christen the Barclays Center

Park Slope Patch, Jay-Z To Kick Off Barclays Center Opening In 2012

The Wall Street Journal, Jay-Z Wants You to Meet the Brooklyn Nets

NY1, Rapper Jay-Z Announces Barclays Concerts

NY Post, Jay-Z says team to be renamed Brooklyn Nets

And we saved the best for last. OMG!

NY Post, Jay-Z will design jersey for new-look Brooklyn Nets

He’s not only part-owner of the soon-to-be Brooklyn Nets — he’s helping design their uniforms, too.

Posted by eric at 11:47 AM

September 26, 2011

The Nets and NBA Economics

David Stern would have you believe the Brooklyn-bound franchise embodies everything wrong with the league's finances. It's not true.

Grantland
by Malcolm Gladwell

Speaking of must-reads, here's one from Malcolm Gladwell, who does his best impression of Toto pulling back the curtain on the Great and Powerful Bruce's big Monday morning press conference.

Here's an excerpt — but be sure to read the whole thing.

Ratner has been vilified — both fairly and unfairly — by opponents of the Atlantic Yards project. But let's be clear: What he did has nothing whatsoever to do with basketball. Ratner didn't buy the Nets as a stand-alone commercial enterprise in the hopes that ticket sales and television revenue would exceed players' salaries and administration costs. Ratner was buying eminent domain insurance. Basketball also had very little to do with Ratner's sale of the Nets. Ratner got hit by the recession. Fighting the court challenges to his project took longer than he thought. He became dangerously overextended. His shareholders got restless. He realized had to dump the fancy Frank Gehry design for something more along the lines of a Kleenex box. Prokhorov helped Ratner out by buying a controlling interest in the Nets. But he also paid off some of Ratner's debts, lent him $75 million, picked up some of his debt service, acquired a small stake in the arena, and bought an option on 20 percent of the entire Atlantic Yards project. This wasn't a fire sale of a distressed basketball franchise. It was a general-purpose real estate bailout.

Did Ratner even care that he lost the Nets? Once he won his eminent domain case, the team had served its purpose. He's not a basketball fan. He's a real estate developer. The asset he wanted to hang on to was the arena, and with good reason.
...

Let us recap. At the very moment the commissioner of the NBA is holding up the New Jersey Nets as a case study of basketball's impoverishment, the former owner of the team is crowing about 10 percent returns and the new owner is boasting of "explosive" profits. After the end of last season, one imagines that David Stern gathered together the league's membership for a crash course on lockout etiquette: stash the yacht in St. Bart's until things blow over, dress off the rack, insist on the '93 and '94 Cháteau Lafite Rothschilds, not the earlier, flashier, vintages. For rich white men to plead poverty, a certain self-discipline is necessary. Good idea, except next time he should remember to invite the Nets.

article

Related coverage...

ESPN.com, What kind of business are the Nets in?

In a must-read story on Grantland, Malcolm Gladwell uses the Nets as an example of how an NBA team's business role can have almost nothing to do with what's at the crux of the current CBA debate: Basketball revenues.

Gladwell tells the tale of Bruce Ratner's business goals in buying the Nets, which he explains started not with a love of basketball, but with a need to build a stadium to inspire the eminent domain seizure of some particularly valuable land he had his eye on.

Posted by eric at 5:22 PM

Ah, now we know what that mysterious smoke was...

Probably Bruce Ratner "sparking up" with some Barclays Center construction workers, if his rambling at this morning's press conference, as recounted by Atlantic Yards Report, is any indication:

"As Jay-Z knows, this arena is largely about the children and youth of Brooklyn," Ratner said. "We can give them more moments--each one of us has had a time in our life--that first circus, that first basketball game, that first ice hockey, or whatever it happens to be--we all remember those moments, and we want to give those first warm moments to every child in Brooklyn and have that feeling and inspiration that'll lead them to become more Jay-Z's, more Brett Yormarks, more of the many, many people who are out here."

Posted by eric at 5:14 PM

A belated invite to a now-open Community Forum with Kenneth Adams

Atlantic Yards Report

Remember the behind-closed-doors community meeting with Empire State Development CEO Kenneth Adams scheduled for tonight?

Well, now it's open to the press. So I'll be there.

link

Posted by eric at 5:08 PM

Bread and Circuses

Battle for Brooklyn

Filmmaker Michael Galinsky has a must-read post on the Battle for Brooklyn web site that juxtaposes the manufactured media nonsense of today's "Brooklyn Nets" announcement with the relative lack of coverage of the provocative, aggressive and violent tactics being used by the NYPD against protesters on Wall Street. It's powerful stuff, and we can't really do justice to it with an excerpt, so we'll just bring you the comic-diversion portion.

Click thru to read it all.

Today I went down to a tent on the plaza of the Atlantic Center mall to see Jay Z make a “surprise” announcement that he will do 8 shows at the arena and that the team will be called the Brooklyn Nets. It was a total bread and circus moment. While there are hundreds of people protesting on Wall Street there were hundreds of press people at this press event dutifully reporting the dominant narrative that they were led to. When I pointed this out to press people they didn’t see the irony.

When I first arrived (at the wrong location) I saw Marty Markowitz talking to an ABC news reporter.

I offered Marty a copy of the film. He refused to take it and told me that it was propaganda. I explained that I made the film and asked if he had seen it. “No, but I have had plenty of people tell me that it’s propaganda.” I told him that I took offense at that notion as I had taken great pains to make it even handed. I asked him again if he was sure that he didn’t want a copy. He did not. I didn’t film this exchange because I had no ill intent. I sincerely wanted him to have a chance to view the film. I offered one to the reporter as I had filmed him at the ground breaking. He didn’t want one either. Then Marty yelled at me that they didn’t have to take one.

article

Posted by eric at 3:11 PM

A cloud of smoke rises above the arena this morning

Atlantic Yards Watch

A cloud of what appeared to be smoke rose above the arena this morning. The photo above and the time-lapse video below are derived from photography taken from our live camera facing the arena block.

The live camera takes photos every minute. The time stamp on the photos shows the smoke lasting for approximately 15 minutes from 6:46 to 7:00 AM. The images appear to show the cloud moving out of the arena block toward the camera. Air quality is a major concern for the community surrounding the construction site and also presents health hazards for construction workers.

The smoke was first noticed by an Atlantic Yards Watch contributor who was videotaping this morning's truck activity. The incident report filed by that contributor primarily focuses on truck violations, but it also includes video capturing the smoke around the 3:17 mark.

link

NoLandGrab: It's likely they were testing the machine that blows smoke up the ass of the news media prior to this morning's big press event.

Posted by eric at 2:50 PM

NoLandGrab Non-News News Round-up

We'd like to take this moment to announce that NoLandGrab will from this point forward be known as NoLandGrab.

In other non-news, the Nets this morning held a big press event to announce that they are still called the Nets.

Atlantic Yards Report, The Jay-Z media event: an anticlimax for news (Brooklyn Nets, concert), but a chance for TV coverage; also, Ratner, Markowitz make some curious claims

Norman Oder rounds up some of the breathless non-news coverage, featuring some video clips that, honestly, we can't bring ourselves to tie up our bandwidth with (try saying that three times fast).

The media event this morning featuring "cultural icon" Jay-Z was a bit of an anticlimax--there was little response from the generally supportive crowd when Mr. Carter announced that the team would be called the Brooklyn Nets and that he'd open the Barclays Center arena with a concert--actually a couple (though he didn't say eight, as the New York Daily News reported).

After all, in well-planned exclusives accepted by the compliant tabloids, the Daily News placed the Jay-Z opening news on page 4 and the New York Post placed its news--that the team hopes "to steal Knick fans from lower Manhattan"--on page 3.

Aimed at TV

But the event today was aimed at TV, with the Barclays Center rising in the background. There were exclusive interviews first on Fox 5, including with Jay-Z.

Then, across the street at a tent pitched in front of the Atlantic Terminal Mall, the press conference featured fairly brief words from Nets CEO Brett Yormark, Forest City Ratner CEO Bruce Ratner, and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz before Jay-Z spoke briefly.

There were no other elected officials in attendance, but representatives from at least six of the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement signatories were present.

NY Observer, Jay-Z Announces “Brooklyn Nets” Title, Tells Everyone To Stop Watching Knicks Games

The Wall Street Journal, So Long, New Jersey. Hello, Brooklyn Nets.

NYTimes.com, Jay-Z Makes ‘Brooklyn Nets’ Name Official

The Brooklyn Paper, Call them the ‘Brooklyn Nets’

Crain's NY Business, Brooklyn Nets and Jay-Z will christen new arena

Posted by eric at 2:33 PM

Getting the arena done in time for Jay-Z means they're cutting corners

Atlantic Yards Report

As the hoopla crests for Jay-Z's announcement this morning of Barclays Center inaugural activities, let's remember:

link

Posted by eric at 8:48 AM

Moving the goalposts: Will the Barclays Center open in "the summer of 2012"? Was the first tower due "by the end of the year"?

Atlantic Yards Report

With an announcement expected today of a Jay-Z concert series (and local marketing campaign) to launch the Barclays Center, does that mean the arena will open in "the summer of 2012," as once promised?

It depends on what the word "open" means.

The fall of 2012 begins on 9/22/12. The "grand opening"--presumably with that Jay-Z concert--has long been promised as 9/28/12, nearly a week later.

However, that "grand opening" is to be preceded by "public events and tours," during which the arena would be "open."

article

Posted by eric at 8:45 AM

Jay-Z to push Knicks fans to switch to supporting Nets

NY Post
by Rich Calder

Jay-Z is unleashing a full-court press for his Brooklyn-bound Nets -- hoping to steal Knick fans from lower Manhattan.

The hip-hop superstar and part-owner of the Nets is set to tip off a major marketing campaign today aimed at enticing fans to bench the Knicks and score season tickets for his Prospect Heights hoopsters.

The soon-to-be-former New Jersey Nets dribble over to the Barclays Center next fall, and Jay-Z is expected to reveal the team’s “new name” this morning, sources told The Post.

The fresh hoops handle could be as simple as a crossover from “New Jersey Nets” to “Brooklyn Nets” or be a complete overhaul for the founding ABA club originally named the New York Americans.
...

Net CEO Brett Yormark said: “Jay-Z will be the face of the team’s fourth-quarter campaign” to sell 4,400 “All-Access” premium seats at the rapidly rising 18,000-seat arena.

Their game plan is set to target Wall Streeters and residents of upscale neighborhoods like TriBeCa and SoHo.

The turf war will be fought with billboards, 150 taxi tops, 60 telephone kiosks and a whopping 250,000 coffee cups to be distributed to local stores.

“We’ll be blanketing Wall Street with the coffee cups,” said Yormark.

article

Posted by eric at 8:38 AM

Jay-Z plans eight-concert series in hometown for Brooklyn Nets arena opening in 2012

NY Daily News
by Erin Durkin

Rap mogul Jay-Z will headline a series of concerts to open Brooklyn's new Nets arena next fall - and will make it official Monday: The team will be named for his hometown.

The superstar, who owns a small piece of the soon-to-be renamed Brooklyn Nets, will perform at eight concerts to celebrate the grand opening of the arena - where all-access passes are going for up to $15,400 a season.

Jay-Z likely will be joined by his wife, Beyoncé - who by then will have given birth to the couple's first child - at one of the shows, and will bring on a series of other performers, sources said.

Jay-Z will appear with developer Bruce Ratner and Borough President Marty Markowitz to reveal details of the shows Monday at the Prospect Heights construction site.

article

Posted by eric at 8:34 AM

Beyond Jay-Z's inaugural concert series: opportunities for mutual branding at the Barclays Center

Atlantic Yards Report

Nearly two weeks ago, I suggested (via the fanciful video below) that, to enhance Jay-Z's expected Barclays Center debut, arena backers might scheme to ensure that his wife Beyoncé Knowles does a guest spot--and brings out their new baby.

Well, at a press conference today, we'll learn that Jay-Z will in fact inaugurate the arena in September 2012. And, according to the Daily News, Beyoncé will do a guest spot in an eight-concert series.

The New York Post, handed a different exclusive, reports that the team's new name (Brooklyn Nets, presumably) will be announced, as well will a marketing campaign aimed at Lower Manhattan.

link

Posted by eric at 8:27 AM

September 25, 2011

NY Post discovers "shady" groups get cash from Yankee Stadium CBA; what about the Atlantic Yards CBA?

Atlantic Yards Report

A New York Post "exclusive" today headlined Shady Bronx community groups get Yankee charity cash, begins:

That’s foul.

The nonprofit in charge of doling out nearly $1 million a year in New York Yankee cash to Bronx charities is throwing it away on shady organizations, for-profit businesses and barely effective but politically connected community groups, a Post investigation found.

As it turns out, the Yankees have nothing to do with the distribution, which means far less control over the CBA partners than Forest City Ratner in its own CBA.

Which also means that the fund’s former administrator, who says he was wrongfully fired, could say that, as the Post reports, "board members rubber-stamp community groups picked by a three-person subcommittee operating behind closed doors."

And it means that, while the fund’s treasurer refused to turn over mandated annual reports, the Post could get them from other sources--while Forest City Ratner refuses to fund a mandated Independent Compliance Monitor and nobody offers a peep.

By my estimate, five of the eight Atlantic Yards CBA signatories do little or nothing related to their assigned responsibilities--though surely they'll be brought out closer to arena opening and accomplishments will be claimed.

Take for example, Brooklyn Endeavor Experience (BEE), run by CBA Coalition Chair Delia Hunley-Adossa. When I went to the BEE booth last month at a community event, there were no program-related materials to give out--after all, BEE has a Potemkin role in environmental monitoring--but there were Nets keychains.

link

Related content...

NY Post, Shady Bronx community groups get Yankee charity cash

Posted by eric at 2:00 PM

Understatements from the Final EIS: construction vehicle noise "not predicted to be significant" and noise levels from construction "relatively low for... a project of this magnitude"

Atlantic Yards Report

With evidence of continued overnight noise faced by Brooklyn residents and trucks idling improperly early in the morning, it's worth a look at what Chapter 17, Construction Impacts, of the Atlantic Yards Final Environmental Impact Statement predicted:

In general, noise generated by construction vehicles traveling to and from the project site was not predicted to be significant.

Perhaps "[i]n general" serves as a weasel phrase to avoid specific impacts on people living on Pacific Street.

The chapter also stated:

While construction activities would be noticeable and intrusive, the noise levels produced by construction activities with the incorporated noise reduction measures would be relatively low for construction of a project of this magnitude. Additional mitigation measures that were identified to further reduce these incremental construction noise levels at nearby residences are described below and summarized in Chapter 19, “Mitigation”.

But there aren't many projects of this magnitude, and the state overrode city zoning to allow an arena to be built within 200 feet of residences.

So it also could be said that the "noticeable and intrusive" construction activities would be relatively higher because they'd be that much closer to people.

link

Posted by eric at 1:42 PM

September 24, 2011

The collateral damage from construction = at least a month-long root canal; were sufficient mitigation measures (soundproofing, etc.) taken?

Atlantic Yard Report

Just like a good terrible neighbor, Forest City Ratner is there — 24/7.

Y'know, to get that Barclays Center built, there just has to be a little collateral damage. Arena boosters would say there's always disruption with construction--and there is.

Except it should be within limits, right? Nobody would countenance, say, dismemberment of just one member of the public. But what about a month-long root canal?

Forest City Ratner executive Jane Marshall suggested Thursday that disruptive, noisy overnight work near the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues would be over, like a "dentist's appointment," by the end of October.

"Losing my sanity"

Meanwhile, as one resident wrote in a complaint to Atlantic Yards Watch, late night work has been driving him nuts:

probably my last entry since it appears that the overnight jackhammering has been approved and will not stop for about a year until all is said and done. continuing the reporting to 311 is, therefore, a waste of my time.
looking at soundproofing my windows which is expensive, but so is losing my sanity.

As the complainant suggests, some work will continue for more than a month. Indeed, a message from Forest City Ratner points to the installation of new water trunk main and associated distribution mains on Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues, for which Stage Three work should be complete by April 2012. Other sidewalk work would last until August, 2012, though it's unclear how much jackhammering that will include.

article

Posted by eric at 10:44 AM

Yankee Stadium Parking Woes Drag On

Transportation Nation
by Jim O'Grady

The new Yankee Stadium, and its excessive parking, continues to pay great dividends for Bronx residents.

The New York Yankees are headed to the playoffs. But the company running Yankee Stadium’s parking garages remains mired in a slump. With the baseball season just about over, the numbers are in: paying customers have filled only 45 percent of the stadium’s 9,000 parking spots on game days this season.

And now development officials say they are looking to tear down one of the garages and replace it with a first class hotel and conference center. The idea is that development will bring in extra revenue and make the remaining parking spots more valuable.The Yankees argued when seeking city council approval that it’s new stadium would require more parking. But the opposite happened.
...

The Bronx Parking Development Company, which owns the eleven garages and surface lots that serve the new Yankee Stadium, built thousands of extra spots. One garage was erected on parkland that New York City, over many residents’ objections, gave to the company. The city has worked since then to create an equal amount of parkland in the area, but progress has been slow: the All Hallows High School baseball team, just four blocks from the stadium, has been without a home field for five years.
...

The new Yankee Stadium opened in 2009. Its extensive parking system has underperformed from the start. Now the Bronx Parking Development Company is struggling to pay back the $237 million dollars it owes in tax-exempt bonds.

The company’s next bond payment is November 1. Company vice president Chuck Lesnick said he didn’t know whether the company will need to dip into its cash serves to meet the obligation, a sign that the enterprise could be teetering on default. Lesnick said in an interview that he’d even be open to selling off surface parking lots around the stadium to raise extra money.

article

Posted by eric at 10:30 AM

Urban Parent Expo today: lead sponsor is Barclays/Nets

Atlantic Yards Report

The Urban Parent Expo, held today at St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights, has a Platinum Sponsor: the Barclays Center/Brooklyn Nets.

(Hm, not sure if that team name is official yet.)

The activities include:

  • Brooklyn NETS Basketball & Conditioning Activities (Show your basketball skills with conditioning drills and exciting contests!)
  • NETS Airbrush Tattoo Artist (Free NETS airbrush tattoos)
  • NETS Dancers (Enjoy a performance, learn some moves and get an autograph.)
  • Team Hype & Sly the Mascot

link

NoLandGrab: The Nets Dancers must be there to help build self-esteem in girls.

Posted by eric at 10:20 AM

This Week in Crime: iPhone and Other Robberies

The Local [Fort Greene/Clinton Hill]
by Amanda Woods

No 88th Precinct crime spree would be complete without the requisite law-breaking in Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Center and Atlantic Terminal malls.

Fort Greene and Clinton Hill saw a wave of crime between Sept. 11 and 18. In this one week span, the 88th Precinct had as much crime reported as it usually does in three weeks. Several robberies occurred across the area — and iPhones remained a common target. iPads and wallet thefts were common last week. Robbers plied their trade in the subways, in Fort Greene Park and in Atlantic Terminal Mall, including Best Buy and Target.
...

Targeted Stores

-A man used fake identification to obtain a credit card at an Atlantic Avenue Best Buy on Sept. 13 at 1:40 p.m., police said. The credit card was used to purchase a laptop and a DVD, police said. After the transaction was processed, store security and responding officers stopped the man in the store, police said.

Jean Mezius, 35, was arrested and charged with grand larceny in the fourth degree, criminal possession of stolen property in the fifth degree and possession of a forged instrument in the second degree, according to the Kings County District Attorney’s office.

-A 23-year-old woman’s purse was stole while she was shopping at Target in the Atlantic Terminal shopping mall, on Sept. 13 at 7 p.m., police said. Her child was pushing the baby stroller as she shopped at other stores, police said. When the woman entered Target she realized that the pocketbook, that had been hanging on the arm of the stroller, was missing. The pocketbook contained a non-driver New york State identification card, a United Health Care insurance card, an unborn Medicaid card and a New York State Chase debit card, the woman told police.

article

Posted by eric at 10:04 AM

Cumberland Street Fort Greene, Brooklyn, NY 11238

The New York Times, Real Estate Listings

$1,995
1 Bedroom
1 Full Bathroom

Amenities
Elevator

This LARGE 1 BR apartment features a WONDERFUL Kitchen with GRANITE counter tops and STAINLESS STEEL appliances. The building even has an ELEVATOR and LAUNDRY! Located just 2 blocks from FT. GREENE PARK, 1 block to the subway, 5 mins to Atlantic Yards and a short distance from the many cafes and shops that line Fulton St. makes this a MUST SEE apartment! Come take a look! Contact ME for ALL your real estate needs. A SERIOUS consumer deserves PROFESSIONAL attention!

link

NoLandGrab: We're not sure if "5 mins to Atlantic Yards" means only 5 mins from Atlantic Yards or, don't worry, it's a good 5 mins to Atlantic Yards.

Posted by eric at 9:56 AM

September 23, 2011

Not just Thursday: video from this morning shows trucks stacked up on Pacific Street and other violations

Atlantic Yards Report

Earlier today I described videos (posted on Atlantic Yards Watch) that showed trucks stacked up at the southeast corner of Sixth Avenue and Pacific Street rather than queuing a block away as required.

This morning the same thing happened, according to Atlantic Yards Watch, along with dump trucks illegally idling next to the Newswalk building on Pacific Street (see screenshot) and the continued failure to follow the "Stop Here on Red Light" sign.

Click through for video and more.

link

NoLandGrab: There's a reason they call it dope.

Posted by eric at 9:32 PM

Early morning violations of truck protocols contrast with FCRC statements at Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet

Atlantic Yards Watch

Lying was much easier before smart-phone cameras and the Internet.

The protocols for construction trucks described "as significantly improved" yesterday by FCRC's Adam Schwartz at the Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet are documented being repeatedly violated earlier yesterday morning and today by multiple incident reports filed on this website.

Only hours before Schwartz spoke at Brooklyn Borough Hall, project-related trucks were advancing before the receiving gate was ready, idling, standing in no-standing and no parking zones, ignoring a stop sign, driving the wrong way on a one-way street, and not obeying NYCDOT designated truck routes.

At the District Service Cabinet FCRC's Schwartz stated, "the guard does not release trucks from our site until the gate is ready to receive them." The guard is located at Pacific Street and Carlton Avenue. In following this protocol the trucks enter the project site from Vanderbilt Avenue and line up inside the project footprint on the former Pacific Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt Avenues. This is apparently done in the hope of lessening impacts on the residents who live along the stretch of Pacific Street between Carlton and 6th Avenues that would not ordinarily be a truck route.

But this protocol was not followed.

article

NoLandGrab: We would ask "what are they smoking?" — but we know the answer already.

Posted by eric at 9:18 PM

A factor in Atlantic Yards delays?

Atlantic Yards Report

This did not come up at yesterday's Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meeting.

link

NoLandGrab: This explains a lot.

Posted by eric at 5:36 PM

At the AY District Service Cabinet meeting: hints of negotiations over modular plan, the need for costly after-hours work to keep up, and a month-long "dentist's appointment" to endure noisy night work

Atlantic Yards Report

Yesterday's bi-monthly Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meeting, an interagency working group involving officials representing areas around the project site, covered a lot of ground.

What was hinted at--notably, Forest City Ratner's (FCR) plans for modular construction--may have been more important than what was established.

A summary of the high points of the meeting, held at Brooklyn Borough Hall:

  • FCR is planning negotiations with labor officials over plans for modular construction
  • The developer is pitching modular as good for the city because it could hasten more affordable housing, as well as cause less disruption at a construction site
  • FCR is quick to assert the number of union jobs would be the same--though not to acknowledge that labor costs and salaries would drop
  • Hurricane Irene caused delays at the project site, especially at the railyard
  • After-hours work is needed to maintain the schedule
  • Noisy overnight road work is required by the city, but will be over in a month, like a "dentist's appointment," in the words of one FCR executive
  • Changes in the road network have mostly worked out, though congestion remains on Third Avenue and some on Fourth Avenue
  • Council Member Letitia James proposed to split the cost with FCR for new trash cans for residences in Fort Greene concerned about rodents
  • Illegal worker parking has mostly been stymied, though no one wants to talk about improper parking by police officers
  • Forest City has provided sufficient off-street parking spaces, according to the state agency overseeing the project, Empire State Development (ESD)
  • A technical memo regarding shrinking sidewalk space on the arena block has been produced by ESD but has not yet been made public
  • James still would like to see a transportation working group to address Atlantic Yards issues

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NoLandGrab: Most people would kill themselves at the prospect of 30 days of root canal.

Related coverage...

Brownstoner, Forest City Still Mulling Modular Design for Atlantic Yards

Atlantic Yards Report has a comprehensive rundown of the discussion at the latest Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meeting, where there was some talk about the first residential tower planned as part of the mega-project. Forest City Ratner employees who were present said a modular design is still being considered for the tower.
...

It also sounds like Forest City may be backing down from the claim that it intends to start construction on the tower before the year is out. Marshall said the company hopes to make an announcement about the building before the year is out and have it in construction at the beginning of next year.

NLG: There's a shocker.

Curbed, Revenge of the Megaprojects

To appease already-and-always-inflamed community members, a Forest City Ratner exec "said it wasn’t clear that a modular build would necessarily result in fewer jobs" and that they had scheduled a meeting with a labor rep.

Posted by eric at 5:27 PM

"Cultural icon" Jay-Z to "make significant announcement" Monday regarding arena and team

Atlantic Yards Report

[Yawn.]

The NBA pre-season is already delayed by a labor impasse, and there's talk of losses to the regular season, but the Nets can still gin up some publicity.

On Monday, Jay-Z, now referred to as "Cultural Icon Shawn 'Jay-Z' Carter" will make a "significant announcement" regarding the Barclays Center and the "borough's future NBA team.'

What might that be? The top two possibilities are 1) the team will be called the Brooklyn Nets (duh) and 2) that Jay-Z will open the arena with concerts (duh).

However, I'd expect the arena promoters to turn that into two press announcements. So I'm betting on the first option--and, perhaps, the announcement of a new global sponsor.

The event will be attended by Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Forest City Ratner Companies Chairman and CEO Bruce Ratner, and Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark.

link

Related coverage...

The Brooklyn Paper, He’s a business, man — Jay-Z to christen the Barclays Center

Rap mogul Jay-Z will christen the Barclays Center when the under-construction $1-billion home for the Brooklyn-bound Nets opens on the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues next fall.

The hip hop star, who owns a very small portion of the basketball team, will headline the venue’s first performance during a three-week grand opening at the Prospect Heights arena in September, 2012, according to a source familiar with the plan.

Jay-Z is set to announce the dates at a press conference at the Barclays Center on Monday — where Nets officials are expected to unveil a new team name.

It will be a “major announcement,” Nets CEO Brett Yormark tweeted.

NoLandGrab: Oh, well, in that case....

Prospect Heights Patch, Jay-Z To Make "Major Announcement" About Nets At Barclays Center

Posted by eric at 5:15 PM

Are new procedures "very effective" in managing truck traffic at arena site? Videos show cluster of trucks on residential street

Atlantic Yards Report

Yesterday, less than four hours before a Forest City Ratner official declared that new procedures had been "very effective" in preventing trucks from approaching entrance gates at the Atlantic Yards site before workers were ready to receive them, a resident shot videos that show exactly the opposite.

The videos shot beginning at 6 am were included in two postings (1, 2) on Atlantic Yards Watch made by a resident of the Newswalk building along Pacific Street between Sixth and Carlton avenues.

That stretch sits between the professed staging area--now a private street--on Pacific Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues and the arena entrance west of Sixth Avenue.

Clearly lots of trucks are jumping the gun--and ignoring both site rules and violating parking regulations.

Click thru for the videos.

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NoLandGrab: Maybe it wouldn't be so hard to follow what would appear to be simple rules if they cut back a little on the wacky weed.

Posted by eric at 5:11 PM

DOT sets hearing on bollard plan for arena block: Oct. 5 at 2 pm

Atlantic Yards Report

The bollard plan for the Atlantic Yards arena block will be the subject of a standard public hearing--which also will address three other "revocable consents"--held by the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) on Wednesday, 10/5/11.

The hearing will be held at 55 Water Street, 7th Floor, Room 707, beginning at 2 pm. "Revocable consents," which grant permission to install structures on city property, typically start for a term of ten years.

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NoLandGrab: It's with great wistfulness that we recall those halcyon days, before threat of terrorism became the norm, and bollards par for the sidewalk — in 2007.

Posted by eric at 4:59 PM

September 22, 2011

Speak Up For Brooklyn on October 13 with Majora Carter!

BrooklynSpeaks

BrooklynSpeaks is holding a fundraiser, presumably to help defray legal costs sure to be incurred fighting the ESDC's planned appeal of Judge Marcy Friedman's ruling that the state must prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for Atlantic Yards.

Join BrooklynSpeaks for a special benefit to fight for accountable, sensible development at Atlantic Yards, and enjoy some great spicy flavors from Prospect Heights' favorite southwestern kitchen!

You'll hear about how other communities are working for sustainability from Majora Carter, internationally-recognized authority on community development, environmental justice, and green job training, a MacArthur “genius,” and host of the NPR series, “The Promised Land.” And you'll have a great time with friends sharing a vision for community engagement in Brooklyn's biggest development project.

Speak Up For Brooklyn!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

7:00PM

Piquant NYC
259 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217

Limited space available! Get your tickets NOW!

link

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, BrooklynSpeaks plans benefit October 13 "to fight for accountability at Atlantic Yards"

However, the state and Forest City Ratner are appealing, so the case faces a potentially lengthy appeals process, even as the state does produce a Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement.

Posted by eric at 9:10 PM

Flashback: Nets' Yormark was "absolutely" sure the arena would open in the fall of 2011

Atlantic Yards Report

Remember how Nets CEO Brett Yormark was certain that the arena would open this season? Let's go back to a 12/2/08 interview with a skeptical Craig Carton of WFAN.

BY: A realistic time frame is in Brooklyn, operating in the summer of 2011, being there for the '11-'12 season.

CC: So being there in the fall of 2011, so three years from this season--

BY: That’s correct--

CC: --you think that you’ll have everything built, the infrastructure done, and you will bounce a basketball in an arena in Brooklyn in three years?

BY: Absolutely. Convinced of it.

Now, of course, Yormark is convinced the arena will open in the fall of 2012. It's much more likely--a lot of contractual money depends on it, which is one reason there's so much after-hours work.

But we'll keep watching for that after-hours work.

link

Posted by eric at 12:14 PM

The relentlessly upbeat Brett Yormark, on Twitter, selling the Barclays Center globally

Atlantic Yards Report

The relentlessly upbeat Nets CEO, Brett Yormark, is worth watching on Twitter. (So too is his twin, who has the same love of hype.)

Note that Yormark is promising shows, fights, hoops, and--as of April--a guarantee that the Nets will be in Brooklyn for opening night 2012.

(That's more likely than his past promises, given the need to fulfill sponsorship contracts. Still, he did once say he was "convinced" of a 2011 opening. So we'll keep watching for after-hours work.)

Will Barclays be "the best building in the country"? Well, I suspect it will get a lot of kudos early on. That may depend, however, on ensuring that such reporters get ushered into the building without getting confused by having to walk through a residential neighborhood from the surface parking lot.

Click thru for a collection of Yormark's typically understated tweets.

link

Posted by eric at 11:53 AM

Q&A: ‘Anything Good You Can Find In This Country, You Can Find In Brooklyn’ — Brett Yormark

The Big Lead
by Barry Janoff

He's baaaaaack! Here are some "highlights" from Part Two of The Big Lead's interview with Brett Yormark.

Big Lead Sports: What reaction have you gotten to using the name Brooklyn?

Brett Yormark: We have done a lot of research. We know how important the brand of Brooklyn is. My feeling is that anything good you can find in this country, you can find in Brooklyn. We went out and tested the pickles, the knishes, the cheesecake, and the best of the best will be here. The main thing about Brooklyn from a marketing point of view is the diversification. It’s a marketer’s dream to be able to target so many ethnic groups that help to make the borough what it is. Our responsibility, our job is to make sure that everyone is welcomed at the Barclays Center. And that we communicate with each of them in a relevant way.

Tested the pickles? The Nets are the Good Housekeeping Research Institute of the NBA.

BLS: You have college hockey coming to Barclays Center, so it can be converted into a hockey arena. Any interest in having the New York Islanders move in?

BY: Let me just say that we can convert it to a hockey venue and have a great destination for professional hockey. And although it is not legalized in New York State, we can handle MMA when and if it is legalized.

Mixed Martial Arts is a sophisticated sport that draws a nice crowd. Why not?

BLS: Back at the Izod Center, you were able to take unused or under-utilized spaces and turn them into proactive real estate that brought in revenue. But you’ve built Barclays Center from scratch. Will you miss uncovering long-hidden areas that you can turn into assets?

BY: It’s funny you should ask that. Every month, I sit down with my GM and I ask him to walk me though the building [on the blueprints]. Every time I look at it on paper, I see a different space that I hadn’t seen. I’m auditing the building for inventory and opportunities all the time. Our building is about 670,000 square feet, and I think it’s fair to say that we will effectively use every square inch for something.

Wait, didn't he say yesterday that sponsors "don’t want clutter?"

article

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Brett Yormark interview: no over-commercialization of the arena (?!), project on schedule, Brooklyn brand will be hyped, "professional hockey" viable

The $400 million fantasy

It's not the most incisive interview. The first installment included the discredited claim that the Barclays naming rights agreement was worth $400 million, not $200 million, and, despite my comment appended to that report, the claim continued to appear in the second installment.

Posted by eric at 11:32 AM

Construction of the Ratner/Prokhorov (“Barclays”) Arena Is Behind Schedule. Either That, OR a 24/7 Construction Schedule Was ALWAYS Intended

Noticing New York

Ostensibly, construction of the Ratner/Prokhorov (“Barclays”) basketball arena for the Nets, which is being erected where Park Slope, Fort Greene and Prospect Heights intersect, is now, and has always been “ahead of schedule.” That’s according to the construction reports prepared by real estate consultant Merritt & Harris, reporting to the trustee for holders of the bonds issued to finance the project. See: Wednesday, September 14, 2011, Latest consultant's report: arena still ahead of schedule (but lead is narrowing), while transit connection is on schedule (but no longer ahead) from which the above charts were cribbed.

But if construction of the arena is really on schedule, why has it been necessary for some time to accelerate with the shift to a 24/7 round-the-clock construction regime with night time jackhammering and weekend work happening on both Saturdays and Sundays throughout the project footprint? Why is it necessary for the developer/subsidy collector Bruce Ratner’s Forest City Ratner's construction people to get after-hours variances for such increasingly continuous work (which they secretly lie to obtain) except for the fact that work is actually behind schedule?. . . That is unless the round-the-clock scheduling of work was always an intended part of maintaining the construction schedule, in which case the environmental impact statement intentionally avoided depicting with truth and accuracy what was to befall the community?

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Posted by eric at 11:25 AM

Atlantic Yards from Above!

Brownstoner

A reader nicely sent in this momento from a recent flight over our fair borough. It certainly gives a good sense of the size of the Atlantic Yards footprint! You can see a larger version of the photo here.

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Posted by eric at 11:20 AM

Adding context to coverage of the MSG renovation; will that come with Barclays coverage too?

Atlantic Yards Report

A New York Times Dining section article yesterday on the upgrade in food offerings at Madison Square Garden, headlined At Madison Square Garden, it’s Hey, Getcher Lobster Roll, contained this piece of welcome context:

The Garden is being renovated without state or city subsidies, although it will continue to benefit from its longtime property tax exemption. To pay for the work, the Garden has said that the cost of Knicks season tickets will jump an average 49 percent, and Rangers seats will go up by 23 percent. Twenty new courtside-access suites (fitted with bathrooms and fireplaces) have a yearly rental fee of about $1 million each; all are spoken for. Their food spectrum will be drawn from Mr. Vongerichten’s suite menu and the other upscale concessionaires.

Will the future coverage of the Barclays Center, describing all the ways the Nets are trying to play to the public, mention the subsidies, tax breaks, naming rights and luxury suites behind the new building?

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NoLandGrab: Yes! All Dining Section coverage of the Barclays Center is sure to add that context.

Posted by eric at 11:15 AM

Brownstone Belt in Boerum Hill downzoned

NY Post
by Sally Goldenberg and Rich Calder

Now all of Brooklyn’s Brownstone Belt is protected from overzealous developers.

The City Council today approved a downzoning plan for a 31-sqaure-block section of Boerum Hill that will cap new development in much of the area at 50 feet.

The height restrictions are similar to ones already in place in other Brownstone neighborhoods like Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Park Slope, and Carroll Gardens.

Boerum Hill residents had pushed hard for tough zoning regulations to prevent large towers from rising in their neighborhood as is already planned in nearby Prospect Heights for the controversial Atlantic Yards project.

link

Posted by eric at 11:11 AM

In China, the Times points out, a state agency has a built-in conflict; in Brooklyn, a not dissimilar conflict gets a pass

Atlantic Yards Report

A New York Times article yesterday headlined Anger and Suspicion as Survivors Await Chinese Crash Report, about a rail crash involving a high-speed train that killed 40 people and injured 191, described the delay in releasing an official investigation.

The China Railways Ministry, the Times pointed out, has two million workers and has significant power:

It owns the railways it regulates, a built-in conflict that critics say encourages corruption, endangers safety in the name of profit and hinders accountability. Its safety data are not publicly released. It runs its own court system and, until recently, its own police force.

A built-in conflict? What about the conflict involving a state agency that partners with developer Forest City Ratner on the Atlantic Yards project and also oversees that project?

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NoLandGrab: Easy answer — the China Railways Ministry is not the development partner of The New York Times.

Posted by eric at 11:03 AM

Assessing the Kelo Apology

Reason Hit & Run
by Damon W. Root

Daniel Goldstein, the Brooklyn homeowner who led the legal battle against the Atlantic Yards eminent domain boondoggle, offers a few choice words in response to yesterday’s big news that Connecticut Supreme Court Justice Richard Palmer has apologized to homeowner Susette Kelo for his role in her notorious eminent domain case.

link

Posted by eric at 10:57 AM

September 21, 2011

How will congestion on Dean Street affect the firehouse? State document says police will step up when events are scheduled and that impacts "were discussed" (not quite)

Atlantic Yards Report

The other day I was at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Dean Street, catercorner from the in-construction Barclays Center arena.

A fire truck assigned to the firehouse just east of the corner--Engine 219/Ladder 105--was temporarily parked in the left lane of the street. Cars were parked along the right lane. A city bus tried to get through, but it was stymied.

It took more than a minute--probably more than two--to untangle the knot. So, what happens if the arena's open? It turns out the state is optimistic, as explained in 68 questions and responses from the 6/14/11 public meeting on traffic issues has posted (also embedded below) by Empire State Development (aka Empire State Development Corporation).

Traffic bottlenecks?

The question:

62. On Dean Street the church double parks every night. The police and fire department park on the sidewalk. You don’t take that into account. Where do these cars go? How does the fire engine company get out in an emergency?

The answer:

Enforcement of double parking prohibitions is the responsibility of the New York City Police Department, which will have an active presence in the Arena vicinity before and after Arena events. Potential impacts on emergency vehicles were discussed in Chapter 5 of the FEIS (e.g., pages 5-10 through 5-12).

How much enforcement is there now? Not much. Apparently ESDC is optimistic it will change.

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NoLandGrab: If ESDC's optimism is as fruitful as Bruce Ratner's hopefulness that the Islanders will play their home games at the Barclays Center, we're in big trouble.

Posted by eric at 12:21 PM

Lay-by lane capacity at Barclays Center to be less than analyzed in 2006 environmental review; change may increase congestion around arena block

Atlantic Yards Watch

At the time the Sam Schwartz mitigation plan was detailed to the public in June, AYW reported that Barclays Center will have less in place at the time of the arena opening than anticipated in the 2006 FEIS: "fewer travel lanes for traffic, fewer lay-by lanes, and narrower sidewalks for pedestrians."

Thanks to the bollard plans before NYCDOT, it is now possible to see more clearly how this is so in relation to the arena block. In publishing the bollard plans several weeks ago, we wrote about the reduced effective widths of many of the sidewalks around the arena. The state of the lay-by lanes at the time of the arena opening will be similar, with one permanently changed and others with no construction schedule.

The function of lay-by lanes is to take traffic stopped for loading or unloading out of travel lanes. Fewer lay-by lanes mean there is a higher degree of risk for vehicle/vehicle and vehicle/pedestrian conflicts. It also potentially means increased congestion around the arena block.

The original 2006 project plan included lay-by lanes accommodating approximately 61 vehicle spaces on the arena block. This included 14 spaces in two lay-by areas on Flatbush, 7 spaces on Dean Street, 6 spaces on 6th Avenue, and 34 spaces on Atlantic Avenue. An additional lay-by-lane was to be located on Pacific Street adjacent to Site 5 within one year. Soon thereafter, lay-by lanes were to appear nearby in the second phase of the project which was to be completed in ten years. But the timetable of delivery of lay-by lanes changed in 2009 when the project plans were renegotiated to provide the developer up to 12 years to complete its obligations on the arena block as part of the first phase of the project's development.

article

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, On the eve of AY District Service Cabinet Meeting, new information from AY Watch about reduced capacity of lay-by lanes

Will this be on the agenda of the meeting tomorrow? Can't say. The agenda's not publicly circulated.

Posted by eric at 11:55 AM

Vote Expected on Rezoning of Boerum Hill

WNYC
by Janet Babin

New York City Council votes today on whether the Boerum Hill section of Brooklyn should get rezoned.

The council vote is the last step in the rezoning process, that could help protect the neighborhood's brownstones.

Howard Kolins, president of the Boerum Hill Association, said, "The ultimate goal of rezoning is to protect and preserve the type of housing and quality of life that exists. it's a low rise, very green very leafy streets."

Residents rallied for stricter zoning laws after the Atlantic Yards project moved forward in nearby Fort Greene.

Most people place Atlantic Yards in Prospect Heights, though Fort Greene is less inaccurate than "downtown Brooklyn."

The rezoning area includes all or part of the blocks bounded by Atlantic Avenue to the north, 4th Avenue to the east, Warren and Wyckoff streets to the south, and Court Street to the west.

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Posted by eric at 11:43 AM

Q&A: For Brett Yormark, CEO Of The Nets And Barclays Center, No Sleep ‘Till Brooklyn

The Big Lead
by Barry Janoff

And now, for the entertainment portion of today's blogging — Brett Yormark rarely fails to disappoint.

In the first of a two-part interview, Brett Yormark, CEO of Nets Basketball and president and CEO of Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment, spoke with Big Lead Sports about basketball, Brooklyn and the Barclays Center.

Here are some highlights.

Big Lead Sports: What are the major challenges between now and September 2012?

Brett Yormark: My toughest challenge is that there won’t be an opportunity to sleep. I don’t sleep that much to begin with, but now there will be even less time. I say that kiddingly. But, obviously, there is so much to do.

BLS: In addition to Barclays, which has a 20-year, $400 million naming rights deal, you have 12 founding and top-tier partners. Do you envision room for more corporate partners?

BY: We have an incredible base of partners. But we are still aggressively marketing and selling. There are some key categories that we are finishing off: insurance, auto, airline, to be specific. We should be able to close those out and make announcements within the next 30-40 days. That said, our philosophy in Brooklyn when it comes to the commercialization of the building is that less is more. So we are not going to overdo it.

[Editor's Note: Yormark failed to correct the 100% inflation of the naming-rights fees.]

BLS: Have there been discussions with the NBA about hosting an All-Star Game?

BY: Let me put it this way: We are in the big event business, and the All-Star Game certainly would be classified as a big event. Our goal is to be aggressive to host every big event that we can.

In addition to big events, the Nets also host Nets games.

This is just Part One of a two-part interview. Stay tuned!

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Posted by eric at 11:33 AM

Connecticut Supreme Court Justice Apologizes to Susette Kelo for his Vote to Uphold the Condemnation of Her Home — But then Lets Himself off the Hook Too Easily

The Volokh Conspiracy
by Ilya Somin

Justice Palmer lets himself off the hook too easily. It is true that the justices could not have known for certain that the Kelo condemnations would fail to produce the economic development that supposedly justified the use of eminent domain in the first place. But they could and should have known that such results have often occurred in similar cases, that the New London development plan justifying these particular condemnations was flimsy, and that there was no legal requirement compelling either the city of New London or the new private owners of the condemned property to produce enough development to offset the destruction caused by the takings. Some of these points were in fact noted in Justice Zarella’s dissenting opinion in the Connecticut Supreme Court. As he put it:

In my view, the development plan as a whole cannot be considered apart from the condemnations because the constitutionality of condemnations undertaken for the purpose of private economic development depends not only on the professed goals of the development plan, but also on the prospect of their achievement. Accordingly, the taking party must assume the burden of proving, by clear and convincing evidence, that the anticipated public benefit will be realized. The determination of whether the taking party has met this burden of proof involves an independent evaluation of the evidence by the court, with no deference granted to the local legislative authority. In the present case, the evidence fails to establish that the foregoing burden has been met....

The record contains scant evidence to suggest that the predicted public benefit will be realized with any reasonable certainty. To the contrary, the evidence establishes that, at the time of the takings, there was no signed agreement to develop the properties, the economic climate was poor and the development plan contained no conditions pertaining to future development agreements that would ensure achievement of the intended public benefit if development were to occur.

The evidence Justice Zarella relied on was also available to the majority justices.

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Posted by eric at 11:27 AM

Hotels Near Barclays Center

The Real Places

Planning your next trip to a Brooklyn Nets game, or a Hasidic wedding? The Real Places has a listing of nearby lodging.

Barclays Center is an entertainment and sports venue planned to open in September 2012. The NBA's New Jersey Nets are scheduled to play their home games there starting with the 2012-2013 season (when they'll presumably be known as the Brooklyn Nets). The arena will seat 18,000 for basketball, 14,500 for hockey and up to 19,000 for concerts. Barclays Center is part of the Atlantic Yards commercial and retail project in Brooklyn's Prospect Heights neighborhood.

For a more visual method of finding nearby hotels, try our full page map of hotels around Barclays Center containing the 50 closest hotels.

link

Related content...

The Real Places, Hotels Near Barclays Center in Brooklyn

At the moment there are no places to stay in the immediate neighborhood, but TheRealPlaces.com does have a guide to the hotels closest to Barclays Center in Brooklyn – future home of the Nets.

Posted by eric at 11:16 AM

September 20, 2011

With Kelo Apology, Judicial Contrition and Cowardice Are Displayed

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

In 2010 and 2005 the author of the US Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling in the Kelo v. City of New London eminent domain case, Justice John Paul Stevens, expressed unease about his ruling in favor of Connecticuts's condemnors, suggesting that he was handcuffed by "settled" law even though he disagreed with the policy at play. He did not regret his decision but, according to the NY Times, addressing a bar association meeting in Las Vegas in 2005, he said:

''...I was convinced that the law compelled a result that I would have opposed if I were a legislator.''

...the eminent domain [Kelo] case that became the term's most controversial decision, he said that his majority opinion that upheld the government's ''taking'' of private homes for a commercial development in New London, Conn., brought about a result ''entirely divorced from my judgment concerning the wisdom of the program'' that was under constitutional attack.

His own view, Justice Stevens told the Clark County Bar Association, was that ''the free play of market forces is more likely to produce acceptable results in the long run than the best-intentioned plans of public officials.'' But he said that the planned development fit the definition of ''public use'' that, in his view, the Constitution permitted for the exercise of eminent domain.

Now comes Justice Richard N. Palmer of Connecticut's Supreme Court—the court responsible, in a 4-3 ruling, for propelling the plaintiffs' case up to the US Supreme Court—giving an apology to Susette Kelo for his majority vote, as witnessed by "Little Pink House" author Jeff Benedict. Benedicts's account of the apology, and his communication with Justice Palmer about publishing the account, reveals some very disturbing cognitive dissonance (and cowardice) not just in Palmer's mind, but in the general judicial mind. Palmer's "sorry" is followed by a sorry explanation of what he meant by "sorry."

Apparently his contrition is not about overturning his own ruling (something that Michigan's high court has done when it came to understand its own misguided 23-year old Poletown eminent domain ruling and overturned it—"settled law"? we think not) but that he didn't know the personal hardship that the New London homeowners had gone through and he couldn't have possibly known that the New London/Pfizer development plan would end up with a barren wasteland and a dumping ground for Hurricane Irene refuse, but that even if he had, rest assured this would not have changed his ruling because of "settled" law.

link

Posted by eric at 1:51 PM

The push by some economists for a code of ethics, and how that might have better labeled Zimbalist's work for Forest City Ratner

Atlantic Yards Report

There's a move afoot for a code, as some 300 economists have signed a letter [PDF] to the president of the American Economic Association calling for the group to adopt a code of ethics. That is apparently under study.

The proposal:

More specifically we propose that the AEA adopt a code modeled on that of the American Sociological Association. This code could state that: “Economists should maintain the highest degree of integrity in their professional work and avoid conflicts of interest and the appearance of conflict. Moreover, economists should disclose relevant sources of financial support and relevant personal or professional relationships that may have the appearance or potential for a conflict of interest in public speeches and writing, as well as in academic publications.”

I didn't see the name of Smith College sports economist Andrew Zimbalist as among the signatories of the letter [PDF], but I didn't see some other prominent sports economists either.

Zimbalist's disclosure

Of course, everyone knows Zimbalist was paid by Forest City Ratner for the study he wrote, right? Maybe--it was in the press--but maybe not.

It's notable that the document, below, actually doesn't disclose that. FCR VP Jim Stuckey claimed at a 5/4/04 City Council hearing, "It is really not our report, it is Professor Zimbalist’s report."

That report has a few other problems, too.

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Posted by eric at 12:11 PM

"Nets bring new playground to Canarsie school"? Actually, they paid 1/8 of the cost, but neither NY Post nor NY1 notice

Atlantic Yards Report

It's not enough that Bruce Ratner is "quietly" helping a blind teenage Sudanese ex-slave. Now he's leveraging taxpayer funds 7-to-1 to "bring" us playgrounds, too!

What if more reporters receiving press releases had taken "antimanipulation" in school?

We wouldn't get headlines like this, from the New York Post's Brooklyn blog yesterday.

Or like this, from NY1:

What did the Nets bring?

Though the Nets played a part, they didn't "bring" the playground. They paid only 1/8 of the cost.

Of course, those reading the vague Nets press release would have had to ask about the role of the Barclays Nets Community Alliance in the "refurbished playground it has funded at P.S. 276 in the Canarsie section of Brooklyn."

(Emphasis added)

Click through to read the God's honest truth press release.

article

Related nonsense...

The Brooklyn Blog [NYPost.com], Nets bring new playground to Canarsie school

NY1, Nets Score Big With New School Playgrounds

Posted by eric at 11:55 AM

Ice try! Ratner now says he wants Islanders at Barclays Center

The Brooklyn Paper
by Daniel Bush

It shouldn't be long now before Bruce says he's "hopeful" that the New York Yankees will play their home games at the Barclays Center of Yonkers Brooklyn™, and the local press will dutifully report it.

Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner said he’s “hoping” that the New York Islanders will move to the Barclays Center once the struggling team’s lease at the Nassau Coliseum expires in 2015 — a reversal of his longtime claim that the Prospect Heights arena would be too small to host pro hockey games.

Ratner's never claimed that. In fact, the arena bond offering danced around the fact that the arena would be grossly sub-standard for NHL hockey.

“I would hope that’s possible,” Ratner said in an appearance on Bloomberg Television’s news show, “The Property Players.” “I certainly think there’s a chance.”

And Geraldo Rivera thought there was a "chance" that he'd find bags full of loot in Al Capone's vault.

There's more than a chance, however, that Ratner's edif-ice will make life miserable for locals.

Arena opponents blasted the idea that the Barclays Center would host more pro games.

“Traffic is going to be insane” on game nights, said Peter Krashes, president of the Dean Street Block Association. “Pedestrians and cars are going to swarm the neighborhood.”

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Posted by eric at 11:35 AM

Yonkers' image is all about branding

LoHud.com
by Phil Reisman

While Forest City Ratner has practically wallowed in the Brooklyn "brand," it can't even bring itself to admit that its Ridge Hill development is in Yonkers.

Appearing on my radio program, "High Noon," [Yonkers Mayoral candidate Mike] Spano complained that Ridge Hill, the new and impressively huge retail-condominium development, is called Westchester's Ridge Hill. Not Ridge Hill of Yonkers.

"It actually hurts me a little bit when I drive by and I see their little van running around, saying 'Ridge Hill of Westchester,' " Spano said. "Because they're not."

Ridge Hill's creators say they refer to the 1.2-million square-foot complex as "Westchester's Ridge Hill in Yonkers," but Yonkers is barely mentioned at all in the official website. What's more, when you click onto "Directions," a photo pops up showing a young attractive couple gazing out on a river that suspiciously looks like the Seine in Paris.

When I put the question to Forest City Ratner, the developer of the retail complex, I was given a statement from Andy Silberfein, executive vice president and director of finance and retail development.
...

"We are fully committed to the City of Yonkers, are proud to be located in Yonkers and grateful for its support," he said. "If some ads were not properly worded to highlight that we are indeed in Yonkers, we will correct them and make it clear going forward."

article

NoLandGrab: Yeah, right. Just like they've corrected their placing of Atlantic Yards in "downtown Brooklyn" rather than low-rise, brownstone Prospect Heights.

Posted by eric at 10:20 AM

September 19, 2011

Apology Adds An Epilogue To Kelo Case

Supreme Court Justice's Startling Apology Adds Human Context To Tough Ruling

Hartford Courant
by Jeff Benedict

Here's a must-read epilogue to the epically bad decision in the landmark court case known as Kelo vs. New London.

If a state Supreme Court judge approaches a journalist at a private dinner and says something newsworthy about an important decision, is the journalist free to publish the statement?

I faced that situation at a dinner honoring the Connecticut Supreme Court at the New Haven Lawn Club on May 11, 2010. That night I had delivered the keynote address on the U.S. Supreme Court's infamous 5-4 decision in Kelo v. New London. Susette Kelo was in the audience and I used the occasion to tell her personal story, as documented in my book "Little Pink House."

Afterward, Susette and I were talking in a small circle of people when we were approached by Justice Richard N. Palmer. Tall and imposing, he is one of the four justices who voted with the 4-3 majority against Susette and her neighbors. Facing me, he said: "Had I known all of what you just told us, I would have voted differently."

I was speechless. So was Susette. One more vote in her favor by the Connecticut Supreme Court would have changed history. The case probably would not have advanced to the U.S. Supreme Court, and Susette and her neighbors might still be in their homes.

Then Justice Palmer turned to Susette, took her hand and offered a heartfelt apology. Tears trickled down her red cheeks. It was the first time in the 12-year saga that anyone had uttered the words "I'm sorry."

article

NoLandGrab: We're guessing that Daniel Goldstein isn't holding his breath for a similar mea culpa from New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman.

Related coverage...

Reason Hit & Run, Connecticut Supreme Court Justice to Susette Kelo: “I’m Sorry”

Palmer should be sorry. So should U.S. Supreme Court Justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, David Souter, and Anthony Kennedy, whose five votes upheld Palmer’s erroneous judgment and put the final nail in the coffin.

Posted by eric at 9:25 PM

Sports Business Journal confirms Barclays naming rights deal was $200 million, not $400 million

Atlantic Yards Report

Is the Barclays Center naming rights deal worth "nearly $400 million," as the New York Times reported 7/19/11 or is it closer to $200 million and change?

I pointed 8/3/11 to 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.

Nets and Forest City officials have claimed that the total value of the deal remains around $400 million, but never offered any documentation.

Now, as noted by NetsDaily, "the authoritative" Sports Business Journal is using the $200 million figure.

link

Posted by eric at 3:14 PM

"They're in violation": the not-yet-said words (by Bill de Blasio, Bertha Lewis, Al Sharpton) about Forest City Ratner's obligation, under the Community Benefits Agreement, to hire an Independent Compliance Monitor

Atlantic Yards Report

We've seen some candor about developer Forest City Ratner's obligations to the state--but what about to the Community Benefits Agreement?

A remarkable thing happened at the end of the 6/28/11 community meeting in Prospect Heights over traffic and parking issues faced by those living near the east end of the Atlantic Yards site.

Empire State Development (ESD) planner Rachel Shatz was challenged, cordially, to opine on the contradiction between Forest City Ratner's responsibility to "maintain an on-site construction coordinator" and the fact that the community liaison is present once a week.

"They're in violation," she said, in a episode of candor that seemed to provoke momentary consternation from her colleague Arana Hankin, Director, Atlantic Yards Project.

The next day, Forest City committed to ensuring that a staffer would be present during working hours, while an ESD spokeswoman walked the issue back, asserting that the developer had not been in violation, given that the contractual responsibility did not delineate the number of hours required.
...

Shatz, at least, answered candidly.

By contrast, none of the signatories of the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement (CBA), nor figures who backed the CBA, have publicly challenged the developer on its failure to hire an Independent Compliance Monitor.
...

Who could speak up? de Blasio

In September 2009, then-Council Member Bill de Blasio, then running for Public Advocate, was asked about Atlantic Yards by talk show host Brian Lehrer.

"I have said from the beginning I believe in the affordable housing, the hiring of local residents and living wage levels," de Blasio said. "I think the company involved has to prove that they will keep to the original interpretation or we should pull the plug."

He didn't quite understand his talking points, as I noted. However, if de Blasio, who issues p.r. statements daily about any number of issues--on September 16, he commented about Palestinian statehood--had any consistency, he'd comment on the failure to hire an Independent Compliance Monitor.

My queries about that issue to his spokespeople went unanswered. When I asked him in July about the CBA, he replied vaguely.

article

Posted by eric at 11:25 AM

Cartoon Finish: Rats Find a Home in Fort Greene

The Local [Fort Greene/Clinton Hill]
by Alexander Gruss

"I’ve been noticing that rats are becoming a regular feature in the neighborhood"

Artist Alexander Gruss sent us this cartoon, his take on the rats of Brooklyn.

link

NoLandGrab: He forgot "Rats, Rats & Hoops."

Posted by eric at 11:11 AM

Rescue mission

Ratner’s fight to help tragic Sudan teen

NY Post
by Rich Calder

"Liberal do-gooder" Bruce Ratner is "quietly" helping a young Sudanese refugee by giving the Post an exclusive complete with heart-warming photo op.

It’s not just basketball and skyscrapers with Bruce Ratner.

The uber-developer -- best known for his under-construction Brooklyn arena for the Nets -- is vigorously trying to cut through bureaucratic red tape to keep a teenage Sudanese ex-slave in the United States to help restore the boy’s eyesight.

Ratner and his sister, Fox News analyst Ellen Ratner, first met tortured, blinded Ker Deng, now 18, on a trip to Sudan in April, nearly a year after the rights group Christian Solidarity International rescued him from slavery. The Ratners were touched by Deng’s horrifying story.
...

Bruce Ratner has quietly covered all of Deng’s expenses, including his travel and medical costs and those of an uptown apartment for him and a round-the-clock caretaker.
...

Deng says he doesn’t know much about basketball, but Ratner hopes to change that when his Barclays Center arena opens in next fall.

“If you are still here, I am going to take you to the first Nets game and explain everything,” Ratner told Deng, while both embraced.

article

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Post: Ratner "quietly" helping blinded Sudanese ex-slave

Well, Ratner's goal is certainly worthy, but it's hard to avoid thinking that the publicity effort is a tad strategic: after all, if "Ratner has quietly covered all of Deng’s expenses," he wasn't so quiet as to keep that information from the Post.

Ratner's been a little quieter about a lot of other things, such as the Independent Compliance Monitor required by the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement. And the latter surely would cost Ratner's firm far more than the support he's offered to one worthy, needy Sudanese.

Photo: Chad Rachman/NY Post

Posted by eric at 11:00 AM

Barclays Center Developer ‘Hopeful’ About an Islanders Move to Brooklyn in 2015

NYMag.com

And the idiocy continues...

Barclays Center developer Bruce Ratner yesterday gave his strongest indication yet that he wants the Islanders in the new building, telling Bloomberg Television that he's "hopeful" the Islanders will move in once their Nassau Coliseum lease is up. Said Ratner: "I think it is highly likely there won't be a new arena built in Nassau County with the current state of the economy, so I think there is certainly a chance." (Ratner wouldn't say whether he's actually spoken with the Islanders about a potential move.)

link

NoLandGrab: You can bet that Ratner would "quietly" say that he'd bring some poor, disadvantaged immigrant youth to the Islanders' first game in Brooklyn, however...

Posted by eric at 10:50 AM

September 18, 2011

Nets expect most but not all contracted revenues in hand by arena opening

Atlantic Yards Report

I wrote 9/8/11 that, according to the latest Forest City Enterprises press release, "Approximately 56 percent of forecasted contractually obligated revenues for the arena are currently under contract."

That, I pointed out, was up from 51% a year ago, which suggested slow progress.

Mike Ozanian of the Forbes SportsMoney blog tweeted 9/12/11, "Nets say they will not have contracts for all contractually obligated revenue when Brooklyn arena opens 9-12. Say will have 'most sold.'"

NetsDaily yesterday:

All that [progress] said, the Nets still have some challenges at the arena. Only Approximately 56 percent of "forecasted contractually obligated revenues" for the arena are currently under contract. That includes naming rights, sponsorships, suite licenses, Nets minimum rent, and food concession agreements. Only about half the 104 suites are sold. The lockout can't be helping.

link

Posted by steve at 11:00 PM

What if... "antimanipulation" were part of the local curriculum?

Atlantic Yards Report

A marvelous New York Times Magazine article today, My Family’s Experiment in Extreme Schooling, concerns the experience of three American siblings, children of a Times correspondent, in attending an experimental school in Moscow where instruction is only in Russian:

New Humanitarian had standard subjects, like history and math, and Danya had many hours of homework a week. But [school founder Vasiliy Georgievich Bogin added courses like antimanipulation, which was intended to give children tools to decipher commercial or political messages. He taught a required class called myshleniye, which means “thinking,” as in critical thinking. It was based in part on the work of a dissident Soviet educational philosopher named Georgy Shchedrovitsky, who argued that there were three ways of thinking: abstract, verbal and representational. To comprehend the meaning of something, you had to use all three.

When I asked Bogin to explain Shchedrovitsky, he asked a question. “Does 2 + 2 = 4? No! Because two cats plus two sausages is what? Two cats. Two drops of water plus two drops of water? One drop of water.”

Well, then. There might be fodder here, too.

link

NoLandGrab: "Sulu, are you getting sensor readings from Atlantic Yards?" "B.S. detectors are on, Captain, and the readings are off the scale."

Posted by steve at 10:51 PM

Quote of the week, from Marty Markowitz: "I would bring the heart back to this city" (if he decided to run for mayor)

Atlantic Yards Report

The New York Post reported in a 9/14/11 article headlined Fuhgeddaboutit! B’klyn Beep Marty retiring from politics:

Marty Markowitz -- the powerful, popular Brooklyn borough president who had seriously considered a bid to replace Mayor Bloomberg in 2013 -- is no longer interested in the gig, sources told The Post yesterday.

NLG's Eric McClure suggested Markowitz would be "your next Forest City Ratner Companies Vice President of Governmental Affairs!"

Backing off

Then Markowitz backed off--sort of.

In a NY1 piece later that day headlined Markowitz Denies Report He's Ready To Leave Public Office, Markowitz in some ways seemed to confirm the earlier report, acknowledging that, unlike the announced candidates, he hasn't made any steps to campaign.

link

Posted by steve at 10:47 PM

FCRC representative says late night jackhammering is mandated by DOT, and noise can't be muffled

Atlantic Yards Watch

FCRC Community Liaison Brigitte LaBonte has provided more information about nighttime work in roadways.

She details upcoming work on Flatbush Avenue at Dean Street that will take several weeks, and states the traffic mitigation work that is at least partially responsible for complaints about jackhammering will end before the NYC Marathon in early November. The installation of new water mains on Atlantic Avenue will continue until April 2012. Additional mitigation work such as the construction of sidewalks will continue until August 2012. Nighttime use of the staging area associated with infrastructure work in block 1129 will continue through that time.

Some follow up questions have been sent to LaBonte requesting further information about the flexibility of the contractor's timetable for the mitigation work at 4th Avenue and Atlantic, as well as about the possibility of shifting the location of the late night staging area within block 1129 given nighttime disruptions related to it will continue for nearly a year more.

Because LaBonte's information is specific to work occurring in roadways, it does not address extended hours work in the footprint. Over the weekend a new round of complaints were submitted to AYW from residents of Newswalk Condominium complex about demolition work in the railyard on Saturday.

link

Posted by steve at 10:42 PM

China Buys US For A Bargain

The Bull

This item speaks about Chinese investments includes Atlantic Yards, but the EB-5 program is not mentioned. Besides getting Green Cards, it's not clear what return Chinese investors would get from their AY investment.

According to a recent report in the New York Times, investors from China are "snapping up luxury apartments" and are planning to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on commercial and residential projects like Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn. Chinese companies also have signed major leases at the Empire State Building and at 1 World Trade Center, the report said.

link

Posted by steve at 10:36 PM

September 17, 2011

A Ratner obituary (reprinted from 50 years ago) in the Times

Atlantic Yards Report

Yesterday's New York Times featured the advertisement below. It appeared on the page opposite the page containing obituaries. That also meant it was on the page of the Sports section that included the section's sole article about pro basketball.

"Well-Known Cleveland Philanthropist" Harry Ratner, of course, was the father of Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner.

link

Posted by steve at 7:02 PM

What Would Jane Jacobs Say?

WNET

This week, Modern Library is publishing a silver anniversary re-issue of “The Death and Life of Great American Cities,” complete with a new introduction of Jason Epstein, the book’s original editor. To honor the occasion, MetroFocus looked at some of the contemporary local players in the world of urban planning through the lens of the late Jane Jacobs:

...

Daniel Goldstein, resident and activist in Brooklyn

Goldstein fought to stop the construction of the Atlantic Yards project, the largest redevelopment plan in recent New York history. The project was a perfect storm of private sector might and political will. In 2003, developer Forest City Ratner announced his plan to buy the Nets, move the team to Brooklyn and build a $2.5 billion development in the Prospect Heights section of Brooklyn.

On the Jane Jacobs’ scale: The similarities between Jacobs and Goldstein are easy to spot, though he does not share her taste in large black spectacles and bangs. Goldstein rallied his neighbors against a powerful developer that used eminent domain to seize private property, staged protests and kept a detailed blog about the Atlantic Yards Project. Similarly, Jacobs led a grassroots campaign in the early ’60s to nix Robert Moses’ plan to build a highway that cut through Lower Manhattan. However, in her case, the battle was won. Goldstein’s story is chronicled in “The Battle for Brooklyn,” a new documentary by Suki Hawley and Michael Galinsky.

link

Posted by steve at 6:50 PM

Carlton Avenue Association Monthly Meeting

Prospect Heights Patch

With continuous construction of the Atlantic Yards arena and housing development has brought about continuous problems with rats in the area. Many residents who live in the construction zone are constantly crossing paths with the rodents. One resident recommended that brownstone home owners hire an exterminator and check under the stoop steps for nests. They also recommend that residents collect and enter their concerns and call the 311 system to have a paper trail of all complaints in reference to the construction. Residents are encouraged to contact 311 in reference to any complaints including noise, dust, construction during off peak hours or any incidents that may potentially pose a threat to area residents.

In discussing the Atlantic Yards Project, there will be a film screening of Battle for Brooklyn on Friday October 7, 2011 at the Park Slope Co-op. The documentary explores the fight between residents and business owners facing imminent domain, corporate interests and exposes misconceptions about the project. The film is free for everyone.

link

Posted by steve at 6:43 PM

Mr. Moinian goes to Beijing

Real Estate Weekly
By Roland Li

Developer Joseph Moinian is emulating Bruce Ratner as he prepares to find Chinese investors as part of the EB-5 program. This federal program is meant to create jobs, but apparently createsd no jobs when used for Atlantic Yards.

Soon, the developer will make another move to attract Chinese business. In November, Moinian will partner with Windham Realty Group and travel to China to meet with prospective buyers, eventually visiting seven cities.

....

Another appeal of investing in American is a federal program called EB-5, which allows foreigners who invest at least $500,000 to gain a green card and possible foreign residence. Forest City Ratner used the program to raise $249 in Chinese loans for the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn.

link

Posted by steve at 6:31 PM

September 16, 2011

ESD CEO Kenneth Adams to meet Brooklynites concerned about Atlantic Yards; session is invite-only, questions must be submitted beforehand

Atlantic Yards Report

In July, at the bi-monthly Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meeting, Council Member Letitia James asked Arana Hankin, Atlantic Yards Project Director for Empire State Development, if she could get Empire State Development President and CEO Kenneth Adams, a Brooklynite, to come to a Town Hall meeting in Brooklyn.

Well, Adams will appear at a Brooklyn Borough Hall meeting September 26 from 6-8 pm, but the meeting is not public, and limited to representatives of specific community groups, which can each send one representative. Questions must be submitted in advanced and asked by elected officials.

James told me yesterday that she had requested that Adams attend the District Service Cabinet and a community meeting. "This is their version of a community meeting," she said in an email. Representatives from some 30 groups were invited to submit questions.

article

NoLandGrab: The ESDC is all about transparency and openness.

Posted by eric at 12:35 PM

Atlantic Yards-related work extends to 24 hours a day, resulting in many reported quality of life impacts

Atlantic Yards Watch

Eine kleine Nachtmusik, brought to you by Bruce Ratner.

Be sure to turn the volume up to 11 to enjoy the full effect of the late-night jackhammering.

Late night and weekend work hours continue to be expanded at Atlantic Yards. The work in the video above takes place at Atlantic and 4th Avenues on a regular basis late at night and is concluded at 6 am. This video is from September 1st.

Normal construction work hours at the site extend from 7 am to 3:30 pm. Work in the arena is now often 24 hours a day during the week and extends into weekends. As of this weekend, work in the Vanderbilt railyard will take place both Saturdays and Sundays. Truck deliveries for the arena have now been moved forward to as early as 6:00 am. Construction staging on block 1129 is active any time extended hours work takes place elsewhere in the footprint or its vicinity.

The number of workers during extended hours is often significantly less than during normal weekday hours. And according to the Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments, "work that generates high noise levels would be scheduled during weekday daytime hours to the extent feasible...unless required by safety or other agency requirements." Now safety and other agency requirements often appear to override community noise concerns.

The work can be distressing for residents nearby. In the last several months repeated complaints have been made about the installation of the traffic mitigations at Atlantic and 4th Avenues.

article

Posted by eric at 12:26 PM

Isles to Brooklyn? Nets' Ratner would like it

ESPN.com

Let the idiocy continue...

In an interview with Bloomberg TV today, New Jersey Nets minority owner Bruce Ratner expressed interest in having the New York Islanders as tenants in the Barclays Center.

"I would hope that's possible," Ratner said in the interview. "It depends on a lot of things. It depends on whether the Islanders want to come. It depends on whether they have different choices."

Like the arena magically expanding to accommodate an NHL-sized rink and NHL-quality sight lines.

link

NoLandGrab: Bruce Ratner would like to have the Los Angeles Lakers and the Green Bay Packers move to the Barclays Center, too, which is just as likely as the Islanders moving there.

Related nonsense...

Lighthouse Hockey, Meanwhile, Ratner Hopes the Islanders Join the Nets in Brooklyn

Ratner -- who remember, is angling for his own interests here -- said he "couldn't talk about" whether discussions have taken place with the Islanders. There were reports in August of a meeting between Ratner, CEO Brett Yormark and NHL executives about the NHL playing in the new arena, but no specifics were given.

Just remember that executives stay tight-lipped when they want to. And when they want to float something publicly in a way that publicizes or advances their own interests, they'll do that, too.

NY Post, Nets would welcome Islanders in Brooklyn

Although Ratner declined to reveal whether he has had talks with the NHL team, his comments were the strongest he has made yet about pro hockey joining the NBA's Nets at the Barclays Center, which opens in September 2012.

Yahoo! Sports, Islanders moving to Brooklyn?

NYPost.com NHL Blog, Brooklyn 'possible' for Islanders, says Nets owner: report

Posted by eric at 12:15 PM

Ratner Interview - property players

Bloomberg via Rumur and Vimeo

Speaking of Battle for Brooklyn, has Bruce Ratner seen the film yet?

link

Posted by eric at 12:10 PM

'Battle for Brooklyn' Director Reaches out to Citizens for Oakwood

Documentary director arranges for local theater to screen film about a neighborhood's efforts to stop development and hosts discussion about the former Oakwood Country Club

Cleveland Heights Patch
by Michelle Simakis

The director of the documentary Battle for Brooklyn, which chronicles a neighborhood's fight to try and stop the Atlantic Yards project in the Prospect Heights area of the borough, has reached out to a local organization that is trying to stop development here.

Michael Galinsky, director of the film, contacted Citizens for Oakwood, and said he supported the group's efforts to stop developer First Interstate Properties from constructing commercial and residential buildings on the former Oakwood Country Club, which straddles Cleveland Heights and South Euclid.
...

His connection to Cleveland goes beyond his support of similar grassroots groups around the country. Forest City Ratner, the company that is building an arena for the New Jersey Nets and 16 office and residential properties in the Brooklyn neighborhood, was founded in Cleveland.

article

Posted by eric at 11:52 AM

CB2 Votes To Support Atlantic Yards Bollard Plan

DOT hearing on issue to be held in early October.

Park Slope Patch
by Paul Leonard

A controversial plan to install bollards at Atlantic Yards moved forward Wednesday evening with a vote by Community Board 2 to support the construction of 206 barriers around the perimeter of the Barclays Center site.

According to Atlantic Yards Report, an executive with Forest City Ratner, Jane Marshall, confirmed there would be an October hearing set on the issue.

At CB2's regular monthly meeting, Marshall hinted that a portion of the sidewalk going eastbound toward Sixth Avenue would be close to coming under a width of 20 feet due to a temporary construction barrier tied to a residential portion of the site.

That admission seemed likely to stoke neigborhood concerns about a bottleneck for arena-bound pedestrians.

article

NoLandGrab: Actually, that portion of sidewalk along Atlantic Avenue just west of Sixth Avenue will be less than 10 feet wide, with an "effective width" of five-and-a-half feet, for perhaps several years. And that was not disclosed in the worthless Environmental Impact Statement.

Posted by eric at 11:46 AM

Anticipation and Worries Greet New Downtown Venue to Open Tonight

The Local [Fort Greene/Clinton Hill]
by Brenna Walton

As Lillian Wood left Wednesday night’s Community Board 2 discussion of the opening of a new performance venue at 509 Atlantic Avenue, she turned to her friend.

“Where is 509 Atlantic?” asked Wood, who has lived in Clinton Hill for 52 years.

Then it dawned on her. She looked alarmed.

“That’s right across the street from the stadium.”

Roulette Intermedium, a non-profit arts organization, will open an experimental music venue at that address tonight, just steps away from the planned Barclays Center. On Wednesday, Community Board 2 voted to support Roulette’s application for a liquor license from the State Liquor Authority, with a strict set of stipulations attached.
...

But noise, traffic and trash are the concerns of residents who oppose bars and clubs opening in the shadow of the arena. Ms. Wood said the area is already more congested than it was before its construction began.

article

NoLandGrab: "Right across the street from the stadium" is a bit of a stretch — at the corner of 3rd and Atlantic Avenues, it's more than a city block and about 1000 feet from the arena. Still, per capita alcohol consumption in the area will likely increase significantly thanks to Bruce Ratner's basketball palace.

Posted by eric at 11:37 AM

September 15, 2011

Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov ousted from pro-Kremlin party

Oligarch claims Russian president Medvedev's aide is 'privatising' politics in dispute over parliamentary candidates

The Guardian
by Tom Parfitt

This is most probably a case of a fake candidate being ousted from his own fake party in a fake purge, but with Russia, it's hard to tell what's what.

Billionaire Russian metals tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov promised on Thursday to exact revenge on a top Kremlin official after the businessman was ousted as leader of his own political party.

Prokhorov, 46, Russia's third richest man with an estimated fortune of £11.4bn, accused President Dmitry Medvedev's deputy chief of staff, Vladislav Surkov, of "privatising the political system" and orchestrating his downfall.

In the closest that Moscow has seen to real political drama for several months, it appeared that members of Russia's governing elite had organised the tycoon's exit in order to punish him for refusing to toe the line after he agreed to head the minority Right Cause party in May.
...

Right Cause projected a liberal, pro-business agenda under Prokhorov's leadership and has been widely seen as a Kremlin-controlled project to create the illusion of political competition in the run up to parliamentary elections in December.

article

NoLandGrab: Now here's a coincidence — Bruce Ratner has pretty much privatized the political system in New York State.

Posted by eric at 5:37 PM

Ratner, in softball interview, says ticket sales good, sidesteps question about financing, plays dumb when asked about EB-5 venture, again claims AY a "civic project"

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder deconstructs today's Bloomberg interview with Bruce Ratner.

In a softball interview (Bruce Ratner on Atlantic Yards Project, Real Estate) posted today on Bloomberg.com, Ratner asserted that ticket sales for Nets games were ahead of schedule and that "there's certainly a chance" that the hockey Islanders might move to Brooklyn.

Though he said financing for the first tower would be in place, he cagily sidestepped a question about financing for the rest of the project and played dumb when faced with a misdirected question about the role of Chinese investors in Atlantic Yards.

As for Atlantic Yards, he again dubbed it a "civic project," as if it were somehow designed to deliver civic benefits ahead of returns to corporate investors. And in an echo of his ally, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Ratner asserted that "people who know me" continue to think his reputation positive.

article

Posted by eric at 12:53 PM

Forest City to launch Sunday hours in railyard for at least three months; 6 am deliveries have begun

Atlantic Yards Report

The latest Atlantic Yards two-week Construction Alert/Update, prepared by Forest City Ratner and distributed by Empire State Development, covers the weeks beginning September 12 and September 19, but was released yesterday, two days late.

The big news: work at the railyard will begin on Sundays for at least three months, starting this Sunday, and that arena site deliveries have begun at 6 am, an hour earlier than previously, and could continue for another year.

article

Posted by eric at 12:49 PM

'Battle for Brooklyn': A New York neighborhood takes on Forest City real-estate developers in tale of tenacity

The Plain Dealer
by Clint O'Connor

What do they think of Battle for Brooklyn in the Forest City?

"Battle for Brooklyn" teaches about tenacity, access and, most of all, endurance. Co-directors Michael Galinsky and Suki Hawley spent eight years chronicling a sorry American saga: the fight between residents and developers over a massive real-estate project in Brooklyn's Prospect Heights neighborhood. It's emblematic of backroom dealings played out in many communities when real-estate developers and politicians join forces and leave average folks little or no voice.
...

It's refreshing when citizens give enough of a damn to fight back, especially against corporate Goliaths. Galinsky and Hawley should be applauded for their well-crafted film that helps explain all the cynicism and subterfuge.
...

"Battle for Brooklyn" shines a light on the agonizing labyrinth of politicos, committees, corporate PR speak and court delays. It's a familiar story, but that doesn't make it any easier to swallow.

article

Posted by eric at 12:40 PM

Community Board 2 votes to support bollard plan; DOT hearing in October; state memo coming on truncated sidewalk

Atlantic Yards Report

Well, chalk up one victory for process, if not exactly rigorous oversight.

Developer Forest City Ratner did attend the monthly meeting of Brooklyn Community Board 2 last night, despite doubts that the developer would appear, and made a fairly brief presentation about the 206 bollards planned for the perimeter of the arena block.

After asking the barest of questions, the board--which was anticipating a presentation by City Comptroller John Liu, who was in the wings--voted unanimously to support the plan as pending before the Department of Transportation (DOT). Five board members abstained, perhaps because of lingering wariness toward the project.

Hearing and memo coming

Forest City Ratner executive Jane Marshall did reveal two important pieces of process-related information. The Department of Transportation will hold a public hearing in early October on the bollard issue, and will leave the record open for ten days and will respond to comments, she said. (No date is listed yet on the DOT web site.)

She also acknowledged that there had been expressions of concern that the sidewalk on Atlantic Avenue going east from the arena to Sixth Avenue would be less than the promised 20 feet--the consequence of a temporary wall that would be replaced when a residential building is finally construction.

article

Posted by eric at 12:32 PM

CB2 Recap: Bollards, Roulette, Red Apple

Brownstoner

Roulette, the new experimental music venue at 509 Atlantic Avenue, got the OK from the board for a liquor license, but it came with a list of stipulations. As part of its approval, the board said the venue couldn’t act as a bar or nightclub, or have outdoor space; it also asked for soundproofing and time constraints on loud music. The grand opening of the venue is this Sunday, September 18th.

link

Posted by eric at 12:29 PM

Bruce Ratner on Atlantic Yards Project, Real Estate

Bloomberg

The great oracle speaks. But he seems to have forgotten about the $249 million in green-card fundraising he was doing a few months ago. And if Mikhail Prokhorov has "probably the next six months" to make a decision on investing in the first non-arena Atlantic Yards building, then repeated promises of a 2011 groundbreaking have been greatly exaggerated. And, oh, Bruce can't really talk about the Islanders.

Bruce Ratner, chairman and chief executive officer of Forest City Ratner Cos., discusses the New York real estate market and the outlook for the U.S. economy. Ratner, speaking with Betty Liu on Bloomberg Television's "In the Loop," also talks about the Barclays Center, a new sports and entertainment venue being built in the Atlantic Yards section of Brooklyn, New York.

link

NoLandGrab: In a great bit of synergy, the video is preceded by an ad for Barclays Center underwriter Goldman Sachs, touting all the wonderful (and not exactly true) benefits of its financing of an arena in Louisville [you may see a different Goldman spot]. Oh, and be sure to watch to the end to see Bruce's earplug fall out.

Posted by eric at 12:12 PM

Cuomo Administration to Appeal Court Order to Re-examine Atlantic Yards Environmental Impact

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Speaking of the ESDC...

Governor (Status) Cuomo and his new appointee heading the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), Kenneth Adams, have decided that the most responsible thing it can do for the public in reaction to a July court order to rationally examine the environmental impacts of the 25-year (at minimum) Atlantic Yards project is to...appeal that court order.

The ESDC, again, is acting solely on behalf of the developer Forest City Ratner while gifting the public (DDDB and BrooklynSpeaks foremostly) the present of having to fight off an appeal that shouldn't have been brought in the first place.

Oh, and all the local politicians had called on Adams and the Governor to comply with the court order.

link

Posted by eric at 12:09 PM

Downtown Brooklyn economic development czar stepping down for state job

The Brooklyn Blog (NYPost.com)
by Rich Calder

The head of the development corporation created by Mayor Bloomberg to spur economic development in Downtown Brooklyn is leaving for a top-ranking job at the Empire State Development Corp., sources said today.

Joe Chan, president of the public-private Downtown Brooklyn Partnership since its inception in 2006, had been making $220,000 annually but recently took a pay cut to slightly below $180,000 to reflect the current economic downturn, sources said.
...

The Partnership is also now running the Fulton Mall, Court-Livingston-Schermerhorn and Metro Tech business improvement districts.

However, Comptroller John Liu ripped the Partnership in a recent audit for keeping shoddy payroll records, poorly documenting private donations and snubbing competitive-bidding laws. The Partnership has denied the findings.

article

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Post: Atlantic Yards booster Joe Chan to leave Downtown Brooklyn Partnership for ESDC

Assuming Chan will have a top job under CEO Kenneth Adams, that would make two Atlantic Yards-supporting Brooklynites at the top of the agency overseeing Atlantic Yards.

The Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, presumably influenced by Mayor Mike Bloomberg and member Forest City Ratner, has been a reliable cheerleader for Atlantic Yards, and once was (and perhaps still is) under investigation by the state Attorney General's office for improper lobbying.

Posted by eric at 11:44 AM

Beaten for a backpack

The Brooklyn Paper
by Thomas Tracy

It's abundantly clear that the Atlantic Terminal Target could use wallet protectors in addition to its vaunted Pocketbook Protectors.

Target-ed

Once again, a handful of crimes took place at the Bruce Ratner-owned Atlantic Center and Atlantic Terminal malls this week. Here’s what happened:

• A sticky-fingered thief grabbed a diaper bag containing a wallet and cellphone during a sneaky Sept. 6 theft inside the Flatbush Avenue Target.

The 25-year-old victim was inside the big box store near Atlantic Avenue at 6:30 pm when the crook snagged the bag.

• A 48-year-old woman was arrested on Sept. 7 after she was caught shoplifting inside the Flatbush Avenue Target.

Store employees grabbed the woman at 8:30 pm — just before she could make off with more than $1,000 in baby formula, clothes, candy, cosmetics and a blender.

• A thief made off with a 21-year-old woman’s handbag on Sept. 11 as the woman shopped at the Marshalls on Atlantic Avenue.

The victim was scouting out sales inside the store at 6:20 pm when she left her belongings on the floor.

When she turned back a few moments later, her bag — which contained $400 an iPad and her Russian passport — was gone.

article

Posted by eric at 11:39 AM

Coaches Vs. Cancer Classic Moving From MSG To Barclays Center In 2012

CBS New York

The Coaches vs. Cancer Classic will have new network and title sponsor starting in 2012.

And it’s moving from Manhattan to Brooklyn.

The tournament that started in 1995 will shuffle next year from Madison Square Garden to the new Barclays Center and its exclusive broadcast and media rights will be owned by Turner Sports.

article

NoLandGrab: What, no hockey?!

Posted by eric at 11:12 AM

September 14, 2011

Update: ESDC to appeal Friedman's rulings but still will prepare a Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement

Atlantic Yards Report

I wrote this morning that both Forest City Ratner and the Empire State Development Corporation are appealing state Supreme Court Justice Marcy Friedman's rulings that require a new Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS). However (as first noted on Patch), the state agency will still conduct an SEIS.

Agency spokeswoman Elizabeth Mitchell told me:

Empire State Development strongly believes we complied with all applicable laws when the Atlantic Yards General Project Plan was modified in 2009, including undertaking a thorough review of environmental impacts as required by State environmental law. This review demonstrated that the modified Project would not result in any impacts that were not already disclosed in earlier environmental reviews, and therefore, no Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, or SEIS, was required. Accordingly, on Monday, September 12, ESD filed an appeal of the New York Supreme Court order directing that ESD conduct an SEIS in connection with Phase 2 of the Project.

However, she also stated:

ESD has decided to comply with the judge’s order to prepare an SEIS to ensure that the impacts to the surrounding community are minimized to the maximum practicable extent.

That doesn't fully compute, to me. It could simply be that the agency is hedging its bets; if the appellate court does not overturn the lower court's decision, at least ESD will have an SEIS in place.

link

Posted by eric at 3:15 PM

ESDC, Forest City to appeal state court judge's ruling that requires Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement; legislators had asked state to comply with decision

Atlantic Yards Report

When it comes to Atlantic Yards and New York State government, everything is Status Cuomo.

Does the impact of extended Atlantic Yards construction, which could last 25 years, need to be studied further?

No, say the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) and Forest City Ratner. They're appealing two decisions made by state Supreme Court Justice Marcy Friedman--strong criticisms of the state's processes--leading to 7/13/11 ruling and order that the ESDC conduct further environmental review, including a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS).

The defense argument, as described further below, is that it was "rational in all respects, and adequately supported by the record" for the state to assume a ten-year buildout and to assume that no significant adverse environmental impacts had not already been analyzed.

The question for the appellate court is whether, indeed, it was "rational"--not clear and convincing but simply "rational." That's a very low bar for a state agency to meet in an environmental review proceeding, which is why Friedman's rulings against the state were unusual.

The petitioners--in two combined cases--include civic groups organized by BrooklynSpeaks and Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB), as well as several individuals and local elected officials. The appeal decision was announced yesterday by BrooklynSpeaks, which in recent months has taken more of a leading role in the litigation.

article

NoLandGrab: Why you hittin' yourself, ESDC?

Related coverage...

Prospect Heights Patch, Order for Environmental Review of Atlantic Yards to be Contested

Brownstoner, Forest City, ESDC Appealing July Atlantic Yards Ruling

Posted by eric at 1:29 PM

Brooke Shields To Star In Movie Based On New London Eminent Domain Case

Author Jeff Benedict Announces Deal On His Blog

Hartford Courant
by Susan Dunne

Nothing comes between Brooke Shields and her little pink house.

"Little Pink House: A True Story of Defiance and Courage," a book written in 2009 by Jeff Benedict about the Fort Trumbull eminent domain decision in New London, is being made into a Lifetime TV movie starring Brooke Shields as the decision's most prominent opponent, Susette Kelo, according to an announcement made Friday on the author's blog, http://www.jeffbenedict.com.

Rick Woolf, Benedict's editor at Grand Central Publishing, confirmed the report. "We're thrilled that this is going to be a movie on Lifetime," Woolf said. "Susette is a folk hero and Jeff has done a tremendous job telling the story."

link

NoLandGrab: We would've cast Oscar-winner Melissa Leo in the role, but she might be a couple notches above a Lifetime movie at this point.

Posted by eric at 1:13 PM

Fuhgeddaboutit! B’klyn Beep Marty retiring from politics

NY Post
by Rich Calder

Ladies and gentleman — your next Forest City Ratner Companies Vice President of Governmental Affairs!

Marty Markowitz -- the powerful, popular Brooklyn borough president who had seriously considered a bid to replace Mayor Bloomberg in 2013 -- is no longer interested in the gig, sources told The Post yesterday.

Jeez, and he had such a good chance of winning.

In fact, the 66-year-old Markowitz, who can’t run for re-election again as borough president because of term limits, has been telling close confidants he’s grown tired of the strains of political life altogether and is not planning to run for any other elected post.

He's not the only one who's grown tired.

...
As borough president, he played a major role in the opening of the Red Hook cruise-ship terminal, attracting new development to Downtown Brooklyn and Coney Island and convincing the owners of the NBA New Jersey Nets to move into a new Prospect Heights arena next year.

But Markowitz has also infuriated his share of constituents, including bicycle activists, over his opposition to a bike lane along Prospect Park West.

Opponents of the controversial Atlantic Yards project, including the new Nets arena, regularly ridicule him for being its biggest booster.

article

Related coverage...

Runnin' Scared, Marty Markowitz Is Retiring

This comes after Markowitz's ethics issue in July, in which the city Conflicts of Interest Board fined him $20,000 for accepting free travel for his wife who accompanied him on business trips to Turkey and the Netherlands, though representatives of Markowitz said this was unrelated to the decision not to run.

No formal announcements have been made yet. The big question, along with who will replace Marty Markowitz? is does Fuhgeddaboutit retire too?

Posted by eric at 1:03 PM

Latest consultant's report: arena still ahead of schedule (but lead is narrowing), while transit connection is on schedule (but no longer ahead)

Atlantic Yards Report

According to the latest Arena Site Observation Report, dated 9/9/11 (and based on a 7/28/11 visit and documents made available 8/29/11), the Barclays Center remains one month ahead of schedule, while the associated transit connection to the Atlantic Avenue subway hub--after being ahead of schedule--is simply on 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. Last month's report, however, stated that the transit connection was two months ahead of schedule.

(The transit connection is supposed to be completed by 3/26/12, while the arena is due 8/27/12.)

Some opacity

Also, there seems to be a lingering dispute about the schedule for which the resolution just keeps being put off, with no clarity from the consultant.

NetsDaily stated that the arena is ahead of schedule "despite" the hurricane and earthquake in August. The Site Observation Report makes no mention of the impact of either.

The hurricane hit 8/28/11, by which time nearly all of the month's spending, in documents made available 8/29/11, had been completed. In other words, next months' report should be more illuminating, though, given the relative opacity of these reports, I wouldn't bet that the impact of the hurricane will be noted.

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Posted by eric at 12:53 PM

September 13, 2011

Film Screening: Battle for Brooklyn

AIA New York

When: 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 19

Where: At The Center

“Don’t miss Battle For Brooklyn, a terrific film version of the sorry tale of Atlantic Yards, a cautionary tale for all cities.”
— Roberta Gratz, author The Battle For Gotham: New York in the Shadow of Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs. Mayor Bloomberg 2003 Appointee NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission

The biggest and longest lasting urban development controversy in the United States during the last decade was the struggle over the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, NY.
...

The filmmakers, Mike Galinsky and Suki Hawley, along with Daniel Goldstein, will participate in a Q&A following the film.

Cost: $10 for members; $15 non-members.

Organized by the Center for Architecture as a program of Urban Design Week.

link

Posted by eric at 9:25 PM

Truck deliveries procedures are revised at the site; a new system is introduced with a colored ticket required for entry at some truck entrances

Atlantic Yards Watch

Following months of reports on Atlantic Yards Watch about trucks driving illegal routes, idling, and traveling with uncovered loads in the neighborhoods around Atlantic Yards, a new system of organizing truck deliveries appears to have been put in place by Forest City Ratner this week.

The new system involves a colored ticket which is picked up by drivers on Pacific Street at Carlton Avenue. The drivers then proceed to the gate with the sign that matches the color of their ticket. The ticket is required to enter the gate.

article

Posted by eric at 9:17 PM

Empire State Development Corporation and Forest City Ratner to fight court order to revisit 2009 Atlantic Yards Plan

BrooklynSpeaks

Today, BrooklynSpeaks announced that the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) and Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) have served notice that the two plan to fight a July court decision ordering further environmental review of the Atlantic Yards project. The decision came after nearly two years of litigation by BrooklynSpeaks’ sponsors, local elected officials and community members, which challenged ESDC’s 2009 approval of plan changes increasing the duration of project construction from 10 to 25 years.

State legislators from the communities surrounding the Atlantic Yards project have previously called on the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) to comply with the court order to reconsider the 2009 Modified General Project Plan. In a letter to ESDC CEO Ken Adams from Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries and signed by Assembly Member Joan Millman, State Senator Eric Adams and State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, the officials point to troubling facts. “More than seven years have passed since Atlantic Yards’ announcement, and almost five years have passed since its original plan was approved. In that time, we have seen the promises of affordable housing and local jobs move nearly a generation into the future,” they wrote. The legislators also note extended use of the site for 1,100 surface parking spaces, and the removal of project elements intended to reduce the impact of locating an arena in a residential neighborhood, as critical changes introduced with the 2009 plan. Assemblyman Jim Brennan, Chair of the Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions, has written separately to CEO Adams urging ESDC not appeal the July decision. “I believe that it is in the interest of the whole Brooklyn community to comply with Judge Friedman’s order,” Assemblyman Brennan stated.

Filing of the appeal by FCRC and ESDC stays ESDC’s obligation to comply with the court order, thus delaying changes to the Atlantic Yards plan that would accelerate the delivery of affordable housing, create more jobs, and reduce the impacts of the additional 15 years of construction cited in the court’s decision.
...

Said Gib Veconi of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council, “The 2009 Atlantic Yards plan may have been negotiated under the previous administration, but the July court decision makes it Governor Cuomo’s problem now. We expected the Governor to follow through on his promises to reform State government, turn around delayed development at Atlantic Yards, and make this project work for Brooklyn and for New York State. Instead, it looks like he’s willing to continue to run interference for Forest City Ratner.

link

Posted by eric at 11:12 AM

What could enhance Jay-Z's arena opening debut? Video explains... maybe a baby (named Barclays? Brooke Lynne?)

Atlantic Yards Report

It's Norman Oder who's thinking outside the box.

The news last month that Beyoncé Knowles is pregnant prompted the most Tweets per second in Twitter history. That got me thinking how the creative minds behind the Barclays Center might make the most of that pregnancy.

After all, father Jay-Z is expected by many to open the Barclays Center in August or September 2012 with a series of concerts, much in the way--but way bigger--that Jon Bon Jovi opened the Prudential Center in Newark.

The cartoon video below sketches an imaginary conversation between Nets Sports & Entertainment CEO Brett Yormark and Nets p.r. guy Barry Baum.

link

Posted by eric at 11:04 AM

Battle for Brooklyn @ CIA Cinematheque

CoolCleveland

Heads up to our loyal readers in Cleveland — Battle for Brooklyn is coming to a theater near you!

Fri 9/16 @ 7:30PM

Sat 9/17 @ 9:40PM

So, it ain’t Cleveland… But, the documentary Battle for Brooklyn is about something we know all too well — Forest City Enterprises. The film details a community’s battle against Forest City’s Atlantic Yards project and sheds light on the way Forest City has been operating in Brooklyn. And that’s something worth paying attention to.

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Posted by eric at 10:55 AM

Law Prof: ‘Highly Abusive Blight Condemnation’ for AY

Brownstoner

Atlantic Yards Report and Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn point to an article by law professor Ilya Somin entitled “Let There Be Blight: Blight Condemnations in New York after Goldstein and Kaur” that will be published in the Fordham Urban Law Journal. The article looks at the blight condemnations used to justify the application of eminent domain for Atlantic Yards and Columbia and characterizes them as “highly abusive.”
...

Somin also argues that the blight studies were predetermined and concludes that the precedents set by Atlantic Yards and Columbia mean “there are virtually no remaining constitutional limits on blight condemnations in New York state.”

link

Photo: Tracy Collins

Posted by eric at 10:47 AM

September 12, 2011

"Yuck" is one response to Ratner's 9/11 ad promoting the Beekman Tower (aka 8 Spruce Street/New York By Gehry)

Atlantic Yards Report

In his BreakingCopy blog, about copywriting, Daryl Lang today cites Forest City Ratner's 9/11-themed ad running in today's Wall Street Journal. (I'd have thought it would be in the New York Times, too, but maybe they could pick only one.)
...

My comment:

Note that Ratner didn’t place a vote of confidence in Lower Manhattan without hedging his bets.
He got tax-free Liberty Bonds to lower the cost of construction.
And he stopped construction midway to renegotiate with the unions.

link

Posted by eric at 12:54 PM

Developer Bruce Ratner’s 9/11 ad

Breaking Copy
by Daryl Lang

Bruce Ratner, patriot, is at it again, with his version of the Twin Towers.

Here’s an 9/11-themed ad that’s running in the Wall Street Journal today for the real estate developer Forest City Ratner.

Notice the skyline. The rippling, metallic building in the foreground is 8 Spruce Street, a Forest City Ratner building. It was designed by Frank Gehry and is an easily spotted new fixture in the downtown Manhattan skyline. It’s full of pricy apartments Ratner is trying to rent.

In the background, of course, is a rendering of the future 1 World Trade Center, which Ratner is not involved in. The copy above says, simply, “WE BELIEVE.”

What to make of this? On the one hand, yes, Bruce Ratner did place a vote of confidence in Lower Manhattan at a time when the neighborhood really needed investments. But come on. He’s a New York City real estate developer, not a charity. So the ad basically says: “Let’s piggyback the 9/11 anniversary to show off our shiny new building we’re trying to fill up.” Yuck.

link

NoLandGrab: If you don't shell out $15,000 a month for a high-floor 3BR, the terrorists will have won.

Posted by eric at 11:50 AM

Community Board 2 to discuss bollard plan at meeting Wednesday; Forest City Ratner invited but not confirmed

Atlantic Yards Report

Brooklyn Community Board 2, which includes the largest portion of the Atlantic Yards arena block/plaza, on Wednesday, September 14 has put on its monthly meeting agenda discussion of the bollard arrangement proposed by developer Forest City Ratner around the block bounded by Flatbush, Atlantic, and Sixth avenues.

The bollards, not previously subject to public discussion, would cut the effective width of sidewalk.

The meeting will be held at Brooklyn Hospital Center, 121 DeKalb Avenue at St. Felix Street, beginning at 6 pm. The agenda includes numerous items, including five committee reports, before the bollard plan is listed under "new business."

Developer Forest City Ratner is listed as "invited, not confirmed," which doesn't sound promising. Note that the developer did not publicly release the bollard plan in the first place.

Brooklyn Community Board 6 also has its monthly meeting at 6:30 pm on Wednesday, September 14, to be held at New York Methodist Hospital, at 506 6th Street. The bollard plan is not mentioned on the agenda though there is an opportunity for members of the public to address the board.

Deadline for comments on the bollard plan to the Department of Transportation is September 22; comments should be sent to Emma Berenblit at eberenblit@dot.nyc.gov.

link

Posted by eric at 11:40 AM

Law professor Somin: in Atlantic Yards and Columbia eminent domain cases, "the [NY Court of Appeals] broke dubious new ground"

Atlantic Yards Report

Last February, libertarian law professor Ilya Somin of George Mason University, at a conference at Fordham Law School, called the Atlantic Yards eminent domain case in state court and the subsequent case challenging Columbia University's expansion "among the worst I've ever seen."

A law review article based on his presentation will be published in the October 2011 of the Fordham Urban Law Journal, titled Let There Be Blight: Blight Condemnations in New York after Goldstein and Kaur. (In several places, Somin cites an article I co-authored.)

(The AY case is known as Goldstein vs. New York State Urban Development Corporation and the Columbia case is known as Kaur vs. New York State Urban Development Corporation.)

Somin's argument:

the New York Court of Appeals erred badly, by allowing highly abusive blight condemnations and defining pretextual takings so narrowly as to essentially read the concept out of existence.

The "extraordinarily broad definition of “blight,” he allows, is not out of line with that of other states that define blight expansively though "odds with the text of the New York Constitution, which allows blight condemnations only in 'substandard and insanitary areas.'"

He also points to three areas in which the court failed to consider evidence and thus "broke dubious new ground":

  • evidence that the blight studies were predetermined
  • evidence that the firm conducting the blight studies, AKRF, had a conflict of interest, given that it had been concurrently and consecutively paid by Columbia and Forest City, respectively
  • evidence that the parties seeking the land had contributed to the blight

article

Posted by eric at 11:36 AM

Let there be Blight — My New Article on Blight Condemnations in New York

The Volokh Conspiracy
by Ilya Somin

My new article, “Let There Be Blight: Blight Condemnations in New York after Goldstein and Kaur” is now available on SSRN. It critiques the New York Court of Appeals’ recent controversial blight takings decisions in the Atlantic Yards and Columbia University eminent domain cases. It was part of a Fordham Urban Law Journal symposium on Eminent Domain in New York. Here is the abstract:

The New York Court of Appeals’ two recent blight condemnation decisions are the most widely publicized and controversial property rights rulings since the Supreme Court decided Kelo v. City of New London. In Kaur v. New York State Urban Development Corp., and Goldstein v. New York State Urban Development Corp., the Court of Appeals set new lows in allowing extremely dubious “blight” condemnations. This Article argues that the New York Court of Appeals erred badly by allowing highly abusive blight condemnations and defining pretextual takings so narrowly as to essentially read the concept out of existence.

article

Posted by eric at 11:29 AM

Cuomo, Asking For Help From the Feds, Announces NYS’s Toll From Irene Will Be Less Than the Public Cost of Ratner’s Atlantic Yards Mega-Monopoly

Noticing New York

Michael D.D. White points out that the 10th-worst disaster in U.S. history will cost New Yorkers less than the 1st-worst land grab in Brooklyn history.

Hurricane Irene may rank as one of the ten costliest natural disasters in the nation’s history, but yesterday New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, who asked for federal disaster relief dollars to help recover from the storm, announced that New York State’s estimated share of those losses would be $1 billion, substantially less than, just a fraction of, the total cost to the public of the Atlantic Yards mega-monopoly the state has helped engineer for private developer Bruce Ratner. It is difficult to provide a final, pinned down, perfectly calculated total cost to the public of the Atlantic Yards megadevelopment but it will be over $2 billion dollars, coming in at a total figure somewhere midway between $2 and $3 billion (unless it's more).

article

Posted by eric at 11:01 AM

September 11, 2011

Do sports heal? Fans split on "a lot" vs. "a little" (so what do civilians say?)

Atlantic Yards Report

As part of a package of 9/11 coverage, in Do sports heal?, ESPN the Magazine polled readers--by definition, fairly intense sports fans--and found, as the graphic below indicates, a plurality said sports helped a lot, another significant chunk said sports helped a bit, and nearly one-fifth said it made no difference.

I suspect that civilians less interested in sports expect lesser healing. I'd also bet that respondents to ESPN skew male and younger rather than female and older.

This blog entry goes on to quote several comments made for the online version of ESPN the Magazine Online and then points out a summary of the different opinions.

On reading the above, it strikes me that the two camps aren't that far apart. There are those who believe that sports serve as distraction to help with healing. And there are those who believe that sports serve as distraction to simply provide a time out in the healing process.

Daily News columnist Mike Lupica, in today's The sports world offered a needed break in the days after 9/11 tragedy, encapsulated those two camps:

We talked a lot in those first days 10 years ago about what sports could do and what it couldn't and how it might help us feel just a little bit better about things. We would see during the World Series how true that was, when we would try to escape the horror of downtown Manhattan with uptown baseball in the Bronx that will never be forgotten.

Tino's home run. Brosius' home run. Derek Jeter becoming Mr. November one night after midnight. It is impossible to believe that the old place was ever louder than it was on those nights and in those moments, when sports wasn't an escape so much as it was a way for us to trick ourselves into believing that the world was the way it had been on Sept. 10. And Sept. 9. And Sept. 8.

...Sports mattered as much as it ever had in those days and not one bit more than it should have.

link

Posted by steve at 9:46 PM

The New York Times Takes an Editorial Position on the Subject of Encouraging Competition and It’s Inconsistent With Its Position on Atlantic Yards

Noticing New York

Here's an item from the past week.

Last week the New York Times ran an editorial premised on the widely held assumption that a competitive market is good and should therefore be fostered by government. The editorial endorsed the Justice Department’s opposition, with a antitrust lawsuit it just filed to block “AT&T’s $39 billion attempt to buy the nation’s fourth-largest carrier, T-Mobile.” See: Protecting Innovation and Competition, September 1, 2011.

The Times provided a bromidic analysis of why the government action supporting competition is desirable:

The merger poses a clear anticompetitive threat. Not only would it give AT&T more than 40 percent of the market, it would take out a scrappy and innovative rival that competed profitably by offering cheaper service plans and took risks others would not.

But providing lip service to bromides is not the same as intellectual analysis or the deeper thinking necessary to achieve a consistent or intellectually honest world view. At the same time that the Times is spouting off about the presumed benefit of economic competition it has supported the quashing of competition for Forest City Ratner, the real estate developer and governmental subsidy collector with which it partnered to create its new Times headquarters.

link

Posted by steve at 9:42 PM

September 10, 2011

Before deciding to move (with subsidies) to One World Trade Center, Condé Nast apparently considered Atlantic Yards

Atlantic Yards Report

In One World Trade Center: Making the Freedom Tower safe for Condé Nast., part of New York Magazine's special 9/11 Encyclopedia issue, there's a curious mention of... Atlantic Yards:

Around the time the Port Authority gained control of the building in 2006, Condé Nast executives began to discuss the future of their magazine empire. Condé’s lease at 4 Times Square was set to expire in 2019, and its broker, Mary Ann Tighe of CB Richard Ellis, worked with [Chairman Si] Newhouse to develop options...

For its role in remaking Times Square, Condé Nast had been rewarded with tax breaks, giving it an annual rent of about $40 per square foot. In looking for a similar deal, ­Newhouse’s team even pushed into outer boroughs, touring Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, addresses in Long Island City, and locations along the Jersey City waterfront. One morning in the fall of 2009, [Port Authority Executive Director Christopher] Ward got the call he’d been waiting for: Si ­Newhouse told him he wanted to tour ground zero. Months later, outlines of a deal emerged.

It's hard to imagine that Condé Nast would have left Manhattan--after all, don't some of their biggest magazines rely on close relationships with the fashion industry?

Note that broker Tighe has a longtime relationship with Forest City Ratner and bought a piece of the Nets (though I'm not sure she still has it). So either she was just doing Bruce Ratner a courtesy or someone thought the AY office space--with extra subsidies?--could have been spectacularly affordable.

link

Posted by steve at 7:41 PM

In Forest City conference call, minimal discussion of Atlantic Yards; Nets losses, as projected in June, continue to grow; arena expected to boost income

Atlantic Yards Report

There wasn't that much new about Atlantic Yards in Forest City Enterprises' second-quarter conference call (transcript) yesterday with investment analysts that wasn't in the press release two days earlier.

Yes, work continues on the arena, and a permit has been applied for the first residential tower.

FCE President and CEO David LaRue made a comment that echoed the "We control the pace" comment from 2008:

In our core markets and key mixed use projects such as Denver and Stapleton, Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn and The Yards in DC, we have existing entitlements that we are able to activate judiciously.

In other words, they build when they get financing.

link

Posted by steve at 7:39 PM

September 9, 2011

Arana Hankin, navigating Atlantic Yards (and FCR relationship) for the state, after one year: some successes, some "work in progress," and more responsiveness when new staffer starts

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder recently scored an exclusive interview with Empire State Development's Atlantic Yards point-person. Here it is.

After one year overseeing Atlantic Yards, Brooklyn's (and perhaps the city's) most controversial project, Arana Hankin sounds enthusiastic about the job, that she's helped solve problems. But it's tough to call her position a comfortable one.

On the one hand, Empire State Development (ESD, aka Empire State Development Corporation) clearly needed a point person for all things AY. So Hankin, Director, Atlantic Yards Project, has done some worthy work, helping lead responses to the "rat tsunami" and illegal parking around the project site, among other things.

On the other hand, the state agency has the inherently conflicted role of shepherding Forest City Ratner's project while overseeing the developer, leaving Hankin--more a coordinator/good soldier than policy maker--in a tough spot, though it's not one to which she'd cop.

After all, the agency, before Hankin joined it (though she was involved in overseeing it), withheld a key Atlantic Yards document, the Development Agreement, thus gaining initial victory in the lawsuit filed by citizens' groups challenging the professed ten-year timetable.

The state lost after the document was finally allowed into the record, and we should know by September 16 whether the state will appeal a judge's order to conduct a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, or SEIS.

Hankin, a longtime aide to former Gov. David Paterson in his various governmental posts, is relatively young--she earned her undergrad degree in 2000--but she's no political naif. She's clearly confident in controlled settings, and, though occasionally discomfited in less congenial meetings, has grown steadier. She's received good reviews from allies but also prompted pushback from those who fear she's more lip service than action.

Some people involved with Atlantic Yards wouldn't comment when I asked them to weigh in on Hankin. That may say less about her than the inherently fraught issue that is Atlantic Yards, given the ongoing lawsuit and the effort by some to wrest the project from the ESD's direct control and establish an oversight body.

(Photo by Tracy Collins, from 9/29/10 public meeting on the arena plaza.)

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Posted by eric at 9:01 AM

BATTLE FOR BROOKLYN

MCMI Report

MCMI Report, which first turned us on to the film project My Brooklyn (we became small-scale backers of the film, which just successfully achieved its Kickstarter goal), now turns its attention to Battle for Brooklyn.

No, Daniel Goldstein isn’t a rapper, but there is something very Hip Hop about being the underdog, the common man, fighting for justice against the rich and powerful. If you read my post about the independent film My Brooklyn: The Battle for the Soul of the City - or if you live in Brooklyn - then you are no stranger to the real estate wars going on right now in the County of Kings.

While they are still working on that film, here is one that is in theaters now, on the same subject, but from the point of view of Daniel Goldstein, who was the last hold out, not wanting to give up his apartment to imminent domain, to make way for the Atlantic yards Stadium Project and surrounding real estate development.

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Posted by eric at 8:47 AM

Brooklyn’s Fractured Faces

URBANPHOTO
by Christian Szabla

A long, intellectually dishonest (or deeply naive) appraisal of the Atlantic Yards fight ("much of Atlantic Yards will be built over train tracks") uses the Bergen Street stoop art project "Inside Out" as a jumping off point — and, most improbably, Norman Oder's review of Battle for Brooklyn as a vehicle for criticism of Atlantic Yards opponents.

It’s true that Ratner’s partnership with the city government, and their joint efforts to whip up local enthusiasm for the project, can read as cynical exploitation. But it’s not inconceivable to many Brooklynites that the developer is actually more responsive to the cultural and economic concerns of most of the rest of the borough than the project’s detractors. Atlantic Yards has been scaled down, partly as a consequence of its opponents’ activism, and many of its initial promises will never come to fruition. Still, the project’s arena is projected to create many jobs, and they will largely go to low income borough residents. Many are also bigger pro sports fans than the creative class professionals who have taken over nearby blocks.

This might all be spotty conjecture if Atlantic Yards’ formula weren’t one Ratner had deployed for the benefit of Brooklyn’s low income residents before. The Atlantic Terminal mall is a mecca of low-cost retail options for borough residents who live outside the picturesque brownstone belt. And on Court Street, the ragged edge of tony Brooklyn Heights, Ratner built a modern cinema that caters to wide audience, not just the monied sophisticates who live nearby. It’s become a popular destination for many Brooklynites, ensuring the surrounding streets remain a fairly diverse cross-section of borough residents, rather than the exclusive preserve of the wealthy.

Click through for more on Bruce Ratner, man of the people.

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Posted by eric at 8:33 AM

September 8, 2011

Forest City Enterprises reports big drop in quarterly profits, mainly because last year they could sell Nets share; "forecasted contractually obligated revenues for the arena" have risen only from 51% to 56% in one year

Atlantic Yards Report

Forest City Enterprises's FY 2011 second-quarter and year-to-date results, as noted a press release yesterday, show earnings down, mainly because the company--parent to Forest City Ratner--didn't have shares in a losing Nets team to sell this year.

Also, as noted below, the public statement contained an indication that sponsorship sales for the Barclays Center arena could be more robust.

Earnings down

For this quarter, net earnings declined from $.62/share to $.02/share over last year, a phenomenon that was emphasized by the AP and Cleveland Plain Dealer in their stories.
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Arena forecast revenues up only slightly

From the release:

Work continues at Barclays Center at Atlantic Yards, and an official opening date of September 28, 2012 has been set for the arena. Approximately 56 percent of forecasted contractually obligated revenues for the arena are currently under contract.

They haven't made much progress in the past year. Three months ago, the figure was 55%. Six months ago, the figure was 55%. In September 2010, one year ago, the figure was 51%.

At the past year's pace, they won't be that much past 60% in September 2012 when the arena opens. I wouldn't doubt they're working on some deals and that they want a much higher number.

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Related content...

Forest City Enterprises Press Release

Posted by eric at 11:04 AM

Did Dean Street Block Association hold its last block party?

Atlantic Yards Watch

Dean Street Block Association, 6th Avenue to Vanderbilt has held block parties on Dean Street between 6th Avenue and Carlton for years. That block will soon be sandwiched between the future Barclays Center and its anticipated 1100 space accessory parking lot.

The community near the project, much of it with roots that goes back decades, is now wondering if the block association will be allowed to close the street for block parties in the future. Barclays Center operation may prevent the annual celebration. The quintessential Brooklyn block party has always been one of the highlights of the summer for neighborhood families.

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Related coverage...

Our Streets — Our Stories, One of the last block parties?

Photo: Tracy Collins

Posted by eric at 10:52 AM

Roulette Calms Neighborhood Fears, Wins CB Support for Liquor License

Community Board 2 Health, Environment and Social Services Committee approved Roulette's Liquor License.

Carroll Gardens Patch
by Gwen Ruelle

By being responsive to community concerns, Roulette, the new not-for-profit avant garde performing arts space on Atlantic Avenue, has won approval from Community Board 2 for its liquor license application.

At the Health, Environment and Social Services committee meeting Wednesday night, the committee approved the liquor license without question or comment.

At the end of July, the venue, which has been operating in Manhattan for 33 years but moved into the YWCA over the summer, was denied its liquor license, and several community members said they feared potential rowdy, drunken parties held at the space, which is set to open September 15.

Many of these fears stemmed from concerns about the forthcoming Barclay’s Center at Atlantic Yards, with residents worried the large stadium crowds would inevitably bring loud sports bars and clubs to the now peaceful neighborhood.
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Since then, Roulette has been working with the community board to create a list of stipulations to ensure that these out-of-control parties will not take place.

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Posted by eric at 10:45 AM

September 7, 2011

Liberty Bonds, 9/11, and Forest City Ratner: the first subsidy for a commercial tower (the only one in Brooklyn) and the largest subsidy for a residential tower

Atlantic Yards Report

While Forest City Ratner was not the largest beneficiary of post-9/11 federal recovery funds, it was among the savviest, gaining the first triple tax-exempt bonds for commercial projects, the Bank of New York Tower at Atlantic Terminal, which was the only project outside of Manhattan.

Beyond that, FCR garnered the single largest share of the relatively small amount of tax-exempt bonds designed for housing, aiding construction of the Beekman Tower (aka 8 Spruce Street aka New York by Gehry) in Lower Manhattan.

Thus, in gaining nearly $300 million in tax-exempt (federal, state, city) bonds, the developer saved tens of millions of dollars by paying a lower interest rate. It's more evidence for scholar/writer Fred Siegel's characterization of Bruce Ratner in the 11/30/05 Cleveland Plain Dealer: "He's the master of subsidy."

Yesterday, in a New York Post op-ed headlined Liberty misspent: Political use of rebuild bonds, Nicole Gelinas of the free-market Manhattan Institute suggested that, given that so much of the aid, including up to $8 billion in Liberty Bonds for real estate, went outside of Ground Zero, "New York squandered time and money doling out favors."

Beyond Gelinas's argument, there's evidence, described below, that the Bank of New York is not now meeting the requirements for job retention that justified another chunk of subsidies it gained.

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Posted by eric at 11:24 AM

Frank Gehry Really, Really Regrets His Guest Appearance on The Simpsons

NY Observer
by Matt Chaban

Because of his successful style, Frank Gehry sometimes comes under criticism for being a hack whose buildings all look the same—even if in their 50th iteration, those waving bands of metal still look amazing, fresh and different. This sensibility was, like so many other things, immortalized on The Simpsons, in which Mr. Gehry was perhaps the first and only architect to ever make a guest appearance—an appearance that still haunts him to this day.

Mr. Gehry was on Fahreed Zakaria’s CNN program GPS yesterday, where he complained about how a throwaway joke (literally!) on The Simpsons has dogged his career ever since.

Click through for Gehry's typically nearly incomprehensible explanation — and here to watch the infamous Simpson's episode in question.

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Posted by eric at 11:17 AM

This shameless profiteering rakes over the ashes of 9/11

Belfast Telegraph
by Eamonn McCann

Meanwhile, major corporations have been gifted billions to stay or move into the area around Ground Zero and the bonanza is by no means over.

The current edition of Village Voice cites a couple of startling figures: $1bn to Goldman Sachs for its plush building across from the site, $764m for a Durst Tower in midtown Manhattan and a Bruce Ratner office tower in Brooklyn.

In other words, some of the biggest and most profitable companies in the US are being paid vast sums of public money to operate in districts vaguely relevant to 9/11 in which they'd very likely have chosen to operate anyway. Who would have thought it - that Goldman Sachs would make $1bn from al-Qaida murdering 3,000 New Yorkers? Apart from Goldman Sachs, that is.

"When we were eating and sleeping post-9/11 stuff, the powers-that-be insisted that these subsidies would rescue lower Manhattan", Village Voice quotes Bettina Damiani of watchdog group Good Jobs New York. "Ten years and billions of dollars later ... we need to do some rethinking."

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Posted by eric at 10:55 AM

September 6, 2011

Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meeting, previously set for September 8, rescheduled for September 22; reason unclear, but timing precludes discussion of bollard plan

Atlantic Yards Report

The bi-monthly meeting of the Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet, which was originally scheduled for September 8, has been postponed to Thursday. September 22, from 9:30-11:30 am at Brooklyn Borough Hall.

No reason was given in the message (which I received indirectly) from the office of Borough President Marty Markowitz. It could be that some key participants no longer were available.

However, it should be noted that, by postponing the meeting, that ensure there can be little or no productive discussion about the bollard plan regarding the perimeter of the arena block. The deadline for public comment, originally August 25, was pushed back to September 22.

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Posted by eric at 10:09 AM

Battle for Brooklyn and Eminent Domain Abuse

www.BruceLevine.net

Do we really accept that Big Money—through intimidation, bribery, or some other coercion—can shove us out of our homes and obliterate our communities?

Eminent domain is the government’s right to seize private property, usually with compensation, for the public good. We live in a nation, however, in which the elite—not ordinary Americans—have the power to define what is the public good. The recently released documentary Battle for Brooklyn transcends typical left-right politics, unites all who believe in self-respect and democracy, and invites Americans to join together in the fight against the elite’s abuse of eminent domain.
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The shameless Ratner used his money to attempt to make Atlantic Yards a racial issue. He funded a synthetic grassroots (“astroturf”) black community group and tried to inflame black residents against Goldstein, a white graphics designer. The truth is that all African-American officials who actually represented the neighborhood, including City Councilmember Letitia James, were adamantly opposed to Atlantic Yards, as they saw through Ratner’s empty promises of local jobs and affordable housing. While Goldstein is the citizen hero of this film, James—who went on to win her second term in a landslide—is the kind of public servant that every community wishes it had.

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Posted by eric at 10:03 AM

A new entry into the Atlantic Yards lexicon: "Ratner Heights"

Atlantic Yards Report

While the first mention of the term "Ratner Heights" I could find was an offhand reference five years ago in the Brooklynian blog, credit the rapper Illuminessence (aka Ness of A-Alikes) for using the term regarding his new project, a dystopian future fantasy.

To me, that suggests a new way to think about Forest City Ratner real estate, adding "Ratner Heights" to the Atlantic Yards lexicon as a way to describe the firm's cluster of holdings.
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Rethinking Ratner territory

The term "Ratner Heights" has resonance for those of us who've looked at maps of Atlantic Yards and environs for years.

Despite Forest City Ratner's rhetoric, the project is not located in Downtown Brooklyn--even the Downtown Brooklyn map produced by the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership (on which FCR plays a disproporitionate role) can't fit in the Atlantic Yards site.

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Posted by eric at 9:54 AM

How the Twin Towers Transformed New York

The Indypendent
by John Tarleton

As New Yorkers mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11, it’s hard to imagine that the 16 acres in Lower Manhattan that were once home to the Twin Towers ever served another purpose. Fortunately, we have Eric Darton, a locally born and bred historian and novelist to remind us of the origins of the World Trade Center in his recently re-released history of the towers, Divided We Stand.

In his book, Darton reaches back to the beginning of the 20th century to explore the intellectual and aesthetic ideas as well as the political and economic forces that eventually produced the 110-story behemoths that dominated the New York City skyline for almost three decades. In doing so, he reminds us that while the World Trade Center eventually became “sacred ground” to millions of Americans, it was originally conceived as a power play by local elites. Darton recently spoke with The Indypendent about the World Trade Center’s past and present impact on New York, the joys of writing history and why another set of skyscrapers at Ground Zero is exactly what we don’t need.
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JT: What is the relationship between the World Trade Center and other mega-developments that have followed here in New York?
ED: Eminent domain was used in 1966 to erase Radio Row, a perfectly viable commercial neighborhood that had scores of small businesses located in the footprint of the future World Trade Center site. This moved a bunch of legal goalposts and certainly moved people’s expectations. Once the powers that be get away with something like that, it’s tempting to keep on going. This can be seen in the Atlantic Yards project in downtown Brooklyn, in which eminent domain has been used to advance a massive, undemocratic and useless project.

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Posted by eric at 9:46 AM

September 5, 2011

REPORT CARD: Our Fake School Board

The Brooklyn Rail
by Liza Featherstone

Yet another installment in the Bloomberg realpolitik playbook: a report on New York City's effed-up excuse for oversight of the education system (inevitably) winds its way through everyone's favorite megaproject boondoggle.

Joe Chan has perhaps the most egregious conflict of interest as the president of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership (DBP), which works to develop businesses in Brooklyn, not only depends on city funding—at one point, a $6 million no-bid contract—but was created by the city in 2006, with Chan, who was already part of the Bloomberg administration, installed to do its bidding. So Chan has not only worked for Bloomberg but also got his current job from the mayor. His job at DBP is to keep the mayor happy—as has been widely reported, this has meant that it’s impossible for him to have working relationships with many of Brooklyn’s own elected officials.

Not only does the position of “Bloomberg lackey” take up most of Chan’s resume, but as head of the DBP, he’s a central player in the squintingly shady Atlantic Yards project. He has been investigated by the state attorney general for misuse of city funding for using city money to lobby city officials, which is, under state law, not allowed. As the New York Times reported in 2009, Chan spent $200,000 on lobbying for the Atlantic Yards construction. Neither the DBP nor the attorney general’s office will say whether this investigation is still ongoing, but “Report Card” assumes that if it had been cheerfully resolved, either body would be happy to tell us so. (Of course, since the DBP was created by Bloomberg to advance Bloomberg’s agenda, it matters only slightly whether or not the DBP “lobbied” anyone.) Given this historically casual relationship to public funds, it’s particularly rich that as head of the PEP committee that oversees DOE contracts, Chan decided it no longer needed to meet.

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Posted by eric at 9:29 PM

Panoramas by Tracy Collins: three views of the arena site

Atlantic Yards

Prospect Heights photographer Tracy Collins on August 27 took several panoramic photos (copyrighted) of the Atlantic Yards arena site, from three separate positions.

Because of the wide lens, they portray the arena site as less vertical and more isolated than actual. But they're still valuable snapshots.

Atlantic Avenue near Fort Greene Place (the continuation of Fifth Avenue, were it not demapped), from the north (note how Atlantic seems to bend).

Dean Street near Flatbush Avenue, the southwest corner of the block (Dean Street bends too, as it continues behind the cars in the intersection; Flatbush goes to the east past the white building).

Atlantic Avenue near South Portland Avenue (the continuation of Sixth Avenue), looking south (note how Atlantic seems to bend).

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Posted by eric at 9:49 AM

Today's West Indian American Carnival parade, and a prediction regarding 2012 sponsors

Atlantic Yards Report

The West Indian American Carnival parade, New York City's largest public event, occurs today in Brooklyn, beginning at 11 am along Eastern Parkway at Utica Avenue, moving west until it ends two miles later at the Brooklyn Museum, with crowds dispersing west to Grand Army Plaza.

The latter's a mile or so east of the Atlantic Avenue transit hub and Barclays Center construction site.

It's an event for local political and civic leaders and organizations to attend--who can forget Borough President Marty Markowitz's annual appearances, not in carnival get-up, but wearing a tropical shirt?

The website for the West Indian American Carnival Association lists several sponsors:

The list does not include Forest City Ratner, the Nets, nor Barclays. I'd bet that, in 2012, when the arena is opening, one or more of those three will be among the sponsors.

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NoLandGrab: Walmart is playing the Forest City/Nets/Barlcays role in the 2011 edition.

Posted by eric at 9:37 AM

Darker Than Blue

ConsciousnessNYC

Here's what you get when a hip hop artist brings it with a social conscience rather than luxury branding.

llumiNessence EYE2025*(aka Ness of the hip hop group A-Alikes) brings the soundtrack to our future with his first solo project, EYE2025*Chapter1. Set in Ratner Heights, (the area formerly known as Fort Greene/Clinton Hill/Downtown Brooklyn, now owned entirely by construction mogul/re-gentrification king Bruce Ratner) EYE2025 Chapter1 is a dystopic vision of the future, a future that is rapidly approaching. Started as an idea for a screenplay, the project turned into the eerie but psychedelic sound of 2025*. Blurring the lines between genres, the album twists and turns through sounds, creating a musical fusion like no other.

Click thru for details about Friday's live show, and get a free download via Eye2025*'s blog.

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NoLandGrab: In 2025, Ratner Heights may well be an arena, sports bars and a gigantic surface parking lot.

Posted by eric at 9:18 AM

Eddie Murphy Up for Oscar Host: Report

The Daily Beast

Real estate developer Bruce Ratner's notoriety once again leads to a case of mistaken identity with Hollywood producer/director Brett Ratner.

Looks like James Franco won't be invited back again: Deadline.com reports that Eddie Murphy is the front runner to host this year's Academy Awards telecast. The comedian is reportedly the top choice of new producer Bruce Ratner, who is said to be presenting only Murphy's name on his shortlist to Academy brass. Murphy, who was up for an Oscar in 2006 for Dreamgirls but lost, is apparently an awards-show buff. He also has a slate of upcoming films that could benefit from the exposure the gig would bring.

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Posted by eric at 9:10 AM

September 4, 2011

Screening: The Garden (2008, USA, 80 min.)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011, 6–8:30 pm

BMW Guggenheim Lab

NoLandGrab readers would do well to check out this free screening of The Garden, in many ways the City of Angels version of Battle for Brooklyn.

Located in the heart of South Central Los Angeles, a lush 14-acre community garden (the largest urban farm in the United States) began as a form of healing after the devastating riots in 1992. Led by South Central farmers, it grew into an oasis where an economically depressed community could grow its own food and foster a sense of belonging. But when the owner of the land, a wealthy developer, decides to sell, the mostly Latin American farmers must organize and confront City Hall. Scott Hamilton Kennedy’s Academy Award–nominated documentary exposes the ensuing struggle, revealing the fault lines in American society and raising questions about equality and justice for the poorest and most vulnerable among us.

Filmmaker Q&A will follow screening

6 pm open seating
6:15 pm screening

Directions

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Posted by eric at 9:26 PM

Variations on a B: emerging Barclays Center signage, visions of a Prospect Heights corner, and reminders of some anti-AY murals

Atlantic Yards Report

At the western end of the southeast block of the Atlantic Yards site, Block 1129 (east of Carlton Avenue and between Pacific and Dean streets), a wall section of weathered metal used for the exterior of the Barclays Center has been established for a little more than a week.

I walked by on Friday, September 2, and shot several pictures with an extended lens.

Thus the buildings in the background seem extremely close, though they're not. At right, for example, the gray and white building, 470 Vanderbilt, looks quite close, though it's actually bordered by the railyard and wide Atlantic Avenue.

And while the wall section looks large in close-up, it looks much smaller from a distance.

Below are photos shot from farther away along Carlton Avenue south of the corner as well as directly west of the corner. Note that Block 1129 will eventually by used for indefinite interim surface parking, for 1100 vehicles.

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Again, 470 Vanderbilt seems very close, as do other buildings across Atlantic Avenue. Note how the wall section at left is blank, where anti-Atlantic Yards murals, including "Gehry, thy name is eminent domain," were painted over.

However, the "Obama!!" mural, also painted by the anti-AY Prospect Heights Action Coalition (PHAC), was, prudently, allowed to remain.

Click on the link to see the complete photo-tour.

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Posted by steve at 8:50 PM

What if it gets loud? State says police "will seek to control unruly behavior," but expect "significant adverse noise impacts" from traffic (though they didn't study impact on plaza nor effect on pedestrians)

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 questions and responses, including the capacity of sidewalks on Dean Street, plans for the surface parking lot, the impact of traffic on the Dean Street Playground, a post-arena opening traffic study, the Transportation Demand Management plan, and potential sidewalk closures.

Below is another question with a short answer but a longer backstory.

But what if it gets loud?

The question:

67 What are the plans to manage noise from traffic and pedestrians late at night?

The answer:

The FEIS [Final Environmental Impact Statement] determined that the Project would result in significant adverse noise impacts; thus some increase in noise is expected. Police officers patrolling Arena events will seek to control unruly behavior that would constitute an undue disturbance.

Note what's missing from "significant adverse noise impacts"--exactly who and where. Also unclear is how many officers will be available, and at what radius from the site. Will police be posted along residential Dean Street as event attendees walk back to the surface parking lot?

Click on the link to read about the noisy Atlantic Yards project, including a plaza that's destined to be less than serene.

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Posted by steve at 8:40 PM

September 3, 2011

Will sidewalks close around the arena? Partly, during construction of towers

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, the impact of traffic on the Dean Street Playground, a post-arena opening traffic study, and the Transportation Demand Management plan.

Sidewalk closures coming

The question:

53.Please discuss the timetable for sidewalk closure on the Arena block while the Arena is in operation.

The answer:

Once the Arena opens all sidewalks are expected to be open as well, although during construction of the remaining buildings on the Arena block, there is the potential for intermittent partial sidewalk closures in the vicinity of that construction work. FCRC has stated that B2 (at the northeast corner of Flatbush Avenue and Dean Street) will be under construction by the Arena opening. Any sidewalk closures will be included in the construction alerts posted on ESD’s website and distributed to the community boards and residents. No sidewalk closings (or partial closings) would take place without NYCDOT or NYCDOB approval, and they would require a Maintenance and Protection of Traffic (MPT) plan to address and minimize the impacts of the construction work.

(Emphasis added)

On the other hand, the sidewalks in places will be constricted, so closing sidewalks and having the passageway diverted to the street will make things more complicated.

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Posted by steve at 9:51 PM

Homage to Nassau County

The Ice House Gang
By Kevin Baker

Atlantic Yards is a monumental waste of government subsidies, but at least it is useful in that it serves as a bad example.

As usual, the owner of the Islanders—a once proud team that has been about as decrepit as their home arena for a generation now—and his supporters promised that the reworked Coliseum would more than make up what its renovation would cost, thanks to extras like a minor-league ballpark to be attached, and an enhanced ability to attract conventions and rock concerts.

This is a large helping of bologna, one that is customarily served with almost all such sports arena giveaways. Long experience has shown that ballparks and ice hockey rinks and their ilk only draw discretionary income away from other diversions. The few, mostly temporary and minimum-wage jobs they create count for little against the staggering costs.

Such projects are mostly about appeasing construction unions and politicians, as the Atlantic Yards fiasco is still demonstrating. After the failure of Mr. Wang’s referendum, there was talk about moving the Islanders to that site, to share the space with basketball’s New Jersey Nets. But that seems unlikely, as the wizards who imposed that overgrown college fieldhouse on the good people of Brooklyn failed to make it big enough to accommodate NHL-sized ice.

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Posted by steve at 9:45 PM

September 2, 2011

Prostitutes Returning to Flatbush Avenue?

Brownstoner via Here's Park Slope

Urban "renewal," Ratner style?

Last year I was at O'Connor's when I overheard an old-timer talking about how Flatbush Avenue near Eighth Avenue, by the Montauk Club, used to me a major gathering place for prostitutes. It's difficult to imagine that such a highly visible, relatively upper-class location could once have been run down enough to attract that element, but it was, and not too long ago, either.

Well I'm not sure what to make of this, but a reader sent this comment into Brownstoner the other day:

Shortly after midnight on Thursday, I spotted a very sad new development on Flatbush and Dean, across from the totally deserted arena skeleton: A young pimp working with two teenage hookers. He was dressed in all white and the girls were doing their best to vamp when he got a car to stop and check them out.…It’s definitely because that whole area is deserted while every body waits for the supposed arena crowd spillover payday to open businesses there that this kind of activity could take place. It is funny because the Flatbush Avenue renovation has been heralded by the pols as the necessary upgrade of the gateway to the new, improved Brooklyn. So in addition to an arena and some planters you now get street hookers and pimps hustling.

If this is true (and it wasn't some sort of undercover sting), it's a sad development indeed.

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NoLandGrab: Sure, one can't believe all one reads on Brownstoner, but this doesn't sound all that unbelievable.

Posted by eric at 9:47 PM

After "continuing violations regarding truck protocols," state to issue first-ever "notice of violation" to Forest City Ratner, posing potential fines

Atlantic Yards Report

Is Empire State Development (ESD, aka Empire State Development Corporation), the state agency overseeing the Atlantic Yards project, finally cracking down on contractors and developer Forest City Ratner (FCR) not following the rules at the construction site?

Well, slightly, which in the context of widespread complaints marks a step forward.

Errant trucks

On 8/25/11, after I saw the Atlantic Yards Watch post, Not an isolated incident: truck use of residential Clermont Avenue is widespread, I asked ESD to comment.

Agency spokeswoman Elizabeth Mitchell responded two days ago, on 8/31/11:

In general, the identified instances of non-compliance have been corrected. ESD is able to fine the developer for persistent violations, but most violations have been episodic instances of non-compliance by one of the contractors working on the project. ESD plans to issue a notice of violation to FCR for several continuing violations regarding truck protocols.

What's that mean? Mitchell responded:

A “notice of violation” is a letter from us to FCRC stating that FCRC has not complied with the MEC [Memorandum of Environmental Commitments]. FCRC has 30 days to comply with the MEC, and if they do not, ESD is able to require them to pay a fine of $1,000 per day.

Yesterday she clarified that it was the first notice of violation.

Note that it's not clear what "several continuing violations regarding truck protocols" describes. It could refer only to the mis-use of truck routes, but it sounds broader. So it also might apply to the failure to cover trucks with a tarp to suppress dust or perhaps apparently improper deliveries.

What does it mean?

Given that there have been periodic--and seemingly persistent--blatant violations, with ESD calling them isolated incidents, it's notable that the state has finally, belatedly acted.

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NoLandGrab: Pardon our French, but what the f**k is so hard about throwing a tarp over a truck and not driving on streets you're not supposed to drive on? Or about actually enforcing those rules?

And we're supposed to count on these people to manage game-day traffic and other complex issues?

Posted by eric at 10:24 AM

DocuWest in Golden

Denver Post
by Lisa Kennedy

Here's a heads-up to all our faithful readers in Colorado.

Much closer to Denver and decades younger is the third installment of DocuWest. The smart and beautifully programmed nonfiction film festival unspools at Golden's Foothills Art Center on Wednesday and runs through Sept. 11.

"Battle for Brooklyn" starts things off Wednesday. Directors Michael Galinsky and Suki Hawley followed the saga of the fight over New York City's Atlantic Yards project, which pitted a developer, job seekers and city fathers wanting a new sports arena against home and small business owners and citizens concerned about being gamed by a builder.

DocuWest will screen 50 films, features and shorts.

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Posted by eric at 10:16 AM

September 1, 2011

Who got the Liberty Bonds?

The Torch
by Nicole Gelinas

The journalist and free-marketeer reminds us that Bruce Ratner got a chunk of taxpayer money to rebuild that portion of Fort Greene damaged in the 9/11 attacks.

The city’s independent budget office (IBO) has released a report on New York’s post-9/11 disaster and recovery spending. So who got the Liberty Bond money?

As part of its $20.5 billion aid package, remember, Washington gave the city $1.2 billion to support $8 billion worth of “Liberty Bonds” — bonds that private companies could issue for real-estate development projects. No level of government (federal, state, or local) guaranteed the bonds’ repayment, but the bonds are exempt from federal, state, and local taxes, meaning that investors demand a lower interest rate on them.

Of the $6.4 billion in Liberty Bonds issued since 2003, only $3.8 billion – 59 percent — went to build projects at the World Trade Center site. WTC developer Larry Silverstein got about $3.1 billion, and the Port Authority took (or will take) $701.6 million for itself.

Who got the rest? Goldman Sachs got $1.7 billion for its downtown tower. The Dursts got $650 million for the Bank of America building (in Midtown). A Forest City (that’s Bruce Ratner of Atlantic Yards) office-tower project for BONY Mellon in Brooklyn got $90.8 million.

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Posted by eric at 9:28 PM

Incentives to avoid driving to the arena? Transportation Demand Management Plan expected by mid-December; will it extend beyond Nets games?

Atlantic Yards Report

Today's question involves how the developer, city, and state will try to reduce driving to the Atlantic Yards arena.

We've known since 2006 about plans for remote parking and incentives for public transit, but the devil's in the details; note that, in 2006, transportation consultants criticized the plan for focusing on on Nets games rather than the panoply of arena events.

Transportation Demand Management

The question:

41. There is nothing about any type of strategy to control on-street parking by Arena patrons. The potential for a catastrophe of congestion on residential streets is frightening. What is your solution? FCRC and ESD should present a parking plan detailing the locations, number and pricing of spaces where Arena and non-Arena project-generated cars will park, as well as any shuttle services which will be provided. Consider these factors in developing interim traffic mitigations, roadway improvements and the demand management plan.

The response:

The FEIS requires the development and implementation of a Transportation Demand Management program for Arena opening. The Transportation Demand Management Plan under development per this FEIS commitment will include a comprehensive strategy to encourage the use of mass transit (and remote parking) by Arena patrons and a parking management plan for those who do drive. The plan will detail the specific locations of off-site parking garage, pricing of off-site and on-site parking spaces and the mechanisms for encouraging the use of off-site parking garages and remote parking. Remote parking will be encouraged with free shuttle service to the Arena and parking spaces priced at half the price of the market rate at garages closer to the Arena. The plan will also specify the routes by which shuttle buses will travel from remote parking locations to the Arena and the pickup locations for the return shuttle trip to the remote parking location. The Transportation Demand Management Plan will include a cross-marketing program with local businesses that would serve to stagger arrival and departure times, a 400 bike parking area adjacent to the Arena, and a requirement that at least 600 of the on-site parking spaces be HOV parking (requiring the purchase of three or more tickets). The Transportation Demand Management Plan is under development by FCRC, the Nets, and the Arena operations team and FCRC’s traffic and parking consultant Sam Schwartz Engineering (which has prepared these kinds of plans for Citi Field, among others). ESD and NYCDOT will be reviewing the Transportation Demand Management Plan as it is developed. It is anticipated that FCRC will be prepared to present the Transportation Demand Management Plan to the public for comment in about six months.

Surely some restaurants and bars will be eager partners and, thus, arena boosters. But if this covers only Nets games then how can it work?

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Posted by eric at 11:17 AM

Another Awful Thing About the Barclays Center: Its Sidewalks Will be Really Narrow

The L Magazine
by Ross Barkan

When you walk over to the Barclays Center to catch an inevitably disappointing Nets game, you might have to start tiptoeing on the sidewalk, or pinching in your elbows to avoid a tractor trailer. Forest City Ratner, never a community favorite, is still igniting local opposition. According to Atlantic Yards Report, in July FCR submitted a plan to the Parks Department to install 206 bollards around the arena, which revealed that several of the sidewalks surrounding Barclays will be much narrower than what FCR originally analyzed in their 2006 environmental impact statement that ultimately helped FCR win approval from the state.

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NoLandGrab: That the Department of Transportation, not Parks, but the point holds.

Posted by eric at 11:12 AM

NEIGHBORHOOD POWER RANKINGS

Brooklyn Magazine

The offensive commercialization of a local schoolyard costs Carroll Gardens to notches in the standings.

09. (-2) Carroll Gardens

Signs for Barclays, sponsor of the coming Atlantic Yards stadium, appeared on the playground fences of a local elementary school. Blech.

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Posted by eric at 10:59 AM