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January 31, 2012

Islanders head to Brooklyn -for one game


Et voila, exactly as we predicted: the Islanders are coming to Brooklyn — for three hours.

The Islanders announced Tuesday they will play a preaseason game at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn against the Devils on Oct. 2, marking the first NHL game ever to be played in Brooklyn.

Jay-Z will open the new arena with a concert on Sept. 28 followed by the Islanders-Devils preseason game four days later.


NoLandGrab: Exhibition hockey. Just as exciting as regular-season Nets basketball.

Posted by eric at 11:56 AM

Workers at the AY site: 666 people, but perhaps 500 full-time jobs; record of 41% minority hiring exceeds CBA goal of 35% (but women lag)

Atlantic Yards Report

How many workers are at the Atlantic Yards site? Last week emerged two reports, with slightly different numbers, based on slightly different reporting times.

At the Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meeting January 26, Forest City Ratner officials said there were 666 workers at the site, including the arena, transit connection, and railyard. (This number tends to exceed slightly the number reported by Merritt & Harris, the real estate consultant to the arena PILOT Bond Trustee, because the latter does not examine railyard work.)

That total, I later confirmed, represents the total number of individuals employed at the site, not the average number of workers based on a five-day week, since some individuals do not work each day.

Thus the total number of full-time "jobs"--construction jobs are calculated in job-years--is probably some 25% lower, or closer to 500. (As noted below, Empire State Development, the state agency overseeing the project, calculate the average number of workers as about 75% of the total of individuals working.)

This confirms that the numbers Forest City has been reporting at the cabinet meetings represent the number of individuals employed, not full-time jobs. Had Forest City Ratner hired the Independent Compliance Monitor as required by the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA), we might have had clarification earlier.


Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Minority/women contracting numbers lag 25% behind ambitious CBA "goals" (sometimes billed as "promises"); results better than WTC, other projects

In building the Barclays Center and other Atlantic Yards construction activities, Forest City Ratner is lagging 25% behind its ambitious plan to devote devoting 20% of construction contract dollars to minority-owned business enterprises (MBEs) and 10% to women-owned firms (WBEs).

According to statistics released last week (see below) by Empire State Development (ESD), the state agency overseeing Atlantic Yards, the MBE awards total $91 million (about 16.3% of total purchases), while the WBE awards total $35.1 million (about 6.3% of total purchases). The total, as of the end of 2011, encompasses work back to 2005.

Thus the combined M/WBE participation is 22.6%, about three-quarters of the way toward the what ESD calls the "program requirement of 30% for M/WBE," which also appears as goals--20% and 10%, respectively--in the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA).

The Atlantic Yards web site, as noted in the screenshot at right, presents the figures as certainties.

Posted by eric at 11:15 AM

Goodbye, Triangle Sports: in 2005, Atlantic Yards sounded like a boon; now it's a reason to close

Atlantic Yards Report

From a 7/6/05 New York Times article headlined Brooklynites Take In a Big Development Plan, and Speak Up:

Henry Rosa, 55, the co-owner of a sporting goods store at Flatbush Avenue and Dean Street, said: "I suspect it will be great for us. Once the project is complete, with new residents here, it will bring us more traffic." But he said that if he lived in the area, he would probably be angry.

From today's Wall Street Journal, Bowing to Change: Brooklyn's Triangle Sports Feels the Pressure From All Sides:

A family-owned sporting-goods and apparel store on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn is calling it quits after 96 years in business, another sign of changes sparked by the coming of the nearby Barclays Center arena complex.

Feeling the pressure from big-box stores and the weak economy, Triangle Sports has put its building up for sale in hopes of finding a store or restaurant itching to be close to the multiuse sports, retail and residential project rising across the street.

"It's getting harder and harder for a smaller, independent retailer to survive," said an emotional Henry Rosa, one of the partners behind Triangle Sports, who started working in the shop as a teenager in the 1960s.

...National retailers and Manhattan restaurateurs have been quietly scoping out properties around the arena, real-estate brokers and property owners said.


Related coverage...

Brownstoner, Triangle Sports Building for Sale

Posted by eric at 11:06 AM

planners + Atlantic Yards: community advocates or development cheerleaders?

“The planning debate of the decade: Atlantic Yards, Brooklyn. The argument isn’t just about Atlantic Yards, however: it’s about what we want our country to look like next.”

Landscape Urbanism
by Peter Chomko

Over the past couple weeks, the Penn School of Design and Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts have teamed up to get the Philadelphia intelligentsia talking about, of all things, an out-of-town city planning dispute. Not just any planning dispute, of course, the planning dispute. You know one: Brooklyn, the Nets, Russian oligarchy and organized crime, Jay-Z. Atlantic Yards.

Um, what planning?

You’ll notice that the words “Atlantic Yards” aren’t linked to anything. That’s deliberate: Given the heated debate those two words frequently give rise to, I’m avoiding taking anything that even looks like a position on the issue. Because this particular post isn’t actually about Atlantic Yards. At this point, “Atlantic Yards” (the cause it’s become, not the physical space) isn’t actually about Atlantic Yards anymore. It’s about a country emerging, e-v-e-r–s-o–s-l-o-w-l-y, from a long and deep recession, and what we want the country that emerges to look like.


NoLandGrab: No, we're pretty sure everything is about Atlantic Yards.

Posted by eric at 10:56 AM

Marty’s goal: Hockey in Brooklyn

Brooklyn Daily
by Dan MacLeod

Like the antagonist in a bad horror movie, the phony idea that a pro hockey franchise might someday call the Barclays Center of Brooklyn™ home keeps coming back from the dead — despite being killed again and again.

Borough President Markowitz wants to put the Barclays Center on ice — and hinted that hockey will indeed be coming to the soon-to-be-opened $1 billion arena as he teased his agenda for the coming year at the Bay Ridge Community Council’s Presidents’ Luncheon on Saturday.

“It would be great to see some hockey at the arena,” the uncharacteristically tight-lipped Beep told us before zipping out of the Bay Ridge Manor on 76th Street, claiming that any official announcements will be made at his annual State of the Borough address tomorrow. “In Brooklyn, there should be an NHL team, no question.”


NoLandGrab: "Some hockey?" Sure, the Islanders might schedule an exhibition game or two in Brooklyn. It's possible the Rangers might do the same as they complete the Madison Square Garden renovation next fall. But the seating capacity and awful sightlines make the arena an untenable home-ice disadvantage.

Posted by eric at 10:34 AM

Ratner’s parent company unveils $300M in NYC property financings

Company closes loans on Queens Place, Nine Metrotech

The Real Deal
by Katherine Clarke

And we thought lenders had learned their lessons...

Forest City Ratner’s Cleveland-based parent company Forest City Enterprises completed more than $300 million in property financings in the quarter ending Jan. 31, 2012, including two worth a combined $163 million in New York City, it announced today.

The company closed a 10-year, $87 million loan for Queens Place, a 455,000-square-foot, five-level retail center on Queens Boulevard. It also purchased the existing $75 million loan at Nine Metrotech, a 317,000-square-foot office building in the MetroTech Center office campus in downtown Brooklyn, and then closed a new 10-year, $63 million loan for the same property.


Posted by eric at 10:27 AM

January 30, 2012

Bowing to Change

Brooklyn's Triangle Sports Feels the Pressure From All Sides

The Wall Street Journal
by Joseph De Avila

There goes the neighborhood — courtesy of Bruce C. Ratner.

A family-owned sporting-goods and apparel store on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn is calling it quits after 96 years in business, another sign of changes sparked by the coming of the nearby Barclays Center arena complex.

Feeling the pressure from big-box stores and the weak economy, Triangle Sports has put its building up for sale in hopes of finding a store or restaurant itching to be close to the multiuse sports, retail and residential project rising across the street.

"It's getting harder and harder for a smaller, independent retailer to survive," said an emotional Henry Rosa, one of the partners behind Triangle Sports, who started working in the shop as a teenager in the 1960s.

More change is on the way for the area around Barclays Center as it prepares to open this fall. National retailers and Manhattan restaurateurs have been quietly scoping out properties around the arena, real-estate brokers and property owners said.

"Is it going to look like Madison Square Garden?" said Geoffrey Bailey of real-estate service firm TerraCRG, which is marketing the Triangle Sports building. "It's going to look like Brooklyn's interpretation."

"This trend is going to accelerate in a monumental way as we get closer to the arena opening," said Timothy King, managing partner with CPEX Real Estate.

But longtime Triangle Sports shoppers said they were sorry about the news that the business was closing.

"It's a symbol of things that have been here a long time," said Liz Fader, 75 years old, from Boerum Hill. "This is just another example of this loss of community."


Related coverage...

Here's Park Slope, Triangle Sporting Goods Up For Sale

This sadly seemed inevitable: After 96 years occupying the prime corner of Fifth Avenue, Flatbush Avenue, and Dean Street, Triangle Sporting Goods has put itself, and the building it calls home, up for sale.

Posted by eric at 5:12 PM

Daniel Goldstein on Edge of Sports Radio

Edge of Sports Radio via Sirius Satellite Radio

Edge of Sports host and The Nation sports editor Dave Zirin talks with Daniel Goldstein about Atlantic Yards, beginning around the 28:40 mark.


Posted by eric at 5:05 PM

What's going on here? Noisy, chaotic congestion during (unannounced) overnight work at Atlantic and Sixth avenues

Atlantic Yards Report

It was a very busy Saturday night at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Atlantic Avenue, but the street closure, noise, confusion, and heightened danger were not predicted in the latest two-week Atlantic Yards Construction Alert, dated 1/16/12, that was distributed by Empire State Development (after preparation by developer Forest City Ratner).

Though no weekend third shift work was announced, the documentation appears in two postings on Atlantic Yards Watch.

On Saturday afternoon, January 28, trucks dropped off transformers that were later to be lowered into the Vanderbilt Yard. The trucks positioned themselves on the south side of Atlantic, east of Sixth Avenue, thus taking up a lane used as a bus stop.

Uh, normally used as a bus stop.

As noted in the video below, which begins at about 11 pm, the congested traffic led to some untoward consequences.


NoLandGrab: Good practice for what it will be like every time there's an event at the Barclays Center of Brooklyn™.

Posted by eric at 3:20 PM

Lingering questions: Where's the Barclays Center security plan? What precinct will be in charge? Who'll pay for traffic agents?

Atlantic Yards Report

Local elected officials are still waiting to examine the security plan presumably prepared for the Barclays Center arena, but are not getting very far. No one knows yet which police precinct will be in charge of the arena.

And there's still no clarity on whether the developer would pay for traffic agents needed for the area.

In other words, as the opening of the Barclays Center approaches in September, some major questions remain unanswered, as was aired at the Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meeting January 26, held at Brooklyn Borough Hall with agencies and officials whose work touches on the project.


NoLandGrab: Don't worry, the NYPD has this covered — they're just going to show The Third Jihad on the Jumbotron before every arena event.

Posted by eric at 11:28 AM

With transportation plan delayed, Nets finally survey fans about transportation options regarding Barclays Center attendance

Atlantic Yards Report

What a coincidence: a day after a public meeting in which officials revealed delays in the long-awaited Transportation Demand Management plan for the Barclays Center, Nets Basketball on January 27 sent "an important online survey about our move to Barclays Center in Brooklyn next season" to those on its mailing list.

The survey, which offered the opportunity to win "autographed merchandise, courtside seats to a NETS game or a NETS Fan Experience package!," seemed designed to alert people to the extensive public transportation options and deter them from driving.

However, should word-of-mouth or advertising attract drivers to non-arena-related garages or to residential streets in search of free parking, that will hamper the effort to promote transit use.

Last week, Arana Hankin, Director, Atlantic Yards Project, for Empire State Development suggested that the delay in the NBA season hampered development of the plan. Perhaps, but there's no reason why those on the Nets' mailing list could not have been previously surveyed.


Posted by eric at 11:21 AM

Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov Worth Billions Less

by Luisa Kroll

Russian billionaire and Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov was officially registered as a Russian presidential candidate on Wednesday, after collecting the required 2 million signatures. His name will now appear on the March 4 ballot alongside heavily favored candidate, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, and three others.

While he’s been busy campaigning, his net worth has taken a beating. Prokhorov is now worth between $12 billion and $13 billion, down from $18 billion last March when we published our 2011 ranking of the World’s Billionaires.

Most of that loss has come from the poor performance of his public holdings, which have gotten battered along with the Russian stock market.

One investment that has not lost value is Prokhorov’s NBA basketball team, the soon to be Brooklyn Nets, which he bought in 2009 and plans to move into a new arena in Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards later this year. According to our recently released NBA valuations, the team is valued at $357 million, 14% more than last year.


NoLandGrab: While the Nets may have appreciated in value on the backs of New York's taxpayers, the Curse of the Nets is surely responsible for Prokhorov's losses. At this rate, he'll be broke in three years.

Related content...

NorthJersey.com, Nets gains – in spite of current struggles

The annual Forbes NBA valuations came out this week, and the Nets are ranked last in revenue, 28th out of 30 franchise in debt/value ratio, and 28th in operating income (minus $23.6 million, which may be being kind).

So you might think the Nets will place 28th, 29th, or 30th based on those numbers.

Instead, they rank 14th – up from 21st a year ago. So I checked in today with Forbes reporter Kurt Badenhausen on what seemed like might be a discrepancy.

Badenhausen said that the future economic prospects of the Nets – who are moving to Brooklyn this fall – is somewhat “baked into the value” of the franchise at $357 million.

But he cautioned that honeymoons with new sports facilities keep getting shorter and shorter – and cited the Mets’ CitiField as an example.

“Fans have shown, with the NBA, that they will not support a team that loses week after week,” Badenhausen said.

Posted by eric at 10:47 AM

Keystone will rely on Eminent Domain!?

The Daily KOS
by JL Finch

Why haven't I heard more about this before now?

Of course the Keystone XL pipeline will need to rely on Eminent Domain to site the pipeline along its alignment. Where the path crosses private land, if the landowner refuses to grant an easement, the easement will need to be taken (condemned) by eminent domain.

I thought those right-wing types HATED eminent domain! The taking of private property for a PRIVATE benefit - the benefit of TransCanada in this case, a FOREIGN corporation, and BigOil, who own the processing and shipping facilities in Houston.

In the Right's hierarchy of needs, fossil-fuel production trumps most everything else, including property rights.

Of course the project has now NOT received federal approval. And Boehner and the US Chamber are screaming bloody murder about it for the purpose of making political hay.

Nebraska, Texas - these ultra-conservative states are going to tolerate their private landowners being strong-armed by a FOREIGN corporation? They are going to tolerate private property being seized for corporate benefit?


Related content...

The New York Times, Eminent Domain Fight Has a Canadian Twist

A Canadian company has been threatening to confiscate private land from South Dakota to the Gulf of Mexico, and is already suing many who have refused to allow the Keystone XL pipeline on their property even though the controversial project has yet to receive federal approval.

Randy Thompson, a cattle buyer in Nebraska, was informed that if he did not grant pipeline access to 80 of the 400 acres left to him by his mother along the Platte River, “Keystone will use eminent domain to acquire the easement.” Sue Kelso and her large extended family in Oklahoma were sued in the local district court by TransCanada, the pipeline company, after she and her siblings refused to allow the pipeline to cross their pasture.

“Their land agent told us the very first day she met with us, you either take the money or they’re going to condemn the land,” Mrs. Kelso said. By its own count, the company currently has 34 eminent domain actions against landowners in Texas and an additional 22 in South Dakota.

Posted by eric at 10:30 AM

January 29, 2012


Gowanus Institute for Research, Planning & Development


Gowanus Institute + Rooftop Films present
a documentary film about Atlantic Yards
Details at rooftopfilms.com

TUE 31 JAN 2012 7:00P [Note: This is a REVISED date]
Doors Open 7:00p. Screening 7:30p. Run time 93 min.
Panel discussion and Q&A to follow
Free admission

232 Third St corner Third Ave
Gowanus Brooklyn NY 11215

BATTLE FOR BROOKLYN follows the story of reluctant activist Daniel Goldstein as he struggles to save his home and community from being demolished to make way for a professional basketball arena and the densest real estate development in U.S. history. Along the way, he falls in love, gets married and starts a family while living in a vacated building located at the heart of the project site. Over the course of seven years, Daniel spearheads the movement against the development plan as he and the community fight tenaciously in the courts, the streets, and the media to stop the abuse of eminent domain and reveal the corruption at the heart of the plan. More at battleforbrooklyn.com


Posted by steve at 10:19 PM

Seen but not heard: the mayor's new emissary on Atlantic Yards issues

Atlantic Yards Report

Lolita Jackson, director of special projects at the mayor's office and described (probably over-described) as an ombudsman to oversee quality-of-life issues regarding the project--attended the January 26 meeting--her first--of the Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet, which includes agency and governmental officials.

She was introduced by Sam Pierre, Brooklyn director at the Mayor's Community Assistance Unit. (Pierre was formerly an aide to Rep. Ed Towns, as well an officer in the powerful Thomas Jefferson Democratic Club, both of which have favorable postures toward Atlantic Yards, as does the mayor.)

“Lolita’s role will be to assist some of the work we're already doing here, working with city agencies, so that we can improve quality of life issues around the project," Pierre said. "We’ll be working with Carlo [Scissura, special advisor at the Brooklyn Borough President's Office], and Arana [Hankin, Director, Atlantic Yards Project, Empire State Development], and Forest City. We've had conversations, we’re going to be working together to make sure that we have our agencies work together... so that the project can be done.”

Jackson spoke individually to several people but didn't address the group. She had arrived at the 9:30 a.m. meeting--which normally starts ten minutes late--on time, despite a trip from the Upper East Side. You have to wonder what she thought about the delay in the Transportation Demand Management plan.


Posted by steve at 10:15 PM

NetsDaily editor says Prokhorov's feelings toward US have been shaped by reception by Nets fans, ignores his own role as chief cheerleader

Atlantic Yards Report

.>A 1/26/12 post on Nets Daily, Did Fans' Reaction Help Prokhorov's View of U.S., West?, contains a glaringly obvious omission:

Those close to Mikhail Prokhorov say his feelings toward the United States have evolved, shaped, in part, by his experience as the Nets owner. When he purchased the team he didn't know what to expect. Would there be suspicions? a Cold War hangover?
But they say he was pleasantly surprised by reaction he got from NBA owners and particularly Nets fans. As one said, he found it all quite endearing. Now are we starting to see the product of that in his foreign policy pronouncements as he runs for Russian president? Seems so. On Tuesday he told an English language television outlet that it's time for Russia to embrace the West.

(Emphasis added)

Particularly Nets fans? The Nets fan who's led the embrace of Prokhorov is the author of that post, site editor "Net Income," aka Bob Windrem.

A 4/26/10 Times Sports Section article, headlined Russian Billionaire Is White Knight for the Nets, stated:

The NetsDaily blog has dubbed him “the Most Interesting Man in the World,” after the suave fellow in the beer commercials.

That dubbing came from "Net Income" in a 6/26/09 post.

Windrem earlier even wrote a profile for MSNBC quoting the words and work of "Net Income," but didn't acknowledge on MSNBC that he's the lead contributor to NetsDaily.

A 10/31/10 New York Times Magazine cover story on Prokhorov, headlined The Playboy and His Power Games, reported:

Prokhorov had invited anyone who couldn’t manage the rasp in the middle of “Mikhail” to call him Mike, but on NetsDaily, the premier Nets fan Web site, he quickly emerged as “Proky.” Proky was the sweet sound of salvation. The Web site editor (a 65-year-old New York-based television producer anxious to keep his old- and new-media identities separate) coined a phrase for the euphoria coursing through reader comments: the Prokhorov Effect.

Why does he want to keep his identities separate? Because he shoots from the hip and makes claims--and gets nasty--that he wouldn't do as "Bob Windrem."


Posted by steve at 10:11 PM

Illuminating disgraced Senator Carl Kruger: was he a good guy gone bad, or amoral from the start?

Atlantic Yards Report

Earlier this month, New York magazine published an illuminating, somewhat sympathetic profile of King Carl of Canarsie: The gothic saga of Brooklyn power broker Carl Kruger, a state senator who loved a gynecologist and his family so much he was willing to sell his influence for them.

It allowed Kruger to half-explain how he slipped into corruption, clawing his way up from neglect (he was put up for adoption but returned to his mom) and poverty--and it provoked several (mostly anonymous) commenters, as noted below, to observe that Kruger was dirty a lot longer.

And, though Atlantic Yards is unmentioned, the Kruger saga provides excruciating context for the (then)-Senator's over-the-top support for Atlantic Yards, support that, at least in retrospect, seems provoked not by Brooklyn pride, or jobs, but something more.

It's not clear whether (guilty) lobbyist Richard Lipsky's payments to Kruger were predicated on support for Atlantic Yards, but Kruger pleaded guilty to, among other things, directing funds in response to a request from Forest City Ratner executive Bruce Bender. Was it just because they were old Thomas Jefferson Democratic Club cronies?


Posted by steve at 10:02 PM

January 28, 2012

Street changes near arena site: planned "pedestrian refuge" on Atlantic Avenue at South Portland/Sixth provokes concern about eliminating turn from Atlantic

Atlantic Yards Report

At two meetings January 26, Chris Hrones of the New York City Department of Transportation described two planned changes in nearby roadway configurations that were not part of the Atlantic Yards plan, but are relevant to neighbors--and got some pushback about one.

Atlantic Avenue going west of Flatbush/Fourth

At Atlantic Avenue and Flatbush, there are four lanes going west on Atlantic, with one right turn-only lane. The original plan was to make another lane right-turn only.

But that would fuel congestion on Atlantic Avenue, as multiple lanes narrow to two lanes west of Flatbush (and Fourth Avenue). Now, Hornese said, the plan is to to create a 100-foot merge lane on Atlantic west of Flatbush/Fourth, thus extending an existing bus stop space (115 feet) by eliminating five or six parking spaces.

No left on South Portland on Atlantic going east

The other plan is to create a "pedestrian refuge" (mini-median) in the middle of broad Atlantic Avenue at the intersection of South Portland Avenue/Sixth Avenue, across from the northeast corner of the arena block. That would eliminate the eastbound left turn from Atlantic onto South Portland--a turn currently not available because of construction-related traffic changes.

There still would be an eastbound left turn at Fort Greene Place, he said, and one will be restored at Carlton Avenue. (This was also noted on Patch.)

The plan provoked some pushback from Jim Vogel, a representative of state Senator Velmanette Montgomery. "Fort Greene Place is demapped," he said, noting it was privatized for Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Center and Atlantic Terminal malls. "In terms of utility to the community, it's more important to have a left turn on South Portland. Eliminating a turn on a through street to favor a private shopping road is going to raise a lot of waves."

Hrones said it was an issue of pedestrian safety, and there was no other opportunity to create that refuge. As for Fort Greene Place, "Forest City is required to keep it open to the public," he said.

Rob Perris, District Manager of Community Board 2, said he agreed with Vogel: "South Portland, the way it connects with the street network, is a much higher utility route than Fort Greene Place or Carlton Avenue."


Posted by steve at 5:37 PM

Could Barclays Center beer sales be cut off before third quarter ends? Nope

Atlantic Yards Report

In 2005, in response to a brawl between players and fans in Detroit, the National Basketball Association promulgated a Fan Code of Conduct, including a a ban on alcohol sales during the fourth quarter, a 24-ounce limit on the size of alcoholic drinks and a limit of two alcoholic drinks per customer.

But no NBA arena will be abutting a residential neighborhood as closely as the Barclays Center, scheduled to open for basketball in October, and neighbors are concerned about noise, sanitation, driving--and inebriated fans leaving the arena.

At the Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meeting January 26, Forest City Ratner executive Jane Marshall said that a code of conduct is being developed for the arena, and will be shared with the public. "I believe the NBA requirement is: after the third quarter, they stop [beer sales]. I don't believe we will be able to go any earlier than that.

When will that code of conduct be available?

"We're shooting to have a robust discussion about a lot of these issues, starting at the end of the spring," Marshall said.

Is there any possibility that the beer cutoff could be earlier than the end of the third quarter, asked Rami Metal, representing Council Member Steve Levin.

"I'm saying that I think it's impossible," responded Marshall.


Posted by steve at 5:22 PM

BrooklynSpeaks criticizes delay in Transportation Demand Management Plan, limited scope, failure to address parking measures

Atlantic Yards Report

A press release from BrooklynSpeaks, issued yesterday, addresses the January 26 meeting in which officials revealed that the Transportation Demand Management Plan would be delayed at least five months.

Let's see if any other press outlets (beyond this blog, and Patch) cover the news, in which BrooklynSpeaks advances the story with some specific criticisms of measures (apparently) not taken in the emerging plan.

The statement:

BrooklynSpeaks sponsors reacted to a presentation yesterday of Forest City Ratner’s planned “transportation demand management” measures meant to reduce the volume of cars traveling to events at the Barclays Center arena, scheduled to open in September 2012. The presentation was given at Brooklyn Borough Hall by representatives of Sam Schwartz Engineering, traffic consultants to the Atlantic Yards project, to a group of elected officials, city agency employees, and community leaders.


The outline of the “transportation demand management” plan (or TDM) was first disclosed in Atlantic Yards’ Final Environmental Impact Statement, published in the fall of 2006, and reiterated in project documents executed in December 2009. Among the measures mentioned in the 2009 documents are remote parking facilities near the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway with shuttle bus service to the arena; an HOV requirement for use of 600 of the 1,100 planned parking spaces at the on-site parking lot; free charter bus service from park-and-ride lots in Staten Island; and free roundtrip subway fare to Nets ticketholders.

The Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) stated in June 2011 that the TDM would be released in December 2011. At a meeting with community leaders in December, ESDC stated that a draft TDM would be released in February. Yesterday, FCR stated it expected to release a draft TDM in May, four months before the arena opening. No new details of the TDM were presented.

Although Barclays Center is expected to host more than 220 events per year, most provisions of the TDM disclosed to date represent incentives for patrons to use mass transit instead of cars to travel to the arena, and may apply only to the 41 anticipated Nets basketball games. For other events, Forest City need only “encourage” event promoters to use the measures.

Kate Slevin, Executive Director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, said, “The limited measures offered by Forest City won’t do the trick.” She added, “Studies have shown the most effective tactics to reduce traffic involve disincentives like reducing availability of parking and increasing its cost. But these are nowhere in the plan.”

The stated goal of the TDM is to reduce the number of vehicles traveling to a Nets game by 30% of the 2,400 initially projected. However, the zone for which the effectiveness of the plan will be measured extends only one-half mile around the arena—meaning that the final TDM may have limited impact in reducing traffic on highways and arterial roads leading to the arena.

The unrealistically short radius of the TDM’s focus is a recipe for congested residential streets in nearby neighborhoods,” said Michael Cairl, president of the Park Slope Civic Council. “Simply shifting the problem a few blocks away from the arena isn’t a solution, when traffic volume upstream from the arena, and congestion in the area, are already high.”

Other cities have implemented residential parking permit (RPP) zones around sports facilities, have extended parking meter hours to prevent patrons from taking on-street spaces just as metered parking ends, and have fined venue operators when utilization goals for remote parking are not met. Atlantic Yards’ TDM thus far contains none of these measures. Agreements between Forest City Ratner and the ESDC require only one review of the effectiveness of the TDM, midway through the first basketball season. No further oversight of the program by the State or City has been agreed.

“In the five years since Atlantic Yards was approved, the developer and the State have figured out how to change the project’s architecture, rework its construction schedule, delay delivery of its affordable housing and jobs, and reduce its labor expense,” said Danae Oratowski, chair of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council. “But they don’t appear to have given any further thought to how to lessen the impact of Atlantic Yards’ traffic on central Brooklyn. The City and the State have to deliver the comprehensive plan Brooklyn needs before it’s really too late.”

Posted by steve at 5:15 PM

January 27, 2012

Delay in transportation plan for arena dismays residents, CM Levin; lack of info about area garages hampers efforts to reduce surface parking lot in residential neighborhood

Atlantic Yards Report

The delay in the release of the long-awaited Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan, from once-promised December to now-promised May, has distinct real-world consequences, notably stalling the efforts of Prospect Heights residents to argue for a reduction in the size of the planned 1100-space parking lot on Block 1129, bounded by Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues and Dean and Pacific Streets.

The availability of parking garages elsewhere might buttress their case, but more than five years after the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) was completed, Forest City Ratner contractors are newly analyzing available spaces in parking garages near the project site.

During meetings yesterday of the Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet (made up of affected agencies and elected officials) and the Transportation Focus Group (including neighborhood and civic groups), representatives of Sam Schwartz Engineering (SSE) did not discuss the emerging plan in great detail, but described the research process (e.g., surveys of attendees), the plan to select a vendor to manage parking, and shared how incentives for mass transit, including marketing, had reduced the number of drivers at other sports facilities, such as the Prudential Center in Newark and CitiField in Queens.

The pre-sale of parking spaces in local garages, plus parking in remote garages (with free shuttle buses), is aimed to steer drivers away from residential streets.

However, several residents expressed qualms about the effect in neighborhoods around the Barclays Center, given the failure, for example, to establish residential permit parking (RPP), which would deter out-of-area drivers looking for free on-street spaces.


NoLandGrab: They've had more than eight years to work on this. Is it any wonder residents around the arena site have zero confidence in the efficacy of the "plan?"

Posted by eric at 11:46 AM

Atlantic Yards Update: No Left Turn on S. Oxford, State Says No to Resident Veto, More

Residents also learn that only 11 percent of apartments in first tower are slated to have two or more bedrooms, compared to the 50 percent promised.

Park Slope Patch
by Amy Sara Clark

Here are a few highlights from yesterday’s meeting of the Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet, a group of Ratner, state and elected officials that meets bi-monthly:

No Left Turn for S. Oxford

To the chagrin of anyone trying to get to Fort Greene when driving east on Atlantic, there will be no left turn on S. Oxford Street. However, there will be a left turn onto Carlton (once it re-opens) as well as onto Fort Greene Place.

The Department of Transportation has eliminated that turn lane in favor of a pedestrian “refuge” for those who can’t cross all the lanes in one light.

No Resident Veto Power on Traffic Plans:

Afraid of the traffic onslaught when Barclays Arena opens in the fall, neighborhood groups have asked for more input into the traffic management plan.

In response, the Empire State Development, the state agency overseeing the construction, set up a Transportation Focus Group that will give civic groups and block associations to give early input on the plan directly to ESDC and Ratner officials.

Skeptical that the input would have an impact, at last month’s meeting, the groups asked for veto power on the plan. The ESDC’s Arana Hankin said in December the agency would consider the request, but came back this morning with firm no.


Posted by eric at 11:39 AM

Transportation Demand Management plan for arena, originally due in December, then pushed to February, now expected in May; state official: "I think we're going to be OK"

Atlantic Yards Report

The long-awaited Transportation Demand Management plan for the Barclays Center arena has been pushed back a second time, marking a delay of at least five months, officials revealed today at the bimonthly Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meeting.

So the expected release in May leaves a much shorter window of opportunity for area residents and other stakeholders to offer constructive criticism before the arena opens in late September.

Arana Hankin, Director, Atlantic Yards Project, for Empire State Development, acknowledged that her agency, responding to a question at a public meeting last June about the TDM plan, "anticipated" that developer Forest City Ratner would present the plan "to the public for comment in about six months."

The plan involves incentives to reduce use of cars, free MetroCards, cross-marketing with local businesses, remote parking, and more.

How worrisome is the delay, I asked Hankin.

She pointed out that staffers from consultant Sam Schwartz Engineering (SSE), the firm Forest City hired to work on the plan, had described how they put together a successful plan for the new arena in Newark, the Prudential Center, in ten weeks. "I think we’re going to be OK," she said.


NoLandGrab: As one-time NBA center Joe Barry Carroll once said, allegedly, to a referee who had whistled him for an infraction and, when Carroll protested, told him he thought he'd committed a foul: "don't be thinkin', be knowin'."

Posted by eric at 11:28 AM

Forest City Ratner: Carlton Avenue Bridge "projected completion" early September; arena on schedule (no mention of report on delays); facade company catching up after temporary closure

Atlantic Yards Report

At yesterday's Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meeting, held at Borough Hall, Forest City Ratner officials gave several assurances about the timetable for ongoing work--but also left some questions lingering.

Carlton Avenue Bridge

Construction chief Bob Sanna provided an update on the Carlton Avenue Bridge, which is supposed to be reconstructed before the arena opens in September, thus reopening a long-closed connection between Prospect Heights and Fort Greene.

"The bulk excavation is 95% complete, there’s an extensive storm retention system that’s below the tracks. We have two of the three detention tanks now complete," he said. "The north abutment is about 60% complete, we started working on the south abutments."

"We expect to be able to cut over the yard, transfer trains into the newly laid track in February, and cover the trains over in May," he said, "which will allow us to complete the bridge in the early part of September. So the projected completion of the bridge... is the early part of September.”

That doesn't give them a lot of slack, given that the arena is supposed to open September 28, following several pre-opening events. I wrote earlier this month about the possibility of the schedule slipping, and the non-punitive penalties--a stall on starting a new tower--facing Forest City.


Posted by eric at 11:22 AM

First residential tower now delayed until spring or summer; Forest City admits "goal" of including more larger units won't be met; CM James says developer's not meeting commitment

Atlantic Yards Report

Say what you will about creepy Jim Stuckey — he wasn't so nearly prone to ineffectual blathering as Jane Marshall.

For the umpteenth time, Forest City Ratner has pushed back the projected groundbreaking for the first Atlantic Yards residential tower, Building 2 (B2), at the corner of Flatbush Avenue and Dean Street flanking the Barclays Center arena. Now the groundbreaking could be spring, as most recently projected, or summer.

Also, as acknowledged today at the Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meeting, Forest City will not meet its "goal"--purportedly guaranteed by the Community Benefits Agreement and long promoted by the developer--of ensuring that half of the subsidized "affordable housing" would be (in square footage) devoted to larger units of two and three bedrooms.

"It doesn’t dilute our desire to meet the commitment in the future," insisted Forest City executive Jane Marshall at the meeting, held at Borough Hall.

"I understand your desire," responded Council Member Letitia James, skeptically. "I desire to be thin, and young"--the audience chuckled--"but that’s not going to happen. The bottom line is that, there was a commitment, there was a promise. There’s a need in the neighborhood... I would hope you would honor your commitment to the community.”

Forest City Ratner's partner ACORN, or its successor, was supposed to hold the developer to its housing pledge, but Bertha Lewis, who promoted the project because of the pledge, has not yet questioned the commitment.

Click through for Norman Oder's timeline of Forest City's moving Building 2 "goal" posts — which have now been moved 10 times in a little more than two years.


NoLandGrab: Forest City's repeated delaying of housing construction sure helps our confidence in all their other promises — but surely they'll deliver with the Transportation Demand Management plan or the reopening of the Carlton Avenue bridge. Right?

Posted by eric at 11:05 AM

UPDATE: NYU Schack Dean James Stuckey Accused of Sexual Harassment, Again

NY Observer
by Daniel Edward Rosen

An NYU administrator is accusing the school for failing to honor her promotion after she claimed that then-New York University Schack Institute dean James Stuckey sexually harassed her in a 2011 incident, according to a lawsuit filed in New York State Supreme Court.

Stephanie Bonadio, 34, alleges that Mr. Stuckey had “forcibly placed her hand on his crotch and his erect penis” while the two were discussing her recent promotion at a dinner at The Strip House on September 23, the suit says.

The Strip House? Sure, they serve steaks, but Stuckey must've been hoping the double entendre would help set the mood. According to the New York Magazine review: "Playing off the naughty name, David Rockwell's interior is done up in bordello shades of red and gold, with old burlesque photos on the wall."

The lawsuit, which was filed yesterday, is seeking punitive damages, lawyers fees, owed salary, and trial by jury, among other demands.

Mr. Stuckey made headlines years before when he abruptly resigned as head of the Atlantic Yards development during his time as an executive vice president of Forest City Ratner Cos.

His resignation was spurred on by internal complaints that Mr. Stuckey had acted improperly at a company Christmas party, where he had a number of female colleagues sit on his lap inside a private room in a club, The NY Post reported.


NoLandGrab: The full text of the lawsuit is worth a read. Best low, er, highlight:

"Stuckey moved many of the men out of his suite of offices at NYU and he filled it with young, attractive women, including Bonadio."

And here's some free advice to Ms. Bonadio's lawyer: you should investigate what NYU knew about Mr. Stuckey's history with female subordinates when they hired him, and whether his hiring was at the behest of Schack Institute Advisory Board member Bruce C. Ratner.

Related coverage...

NY Magazine, NYU Is Battling a Sexual-Harassment Scandal

Four years prior, Stuckey ditched the Atlantic Yards development firm Forest City Ratner Cos. after he allegedly "took all of his subordinates to a club and then called a number of women employees into a private room, where he had them sit on his lap as though he were Santa Claus." A source told the New York Post, "There’s a pattern of this behavior."

NYU Local, NYU Denies Firing Administrator After She Reported Sexual Harassment

Posted by eric at 10:44 AM

Eye on the Politics of the Atlantic Yards Project

Our Time Press
by Mary Alice Miller

What, OTP couldn't send crack(ed) reporter Stephen Witt to the presser?

For all the good that they do, occasionally, local elected officials do something that makes you want to say, “Hmmm?” Last Sunday, State Senator Eric Adams teamed with Assemblymen Hakeem Jeffries and Karim Camara to call “Foul” over “Failure of Barclay Arena Developer to Score on Community Givebacks.” Claiming that “many of the community benefits promised by the developers — including job creation, a public safety plan and the inclusion of affordable housing – have failed to materialize,” the trio announced “their plans to introduce legislation that establishes a subsidiary corporation for Atlantic Yards oversight and development.” The group calls on Kenneth Adams, president of the Empire State development Corporation, to “implement oversight changes in the Atlantic Yards development project” which “will ensure transparency and accountability to protect public resources invested in the project.”

State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, a staunch critic of the Atlantic Yards development as it was proposed and funded, was not invited to the presser. Neither were Assembly members James Brennan or Joan Millman. Montgomery is the Senate sponsor of the bill; Brennan and Millman are co-sponsors of the Assembly bill. Oddly, Adams has not yet co-sponsored the Senate bill.

Where was the concern expressed this week by Adams, Jeffries, and Camara during five years of displacements, eminent domain law suits, and skepticism from other elected officials and community members over Forest City Ratner’s inflated job and affordable housing estimates. Why is legislation calling for “changes in the governance of the Atlantic Yards Project, the development that includes Barclay Arena, future home of the New York Nets” being announced now?


Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Who was missing from the press conference last Sunday? Sen. Montgomery and other Atlantic Yards critics

Mary Alice Miller, the Our Time Press reporter/columnist who bluntly asked three belated critics of Atlantic Yards "Where were y'all?" last Sunday, offers her take, in Eye on the Politics of the Atlantic Yards Project.

Unrelated but intriguing was the news yesterday that the GOP-proposed Senate redistricting would pit two sitting Democratic Senators, as reported by City and State NY:

Brooklyn State Sens. Eric Adams and Velmanette Montgomery’s residences are now in the same Senate district, spokespersons for both the Senate Republicans and Democrats confirmed, potentially putting the two colleagues in the position of running against one another.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has promised a veto.

Posted by eric at 10:28 AM

January 26, 2012

Two-for-one: Bruce Ratner's wife matches campaign contributions to Cuomo, Senate Republicans, Camara

Atlantic Yards Report

I wrote today about how Pamela Lipkin, Bruce Ratner's wife, gave a $3000 contribution to the campaign of Assemblyman Karim Camara on the same March 2009 day her husband also gave to Camara.

That's not the only time Lipkin (list, reproduced below) has matched Ratner's contribution.

Notably, Lipkin gave $5000 to Andrew Cuomo's gubernatorial campaign in February 2009 and $7500 in May 2010, matching Ratner's contributions.

And she gave $7500 to the New York State Senate Republican Campaign Committee on the same November 2010 day Ratner also gave. (Remember, as architect Frank Gehry put it, "Bruce Ratner is politically my kind of guy, he's a do-gooder, liberal, we can talk.")

I mentioned Lipkin, then Ratner's girlfriend, in a 9/5/06 post, but she's made other contributions since then, including a $3100 October 2006 contribution to the uncontested Assembly campaign of Brooklyn Democratic Chair Vito Lopez, and a $5400 September 2006 contribution to the Senatorial campaign of Martin Connor.

The list (click to enlarge)


Posted by eric at 11:28 AM

New Atlantic Yards critics Camara and Adams got Forest City Ratner-related campaign money in the past. Maybe now they don't think they need more.

Atlantic Yards Report

When covering the press conference last Sunday by three elected officials previously on-the-fence or supportive of Atlantic Yards, I didn't point out that two of three had received campaign contributions from people connected to Forest City Ratner and Atlantic Yards.

Such contributions, along with constituent feedback, might have nudged Assemblyman Karim Camara and state Senator Eric Adams toward their respective AY positions, supportive and near-the-fence.

My armchair analysis: Camara and Adams don't need such campaign money now, and they're more worried about constituents who haven't gotten expected/hoped-for jobs, contracts, and housing at the project.

While I had covered most of those contributions, I'd also missed some. In no case did the Atlantic Yards-related money represent a large percentage of the total, but the contributions were significant enough to be noticeable.

Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, who did not get Ratner-related contributions, probably is happy to distinguish himself from Rep. Ed Towns, an Atlantic Yards supporter whom he's challenging for Congress. In criticizing Atlantic Yards, Jeffries also might take some votes from those constituents sympathetic to the anti-AY stance of city Council Member Charles Barron, who's also in the race.


Posted by eric at 11:23 AM

Value of Nets rises 14% despite huge losses; the new arena/market must be key

Atlantic Yards Report

The numbers are stunning. The New Jersey Nets, soon to be Brooklyn Nets, have the third-highest debt to value ratio in the National Basketball Association, at 79%, according to Forbes. The team lost the third-most in the last season, $23.6 million.

Yet the value of the Nets rose 14%, from $312 million to $357 million, according to Forbes, vaulting the team from 21st (of 30) to 14th place.

In the 2011 rankings, the value had risen 16% on losses of $10.2 million, though with an astronomical 224% debt/value ratio.

The article does not go into the explanation, but the opening of a new arena in the new Brooklyn market, is surely key; it offers new revenue streams and sponsorships, and a more valuable TV deal.


Related content...

Forbes, NBA Team Values

Forbes, The NBA's Billionaires

A couple of years ago, the New Jersey Nets’ planned move to Brooklyn had that look of a pipe dream not ready to come true. Neighborhood activists had already been holding things up in legal bottlenecks. Once that hurdle was cleared, a severe recession made arena financing more complicated and costly for owner Bruce Ratner.

Solution: find some major capital, quickly. Ratner sold off 80% of the team and 45% of the Barclays Center project to Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, who immediately became the NBA’s wealthiest owner, surpassing even Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. The sale paved the way for the Brooklyn Nets to become a reality by next season.

Posted by eric at 11:14 AM

Florida Law Implemented in New York Would Actually Bring Housing to Atlantic Yards Site

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

New York ain't Florida but the following article reminds us of two things:

1. Bruce Ratner demolished a long-term homeless shelter scattering the most vulnerable amongst us all over the city in order to build a... long-term surface parking lot that will include parking for the Barclays Center of Brooklyn©.

2. If New York had this Florida law and implemented it at least Atlantic Yards would actually provide some form of housing, which it currently is not doing at all:

Florida law would turn its publicly funded ballparks and stadiums into homeless shelters
By 'Duk | Big League Stew | Yahoo! Sports

Could the new Marlins ballpark or the Tampa Bay Rays' Tropicana Field serve as a homeless shelter for the 270 or so nights a year that they're not used for baseball?

If two Florida lawmakers have their way, they might. As reported by the Miami Herald, state legislators have unearthed an obscure law that has not been enforced since it was adopted in 1988. It states that any ballpark or stadium that receives taxpayer money shall serve as a homeless shelter on the dates that it is not in use.

Now, a new bill would punish owners of teams who play in publicly funded stadiums if they don't provide a haven for the homeless.


Posted by eric at 11:01 AM

NYU administrator Stephanie Bonadio says job vanished after her sex harassment complaint

She says James Stuckey, ex-dean of Schack Real Estate Institute, tried to make her perform sex act

NY Daily News
by Barbara Ross

Here's the NoLandGrab public service of the day:

Women — print this photo of former Atlantic Yards/Forest City Ratner honcho Jim Stuckey and keep it in your pocket. If you ever see this guy, immediately run in the other direction.

A New York University administrator charged the school Wednesday with eliminating her job when she accused a dean of sexual harassment.

Stephanie Bonadio, 34, once a rising star in NYU’s Schack Institute for Real Estate, claims her career was ruined when she accused her boss of forcing himself on her.

In the Manhattan Supreme Court suit, Bonadio says she was having dinner at the Strip House restaurant on E. 12th St. with James Stuckey, then dean of the Schack Institute for Real Estate, when he tried to get her to perform a sex act.

As she asked about her pending promotion,“He grabbed her hand and ...without her consent, he forcibly placed her hand on his crotch and his erect penis,” the suit charges.

She said she told Stuckey “she was not that kind of girl.”

Soon after Bonadio reported the incident, Stuckey, a former executive with Forest City Ratner and ex-head of Mayor Bloomberg's commission on design, resigned “for health reasons,” the suit says.


Photo: Debbie Egan-Chin/NY Daily News

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Lawsuit against NYU alleges sexual harassment by former Forest City executive Stuckey

Remember that anonymously sourced New York Post article last October that alleged that former Forest City Ratner executive (and Atlantic Yards point man) Jim Stuckey had resigned suddenly from his job at New York University for alleged sexual harassment?

Well, now there's another piece of evidence.

NYU denied to the Daily News that it had retaliated, and neither Stuckey nor Bonadio commented.

So it's murky. But Bonadio's allegations against Stuckey, if they go to court, might be backed up if she can find witnesses who can confirm, as the Post also reported, that Stuckey had left Forest City abruptly because of complaints filed by female employees.

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Alleged Sexual Harassment by Former Ratner SVP Jim Stuckey Leads to Lawsuit Against NYU

So, what did NYU know about Stuckey when they hired him and did Bruce Ratner's position on the Schack board have anything to do with the hiring? And what will this former NYU administrator, now suing the school, reveal about Stuckey's hiring in her legal briefs?

Is it any wonder at all that the man who felt so entitled to take an entire neighborhood would allegedly feel entitled to his work place subordinate?

Posted by eric at 10:46 AM

A couple of big Atlantic Yards meetings today

Atlantic Yards Report

The first meeting today (as I previously wrote) is the bimonthly Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meeting, is open to the public, at Borough Hall at 9:30 am. The expected topic is the long-awaited Transportation Demand Management plan.

The second, at Borough Hall at 6 pm, is an invite-only event regarding community groups' response to general traffic/transportation issues.


Posted by eric at 10:40 AM

January 25, 2012

Is Atlantic Yards Good for Brooklyn? A Public Call to Host a Town Hall Meeting With Michael Ratner

The Nation
by Dave Zirin

As reported by Michael O’Keeffe in yesterday’s New York Daily News, I have issued a formal request to Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights to co-host a film screening of the documentary Battle for Brooklyn. The documentary describes the efforts in Brooklyn to resist the Atlantic Yards basketball arena/housing development project, which will upturn twenty-two acres in the heart of the borough. That has meant protesting eminent domain evictions, sweetheart backroom deals, the prospect of accelerated gentrification, the tearing down of historic buildings and the use of taxpayer subsidies. Mr. Ratner is an investor in this project, spearheaded by his brother, Bruce Ratner, a high powered real estate magnate. Michael Ratner is also a hero of mine. His work opposing the Patriot Act, torture as policy, and the War Powers Act is an inspiration to anyone who cares about civil liberties and real freedom. In other words, not freedom the way Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich or Ron Paul talk about freedom—the freedom to destroy the environment, smash unions, or build a pipeline through your backyard—but the freedom to actually assemble, debate, discuss and live in an open society.

But Michael Ratner is also an investor in this incredibly controversial project. He has never commented publicly about the constitutionality of how eminent domain was used to remove people from their Brooklyn homes and businesses. He has never explained why someone of his sterling reputation would involve himself in a project that symbolizes for so many residents the profits of the few over the needs of the many. Maybe he believes that this kind of massive development project is completely constitutional. Maybe he thinks that it’s in the best interests of Brooklyn. Maybe he believes that the Ratner family will profit mightily from the project, which will in turn support the good works of the CCR. I have no idea. As a boy with Brooklyn roots, I’m certainly open to his arguments, but it would be good to actually hear them. Given Michael Ratner’s profile as a civil libertarian, I honestly believe he has an obligation to be public and transparent about his involvement.

That is why I am issuing the following offer to Mr. Ratner: let us co-host a showing of the documentary Battle for Brooklyn. The film, which was shortlisted for an Academy Award, is remarkably gripping and would provide a terrific basis for a townhall conversation about the merits of Atlantic Yards, the constitutionality of eminent domain for private benefit and whether sports arenas are answers to the vexing problems of urban development and job creation. I already have agreements secured from several movie theaters willing to host such an event as well as a commitment from Daniel Goldstein, the protagonist of Battle for Brooklyn, to attend. You and I can both make brief statements and then open it up to the crowd. To Mr. Ratner: I can be reached at dave@edgeofsports.com. Let’s hold this event soon, in a comradely amicable setting, that allows us all to clear the air and educate the public about whether Atlantic Yards is in the best interests of Brooklyn not to mention in accordance with the kind of free, open and just society you have spent a lifetime championing.


NoLandGrab: Michael Ratner: "OK, so long as I can bus in 500 construction workers and ACORN members and give them free sandwiches."

Related coverage...

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, David Zirin Publicly Invites Developer Bruce Ratner's Brother Michael to Discuss Atlantic Yards

Until now the media and icons on the left have stayd away from Michael Ratner's financial involvement in Atlantic Yards. No more.

Posted by eric at 12:29 PM

From Atlantic Yards Watch: "urina" trash on Pacific Street

Atlantic Yards Report


Neighborhood opposition to the expected cluster of bars and restaurants near the Barclays Center includes concern that inebriated patrons will use the neighborhood as a urinal. That generated unsurprising mocking response from the bravely pseudonymous contributors at NetsDaily.

However, as noted on Atlantic Yards Watch, a version of the "urina" is already in place. Construction workers have been discarding bottles of urine as neighborhood trash for months.

That bottle in the photo below, in a tree bed on Pacific Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues? Not apple juice. Maybe it would be less noticeable if the workers didn't park in a residential neighborhood.


NoLandGrab: Classy, like everything else about this project.

Posted by eric at 12:12 PM

Federal agency overseeing EB-5 immigrant investment program confirms that it will continue to let states gerrymander districts of high unemployment

Atlantic Yards Report

I wrote 1/11/12 how a revised draft memo on EB-5 Adjudications Policy, issued that day by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), punted regarding the practice by states of gerrymandering maps to ensure projects aimed at immigrant investment were located in areas of high unemployment.

And that allows for a lower investment level, $500,000, rather than $1 million, for those seeking green cards and their families.

Last month, in a front-page article, the New York Times put the gerrymandering issue on the national agenda, forcing USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas to acknowledged concern about the spirit of the legal provision which aims to help high-unemployment districts.

The Times article, which focused on the odd maps approved for New York projects (including what I've dubbed the "Bed-Stuy Boomerang" involving Atlantic Yards), even generated an editorial chiding the federal agency.

But the memo issued earlier this month stated that the USCIS would continue to give deference to the lines drawn by the state.


NoLandGrab: We suppose it's too much to ask for that boomerang to come back and hit Bruce Ratner in the tuches.

Posted by eric at 12:02 PM

NY State Appeal of Atlantic Yards Sweetheart Deal Ruling in Court on Valentine's Day

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Happy Valentine's day courtesy of the Empire State Development Corporation and Forest City Ratner.

Oral argument on NY State's and the developer's appeal of the ruling that went against them in DDDB et al. v. ESDC et al. has been scheduled for....Tuesday, February 14th at 2pm in the Appellate Division of New York State Supreme Court (27 Madison Avenue in Manhattan.)

What better day to further discuss, in court, the sweetness of Bruce Ratner's sweetheart deal.


NoLandGrab: Will they be the Appellate of our eye?

Posted by eric at 11:55 AM

UPDATE: 'Battle For Brooklyn' Doesn't Make Oscar Cut

Park Slope Patch
by Paul Leonard

Update, 10:48 a.m.: We received the following from "Battle For Brooklyn" co-director Michael Galinsky on today's Oscar news:

"We are really pleased by the energy that being on the short list gave the film. It's been on screen in NY almost every week since June and it will continue to show ... We are very pleased to see that our friend Marsh Curry's film "If A Tree falls" was recognized. So many incredible films are being made right now. It's truly a golden age of documentary."

On Monday, the film will screen at the American Can Factory at Third Avenue and 3rd Street to bring attention to proposed zoning changes in Gowanus, according to Galinsky.


Posted by eric at 11:37 AM

Crime Report: More iPhones Swiped and One Allegedly Inept Thief

The Local [Fort Greene/Clinton Hill]
by Gersh Kuntzman

On the top of everyone's list of Things Not To Do should be "leave my bag unattended in one of Bruce Ratner's Brooklyn malls."

Forget Me Not

A thief swiped a bag from inside the Atlantic Terminal Mall after a shopper left it behind by accident on Jan. 15.

The shopper, 60, told cops that she was inside the Flatbush Avenue mall at around 4 p.m., then left without her shopping cart. She returned 20 minutes later to find the cart — and the various cards and cash — gone.


Posted by eric at 11:31 AM

January 24, 2012

'Battle For Brooklyn' Doesn't Make Oscar Cut

Announced this morning, list of nominees leaves out Atlantic Yards doc.

Fort Greene-Clinton Hill Patch
by Paul Leonard

Weeks after making a list of 15 Oscar hopefuls, it's official: The Clinton Hill filmmakers behind the Atlantic Yards documentary, "Battle For Brooklyn," won't be strolling down the Kodak Theater's Hollywood red carpet after all.

The film, which has been shown across the country to acclaim, was left off of the list of five nominations announced in Los Angeles Tuesday morning.

Among the docs that did make the cut was Wim Wender's 3-D "Pina," an ode to the director of an innovative dance company that continues its run at BAM Rose Cinemas through this week.

Other films on the list include "Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory," a film tracking the aftermath of the Robin Hood Hills murders in Arkansas, and "If the Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front," which featured the story of one of ELF's members caught by police.


NoLandGrab: Paradise Lost 3, for one, was panned by The New York Times. We wuz robbed.

Posted by eric at 11:00 AM

How many subsidized apartments for low-income families in first Atlantic Yards tower? Just eight 2BRs, as Forest City Ratner reneges on promise to build half the affordable space as 2BR/3BR units

Atlantic Yards Report

Forest City Ratner maintains its unblemished record of not keeping any promises.

How many affordable apartments would there be for low-income families--families that need two bedrooms or more--in B2, the first planned Atlantic Yards tower?

Only eight.

And that's out of 350 total units.

The building, which has been delayed nearly two years and has not yet broken ground, would include 130 studios, 180 one-bedroom, and 40 two-bedrooms.

Of those latter 40 units, 20 would be subsidized. However, only eight of them would be low-income, with monthly rents at $701.75 and $902.25, at least under current income guidelines.

The other subsidized "affordable" two-bedroom units--four each--would cost $1604, $2406, and $3007. It makes you wonder how much the market-rate units would go for.

Reneging on the pledge

Why so few larger units? For the first building, Forest City Ratner has reneged on its long-promised "goal" to ensure than half the affordable housing--on a square foot basis--would be two- and three-bedroom apartments.

And that was a key selling point to struggling families hoping for better housing, as noted in the screenshot at [right], from the original AtlanticYards.com web site.

Note that the web site misleadingly implied that half the number of units--rather than square footage--would be larger units.

Yes, they even lie about their lies.


Posted by eric at 10:52 AM

Sports editor of 'The Nation' asks Michael Ratner, Bruce Ratner's brother, to screen 'Battle for Brooklyn'

NY Daily News Sports ITeam Blog
by Michael O'Keeffe

Michael Ratner, the president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, is a hero to many people for his work for human rights and civil liberties.

He’s also an investor in brother Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards development, which includes an arena for the NBA’s Nets, which has prompted some former admirers to write him off as a phony and a limousine liberal, a hypocrite who speaks out when a government razes Palestinian homes but is silent when government seizes Brooklyn apartments.

Progressive media – or at least one member of it – is finally calling out Ratner for an explanation.

Dave Zirin, the sports editor for The Nation, challenged Michael Ratner, via his Twitter account, to co-host a showing of the documentary “Battle for Brooklyn” and explain his support for the controversial project.


Posted by eric at 10:36 AM

January 23, 2012

Happy Bruce Day!

This Day ... In Jewish History

Time to dust off one of our favorite annual features (and time for This Day ... In Jewish History to update their citations)...

Appropriately, alternate-side parking was suspended today.

On this day in 1945:

Birthdate of Bruce Ratner. Appointed by Ed Koch to the position of Commissioners of Consumer Affairs for New York City in 1978, he became a real estate developer in 1982. He is now the owner of the New Jersey Nets basketball team, his net worth now several hundred million dollars. Ratner is the developer charged with building the New York Times Tower He is a member of the board of the Jewish Heritage Museum.


NoLandGrab: Happy Birthday, Bruce! We hope you might be charged with something else soon, too!

Posted by eric at 6:56 PM

Atlantic Yards Not Nearly As Brooklyn Job-Friendly As Claimed

by Garth Johnston

You guys are never going to believe this, but remember when Forest City Ratner kept telling us that its Atlantic Yards Project would bring thousands of jobs and units of affordable housing to Brooklyn? They lied! Not only are there fewer (prefab) buildings going up than initially promised, but the steadily rising stadium, now known as the Barclay's center, has been a disappointment jobs-wise, too.

None of this is actually new (remember those "interns" who sued Ratner when it reneged on a promise of jobs and a union card?) but its the response from the Ratner cake that is the icing on the camp. First off, they're all "Over 20% of all contract dollars to date have gone to [minority] firms, the highest percentage in the city"—which, fair enough—but then the company's spokesman goes on to say that litigation (*cough* Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn *cough*) and "the economy" have "impacted" the number of jobs created. So yeah, its not Forest City Ratner's fault they aren't doing what they promised they'd do—its Brooklyn's fault for complaining and holding the whole thing up.


Related coverage...

threecee via flickr, 2012 BrooklynSpeaks Atlantic Yards Governance Press Conference

Park Slope Patch, Pols Criticize Forest City Ratner's Promises at Rally

The Atlantic Yards website touts that the project would create “more than 16,000 union construction jobs plus over 8,000 permanent jobs,” but a report by Merritt & Harris said that as of November there were 645 construction workers on the job.

Posted by eric at 6:19 PM

Times Public Editor Brisbane gingerly moves to embrace more fact-checking, offers warnings; I suggest Atlantic Yards as a subject, offer examples of misleading coverage

Atlantic Yards Report

"He said, she said?" They'd both prefer truth to "news."

New York Times Public Editor Arthur Brisbane, fresh off his "Truth Vigilante" exploration, yesterday gingerly surveyed the new media world of dedicated fact-checking outlets/efforts. He pronounced himself somewhat chastened:

Newspaper journalism’s traditional way of dealing with spurious claims, meanwhile, isn’t satisfying readers. Often derided as the “he said, she said” approach, this method entails finding and quoting someone to counter a claim, thereby offering a form of balance but no resolution. This sufficed in the past, for many at least, but now many readers are asking for more aggressive rebuttals.

I heard this loud and clear last week when I asked readers on my blog whether they wanted more fact-checking in straight news articles and they said, resoundingly, yes.

James Fallows, author of “Breaking the News” and a national correspondent for The Atlantic, told me it is incumbent on reporters to correct falsehood, not just balance it.

I posted a comment:

If the Times is going to do some non-political fact-checking, why not start with the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, where so many facts promulgated by elected officials and the developer are supremely questionable, and the newspaper too often acts as a stenographer?


Posted by eric at 1:24 PM

Dwight Howard Trade Rumors: New Jersey Nets Could Lose Him and Deron Williams

Bleacher Report
by Ian Sherwin

If [the Orlando Magic's Dwight] Howard is traded to another team besides the Nets before the trade deadline expires, apparently, the Nets will still have no interest in trading Deron Williams. This severely worries me. Yes, it would be awful to trade Williams away, and we would unlikely be able to reacquire the caliber of talent that we gave up in order to trade for him, but in my honest belief, we would need to cut our losses at that point.

But my absolutely biggest fear is that Howard does not come to NJ, and we do not trade away Williams (assuming, as stated previously, that we cannot sign him to a long-term extension). If this is the case, we will have given up a plethora of talent in the Williams trade, we'll have lost Williams and never obtained Howard, and will go into Brooklyn with a .200 level team.


NoLandGrab: Can you feel the excitement, Brooklyn? We didn't think so.

Related content...

Brooklyn Trolley Blogger, N.J./BKN Nets ~ Team Lacks a Head of State

Even the self-deluded faithful are wavering.

On the court, the Nets already have more problems than a math book. And now cracks seem to be appearing in their foundation. Their principle owner; Mikhail Prokhorov; for the moment at least, has better things to do. If his Russian political aspirations turn out favorably, he has announced he will indeed sell his team shares into a Blind Trust; which effectively takes him out of the picture, without having to relinquish ownership of the team.

While the Net owner's quest to be a benevolent modern day tsar is not new, his endeavours none-the-less detract from the organization's dwindling level of whatever cache they still have in light of their move to Brooklyn later this year.

NLG: Note to Yormark — try that on for a slogan: "Brooklyn Nets! Feel the dwindling level of whatever cache!"

Posted by eric at 1:10 PM

Brooklyn Arena Criticized on Hiring

The Wall Street Journal
by Heather Haddon

As the Barclays Center arena slowly progresses in Brooklyn, elected officials are calling for the developers to make good on the affordable housing units and thousands of jobs promised to accompany the development.

Nearly two years after it broke ground, the development has created less than a thousand jobs, fewer than the 1,500 slots a year developer Bruce Ratner had promised to bring to the area, elected officials said Sunday.

"The project was presented as a field of dreams but has turned into a cemetery of broken promises," said Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, who was joined by fellow Brooklyn Democrats Sen. Eric Adams and Assemblyman Karim Camara during a news conference on Sunday.

About 100 of the jobs created have gone to workers from the five Brooklyn neighborhoods surrounding the $5 billion sports arena and housing complex, but they have mostly been retail positions, not well-paying ones in construction, Mr. Jeffries said.


Related coverage...

Brownstoner, Press Conference Over ‘Broken Promises’ at Atlantic Yards

Atlantic Yards report has an extensive post about the press conference noting that three have had “nuanced and/or supportive positions toward Atlantic Yards” until now and that their about-face likely represents the fact that two are running for office at the moment, as well as representing how many of their constituents feel about the development at this point.

Posted by eric at 1:04 PM

Stack’s Stats: Q+A with Brett Yormark

The New Jersey Nets’ CEO discusses Barclays Center.

SLAM Online

Norman Oder covered this interview a couple days ago, but we couldn't resist.

SLAM: How do you want Barclays Center to be perceived by Nets fans and NBA fans, in general?

BY: Well, you know, Barclays Center is bigger than basketball. I want to answer that question more holistically. Our goal is to truly redefine the customer experience in this marketplace. Bruce Ratner often references going into Barclays Center as like going into your living room.

Actually, it's a lot more like going into Daniel Goldstein's living room, which used to be at about center court.

SLAM: What was your strategy in finding the corporate partners with whom you eventually aligned the Nets and Barclays Center?

BY: Initially, our goal was to educate the market on a new way of looking and considering sponsorship. We truly took the philosophy of less is more.

If only BY would apply that "philosophy" to his own BS.

We love the support we’re getting. Our players go into Brooklyn quite often, and they’re doing community engagement. People are honking their horns and saying ‘We love you, Nets’ and it’s a great feeling.


NoLandGrab: BY, those people honking their horns are not saying "we love you" — but it rhymes with it.

Posted by eric at 12:41 PM

Q&A with Kickstarter’s Yancey Strickler

by Alexandra Marvar

Kickstarter is an online pledge system for financing creative projects—a pioneer of the “crowdfunding” movement when it was founded two and a half years ago. In that time, thousands of projects from design to dance have come to life thanks to the website, but the most prominent and profitable category has been film. So far on Kickstarter, 4,500 film projects have run their course, and a fair share of those are finding real world success with help from the funds—and fans—they’ve rallied.

Cinespect sat down with Kickstarter co-founder Yancey Strickler to discuss the magic of Kickstarter’s collaboration with the Sundance Institute, how many dinners with Russian oligarchs it takes to fund an indie film, and how crowd-sourcing support for films is shaking up the industry.

I don’t have a film background, I’ve had to get a crash course this year, but I had always imagined that someone like Jim Jarmusch just sat in a castle somewhere and looked at camera lenses for twenty hours a day and was like, “That one.” And, that’s how a filmmaker spends their time. But, I realize now that as a filmmaker, you are a perma-fundraiser. You’re having weird dinners with oil barons from Oklahoma, and Russian oligarchs, to try to get 100,000 dollars out of them, and meanwhile you cast their, you know, second mistress in the lead or something in exchange… There’s a really dirty part involved in how you have to fund these things.

Russian oligarch-funding was a non-starter for Battle for Brooklyn. Good thing there was Kickstarter.

What are some stand-out examples of Kickstarter film successes?

There’ve been a number of films that have had real world success. There’s a film called “Resurrect Dead”—a really, really interesting documentary about these weird signs that are imprinted into the asphalt, and it’s a guy trying to figure out what that is. He got picked up by Focus, won best documentary director at Sundance… He was cleaning houses before that. And he was shooting this on nights and weekends when he had time for five years. And suddenly he’s a filmmaker. That one’s really neat.

Two of our very earliest documentaries are short-listed for the Best Documentary Academy Award right now. “Battle for Brooklyn” is a documentary about the Atlantic Yards Project. They raised $25,000 the first year of Kickstarter, which was by far the largest film we’d had at the time. Also up for Best Documentary is “The Loving Story,” another really early one—I backed both these projects—a documentary about Virginia vs. Loving, the Supreme Court Case that first legalized interracial marriage.


Posted by eric at 12:31 PM

Building New York: NYU 2031 Returns Controversy to Silver Towers

International Business Times
by Roland Li

NYU's Greenwich Village-eating development scheme has at least one thing going for it — it's not Atlantic Yards.

The opposition has been fierce. Local residents and preservation groups have long battled NYU's various development projects, which have involved demolition of existing buildings, including the former Palladium nightclub and St. Ann's Church. These new buildings, they argue, will overwhelm the neighborhood, first with noisy construction, and then by their sheer mass. They point out that the proposed 3 million square feet in new construction would be more mass than the Empire State Building. They call for the school to seek space in Lower Manhattan or elsewhere -- anywhere but the Village.

NYU has said that the plans will require no tenant displacement or eminent domain--in contrast to its northern neighbor Columbia's growth or the controversial genesis of Atlantic Yards, both of which led to various lawsuits.


Posted by eric at 12:16 PM

Prefab Towers at Atlantic Yards: Will They Look Good?

Forest City Ratner is going ahead with plans to create prefabricated buildings at Atlantic Yards, but can their design hold up amidst Brownstone Brooklyn?

Park Slope Patch
by Jamie Schuh

Forest City Ratner and architect house SHoP are still working to make prefabricated towers a cost-saving reality at Atlantic Yards, but critics question whether prefab buildings can save money while still looking good, according to The Real Deal.

The Real Deal also believes that Brooklyn is too good for buildings that look like corners were cut in order to save money, adding, “value engineering is the besetting sin of architecture in the five boroughs.”

Design perspective notwithstanding, the idea of prefab buildings came under fire last March, when plans for modular construction at the Atlantic Yards site was announced, and local unions were livid at the loss of jobs on the site.


Posted by eric at 11:11 AM

January 22, 2012

Finally "fed up," Adams, Jeffries, Camara cite lack of Atlantic Yards jobs and housing, call for governance reform; a "litmus test" for Governor Cuomo

Atlantic Yards Report

At a press conference today, three local Democratic officials who've held nuanced and/or supportive positions toward Atlantic Yards adjusted their tune. They condemned the failure to deliver jobs and housing, and urged passage of a state bill to establish a new governance structure, with local input, for the project.

"We are truly concerned--we are outraged," declared state Senator Eric Adams (at podium in photo at left). Developer Forest City Ratner "thought we were going to have short memories and a long construction schedule."

Assemblymembers Hakeem Jeffries and Karim Camara, with the under-construction Barclays Center looming in the background, echoed similar sentiments.

"We have been extremely patient with this project," Adams said at one point. "I don't think that you can find three more elected officials who have attempted to be a voice of reason around this project. And if we're saying we're fed up, then clearly the developer had gone too far."

Their statements likely represented some measure of political calculation--two of the three are running for office--as well as a reflection that their constituents are frustrated.

The project, when initially passed in 2006, was supposed to take ten years to deliver 16 towers and an arena, with 15,000 construction jobs (in job-years) and thousands of permanent jobs. It also was to include 6430 apartments, among them 2250 subsidized "affordable" units.

The project, however, was delayed by the economic downturn, unrealistic plans, and litigation, and was revised in 2009, with contractual documents that allow a 25-year buildout. Only the arena is is under construction right now, and that, officials said, does not justify the subsidies and special benefits Forest City gained.


Posted by steve at 11:36 PM

Press conference on Atlantic Yards governance bill today at 2 pm: Jeffries, Adams, Camara

Atlantic Yards Report

A press release from BrooklynSpeaks:

State Legislators Call Foul Over Failure of Barclays Arena Developer to Score on Community Givebacks

New York State legislators Senator Eric Adams, Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, and Assemblyman Karim Camara will hold a press conference to call for changes in the governance of the Atlantic Yards project, the development that includes the Barclay Arena, future home of the New York Nets.

Many of the community benefits promised by the developers – including job creation, a public safety plan and the inclusion of affordable housing – have failed to materialize. The group will call on Kenneth Adams, President of the Empire State Development Corporation, to implement oversight changes in the Atlantic Yards development project.

At the press conference, the elected officials will announce their plans to introduce legislation that establishes a subsidiary corporation for Atlantic Yards oversight and development. This new body will ensure transparency and accountability to protect public resources invested in the project.

Date: Sunday, January 22, 2012
Time: 2:00 PM
Location: Front of Barclays Center (Corner of Atlantic Avenue and Flatbush Avenue)
Presiding: Senator Eric Adams, Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, Assemblyman Karim Camara


Posted by steve at 11:33 PM

Nets/Barclays CEO Yormark claims "all I’m seeing is support for this project" and every decision has "put Brooklyn first"

Atlantic Yards Report

SLAM magazine recently held a Q&A with Nets/Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark, who confirmed that he is truly looking through rose-colored glasses.


But I think this project, from Day One, has been about bringing sports entertainment back to Brooklyn. It’s been about Brooklyn, it’s been about job creation, it’s been about affordable housing. It’s been out doing what’s right for Brooklyn. There hasn’t been a decision that we’ve made that hasn’t put Brooklyn first and the people of Brooklyn first. If there are a few people out there who aren’t supportive, so be it. It is what it is.


Every decision has "put Brooklyn first"?

How about Bruce Ratner's acknowledgment that "the existing incentives for developments where half the units are priced for middle- and low-income tenants 'don't work for a high-rise building that's union built'" and that the announced and promoted ten-year timetable "was never supposed to be the time we were supposed to build them in.”


Posted by steve at 11:27 PM

January 21, 2012

Behind the "Atlantic Yards Now" button: a 24-hour turnaround

Atlantic Yards Report

As I've been noodling around some databases for small business and MWBEs (minority- and women-owned businesses enterprises), I found one interesting mention:

Creation of "Atlantic Yards Now" button. 24 hour turn around

Those were given out to union workers and other project supporters in advance of the 5/29/09 state Senate oversight hearing on Atlantic Yards held at the Pratt Institute.

The buttons were produced by Concept Marketing & Promotions Inc., led by Ellen North, a WBE that was hired by the public relations firm Geto & DeMilly ("Shaping public policy. Creating strategies that generate change").

The tab: $475.


Posted by steve at 10:13 PM

Dave Zirin Invites Michael Ratner To Cohost A Screening of Battle for Brooklyn


David Zirin, sports editor for The Nation and Develop Don't Destroy advisory board member, is concerned about the intersection of politics and sports. He's asking, via tweets, to co-host a showing of the documentary "Battle for Brooklyn" with Michael Ratner and perhaps discuss openly with Ratner the contradiction between his supporting individual rights worldwide while supporting his brother's use of eminent domain here in Brooklyn.

Posted by steve at 9:39 PM

January 20, 2012

The Big League Lie: Do Sports Really Matter to Your Community?

Aaron Gordon recounts the story of how one man fooled a city with the promise of professional basketball.

The Good Men Project
by Aaron Gordon

Kids playing stickball on the street. Arguing about last night’s game with your barber. Whatever it is, so many of us consider sports to be a fundamental aspect to a healthy community. Not only do we believe this, but it makes sense, too. Our surroundings, both physical and intangible, are part of who we are. Professional sports teams are part of our identity as well, so we conflate professional sports with other aspects of our community. But this is wrong, and smart businessmen have learned to exploit the error.

Local elites socially construct ideas such as community self-esteem and community collective conscience to help them reap large amounts of public dollars for their private stadiums.

That quote comes from the Journal of Sport and Social Issues, published in 2002, four years before the Atlantic Yards project was approved, and before the documentary Battle For Brooklyn was filmed. After attending a screening of the film and speaking with the directors, I now see the notion of professional sports as a community entity isn’t just wrong, it’s dangerous.


Posted by eric at 12:18 PM

Responding in timetable case appeal, community coalitions charge ESDC with "fabrication," "sham," and "cover-up" for not analyzing impact of 25-year buildout; argument likely in February

Atlantic Yards Report

The two community coalitions challenging the state's failure to study the effects of a 25-year project buildout have filed a joint brief responding to the dual filings by the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) and Forest City Ratner that appeal a lower court's decision finding the ESDC's actions arbitrary and capricious for failing to order a Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS).

The legal dispute does not affect the building of the arena, nor the towers around it, but does address plans for and impacts of Phase Two of the project: the eleven towers east of Sixth Avenue, including those to be built on a platform over the Vanderbilt Yard.

On a broader note, the case, which should be heard in a state appellate court in Manhattan in February, addresses whether the state agency essentially cheated to ensure that Atlantic Yards would move forward.

As the plaintiffs--coalitions led by Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn and BrooklynSpeaks--argue, had the ESDC been forced to conduct an SEIS, the agency, which approved a new Modified General Project Plan in September 2009, would have had to delay approval until 2010.

That would have forced Forest City Ratner to miss a crucial end-of-2009 deadline to get federally tax-exempt arena bonds sold. And that would have cost the developer at least $100 million more.


Posted by eric at 12:11 PM

'In the Footprint': Unfocused tale of a real estate grab

Philadelphia Inquirer
by Toby Zinman

From the same people who booed Santa Claus...

Although Philadelphia audiences may care theoretically about the issues, we can't care much about the place names, the street names, the delis, the mom-and-pops that go the way of mom and pop. And because the show is a retrospective of the battle over Atlantic Yards, it is really just whining and hand-wringing; it's over before the show begins, so there is no need, much less inclination, to jump to our feet, fists in the air. This is especially so because the characters are so unappealing and the show is so unfocused (probably a function of both a messy script and fuzzy direction by Steve Cosson).


Posted by eric at 11:14 AM

Arena "Tremendous" For Recruiting


Fantasy sports site NetsDaily replays another of Bruce Ratner's hollow claims:

Talking to Bloomberg's Rick Horrow, Bruce Ratner said Wednesday he believes that the Brooklyn brand and Barclays Center will be a "tremendous advantage" for the Nets in recruiting free agents in the future.

Without mentioning specifics, Ratner said, "There's a tremendous desire, generally, to play in a big market and there's already a tremendous interest by players and fans alike" in Barclays Center.


NoLandGrab: Oh, really? The wait-list of stars clamoring to play for the Nets is currently rather short, kinda like the list of "fans" interested in season tickets and the list of corporate entities interested in $500,000 Jay-Z-desigend suites.

Posted by eric at 11:06 AM

"Brooklyn Is Set for a Building Boom," as per WSJ? Maybe if you count the delayed Atlantic Yards towers.

Atlantic Yards Report

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday, Brooklyn Is Set for a Building Boom:

Developers are rapidly running out of space to build new projects in Manhattan, but brownstone-dotted Brooklyn could be poised for a building boom, according to a new report.

Brooklyn has in the early planning stages as many as 14,000 new residential units in the coming years, compared with Manhattan, where just 5,000 new units are in the early planning phase, according to a new report by Nancy Packes, a consultant to some of the city's largest developers.

That's primarily because Manhattan is running out of new sites that are zoned for residential use, according to Ms. Packes.

Developers, such as AvalonBay Communities Inc., Stahl Real Estate and Douglaston Development already have large new projects planned for downtown Brooklyn and the Williamsburg waterfront in the next few year.

Oh, really? No breakdown of that 14,000 figure was given and, as Brownstoner observed, "we’re guessing that the vast majority of those are supposed to be delivered via Atlantic Yards and Domino, so the 'boom' has been imminent for quite some time."

And, I'd add, the apartments towers have been delayed for a while.


NoLandGrab: OK, Wall Street Journal, hit the snooze button and go back to sleep for a couple more years.

Posted by eric at 10:59 AM

January 19, 2012

In the Real Deal, architecture critic says meh on prefab: "perhaps not better [than Gehry design]... surely not worse"

Atlantic Yards Report

In the Real Deal, critic James Gardner asks Atlantic Yards: Can prefab be fabulous? Will the prefab tower at Atlantic Yards look like real architecture, or will it be Lego-like? and comes down toward the latter.

What he doesn't grapple with is whether, in fact, the first tower, B2 (Building 2, not “Barclays Two,” as he writes) would be prefab. It's still in question.


Posted by eric at 5:53 PM

BATTLE FOR BROOKLYN -- Michael Galinsky and Daniel Goldstein interview

Filmmaker Michael Galinsky and activist Daniel Goldstein talk private property, holding out, and standing ovations.

Killer Movie Reviews via PRX
by Andrea Chase

Filmmaker Michael Galinsky used the synchronicity that brought him together with Daniel Goldstein when making BATTLE FOR BROOKLYN, the story of how a private developer invoked Eminent Domain to seize private property, including Goldstein's. The resulting film has been shortlisted for an Oscar, and at the screening I attended in San Francisco, brought an audience to its feet. When I spoke with them, the conversation covered what it was like for Goldstein to be trapped in an elevator after everyone else had moved out, how a developer can circumvent local authorities, and how the Occupy Movement has helped get the film booked around the country.


Related content...

SF Gate, The Watch

The Oscar buzz was almost audible as an industry-heavy crowd piled into a recent screening of the documentary "Battle for Brooklyn" at Dolby. Most stuck around for the Q&A with director Michael Galinsky, as well as "BFB's" focus, Brooklyn resident-turned-Atlantic Yards-opponent Daniel Goldstein, and activists fighting a 49ers stadium in Santa Clara. Opined the director, whose film screens tonight at the Roxie: "It's a local story, happening in every locality."

Examiner.com, Movie review: 'Battle For Brooklyn' shows that a couple can fight City Hall

In some ways "Battle For Brooklyn" resembles Frank Capra's "It's A Wonderful Life" but even more so his "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington" in its look at a relentless couple who fearlessly keeps fighting City Hall and its powerful allies at the expense of a social life and time to breathe, as the couple awakens a community and galvanizes a fight against a corporate and government structure that puts political roadblocks and legal linguistic contrivances in front of the resident taxpayers at every turn.

Unyielding in its fervor and outrage, and personified by the divided working-class community members and long-time small businesses facing closure, "Battle For Brooklyn" is undeniably a piece of advocacy, even if unintended.

Posted by eric at 5:38 PM

Basketball Heavyweights

Bloomberg Sportfolio

This week on Sportfolio, Nets owner and real estate developer Bruce Ratner gives a progress update on the Barclays Center; Philadelphia 76ers CEO Adam Aron discusses his transition from private equity to NBA ownership; and Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski explains why he admires professional players, but has turned down multiple offers to become an NBA coach.

The segment with Bruce runs from 1:10 to to 6:40.


NoLandGrab: Is it possible we're more excited about the arena than Bruce is? Someone get that landgrabber a double espresso with a Red Bull chaser.

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, A softball interview with Ratner on Bloomberg TV's "Sportfolio": success depends on location (not government assistance)

Last night, on Bloomberg TV's Sportfolio, "Bloomberg's weekly inside look at the business of sports," the first guest was Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner, at whom host Rick Horrow (not a journalist but "a leading facility development advisor") beamed lavishingly and described, at the end of the interview, a "true visionary, quintessential developer."

Horrow pitched a bunch of softball questions. The first:"tell us about progress" on the arena.

"The time has come," Ratner pronounced, in tones more stentorian than usual. "The progress is going great. We're about 60% done with the arena. The last piece of steel went up last week. You can walk around inside... and it's in a great location, right in the heart of Brooklyn, the center of the world, I might add."

If it's "the center of the world," why does he live in Manhattan?

Posted by eric at 5:08 PM

Local report: still murkiness about reopening of ASI Limited, arena facade contractor; company won't provide info about number of people working

Atlantic Yards Report

While the shell of Bruce Ratner's modular residential building may be ugly, at least it will have a shell.

When Crain's New York Business last week reported that ASI Limited had resumed production of the weathered steel panels for the façade of the Barclays Center, it noted that contractor Hunt Construction was "looking for additional companies to make the steel."

That suggested there was lingering doubt, and a report yesterday in the Zionsville Times-Sentinel, Contractor, Ohio bank assume control of ASI, leaves some additional doubt.

While ASI Limited has apparently reopened, thanks to the role of a bonding company, Employment Plus Inc., of Bloomington, is suing ASI "for nearly $838,000 it alleges is owed in salaries for temporary workers," the newspaper reported.

Moreover, the newspaper reported,"the Indiana Department of Workforce Development has still not been contacted by ASI about the number of persons who have gone back to work," despite email and voicemail messages requesting information.


NoLandGrab: Why do we get the feeling there's more to this story than has yet come to light?

Posted by eric at 5:02 PM

Atlantic Yards: Can prefab be fabulous?

Will the prefab tower at Atlantic Yards look like real architecture, or will it be Lego-like?

The Real Deal
by James Gardner

How's this for a back-handed compliment: architecture critic James Gardner calls Bruce Ratner's prefab dream "not worse" than Atlantic Yards's previous Frank Gehry iterations.

The most remarkable thing — perhaps the only remarkable thing — about the recently released plans for a residential high-rise at Brooklyn’s much-debated Atlantic Yards site is not the design itself, but rather the manner in which the project will be built.

Conceived by SHoP Architects for Forest City Ratner, the building will be made up of prefabricated units constructed off-site and then assembled on the premises. The prefab component of construction should allow for considerable savings.

Aesthetically, the great question surrounding B2 is whether, when completed, it will look like real architecture, or like something that’s just rolled out of one of the recently unveiled 3-D printers.

Will this development make it possible for good architecture to be produced at bargain-basement prices — or will it prove to be the greatest gift of technology to fans of so-called value engineering? Even more than lackluster design, value engineering is the besetting sin of architecture in the five boroughs, and it produces that sinking feeling that corners were cut, and the cheapest materials were used, to save the most money.

Surely the project revealed by SHoP looks, from the initial renderings, to be far duller and more conventional — in purely formal terms — than what Gehry had proposed. However, Gehry’s project was overrated, for all the usual mid-cult reasons — adulation of fame and the tendency to associate newness with importance — attendant upon the labors of starchitects. And B2, though perhaps not better, is surely not worse.


Posted by eric at 4:52 PM

New York Times Tags Bruce Ratner, Noam Bramson's Favorite Developer, as "Intriguing Tie" in Federal Corruption Cases

Talk of the Sound
by Robert Cox

At a recent New Rochelle City Council meeting, newly-seated Council Member Ivar Hayden caused New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson to visibly squirm in his seat by mentioning a recent New York Times article during a discussion of Forest City/Ratner's MOU for Echo Bay. For those who missed it, Times reporter Michael Powell documents the many crooked twists and turns by which various Forest City/Ratner projects have been advanced by corrupt politicians and the convictions obtained by the U.S. Attorney. Yonkers is up next.


Posted by eric at 4:46 PM

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn takes Gotbaum to task for support of Ratner

NY Daily News Sport ITeam Blog
by Michael O'Keeffe

Former Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum’s recent rush to defend Nets’ minority owner Bruce Ratner shows that when it comes to New York politics, the fox is quite welcome in the hen house, according to Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn.

“We don't remember her doing any meaningful public advocacy as Public Advocate but she sure hopped to it as Ratner Advocate when Ratner called,” DDDB says on its web site.

Gotbaum is the former elected official who once said she would support Ratner’s plans to build the massive Atlantic Yards project, and its arena for the woeful Nets, because the developer told her he would not use eminent domain to acquire Brooklyn real estate.

Gotbaum is apparently willing to overlook Ratner’s fib. She wrote a letter that appeared in The New York Times last week that praised the developer for always demonstrating the “highest ethical standards.”


Gotbaum does have her fans, however...

@ShellySilver via Twitter: Betsy, we miss you. As your letter to the editor reminds us, you were everything a Public Advocate should be. http://ow.ly/8zy1b

Posted by eric at 4:37 PM

Barclays Center May Already be Attracting New Retail Potential

Industrial building on Dean St. is on the market, with listing suggesting realtor wants to turn it into a retail hub.

Carroll Gardens Patch
by Jamie Schuh

An industrial building on Dean Street, between Carlton and Vanderbilt Avenues, is on the market and its listing suggests it may host retail businesses catering to Barclays Center arena-goers, according to Atlantic Yards Report.

AYR says that the former headquarters of a stencil-making company is now being promoted by realtor Winick as soon to have an "all glass front” and parking for 90 cars, while also touting its proximity to the arena.


Posted by eric at 4:30 PM

For two documentary makers, the Oscar phone call that may or may not come

Independent Weekly
by Craig D. Lindsey

Well, we're down to the wire, folks. Next Tuesday morning, the Academy Award nominations will be announced, and people in the motion picture industry will likely have spent the night wide awake and wondering if a film they worked on, or if they themselves, will be nominated for that most golden of statues. While the well-lauded likes of Meryl Streep will perhaps be content to sleep in, for others, a nomination could have a galvanizing effect on their films and careers.

In this latter category are two documentary filmmakers with Triangle ties. Nancy Buirski, director of The Loving Story, and Michael Galinsky, who co-directed Battle for Brooklyn with his wife Suki Hawley, may be around that morning to first receive the news. Or they may be notified secondhand, like when they heard last November of their films being on the shortlist for documentaries eligible for Oscar contention.

"Someone wrote to me to congratulate me," remembers Buirski. "I wasn't sure what it was about."

As for Galinsky, he found out via the social network grapevine. "Someone posted it on my Facebook page," he says. "I screamed so loud, I scared the interns. I did!"

It makes sense for Buirski and Galinsky to be shocked and surprised by the news. For both filmmakers, it's only been their first time out making a theatrical, documentary feature—and already, there is the possibility that they could become Oscar nominees, a designation that would be an extraordinary reward for the time and effort they put into their flicks.


Posted by eric at 10:21 AM

An imaginary dialogue between Bruce Ratner and Bruce Bender: how talking up transit (vaguely) might distract from the Ridge Hill case

Atlantic Yards Report

Last March, after the charges surfaced against (now-guilty) state Senator Carl Kruger and lobbyist Richard Lipsky, including a profane exchange between Kruger and Forest City Ratner executive Bruce Bender, I wrote an imaginary dialogue between Bender and his boss, Bruce Ratner.

Maybe they've had another conversation recently.

BB: I have an idea.

BR: I'm listening--

BB: Did you hear about Richard Ravitch? Last week he said that the city's crumbling transit infrastructure is a huge problem, and business leaders lack public spirit, and I quote, "keeping the Bush tax cuts, keeping the government from regulating them and making sure they’re too big to fail."

BR: And what's wrong with that?

BB: Nothing's wrong with that, of course. (Chortles) That's what we do too, more or less. The last part, at least. (Beat) But we need the transit system.

BR: We're an urban company.

BB: Damn straight. We have offices and malls that rely on the subway. And--

BR: --an arena.

BB: An arena that needs subways and buses running well, more of them, in fact. And the LIRR.

BR: Especially the LIRR.

BB: We're not talking about the Islanders yet.

BR: Who said anything about the Islanders?

BB: So this is what we can do.


Posted by eric at 10:12 AM

Review: Battle for Brooklyn

Doc Geeks
by Kristy Hutter

Unlike the Occupy movement, the Battle for Brooklyn had a resilient leader – one who wasn’t going to back down for anyone, not the mayor, not a reverend, not a Russian Billionaire, and not even the world’s most celebrated hip-hop icon.

Directed by Michael Galinsky and Suki Hawley, the film chronicles Brooklyn resident Daniel Goldstein’s fight against private developer, Bruce Ratner, who wants to buy the borough’s historic Prospect Heights neighbourhood, tear it down, and replace it with 16 skyscrapers and an arena for the New Jersey Nets (the team he owned at the time). Known as the Atlantic Yards project, the venture was slated to be the densest real estate development in U.S. history – a plan that divided neighbours, many who actually welcomed the prospect of construction jobs, affordable housing and million-dollar buyouts.

In its role as a pulpit for the activists, the film is extremely successful, divulging wrongdoings that most of us would abhor. Battle for Brooklyn exposes corruption of corporate ownership, sloppy reporting by local and national media, and the ease with which people sacrifice what they believe in just to get their hands on a fat wad of cash. Not to mention, it portrays rap legend Jay-Z – part owner of the New Jersey Nets – as a corporate blockhead who disregards the plight of his fellow brooklynites, a bold move considering he often claims to “represent” his native district till the day he dies.

What puts Battle for Brooklyn in a class of its own is the filmmaking process? The directors dedicated seven years to the fight, documenting every detail and development of the process for more than half a decade.


Related content...

BeyondChron, “Battle for Brooklyn:” Powerful Film Shows at Roxie Theater Tonight

San Franciscans can see Battle for Brooklyn this evening.

In October 2009, I wrote an article about activists waging an incredible struggle in Brooklyn to prevent a publicly subsidized sports arena and highrise office developments at Atlantic Yards. A film of this campaign, “Battle for Brooklyn,” shows at the Roxie Theater at 16th Street near Valencia tonight at 7 and 9 pm. It should not be missed. The film is on the short list for an Oscar nomination in the Best Documentary category, but its populist message has found it not reaching wide distribution. Tonight offers a great chance to see how power is exerted in major cities in today’s world, with Atlantic Yards being among the most notorious examples.

Posted by eric at 9:48 AM

Is America shutting the door on expats?

After an eight-year battle to become a US citizen, London-born Sebastian Doggart looks at how the Obama administration has tightened the defences of Fortress America

The Telegraph
by Sebastian Doggart

Bruce Ratner's favorite immigration program is the one place where America's borders have not been solidified.

The Obama administration has overseen an escalation of America’s greenbacks-for-Green-Cards policy. These visas are called EB5s, and getting them has become a whole lot easier recently. Their cost has dropped from $1million to $500,000. The requirement that an EB5 investor should employ at least 10 workers is rarely enforced. EB5s have been used to refinance troubled schemes, including, in my own neighbourhood of Brooklyn, the blighted Atlantic Yards project. The subject of a powerful, new documentary called Battle for Brooklyn, this highly controversial scheme was backed by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and sought to evict local residents to build high-rise buildings and a new stadium for the New Jersey Nets basketball team. When financing dried up after the 2008 financial crisis, developer Bruce Ratner had to find new financial instruments to pay for construction. These included raising $249 million from 498 investors, mostly from China and South Korea, in exchange for EB5 Green Cards, as well as the sale of the Nets to Russian oligarch and presidential candidate, Mikhail Prokhorov.

For anyone not in the one per cent, the locks on the gates to America have been fortified.


Posted by eric at 9:40 AM

A Net Loss

Chasing 23
by Tony Maglio

How bad is life as a Nets' fan? This bad.

We do have some positives as far as the roster goes though. Kris Humphries is a good player, but he’s effectively ruined his career on the E! network – much more booing to follow. For a guy who wasn’t even on the roster before the season, and gets jeered every time he touches the ball, he’s actually leading the team in FG% and rebounding. But generally speaking, if the worst thing about this season of “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” is the best thing about your team’s NBA season – you’re in trouble.

As of this writing, the Nets are 3-9 and in last place in the Atlantic Division, which is familiar territory. The only wins we have are against the one-win pathetic Washington Wizards (who are lucky this is a shortened season or they’d be chasing the aforementioned futility record), the lame duck Toronto Raptors, and the Phoenix Suns who were without Steve Nash and Grant Hill. It looks to be a long season for myself and the six other NJ Nets fans, but that’s OK – we’re used to it.


Posted by eric at 9:10 AM

January 18, 2012

Ratner Advocate, Former NYC Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, Defends Her Developer Chum

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

This story tells you everything you need to know about politics in New York City where the most strident advocacy the city's former Public Advocate has done is in defense of her power elite buddy Bruce Ratner and his development firm.

To come out of the woodwork to defend the ethics of one of the most ethically challenged developers around is just plain astounding...but its what you do for an ol' chum.


Posted by eric at 11:43 AM

Betsy Gotbaum vs. reality: Ratner "has always demonstrated the highest ethical standards and behavior"

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder weighs in on former NYC Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum's "astonishing letter" to The New York Times.

The highest ethical standards and behavior?

Then why did Forest City Ratner give a no-show job to the consultant charged with bribing the Yonkers council member who changed her vote to green-light the developer's Ridge Hill project?

Gotbaum was endorsed in 2005 by the Times, which cited her opposition to the West Side Stadium with no mention of her record regarding Atlantic Yards. As I wrote 9/7/05:

Conspicuously absent is any mention of Gotbaum's indefensible record on Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards plan (which also would require hundreds of millions of taxpayers' dollars): in a nutshell (as she even told me when I ran into her on the campaign trail), she's for the project, unless there's eminent domain; then she's against it. But Bruce Ratner told her there wouldn't be any eminent domain, so she trusts him--even though several landowners within the proposed project footprint have vocally indicated their intentions not to sell, and that the Memorandum of Understanding between Ratner and the state includes eminent domain.

Of course, there was eminent domain. Gotbaum kept quiet.


NoLandGrab: We'd forgotten about Betsy's ridiculous "Bruce told me there wouldn't be any eminent domain" shtick. FIVE MORE BOGUS POINTS!


Posted by eric at 11:29 AM

Still No Compliance Monitor At Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards

Brooklyn Daily Eagle
by Zach Campbell

We don't often think of the Eagle when it comes to insightful coverage of Atlantic Yards, but reporter Zach Campbell takes a good, hard look at the utter flimsiness of the project's CBA.

Community Benefit Agreements have a rare history here. They are meant to serve as tools for reconciliation between developers and affected communities — developers can give their projects more legitimacy through the incorporation of public input, while the residents themselves have a vehicle through which they can push for changes to benefit the community and preserve a neighborhood in the face of drastic changes.

In Brooklyn, though, things have worked out a bit differently.

The CBA required the Executive Committee to hire an independent compliance monitor “as soon as reasonably practicable” after its formation, presumably soon after the document’s signing in 2005. The contract holds the position as its primary means of enforcement; it is referred to in almost every section of the CBA.

The compliance monitor is meant to serve as a community enforcement mechanism, and is the only legally binding tool by which the other CBA groups can make sure the developer plays by the rules. Today, six-and-a-half years after the contract was signed, five years from when the EC began accepting proposals for the job and nearly two years after the site’s groundbreaking, the position of independent compliance monitor for Atlantic Yards is still vacant.

The developer has long disputed its contractual obligations per the CBA. More recently, it has begun to say it will hire the compliance monitor for the second (non-arena) phase of construction. “They [FCR] are going to retain a compliance monitor per the CBA, but they are going to wait until the housing phase,” said Brian Moriarty, a spokesperson for the developer.

Julian Gross, a CBA lawyer who has written extensively on the other three major CBA agreements in New York history, says it is usually considered a conflict of interest to have financial agreements between developers and the community groups involved.

“New York CBAs are not written for accountability — many are drafted in such an egregiously one-sided manner that it’s clear that there wasn’t really a back and forth,” Gross said. “They are trying to get the credibility of a real CBA without them being a real enforceable agreement.”


Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Where's the Independent Compliance Monitor for the CBA? Brooklyn Eagle article elicits evasive response from CBA signatories

Even though the enormous flaws in the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement--most glaringly, the failure to hire an Independent Compliance Monitor (ICM)--have been manifest for a while, journalists have pretty much ignored them.

So credit the Brooklyn Daily Eagle's Zach Campbell for following up, in an extensive article, headlined Still No Compliance Monitor At Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards, which elicits some curiously evasive responses.

It further quotes me as writing, “If the executive committee hardly meets, hasn’t decided yet [when to hire an ICM], and has members whose groups are financially tied to or dependent on Forest City Ratner, what incentive do they have for an Independent Compliance Monitor?”

So what do the CBA signatories say?

James Caldwell of BUILD blamed lawsuits for delays.

Lennox Britton of the New York State Association of Minority Contractors, said, “I’m sure they’ll get to it.”

The Rev. Herbert Daughtry of the Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance doesn't mind: "The point is that I feel, whether they [FCR] have reneged on promises, I’m not concerned about it.

Bertha Lewis, the former CEO of ACORN, did not respond to Campbell's query, while he found three of the other signatories hard to find.

Note that Lewis in May 2006 defended the CBA by noting that it calls for an independent monitoring body that “does not have a dog in this fight” to oversee implementation.

Brownstoner, Where’s the Promised Atlantic Yards Compliance Monitor?

Posted by eric at 11:14 AM

From the latest Construction Alert: continued late-shift work, no mention of problems with the facade

Atlantic Yards Report

The latest two-week Atlantic Yards Construction Alert, dated 1/16/12, was distributed yesterday by Empire State Development (after preparation by developer Forest City Ratner).

Notably, it contains no mention of the temporary shutdown of the arena facade contractor, ASI Limited, or any analysis of how that might affect facade work. It contains the same language as in the previous alert:

Façade Installation
• The façade erector will continue the installation of erection clips and panels on the Flatbush Avenue elevation and along the west elevations during this reporting period. The installation of curtain wall and curtain wall/lattice panels will continue on the Flatbush Avenue elevation during this reporting period. In the interest of public safety, and as approved by the New York City Building Department, pedestrians using the east side sidewalk of Flatbush Avenue next to the arena may be temporarily diverted to across the street by Hunt flagmen during high level work. The façade erector will continue with installation of erection clips along the 6th Avenue elevation this reporting period. Installation of the erection clips will continue on the Dean Street elevation during this reporting period.
• The façade subcontractor will continue to work a second shift as needed throughout this reporting period. Work may be performed on the Flatbush Avenue and 6th Avenue elevations on this shift.
• The installation of façade panels at the street level and at the Upper Concourse levels on Atlantic Avenue has been substantially completed. Contractor will return to install the façade panels at the uppermost elevation and in the area of the material hoist at a later date.


Posted by eric at 11:03 AM

NPR and PR Blitz

by Michael Galinsky

This morning on NPR I heard two stories within moments of each other that have a direct connection to “Battle for Brooklyn”. The first was a story about the St. Louis Rams, and the fact that they will likely leave St. Louis for a city with deeper pockets. The second was about how the majority of millionaires in China are looking for a way out, and that many are doing so via the EB-5 program.

It seems every story seems to point back to an abuse of the government/business relationship cycle. Yet the vast majority of these pieces don’t acknowledge this reality, and bury the lede by following the script. This is what Occupy is about. Perhaps the tide is turning, though the PR blitz is in full effect, so it remains to be seen whether or not people can take back the power.


Related content...

NY Daily News Sports ITeam Blog, Occupy Wall Street has been a boon for 'Battle for Brooklyn'

We wrote a few months back how "Battle for Brooklyn," the critically praised documentary about the fight over Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards, reflected the anger and frustration that prompted Occupy Wall Street. Now, Press Action, a D.C.-area website dedicated to news analysis, reports that OWS has been a boon for "Battle for Brooklyn."

Posted by eric at 10:37 AM

Praise for a Developer

The New York Times, Letters to the Editor

The following letter, which reads like it should rather have been addressed to The Onion, is so completely ludicrous that it's spurred us to dust off an old NoLandGrab feature.

To the Editor:

I disagree with Michael Powell (“A Developer Between Legal Clouds,” Gotham column, Jan. 10) that two bribery investigations with ties to the developer Bruce Ratner and his company, Forest City Ratner, suggest misdeeds on his part.

More important, the professional investigators have not found that the company or its employees behaved in an illegal manner.

While I do agree that we have an unprecedented amount of corruption among elected officials, lobbyists and others, you cannot and should not assume that a developer is guilty of the same behavior because, well, he’s a developer.

As a former New York City public advocate and during many years in public service, I have had the honor to work with Mr. Ratner. He has always demonstrated the highest ethical standards and behavior. As consumer affairs commissioner and as a developer, he has worked to improve the city and help those with greatest needs.

New York, Jan. 11, 2012


5Bruce-BogusPoints.gif"He has always demonstrated the highest ethical standards and behavior?!"

Madame Public "Advocate," you've achieved our highest honor — a full FIVE out of FIVE BOGUS POINTS!

Posted by eric at 10:14 AM

A Call For Governor to Step In and End 'Cycle of Litigation' at Atlantic Yards

Community group wants renewed focus on promised affordable housing at the site.

Fort Greene-Clinton Hill Patch
by Jamie Schuh

Amidst a back-and-forth legal war over the environmental effects of the timeline of Atlantic Yards development, at least one community group is now asking for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to step in and make affordable housing at the site a priority.

“Brooklyn needs Governor Cuomo to step in to end the cycle of litigation, and get this project to deliver on its promises,” said Deb Howard, executive director of the Pratt Area Community Council. “It’s time to move beyond the past failings of the Empire State Development Corporation, and focus on building the affordable housing and providing the jobs the community so desperately needs—now, not in 25 years.”

The call to Albany coincides with ESDC and Forest City Ratner's recent appeal of a July 2011 court decision ordering further environmental review of the Atlantic Yards project, and the subsequent legal response taken this weekend by groups like BrooklynSpeaks and Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn.


NoLandGrab: Sure, Status Cuomo will get right on it — as soon as he builds his mega-casino-convention center in the chic downtown neighborhood of Ozone Park, Queens.

Related coverage...

The Real Deal, Brooklyn activists call on Cuomo to bring resolution to AY saga

The legal tug of war started in 2009 when the Empire State Development Corp. allowed Forest City Ratner a 15-year extension on the construction timeline at Atlantic Yards. This summer a court ordered an environmental review of the consequences of the prolonged construction timeframe, which ESDC and Forest City Ratner subsequently appealed. This week, several other activist groups — including Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn — filed legal documents against that appeal.

But the Pratt Area Community Council wants to bypass the legal jostling by getting Cuomo to coerce a resolution.

Posted by eric at 9:57 AM

Nets release ridiculous ad campaign

by Gregory Hrinya

Putting aside the stark reality that Deron Williams may opt to play elsewhere, this is the second billboard released in New York Knicks country.

The last billboard had Mikhail Prokhorov and Jay-Z promising a "blueprint for greatness." The two of them have combined to appear at a whopping one game this season, and that blueprint has the Nets sitting very near to the NBA's cellar.

And now on the heels of a disastrous performance in Utah, against the very same Jazz that gambled by letting Deron Williams go, the Nets release a billboard to "Believe the hype."

What hype would that be exactly?


Related coverage...

Park Slope Patch, Brooklyn-Themed Nets Ad Campaign Debuts—In Manhattan

The Nets Basketball organization unveiled a new ad campaign geared towards prospective season ticket holders for the soon-to-be-opened Barclays Center.

Featuring Nets star point guard Deron Williams, one of the billboards proclaiming, "Welcome to Brooklyn," is located just blocks away from Madison Square Garden—the home turf of New York Knicks basketball.

Posted by eric at 9:50 AM

Gun-wielding thug robs two on Hanson Place

The Brooklyn Paper
by Kate Briquelet

Inside jobs, outside jobs, assaults — just another average week for Bruce Ratner's Brooklyn malls.


A brazen thief stole an expensive bike from Atlantic Avenue on Jan. 11 as its owner visited the Atlantic Terminal DMV.

The victim told cops that he chained his $1,200 bicycle near Flatbush Avenue at 2:30 pm. When he returned two hours later his white Gary Fisher speed cycle was gone.


Cops arrested a worker at the Atlantic Terminal Target on Jan. 13 who they say stole more than $2,000 from a register this month.

A manager told police that a security camera caught the 20-year-old cashier pilfering loads of cash several times since Jan. 1.

Mall rat

A two-bit crook whacked a woman in the head at Atlantic Terminal Mall on Jan. 14 — trying to steal her purse but getting away empty-handed.

The victim told cops that she was leaving Marshals near Flatbush Avenue at 5:30 pm when the stranger started arguing with her and made a grab for her handbag.

The creep fled and the woman was sent to New York Methodist Hospital in Park Slope for a cut to her forehead.


Related coverage...

The Local [Fort Greene-Clinton Hill], Crime Report: A Gang on the Loose and More iPhones Swiped

Posted by eric at 9:41 AM

January 17, 2012

Latest Nets promotion suggests that arena site in late 2012 would feature three towers

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder reports on the Nets' latest effort to sell tickets in Brooklyn, and speculates on the subliminal messaging.


Posted by eric at 12:24 PM

An industrial site for sale on Dean Street across from the planned arena parking lot promises change

Atlantic Yards Report

An industrial building on the south side of Dean Street a bit east of Carlton Avenue--across from the future surface parking lot for the Atlantic Yards arena--is for sale, and the broker suggests it could be high-density residential, while offering a rendering [right] that suggests, at minimum, ground floor retail serving arena-goers.

The site offers a substantial 65,000 square feet, which would support not just a restaurant but a small multi-store complex.

The 1951 building, which offers two stories above ground and one story below ground, is zoned M-1, aimed for light manufacturing, but in which "[o]ffices, hotels and most retail uses are also permitted." Residential is more iffy.

It offers a 140-foot frontage and a significant potential footprint, according to the advertisement from Winick Realty Group:

  • 16,500 Square Feet Ground Floor (ceiling 11½ -12 feet)
  • 21,370 Square Feet Second Floor (ceiling 11½ –12 Feet)
  • 26,722 Square Feet Lower Level (12-14 Feet Lower Level)

No price is listed, but a previous sales effort, via another broker, priced the building at $5 million.

Winick also promotes an "all glass front," parking for 90 cars, and cites, as neighbors, "Nets Arena, Barclays Arena, Atlantic Terminal, Atlantic Yards, Atlantic Center."


Related coverage...

Daily Heights, 594 Dean Street is for Sale

While the broker is saying that it’s a good site for high-density residential development, it’s got 140 linear feat of frontage that looks like it would support retail geared toward arena-goers, as this rendering of 594 Dean Street suggests. They even helpfully suggest an upscale name for the development: “The Warehouse at Dean.”

Posted by eric at 12:12 PM


Celluloid Dreams

Battle for Brooklyn filmmaker Michael Galinsky sat down for an interview with San Jose public radio station KSJS's Tim Sika. Their interesting conversation begins just past the two-minute mark, and runs for about 24 minutes.

link / listen


Closer to home, Battle for Brooklyn is making its New Jersey premiere tonight as part of The University of Orange's Jan Term: Real Cities series, at Luna Stage in West Orange, at 7:30 p.m. Michael Galinsky and Daniel Goldstein will be on hand for a Q & A.

Luna Stage
555 Valley Road
West Orange, NJ [map]
Suggested donation $10

More info / Directions

Posted by eric at 11:46 AM

Occupy Movement Reignites 'Battle for Brooklyn'

Press Action

The producers of Battle for Brooklyn attribute the documentary’s growing success to the Occupy Wall Street movement’s focus on how government institutions operate on behalf of the wealthy few in the United States.

When it was released in April 2011, Battle for Brooklyn, a documentary about a community in Brooklyn fighting real-estate developers who want to build a basketball arena and numerous other buildings, received positive feedback from reviewers and the public.

But as the Occupy movement caught fire in September 2011, Battle for Brooklyn started getting noticed by an even larger audience, said Michael Galinsky, speaking Jan. 15 at a screening of the film at the Artisphere complex in Arlington, Va. Galinsky co-directed and co-produced the film with his wife Suki Hawley.

Battle for Brooklyn addresses the same issues targeted by the Occupiers: corporate greed, crony capitalism, undemocratic institutions and community destruction.


Posted by eric at 11:41 AM

New MTA Chairman: New Ideas Or Same Old Politics?

Sheepshead Bites
by Allan Rosen

The answer is that, rather than having a rational planning process, we have decisions made on a purely political basis. We have a #7 being extended to the Javits Center at the same time Governor Cuomo announces plans for a new convention center near JFK with the Javits Center proposed for demolition.

Now this week we learn that Mayor Bloomberg had considered a site near Willets Point for a new convention center. So, why did he insist on extending the #7 to the Javits Center? Was it to make the land more valuable for residential development which will replace the Javits Center so the “one percent” can get richer? Why was there controversy over the payment terms the MTA agreed to when leasing the Hudson Yards, and allegations that Atlantic Yards was sold by the MTA for below market value? Are the mayor and the MTA serving the public or the real estate industry? The fact that most Board members come from the real estate and banking industries rather than being transit experts should provide a clue.


NoLandGrab: We're going to go out on a limb and guess B.

Posted by eric at 11:32 AM

January 16, 2012

Some "Truth Vigilantism" toward a 2005 New York Times account of AY arena costs

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder, the Charles Bronson of truth vigilantes, injects a little sodium pentathol into a 2005 New York Times story.

I didn't start writing about Atlantic Yards until late 2005, so I'll apply some retrospective "Truth Vigilante" treatment to Stadium Games: Give and Take And Speculation; What the Teams Want And What the City Gets, a 1/16/05 New York Times articles about the proposals then in play:

Nonetheless, the mayor and Gov. George E. Pataki are on the verge of approving three new sports sites -- a football stadium for the Jets, a baseball stadium for the Yankees and a basketball arena for the Nets -- that will require a combined public investment of at least $1.1 billion.

It is not easy to assess precisely what the taxpayers will get out of their investment, which is equivalent in cost to a major Manhattan skyscraper or 25 schools with 600 seats each. In part, that is because the economic benefits are based on studies commissioned by the teams themselves, and promoted by the government sponsors of the projects.

What about AY?

So, what did it say about Atlantic Yards?

The Nets arena in Brooklyn will require a public investment of about $200 million and the condemnation of several blocks of housing and stores. New York will get a basketball team back from New Jersey and an arena with a public garden on top that is intended to serve as an anchor for a residential and commercial development. The arena could also be used for high school or college games.

Well, the public direct investment is nearly 50% higher now, while there are numerous other subsidies and opportunity costs, leading the New York City Independent Budget Office, in 2009, to pronounce the arena a net loss for the city.

The public garden? Long gone.

Arena as anchor for residential and commercial development? Not so much. Maybe leverage for subsidies.


Posted by eric at 12:31 PM

Lavazza Coffee Opening Near Arena


Thanks to the tipster who pointed out that a Lavazza Coffee outpost is moving into the Atlantic Yards vicinity, on 6th Avenue between Bergen and Dean streets. A graphic design office occupied the space previously. Our tipster wonders, “Maybe the owner has been renegotiating in anticipation of AY?” Do you think a cafe will do well in this spot?


NoLandGrab: Do well? With the Nets putting fans to sleep with their woeful play, this place should be selling espressos by the bucketload.

Posted by eric at 11:52 AM

Derrick Favors Says He Was Lied To By The New Jersey Nets

Rant Sports
by Joshua Casey

Looks like we Brooklynites aren't the only ones being sold a bill of goods by Bruce Ratner & Co.

When the New Jersey Nets traded Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, and two first round picks in exchange for Deron Williams to the Utah Jazz last February it was certainly a surprise to many people but it was a huge surprise to one person who was involved in the trade, Derrick Favors. Favors did not want to point anyone out in particular, or call anyone name’s, but he remembers an encounter with New Jersey Nets head coach Avery Johnson on a road trip last season where Johnson called Favors into a coach’s office and told him, “We like you here in Jersey, we’re going to keep you, don’t worry about it.”


NoLandGrab: Jobs, Housing, Hoops and "don't worry about it."

Posted by eric at 11:47 AM

One arena, three flags and a tree at 6th & Pacific

threecee via flickr

Barclays Center Arena of Atlantic Yards
Pacific Street at 6th Avenue
Prospect Heights
Brooklyn, New York


Posted by eric at 11:36 AM

January 15, 2012

Looking beyond the Brooklyn Brand(s)

Atlantic Yards Report

In Time for Brooklyn (and its Fans) to Go Beyond the Brand, in City Limits' new Brooklyn Bureau, Marilyn Gelber of the Brooklyn Community Foundation wrote 1/5/12:

But justifiable pride of place should not make us reluctant to look deeper and examine serious challenges to Brooklyn's well being.

...Right now in the media there are two Brooklyns: the Brooklyn of artisanal cheese shops and the Brooklyn of murder and mayhem.

While we love that there's no shortage of ink on how “cool” Brooklyn is, there's an egregious lack of reporting dedicated to civic and social issues in what would be the nation's fourth largest city. We're not comfortable with the idea of Brooklyn being split apart by income disparity and selective investment, and the general media paying attention to just a sliver of what's happening here.

So the Brooklyn Bureau will not only offer new reportage across Brooklyn put also publish a series of Neighborhood Profiles for each of Brooklyn's 18 Community Districts, produced by the Center for the Study of Brooklyn at Brooklyn College.

In the spring, that will lead to "the first ever Borough-wide Brooklyn Trends Report, examining the strength of our collective local economy, housing stock, health and healthcare, public safety, education system, environment, and the arts."


Posted by steve at 7:27 PM

'Battle for Brooklyn' Debuts At Artisphere

Clarendon-Courthouse-Rosslyn Patch

Here is a glowing review for the Atlantic Yards fight documentary "Battle for "Brooklyn" as it plays just across the Potomac from Washington, D.C.

Ratner and his company Forest City's $2.5 billion Atlantic Yards project is set to bring the New Jersey Nets to the borrough of Brooklyn, along with several massive residential towers and a mess of mixed-use buildings.

To accomplish this, Ratner wages an impeccable but ethically questionable PR campaign and -- thanks to political favoritism and an array of dubious tactics -- is able to comdemn an entire neighborhood, execute a hefty landgrab by way of eminent domain, and receive a sweetheart deal from the Mass Transit Authority as well as hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer kickbacks and subsidies.


Michael Galinsky, who directed the documentary with Suki Hawley, adds further perspective.

But "Battle for Brooklyn" is not only about eminent domain abuse and crony capitalism but also the failure of mainstream media. Throughout the film, it's clear that Forest City/Ratner press releases routinely win out to any fair journalistic depiction of the struggle.

"It's as much about media as it is about anything else," Galinsky said. "Many New Yorkers who've seen the film told us they felt like they slept through this whole ordeal." That's because very few outlets were willing to tell this story in real time.


Posted by steve at 7:15 PM

Brooklyn Awaits Nets, but Their Destination as a Team Is Unclear

New York Times
By Harvey Araton

Here's another indication that supporters of the Atlantic Yards development will have to lower their expectations for everything having to do with this enterprise.

The question of where the Nets are headed as an organization and as a basketball team leads only to a host of potential destinations that range from exhilaration to dread, with an occasional detour into comic relief. Technically, and temporarily, the Nets are in Newark, on their way to a new home next season in downtown Brooklyn. By all other practical means of appraisal, their dateline should be limbo.

Mikhail Prokhorov, the billionaire who owns the Nets and has declared his candidacy for president of Russia, in Moscow on Friday with a banner that reads “Thank you for your vote.”

Constituted in part for the purpose of future salary-cap flexibility, the Nets are only sporadically competitive while listing four players named Williams, but only one, Deron, whom they desperately want but do not know if they can retain. Symbolizing the arm’s length position he has taken to a long-term commitment, Williams has taken up residence in Manhattan, about halfway between the Nets’ two arenas, the Prudential Center in Newark and the rising Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

On a roster that is exceedingly anonymous by famous athlete standards, the Nets also have players named Shawne (Williams), DeShawn (Stevenson) and MarShon (Brooks).

Now that he has what he wants, developer Bruce Ratner speaks candidly:

“All things being perfect, they would be an N.B.A. championship-caliber team when they went to Brooklyn,” said Ratner, who has a majority stake in the Barclays Center and a minor share of the Nets in a partnership with Prokhorov.

Ratner admitted to having “nothing but anxiety” about the team’s competitive prospects, while adding, “Because of how long it’s taken to build the arena, I’m kind of used to the disappointment of things not happening when they were supposed to.”


NoLandGrab: The promised benefits of Atlantic Yards have not happened "when they were supposed to". The time frame for their arrival may be outside of our lifetime.

Posted by steve at 6:51 PM

January 14, 2012

In the New Yorker, a dissection of plans behind a new stadium (and some AY echoes); also, a look at the modest study of the Staples Center economic impact

Atlantic Yards Report

Connie Bruck's New Yorker profile of Philip Anschutz and the Anschutz Entertainment Group, The Man Who Owns L.A.: A secretive mogul’s entertainment kingdom., is subscribers-only, but it's well worth reading, especially for the machinations behind plans for a new football stadium in Los Angeles.

Anschutz owns the Staples Center and L.A. Live, and via key lieutenant Tim Leiweke, has proven quite adept at getting city and state legislators on their side.

Getting going

Bruck writes:

For the nation's second-largest city, L.A.'s downtown was shockingly underdeveloped. By the late nineties, many of its biggest firms... had been bought by other companies and their headquarters moved elsewhere. It was the perfect place for Anschutz, a confirmed bottom-fisher, to buy low and build a new empire.

Of course, L.A. is a more sprawling, West Coast city, and it had a large downtown, not a small piece of land, as in Brooklyn, designated for sports facility development.


As it happens, the Los Angeles City Controller commissioned a 2003 study by sports economist Robert Baade, which aimed to "address the issue of whether the City of Los Angeles derives revenue sufficient to justify their $71.1 million investment in the Staples Center." The report says yes, but the claims are modest, not outlandish.

Baade notes that the investment--which likely involved lower exposure to taxpayers--was quite low in the general realm. And Staples houses five professional sports teams.


Baade offers some guidance to those who present gauzy projections regarding sports facilities:

If prospective estimates are to be used in assessing the merits of subsidies for sports facilities, then they should, at the very least, be filtered through retrospective analyses for cities of a similar economic character to lend some context or supportive evidence.

Regarding Atlantic Yards, we could do that already. All the optimistic studies--from the developer's consultant Andrew Zimbalist, the NYC Economic Development Corporation, the Empire State Development Corporation--depend on a full buildout of the project in a decade. No alternative numbers were offered, based on a slower, or less complete, buildout. Thus the extant numbers are all suspect.


Posted by steve at 10:28 PM

Another columnist enraptured by the Jay-Z & Beyonce baby: "it’s a nice diversion to think about a child born with a silver spoon"

Atlantic Yards Report

The notorious Stephen Witt, opening in his Our Time Press column on Blue Ivy Carter, writes:

Although I don’t shoot at the same baskets or pay the same taxes, I’m as bubbling over with joy as the average schmo over Jay-Z and Beyonce finally having a little bundle of joy.

Did the average schmo (beyond faux schmo Denis Hamill) really care? Or just the schmo who hugged Bruce Ratner?


Posted by steve at 10:26 PM

The Times? An advocate for readers, or a stenographer for politicians (and others in power)

Atlantic Yards Report

Clay Shirky, in the Guardian, has a wise follow-up to the "Truth Vigilante" question:

The immediate fallout from [Public Editor Arthur] Brisbane's question will be minor – no paper in the United States, not even the Times (as its editor partially concedes), has enough staff to express continuous skepticism about political speech – but there may yet be a lasting effect to be reckoned with. Having asked, in a completely innocent way, whether the Times should behave like an advocate for the readers, rather than a stenographer to politicians, the question cannot now be unasked. Every day in which the Times (and indeed, most US papers) fail at what has clearly surfaced as their readers' preference on the matter will be a day in which that gap remains uncomfortably visible.

And that includes when politicians are talking about Atlantic Yards--and when developers do so, as well.


Posted by steve at 10:18 PM

Things to do Jan. 11 - Jan. 18

The Washington Post
By Jillian S. Sowah

“Battle for Brooklyn,” the acclaimed documentary tells the story of the Atlantic Yards project—Bruce Ratner’s billion-dollar plan for a massive Brooklyn development including 8 million square feet of new apartments, offices and stores, centered on a basketball arena for the New York Nets. 8 p.m. Friday, 5 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 6 p.m. Sunday, Artisphere, 1101 Wilson Blvd., Arlington. $7. 703-875-1100.


Posted by steve at 10:16 PM

January 13, 2012

Nets top off – quietly

by John Brennan

One of the staples of major sports venue construction is the “topping off” ceremony – almost as much so as the “shovels-and-hard-hats” groundbreaking event that formally kicks off construction. I’ve been to plenty of these in the last decade in this metropolitan area – heck, even dormant Meadowlands Xanadu had a topping off ceremony for its parking garage (back in 2005, when that entertainment and retail project was supposed to open a mere two years later).

But for whatever reason, Forest City Ratner celebrated the Barclays Center’s topping off on Thursday with a mere press release.

The developers of the Nets’ new home – scheduled to open in September – invited 500+ workers instead of the media (usually it’s both) to hear CEO Bruce Ratner tout the progress on an arena that was first pitched by Ratner as a concept in 2003.

While the steel frame of the arena is now topped out, the developers still have lots of work to do (keep in mind that the worst-case scenario is a third year at Newark’s Prudential Center in 2012-13).


Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Why no press conference for the topping-out ceremony? Maybe to avoid questions about the schedule

Whatever reason, I suspect, is that they didn't want to answer questions about how the schedule has slipped, with a very tight deadline to finish site work before the first Jay-Z concert in September, and what the plan is to ensure that the exterior cladding, produced by closed-and-reopened ASI Limited, would get done.

Brennan points to a cautionary tale across the river:

The Nets will just have to hope that they don’t run into similar deadline challenges to the Devils when they opened the Prudential Center in 2007. The team had to play its first nine games of the 2007-08 season on the road, and when it did open, many of the upper-level seats were suitable only for the sub-200 pound crowd – a dwindling demographic in the U.S. in recent years. The Devils eventually settled a lawsuit with the seating company for undisclosed terms.

NoLandGrab: Meanwhile, the Nets may have held their own "topping off" ceremony on January 6th, when they beat the Toronto Raptors, 97-85, possibly capping their season win total at two.

Posted by eric at 11:53 AM

Forest City Ratner's designated lurker, the powerful Rapfogel family, and the developer's ties to Sheldon Silver

Atlantic Yards Report

Forest City Ratner's designated lurker at certain public events is easy to spot, a round-faced young guy who wears the kipah of an observant Jew: Michael Rapfogel, who comes from a family thisclose to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

Rapfogel, who works in FCR's government relations department, was taking notes outside an April 2010 courthouse interview after Atlantic Yards opponent Daniel Goldstein settled and agreed to move--the latter's attorney called it spying.

Rapfogel was, curiously enough, at Brooklyn Borough Hall just before the 12/12/11 meeting concerning a Transportation Working Group, though he didn't stay for the event.

And Rapfogel was across the street (with basketball coach/political consultant Thomas "Ziggy" Sicignano) on 11/15/11 watching the press conference held by Council Member Letitia James announcing a lawsuit filed by seven people who said they were promised construction jobs and union cards after going through an FCR-paid training program.

The Rapfogel connection

Rapfogel holds the title of Vice President--relatively low on the totem pole where such titles later get prepended with "Senior" and "Executive"--but I doubt he's a random hire. Sure, he's got a law degree, so he's competent, but he's also part of a family with crucial political ties. And he's survived while Forest City Ratner has downsized its staff.

His father William Rapfogel serves as the head of a major charity, the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, and is an old friend of Silver, and his mother Judy Rapfogel is Silver's chief of staff.


Posted by eric at 11:38 AM

Two Atlantic Yards Meetings January 26th

Atlantic Yards Watch

There will be two meetings addressing Atlantic Yards issues taking place at Brooklyn Borough Hall on Thursday, January 26th.

The next Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet will meet from 9:30 am to 11 am. Members of the public may observe the meeting. The agenda has not yet been announced, but given the meeting's timing, it is likely to focus on the transportation demand management plan for Barclays Center.

The second meeting is a follow-up to the December 12, 2011 meeting on traffic issues related to Atlantic Yards. The meeting has the format of a roundtable discussion in which invited community groups can each appoint one representative to participate. Representatives of FCRC and NYCDOT will join the group. The meeting will begin at 6 pm.

Both meetings will be held in the Community Room at Brooklyn Borough Hall, 209 Joralemon Street.


Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, From AYW: Two Atlantic Yards on January 26: District Service Cabinet and transportation group

I'd add that there was considerable concern at the meeting last month over the content and timing of the much-promised Transportation Demand Management plan.

Posted by eric at 11:31 AM

Film Listings

San Francisco Bay Guardian
by Kimberly Chun

Hey, Northern California NoLandGrab readers! You can catch Battle for Brooklyn at the Roxie tonight and next Thursday.


*Battle for Brooklyn Posed as neither a left nor a right issue (though George Will does drift into view at one improbable moment), Michael Galinsky's powerful documentary does the exhaustive, long-haul work of charting the fight between residents and business owners in Brooklyn's Prospect Heights as they oppose the condemnation of their property — oh-so-inconveniently in the way of the proposed Atlantic Yards, a mammoth Frank Gehry-designed development involving a basketball arena for the New Jersey Nets and more than a dozen skyscrapers. The scrappy residents and activists, led in part by graphic designer Daniel Goldstein, face seemingly unbeatable forces: developer Forest City Ratner, which looks to Eminent Domain to seize a community's land, whether it likes it or not; a complicit and corrupt state and city government; and other members of a diverse, divided community who are clamoring for the jobs that Ratner's PR machine promises. Galinsky imparts the impact of the project — and its devastating effects on the neighborhood, despite alternate proposals and the recent real estate bust — over the course of eight years, with hundreds of hours of footage, time-lapse images, and a fortunate focus on one every-guy hero: Goldstein, who loses a fiancé and finds love at the ramparts, while his home is shorn away, all around him. Along the way, the viewer gets an education on the infuriating ways that these sorts of boondoggles get pushed through all opposition — the corollaries between this struggle and, say, the building of the 49ers stadium in Santa Clara are there for the viewer to draw.


Related content...

Reason Hit & Run, ATTN, DC & SF Reasonoids: Battle for Brooklyn, and The Tragedy of Urban Renewal are coming to an art house near you!

Posted by eric at 11:11 AM

Should The Times Be a Truth Vigilante?

The New York Times
by Arthur S. Brisbane

God, these guys just don't get it, do they?

I’m looking for reader input on whether and when New York Times news reporters should challenge “facts” that are asserted by newsmakers they write about.


NoLandGrab: No, Times, you should just keep your heads firmly up your arses, regurgitate the b.s. spewed by your "development partner," devote a single graf to an "opponent" or "critic," and call it a day. Jeezus.

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, The Times, the "Truth Vigilante" uproar, and the journalism of verification

Should The Times Be a Truth Vigilante? wrote New York Times ombudsman Arthur Brisbane, occasioning nearly universal shouts of "yes," including from his colleagues, all dissected interestingly by Jay Rosen on his Press Think blog.

No one mentioned, as far as I can tell, former executive editor Bill Keller's useful formulation of "the journalism of verification," which is the newspaper's job. And while most of the discussion today concerned political coverage, we should remember that the Times has fallen short so many times regarding Atlantic Yards, such as:

Atlantic Yards Report, Rethinking the role of news ombudsman: "aggregate, curate, debate" (which would mean linking to sites like AYR)

Journalist and author Dan Gillmor, in What a 21st Century News Ombudsman Should Do: Aggregate, Curate, Debate, responds to the Times's "Truth Vigilante" dust-up and a Washington Post column by commenting:

These pieces highlighted how strange the ombudsman’s job has become, and why I think it needs to be updated in this networked age. Here’s how I’d change it, and I hope both of these men will consider at least adding some of these ideas to their portfolio. There would be two main approaches: aggregation and conversation.

Posted by eric at 12:24 AM

Barclays Center Holds 'Topping Out' Ceremony

Event marks the complete installation of 10,400-pounds of structural steel at the site.

Park Slope Patch
by Paul Leonard

Construction at Barclays Center hit a major milestone Thursday with the announced "topping out" of structural steel by developer Forest City Ratner.

Members of Ironworkers Local 361 joined CEO Bruce Ratner at the site to celebrate completion of the installation of 10,400-pounds of structural steel, which began in November 2010.

At the event, Ratner vowed to complete Barclays Center in eight months—just in time for the future home of the Nets basketball organization's scheduled Sept. 28 opening date.


NoLandGrab: That's gotta be a typo — 10,400 pounds of steel is the equivalent of three full-size sedans.

"Just one of the boys" photo: Nets Basketball

Posted by eric at 12:15 AM

POLL: Should Prospect Heights Become a "Slow Zone"?

Designation could cut down on accidents and through traffic using speed bumps and 20 mph speed zones, but it would also mean the loss of some parking spots.

Prospect Heights Patch
by Amy Sara Clark

In the two days it's been live, more than 250 people have signed an online petition to turn Prospect Heights into a “Neighborhood Slow Zone.”

The designation would be granted by the Department of Transportation.

The Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council is spearheading the effort, saying that drivers are speeding down the side streets, which they're using instead of Flatbush and Atlantic in order to avoid Atlantic Yards construction.

But there is a downside: there would also bea loss of several dozen parking spaces where signs and striping would alert drivers to the zone.

article / sign the petition

NoLandGrab: God forbid we sacrifice a few parking spots when the only benefit will be saving lives.

Related coverage...

Daily Heights, Will “Slow Nabe” Status Make Prospect Heights Safe for Pedestrians?

Block associations and Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council want to turn Prospect Heights into a “Neighborhood Slow Zone.” The speed limit will drop to 20 mph (down from 30 mph), new speed bumps would be installed, and “slow zone” signs and striping would be painted at neighborhood boundaries.

“Once the Barclays Center opens in September, the influx of “cut-through” traffic from cars avoiding major roads will only make the situation worse,” Danae Oratowski wrote regarding the potential slow zone for Prospect Heights.

Posted by eric at 12:04 AM

January 12, 2012

Green Line Study: Good Timing for the Purple Line

Washington City Paper
by Lydia Depillis

This is novel: in Maryland, they're actually contemplating using eminent domain for something it's supposed to be used for.

Now, taking out 31 homes and 43 businesses is a different question entirely—that's what Montgomery County is saying will have to happen for the Purple Line to be built from New Carrollton to Bethesda. Losing your home is a lot worse than putting up with open pits for a few years. But the worse bad news, from the public at large's perspective, is how long it could take to get all of those property owners to move. Eminent domain is a nasty business, as a new documentary about a Brooklyn megadevelopment details, and litigation could hold the process up for years.


Posted by eric at 11:58 PM

Report: Islanders in talks to play a preseason game in Brooklyn

The Sporting News

The New York Islanders are in talks to host a preseason game next season in Brooklyn at the yet-to-be-finished, future home of the New Jersey Nets, the Barclays Center, according to WFAN (660 AM) New York.

The Islanders lease at Nassau Coliseum ends at the end of the 2014-15 season.

There has been no movement between the team and Nassau County on a new or refurbished arena, especially since a failed Aug. 1 referendum vote that shot down a bid for a new arena on Long Island.

Former Nets owner and Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner has shown an interest in the Islanders moving to Brooklyn when their lease is up.

The Islanders have also already committed to playing a preseason game against the Edmonton Oilers at Evraz Place in Saskatchewan on Sept. 27, 2012.


NoLandGrab: And given the Barclays Center's tiny hockey capacity and terrible hockey sightlines, it's far more likely that, come the 2015-2016 season, it'll be the Saskatchewan Islanders rather than the Brooklyn Islanders.

Posted by eric at 11:50 PM

Borough President candidate Scissura raises $126,765; yes, there are developers on the list (and auto dealers, bakers, etc.)

Atlantic Yards Report

The heir apparent in the Brooklyn Borough President's race is doing pretty well. The New York Post reported today, in Markowitz’s top advisor off to record start in 2013 Brooklyn Beep race:

Carlo Scissura, senior advisor to Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, last night said he’s hauled in a whopping $126,765 for the latest filing period for the campaign to succeed his term-limited boss. The total, which includes more than $123,000 cash on hand, represents the largest inaugural filing for any new Brooklyn Borough President candidate in city history, officials said. The warchest was raised in only 100 days.

So who contributed? The press release, according to the Post, said the filings "will show 250 donors, including 198 Brooklynites, with 193 of the Brooklyn donors believed to be eligible for matching funds – nearly doubling the 100-donor threshold required to qualify for public matching funds.”

I didn't see any contributions from those associated with Forest City Ratner. Scissura, who stepped down from Chief of Staff for this race, co-leads the Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet, among other AY-related duties.


Posted by eric at 11:45 PM

Bloomberg, in State of the City address, says "we’ll open the new Barclays Center at Atlantic Yards" (who's "we"?)

Atlantic Yards Report

Let's just parse that for a moment. Barclays Center seems to be placed into the category of "attract more visitors" rather than "bring new jobs on line."

Let's see how often he keeps saying, as he did at the March 2010 groundbreaking, "“The world-class arena will bring the Nets to Brooklyn, and the entire project will bring with it more than 25,000 construction and permanent jobs, thousands of units of affordable housing, and tremendous economic activity."

And who's the "we" in "we'll open the new Barclays Center"? More Mikhail Prokhorov and Bruce Ratner than the public.


Posted by eric at 11:38 PM

New York State's Atlantic Yards Appeal Briefs Dissected by Norman Oder

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Norman Oder takes a long look at New York State's briefs on appeal of the Supreme Court ruling that requires the Empire State Development Corporation to undertake a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. ESDC argues that the court usurped agency discretion. The ESDC certainly knows a thing or two about usurpation, such as usurping all NYC zoning laws and 22 acres of Brooklyn to construct a money-losing arena and massive parking lots for a politically connected developer.

But we digress. The plaintiffs on the case, which include DDDB, have made clear, and the court agreed, that the ESDC acted arbitrarily and capriciously in its decision making "process."


Posted by eric at 11:34 PM

In new briefs, ESDC and Forest City ask appeals court to overturn decision ordering new environmental review for Phase 2 of Atlantic Yards

Atlantic Yards Report

The battle over the last remaining Atlantic Yards lawsuit continues in court, with new briefs from the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) and developer Forest City Ratner.

The state agency, decrying an "unprecedented judicial usurpation of agency discretion," slams state Supreme Court Justice Marcy Friedman for imposing what it says are her views on how to analyze the potential impact of an extended project buildout lasting 25 years, rather than the officially announced ten years.

Similarly, Forest City denounces "an unprecedented expansion and distortion of SEQRA [State Environmental Quality Review Act], and an improper substitution by the court of its judgment for that of ESDC."

Thus, contends the agency, her decision, which required the ESDC to conduct a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) regarding Phase 2--the eleven towers outside the arena block and Site 5--should be reversed both because judges should defer to agency decisions, as well as "the record here, which makes clear that ESDC took multiple SEQRA 'hard looks' at the impacts of the Project under various construction schedules."

The briefs by ESDC and Forest Citywill get a response from the two coalitions (led by Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn and the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council/BrooklynSpeaks) that brought the (now-combined) lawsuit.

The twist

But the whole thing's a bit surreal.

Why? Because statements made outside the record by developer Bruce Ratner make a mockery of the agency's longstanding claims the project would last ten years. Moreover, a regular pattern of construction-related abuses means that the mitigation plan created by and cited by the state is less "robust" than asserted.


Posted by eric at 11:30 AM

'Battle for Brooklyn': It's not just a New York story

by Andrew Beaujon

Battle for Brooklyn is a documentary film about the Atlantic Yards project, which attempted to parachute a new neighborhood, including a basketball arena, into downtown Brooklyn. The only problem? There was already a neighborhood there.

So why should we care about it here? You can't swing a Twitter client in Washington without hitting some nimrod who'll tell you New York's got better food, better coffee, and a better arts scene. Now we have to hear about how much more cinematic their civic problems are than ours?

But: the city of Alexandria has floated the idea of using eminent domain to get its waterfront-redevelopment plan going. Maryland considered using eminent domain to keep the Preakness in Baltimore. And the District recently argued that it could strong-arm tenants out of the Skyland shopping mall whether or not the plan to replace them was viable.

Michael Galinsky and Suki Hawley's film begins with a press conference in 2003 where the famous architect Frank Gehry enthuses about the possibility to "build a whole neighborhood practically from scratch," demonstrating a hubristic tenor that carries through the movie, as the developer Forest City Ratner steamrolls community opposition groups, city government, the courts, and not least the New York press.

"This film scholar in Italy said it's like a Frank Capra film except the hero loses," Galinsky says. "I said it's exactly like a Frank Capra film. At the end, he is profoundly whole."

Battle for Brooklyn shows at Artisphere on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday; tickets are $7 and Hawley, Galinsky, and Goldstein will do Q&As at each showing.


Posted by eric at 11:20 AM

In the Footprint: The Battle Over Atlantic Yards

Jan. 18-29, $27-$30, Annenberg Center, 3680 Walnut St., 215-898-3900, annenbergcenter.org.

Philadelphia City Paper
by A.D. Amorosi

Yo, NoLandGrab readers in the City of Brotherly Love!

A love for labor drove American theater in the 1930s (a la playwright Clifford Odets) and the Brits of the 1950s (think John Osborne) with scripts devoted to hardball union discussions, social woes and wages. Making it musical is now the job of The Civilians, a self-described "investigative theater company" dedicated to documentary-style theater. In the Footprint: The Battle Over Atlantic Yards, written and directed by Steven Cosson with songs by Chestnut Hill's Michael Friedman, looks at the history of the controversial Brooklyn railyards project and how it's continued to cause positive and negative reactions throughout that blue-collar area.


NoLandGrab: Mostly negative. And it's hardly just a "railyards project."

Posted by eric at 11:10 AM

Controversial Slope sports bar to open as farm-to-table eatery

The Brooklyn Paper
by Natalie O'Neill

A once-embattled Park Slope sports bar will open with a new name and a strikingly different business model in hopes of becoming a slam-dunk for community foodies — not arena crowds.

Woodland, a farm-to-table eatery with an outdoorsy motif, will start serving food on Feb. 1 in the storefront at Flatbush and Sixth avenues that was slated to become Prime 6, a music venue and watering hole that sparked neighborhood controversy without ever opening amid concerns it would draw rowdy basketball fans and a hip hop scene.

Owner Akiva Ofshtein said he has altered his business’ vision and will now open “a nice cozy restaurant” with a 46-seat patio that closes by midnight on weekends in an attempt to better mesh with the community.

“I’ll be among his first customers,” said neighbor Steve Ettinger, who bashed Prime 6 at a Community Board 6 meeting last year. “I’m grateful he changed his mind.”


Posted by eric at 11:06 AM

City's Much-Delayed New 911 System Now Taking Calls

DNA Info
by Jill Colvin

When you dial 911, can you guess who collects the rent? Bingo.

The centerpiece of the city’s much-delayed $2.1 billion new 911 emergency system is now up and running in Downtown Brooklyn, at a high-tech center capable of processing up to 50,000 calls an hour.

The new $680 million Brooklyn center, at 11 MetroTech Center, brings police, fire and emergency medical dispatchers under one roof for the first time, and uses a new, high-capacity computer system that officials hope will not only speed response times, but provide protection in the case of calamity.


NoLandGrab: Though the new 911 call center lines Bruce Ranter's pockets with taxpayer dollars, when he has an emergency, he calls 912.

Posted by eric at 10:56 AM

Whose Mall Is It Anyway: Will Brooklyn Flock to Fulton Street’s New Chain Stores?

Isn't That Why We Left Pittsburgh Behind to Begin With?

NY Observer
by Matt Chaban

H&M is scheduled for a new glass building on the corner of Hoyt Street being built by Mr. Laboz, below which will be a TJ Maxx. Aeropostale opened across the street in the fall of 2010, around the same time the new Shake Shack was announced, which opened in December, a month after the Gap announced plans to take space on the mall. Express is coming, too. The gleaming new first phase of CityPoint will open in the first half of next year, quite possibly with a Target inside, so successful is the one half-a-mile away at Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Center Mall.

Yet, venture inside that mall, and it is largely devoid—except for the aisles of Target—of the kind of clientele Mr. Laboz and his cohort talk of attracting. It remains to be seen whether the brownstone babies and their cousins in the condo towers will ever migrate to the mall, giving up on Bird, Greenlight Books or the newly arrived Barney’s Co-op.

“The hard part is, black people will shop where white people shop, they don’t have a choice,” one veteran Brooklyn broker said. “It doesn’t work the other way around.”

The borough president has been a huge champion of the strip’s transformation, disputing charges of its Manhattanification. “Nobody wants that less than me, I campaigned against that when I ran for office,” Mr. Markowitz said.


NoLandGrab: Oh, really? Atlantic Yards — which, if built, would be the densest residential tract in North America — says you're a liar.

Posted by eric at 10:47 AM

January 11, 2012

Federal agency not yet ready to deal with EB-5 gerrymandering, as new draft memo still defers to state's mapmaking

Atlantic Yards Report

A revised draft memo on EB-5 Adjudications Policy, issued today by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to further discussion of policy regarding immigrant investors, makes no attempt to deal with issues of gerrymandering the map to help those promoting projects to claim they are in areas of high unemployment.

Gerrymandering is crucial, because areas where unemployment is 150% of the national average qualify as Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs), where the minimum investment--for an immigrant investor who seeks green cards for his/her whole family--is $500,000, rather than $1 million.

That issue came to the fore last month after the New York Times published a front-page article describing the odd maps approved for New York projects and an editorial calling for reforms. (I had written previously about the "Bed-Stuy Boomerang" involving Atlantic Yards.)

In the Times, USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas expressed concern whether the spirit of the law is being followed. If he's urging reform, though, his agency apparently will wait until legislative renewal of the regional center program--the investment pools through which immigrants invest--rather than via regulation.


Posted by eric at 6:51 PM

Bloomberg: "I don’t like the idea of one state bribing a business to come" (except when he does it)

Atlantic Yards Report

Mayor Mike Bloomberg loves talking up the free market, as I've written, and hasn't stopped.

Today's New York Times reports, in New Jersey Tries to Lure Fresh Direct From Queens, that there's a battle of subsidy packages to attract and retain the online grocer Fresh Direct:

New Jersey’s siren call to Fresh Direct comes only eight months after the Christie administration dangled a $200 million incentive package in front of the Hunts Point Terminal Produce Cooperative to move roughly 3,000 jobs to the New Jersey Meadowlands from the Bronx. Stephen Katzman, co-president of the co-op, told The Herald News in June that Governor Christie had called him offering “pretty much whatever it would take to get us to go there.”

That prompted Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to accuse New Jersey of trans-Hudson bribery. “I don’t like the idea of one state bribing a business to come,” the mayor said last spring. “The trouble with that is the next state can do it, too. Anybody can get in that game, and pretty soon, it’s a race to the bottom. I don’t think anybody benefits.”

Many economists and urban planners question the wisdom of giving away tax revenues by the millions for individual companies, instead of investing in public services and transportation that would benefit all companies and citizens.

But Bloomberg was willing to commit hundreds of millions of dollars in city resources to assist Forest City Ratner in building Atlantic Yards.


Posted by eric at 6:45 PM

The Village Voice's "100 Most Powerless New Yorkers" includes Markowitz, de Blasio, AY-area car owners, and, I'd argue, should include the Voice itself

Atlantic Yards Report

The Village Voice has been getting some deserved play for its admittedly arbitrary list of "The 100 Most Powerless New Yorkers," including:

8. Bill de Blasio, Public Advocate

De Blasio is the holder of the most useless office in the city, a position so powerless, it was first held by Mark Green. Since it was created, its budget has been cut nearly in half, and there are repeated calls to abolish it altogether. And though second in line to succeed the mayor, no former occupant has yet to move into Gracie Mansion.

64. Marty Markowitz, Brooklyn borough president

Brooklyn beep Markowitz fancies himself the Most Important Ambassador from Brooklyn the World Has Ever Seen. (Indeed, he has told the courts he needs to promote the borough as far away as Turkey, and we've personally witnessed the aftermath of his glad-handing in Haifa, Israel.) But Markowitz is so powerless, he can't get Apple to build a store in the borough with perhaps the most concentrated population of Mac users in the universe outside of California, and his decision to bring his wife, Jamie (or, as he calls her, "The First Lady of Brooklyn"), abroad with him cost Markowitz $20,000 in fines.


Posted by eric at 6:38 PM

Slope’s Prime 6 is Now ‘Woodland,’ Opening Sunday


Before it has even opened, Prime 6 gets a name change, and perhaps a change of heart.

Prime 6, the controversial bar/restaurant opening on the corner of Flatbush and 6th avenues in Park Slope, is changing its name and finally has an opening date. According to the Flatbush Avenue BID, the establishment will now be known as Woodland and will have a soft opening this Sunday, January 15th. Apparently the business has toned down the club atmosphere so many Slopers were nervous about and is instead striving to be a “go-to spot for farm to table food, super steaks, fresh fish, venison, bison burgers, etc.” No bottle service, then?


Related coverage...

Park Slope Patch, Prime 6 is Now Woodland, Opens Sunday

In April, owner Akiva Ofshtein agreed to compromise with the community by closing the backyard seating area by 11 p.m. on weekdays and 12 a.m. on weekends. Ofshtein also ditched plans for a backyard bar, nixed any possibility of bottle service and promised to meet with Community Board 6 after one year to discuss any recurring problems.

Here's Park Slope, Opening Sunday: Prime Six, Now Re-Named "Woodland"

According to Brownstoner, they've gone in a completely opposite direction from the "nightclub" theme that they were originally shooting for, largely because of pressure from the neighborhood.

Posted by eric at 4:45 PM

How many Nets fans from NJ will cross the river (and bring new tax revenues)? "You’re not going to have a lot of people from New Jersey following us," CEO Yormark acknowledged in 2009

Atlantic Yards Report

Despite claims from fellow boosters of the Nets' move to Brooklyn, team CEO Brett Yormark, in a moment of candor, more than two years ago acknowledged that relatively few Nets fans from New Jersey would make the move to Brooklyn.

That won't necessarily affect the bottom line of the team and arena, since new fans from New York surely will buy seats and suites.

But it does diminish the argument for city and state arena subsidies, which were based in part on expectations of new tax benefits to the city and state from out-of-state visitors.

In other words, poaching a team may not be worth what it's cracked up to be.


Posted by eric at 12:39 PM

Nets CEO Yormark on strategies: a press release a day, never talk publicly about ticket giveaways

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder uncovers some rare and surprising candor from Brett Yormark. Yes, Brett Yormark.

The 4/16/09 session at the Argyle Executive Forum, in which Nets CEO Brett Yormark acknowledged few New Jersey fans would follow the team to Brooklyn, also included a frank description of the team's public relations strategy (pump out a press release a day) and veiled practice of distributing free tickets.

Keep in mind that this was the end of the last season at the Meadowlands, before the team was clearly moving to Brooklyn and before the announcement of the two-year interim move to Newark.

Of course, Yormark is also a walking generator of the most vapid business-speak:

That Argyle Executive Forum transcript is worth a look to see how Yormark employs business buzzwords. They include:

  • "the value player"
  • "I'm going to top-line a couple of things"
  • "our value proposition"
  • "It's truly about the touch points"
  • "it’s been a terrific ‘feel good’ and hopefully later on, we can monetize it"
  • "a great value creation"
  • "a best-in-class experience"
  • "insulate yourself if the product goes south"
  • "mandate buy-in from top to bottom"
  • "Live out of the box"
  • "Value creation, that is the buzz word"
  • "it’s all about hiring on the court now in the product cycle, character guys"
  • "We’re going to investment spend in all the right areas"


Posted by eric at 12:30 PM

The Times Connects The Dots on Two Federal Corruption Cases Involving Forest City Ratner

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Nearly two years ago when Forest City Ratner was named as what appeared to be an unindicted co-conspirator in a federal bribery and corruption indictment concerning the developer's Ridge Hill project there was much wondering, here and here, about how it was that Forest City, as The Times puts it today, walked between the legal raindrops.

And while we appreciate Michael Powell's column raising those questions and connecting those dots in yesterday's paper, we do wonder why it has taken two years to connect those dots.


Related content...

@ShellySilver via Twitter, Judy: Seize @powellnyt's press pass and office supplies: http://ow.ly/8p3wV. And don't let him see this photo: http://ow.ly/8p3OM

The Real Deal, Ratner looms large over two political corruption cases: columnist

Posted by eric at 12:19 PM

Prokhorov on NetsDaily? Sure, but not that MSNBC profile by Robert Windrem, aka "Net Income"

Atlantic Yards Report

Citing news articles and even coverage in Russian (via Google Translate), NetsDaily, via chief editor "Net Income," does not typically hold back in its coverage of Nets principal owner Mikhail Prokhorov.

Except, curiously enough, there's been no mention of Monday's MSNBC profile by Robert (Bob) Windrem, aka Net Income. Maybe that's because Windrem was quoting himself. Or because Windrem was described merely as a "senior investigative producer for NBC News and a Nets season ticket holder."

He's a lot more than that. Windrem knows he has to stay professional.

His pseudonymous alter ego--not so much. His lust for a new arena for his favorite team--"NI is the biggest Brooklyn fan on this website," one commenter observed--means that, too often, the end justifies the means.


Posted by eric at 12:10 PM

Cuomo Recalibrates His Casino Pitch

NY Magazine
by Chris Smith

Speaking of scammers...

Governor Andrew Cuomo just released a long and odd letter that he sent to the state’s legislative leaders arguing in favor of his proposal to build the world’s largest convention center in Queens and to expand legalized gambling. It’s full of assertions (“This investment would be one of the largest in the state’s history at no cost to the state”) and projections that should be read very skeptically, especially the gaudy job-creation estimates, which are eerily reminiscent of the hype used to sell Atlantic Yards.


NoLandGrab: Anyone feeling nostalgic for Paterson Spitzer Pataki?

Posted by eric at 12:05 PM

Cashier steals credit card — and makes big purchase with it

The Brooklyn Paper
by Eli Rosenberg

In Bruce Ratner's Brooklyn malls, if the scammers and pickpockets don't get you, the employees just might.


A sneaky cashier stole a woman’s credit card at the Target on Flatbush Avenue on Dec. 29.

The 49-year-old victim told cops that she made a purchase at the store between Atlantic and Fourth avenues at 1:49 pm.

That evening, she discovered that her card had been used for an additional $625 purchase at the store.

When she called the big-box store to find out what had happened, the manager told her a worker had used her card.

New digs

A fashion-savvy jerk was accused of stealing clothes at a store on Atlantic Avenue on Jan. 3, cops say.

Cops said the man took a pricey coat, a pair of boots, and a gym bag from the Burlington Coat Factory in the Atlantic Terminal Mall before he was busted at around 5 pm.


Two crafty crooks fooled a man into buying a cardboard box full of newspapers for $1,200 in the Atlantic Terminal Mall on Dec. 23.

The 37-year-old victim told cops that the two crooks approached him at noon and told him that they could get him discounted merchandise from Best Buy. The man was given a cardboard box, which he believed contained the merchandise.

When he returned home and opened the box, he was surprised to find newspapers instead of electronics.


A jerk stole a woman’s wallet from the Marshall’s in the Atlantic Avenue Terminal Mall on Jan. 7.

The 29-year-old victim told cops she placed her wallet on a table at the store at 7 pm, and when she went to get it 40 minutes later, it was gone.


Related coverage...

The Local [Fort Greene-Clinton Hill], The Week in Crime: A Pistol-Whipping and Two Teen Robbers

There were at least more three incidents at the Atlantic Terminal Mall, cops said.

Posted by eric at 11:54 AM

Daily News columnis Hamill, always happy to buff the Brooklyn Nets, salutes Jay-Z, ignores "ethical pickle"

Atlantic Yards Report

Daily News columnist Denis Hamill, who thinks the Brooklyn Nets can give Brooklyn a soul, swallowed Forest City Ratner promotional spin, and saluted those building the arena, deserves notice for his celebratory column yesterday.

The headline: Jay-Z's hardknock life in Marcy Projects paves way to a better life for daughter Blue Ivy Carter: Beyonce and Jay-Z's newborn gets a New York welcome into the world.

You see, Hamill back in December 2002 met Jay-Z when the "shy and humble" rapper was reading to fifth-graders--JAY-Z GIVES KIDS GIFT OF EXAMPLE--and remains quite impressed.

The "ethical pickle'

Jay-Z's a reader, and that fueled his writing skills and helped get him out of the projects, Hamill related back in 2002 and again yesterday. Yes, a dedication to reading is an admirable thing, and it allowed Jay-Z to build on his skills and gifts.

But Jay-Z, in case Hamill needs a reminder, also exited the projects because he was a drug dealer, and that, as writer Sam Anderson once put it, "the ethical pickle at the core of the Jay-Z myth."


Posted by eric at 11:42 AM

100 Most Powerless New Yorkers

A 'power list' for the rest of us

The Village Voice
by Steven Thrasher

87. Car-owners in Fort Greene

It's not easy to park a car anywhere in New York, but it has gotten especially difficult in Fort Greene. Once the Barclay's Center opens next fall at Atlantic Yards with a mere 1,100 parking spots to accommodate its 19,000-seat capacity, expect streets in Spike Lee's home 'hood to become gridlocked with cars looking for nonexistent parking spaces during some 200 planned events a year. A plan to grant street-parking permits for residents is considered dead on arrival in Albany.


Related coverage...

Fort Greene-Clinton Hill Patch, Fort Greene Car Owners No. 87 on List of '100 Most Powerless NYers'

Attention car owners endlessly circling the block for an open space in Fort Greene: you are in good company.

Unfortunately, come September when the Barclays Center is scheduled to open, things are only going to get worse. And there's little, if anything, that you can do about it, according to a list published in this week's Village Voice.

Posted by eric at 11:26 AM

Podcast: Atlantic Yards, Part III

The Civilians Blog

This week's episode is from our interviews about Atlantic Yards, the complicated and controversial development in Brooklyn at the site where the new Barclay's stadium is currently being constructed. We hear from some of the key players on both sides of the fight, passionately discussing topics like gentrification, what makes a neighborhood, change, affordable housing, and more. This week features Jennifer R. Morris as Jezra Kaye, a member of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn; Heather Alicia Simms as Bertha Lewis, the head of ACORN; and Joaquin Torres as Saul Zarzana, a union member who supports the project; and Joaquin Torres leading the cast in "The Neighborhood Song" by Michael Friedman.


Posted by eric at 10:59 AM

January 10, 2012

A shout-out for AYR from NY Times columnist Powell

Atlantic Yards Report

Yes, New York Times columnist Michael Powell, who wrote this morning on the curious role of Forest City Ratner in corruption cases--beneficiary, but unscathed--has read some pieces in this blog.

Hence this tweet:

If only more people at the Times were reading.


Posted by eric at 9:54 PM

Bruce Ratner “Walked Between the Legal Raindrops”

NY Observer
by Matt Chaban

That is Michael Powell’s assessment of the Brooklyn developer in his column in today’s Times, noting that Mr. Ratner is involved in at least two corruption scandals involving state politicians.

Who says The Times never goes after Mr. Ratner. Not that the paper managed to stop either of the projects while they were in the works.


NoLandGrab: The Observer's caption for the photo above is "Rain man." We had a different movie in mind: The Godfather.

Photo: Getty Images

Related coverage...


Cleveland's Roldo Bartimole — a little bit Norman Oder, a little bit Daniel Goldstein, a little bit Patti Hagan — weighs in on Bruce Ratner's Singin' in the Rain routine.

Equally disturbing, the Times today reveals that "Mr. Ratner... would haul in $726 million in special public benefits" from development in NYC. Indeed, Mr. Ratner (Bruce) is related to our Forest City Ratners. The article points out he is "Developer No. 1" and "Developer No. 2" in two corruption cases in the city, though he isn't charged in either. The article notes that Bruce Ratner "walked between the legal raindrops."

Development and Corruption seem uniquely tied so often. But, hell, money is involved so why not?

Posted by eric at 9:42 PM

“Battle for Brooklyn” playing this weekend. Meetup?

Market Urbanism
by Emily Washington

A heads-up for NoLandGrab readers in the District...

For readers in the DC area, the movie Battle for Brooklyn is playing at the Dome Theater in Arlington this weekend. The film explores eminent domain in the Forest City Ratner development at Atlantic Yards. It will be playing Friday, Saturday, and Sunday with a Q&A with the directors Michael Galinsky and Suki Hawley after each screening.

Battle for Brooklyn has received positive reviews and has been shortlisted for and Oscar. The film follows the work of Daniel Goldstein, the Jane Jacobs-style community activist who has been leading the losing battle against eminent domain.

I’m planning to attend the movie this Sunday, January 15th at 6:00 pm. If any of you would like to go to that showing as well, would you like to meet up for drinks before or after? I would suggest Galaxy Hut but I’m open to somewhere closer to the theater also. If you’re interested, please comment or send me an email at emilybwashington@gmail.com.


Posted by eric at 9:32 PM

Controversy as Muse–Atlantic Yards-Inspired Art

Brooklyn Based
by Jordan Galloway

An article about Atlantic Yards-themed art ends on an, ahem, curious note, with reporter/fabulist Stephen Witt comparing himself to Jonathan Safran Foer and Dostoevsky.

Stephen Witt, a writer and AY-reporter for the Brooklyn Daily blog, is currently fine-tuning what he says is the seventh of eight drafts of The Street Singer, a satirical novel about AY and the artistic community of Brooklyn. He plans on self-publishing it in June if it fails to find a publisher before then and calls his work a roman a clef of his early life as a street musician in the city, re-set in the six months leading up to the arena’s ground breaking.

“I think it works really good as a satire,” he said. “A lot of journalists and artists really beat me up over my coverage of Atlantic Yards. I think history will show I covered it right.” When asked whether he’s capitalizing on the situation with the Barclays Center set to open in September, his response was succinct. “Absolutely,” said Witt. “It’s a timely novel. I am definitely capitalizing on it. It’s timely. It’s a news angle. I’m capitalizing on it in the same way [Jonathan Safran Foer] capitalized on the World Trade Center with Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.” He added, “Dostoevsky used to take ideas from the newspaper. My say is as good as anyone else’s say.”


NoLandGrab: "It think it works really good?" We're guessing eight (drafts) isn't enough.

Posted by eric at 2:03 PM

Ratner in the midst of corruption scandals

Crain's NY Business
by Amanda Fung

Despite having ties to a lobbyist and politicians who have either acknowledged bribe-making or are facing trials for bribery, extortion and tax evasion, major developer Bruce Ratner, and his firm Forest City Ratner, has not been implicated in any of the corruption cases, according to The New York Times.

Lobbyist Richard Lipsky and former state senator and Brooklyn democrat Carl Kruger face years in prison after acknowledging bribe-making in court. Both were instrumental in helping to push forward Mr. Ratner’s controversial 22-acre Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn. In fact, indictments never named Forest City or Mr. Ratner, but only cited “Developer 1” in Brooklyn and “Developer 2″ in Yonkers.

In Yonkers, after Mr. Ratner received city zoning approval to build an 81-acre luxury mall and housing complex, the developer hired the Yonkers Republican chairman as a consultant. That politician’s cousin was a member was the Democratic council leader who voted in favor of the development project.


Posted by eric at 1:55 PM

A Developer Between Legal Clouds

The New York Times
by Michael Powell

Even Bruce Ratner's development partner can connect the dots. Will US Attorney Preet Bharara catch on next?

This is corruption’s high season in New York.

Nearly every week, a politician or a lobbyist indignantly denies charges, crows at hung juries or mumbles teary admissions of guilt before an implacable judge.

Last week, the lobbyist Richard Lipsky stood in a courtroom to acknowledge bribe-making. His partner in crime, Carl Kruger, the former state senator and a Brooklyn Democrat, had taken his tear-soaked turn two weeks earlier. They face years in prison.

A few weeks from now, in the same courthouse, a Democratic Yonkers councilwoman and her cousin, the city’s Republican Party chairman, are expected to stand trial. They are accused of bribery, extortion and tax evasion.

The Brooklyn and Yonkers cases are not simply about wayward politicians. The cases share an intriguing tie to the developer Bruce Ratner, who in project after project deploys lobbyists and politicians to change zoning ordinances and chase down rich packets of subsidies.

I should emphasize that Mr. Ratner has walked between the legal raindrops. Federal prosecutors have not implicated him or his company, Forest City Ratner, in either of these corruption cases.

But he figures prominently enough that the indictments identify him as “Developer No. 1” in Brooklyn and “Developer No. 2” in Yonkers. In Brooklyn, he has pushed the 22-acre Atlantic Yards development, including an arena and residential towers. Forest City Ratner was the development partner for the headquarters of The New York Times Company.

Click through for a rundown of the evidence.


NoLandGrab: It's worth noting that the story's original headline, visible at the top of the article window, was "In Corruption Scandals, Recurring Ties to a Developer, Forest City Ratner." Wonder why Forest City got erased from the headline.

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, New York Times columnist focuses on "intriguing" Ratner tie in two corruption cases

New York Times columnist Michael Powell, in A Developer Between Legal Clouds, offers some much-needed connections between “Developer No. 1” in Brooklyn and “Developer No. 2” in Yonkers and some corruption cases that curiously left Forest City Ratner a beneficiary yet legally unscathed.

I think the case in Yonkers--where Forest City gained the benefit of a City Council vote thanks to a vote gained by bribery, and never explained giving the indicted briber a no-show job--involves the developer more than the case in Brooklyn, where lobbyist Richard Lipsky and former state Senator Carl Kruger had a range of clients and beneficiaries.

The Yonkers case should go to trial soon, and then, perhaps, we will learn some answers to the question of, as I've written, the mystery of Ridge Hill.

A Gotham column unafraid to take on the powerful

Powell's been a columnist since only May 2011, and since then has been unafraid to look critically at the power structure in the state, including Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

Would that he or someone like him had covered, say, the Atlantic Yards groundbreaking in March 2010.

True News, NY Still Has A Poll Tax and the True News Wags the NYT Again

True News takes credit for lighting a fire under the Grey Lady.

On January 5, Right After the Ratner lobbyists took a plea True News wrote a story

True News Asked what Did Bruce Ratner Know and Do About the Lipsky Bribe?

Posted by eric at 11:46 AM

After vandalism of street sign, a replacement installed, but no concrete response by NYPD and FCR; ESD would like FCR to put in place new measures

Atlantic Yards Report

Fear not — Atlantic Yards maintains its perfect record of zero accountability.

So, after a driver and construction worker--quite likely working at Atlantic Yards, but that's not confirmed--uprooted a "No Standing" sign on Pacific Street between Sixth and Carlton avenues on January 6, what's the aftermath?

No concrete action--other than the installation of a replacement sign, as noted on Atlantic Yards Watch--and a lot of questions.

First, the New York Police Department, which presumably had the driver's license number, has not issued a statement, and I have not received a response to an inquiry posed yesterday afternoon.

State and FCR response

Are there any measures Empire State Development (ESD) can or will take regarding this, I asked Arana Hankin, Director, Atlantic Yards Project, for ESD, the state agency overseeing the project.

"ESD does not condone this behavior and will request that FCR [Forest City Ratner] take disciplinary action with this particular worker and put in place measures to prevent it from happening again," Hankin responded.

FCR, however, is not there yet, perhaps because the identity of the worker and his association with the project has not been publicly confirmed. Spokesman Joe DePlasco said that "our response to that was that the information and video should be shared with the police."


Posted by eric at 11:41 AM

Barclays Center steel back in the bag

After shutting its doors last month, the company making the weathered steel panels that will sheath Brooklyn's Barclays Center again fires up the production line.

Crain's NY Business
by Theresa Agovino

Fabrication of the weathered steel for the façade of the Barclays Center resumed over the weekend after being halted since late December when the company doing the work shut its doors, according to a spokesman for the arena's developer, Forest City Ratner Cos.

Indiana-based ASI Limited reopened after the arena's contractor, Hunt Construction Group, worked with insurer Ohio Farmers to get the plant working again.

“We are very pleased with how Hunt responded to this situation,” said the Forest City spokesman. “Thanks to their aggressive actions, work has resumed, and we're all the more confident that we will meet our milestones for the arena.”

He added that Hunt is looking for additional companies to make the steel for the 675,000-square-foot arena that will be home to the Brooklyn Nets. Slated to open this fall, in time for the start of the basketball season, the arena is the first building to rise in the vast $4.9 billion, 14-apartment-tower Atlantic Yards project.


Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Crain's: ASI Limited resumes making steel panels for arena facade, but contractor's still looking for backup

Norman Oder wonders why, if everything's fine, Hunt is looking for additional fabricators.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Company Supplying Barclays Center Out of Business

Meanwhile, nothing slips by The Eagle.

Posted by eric at 11:32 AM

After Beyoncé Gives Birth, Patients Protest Celebrity Security at Lenox Hill Hospital

The New York Times
by Nina Bernstein

Speaking of Jay, it sounds like he took a page out of Bruce Ratner's book and eminent domained the maternity ward at Lenox Hill Hospital, which — betta look on a map — ain't in Brooklyn.

Lenox Hill Hospital went all-out to protect the privacy of Beyoncé Knowles and Jay-Z, whose daughter, Blue Ivy Carter, was born there on Saturday.

At one point, another father, Edgar Ramirez, 25, said, security guards kept him out of the neonatal unit for three hours while his wife and newborn were waiting for him. At another point on Saturday, a guard declared that “the floor is on lockdown,” Ms. Nash-Coulon said, and told her that if she left the neonatal unit, she would not be allowed back in to see her babies.

“It was just really disgusting,” said Ms. Nash-Coulon, 38, who is still recovering from her C-section, while one of her twins remains in the hospital. “We really believe the hospital is culpable in this because they didn’t let us know what was happening. And the security of our children is at risk when you cover security cameras.”


Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, The fallout from a celebrity birth: other parents complain that security required by Jay-Z/Beyonce hindered their visits

It's tough out there in celebrity-land. Jay-Z and wife Beyonce had their baby, and they're rightfully delighted.

But the security plans instigated apparently on their behalf--the cordoning off of sections of the hospital, and the blocking of certain visitors--has prompted a backlash.

Click through for links to other news stories.

Posted by eric at 11:17 AM

The Book of Hov: Clinton Hill pastor gets inspiration from Jay-Z

The Brooklyn Paper
by Kate Briquelet

A new pastor in Clinton Hill gets his gospel straight from Jay-Hova.

Presbyterian minister Jamison Galt kicked off his inaugural sermon at Christ Church on Lafayette Avenue on Sunday night, preaching to a crowd of roughly 100 souls about Jay-Z, the self-described savior of hip-hop.

Galt is a fan of Jay-Z’s songs, but during his sermon, he trashed one of the rapper’s most publicized business ventures.

Jay-Z owns a small portion of the New Jersey Nets, the basketball team scheduled to move into the Barclays Center at Atlantic and Flatbush avenues this fall as a part of developer Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards mega project. Despite plans for a “meditation room” in the arena that could host a house of worship, Galt compared the Atlantic Yards development and similar projects to the Tower of Babel, calling them “massive monument[s] ... without god.”


NoLandGrab: Amen!?

Posted by eric at 11:09 AM

The Day: Warm Enough for a Bike Ride?

The Local [Fort Greene/Clinton Hill]
by Gersh Kuntzman

Our frenemies at Fort Greene Patch had this rewritten press release scoop: Forest City Ratner promoted its senior retail veep to run day-to-day operations of both the Atlantic Terminal and Atlantic Center malls, which have the distinction of making weekly appearances in our “sales and bargains” column and our police blotter. A company spokeswoman told Patch that Ms. Welch’s appointment “is not expected to affect operations” at the shopping centers. Too bad.


Related content...

Fort Greene-Clinton Hill Patch, Forest City Executive Takes Reins at Atlantic Terminal Mall

Forest City Ratner, the developer and operator of Atlantic Terminal Mall, announced the appointment of Kathryn Welch as senior vice president of its Retail Group.

Welch is a veteran at the Forest City Ratner's Cleveland-based parent company and will oversee its growing New York City-area retail portfolio.

Those holdings include Atlantic Terminal Mall and Atlantic Center, as well as an under construction 1.3 million-square-foot open-air shopping center in Westchester County.

Posted by eric at 10:55 AM

‘Battle for Brooklyn’ shoots and scores

'Battle for Brooklyn' offers a scathing look at the the process of building a new sports center for the Brooklyn Nets.

The Chicago Maroon
by Michaela Cross

It's not just a boondoggle, it's a movie!

Making a documentary is an uncertain art. There is no real way a director can ensure that the people and events being filmed will develop into an interesting story and the time they are investing will be paid back in full. Battle for Brooklyn, directed by Michael Galinsky and Suki Hawley, stands as a shining example of what happens when documentaries turn out right, when interesting people and events come together to create a fascinating journey and do it in front of a camera.


Posted by eric at 10:46 AM

The Battle for Atlantic Yards comes to Penn, bookended with megaproject forums

Plan Philly Eyes on the Street

It's not just a boondoggle, it's a musical!

Development can make for sensational drama, which is just what the the docu-musical, In the Footprint: The Battle over Atlantic Yards promises for its 16-show run at Penn’s Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.

In the Footprint follows the polarizing issue of Brooklyn’s huge, controversial Atlantic Yards development as it transpired through political channels, developer maneuvers, the use of eminent domain, and emotional neighborhood opposition. In the Footprint will premiere in Philadelphia with its run at the Annenberg Center’s Harold Prince Theater January 18-29, by The Civilians.

PennDesign will bookend the performances with two community forums called, Megaprojects: Can we balance individual and social good?, featuring Penn faculty members in conversation with developers, real estate experts, politicians, and journalists.


Posted by eric at 10:32 AM

200-Storey Prefab For 100,000 People Can Be Built in 2 Months

Is This for Real?

by Lloyd Alter

Over the years I have been shown a few wild proposals for giant prefabs and new building systems, and most of the time I have been pretty dubious. There have always been a couple of fundamental problems that got in the way, particularly with modular schemes where entire units are supposed to be plugged into frames.

Recently I questioned a big prefab project at the Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, thinking it was too much, too fast, and too cheap considering it was a technology that had never been used to build so high.

But these projects don't come close to what Broad Sustainable Buildings is planning: A 200-storey vertical city that will house 100,000 people. While it isn't scheduled for construction yet, the company appears to be pitching it around the world.


NoLandGrab: If it sounds too good to be true... Bruce Ratner might steal all your senior employees!

Posted by eric at 10:19 AM

January 9, 2012

A profile of Prokhorov on MSNBC by Robert Windrem, who does not acknowledge he's also "Net Income," chief editor of Nets Daily

Atlantic Yards Report

Who knew? We never had "Net Income" pegged for being a real journalist!

So who wrote the stylish, reasonably thorough, and only slightly skewed profile on MSNBC's Open Channel, dedicated to "investigative reporting by NBC News," headlined Meet the NBA tycoon and rapper's friend who could be president of Russia.

One Robert Windrem, described as a senior investigative producer for NBC News and a Nets season ticket holder.

Simply describing him as a "Nets season ticket holder" is just a tad inadequate. He's also Net Income, the ubiquitous, prolific pseudonymous main editor of the NetsDaily web site.


NoLandGrab: Windrem also triples as "Bobbo," the insulting, factually deficient sometime-commenter to Atlantic Yards Report posts.

Related coverage...

MSNBC.com, Meet the NBA tycoon and rapper's friend who could be president of Russia

"The most interesting man in the world?" Windrem needs to get out more.

Posted by eric at 11:19 AM

Will Carlton Avenue Bridge reopen in time for arena? Maybe, as double-shift work continues. But evidence suggests it's delayed, and penalties are toothless.

Atlantic Yards Report

Evidence--including a delayed start and a search for funding--suggests that the reconstruction of the Carlton Avenue Bridge is behind.

And that's provoked an accelerated, double-shift pace (as announced in the 12/19/11 Construction Alert) to complete the work by the time the Atlantic Yards arena is deemed substantially complete by 8/30/12.

Maybe it'll get done, even as deadlines for the arena and site work have already been pushed near their limit.

But if it doesn't--a potential "surprise" that I predicted last week--the impact likely would hit the local community far more than it would damage developer Forest City Ratner, which faces no direct penalties.

The hazards

If the arena opens without the bridge, that would set up some hazardous, frenzied conditions in Prospect Heights, notably two-way traffic on narrow Sixth Avenue bordering the Barclays Center and a bottleneck on Carlton Avenue.

Sixth Avenue, which for years was a one-way street, was converted to two-way service when the Carlton Avenue Bridge was closed.

Sixth Avenue is supposed to be converted back to one-way service will remain two-way, and the burden will be greater, obviously, if the Carlton Avenue Bridge doesn't reopen.

The question is when that reopening will happen.


Photo: Tracy Collins

Posted by eric at 11:11 AM

Atlantic Yards Worker Reprimanded for ‘Amen’ Corner

The Local [Fort Greene/Clinton Hill]
by Minty Grover

A construction worker at the Atlantic Yards project was reprimanded by his bosses last month, fellow employees said, after he painted a seemingly non-controversial bit of Yuletide graffiti on an under-construction kiosk — the word “Amen” in big red block letters.

The holiday greeting — truncated because the worker didn’t have enough paint to write “Merry Christmas,” one worker said — wasn’t visible from the streets around the rising Barclays Center basketball arena, but it was clear to see from the top floor of the neighboring Atlantic Center and Atlantic Terminal malls as well as the Williamsburgh Savings Bank tower across the street.

The extent of the reprimand remains unclear, but the worker was not fired, said construction workers, who wouldn't give their names out of fear of reprisal. The religious graffiti has since been partially covered up with concrete as part of the contruction of the subway entrance at the front of the arena at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues.

A spokesman for Bruce Ratner, whose Forest City Ratner Companies is building the arena as part of its larger Atlantic Yards development, said that the reprimand was deserved.

“It is inappropriate to write anything that is not authorized on a construction site,” said the spokesman, Joe DePlasco.


NoLandGrab: In the overall scheme of things, it seems much less worse than the usual Atlantic Yards construction worker behavior.

Posted by eric at 10:49 AM

Forest City defense re Kruger/Lipsky pleas: federal complaint "in no way says or suggests that we behaved in an inappropriate manner"

Atlantic Yards Report

Reported Brooklyn Daily, regarding the guilty pleas by former state Sen. Carl Kruger and Richard Lipsky:

The [federal complaint against Kruger and Lipsky] in no way says or suggests that we behaved in an inappropriate manner,” Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco explained.

Not so.

Neither the 4/7/11 indictment (superseding a 3/9/11 complaint) suggested that Forest City, or executive Bruce Bender, behaved illegally.

And the indictment, far more terse than its predecessor, did not suggest inappropriate behavior.

But the complaint, as I pointed out 12/21/11, very much suggested inappropriate behavior--at least if you think asking Kruger for $15 million, including $9 million to complete the Carlton Avenue Bridge (and talking rather profanely about it), is inappropriate.


Posted by eric at 10:42 AM

This Week in Kickstarter

Kickstarter Blog
by Michael McGregor

We're not even a full week into 2012 and, not gonna lie, we're feeling pretty good about the upcoming year, impending Apocalypse and all! All kidding aside, it's been a pretty productive week in the Kickstarter universe and, as always, we're happy to share a few things we've found exciting.

We were busy hosting a screening of RUMUR's Battle for Brooklyn for press and backers. Why, you may ask? Because, the film, which chronicles the eminant domain case surrounding Atlantic Yards, the future home of the Brookyln Nets, has been shortlisted for an Academy Award for Best Documentary, and as part of the process the film is screening all over the country, in an effort to build momentum before the Oscars. Not gonna lie, we love Battle for Brooklyn and we love the Oscars, so we're just happy we could join the process. It. was. fun. And the movie is awesome, so if it's playing in your town, go see it!


Posted by eric at 10:33 AM

January 8, 2012

Crain's: gerrymandering of EB-5 districts "irrelevant to supporters because the projects are within commuting distance of these jobless areas"

Atlantic Yards Report

It's not usual that I'll chide the press for focusing on Atlantic Yards Report coverage while ignoring the New York Times, but Crain's New York Business deserves such treatment, in an article posted today headlined Green card program a boon for development funding: Foreigners eager to supply financing; will EB-5 be renewed?.

It provides the unsurprising round-up of projects funded under the federal government's EB-5 program--in which immigrant investors get green cards for themselves and their families in exchange for a $500,000 investment that purportedly creates ten jobs.

Dismissing the controversy

And it mentions--and dismisses--a recent controversy:

Proponents of the program, including President Barack Obama and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, hype its low-interest financing, lack of taxpayer subsidies and ability to create jobs. As it has become increasingly popular in New York, however, it has drawn critics who believe developers and state officials have massaged the rules and not hewed to the spirit of the program. With EB-5 set to expire in September, some potential participants have been given pause.

...But some believe its success in New York stems from developers and economic development officials gerrymandering zones so foreigners can readily invest in projects. Norman Oder, an Atlantic Yards critic and blogger, has shown how officials used census statistics to map districts that connect areas of high unemployment to projects in prosperous parts of Brooklyn and Manhattan. But the issue is irrelevant to supporters because the projects are within commuting distance of these jobless areas.

Well, there's no proof that people from those areas--remember the Bed-Stuy Boomerang?--are working at that site, nor that "commuting distance" meets the letter or spirit of the law.

More importantly, Crain's ignores that the New York Times put the issue on the front page and then published an editorial criticizing the program for such abuses.


Related content...

Crain's NY Business, Green card program a boon for development funding

“It was like a gift from the gods,” Mr. Kimball said of the program, recalling how American lenders had been reluctant to offer the Navy Yard financing after the recession. “We'd been exploring every option under the sun.”

Mr. Kimball returned from China with millions of dollars in commitments. Since then, a growing number of developers across the city have taken advantage of the federal program, known as EB-5. Once virtually unknown in New York, the 20-year-old program has become a lifeline for economic development in recent years, raising hundreds of millions of dollars for film studios, hotels and even Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards project.

NoLandGrab: "A gift from the gods?" Kinda like Bruce Ratner, almost.

Posted by steve at 10:41 PM

Horse-race coverage of sports, politics, and business--and an egregious AY example

Atlantic Yards Report

From a 1/3/12 column by Reuters media columnist Jack Shafer, Presidential campaigns, sports writing, and the fine art of pretending:

The jobs of political reporters and sports writers are almost identical: Determine who is ahead and who is behind; get inside the heads of the participants; decode the relevant strategies and tactics; and find a way to convert reader interest into sustainable enthusiasm.

And that extends also to business:

[Washington Post reporter Paul] Farhi, who has reported on business, sports, politics, and the media, says business coverage also obsesses on winners and numbers. “Maybe all journalism is about success and failure, and we see it more clearly in sports,” he said.

And, I'd argue, that misses meaning.

The Times on AY

Remember the New York Times's horse-race analysis in the 6/9/05 article headlined Unlike Stadium on West Side, an Arena in Brooklyn Is Still a Go?

While the Brooklyn plan still has hurdles, its progress so far is providing an object lesson in how to navigate big projects through the often treacherous and choppy waters of New York state and city politics. In the Brooklyn project, backers have aggressively courted the local community since the project's inception, trying to placate those who could be its most aggressive foes. Perhaps most important, they have reached out to Mr. [Assembly Speaker Sheldon] Silver.

(Emphasis added)

Object lesson? Not anymore. Nor for a long while.


Posted by steve at 10:37 PM

Brooklyn's fractured demographics, as seen in a new report on health care

Atlantic Yards Report

A report from the state Department of Health, At the Brink of Transformation: Restructuring the Healthcare Delivery System in Brooklyn (see Greater NY Hospital Association comments), aims to restructure Medicaid, but also offers some broader perspective on Brooklyn's fractured demographics and deep disparity between progress and need, a backdrop to the Atlantic Yards debate.

Brooklyn is the state's most populous county, and it has big problems. (Crain's is sponsoring a discussion 1/11/12 on Solving Brooklyn's Hospital Crisis.)

From the report's Executive Summary:

Today, Brooklyn is grappling with high rates of chronic disease and a healthcare delivery system that is, in many areas, ill-equipped to address them. High rates of preventable hospital admissions and avoidable emergency department visits indicate deficiencies in primary care and inefficient use of high-cost resources. Further, while there are several fine hospitals in Brooklyn that are well-managed and financially-stable, Interfaith Medical Center, Wyckoff Heights Medical Center and Brookdale Hospital Medical Center are experiencing financial crises. At the same time, great opportunity presents itself in new models of patient-centered care, focused on prevention, and supported by technology and appropriate reimbursement incentives... With Brooklyn’s high rates of obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes, and 1 million Medicaid beneficiaries among its [2.5 million] residents, the state has a strong interest in the quality, accessibility, efficiency and viability of healthcare in the borough.


Posted by steve at 10:35 PM

January 7, 2012

Whither Brooklyn's turning points? Some came well before the Atlantic Yards plan

Atlantic Yards Report

If Atlantic Yards is a symbol, as per Crain's, of Brooklyn's renaissance, we should remember that Bruce Ratner's vision, announced in late 2003, emerged well after Brooklyn had begun to be validated.

In a 1/4/12 Critic's Notbook essay titled How the View from the Critic’s Perch Has Changed, Times interim restaurant critic Eric Asimov offered a contrast between writing about restaurants today and a decade ago. Among his observations:

Brooklyn? Sure, Brooklyn is now full of wonderfully exciting restaurants. It’s really a second or third wave, though. I wrote a piece back in 2000 [A Defining Moment in Brooklyn, 3/29/00] noting an earlier Brooklyn explosion. It’s interesting to see how many of those restaurants are gone, though the ones that survived and prospered — Saul, Diner, the Grocery, Al di Là, to name a few — are really good.

Fun quote from that earlier piece:

The new age on Smith Street began on Dec. 21, 1997, when Mr. [Alan] Harding, formerly the chef at Nosmo King in Manhattan, opened the bistro Patois, the first of the new restaurants. ''Our rent was $900 when we started, and I figured if nobody came, I could live there,'' Mr. Harding said. ''Now rents have tripled.''


Posted by steve at 10:44 PM

January 6, 2012

Caught red-handed on video: Atlantic Yards construction worker uproots newly installed "No Standing" sign on Pacific Street

Atlantic Yards Report

Ok, city and state officials overseeing Atlantic Yards, get a load of this.

There's a No Standing sign on the south side of Pacific Street, between Sixth and Carlton avenues, that doesn't sit well with construction workers looking for convenient parking at the nearby Barclays Center and railyard sites.

They apparently uprooted one sign in mid-December. A week later, its replacement was again uprooted (photo at [right] from Atlantic Yards Watch).

But documentary evidence compiled this morning shows exactly how it's done. Late yesterday afternoon, AY Watch contributor 700PacificW commented on the newly installed sign (photo at right):

Newly installed MTP "red no standing" sign could be destroyed within 1 day of installation again.

That prediction was quite accurate.

This morning's vandalism

As shown in the video posted below, at about 6:15 am today, a construction worker--as noted wearing a hardhat in a photo posted to AY Watch--parked next to the sign.

(Is he definitely working at the Atlantic Yards site? I can't be absolutely certain, but this is where AY site workers seek to park, and hundreds of others workers seen on that block work at the site. A witness saw this worker walking toward the arena site.)

He got out. At 1:10 of the video, he began rocking the sign with his hands, ultimately dislodging it.

At 3:16 of the video, he began moving the sign to the north side of Pacific Street near the MTA's Vanderbilt Yard, as shown in the screen shot at left.

And now he has free parking.


Related coverage...

In tearing down the sign the worker creates 4 or 5 illegal spaces used by Barclays Center construction workers on a regular basis.

Streetsblog, How to Make Your Own Free Parking Near the Atlantic Yards Site

...here’s a variety of parking scofflaw that we’ve never come across before on Streetsblog.

And you thought placards were the ultimate in free parking entitlement.

Prospect Heights Patch, Video Catches Driver Pulling Down 'No Standing' Sign Across From Atlantic Yards

The videographer caught the man's SUV's license plate number, and we're waiting to hear back from the police about whether they are trying to track him down.

Posted by eric at 1:02 PM

LiC contributor Jackson Truax’s 2011 Top 10 (plus 5)

Living in Cinema
by Jackson Truax

Looking back at the 218 new movies I’ve seen this past year, here’s a celebration of those I can’t stop talking or thinking about, and those I’m jumping at the chance to write about again. My top ten list is comprised of the films that were “released” this year, that would qualify for most Oscar categories or other year-end awards.

4. Battle for Brooklyn – Dirs. Michael Galinsky and Suki Hawley

The RumuR Inc. production team of David Beilinson, Suki Hawley, and Michael Galinsky crafted the most viscerally powerful, enraging, and dangerous documentary of the year. Battle for Brooklyn follows graphic designer turned reluctant community organizer and activist Daniel Goldstein as he fights to save his Brooklyn neighborhood from being seized by a government that’s been bought by billionaire developer Bruce C. Ratner. Every frame delivers a sense of populist outrage and danger, and Galinsky (in his capacity as Director of Photography) follows Goldstein into one confrontation after another, ranging from the streets of Brooklyn to the hearings where the voice of the community is either ignored or shut out all together. Though Goldstein falls into his role of the voice of the people accidently, the audience witnesses him evolve into the ultimate everyman’s spokesperson, marching into enemy territory with the unrepentant attitude of Bob Dylan walking on stage plugged-in for the first time. Suki Hawley edited together a film that in 93 minutes is equal parts polemic, character study, a David-and-Goliath tale, and shows enough of both sides of the issues to never veer off into propaganda. The Academy has shortlisted the film for the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature.


Catch Battle for Brooklyn locally this weekend at indieScreen in Williamsburg. Our loyal Left Coast readers can see the film tomorrow and Sunday in Santa Monica followed by Q&A sessions with Michael Galinsky.

Posted by eric at 12:46 PM

Report Reveals Barclays Center Slightly Behind Schedule

Between September and November, Atlantic Yards construction was behind schedule, and now the completion of the arena has been pushed back a week, to Aug 30.

Park Slope Patch
by Jamie Schuh

While Forest City Ratner doesn’t believe that their steelmaker going out of business will affect the construction time of the Barclays Center, new data shows that construction has been behind schedule for three months, according to Atlantic Yards Report.

AYR says that the completion date of the arena has now been pushed back a week, to August 30, 2012, with site work like landscaping, tree planting and sidewalk installation pushed back a month to September 25, 2012. The blog says that’s just three days before Jay-Z is scheduled to perform an opening night show at the arena.


Posted by eric at 12:41 PM

After 15 months, still waiting for response to a Freedom of Information Law request regarding ESDC official's trip to China to support Forest City Ratner's EB-5 sales efforts

Atlantic Yards Report

So, how far did New York State go to assist Forest City Ratner in its efforts to raise a low-interest loan of $249 million from immigrant investors seeking green cards under the federal government's EB-5 program?

After 15 months, I'm still waiting for a response to my Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request to the Empire State Development Corporation. Nothing's changed since I wrote about my request nearly five months ago, in August.

Still, thanks to New York Times coverage of EB-5 gerrymandering, there's now much more concern about whether New York State bends the rules to help favored projects. So there's even more reason the state should practice transparency.


NoLandGrab: Yeah, how's that transparency thing coming along, Status Cuomo?

Posted by eric at 12:33 PM

Forest City avoids the question of how they'll get that exterior steel; local officials in Indiana still baffled by firm's closing

Atlantic Yards Report

So Forest City Ratner yesterday told Crain's New York Business, regarding the closure of steel fabricator ASI Limited, "we don't believe it will affect our construction schedule."

And they told Patch that they don't believe it "will aversely affect the timeline."

Well, that's possible, since the exterior was supposed to be finished by May and presumably there's some flex in the timeline--as long as ASI Limited reopens or (with more difficulty) a new supplier of such custom work can be found.

But that doesn't sound yet like a plan to get that work done. So, until Forest City offers specifics, they don't sound too convincing.

Surely Forest City Ratner and its allies could muster [new capital for ASI] up in a pinch; a delay in the arena opening threatens an enormous amount of contracted revenue, such as for sponsorships and naming rights.


NoLandGrab: It would be a delicious irony if ASI were able to force Forest City to inject some funds into the company, given the latter's penchant for such hardball tactics as threatening to stop construction of "New York by Gehry" at half its planned height in order to gain union concessions.

Posted by eric at 12:22 PM

FCR's Gilmartin tells Crain's that shutdown of facade fabricator will not cause delays. How will the other steel plates be delivered? They're not saying.

Atlantic Yards Report

The ever-penetrating Crain's New York Business gets Forest City Ratner on the phone to say that, never mind, nothing's wrong. In Barclays Center developer says show will go on, Crain's reports:

The developer of the Barclays Center arena in downtown Brooklyn says that the year-end demise of the company that is fabricating the weathered steel for the arena's distinctive façade will not result in any construction delays. ...“We are concerned when any of our partners has problems, but we don't believe it will affect our construction schedule,” said MaryAnne Gilmartin, executive vice president of Forest City Ratner, referring to steel fabricator ASI Limited having gone out of business. “We can still continue with construction.”

Of course they can still continue with construction. The question is where they get the specially fabricated, pre-weathered steel. It's not an off-the-shelf product. Crain's continues:

Ms. Gilmartin said that a large portion of the weathered steel had already been erected. She couldn't immediately say how much still needed to go up. She added that Forest City is working to insure the steel will continue to be made and to be delivered to the site in a timely fashion, but declined to offer details.

That's plenty vague; they won't say how much work is left, and they won't say how they'll get the steel. Of course it's possible that ASI Limited will reopen, which is likely the best-case scenario, and all will work out. But it's also possible that the construction schedule, which has already slipped, as I reported this morning, could slip more.


Posted by eric at 12:16 PM

Barclays Center developer says show will go on

Despite the recent demise of the company fabricating the weathered-steel skin for the new home of Brooklyn Nets basketball team, the opening is still set for later this year.

Crain's NY Business
by Theresa Agovino

The developer of the Barclays Center arena in downtown Brooklyn says that the year-end demise of the company that is fabricating the weathered steel for the arena's distinctive façade will not result in any construction delays.

“We are concerned when any of our partners has problems, but we don't believe it will affect our construction schedule,” said MaryAnne Gilmartin, executive vice president of Forest City Ratner, referring to steel fabricator ASI Limited having gone out of business. “We can still continue with construction.”

In a statement, a spokesman for Forest City said the site's construction manager, Hunt, and the bonding company for ASI have developed an action plan. They have already started work on site and have developed several options for on-going fabrication. It didn't specify the options.


Related coverage...

Park Slope Patch, Barclays Center Will 'Open as Scheduled' Despite Steel Snafu: Ratner

According to Atlantic Yards Report, which first broke the story on Tuesday, ASI's apparent demise raised questions as to whether the remaining specialty steel would be delivered and how this might affect Barclays Center's tight construction timeline.

When contacted Thursday, Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco dismissed those concerns, saying, "We do not think [ASI's closure] will aversely affect the timeline, and the arena is still planned to open as scheduled."

Curbed, It May Be Naked, But Barclays Will Take Stage

Not even the possibility of a calamitous costume snafu will prevent the new Barclays Center arena in Prospect Heights from making its scheduled debut at the start of the 2012-13 NBA season. Or so says Forest City Ratner, after subcontractor ASI Limited shut its doors and went out of businesses in late December.

Forest City Ratner says that it has developed several ongoing but unspecified alternatives for the fabrication of the necessary steel panels.

NoLandGrab: We've already suggested this alternative, but we'll repeat it in case MaryAnne Gilmartin missed it the first time around.

Posted by eric at 11:58 AM

Struggling Nets Still More Sideshow than Legitimate Contender

Brooklyn Daily Eagle
by John Torenli

The Eagle, obviously, hasn't figured it out. The Nets aren't just not legitimate contenders — they're arguably the worst allegedly professional sports team extant.

The New Jersey (soon-to-be-Brooklyn) Nets were hoping this lockout-shortened 66-game campaign would be more about building excitement for their much-anticipated arrival at the still-under-construction Barclays Center in November, rather than their continued futility on and off the hardwood.

After doubling their win total from an embarrassing 12 to 24 last season under the guidance of coach Avery Johnson and the ownership of Russian presidential candidate Mikhail Prokhorov, Nets general manager Billy King vowed last month that the franchise was through with running out the clowns.

“There will not be a circus atmosphere like we had last year,” King insisted, referring to the Nets’ fruitless pursuit of a deal that would have landed Brooklyn native Carmelo Anthony in Jersey.

Well, that's true — circuses are fun, at least for the audiences.

It’s hard not to hear circus music when the team owner is making an allegedly serious run for the presidency of his home country, the team’s top rebounder has turned into “America’s Most Notorious Ex-Husband,” and the on-the-court product remains substandard.


NoLandGrab: Wow, if that's "substandard," we sure wouldn't want to lay eyes on bad.

Posted by eric at 11:49 AM

i just figured it out!!!

Amazin' Avenue

A Mets fan frustrated that the team's marquee off-season signings are Jeff Stevens and Corey Wimberly has a revelation...

Wilpon is actually Bruce Ratner!!! Ahhh, now it all makes sense……


NoLandGrab: The difference, though, is that Bruce Ratner is the bilker while Fred Wilpon, if you believe his claims, is the bilkee.

Posted by eric at 11:37 AM

Knicks and Nets Open New Battle Front

Brooklyn Trolley Blogger

Self-appointed basketball "expert" the Brooklyn Trolley Blogger expounds on the "rivalry" between the Knicks and the Nets.

Suffice to say, nothing is going right for either team at the moment. The Knicks can't get a comitment by the players on defense, and the Nets just can't get a committment out of Deron Williams yet. Which brings us to the latest battle of this fledgling, soon-to-be inner city rivalry. The ultimate battle of Dubiousness -

...The Battle for Last Place.


NoLandGrab: Right, 'cause Deron is so key to the Nets' winning ways. And it's not really a battle — the Knicks may be bad, but the Nets are awful. Their one win in seven games came against the only team in the league that doesn't have any.

Are you psyched, Brooklyn?

Posted by eric at 11:27 AM

What Did Bruce Rattner [sic] Know and Do?

Your Free Press

The spelling might be off, but the question is a good one.

Feds Must Find If the High Fees Paid To Lobbyists Are Intended for Bribes


Posted by eric at 11:24 AM

January 5, 2012

Bollard plans approved by DOT, but only after new technical memo saying sidewalk with effective width in one spot of just two feet would be OK

Atlantic Yards Report

So, what if the sidewalks around the Barclays Center will be smaller than analyzed in the 2006 Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), presenting potential bottlenecks?

It'll be fine, says the Department of Transportation (DOT)--but that required not one but two technical memoranda produced by a consultant to to the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) to say that a narrow sidewalk, with an effective width in one spot near the arena of just 2 feet, would be OK.

So that means installation of 206 security bollards--178 fixed, 28 removable, one foot in diameter--and other street furniture has gone on as planned.

And, I'd bet, we'll see arena-goers stepping into Atlantic Avenue lanes adjacent to the sidewalk.


NoLandGrab: So who's going to be responsible when the first pedestrian fatality occurs?

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Watch, DOT approves plan for arena block bollards after yet another Technical Memo attempts to patch a flawed analysis

Although the plans submitted by FCRC in August showed both temporary and permanent departures from conditions analyzed in the project's Final Environmental Impact Statement, ESDC apparently did not ask its environmental consultant HDR to review the plans until after AYW's initial analysis was published.

What followed is a quintessential Atlantic Yards story. The deadline for public comment, initially scheduled for mid-August when Community Boards do not meet and residents are often away, was extended when it was discovered the incorrect Community Board had been provided the plans for review and approval. The deadline was extended a second time when it was discovered a security wall (the same wall producing the narrowest sidewalk on the arena block) had not been colored red (as new) in the plans. A Technical Memo written by HDR was released to the public less than 24 hours before the revocable consent hearing on October 5th, which acknowledged narrower widths but maintained that the level of service (LOS) of the sidewalks would remain within an acceptable range. Our review of the Technical Memo pointed out shortcomings in its analysis, stating the analysis did not take into account in full the obstructions and shy distances evident in the bollard plans, or changes to pedestrian walking routes on sidewalks.

Posted by eric at 12:45 PM

New report: for three months, arena has been (slightly) behind schedule; completion date for arena nudged back; site work could continue almost to Jay-Z concert date

Atlantic Yards Report

Delays are taking their toll on Atlantic Yards construction, with new data from November indicating--for the first time--that the arena is now behind, and had been slightly behind for three months.

Apparently as a consequence, the substantial completion date of the arena has been pushed back a week to 8/30/12, and the substantial completion date of site work (landscaping, trees, sidewalks, bollards, etc.) pushed back a month to 9/25/12, just three days before Jay-Z is supposed to inaugurate the Barclays Center.

The information comes from the latest Site Observation Report, based on a visit of 11/22/11 and documents made available on 12/20/11, from Merritt & Harris, the real estate consultant to the arena PILOT Bond Trustee.

Cause for worry?

The report, dated 1/4/12, indicates that work seems to be proceeding appropriately. Confoundingly, it does not acknowledge in its text that the arena is behind, as a chart indicates.


Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Big jump in workers at Atlantic Yards site reported by real estate consultant, but 645 still doesn't match 779 reported by Forest City

As of November, there were 645 workers at the Atlantic Yards arena site and Transit Connection, according latest Site Observation Report, based on a visit of 11/22/11 and documents made available on 12/20/11, from Merritt & Harris, the real estate consultant to the arena PILOT Bond Trustee.

FCR's numbers

In mid-November, Forest City Ratner told the New York Daily News and Patch that there were 779 workers on site as of November 11.

Why the discrepancy? There surely are dozens of additional workers at the railyard--not covered by Merritt & Harris. But 134? That seems questionable, given observations by site neighbors.

Posted by eric at 12:38 PM

In Lipsky guilty plea, no mention of Forest City Ratner connection

Atlantic Yards Report

In lobbyist Richard Lipsky's guilty plea yesterday, there was no mention of Atlantic Yards or the unnamed developer, Forest City Ratner, that was among his clients.

It was about paying referral fees to now-disgraced Sen. Carl Kruger for clients Kruger directed his way, and then expecting Kruger to help him in Albany.

Though the indictment and legal complaint indicated that Kruger allocated $500,000 to a client of Lipsky--actually the allocation was at the request of Forest City Ratner executive Bruce Bender, but to his wife's charitable cause--there was no evidence of whether Kruger did so at Lipsky's request.

Lipsky, whose Neighborhood Retail Alliance blog was frozen after he was charged last March, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and one count of bribery.

Though he faced a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense, Crain's reported that Lipsky made a deal with prosecutors to serve 57 to 71 months, or slightly less than five years, at best. He will be sentenced by Judge Jed Rakoff on May 4, 2012.


Related coverage...

The New York Times, Lobbyist Pleads Guilty to Paying Bribes to a State Senator

Over three decades, Richard J. Lipsky built a reputation as a staunch lobbyist for the underdog, even though his side did not always win and his clients were sometimes more establishment than mom-and-pop.

NoLandGrab: Yeah, underdogs like poor lil' Bruce Ratner, whom Lipsky defended from Daniel Goldstein Incorporated.

Crain's NY Business, Richard Lipsky admits guilt in bribery scandal

Forest City Ratner hired him in 2006 to advance its $5 billion Atlantic Yards megaproject in Brooklyn. A related corporate entity snagged him to pave the way for an East Harlem shopping mall anchored by a Target. The moves were widely attributed to the developer's desire to prevent Mr. Lipsky from stirring up and advocating for the little guys, his traditional constituency.

Brooklyn Daily, Lobbyist: I bribed Kruger

A deep-pocketed lobbyist who worked for Forest City Ratner Companies admitted to funneling more than $250,000 in bribes to former state Sen. Carl Kruger in an attempt to buy favor for his clients from the disgraced rep.

Richard Lipsky, who was employed by the developer of the Atlantic Yards arena and residential high-rise project for five years, told Manhattan Federal Judge Jed Rackoff that he had an “implicit agreement” with Kruger that payment to the senator — which he euphemized as “referral fees” — would benefit his clients.

One of his biggest clients was Forest City, which paid Lipsky $4,000 a month to help line up legislative support for its many real estate development projects. Forest City also paid him an additional $2,750 a month to promote the Atlantic Yards project.

The Wall Street Journal, Lobbyist Lipsky Admits to Bribery

"I acknowledge that my actions were in violation of the law and I knew that they crossed the line," Mr. Lipsky, 64 years old, said during the proceeding in federal court in Manhattan. "I accept responsibility for my conduct and incredibly poor judgment and I am truly sorry for the serious consequences to my family, my clients, the government, the court and the people of the state of New York."

City & State, Heard Around Town, Jan. 5, 2012

The crowd that gathered in Manhattan Federal Court yesterday to hear lobbyist Richard Lipsky plead guilty to two bribery charges was befitting a man who made more calls to reporters than perhaps any lobbyist in New York City history. Most of the two dozen people on hand to hear Lipsky confess were from the forth estate – and many, no doubt, had been bombarded with story pitches from Lipsky over the years. Even up to the time Lipsky ultimately agreed to his plea, he was relentlessly leading efforts to submarine the Willets Point development in Queens under a thinly veiled pseudonym. So what will Lipsky do with all that boundless energy in prison? As Lipsky and a small group of relatives descended in the courthouse elevator following his guilty plea, he for once had nothing to say.

Posted by eric at 12:21 PM

Carlton Avenue/Pacific Street signal light knocked down for at least the third time

Atlantic Yards Watch


For at least the third time since construction began on Barclays Center, a signal light at Carlton Avenue and Pacific Street has been knocked down. The photo above left is from last week. To the right is a photo of the signal light damaged (but not knocked down) in July. At the bottom of the story is a sequence showing an Atlantic Yards construction delivery truck in July working its way around the corner with the assistance of flaggers.

The signal light is a victim of trucks using Carlton Avenue to enter Pacific Street instead of at Vanderbilt Avenue as is described in the Barclays Center Delivery Truck Rules and Regulations. Carlton Avenue is not a designated truck route, but Atlantic Yards construction trucks often use it. The intersection at Pacific Street is too narrow to provide an adequate turning radius for many longer-length trucks, putting the signal at risk.


Posted by eric at 12:04 PM

‘Mouse’ cleaning for Nets

NY Post
by Rich Calder

Trying to bring a theme-park feel to the team’s new arena in Brooklyn, Nets brass have hired Walt Disney Co.’s training arm to teach the Barclays Center’s employees the secrets of its Magic Kingdom.

“We want to create a magical experience where everyone is treated like a VIP no matter where they sit, and no one does it better than Disney,” Nets/Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark told The Post.

The goal, he added, is “redefining customer experience” for sports and entertainment venues with “unmatched, street-to-seat” service and hospitality.

The team is even considering tapping into so-called 4-D technology Disney theme parks are famous for, so fans can experience some arena attractions not only by sight and sound — but also by touch, taste and smell.


NoLandGrab: Ah, yes, we recognize that scent.

Related coverage...

The L Magazine, Company Making Barclays Center Tiles Goes Broke; Company Making Barclays Center Employees is Disney

The Post is quick to note that [while] none of the arena's 1,500 full- and part-time employees will be donning cartoon character costumes, the Disney Institute will help to design Barlcays Center workers' uniforms. "You don’t wear a uniform — you wear a costume,” noted Disney Institute content specialist Tom D. Thomson. Oh. Sorry?

Runnin' Scared, Brooklyn Nets Set To Go All Disney On Their Employees

When you have to open an arena that seats a crowd of 18,000 skeptical New Yorkers, there's really only one person you can call to give you advice -- dear old Mickey Mouse. The House of Mouse entertains visitors with extreme robotic precision and that's what the Brooklyn Nets are looking to emulate.

Posted by eric at 11:50 AM

Nets to move 150 jobs to MetroTech Center in Brooklyn

NY Post
by Rich Calder

In a surprise, the primary beneficiary of the Nets' move to Brooklyn is revealed to be Bruce Ratner.

The Nets are finally beginning their move to Brooklyn.

The NBA team announced today that beginning next month they’re moving 150 jobs on its business side of operations to the MetroTech Center in Downtown Brooklyn.

The 10-year lease is for 35,145 square feet on the 11th floor at 15 MetroTech, which is part of the office complex owned by Forest City Ratner Cos. whose CEO Bruce Ratner cut the deals that are bringing the team to Brooklyn.


Posted by eric at 11:43 AM

Brooklyn Broadside: Looking Back at 2011 in Brooklyn: It’s Not Just Atlantic Yards

Brooklyn Daily Eagle
by Dennis Holt

Well out of ideas after his many years at The Eagle, Dennis Holt is content to regurgitate some recent tripe from the Times.

The New York Times got into the act with a series of forecasts, and the comments on Brooklyn are worthy of note because they reflect what the Times editors believe are the major events coming our way. The section on Brooklyn focused almost totally on the Atlantic Yards story.

But the editors are not sure which of two forecasts will come true: “When the sports arena that anchors the $4.9 billion Atlantic Yards project finally opens in September ... it will undoubtedly transform Downtown Brooklyn. But will the 19,000-seat Barclay’s Center help its neighborhood become an epicenter of entertainment and commerce as most officials predict? Or will it be a vortex of traffic, trash and other civic headaches, as some residents fear?”


Posted by eric at 11:34 AM

January 4, 2012

A couple of Atlantic Yards echoes in Cuomo's State of the State address

Atlantic Yards Report

From Governor Andrew Cuomo's State of the State Address today, via the press release:

Master Plan for the Jacob Javits Site: With plans for a new convention center in New York City, the Governor called for a master plan for the Jacob Javits site to create a mixed use facility and revitalize New York City's West Side with 18 acres of planned development. The plan would follow the successful Battery Park City model and involve more than $2 billion in estimated private sector development funds to create a new 21st century neighborhood on the West Side.

Note that Atlantic Yards did not follow the "successful Battery Park City model," which involved multiple developers and open space first.


Implement Campaign Finance Reform: Governor Cuomo called for comprehensive reform of the state's campaign finance system to make sure that all New Yorkers have an equal voice in the political process. New York ranks 48th in the nation in voter turnout and a smaller percentage of New York residents contribute to candidates to state office than anywhere else in the nation. The Governor called for a better campaign finance system that system that includes matched contributions and lower contribution limits, and increase enforcement at the Board of Elections.

Cuomo of course has benefited from this system, but better late than never. Developers like Bruce Ratner and his company can wield outsize influence under the current system.


NoLandGrab: Sure, Status Cuomo. How 'bout kicking things off by returning Bruce Ratner's $12,500?

Posted by eric at 11:38 PM

From the latest Construction Alert: some milestones nudged back; possibility for Atlantic Avenue median work to be done during the day, rather than at night

Atlantic Yards Report

The latest two-week Atlantic Yards Construction Alert, dated 1/2/12, was distributed yesterday by Empire State Development (after preparation by developer Forest City Ratner).

As I noted yesterday, there was no mention of the shutdown of the arena facade contractor, or any prediction of how that might affect facade work.

While there's continued progress in several areas, there are some issues to point out:

  • work on raised medians along Atlantic Avenue may be performed during daylight hours, as opposed to previous plans to do so only at night (other night work has been noisy)
  • completion of bollard placement has been nudged back from December to January
  • some railyard drilling work has been nudged back a month
  • some water main work has been nudged back a few weeks
  • one Flatbush Avenue sidewalk may be temporarily impassible


Posted by eric at 12:15 PM

New Jersey Nets Ink Office Deal at MetroTech Center

NY Observer
by Daniel Geiger

How's this for economic development? The Bruce Ratner (minority)-owned New Jersey Nets are moving to the Bruce Ratner-owned MetroTech!

The team is relocating its corporate headquarters from East Rutherford to Downtown Brooklyn, where the organization is taking 35,145 square feet at the office building 15 MetroTech Center. The Nets will take the space for between five and 10 years at rents in the $30s per square foot, said sources.

The Nets will sublease 15 Metrotech’s entire 11th floor from Visiting Nurse Health Care System, Inc., which is consolidating its operations onto another floor it leases at the property, the tenth.

The Nets will take possession of the office space in the coming months in preparation for the 2012-2013 season. That season, which begins this October, will be the first the team will play at the Barclays Center, the new arena being built for the organization by developer and partial Nets owner Forest City Ratner as part of a large mixed use real estate project over Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards.

Although Forest City Ratner owns 15 MetroTech and the Atlantic Yards arena in which the basketball team will play, the negotiations were between Visiting Nurse Health Care System and the Nets.


Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Nets moving offices to Brooklyn, subleasing space from downsizing MetroTech tenant

The Nets are moving their offices to Brooklyn, and to a Forest City Ratner building to boot, but that represents no net gain to the developer, as the team is subleasing space from a downsizing tenant.

The team was originally supposed to move to the arena itself, but the 2009 arena downsizing moved the offices off-site.

Posted by eric at 12:05 PM

Prokhorov and Ratner Preparing to Move Semi-pro Team into Naked Arena

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

One has to wonder, what exactly are Bruce Ratner and Mikahil Prokhorov planning on bringing to Brooklyn. A team that can hardly call itself professional and a naked arena?

The New Jersey Nets, once again, are stinking up the joint and the Barclays Center arena is in jeopardy of being facadeless come projected completion in September 2012 now that the custom manufacterer of the rusty panels has gone belly up.

Will the arena in Brooklyn be ready when the semi-pro Nets are ready to move? That is now a question worthy of a "no comment" from Forest City Ratner.


Related coverage...

Brownstoner, Barclays Center Facade Maker Goes Out of Business

Posted by eric at 11:56 AM

Lobbyist Lipsky expected to plead guilty today in case that involves Kruger (and touches Forest City Ratner, though developer was not charged)

Atlantic Yards Report

Speaking of crime...

So one question is: will Lipsky's plea indicate any assistance to Forest City?

Well, here's one thing Kruger did for Forest City--though this was not, to my knowledge, in the indictment and thus not necessarily connected to Lipsky: he issued an odd press release in September 2009 expressing concern that "the MTA would become an obstructionist body that would ultimately stand in the way of Atlantic Yards."


Related coverage...

The Wall Street Journal, New Plea in Bribes Scandal

A prominent New York City lobbyist is expected to plead guilty in federal court Wednesday in connection with a wide-ranging bribery case that also ensnared a powerful Brooklyn state senator, according to a person briefed on the matter.

On Tuesday, a former executive at Parkway Hospital in Queens pleaded guilty in federal court in Manhattan to bribing Mr. Kruger in a bid to keep the hospital open.

In a statement read in open court, Dr. Robert Aquino, the 54-year-old former chief executive of Parkway, admitted to working with others "with the understanding that in exchange for the payments, a member of the New York state Senate would take official actions in an effort—a failed effort—to keep Parkway Hospital open."

NoLandGrab: If it wasn't considered cruel and unusual punishment, we'd urge the judge to sentence them all to watching Nets games for the next 20 years.

Posted by eric at 11:49 AM

The Week in Crime: Gun Crimes and a Harrowing Kidnapping

The Local [Fort Greene/Clinton Hill]

Used to be, you only had to worry about someone stealing your wallet or an employee borrowing your identity when you shopped in one of Bruce Ratner's Brooklyn malls. You can now add getting kidnapped to that list.

A 25-year-old woman was briefly kidnapped and then robbed by two scammers on Dec. 27, police said. The victim told police that she was outside the Atlantic Terminal Mall at around 2:30 p.m. when a woman approached and asked for directions to a post office. The victim agreed to drive with the woman to the postal station, but when she entered the car, she found a male accomplice beind the driver’s seat. “Get in and look happy,” the man allegedly told her.

The trio then drove to the victim’s residence, where the woman thief ordered the victim, “Give me your stuff.” It’s unclear how much she got, but when both women returned to the car, the man allegedly demanded, “What else do you have?” That’s when the victim handed over $470 more and exited the car near Flatbush and Fourth Avenues, police said.


Posted by eric at 11:43 AM

Hawaii Premiere Of "Battle for Brooklyn" - Oscar-Contending Docfilm Of Atlantic Yards Eminent Domain Fight

Inverse Condemnation

Today was the Hawaii premiere of Battle For Brooklyn, the Oscar-shortlisted documentary film about the Atlantic Yards case. We're introducing the film and conducting a question-and-answer session after each showing.

Today's two screenings were followed by lively questions from the audience. Here are links to the key posts on the case, in the event you want to find out more...


Posted by eric at 11:38 AM

Watch out: Here’s our 12 to watch in 2012

Brooklyn Daily
by Aaron Short

When the big crystal ball falls in Times Square, some of us make resolutions. Others make predictions. But we at Courier Life make lists of the people who we know will make headlines in the next 12 months. So without further ado, here are our 12 to watch in 2012!

#1:Brooklyn Nets, basketball team

Call ‘em the Brooklyn Nets — finally.

The soon-to-be-renamed New Jersey Nets are moving to the Barclays Center in Prospect Heights this fall after years of hold-ups from opponents of developer Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards mega-project, which includes the arena and 16 planned residential buildings.

The $1-billion Barclays Center rising on Flatbush and Atlantic avenues is scheduled to open in late September, with a series of highly anticipated concerts by Nets part-owner and rap mogul Jay-Z — there’s no doubt that the Marcy Houses native’s shows will fill the 19,000-seat arena. Whether or not the Nets can do the same is anyone’s guess.


NoLandGrab: Can you feel the excitement?

Posted by eric at 11:33 AM

January 3, 2012

Company fabricating metal arena facade shuts down; work was supposed to extend through May; no comment from Forest City at this time

Atlantic Yards Report

Trouble in Ratnerville? The company that makes the façade panels for The World's Most Infamously Ugly Arena™ has suddenly gone all Nets on us belly-up.

The Whitestown, IN-based company that has been fabricating the weathered steel for the Barclays Center facade unexpectedly went out of business last week, raising questions about whether and when the additional steel needed would be delivered, and how the overall project timetable may be affected.

It's unclear how much of the steel has been fabricated and delivered by ASI Limited, but a considerable amount of facade work remains to be done. Some steel has been delivered to and is stored at the southeast block, Block 1129, as shown in the photo above, taken today by Tracy Collins.

A spokesman for developer Forest City Ratner said "we cannot comment at this time." The Empire State Development (ESD), the state agency overseeing Atlantic Yards, said it was a question for Forest City.

ESD at 5:30 pm today issued a two-week Construction Alert (prepared by Forest City) covering work beginning this week; it indicates continued work on the facade, and does not disclose anything about the facade fabricator.

Work extending through May

The Exterior Skin--which likely includes more than the metalwork--is not supposed to be completed until the "Early Finish" date of 5/13/12, according to a report from Merritt & Harris, construction monitor for the arena bond trustee.


NoLandGrab: Not to worry — we got a lead on some replacement parts.

Related coverage...

NY Observer, Tip-Off Tip Over? Barclays Center Facade Maker Goes Out of Business, Possibly Imperiling Opening Day

Replicating the process elsewhere could present a challenge, especially considering the weathering process was already running behind schedule, according to Mr. Oder. Add in the fact that the arena was scheduled to open in only a matter of months, and solving this problem seems as challenging as the Nets making the playoffs.

NLG: Add in to that fact the fact that the Nets are truly awful, and nobody's going to much care if the arena ever opens.

Posted by eric at 10:54 PM

Nets, Struggling on Offense, Watch Pacers Find Rhythm

The New York Times
by Jake Appleman

New year, same awful Nets.

When the two worst-shooting teams in the N.B.A. got together Monday night, the Nets played down to their standing and fell to the Indiana Pacers, 108-94.

The Pacers, who shot 53 percent to the Nets’ 37 percent, also made 13 of 21 3-point attempts. If sinking shots — and the Nets’ hopes — seemed like no contest for the Pacers, it was because most of the 3-point attempts were not contested.

“We just didn’t do a good job of running them off the 3-point line, of paying attention to details,” Deron Williams said.

Um, you just didn't do a good job, period.

With the Knicks telecast blocked out of many homes in the New York metropolitan area because of MSG Network’s dispute with Time Warner Cable, the Nets, for many, were the only game on. In front of 12,519 at Prudential Center, the undermanned Nets never led.


NoLandGrab: Looks like "professional" sports won't be coming back to Brooklyn after all.

Photo: Julio Cortez/Associated Press

Posted by eric at 4:30 PM

Barclays Center Enlists Help From Disney

Future home of the Brooklyn Nets signs deal with the people behind Mickey & Co.

Park Slope Patch
by Paul Leonard

The most Mickey Mouse operation in (allegedly) professional sports has made it official.

First it was the Brooklyn Nets, then Jay-Z. Now the people behind Mickey, Pluto and pals are getting into the Barclays Center mix.

On Monday, the Nets basketball organization announced a partnership with Disney Institute with the aim of having some of the entertainment giant's magic rub off on the quickly rising Barclays Center.

“Anybody who has visited Walt Disney World recognizes that Disney delivers the preeminent customer experience and that’s what we plan to bring to our guests at Barclays Center,” said Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark.

"Our goal is to bring the best entertainment value to our customers," said Nets senior vice president of communications Barry Baum.


NoLandGrab: "Entertainment value" like this?

Posted by eric at 4:27 PM

Lobbyist Is Expected to Plead Guilty in Bribery Case

The New York Times
by Benjamin Weiser

Why, we just noticed that Richard Lipsky hasn't updated his bombastic, pompous blog since the day before he got pinched on bribery charges. DA got your keyboard, Lipsky?

Richard J. Lipsky, a prominent lobbyist who was charged in the bribery conspiracy case that also ensnared State Senator Carl Kruger, was expected to plead guilty on Wednesday in Federal District Court in Manhattan, according to a person briefed on the matter.

Mr. Lipsky’s plea would come just two weeks after Mr. Kruger resigned from the Senate and pleaded guilty to corruption charges in the broad conspiracy case that has been seen as spotlighting the pervasive issue of corruption in Albany. Mr. Kruger faces up to 50 years in prison when he is sentenced in April by Judge Jed S. Rakoff.

Mr. Lipsky was one of eight defendants originally charged in the matter, and was scheduled for trial this month.

Another of his co-defendants, Robert Aquino, the former chief executive officer of Parkway Hospital in Queens, was expected to plead guilty on Tuesday, leaving just one defendant facing trial.

It was not clear on Tuesday morning to what charges Mr. Lipsky and Mr. Aquino would plead guilty. Lawyers for the two men declined to comment, as did a spokeswoman for the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan, which is prosecuting the case.

Mr. Lipsky, who is in his 60s, has long portrayed himself as an advocate for the underdog; he has been a frequent presence in City Hall and in the State Capitol in Albany, and has had a reputation as a pugnacious fighter for his clients.

"Underdogs" like these:

Mr. Lipsky’s clients included... a real estate developer that has since been identified as Forest City Ratner.


Posted by eric at 4:18 PM

The Week in Crime: Target Tussles and Robberies Abound

The Local [Fort Greene/Clinton Hill]
by Mitchell Trinka

We're just getting caught up on some pre-holiday crime news, the upshot of which is... if you did any holiday shopping in Bruce Ratner's malls and didn't get robbed or assulted, consider yourself fortunate.

Atlantic Terminal Mall Crime

-An employee at Target in the Atlantic Terminal Mall was caught on Dec. 10 putting $1,800 onto gift cards without paying, police said. The employee was observed making the transactions on store surveillance video, police said.

Jamell Long, 17, was arrested on Dec. 18, police said. He has been charged with grand larceny in the fourth degree and petit larceny, according to the Kings County District Attorney’s office.

-A fight broke out at Buffalo Wild Wings at the Atlantic Terminal Mall on Dec. 13 at 4:45 p.m., police said. It all began when two men started a conversation with a group of people eating at the restaurant, police said. One of the men displayed a knife to a 17-year-old boy and demanded he hand over whatever was in his pockets, police said. When the second man asked the other people to hand over their belongings things got physical, the boy told police. One of the robbers punched the boy in the back of the head and a small struggle ensued, breaking the boy’s glasses, police said.

-A woman shopping with her daughter at Target, in the Atlantic Terminal Mall, was caught trying to steal items from the store on Dec. 14 at around midnight, police said. Natasha Stevenson, 35 was arrested that night and has been charged with petit larceny and criminal possession of stolen property, according to the Kings County District Attorney’s office.

-An employee of Target, in the Atlantic Terminal Mall, caught a woman shoplifting clothing on Dec. 23 at 1:47 p.m., police said. When the employee confronted the woman she began to punch the employee with the help of four other people, police said.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Click through for more.


NoLandGrab: Merry Christmas, Bruce Ratner-style.

Posted by eric at 4:06 PM

Atlantic Yards in 2012: massive buzz for an arena opening, the ubiquitous Barclays, a first tower unveiled, a huge local mess (?), inevitable surprises (a modular twist? Carlton Avenue Bridge delay?)

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder gazes into his crystal computer monitor...

What's next in 2012 for Atlantic Yards? Some things we can predict, but other issues are up in the air. And, as I suggested in the 2011 round-up, Atlantic Yards always seems to bring some new twist, so expect something unexpected (though I have a few guesses).


Posted by eric at 11:23 AM

Battle for Brooklyn | Jan 7 and 8 at 5pm


Catch the Oscar-contending Battle for Brooklyn this weekend at Williamsburg's indieScreen.

tickets / more info

And our faithful readers in Beantown can circle March 19th on your calendars.


Posted by eric at 11:11 AM

January 2, 2012

RebelMart's Mimeograph Machine, on sports: "we sit in silence when owners and leagues rip us off"

Atlantic Yards Report

Musician/designer/activist Scott M.X. Turner, he of the website/group Fans for Fair Play and the one-man band RebelMart, has moved from Brooklyn to Seattle, but he still keeps in touch with his daily Mimeograph Machine, a newsletter/broadside. (Sign up at rebelmartmx[at]gmail[dot]com.)

Below, with his permission, is Volume 1, Number 25, from 12/28/11, expressing some of the dismay regarding big-time sports that's going around.

RebelMart's Mimeograph Machine, on Sports



Fun. Despicable. Macho. Colorful. Epic. Eccentric. Racist. Capitalist. Good exercise. Sexist. Drunken. Homophobic. Adrenalizing. Musical. Classist. Memorable. Bonding. Violent. Lucrative. Divisive. Seductive. Life-affirming. Deadly.

I find it hard to explain to people why I like sports. It used to be because I ran with lots of political activists who deplored sports. They're right to. But they're wrong to toss it out with the bathwater.

They were also wrong to dismiss sports' enormous implications in the world today. A lot of sporting elements flail about in the world of political activism. In the battle royale of The People vs. The Man, knowing about sports is a vital thing. I'd say "tactic," but that makes the whole world-revolution thing sound exploitative. I like the whole world-revolution thing, you know.

I'm still a lefty and I still have that discussion all the time. I guess what I really mean is, I find it hard to explain to myself why I like sports. At least, still like sports.

And that's the rosin-caked razor's edge my sports-love balances atop.

I like sports and deplore sports. What other thing, besides life itself, contains as many descriptives as the top of this issue of the Mimeograph Machine?

Michael O'Keeffe, one of New York's best sportswriters -- hell, one of the Apple's best journalists, period -- once told me "Sports makes it hard to like sports."


I got on this jag about sports today after reading an article in the New York Times today -- about the New York Mets' desperate finances. Too many belly-button-examining books have been written about sports'n'culture'n'politics. Still, it made me think again about a very basic issue.

Sports fans are incredibly smart. Via sports, we can crunch numbers, solve complex geometry in milliseconds, explore military strategies, fathom chemistry, analyze financial formulas, present a sprawling vista of facts at the drop of a hat, beat Lincoln and Douglas in a debate, and most importantly, detect bullshit instantaneously.

So how come we sports fans are such fucking idiots?

We love our teams, our players, our games all the while knowing they're none of those things "ours." Jerry Seinfeld once famously said "you're actually rooting for the clothes." [AYR: see the video] Civic pride is a pretty unquantifiable thing -- yet it's always used to justify all the wasteful projects spend taxpayer dollars on.


Posted by steve at 4:26 PM

Time for some second thoughts on college sports: giving up on college football and paying (football and basketball) athletes

Atlantic Yards Report

It's time for some second thoughts on big-time college sports, including the sport that feeds the NBA and the soon-to-be Brooklyn Nets.

In his year-end column for The Nation, 2011: The Year I Learned to Hate College Football, Dave Zirin wrote:

In a decade of sports writing, I’ve always used a very basic framework: don’t reject sports, reclaim it. In other words, no matter how greedy, hateful, or ugly sports become, you fight for it to change. No matter how many publicly funded stadiums or Redskin logos, or how much sexist doggerel is expectorated by the athletic industrial complex, you remember what you love about sports. You stand your ground and never forget the fun, fellowship and artistry these games have the potential to produce. That’s been my framework, until now.

...It’s not just because the bowl season has turned into an orgy of commercial branding that would shame a NASCAR event... It’s not the ugly use of football to sell the business of war...

This year I was broken by just how disgusting the institution of college football has become.

Zirin pointed to the scandals at Ohio State University and the University of Miami, where, as a result of the "hypocritical" system, athletes were slammed for extracting "modest compensation," then Penn State University "and the way the economic, social and cultural imperatives of big-time college football were put ahead of the safety and welfare of small children." Finally, Ohio State hired free agent head coach Urban Meyer for $24 million over six years.


Posted by steve at 4:23 PM

Post salutes Nets' use of Disney trainers; shouldn't Atlantic Yards contractors similarly care about "redefining customer experience"?

Atlantic Yards Report

The New York Post reports, in ‘Mouse’ cleaning for Nets:

Trying to bring a theme-park feel to the team’s new arena in Brooklyn, Nets brass have hired Walt Disney Co.’s training arm to teach the Barclays Center’s employees the secrets of its Magic Kingdom.

“We want to create a magical experience where everyone is treated like a VIP no matter where they sit, and no one does it better than Disney,” Nets/Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark told The Post.

The goal, he added, is “redefining customer experience” for sports and entertainment venues with “unmatched, street-to-seat” service and hospitality.

Maybe they should have started with contractors at the Atlantic Yards site, who, among other things, poured a mysterious powder on Pacific Street.


Posted by steve at 4:18 PM

Best of '11: World's Tallest Prefab Building Proposed

Construction Digital

This "best of" list includes yet another example of how the best things about Atlantic Yards (affordable housing, public open space, etc.) are those that have been proposed, but never accomplished.

Prefab buildings are making a comeback in a big way – and in Atlantic Yards, a really big way.

A proposed residential complex towering 32 stories would be the world’s tallest prefab structure in the world upon its completion in 2013. Designed by SHoP and engineered by Arup, the towers would surround the planned site for the new Barclays Center.

Prefab has long been avoided for projects over a few stories because of a lack of cross-bracing supports that allow towers to sustain the high winds and increased loads of vertical building. Designers hope to overcome these limitations with more than 900 steel chassis modules mounted on a system of steel frames, with all the connections on the exterior of the structures.


Posted by steve at 3:39 PM

January 1, 2012

Brooklyn blooms again, but not for all

Atlantic Yards project caps a decade of growth for borough, yet some areas remain mired in poverty.

Crain's NY Business
by Patrick Wall

When the roar of 18,000 Brooklyn Nets fans rocks the Barclays Center to life this fall, some will hear it as the clearest announcement yet that Brooklyn has arrived.

As Borough President Marty Markowitz put it, the sparkling new arena near downtown Brooklyn “will host the kind of events you used to have to leave Brooklyn to enjoy.”

To proponents, the Nets' arena at Atlantic Yards is the exclamation point of the Brooklyn Renaissance—a flourishing of creativity, construction and coolness over the last decade.

But critics note that Brooklyn's economic gains have occurred predominantly in the northwest corner of the borough, where the Atlantic Yards development is situated. The neighborhoods in the central and eastern parts of the borough remain poor, and Brooklyn's overall poverty and unemployment rates outstrip the citywide numbers.


NoLandGrab: And some critics, like, say, us, note that the alleged economic gains from Atlantic Yards are illusory for anyone not named Bruce C. Ratner.

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Crain's points to Atlantic Yards as symbol of Brooklyn's bifurcated blooming, but misses the irony of unfulfilled promises

There's a huge, unmentioned irony here: Atlantic Yards may be a symbol of Brooklyn's progress, but, employing relatively few locals, has not delivered the jobs and housing promised, nor proven a good investment of public dollars.

A gloomy future

The article concludes:

Just as there is no consensus on the root of Brooklyn's economic inequities, there is no concerted effort to address them. Instead, city planners and private developers tinker with economic issues on a project-by-project basis.

“There hasn't been, to my knowledge, a really comprehensive plan done under the auspices of any government agency,” said Brooklyn Economic Development Corp. President Joan Bartolomeo.

Maybe one could start by assessing whether the money spent on Atlantic Yards helped narrow Brooklyn's economic inequities.

Posted by eric at 6:42 PM

"How Brooklyn Got Its Groove Back": an analysis of the borough's rise, and those left behind (and, I'd suggest, why that helped bring us AY)

Atlantic Yards Report

In the Autumn 2011 issue of the Manhattan Institute's City Journal, Kay S. Hymowitz offers How Brooklyn Got Its Groove Back: New York’s biggest borough has reinvented itself as a postindustrial hot spot.

And, while not about Atlantic Yards (except for one mention), it presents a useful framework, based on personal experience and reportage, for some of the changes that brought us here, while offering more background on the enduring economic divide sketched this week in Crain's.

(It's on the Atlantic Cities' list of ten best CityReads of 2011.)

An AY mention

In the section under rezonings, Hymowitz writes:

Brooklyn also benefited from the Giuliani and Bloomberg administrations’ rezoning of fallow industrial neighborhoods for “mixed” uses, so that residential, commercial, and light-industry buildings could occupy the same area. These decisions have met with fierce resistance, with Brooklyn’s gentrifiers—ironically, given their historical role in changing the borough—among the most vociferous in arguing that grabby real-estate interests and their friends in government are driving out an indigenous population. Bruce Ratner’s much-reviled Atlantic Yards project, which took advantage of the government’s bullying eminent-domain powers, lends some credence to the charge. But mostly, Brooklyn’s transformation has come from the ground up. In the beginning, as Osman observes, gentrification spread because “a few families decided to cross” Atlantic Avenue, the southern boundary of Brooklyn Heights. The rezoning that finally took place decades later was simply bowing to reality: large factories were gone for good, and young singles and families wanted in.

For Atlantic Yards, it must be pointed out, there was no rezoning, just an override of zoning.


Posted by eric at 6:33 PM

Marie Louis, Chief Operating Officer of BUILD, 1972-2011

Atlantic Yards Report

2011 goes out on a somber note.

Marie Louis, Chief Operating Officer of Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement signatory BUILD (Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development), died December 23, 2011, after a six-month battle with cancer.

Her family asked that, in her honor, people register to be bone marrow donors.

I'll write more about Louis at a later date, but want to share the obituary, provided by her family, which appears in this week's Our Time Press. It also was distributed at her funeral service this week.


Posted by eric at 6:23 PM

Man Freed After Being Trapped in Times Building Elevator

The New York Times
by Cara Buckley

Happy New Year, faithful NoLandGrab readers! Today begins the 10th calendar year of the Atlantic Yards project.

Our resolution: to always take the stairs in any building built by Bruce Ratner.

A man was stuck in an elevator at The New York Times Building in Midtown Manhattan for an hour and a half on Friday morning, and firefighters had to break through the wall of the elevator shaft to free him. The man, who works at BT Americas Inc., an information technology company that leases office space on the 46th floor, was not injured and refused medical attention, the Fire Department and witnesses said.

The elevator, an express car that skips lower floors, became stuck between the 10th and 11th floors of the Times Building at 620 Eighth Avenue about 10:20 a.m. Because the elevator was in a so-called blind shaft, and had no openings on those floors, firefighters went through the ceiling of an 11th-floor men’s room to reach the elevator shaft. They broke through a wall and retrieved the man through a side hatch in the elevator car, according to Jim Long, a spokesman for the department. The man was rescued around 11:45 a.m.

The building, which opened in 2007, was developed by a partnership of The New York Times Company and Forest City Ratner. The elevator belongs to the section of the building managed by a subsidiary of Forest City Ratner. Neither company would comment on the incident.


Posted by eric at 6:16 PM